potatoes with sugar snaps, pickled shallots, & dill

potatoes with sugar snaps, pickled shallots, & dill | two red bowls

Judging from the calendar, we are in the thick of picnic season, or for me, toss-everything-with-mayonnaise-and-maybe-eat-it-at-a-picnic-but-probably-just-straight-from-the-fridge season.  My last post notwithstanding, I almost didn’t realize it; after years in New York, where I spent the first third-to-half of each year in an intense and unceasing scrutiny of the weather for any sign of warmth, California has lulled me into a kind of constant seasonal befuddlement, where I never know what season it is but I just know that it is giddily, euphorically not cold.  

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creamy broccoli salad with almonds & raisins

creamy broccoli salad with almonds & raisins

Last weekend we took our first big trip with B3 in tow, up to Berkeley for my brother’s graduation.  It wasn’t until we were on our way back, winding our way through the mountains on the last stretch of the I-5, that I realized how much Los Angeles has started to feel like home.  This little ham can probably take most of the credit for that (isn’t that how the saying goes?  “Home is where the diaper pail is”?) but whatever the reason, sometime over the past year this sprawling city has stopped feeling foreign and unusual, with its bleached asphalt and vast robin’s-egg skies, and started feeling familiar.  That said, after 5 ½ 7 hours of driving on the two lanes of the I-5 amidst weaving cars and semi-trucks that I swear are bigger here than elsewhere (and, by turn, feeding a 6-month-old in Jack-in-the-Box parking lots along the way), I suspect conquering that real-life edition of Toad’s Turnpike will make any destination feel a little more like home.  

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pear, parmesan, & balsamic salad

pear, parmesan, & balsamic salad

Our Christmas tree is up!  It’s the first real, live, non-plastic tree to make an appearance in our household.  We chose it in about five seconds flat last Saturday with babe in tow, in the signature haste of panicky new parents who are still not very good at this “taking the baby out into the world” thing.  (Luke, meanwhile, was just passed out the whole time and didn’t wake up until thirty minutes after we got home.  But he could have.)  So it’s a fat little four-foot munchkin of a tree that is cheerfully lopsided and very strategically placed in the corner of our living room to display the side with the least lop.  But I think that’s what you call “character.”  

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thanksgiving leftover stuffing waffles!

thanksgiving leftover stuffing waffles! | two red bowls

A few years ago I came across an Alton Brown diatribe against one-use kitchen gadgets (or “unitaskers,” I think he calls them) and thought it would be a good rule not to buy them for our New York kitchen.  This more or less worked (mostly thanks to B2 putting his foot down on random Amazon purchases and the fact that we just had no room, lest we start storing kitchen appliances in our bathroom) but I also pretty much immediately found ways to bend the rule, i.e. the SPAM slicer is okay because it can also slice tofu, and the potato ricer can also make excellent pumpkin puree — clearly bi-taskers!  

And then, in a fit of indulgence a few months ago, I bought our very first waffle iron.  This is arguably the largest unitasker to grace our kitchen.  But I calculate that a waffle iron is actually at least a penta-tasker (quintup … tasker?):  (1) waffle pizza! (2) waffle grilled cheese! (3) waffle-ninis! (4) all kinds of actual waffles!  And, now, (5) stuffing waffles!  

The thing is, if I used the waffle iron to make only stuffing waffles, I’m pretty sure it would still be worth it.  After seeing them crop up in all sorts of places online, I’ve been waiting to make these for all the years that our kitchen was too cramped to fit a waffle iron, and they lived up to every expectation:  All the intensely savory, buttery, carb-tastic goodness of my very favorite Thanksgiving side dish is stuffed into a sizzling iron and made delightfully crispy on the outside, but fluffy and almost creamy inside, ready to tuck all the other Thanksgiving leftovers, from mashed potatoes to turkey to cranberry sauce, into its perfectly square divots.  (And I added maple syrup, because why not.)  I can think of no better way to reheat stuffing the next day — and in fact, it’s good enough that I’d be happy to make stuffing just to waffle.

After a tumultuous couple of weeks, wishing you all a safe, happy Thanksgiving.  Thank you so much for being here, and for reading!

thanksgiving leftover stuffing waffles! | two red bowls

thanksgiving leftover stuffing waffles! | two red bowls

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kabocha & caramelized onion galette

kabocha, goat cheese, & caramelized onion galette | two red bowls

kabocha, goat cheese, & caramelized onion galette | two red bowls

As much as I dread fall (mostly because of the season that-shall-not-be-named that comes after it), I have to admit that I secretly enjoy more things about it than any cold-weather hater should have the right to.  There’s the undeniable coziness of multiple layers and fuzzy slippers, the soothing weight of a heavy comforter at night, the crisp in-between weather that’s cool enough for classy wool coats but not so cold that I’m resigned to rustly Michelin-Man puffer jackets; there’s the never-ending cornucopia of magical fall baking, from warm, spicy poached pears tucked into baked oatmeal and scones brushed with maple syrup to a surplus of pillowy baked bread and my very first challah.  And, maybe best of all, there are magical things like virtual pumpkin parties, thanks to Sara of Cake Over Steak!

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charred corn with miso butter, bacon & garlic scapes

charred corn with miso butter, bacon, & garlic scapes | two red bowls

charred corn with miso butter, bacon, & garlic scapes | two red bowls

Last Saturday, when we were still puttering around in the throes of jet lag, a good friend dropped by to help ease us back into the real world.  She belongs to that lucky (for us) class of friends where the apartment is never too messy to have them pop in and where a squishy couch and some food is all you need for “entertainment,” which was perfect, because that’s pretty much what we had — half-unpacked duffels in the corner and all.  

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