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Thursday, November 3, 2011

butternut squash and pear soup with garam masala

butternut squash and pear soup with garam masala

You might have heard we had a snowstorm here in the Northeast. Actually that storm came to us from the west where it fell upon Denver, among other places. It’s not so unusual for Denver to get snow this time of year. But it is highly unusual for New York City to have pre-Halloween snow. Snow that sticks and accumulates. We’re not used to it here in the Northeast.

Andrew and I braved the weather and went out in the morning for brunch. After nine days of being apart, we wanted to spend some time together so we braved the weather – the storm wasn’t due for hours. We walked over to the Clover Club, our favorite neighborhood spot for brunch, weaving and bobbing between the streets, and ordered our food: both of us were craving lamb burgers. I so rarely order meat these days, I get so excited when I’m craving it. And believe me, that lamb burger was the best thing I ate that day. It hit the spot, that’s for sure.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

cold borscht – chilled beet soup

cold borscht

This here, to me, is the epitome of a Russian summer. A cold borscht on a hot summer night. Pull up a chair, stir some sour cream into it, and taste how refreshing beets can be. The tang of sour cream, the crunch of the cucumber, the grassiness of dill – that’s the stuff you remember years later and it makes your mouth water just thinking about it, and your stomach growls audibly. You grow both giddy and slightly melancholy just thinking about it.

I had a good childhood in Russia – a wholesome, leave-it-to-Beaver-whole-milk childhood. It stands at a stark contrast to what people might imagine a Soviet childhood to be – and mine was a good as they get full of books, walks in the forests, fishing in the rivers, and gazing at the stars. Summers were idyllic in particular – I spent them at my grandmother’s: a lot of time outside, hours foraging for berries and mushrooms, dipping my toes into cool lakes (I couldn’t swim back then), scratching itchy mosquito bites, and icing bruises and scrapes – the childhood that was simple and minimalist, yet lacked nothing. Bill Cosby had this stand-up bit back in the day, when he would talk about his childhood and how his parents would give him a stick and would tell him to go play in the back yard. And there he would be, sitting in an empty backyard, dirt all around him, digging a hole in the ground with his stick, happy as happy can be. That was me, happy to be outside and dig a hole with a stick. Happy to find wild strawberries and bring them home in a basket to have them for dessert sprinkled with sugar and dotted with golden-hewed cream so thick you could stand a spoon in it.

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

cucumber herb buttermilk soup

cucumber buttermilk soup

This morning, Andrew and I are off to Vermont for the weekend. We’re meeting up with his family and going to a wedding up there. Charming, picturesque, pretty New England, here we come. Give me white steeple churches and Shaker-style houses! Give me rural farmers’ markets and wild flowers! I’m ready for my break from the New York and my little home office.

These days, I do a lot of work from home. It can be totally amazing because when you work from home, you can pretty much start working as soon as you finish your coffee, still in your pajamas, and shower when you’re ready. Like when you’re taking a well-earned mid-morning break. You can also sneak out to the gym for a little bit, come back, and continue to work well into the late hours of the day because this is your time, and your time allows you to manage it your way.

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Thursday, March 31, 2011

sunchoke soup

sunchoke soup with a drizzle of olive oil

It takes a really dedicated soul to make it to the farmers’ market these days. It’s not so much the cold – though it does take a kind of Spartan determination to be a greenmarket regular in winter months – it’s more the duration of the winter we’ve been dealt this year. The cold doesn’t seem to let up, and my hat, scarf and mittens are my constant and faithful companions.

Still, despite the blustery winds and the numbing morning chill, I go faithfully every Saturday, bundled up, with my reusable grocery bags in tow. I go partly because it’s a habit now, and partly because I like to support local farmers. It kicks off my weekend and it’s now part of my Saturday morning tradition.

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

kale and white bean soup

kale & white bean soup

The other day I got a call from a headhunter. She was checking-in to see what I was doing with myself, and if I was looking for work. I explained her that no, I wasn’t, and instead I was trying to make a leap to the world of food writing, recipe development, and more blogging. There was a notable and uncomfortable pause before she stiffly wished me luck. Another step away from my old life.

These days, I get a lot of questions what it’s like to be a freelancer, to take a leap from a desk job, away from something steady and predictable into the unknown, where you are the one responsible for setting your schedule and your income isn’t set in stone. Is it hard? Yes. Is it emotionally challenging? Definitely. Do I get anxious? All the time. Have I regretted making the switch? Not even for an instant.

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Friday, January 28, 2011

red lentil soup with lemon

red lentil soup with lemon

I’ve always been a bit of a homebody, but only now is it becoming acceptable and even cool. I attribute this paradigm shift to age (not that I’m claiming to be old, not at all). As I get older, I enjoy puttering around my home more and more, and it’s finally become acceptable to say to friends, “We stayed in and made dinner on a Saturday night.” No one raises eye brows anymore, expecting you to regale them with a tale of an outing until four o’clock in the morning in the coolest lounge that has just opened – a lounge that doesn’t have a name or an entrance sign and has a password which you must tell to a faceless voice over the telephone nearby. Yes, we’ve all been there. I’m over it and I have been for some time.

red lentil soup with lemon

Last night, over dinner during our monthly book club meetings, one of my friends was telling us of one such night, which is now an aberration in her life. “A party,” she said, “that started at 10pm. I barely made it. I mean, I really had to remind myself that I had to go.” We all nodded because at this stage in our lives, a party that starts at ten in the evening, is indeed quite late. We’d have to be out, having a late dinner to motivate ourselves to actually attend. If we’re at home in our pajamas – forget about it. It won’t happen.

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