Wednesday, February 18, 2015

trendy vegetables

I cook at night these days. Mostly when I’m too tired, or so sick of staring at a computer, that washing dishes and making simple pastas and vegetable dishes feels like the only thing to do. 


Brussel sprouts are having a really irritating moment right now, they might even be trendier than kale. Honestly, there are few things more annoying than a really trendy vegetable. The point is, brussel sprouts are really wonderful when you cut them in half, and sauté them until they’re browned, and then add a little wasabi mustard, if you can find it. 
This is the real deal. 
As I made the brussel sprouts I thought about my parents, who STILL refuse to eat them due to retained childhood loathing. It was on their list of things that “Our Family Does Not Eat” which included beets, cabbage, brussel sprouts, margarine, and especially cauliflower, which my father has such a fierce hate of, that the one time I tried to cook it he actually yelled at me, “OUR FAMILY DOES NOT EAT CAULIFLOWER.” 

One of my friends said recently, “the weeks are hurling by.” And I don’t know what it is about that specific adjective that really says it all, but there you go. 
Hurling

I also made pickled mushrooms tonight. Back when I worked at the restaurant, after the initial dinner rush, I would hover over the deli case, and spear pickled mushrooms with a toothpick when I thought no one was looking. 
That was maybe the best part of that job. 
That and taunting the chefs, who were behind a counter, and so were forced to talk to me, primarily because they were all so sick of each other. 
I used this recipe, but it’s not at all like the ones I would eat at the restaurant. 



The other thing is, I’m trying to get my thesis together right now. I don’t mind writing it nearly as much as I mind the feeling that I should be writing it every single hour of every single day. 
I try not to think about it all too much.
And Valentines Day came and went, I went grocery shopping at 11pm that night, and bought discounted chocolate covered strawberries. 
And I wore my bell bottoms recently and felt cool for about two minutes.
And also, aren’t you glad that tomorrow will be tomorrow instead of today? 

Even though tomorrow is just further proof that the weeks are hurling by? 

Anyways, I love you. 
More real things soon. 
XOXO
m




Wednesday, January 28, 2015

How to Hardboil an Egg

It's okay.
I mean, it's really okay. 


I failed at making hardboiled eggs last night.
But it's okay. 


Hardboiled eggs are only the easiest thing in the world to make-- but somehow, I don't know, I didn't cook them for long enough, or the water wasn't actually boiling, or something. 
The point is, I couldn't even make a hardboiled egg. 

Stranger things have happened. 


For instance, remember when I told you about how I was trying to plant my own garden, a la Jorge Luis Borges? 
Well. 
A flower grew. 
Who knew? 
I am so proud. 
I never knew I could grow anything. 

But back to hardboiled eggs. 
I love Nora Ephron, and Nora wrote this marvelous essay about living in New York City in her mid-twenties, and starting out as a reporter, and how she would go to work all day, and then come home alone and cook herself a full meal, something that made her feel brave and plucky, unlike other girls who were probably just eating pathetic cartons of yogurt in front of the television. 

 
Of course, she acknowledges, it never occurred to her that cooking and then eating a meal meant for four was probably equally pathetic. 
I think about this every time I cook for myself.
So brave! So plucky! 


And then, sometimes, you can't even hardboil the egg. 
And then you really have to muster some courage. 

Anyways. 


Here Is How To Hardboil An Egg From Better Sources On the Internet Just So You Know

Instructions from SimplyRecipes.com


1. Place the eggs in a single layer at the bottom of a saucepan. Cover with at least an inch or two of cold water. The more eggs that are crowding the pan the more water you should have over the eggs. Heat the pot on high heat and bring the water to a full rolling boil.
Adding a teaspoon of vinegar to the water may help keep egg whites from running out if an egg does crack while cooking. Also some people find adding 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the water helps prevent cracking as well as making the eggs easier to peel.

