Monday, January 19, 2015

alice medrich’s best cocoa brownies

And this batch of spicy brownies with flaky salt, minus a few that @afreedman3 is claiming, will go out to the coworkers tomorrow. Cc @amyhordes @tittigrr @phaidonsnaps

I’m a little past 38 weeks, which means this baby thing can happen any day. It’s a funny thing to try to compartmentalize that today you may be just you, and tomorrow – a parent. I’ve always been a what they call a “preparer” and doing things well in advance, but this time, I’m told, it’s coupled with a strong nesting instinct. To be honest, I haven’t felt a stronger instinct to nest; I’ve always liked nesting, always liked organizing my home, always liked to keep a well-stocked pantry. Right now it’s more involved but mostly because I feel that it needs to be.

And as much as I still want to squirrel every single meal I make, I’ve hit that point where the freezer can’t take on another thing without something else coming out. If freezers were elastic, which sadly they’re not, then maaaaybe, I could squeeze in another soup or stew, but where things stand now, the meals are prepped and portioned out. I’m told I’ll be absolutely famished in the days post delivery, and Andrew has been warned that if I try to take his bowl of bolognese away, he is to give it to me without so much as a protest.

Continue reading alice medrich’s best cocoa brownies.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

marcella hazan’s ragu bolognese

made about 3 meals' worth of bolognese

As I inch towards the finish line with this pregnancy, I’m also getting closer to completely filling up my freezer. Space is of the essence, so I’m playing this game of shifting things around to make room. All the butter (and I mean all the butter) has been moved to the fridge. The frozen bananas I originally intended to use in smoothies and then promptly forgot about, wound up in the garbage. There’s also a bag of polenta now in the fridge, and will, no doubt, make a fine meal one night this month. As part of cooking on weekends to have weekday meals, I inadvertently started the “nesting” process of stocking the freezer a few months ago. There is my favorite chili and pulled Santa Fe chicken made in a crockpot; soups for days: red lentil, chicken, Vermont cheddar, parsnip leek; Marcella Hazan’s tomato butter sauce; and a whole roasted chicken (Ina’s recipe) from Andrew’s mom which now resides in a giant ziploc bag; and because it’s winter, meatballs (two kinds) and Marcella Hazan’s ragu bolognese. I figured that if we supplement it all with take-out a few days a week, we should be good for a month. I’m also hoping to try to get into cooking as soon as I can, even if it’s just a fried egg.

You would think that seeing the full contents of my freezer would make me cease this madness, but clearly pregnancy makes you insane, because the other day, I peeked inside the freezer and decided that we didn’t have enough of the bolognese. When I told Andrew I was making another double-batch, he simply looked at me, Are you sure you want to spend a whole day on this?

Continue reading marcella hazan’s ragu bolognese.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

simon pearce vermont cheddar soup

We miss you @russell_f and @porterama xo #thanksgiving cc @simonpearce

This dispatch, written hastily on the 1st of January, may not be the kind of post you look for first thing in 2015. There are no promises of eating better, no crisp salad teasing you below. Instead, I offer you a soup with three cups of grated cheddar in it, plus some half and half. Clearly, I’ve no resolutions for 2015 insofar as eating habits go, but then again, I never have.

I wanted to share this soup with you as far back as Thanksgiving, but work, book edits, and general winter fatigue got in the way. Weekends were busy with baby showers (mine), tree trimming parties, and various trips to find things for baby. And then about a week ago, just when our office was about to shut down until after New Year’s, I got hit with the kind of third trimester fatigue I didn’t know existed. I had heard of this phenomenon, which I’m told is followed by a burst of energy to prep for the baby, but I hadn’t given it much thought. Outside of general pregnancy discomfort, I have few complaints: no morning sickness to speak of and a fairly energetic (and hungry) first trimester. But this fatigue was something else. I’ve described to friends as that if dementors from Azkaban were sucking the life out of me. I’ve never felt this weak and exhausted – and I couldn’t nap either. The fatigue lasted about a week before lifting. I certainly hope it doesn’t come back again – if it does, I’m not sure I’ll be physically able to take on anything.

Continue reading simon pearce vermont cheddar soup.

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

gift guide 2014

33 weeks. Getting real.

Hello friends, i’m sad to report it’s been over a month since I’ve last visited this space. I was quite keen on writing sooner, but between work, editing books, Thanksgiving, and my baby shower, it’s been on the busy end. On weeknights I get home around seven thirty, and by the time we make dinner, eat it, and clean up, I’m so tired that even reading a few pages in bed seems like a Herculean task. Personal errands pile up until the weekend – and I think it’s safe to say we’ve become those boring adults we always thought we’d never be. The joke’s on us.

Still, we’re in the midst of the holidays, and while I know there are some grumbles about how commercial the holiday season can be, I like to think of it as perhaps an opportunity to support you favorite small shops: mortar-and-brick as well as online. I don’t like to think of this season as obligatory, I think it’s far more important that we spend time together.

For the record, this picture has nothing to do with food or holidays, but this pregnancy thing is getting real. 33 weeks. Wow.

If you are feeling like you want to (and can) treat your loved ones (or yourself), here are some of my favorite things these days.

Continue reading gift guide 2014.

Monday, November 10, 2014

on cooking + lentils with sausage and kale


It’s 6am Sunday morning and the house is blissfully quiet. Andrew is still sleeping; and Forrest is doing that thing where he sits on various window sills of the apartment for long stretches of time watching the birds and the squirrels with the kind of rapt attention usually reserved for very important things. We call it “morning cat office hours”, because he takes his job very seriously. When the squirrels make it dangerously close to the window, you can see Forrest pacing back and forth behind the curtains, clearly unnerved by what he clearly believes is them taunting him.

