Well folks, we made it. 2016 is over and gone, and 2017 is here — of course, as we knew it would be. On the eve of a new year we always proclaim the previous to be “the worst year ever,” willing the next to be better and brighter, because it just has to be, right? Seriously, we do it every year. And while 2016 might have been an exception in crappiness, even in our current era, on the grand scale of politics and the like I’m not betting 2017 will be much better. But a friend posted a thread on Facebook encouraging people to post the good things that happened in 2016 — because on a personal level, I’ll bet there were as many for you as there were for me. I spent much of the year trying to regain my footing, find my place in the world — a miasmic endeavor that left me, often, in tears. And yet, 2016 was the year my sweet nephew Charlie was born, and it was the year I married the love of my life on the most gorgeous day of the year — two huge events that also left me in tears, but happy ones. Watching videos of Charlie laughing over and over again and just looking into the eyes of my new husbo have been a salve to my soul. And as 2016 came to a close and 2017 dawned cold and sunny, I’m stepping closer and more firmly to where I want to be, where I need to be, where I belong. And so, in honor of this awakening, I’m sharing with you these Orange Cranberry Streusel Muffins — as bright and glorious as the cold winter sun, and like a warm hug to welcome you in from the chill of last year.
This one goes out to all you marathoners out there. All you celiacs. All you vegans. This is the back-pocket recipe I wish I had over the last two years, when I was training my ass off, hungry all the time and only half-heartedly fooling myself into thinking I could eat whatever I wanted. These vegan, gluten-free chocolate peanut butter banana energy bites have everything I want in a sweet, satisfying treat, and nothing I don’t need. Continue reading →
Catharsis: tears fall, a dam breaks. Time is not your enemy, yet it nudges you along its path, regardless of your mistakes or your self-doubt — whether you’re ready for it or not. Fall with your tears, fall into the river time has made in your kitchen. This is the art of bread baking, and it’s why I came to the mountains of North Carolina earlier this month for a three-day intensive, wood-fired baking workshop with the inimitable Tara Jensen of Smoke Signals Bakery. I came for an awakening.
Three blueberry recipes in a row?? I know, I’m a little obsessed. I swear I tried to make something else, but it was a disaster, and needs some work, and I bought more blueberries that tasted like candy, and I haven’t made scones in a while and damnit, this recipe is genius. No beating around the blueberry bush. This recipe needs no long-winded introduction because these gorgeous, tall triangles dotted with sweet bursts of fruit are simply the best blueberry scones I’ve ever tasted. Continue reading →
Do you remember when life was simple and all you needed for a delicious, well-earned, just-baked dessert was a Tollhouse chocolate chip cookie? Cream the butter and sugars, add the eggs and vanilla, add the flour mixture in three portions, stir in chocolate chips, bake at 375 degrees. In our quest for always better, always different, always new, I wonder if we’ve sort of lost sight of the basics. I’ve seen gorgeous recipes for dishes and desserts with 4,000 ingredients that you never thought to put together. I, myself, proudly brown my butter and whisk it with sugar and eggs in four different stages, because, yes, I really, really like these cookies. These are the ones I want in my life every single damn day. And last week, I finally replenished my tahini supply and made these lovely Salted Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies from Danielle Oron’s book Modern Israeli Cooking, reprinted earlier this year in the New York Times. Like the brown butter chocolate chip cookies, they straddle the classic and the different, yet are still entirely simple to make — you even cream the butter and sugar, like the olden days! Continue reading →
This isn’t a post about moms. The ones who wake in the middle of the night at your slightest cough or gasp from a nightmare. The ones who schlep from one end of town to another, to the next town, and back again, for figure skating lessons, violin lessons, piano lessons, general shenanigans. The ones who give in and get you a cat when you’re six years old, have you jumping around your living room with your brother at the thought of bringing home a tiny grey kitten-friend. The ones who hold your hand as you wade through life’s murky waters, are okay with a phone call in the middle of the day while they’re at work just because you’re bored or lonely or wondering what to do about a weird burn. The ones who teach you “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” The ones who are there for you, every single moment of every single day, without you ever having to ask, because being a mom means being completely selfless.