2. Turn off the heat, keep the pan on the hot burner, cover, and let sit for 10-12 minutes.
If you have the type of stove burner that doesn't retain any heat when turned off, you might want to lower the temp to low, simmer for a minute, and then turn it off.
Depending on how cooked you like your hard boiled eggs, the eggs should be done perfectly in 10-12 minutes. That said, depending on your altitude, the shape of the pan, the size of the eggs, the ratio of water to eggs, it can take a few minutes more. When you find a time that works for you, given your preferences, the types of eggs you buy, your pots, stove, and cooking environment, stick with it.
If I'm cooking a large batch of eggs, after 10 minutes I'll sacrifice one to check for doneness, by removing it with a spoon, running it under cold water, and cutting it open. If it's not done enough, I'll cook the other eggs a minute or two longer.
I also find that it is very hard to overcook eggs using this method. I can let the eggs sit, covered, for up to 15-18 minutes without the eggs getting overcooked. 

3. Strain out the water from the pan and run cold water over the eggs to cool them quickly and stop them from cooking further. Or, if you are cooking a large batch of eggs, remove them with a slotted spoon to a large bowl of ice water.
The best way to store hard boiled eggs is in a covered container in the refrigerator. Eggs can release odors in the fridge which is why it helps to keep them covered.
They should be eaten within 5 days.

More soon. 
Ily. 
XOXO



Monday, January 5, 2015

Buttermilk Skillet Cake with Walnut Praline Topping


Right now I am lying on my bed with my shoes on. 
White sunlight coming in through the window. 
Two nights ago, I saw a band called Chipper Jones play. 
Of course the beauty of music, and the particular beauty of live music, is that it brings you into NOW.
Watching the drummer play, I thought he was so graceful. Even though I’m still not totally sure what “grace” really even IS. Internal peace? Quiet? Silent passion? 

So much of my time these past few years has been me struggling to find a rhythm that makes sense— trying to find the grace in motion. 
Like the kind of grace I thought that drummer showed, even if only for a moment. 

I don’t know. 


I realized the other day that from here on out, with only one semester of college to go, not that it hasn’t been real— but that the planned time is mostly ending. 
It’s like the feeling I get when I think about how old I’ll be in ten years. 
Or how I felt when I first realized that in the next few years many of my friends will get married, someone is going to have a baby, everyone falling in and out of love across time zones, working working working on their New Year’s resolutions for the rest of forever until 
The End. 
Of course, this is the beginning of the rest of forever.

I made a cake the other day. 



A buttermilk skillet cake with a walnut praline topping because I like it when things are tangible. Because making things gives rhythm to days that pass so quick/slow. 
And making things feels like grace. 

This year, I want to make things. 

One of my favorite people in the entire world sent me a mostly incoherent, very drunk email on January 1st. At the end of the message he said, “all my love. from a lost yet broken yet wonderfull soul.” 

“Lost yet broken yet wonderfull.” 

Somehow, I feel that this really sums it up. 

"Yet wonderfull." 

I love you I love you I love you. 


xoxo
m


Buttermilk Skillet Cake with Walnut Praline Topping
from The Joy the Baker Cookbook

For the cake:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
For the praline topping:
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
generous pinch salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Preheat your oven to 375F/ 190C, positioning a rack in the upper third of the oven.
Butter and flour the bottom and sides of an 8 or 9-inch cast-iron skillet (or a 9-inch cake pan).
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until blended and lighter in color, about 3 minutes. Add egg and yolk, beating for a minute between each addition. Beat in the vanilla.
Turn the speed to low, and add half of the flour mixture. Next, add the buttermilk, and when the flour is just combined, add the remaining flour. Remove the bowl from the mixer, and gently finish incorporating the ingredients with a spatula, taking care not to overmix. Spoon the batter into prepared skillet or pan, spreading evenly. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
While the cake bakes, make the praline topping: in a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar, butter, cream and salt. Bring the mixture to a soft boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and nuts. Inhale.
Let the mixture rest in the pan for 20 minutes, to firm up. Once it has rested, and the cake has been removed from the oven, pour the praline mixture over the warm cake, spreading evenly. (If you chose to bake this in a cake pan instead of a skillet, remove the cake from the pan and place it on a cake plate, before pouring the topping over the cake.) Serve immediately, or at room temperature.
Cake will keep, well wrapped and at room temperature, for up to 4 days.

