If you follow the blog by email, you probably got an email yesterday with a broken link. Don’t worry. It’s not you, it’s me. I published a post, then thought better of it. It was a little mopey, a little mean, you really didn’t need to read it. I promise. Still, I feel I owe you a little something to make up for the blunder. And so, I give you the best, easiest, fastest cookie bar recipe ever. Seriously, start to finish in under an hour. And unless you don’t like peanut butter (like my boss’s boss, what?) or chocolate (I’m not even going to comment on this), you will LOVE these. Continue reading
I was so eager to tell you about last weekend’s amazing pot pie that I neglected to tell you about the new kitchen tool I bought myself. You’re probably thinking that this is no big deal, that an avid home cook like me must buy kitchen tools the way normal people buy lattes or chapstick (or whatever it is normal people buy on a regular basis). But I don’t. In fact, I basically never buy kitchen stuff unless it’s absolutely necessary (see the French press incident and the must-have melon baller). Desperate times call for new kitchen supplies, but most of the time I’m pretty happy with the tried and trues. Continue reading
I know I’ve already told you how much I love Sunday lunch. The Sundays I spent eating dim sum with my dad at Bernard’s in the Chestnut Hill Mall. Or the Sundays we went to Viet Hong and split a bowl of pho. Or the Sundays we sat at the bar at Legal Sea Foods and talked to our favorite bartender over light clam chowder (the cream-less version where you can actually taste the clams). Or the Sundays in Rangeley when dad made eggs florentine and the smell tantalized us for a full hour before it was ready to eat. Sunday lunch is perfect in so many ways. It’s far enough into the weekend that the week feels like a distant memory, but there’s still a long lazy afternoon ahead. And there’s so much time to eat, slowly, lazily, happily. Continue reading
This weekend I made bagels. Not whole wheat bagels or spelt or some other altruistic grain disguised in bagel skin, but honest-to-goodness 100% white flour, quarter-pound bagels with extra gluten. I posted the photos of my happily boiling bagels to Facebook and within minutes I received the obvious question: “Can you make a gluten-free version?” The short answer is: “Yes, I’m quite certain I could find a recipe for a rice flour bagel out there.” But there’s also a much longer answer, which I’m about to unleash on you. Continue reading
I spoke too soon and jinxed myself. 2015 just seemed so promising, but then this weekend kitchen tragedy struck. While grinding my coffee beans, bleary eyed and grouchy, I knocked over my French press and watched helplessly as the glass carafe shattered on our granite counter top. Gah! I nearly cried. Partially because I have a soft spot for this particular coffee maker, which my college roommate surprised me with senior year, and partly because I really, really needed a cup of coffee.
And this was not the first disaster of the weekend. Saturday I spent at least an hour needlessly mixing and kneading the wrong yeast into two separate (but equally failing) doughs. This ended with several pounds of flour being dumped in the trash. Again, I was left in near tears, but at least that morning I had had my coffee. I did not however have the heart or energy to complete the original marbled rye recipe. By the time I kneaded the correct yeast into my dough, I was on batch number three of the light rye and there was absolutely no way that I could bring myself to mix its dark rye companion. So, instead I settled on a plain old rustic boule of rye, heavy on the caraway seeds and light on the molasses, just like Matt likes it. I have to say despite the arduous process, or maybe because of it, this bread turned out pretty darn good. Thick, crunchy, flaky crust on the outside. Soft, fluffy, and nicely chewy on the inside. Continue reading
The curse has been lifted. Yesterday at 3:30pm, I removed a perfectly risen, golden round of Pain de Campagne from the oven. I’m not going to say it was a miracle, but I was definitely praying to the bread gods throughout the whole process. The first time the bread rose, I laughed and teared up at the same time. The second time the bread rose, I walked the bowl into Matt’s office and shoved it under his chin. “Look! My dough doubled in size!!” By the time I shaped the twice risen dough into European-inspired rounds and placed them on cornmeal dusted baking sheets, I was downright giddy with anticipation, but also terribly anxious. With everything going so well, the probability of something going terribly wrong was increasing by the second. Continue reading
Since Monday, I’ve been promising Matt that I would make him a big batch of oatmeal so that he has something in the house for breakfast besides toast. But here it is, Thursday, and Matt ate a bowl of spaghetti bolognese before heading to work because I still hadn’t manged to boil a pot of water with oats.
This is my week off between jobs, so one might wonder why I haven’t managed to accomplish something so simple. The short answer is that I’ve gone on a home and self improvement tear. I am laying the groundwork for a truly fresh start at my new job on Monday. I bought new clothes and makeup, donated bags of old clothes, reorganized closets, rearranged all of our art objects, rearranged shelves, dusted and scrubbed everything, and sorted through old memorabilia and added odds and ends from four years of work memories to the box.
The longer answer is that all my time and energy is focused on coping with my major life change. I usually welcome change and seek it out every once in a while just to give me new purpose and make sure that I’m still actively engaged in life and not just coasting through. Over the past eight years, I’ve held eight different positions in five different offices, so I am no stranger to picking up and starting again. But this feels different. Maybe it’s because I’m older, maybe it’s because I’m leaving behind my best friend, and an office full of coworkers who have become my closest companions in DC. Or maybe it’s because I’m not sure I’ve made the right decision, a fear that has been eating at me for weeks. Continue reading
Tuesday was a rough morning. I woke up at 2am and never fell back asleep. I managed to slog through my 5am run, but by the time I got in the shower, whatever autopilot I had been functioning on turned off and I forgot my usual order of operations. First I turned off the water before I had even touched the soap. Once I turned the water back on, I managed to soap up my washcloth and scrub myself down not once, but twice, because at some point in the interim I forgot that I had already done it.
When my dad was near the end of his life, he had a similar habit of repeating tasks over and over again. He would spend twenty minutes in front of the bathroom mirror brushing his teeth obsessively three times in a row. The cancer had spread to his brain and it gave him a strange type of short term amnesia. It made him confused and threw him off balance. It also created a strange childlike fascination wth very simple things, like the veins on the back of his hands. My mom used to ask me to follow him up the stairs in case he fell and he would whine at me, “Sarah, stop it,” while I hovered a step behind him with my arms out as if he were a toddler who had just learned to walk. It sounds awful and it was, but it was also fascinating, watching the power that every little brain cell has to alter our behavior, control our thoughts, and ultimately change the very core of who we are. Continue reading
Yesterday evening there was a goodbye party for Margo in the Coop garden. Margo has lived in the building for decades, but it’s starting to get difficult for her to climb four flights of stairs, so she’s moving into an assisted living community. Margo has led a pretty spectacular life. She was a foreign service officer’s wife, living abroad on several different continents. Along the way, she picked up Buddhism and still meditates daily and makes regular retreats to Buddhist monasteries. Continue reading