The calendar tells me that it has been more than one month since I was last here, which feels both much shorter and much longer than the reality (as always seems to be the case). The biggest event of the last month for us, though, is definitely this: We are now officially the proud parents of a bona fide, honest-to-goodness toddling toddler. Our little man can walk! A few weekends ago, B3 graduated from his half-lunging, half-toppling three-step walk to teetering halfway across the room on his own, and in the last few days he’s been making his way around the entire apartment–usually with both fists up, his belly stuck out, eyes opened as wide as they will go, and mouth open in a grin like a manic puppy. It is the craziest thing. If someone could bottle up the giddiness you get from looking up to see your previously quadripedaling baby suddenly wobbling towards you on his two feet, no one would ever have a bad day again.
I spent the summer between high school and college working two jobs, one as a hostess at a Chinese restaurant and the other as a waitress at a T.G.I.Friday’s. Most of my time at T.G.I.Friday’s was spent (1) trying to raise my voice enough in the kitchen that they could hear me when I asked for more ranch, (2) forgetting to enter orders, or (3) eating breadsticks out of the breadstick bin. (I may have been the worst server they had.)
Two days after we moved to LA, we promptly left again on what would previously have been practically impossible (or at least, incredibly not enjoyable) from our former home, the quickest weekend trip back to B2’s home in Hawaii. We went for a wedding and for Halmunee-to-be’s first encounter with her grandbaby (whom she likes to call “her baby”). In 48 hours there, we ate our weight in homemade Korean food, I was shut down on every attempt to help around the house (okay, so I didn’t try that hard), and we did a lot of marveling at how gleeful it is to fly to Hawaii from the West Coast and to say goodbye to red-eye flights of East Coasts past. And we saw boars at the wedding! (They were not part of the procession.)
In the week or so since then, most of my time in LA so far has been something like this: learning about this thing called June gloom, adjusting euphorically to having an office with an actual window and actual sunlight in the afternoons after said June gloom, trying to buy out every single supermarket’s abundance of produce even though our Airbnb has very little in the way of kitchens, spending much more time on Google looking at traffic, and, most of all, gaping at the open, open spaces, and the endless expanse of blue sky overhead, which is as bright and all-encompassing and wrapped around you like a sunny blanket as the one in New York felt narrow and distant and shielded from you by high buildings. Of course, there’s plenty to miss about the home we left behind in New York, but I think it’s safe to say we really like it here so far. I get the sense we’ll like it even more when we move into our actual apartment (we found one! yippee!) this Saturday. It’s a happy relief.
Every once in a blue moon, usually when we’re just about to fall asleep, B2 likes to come up with ideas for things I should cook next. I use “ideas” loosely, because it’s mostly a sleepy, intentionally goofy dialogue that consists of “what about …” followed by a long pause and things like “… homemade hot pockets!” (to be fair, that would be delicious) or “something with cheese” or “pumpkin toast.” (When I asked what pumpkin toast would be, like toasted pumpkin bread or toast with pumpkin on it or toasted pumpkin or what, his answer was, “You know. Pumpkin. Toast. Pumpkin toast.” And then he fell asleep. Two weeks later, I showed him this and he said, with glee, “See? It was a good idea!”)
Hi friends! How was your weekend? We spent a fun one down in North Carolina at the wedding of one of Bowl #2’s college friends. This might just be me and the fact that I haven’t gone to that many yet, but I feel like I love weddings more and more with every one I go to, even when I’m a plus-one and I’ve never met the bride and groom. (But also there’s a 20% chance you’ll find me crying in my office to YouTube highlight reels of strangers’ weddings on any given afternoon. Just so you know what kind of constitution you’re dealing with.)
It’s a Pig & Quill baby shower!! I can’t remember when I first came across the sassy sunshine that is Emily’s blog, but it’s one of my oldest reads — Emily’s irreverent vivacity and passion for good eats make the Internet that much brighter, and on the days when she turns reflective, it’s the kind of writing that hits home, lingers, and inspires. Also, she knows how to enjoy her SPAM. I don’t know what else I could ask for from a blog. The best news is that Em is having a mini-Em in just a few weeks, and when the amazing Gina and Sherrie put together a virtual party to celebrate, I couldn’t wait to join in.
I’m a sucker for food with meaning. I associate food with all sorts of things — a means of gathering together, a mode for celebration, a medium of remembrance, a conduit for family traditions, all those grand words. I love it all. This means I probably end up ascribing too much significance to my food sometimes — wait no we have to get peanut M&Ms before we board because we always have peanut M&Ms on the plane! — but somehow, I just love how much food can mean to us, and how much power it carries beyond just sustenance.