Monday, December 15, 2014

cortado

Hello beautiful darling, 

This is the last post for the year, I think. It is all so strange and magical. So full. 

The Christmas lights are up again, but I just keep thinking about last New Year’s Eve, and how I left the parties and went and ate a cheeseburger alone in a park, and stared at the skyline and decided that this would be a year where I would do what I want
I tried. 
Sometimes, it was lucky. 
I am so grateful. 




There are no recipes for you now-- I’m working on another project that will hopefully come to fruition this spring. I’ll tell you more later.

New Year’s Eve is approaching again. 
I don’t know what to do with that.
Everything is coming and going so fast. Everything is scary and too much and too sad, yet, 
I have a good feeling about the coming year.
But then again, deciding on optimism is really the only thing to be done. 
“2015 is the Quinceañera year!” I tell anyone who will listen, but I don’t think anyone else likes this idea as much as I do. 

I don’t know what else to say. 

I hope you’re eating well and treating yourself to some nice coffee drinks. 
Lately, I like cortados. 
I think I’m going to go get one right now. 

Before I go, I just want to say-- 

All I feel is hope 

and 

I love you. 

xoxo

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

rice crispy treats

Time is passing, and it scares me. 

Thanksgiving is always a marker of this: the old people move slower, the young people move faster, have babies, get married. 
Everyone still eats green bean casserole. 

Jordan asked me if the drive back from Oklahoma "felt cinematic?" 
Sometimes it has. But this time it didn't. It just felt long. 
The year feels tired. 



The other day, I remembered this line from a Jorge Luis Borges poem that Julian read to me once, and there is a line that goes, "and you plant your own garden instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers." And I thought about this, because without even thinking, I bought an amaryllis bulb and put it in a turquoise pot filled with dirt. 
It has grown five inches since I planted it. 
So far, things look promising. 

The past few months have been so very quiet. Quiet months after a very full year. 
I came back from Thanksgiving and opened my windows to drifts of gold leaves that finally fell after the cold snap and hoped that this would make for some kind of momentum.

I do not know how you know when you are growing up. 



I've been making rice crispy treats with chocolate chips for the two boys I babysit. 
"Bring me one thousand hundred more next time!!!" They order me.
I've been trying to make pinto beans the way my mother does, only mine are never as good. 

A few months ago, I would come home tipsy from nights out and peel off my party clothes and stand in front of the stove, stirring a skillet of scrambled eggs, which inevitably burnt, because who has time for heat that isn't turned all the way up? 
And also, there was a rat in my kitchen last night and I didn't even know what to do. 



And maybe it's because of these things, or in spite of them, I feel so hopeful right now. 
Hopeful in my bones. 

I asked my grandmother, I said, "Grandma, if I decide that I'm going to have everything I want, do you think I'll get it?"
"No." She said. 

But I'm going to believe it anyways. 
And maybe the best part, when I really think about it, is that there are so many things-- gold leaves and the end of school and even drunk burnt eggs and sticky little boys who love rice crispy treats--  
I only want "one thousand hundred more" of all of this too. 

I'm going to believe it anyways. 

I love you. 

xoxo


Rice Crispy Treats

3 Tablespoons butter
40 (about a bag) Marshmallows
6 cups rice crispy cereal 
1 cup chocolate chips (optional) 

In a large pot on stove, melt butter. Add marshmallows and toss to coat. Over heat, stir the marshmallows until they are completely melted and well blended. 
Add cereal and chocolate chips immediately, mix well. 
Press into a greased 13x9-inch pan. 
Cool completely. 




