What grounds you? For me it’s the gentle purr of a cat. The peaceful fall of snow against lamplight. A warm, firm embrace. And cinnamon. No matter where my mind is, whether it be under stress or on the high of a possible opportunity — an electrical current coursing — they bring me back down to earth. They give me a moment to pause, to breathe, to close my eyes and smile.
So when it snowed on the first day of spring, my brain frustrated from staring at research and trying to edit on an 11-inch screen, I stepped into my kitchen and watched our one tree being blanketed swiftly with white as the sky became greyer and greyer, then darkened towards nightfall, pink and purple in the cloudy city sky, and knew that I also needed to inhale the aroma of butter and chocolate and oatmeal and cinnamon. The frustration of technology, and not having a printer, required a double dose of grounding. I needed oatmeal chocolate chunk cookies to connect me back with the earth, my sanity, myself.
Continue reading →
So there’s apparently a thing in the Midwest where people put ranch dressing on everything. Hailing from the NYC suburbs, I still don’t really understand it. I’d definitely prefer a nice balsamic for my salads, barbecue sauce for my chicken fingers, and my pizza plain — without any dipping sauce, thank you very much. I still furrow my brow a little when my fella of four and a half years takes out the bottle when we reheat day-old pizza, but I mostly just shrug and let him do his midwestern thing. When I first made calzones a couple of years ago, I made him his favorite: a “Rocky Mountain High,” nostalgia from his college years, stuffed with chicken, mozzarella, blue cheese, and hot sauce, with a side of ranch. I, meanwhile, prepped myself a traditional cheese calzone stuffed with mozz, tomatoes, and basil, convinced that it would blow his weird midwestern concoction out of the water. Oh, how wrong I was.
My calzone was flat and boring. His was rich, creamy, and full of all kinds of explosive flavor. I ate mine sadly while looking over at his wistfully, probably much in the same way my Pema cat looks at my Lhamo cat as they’re eating their food (which is actually exactly the same). Needless to say, I haven’t made that sad calzone since. Continue reading →
There are days when I dream of sun-ripened fruit and farmstand veggies and other fresh things. And then there are days when I try to Nutella everything. I’ve gotten into the habit of baking off loaves of peasant bread and schmearing warm slices with Nutella, or rescuing day-old peasant bread by toasting it and schmearing it with Nutella. It’s been my daily afternoon treat and I think it was saving me from the depths of everyone else’s winter depression. When we ran out of the sweet stuff over the weekend, we took advantage of the current thaw and took a walk up to one of our many local European markets (one of the great things about living in a Greek neighborhood) to see if they were selling it any cheaper than the supermarket on the corner. They weren’t, but they did have giant jars. Don’t worry, I said, I’ll find a use for it. But when I say “Nutella everything” I don’t just mean a schmear on things here and there — I’m talking about recreating Nutella in all kinds of food forms. Enter these chocolate-hazelnut banana muffins. Continue reading →
Picture it: Paris, 2001. The dollar is stronger than the franc, which would be replaced with the euro just a year later. Gigantic bottles of Evian cost less than 50 cents. Orangina is all the rage. And you can stuff your face with pain au chocolat for less than a dollar a pastry. It was a dangerous time to be an American in Paris, when every day was meant for gluttony, lest those previous months studying and meandering down those cobblestone streets go to waste before a return stateside, where even decent breads and viennoiserie cost several dollars a pop. “Indulge,” says the little voice inside your head. “Have one more,” says the little you sitting on your own shoulder wearing red pajamas and wielding a pitchfork. The little you on your other shoulder, wearing a white gown and sporting a halo above her head, is silent. She, too, is indulging in one more pain au chocolat, shards of crisp, buttery crumb falling from her lips and into the folds of her white, silken gown.
Continue reading →
It’s 8:30pm. You had a long day at work / you just got back from a tough run / insert the reason you’re tired and haven’t already eaten and might cry if you don’t get something delicious in your belly soon. What do you? Do you order in and wait half an hour or more for delivery? Do you break open the little blue box of mac and cheese? No, of course not! You grab a few cloves of garlic and spend 15 easy minutes making rich, velvety spaghetti with garlic and olive oil.
Continue reading →