Posts tagged weeknight
Friday, April 10, 2015

gong bao chicken with peanuts

Gong Bao chicken - plated. Excellent and will become a regular staple here.

This gong bao chicken (also sometimes written as kung pao chicken) with peanuts is the second new thing I’ve cooked since Avi was born. The first was that amazing pot roast from Deb that I’ve been making entirely in the slow-cooker. There’s also been some light cooking happening, mostly of old favorites and quick weeknight meals that can be made in advance and reheated, or meals that come together in a flash. And I’ve gone so far as to make Marcella Hazan’s bolognese while Andrew’s mom helped to watch Avi. But what I’ve stayed away from was opening cookbooks and learning something new. It was as if my brain was incapable of processing new information. In a way it was — I wanted to write today about postpartum anxiety, which I was diagnosed with a few weeks ago — but I’ll save that for another day, for another post. I’m doing better, I think, than a few weeks ago, but it’s something I definitely want to talk about here in hopes that it might help another new mom or make us all more informed collectively. This parenthood thing is not for the faint of heart.

In a little over a week and a half, on April 21, I go back to work, and I can’t wait. It’s strange to realize that I love my work so much, I have been missing it over the last ten weeks. I also miss the routine and control over my schedule. I’m excited and nervous about striking a balance that works for me; but I’m also a little sad to leave Avi — right as he’s getting more interesting and fun – I have to leave him. I’ve been thinking a lot about the US maternity leave (and how much it is lacking compared to other developed countries), and there’s not much I can add that hasn’t been said before by people far more eloquent than me. It’s a funny conundrum: While I’m ready for more structure, I wish, at the same time, there was more time to see how Avi develops and changes. He’s currently into being sung and read to, likes having a conversation while getting his diaper changed, seems to love both Dvorak and Dr. Dre, and gets really mad when you take the bottle out of his mouth mid-feeding. And I mean, furious! Overall, he is smiley and wiggly, and is turning into such a fun little guy. Also, that hair!

Continue reading gong bao chicken with peanuts.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

leek and potato soup

There's a lot to be said for something as humble as leek potato soup. One of the best things about winter - filling and comforting.

Greetings from winter wonderland and the fortress of sleep deprivation; a hastily written dispatch here! Quickly, before Avi wakes up; before the snow melts!

I had initially thought I’d missed the soup season. It’s March after all, and I am hearing complaints from everywhere just how over winter they are. I’ll agree that the cold has been relentless and painful; but here in New York, we got the shaft as far as snow is concerned. If we’re in for a mild winter — fine; but if it’s going to make me pile on layers, please bring on the snow. I don’t want to suffer in vain.

I wanted to tell you about leek and potato (potato and leek?) soup before Avi was born. I had gotten into the Sunday cooking habit of making a large batch while cooking (and freezing) other things. But then I gave birth, and almost six weeks later, I’m still not better off managing my time. Because the concept of “my time” has, at least for awhile, been radically altered. I’m on Avi’s time, Avi’s schedule. I’m still wrapping my brain around that whole parenthood thing. Talk to me in a few years – I bet you I’ll still be trying to grasp it.

Continue reading leek and potato soup.

Monday, November 10, 2014

on cooking + lentils with sausage and kale

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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.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

fish stew with fennel and potatoes

Recipe in progress. A delightful fish stew from the current @bonappetit magazine. I'm tweaking it heavily but the premise it delightful.

Friends, I’m in the deep throes of stitching together a book before I send it to my co-authors for review and edits, before we send it to our editor by August 1. There’ve been lots of early mornings that involve editing and shower comes as a reward for finishing a chapter or a task. This shower as reward thing works only so well because when I’m sitting on the couch writing, no one, that is besides Forrest and a few house flies that have somehow gotten into the apartment, can judge me. Of course, there’s me judging me but I’ve lived with myself for the past 36 years, so I can take it.

Remarkably, this past weekend involved little book work (!) and lots of home improvement. We’re slowly painting our apartment white – as the previous owner thought that a yellow cream in gloss is the way to go. Additionally, the previous owners must have been smokers, or something, because the molding on the bottom turned a sickly shade of yellow. Not to mention, the previous painters (from a few paint jobs ago) didn’t believe in borders, and a part of the floor that’s next to the molding is where there are remnants of this yellowing paint. Kind of makes me want to demolish the walls and start anew but that is not in our budget (not to mention probably is a violation of our co-op rules).

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So, Saturday and Sunday, because we spent our 4th of July at Home Depot researching balcony doors and what it’ll take to the the door and the frame a lot (hint: a lot of $$$!), we painted: first a coat of crisp white (three cheers for Benjamin Moore Super White!!) and then the molding and details a dark, charcoal grey. All this takes a remarkable amount of time and – whenever dark paint is involved – precision.

Continue reading fish stew with fennel and potatoes.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

brita’s roasted salmon with green herbs

the easiest and tastiest salmon recipe. it's a staple in our house and it's supper tonight. #sundaysupper

I had such lofty plans for August. No, really, I did. I was going to take it easy. Luxuriate, if you will, for the first time in I can’t even remember how long. Take a month to just have a little kinder schedule. Run. Do yoga. Cook more. Write – for me (now that’s a novel concept!) Wade through Union Square Greenmarket. Take a vacation. I boasted about it even; I was so proud that I figure out a summer month this year, to scale it back a notch. And then, a project fell into my lap.

Continue reading brita’s roasted salmon with green herbs.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

pasta with cabbage and pancetta

Pasta with cabbage and pancetta

It was over dinner Saturday night that Franny’s restaurant cookbook came up in conversation. A woman seated next to me asked if the book was any good.

“It’s very good,” I replied.

Then I added, “Full disclosure: I worked on it, but it’s very good independent of that.”

The conversation veered in many directions through the evening – fig trees, writing, what we were eating – but my thoughts stayed with Franny’s cookbook through the night and into Sunday morning. It had been too long since I cooked from it.

I had a head of Savoy cabbage in the crisper that was patiently awaiting its fate. Time had turned its leaves more wilted than its normal veining makes it appear – and more limp, too. But cabbage is a resilient vegetable – a few days past its prime and it’s still in fighting spirit. Soups, stews, roasted wedges, cabbage is a marathon vegetable. I can’t think of a single occasion when a head of cabbage went beyond the ability to be salvaged in my house. On the other hand, I can think of countless bags of spinach I’ve forgotten about and found weeks later, way in the back of the refrigerator, the bag’s contents having liquefied itself to a foul-smelling brown liquid. On some unlucky occasions, the bags leaked and instead just removing the offensive produce, I’d spend the next hour scrubbing the refrigerator shelves.

Continue reading pasta with cabbage and pancetta.