Thursday, November 20, 2014

Bulla Soup



My Danish great-grandmother used to make this soup for my mother, and my mother used to make it for me. Last week, when Jacob was staying with me, he felt sick, and so I had to call my grandmother, who knew my great-grandmothers recipe, and told me how to make it over the phone, and so now I am sharing it with you. 
This soup is called Bulla Soup, and I don’t know exactly how to describe it to you, but it’s like dumplings. Really rich, floury, wonderful, boiled dumplings. 

November is the time for soup. 

In New York,  when I was very hungry, I would go to this crazy dumpling place where you could get eight fried pork dumplings for three dollars, and I would walk and eat all the dumplings just dripping with soy sauce, and I felt so young and so free and so good. 
It’s food like that, that makes me feel the richness and glory of the world. 
Bulla are not pork dumplings, you have to sit down and eat them in a soup, with a spoon. You do not get the romance of walking through grimy streets alone, while taxi cabs howl at you when you cross the street before the little flashing hand signals you can go. (I was always crossing streets at the exact wrong time.) 
But bulla are a quick thing to make. Very simple, and satisfying. 

Here is how to do it: 

First, you heat some broth, such as chicken broth. Make sure it just about boiling. 

Then in a separate pot, heat a cup of water to a rolling boil, add 1/2 cup butter. 
You heat these together, and then, all at once, stir in 1 cup of flour. Stir rigorously over the heat, until the mixture forms into a ball. Remove from heat. Then, thoroughly beat into the flour/water mixture, four eggs, one at a time. 
Next, take a spoon,  and grab a rounded scoop of the mixture, gently lower it into the boiling chicken broth. 
And then you wait for the bulla to rise to the top. 
And when it has risen to the top, you know it is finished. 

The simplicity of good food, occasionally speaks for itself. 
So I'm not going to say anything beyond, "These really do it for me." 

I hope you’re so well. 
Talk soon. 
I love love love you. 

XOXO

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Swedish Meatballs

Life is good, mostly great. 



But today, and lately, lately being most of October, I've had the blues. 
I'm not alone in this, everybody I know is a little tired, or a little weary right now. A little lonely despite being a little too busy. 
I don't know what it is. 
Often, Barbarajo says to me, "You couldn't pay me to be 21 again." 
I think about this often. 

Maybe it's just the time of year. 
Maybe we all just need to drink more.  

On Sunday night, I stood in my kitchen, and made Swedish meatballs. 
I thought about everyone I know, and wondered where we are all going to go 
And the splintering effects of the final year of college, and how maybe you don't get some things back and other things you just pray and pray that you do, and also the hope that you can have a beer on a Tuesday night, and finish the thesis and everything else on time, maybe, if the magic happens, because I guess it's all happening all the time anyways. 
And I thought about-- it is so terrifying, and so good, to be this young. 

So I made Swedish meatballs. 
They are great. 
They are the flavor of comfort. 
Despite the October blues. 

I love you I love you I love you. 

xoxo


Swedish Meatballs
from The Gourmet Cookbook

3/4 cup fine fresh bread crumbs
1/4 heavy cream
1/4 club soda
3/4 pound ground beef round
1/2 pound ground veal
1/4 pound ground pork
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Stir together bread crumbs, cream and club soda in a small bowl. Let stand for 20 minutes. 
Put racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 400F. Oil two large baking sheets with sides. 
Combine beef, veal, pork in a large bowl. Ad onion, breadcrumb mixture, egg, salt, and pepper and blend with your hands just until well combined; do not overmix. 
Form level tablespoons of mixture into meatballs and arrange about 1 inch apart on oiled baking sheets. Bake, turning meatballs over and switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until browned, about 20 minutes total. 
With a slotted spoon, transfer meatballs to a platter. Set baking sheets on top of stove or a heatproof surface. Divide 1/3 cup water between pans and deglaze, off heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits with a wooden spoon.
Drizzle pan juices over meatballs.