No, this isn’t about that. My mom hates coconut, and I did not plan very well this week. This weekend I’m making my mom key lime pie, but this post is really about Coconut Banana Nut Muffins. After all, Mom did teach me to listen to my body and eat the things I crave.
I’m having another one of those weeks: spending lots of time at work thinking creatively and then expending all that energy before I get home. I have a terrible case of writer’s block. I’m also feeling more and more like my commute is one of the things that’s killing me: It generally takes an hour, door to door, but often much more when the MTA is having a bad day. Some of that time I spend reading the news on my New York Times app or a good book when I have one, a lot of that time I had spent through the winter knitting cute baby things for my cute baby nephew, but mostly, I’m standing, stuck in between people who are as miserable as I am, holding onto gross poles that are still warm from other people’s hands, as we inch through darkened tunnels and try our best not to breathe on each other or look at each other. By the time I get home, I just want to rinse myself of the day, of that time wasted expending the energy needed to stand yet doing absolutely nothing but staring ahead, and do — absolutely nothing. I’m exhausted. I’m parched. And I should probably spend more time doing writing exercises so this kind of thing doesn’t happen.
Let’s try it: train. plane. propane. proton. pluton. neutron. noodle. doodle — wait! What was that in there? Noodle? How about spaghetti? Wait! Instead of writing the other day I spent a stupid amount of time watching Beyonce’s brilliant Lemonade. Spaghetti with lemons? And basil? And shallots? And cream? And parm? Ooh! Bing, there it is. Yes, let’s talk about Spaghetti al Limone — one of the greatest, simplest one-pot suppers ever to grace this little corner of Astoria. Continue reading →
If you were to ask me what my number one, go-to, last-minute pasta dish is, I wouldn’t hesitate to say spaghetti aglio e olio. If you were to ask me what my number one, go-to, ridiculously-easy, don’t-feel-like-standing-in-front-of-the-stove pasta dish is, I would say this: Marcella Hazan’s four-ingredient tomato sauce. Continue reading →
There is no better expression of love than a good episode of The Simpsons. Watched together, on the couch, with two big bowls of pasta and maybe a furry kitty between you. It’s what we did the first night we moved into our very own apartment together, just the two of us, four years ago, taking those tiny but bold steps towards something bigger and lasting. Whenever we’re blue, or distraught, or maybe just watched something too intensely depressing, we turn to The Simpsons — together. We re-watch scenes over and over, noticing tiny details that we hadn’t caught the first 38 times around. We double over in laughter. We quote Mr. Burns, Grampa, Marge, Homer, Ralph Wiggum, everyone. And it never, ever gets old. That’s love, right?
Love is also made of pastry. Candies and chocolates are great. So are brownies, and cookies, and cakes. But sometimes — like maybe on Valentine’s Day — you want to do something extra special. Something that maybe doesn’t take a whole lot of work, but is French, and is, as such, fancy, and instantly impressive. I’m talking about choux pastry — pâte à choux. That gorgeously crisp pastry dough that puffs up in the oven, leaving a just barely custardy space inside for pastry cream, or whipped cream, or ice cream, or nothing at all. I’m talking profiteroles, I’m talking eclairs. But first, I’m talking chouquettes. Continue reading →
If you’re anything like me, you will go into a Trader Joe’s with a list of a handful of necessary things — light enough to truck two subway lines home — but end up with a heavy basketful and a wandering eye on the long, long checkout line. The last time I was there, just before Christmas, I spotted a bag of candied ginger while we were meandering closer to the registers, picked it up, and dropped it in our basket, convinced there was something I wanted it for. There wasn’t. Well, not that I knew of. But I knew people were pairing ginger with pears all over the place, and with the new year approaching, I also knew I wanted a new, healthy-ish muffin recipe in my arsenal. And what better form with which to experiment? These Ginger Pear Muffins are everything I never knew I wanted. Continue reading →