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.
Ever since I found their story a few years ago, I’ve been awed by Sonja and Alex’s journey to parenthood. Sonja’s poignant, thoughtful words and their constant light throughout their experience have been humbling and inspiring; it gives a whole new perspective to this stage of life that B2 and I have been figuring out our way around lately, and reminds me that every parent has a different, incalculable strength. The best news is that, as of a few months ago, they now have the most beautiful baby boy! The joy and happiness that surrounds Larson is palpable in every photo they’ve shared (not to mention he has the sweetest blue eyes I’ve ever seen), and I’m so glad that a few wonderful bloggers have put together a celebration to honor their perfect new addition. The theme of the fête, inspired by Sonja and Alex’s fresh and vibrant blog A Couple Cooks, was “healthy snacks.” Given that the title of this post starts with “butter,” I think I’ve shown my ability to follow directions is dubious. But I do find this dish perfect in every regard for the adventure that is new parenthood — easy, pantry-friendly, distraction-friendly. And most importantly, delicious.
Evidently, or so I’m told, it’s less than a month until a third little bowl is headed our way. What! It doesn’t feel like it. From time to time I catch myself assuming that this is just how life is going to be from now on, having a watermelon for a belly, the mysterious inability to ever feel cold, and a maximum waddling velocity of a couple yards per hour. I assumed for so long that pregnancy would be difficult that it’s disorienting — and, I’m sure, obnoxious — to end up one of those women who actually loved most of it. (Predictably, I’m now just scared about whether the next one will be the one that’s bad.)
One of the things I like most about this little space is how easy it’s always been to come here and tell you (or, at the very least, future me) about all the things that have been happening in the world of the two red bowls, even if most weeks it’s literally nothing but the same old, same old, plus a recipe for cake.
So it was really and truly weird earlier this year to try to continue writing here when we’d discovered a little something that I couldn’t quite share yet on the blog, but was all Bowl #2 and I could talk about. It translated, as maybe you were bored into noticing, into a solid month of talking about the weather in every post (after which B2 told me please not to write about the weather) or writing some things about foods that were delicious at first but always unappealing to me by the time I posted it on the blog.
But now I can finally share what you might have already guessed — we’re having a baby! And we are over the moon. I am sorry for the weather one-note that I have been for the last four months. The good and bad news is that now I will be a one-note about this wee boy in my belly who’s heading into the world in November and so far, making me look like I have constantly had way, way too much pizza.
Here are the two things I made for the first time this month: (1) a copycat delivery pizza (I am nothing if not classy, also, in case you were wondering, making chain delivery pizza instead of ordering it was as gratuitous as you would expect but also as delicious) and (2) 100% whole wheat bread. I’m going to go ahead and say one balances out the other, and I come out even on the health scoreboard (and way ahead in terms of doughy carbs).
I’m pretty sure you don’t really need a recipe to know how to make these little snacks, which are as simple as they are delicious and are nothing more than rice and lightly dressed salmon wrapped up snug in seaweed. But I’m also convinced that there can never be enough words said about those really easy but wonderful things that are magically more than the sum of their parts, like a ripped baguette with salted butter, or peanut butter on a banana, or ricotta and honey. Onigiri were the very first thing we ate in Japan and the very last, bought in jet-lagged abundance from a convenience store on our first night and then from a counter at the airport right before we left. Something about plain (not even seasoned!) rice and a salty filling, tucked inside snappy, just slightly briny seaweed, makes for the perfect on-the-go snack that’s comforting and homey-feeling, even when you can’t read any of the wrappers and pick your flavors based solely on the color-coded labels and you’re surprised by the fillings every time. (In retrospect, it would have been a good idea to look up this guide beforehand.)
This week we’ve been reveling in finally getting around to all the things that had fallen by the wayside in the last month or so. B2 led the charge on some direly needed spring cleaning, from finally unpacking our bags from LA right down to dusting everything in sight and wiping down the ceiling fan (which I would never have remembered to do?!), and thanks to him, I finally remember what the bedroom floor looks like. We’ve also been catching up with friends we haven’t seen since 2015, or else catching up on TV shows (just in time for them to go on hiatus — come back, The Flash) or good movies (still crying from Creed) or, very simply, just Sitting Around and Doing Nothing because we can.
I never thought late-night office Seamless would prove to be as inspiring as it has (and, all right, a lot of the time it’s a little far from it), but I don’t think I would have ever come across this revelatory Sicilian cauliflower and chickpea dish if it wasn’t for a Seamless order on a random work night last winter, placed while hunting for something reasonably healthy in frigid temps that wasn’t a bone-chilling salad or an equally chilly wrap. Tucked into an unassuming plastic cup, this warm salad-y side was an afterthought when I ordered it but the highlight of my desk-side dinner when I got it — creamy chickpeas playing off of crisp, caramelized roasted cauliflower, tossed with briny, pungent capers, nose-clearing honey mustard, and a little vinegar, finished off with teeny-tiny currants for touch of jammy sweetness (which is, as always, the way to my heart) and bright, fresh parsley.
We’re scheduled to fly back to Hawaii in a little less than a month, and an email has already landed in our inboxes from my adorable mother-in-law, asking whether we want galbi or spicy ahi poke when we land. (It actually came through like, two weeks ago.) B2’s mom is my favorite for all kinds of reasons, but I love this about her — every time we go home it’s a parade of food she thinks we might want to eat. Plates of fruit appear when we’re not looking, trays of kimbap emerge from a trip to the Korean supermarket, little rows of pastel dduk are lined up meticulously in case we want to nibble on something. On top of that, since I’m neither Korean nor from Hawaii, B2’s mom has made it her personal mission to introduce foods to me that I might not have had before, bringing home everything from fish jeon to Leonard’s malasadas in the name of my food education. (She also has the cutest tiny cocktail forks that she puts out with everything. So pretty much she embodies all my mom goals.)
The first time I had a Dough doughnut was at a little sun-drenched picnic about a year ago. Linda graced us with a floppy box brimming with gems from this shop I’d previously never heard of (I live under a rock) and they looked glorious — plump and squashy, stacked two levels deep on sticky wax paper and cloaked in crackly, dripping glazes of all colors and flavors.
Overwhelmed by choice, I just went for the one with the prettiest color (because I evidently judge both books and carbs by their covers). It was an enormous and aggressively magenta beauty that turned out to be, as you might have guessed, hibiscus — and it was totally magnificent. The mouth-puckering brightness from the hibiscus is a perfect balance for the decadence of fried dough, and keeps it addictive long after chocolate or dulce de leche might have gotten heavy. Which was both a good and terrible thing, since I started with a lady-like half (ha) and ended up finishing a whole, another half … and the other half of that half. So crazy good.