Friday, December 13, 2013

friday link love

Looking out the window. Waiting for appliances to be delivered. #kitchenreno

Happy friday, folks. At this time, by next week, everything in our apartment will be packed up. We
will like be getting ready for our movers to arrive, and I’ll be fretting about how to transport our 15-pound cat safely to the new apartment. Lucky for us, our good friend Tina has agreed to drive me and Forrest, who will be given a sedative (let’s hope he takes it) and wrapped in a blanket for security to our new apartment. Andrew will stay behind to supervise the move and I’ll bring Forrest to his (and our) new home which already has his food station and litter box set up. I’ll bring a few toys as well and hopefully he won’t be too traumatized. [For those unfamiliar with the history of all this, Forrest is extremely scared of leaving the apartment, busts out of carrying cases (as in busts down the door with his mighty strength), and generally suffers from fear of abandonment. Poor cat.]

Meanwhile, this week, we met with our Ikea kitchen planner. We had our fridge and stove delivered. At the moment, the fridge is sitting in the living room while the stove is in the middle of the kitchen. And today, though thankfully we don’t have to be there ourselves, we are having closets installed in the hallway and bedroom. That’s going to be a post soon.

Also, I have a whole post I need to write to you on what it takes to get all the pieces moving in terms of kitchen renovation. While you’re trying to move and finish testing recipes for a cookbook, 30 of which you received the week before. These are all good problems to worry about, but financially it has been incredibly stressful. You get one estimate from the contractor and then you get the actual cost and it’s almost twice as high as the estimate with just one lump sum at the bottom, no itemization or anything, just zeros next to itemized items. Now, I’m no Einstein, but even I know that a bunch of zeroes don’t add up to several thousand dollars. Looking at an invoice like this is enough to make even the calmest of people feel their blood pressure rise.

As I write this, I’m testing a yeasted waffle recipe for a book. The batter is fermenting, rising in the kitchen. I’m hoping everything will go according to plan.* I have a full day of work and recipe testing ahead, a weekend full of packing, a trip to Ikea to pick up (and lug) a kitchen sink, hours of recipe testing ahead, and writing headnotes and such. I sincerely hope your weekend looks a lot more relaxing and lazy.

*WAFFLE UPDATE: Moving onto Round 2 of testing.

Continue reading friday link love.

Friday, December 6, 2013

friday link love


Happy Friday, friends. Today marks the two week mark until our move. We should really start packing, don’t you think? I’m hoping that a good chunk of recipe testing for one of the books will be out of the way (I just need to be sent more recipes). At the risk of running a bit ahead of myself, I will try (but can’t guarantee) to post Friday links on the day of the move. Perhaps I can schedule it in advance and have it automatically publish on a certain day.

It hasn’t been the easiest week here. Besides mourning the death of Judy Rodgers, I got word that my middle school science teacher lost her battle with breast cancer. She had beaten it the first time, and then it came back, more advanced, and the treatment just didn’t work. She passed away two nights ago, still very young. One of her children is still in college.

And yesterday’s news of Nelson Mandela’s passing were, while not entirely surprising, still sad. The world lost a remarkable figure.

There’s much packing (and recipe testing) ahead for this weekend. Also, a tree-trimming party, a now-annual tradition, at our friends’ place replete with mimosas, bloody marys, and a stromboli that puts you in hibernation mode for the rest of the day. I’m thinking of bringing these cookies along. I hope wherever the weekend takes you, it is merry and bright!

Continue reading friday link love.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

gruyere black pepper cookies

Gruyere Black Pepper Cookies

It kills me how early the sun sets this time of year. I’m particularly sensitive to daylight and the lack of it renders me almost comatose. I can’t wake up early and by ten pm I’m practically asleep.

Meanwhile the days seem to be asking a lot more of me. Slow down, I keep thinking, there are only so many hours in the day; I’m doing the best I can. But the best-I-can doesn’t seem to be cutting it these days, unfortunately. There’s packing and moving logistics: forwarding your mail, alerting friends and service providers of your address change, ordering new services; there’s work to be done, deadlines to be met, recipes to be tested and written up (not to mention the rest of writing concerning a book); there are seemingly endless edits of things; there’s a matter of getting some exercise (lest you start losing your mind); and so on, and so forth.

Slowly, our apartment is turning into a storage unit. Boxes are beginning to pile up. Things I’d normally put away are strewn about – I’ve all but given up on the place. I get that way before I move. My normal inability to digest clutter forces me to be constantly cleaning, tidying-up, curating so to speak, so the apartment doesn’t become a pig stye. But right before I move, I lose the ability to stay on top of it. Laundry, if it’s not easy to put away, starts to pile up in a messy lump. Right now, in our bedroom, a fold-out chair is groaning under the weight of unfolded sheets. Does it bother me to look at it? Oh, yes. Do I do anything about it? Most certainly, no.

