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.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

carrot coconut soup


I have become that person – unable to focus on anything. Too many things are going on at once and I’m finding it overwhelming: editing one book, working on two others, planning Thanksgiving dinner for next week. There are also other distractions. Do laundry. Unload the dishwasher. File a pile of receipts away. Pack a box. Or two.

I wonder if I am the kind of person who is too ambitious with my daily lists. Every morning, I make one; it’s one of my favorite things to do. The satisfaction I get from making a list and then crossing things off it…. well, I find few things as thrilling. But when I look at that list at the end of the day, and I count the number of crossed-off items, I frown. I seem to never get the whole thing done, no matter how hard I try. Either I set unrealistic goals or I’m shit when it comes to time management. Let’s hope it’s the former – otherwise I’m in trouble.

I haven’t talked about renovations yet, because nothing’s happened as of today. But there is a lot of groundwork happening. Foundational preparation so to speak. We’re working with a lovely architect who happens to be a friend and while we cannot, at once, act upon his amazing and genius plan, we are taking it piecemeal.

Continue reading carrot coconut soup.

Friday, November 15, 2013

friday link love

Second pass ftw.

Happy Friday, folks. Hope your week was great and you’re ready to relax for the next couple of days. I think my greatest accomplishment for the week was to go running outside on what has been the coldest day of the fall thus far. It dipped below thirty at night and in the morning, when I set out, hat and gloves on, the thermometer informed me that while it was thirty-two degrees out, it felt like twenty-five. Nonetheless, it was precisely because I was so scared of how to properly layer for cold running weather (it’s been a few years since I ran outside in the winter), I wanted to just get it over with. And I didn’t want to be a slave to my own anxieties. So, long sleeve running shirt, thicker, thermal shirt over it, long tights, and such, I set out to see how I’d do. And you know what? It wasn’t bad. At all. In fact, it was pretty great, incredibly invigorating, and fun. And it made me think about things we are afraid of and things that make us anxious – most of the time, it’s never as bad as we imagine it to be. And even if it is unpleasant, at least we can say we faced our fear, and in some small way – conquered it.

Also, I made soup for Thanksgiving and froze it. And I can’t wait to tell you about it next week!

This past week, weekend, and next week I’m finding myself swimming in second pass edits while trying to make progress with other projects. It’s a tad daunting, I must admit. But it’ll have to get done one way or another. On Saturday we hope to measure the new kitchen thoroughly and paint a tiny room adjacent to the kitchen that will be my home office. Since the room doesn’t get much light, we want to paint it a striking white in hopes to restore as much crispness and cheerfulness to it as possible. And on Sunday, we are planning a trip to Ikea (the test of every relationship) to do some research on their kitchen cabinets, design, and approximate costs. I plan on testing a few recipes and I am hoping to get through nearly 400 pages of the second pass edits. Wish me luck!

Continue reading friday link love.