This Taiwanese popcorn chicken is a case in point — I was so, so excited to recreate it for Food52 a few weeks ago, because it comes from such a special place and time. Bowl #2 and I first discovered its glory on a short weekend trip to Taipei a few years ago (a mini trip inside a big, big one I’ve mentioned a few times before) and after we first tried it, I dragged B2 all over Taipei to try every other Taiwanese fried chicken joint I could Google in the rest of our short days there. (Resulting in us getting lost on more than one occasion. And ending up in a deserted garage trying to describe our difficulties to a baffled Taiwanese man on a moped.)
Oh man. So here’s a thing about me — I am really, really clumsy. Like, if I were a candy bar, I’d be this one. And if I were an idiom, I’d be a bull in a china shop. Sometimes I think it amazes Bowl #2 — who does everything thoughtfully and deliberately and un-clumsily — how little sense I have of space and time and, you know, where my body is. (It amazes me too.)
And I’ve been on a roll lately! I don’t know if I’ve just been really out of it from a few long weeks at work, but I am a bull in the china shop of life these days. Yesterday I was slicing a chicken breast and overturned the cutting board into a sink full of dirty dishes. A few weeks ago, B2 had to play ceramics doctor on a beloved Akiko Graham plate after I broke it and almost had a heart attack, and this weekend I spilled an entire ink bottle all over the table, myself, and the floor in the middle of addressing our wedding invites. I don’t even know. But all’s well that ends well — thanks to B2’s magic, the plate is as good as new (can you even tell?!) and thanks to Jesus, the ink missed our wedding invites (and our white couch, ohmygosh) and our first batch of invites actually made it into the mail this morning! We finally mailed (some of) our invites! Small miracles.
(I don’t know what to say about the chicken. Or my ink-stained legs, which currently look diseased. But otherwise, miracles!)
Pinch dishes from The Fortynine Studio.
We had a mini impromptu Friendsgiving last weekend! Even in miniature, it was my first time putting together anything remotely like a Thanksgiving meal on my own, and it was so much fun. For the main, I braised an abundance of chicken legs using Jamie Oliver’s milk chicken recipe, which was life-changing and totally worth the hype, at least in my opinion (also, one day I will stop being scared and I will roast a whole chicken, I swear). For the salad we had mixed greens with ridiculously ripe Bosc pears and shaved Parmesan, drizzled with a bit of balsamic vinegar and olive oil — simple and easy. But my favorite dishes — as it should be with Thanksgiving — were these sides.
After vacation last month and a slow start getting back into the swing of things, these last couple of weeks feel like we’re settling back into old routines. Slow mornings aided by snooze buttons (why is it so much harder to get up when it gets chilly out?) later evenings in the office with a salad and extra coffee with PSL syrup. On my commutes I tap out ideas for these posts on my phone, or play with Steller. Other times I doze off on the person next to me and things get awkward.
Lately, in an effort to keep my forehead from landing on my neighbors’ shoulders, I’ve been reading a lot — the ubiquitous Fault in Our Stars; The French Lieutenant’s Woman; South of the Border, West of the Sun; on Molly’s rec, Jeffrey Steingarten’s awesome and hilarious essay compilations. Reading food writing (well, the non-blog kind) is new for me, but awesome — I’ve been nose-deep in One Souffle at a Time by Anne Willan, and I’m super loving it so far.
To be totally honest, I’m a spring and summer girl all the way. But I kind of savor the evenings after busy fall days in a certain way that I don’t summer nights. Bowl #2 puts on some TV series or another (right now, a rewatch of How I Met Your Mother — yess) while he keeps working and I pretend to work but actually just lie prostrate under the favorite extra-nubbly throw blanket I’ve been longing for since May, nursing a cup of hot tea. We stay up too late, then spend too long talking in bed, leading to … another slow, snoozed-alarm morning, when it starts all over again.
Awhile back, when we were still in the midst of summer and spontaneity, B2 and I trekked up to New Haven for the day and visited an old haunt of his, Bar, to do a little recon on a recipe I’ve been wanting to recreate. We went for the pizza, but as it turns out, they also serve up a pretty mean salad — the one that gave rise to this version. The combination here is nothing new, so I won’t say too much more, but I thought it was a perfect fall segue salad, with the sweet spiced decadence of autumnal comfort foods, but the freshness of crunchy fruit and leafy greens for balance. It isn’t the kind of salad you order for dinner at work when you’re trying to be good, the kind where you’re thinking about protein and good fats and staying power. It’s just the fun kind, the kind on the side that’s kind of dessert hiding out in a camouflage of greens. But it’s cool, because we have like five years before it’s beach season again, right? 🙂