Posts tagged weeknight
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.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

midnight pasta

midnight pasta

Our household is in hunker-down mode. Dinners are tried-and-true standbyes. Things we’ve I’ve made before that we love that don’t require hours at a time. Quick, easy weeknight meals are our fast friends. I’ve finally become inseparable from my slow cooker and all I can say on that is, where has it been all my life?

Needless to say that recipe development, at least what I like to do with it, has come to a screeching halt. At least for the time being.

Until I hand in the manuscript for the kimchi book due in, gulp, a few weeks, I don’t have much bandwidth or desire to experiment. I’ve got enough static in my head as it is. For now – I focus on what I know best. Meanwhile, Forrest labors tirelessly. Sundays are, apparently, for office hours. At least between naps anyway.

Continue reading midnight pasta.

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.

Continue reading red lentil soup with lemon.