Continue reading gruyere black pepper cookies.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

judy rodgers

My favorite cookbook of all time.

Judy Rodgers passed away last night. She lost a lengthy battle with cancer. She was 57.

I found out this morning via Twitter before the news broke out across various media outlets. I’d never met Rodgers, never worked with her or for her. I don’t have a pithy story or a poignant one. I can’t write something as evocative and heartfelt as David had earlier today. What I have is a handful of memories of eating at the Zuni Cafe (the last one inspired this soup), each blowing my mind in different ways, and I have her cookbook.

It is my favorite cookbook of all time. I can’t tell you how many things I’ve cooked from it: Roasted chicken; butter lettuce with oranges, avocado, and shallot vinaigrette; shredded radicchio with anchovy vinaigrette, bread crumbs, and sieved egg; slow-scrambled eggs with bottarga (Andrew’s arch-nemesis); how to cook polenta; rough puff pastry; ricotta gnocchi; tomato summer pudding; roasted applesauce, just to name a few.

What I learned the most from Rodgers, however, was not so much as what to cook, but how to cook.

Continue reading judy rodgers.

Friday, November 22, 2013

friday link love


Happy pre-Thanksgiving Friday, friends. This weekend will be all about prepping for the holiday (we’re hosting both of our families), and finally getting through the second pass of the Forgione book. (I will get it done no matter what.) Oh, and I’ve decided to clean out our freezer – wish me luck.

I feel a little suspended at the moment: can’t quite pack because we’re hosting families, but slowly, a few boxes have crept up here and there. I keep trying to figure out what things we’ll need in the new apartment. I keep worrying that I’ll be still testing recipes like crazy when it’s time to really pack up. Or that our Ikea planner will tell us none of our future appliances will fit. As I type this, I’m swimming in a sea of loose recipes: for the book, for the blog, for next week. There’s a harrowing pile of mail on my desk that I must get through. I no longer know which ingredients are for testing for the book and which are for next week, which only means one thing: I’ll screw it up and run out of something essential.

I’m hoping to go for a run this grey and rainy morning. I haven’t worked out all week because I was feeling dreadful but the lack of exercise makes me sluggish, anxious, and far less productive. So while I might not have much time for a run, even twenty minutes outside in the damp, fall air, will brighten me up. In fact, I’m really looking forward to it.

I don’t know if I can post anything next week. It’ll be a holiday weekend and we’ll be running around with our families, but maybe I’ll acquire some great reading links – we’ll see. In the meantime, I hope your pre-holiday weekend is restful and calming.

Continue reading friday link love.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

shoestring reno: painting the home office

Painting the home office.

I’m kicking off the home renovations series of entries by showing you what a difference a coat of paint makes.

I know that you’re expecting kitchen renovation news, but I don’t have them yet. I’m just doing my homework and research and trying to figure out what goes where and when. When there’s something to report, like hey, our half-wall has been removed and that opens up the kitchen area, I’ll give you a full report.

For the moment, however, it’s researching things like cabinets (Ikea), countertops (hopefully honed marble), appliances (let’s pray they fit), and some other stuff.

Last weekend, however, we kicked off the “shoestring reno” project (its official name since we’re trying to do this for as little money as possible) by painting the tiny home office adjacent to the kitchen. We aren’t yet sure how this room will be laid out – it really is super tiny – but hopefully, with a little ingenuity and some built-in shelving (down the road), it will make for a great, cozy little space.

One of the reasons we decided to paint this room is because it doesn’t get much light at all. Sure, it might look well lit from the pictures, but in reality – it’s quite dark. This is where the lens definitely makes something look better than it is in life.

Anyway, dark room and this horrible yellowish cream paint color that made the whole room look like this is where everything that’s alive and beautiful goes to die. In fact, I should say that the entire apartment is painted in this horrible, lifeless color.

Painting the home office.

Why did they do it? WHY???

At the paint store while picking up my supplies, a young couple was also set on painting their bedroom that weekend. I overheard them complaining to the store clerk that their whole apartment was painted in this sickly looking yellowish paint.

“I look like I have jaundice when I’m in there,” the young woman said.

“It’s deathlike,” agreed her husband.

There was some solace in knowing we weren’t alone in battling the soulless off white paint. But it still didn’t answer my question: why is it the color of choice for landlords and home sellers? Does anyone actually like that color?

When we got to the apartment, Andrew and I laid out the tarp, taped the corners with painters tape, changed into our painting clothes. Then we cranked up Andrew’s iPhone as loud as it cold go and took to painting.

The results were, well, look.

Continue reading shoestring reno: painting the home office.