I’m finally writing in our new-ish office where we hung the Elfa shelving from the Container Store. We didn’t need that expense making a dent in our bank account, but we had no choice. The home office is a tiny room hardly the size of a closet, and the way our desks were set up, things were piling up everywhere. To let the Container Store guy do its job (aka hang shelves in the home of two home-improvement illiterate Jews), we had to move all the furniture and detritus out, which of course, meant that we could no longer find things like staples and tape, notebooks and printing paper, post-its and paperclips, and most importantly – bills.

Saturday morning buckwheat waffle things.

Yesterday, was the first day we had of no plans, no extended stay visiting family or friends, no obligations, no books to edit (me), no breaking stories to cover (Andrew) – and I, in my crazy nesting stage, demanded we put our home office in order. The chaos of it all, loose papers everywhere, was clouding up my mind and affecting everything else; it was even making it hard to breathe. And that’s what we did pretty much all day. Five loads of laundry, a trip to the post office, and the organization of our home office. I made sour milk waffles for breakfast, the ones I tend to make the most around here given my inability to plan such things, and swapped in a third of buckwheat flour for the all-purpose. Andrew declared them even better than the original, and I think a new family favorite is born. At the end of the evening, we rewarded ourselves with some excellent Indian take-out which we ate while watching SNL reruns.

Outside of organizing the home office, not much happened. I vowed that today I’d make pie crust for Thanksgiving and the secret soup which I’m surprising our families with. We’re hosting again, but this time, our holiday will be a bit more modest given that I’m operating with a larger belly and am not making a dozen sides to go with our turkey. A handful will be plenty and good enough. Plus cooking ahead, in stages, is making it easier for me.

It’s been a funny thing cooking at home since I started work in September. I love my job, love the work, and I love each new challenge. I don’t so much love having to edit two books in addition to the job despite my love of both books. It’s hard: weeknights and weekends spent poring over books line by line, and being pregnant is a bit draining especially at night.

Rainy day granola - a short break from editing. Also, the slow-cooker has commenced its 2014-2015 season. If I have to stay cooped up and working, I might as well make the house smell amazing and cook a few hands-off things.

And I’ve had a harder time, than I’d expected, adjusting to the demands of working full-time in an office, the daily commute, plus dinner prep. If you had talked to me last month, I’d tell you that I’m kind of failing on the home cooking front. There’s been a lot of takeout and not a whole lot of cooking. But in the last month or so, I’ve come to be gentler on myself – I’m doing the best I can.

Curiously enough, there must be something in the air about cooking at home, because there’s been a flurry of articles and blog posts about it, with some pieces charged and maybe a touch incendiary, and others calmer and more neutral.

Cooking at home, especially for an adult who commutes daily to a full-time job, but most certainly for all, is another logistical piece of the time management puzzle. How often is often enough; how does one feel about nightly weeknight cooking; is there guilt involved when it’s not frequent enough (whatever “enough” means)?

Continue reading on cooking + lentils with sausage and kale.

Friday, October 24, 2014

friday link love


Hi friends, happy Friday, and no I haven’t forgotten about this site – or you. I simply just can’t fit everything in these days, and am doing my absolute best to prioritize. Work, wellness, and family and friends, of course, come first. And everything else winds up being a bit marginalized. So with that in mind, a few of these links are quite dated, given that news doesn’t stay “new” for long, but I still found them to be interesting enough to include – I hope you agree.

Last week, we had our apartment painted and revamped our home office. The painting meant that we had to take all our books off the shelves and move them from room to room (after work at night) while the painters painted certain rooms. As a result, we’re still unearthing things and still finding new homes for them. This is what happens when you get home at 7:30pm and still need to eat dinner, make some calls, answer a few emails. The home office installation – I’ll take some pictures in once we settle in – came from Elfa and the folks at the Container Store. They were having a massive sale, and we decided to make an investment into our work space. Andrew works from home enough for it to be meaningful, and I may do some work from home as I get closer to my due date. The old set-up wasn’t working for us – such a small room needed built in shelving and smart use of every single inch of space.

A few of you have emailed me to ask how I’m feeling and what we’re doing to the nursery, i.e. can I share pictures and decorating ideas. I’m feeling, generally, pretty great, knock on wood. It’s getting hard to bend down to tie my shoes, and I’m finding new and creative ways of doing it, but it is funny to find yourself faced with this problem all of a sudden. As for the “nursery” – trust me you do not want to see the mess that room is in. In general, I don’t think we’re going to get the room ready before the baby. We’ve registered for the necessities, we’re hoping to start out with less than with more first. And we’ll see what we need. The one thing we’re both really keen on, however, is artwork. While neither one of us is an art connoisseur, we’ve decided that we don’t want any art that the baby will ever grow out of. We’re hoping to hang a few things that will look good in any room down the road. I’m a huge fan of these as well as this (the framed pieces). And we’re keeping the room white with grey trim at the bottom. That’s about as much of an update as I can give.

Anyway, I’ve rambled on enough. To the links! Enjoy your weekend – we’re away, belatedly celebrating Andrew’s birthday. I hope there’s some apple picking in our future! And then, the upcoming week, there’s lots to do at work, my cousin is coming to visit from Israel, and I have two of my books to edit (one I’m given less than a week for – ha!) – I guess I better rest up! xo, olga

Continue reading friday link love.