crispy goat cheese rounds with shallot vinaigrette

crispy goat cheese rounds | two red bowls

With work picking up again after a slow start coming back from maternity leave, this project, and our ever-growing obsession, I haven’t had nearly as much time as I would like to make or share recipes from the wealth of stellar cookbooks that have come out this spring. There are so many! But I’ll get there. For now, I’m starting with an impossibly clever recipe I made awhile back from Alexandra Stafford’s Bread Toast Crumbs. At the heart of the book is a recipe for peasant bread you might know of already (it has over 3,000 comments on her original post!) but its genius is even greater because from there she has about a million (more precisely 135) more creative things to do with the bread or ways to tweak the recipe.

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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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buttered eggs on toast with radish & parsley

buttered eggs & radish on toast | two red bowls

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.

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roasted mushroom, avocado & ricotta toasts

roasted mushroom, avocado, & ricotta toast

I had it built up in my head that taking B3 out to an actual, sit-down, non-Jack-in-the-Box-drive-through meal was going to be an endeavor that involved at least one meltdown and/or leaving before the food actually came. But while our friends were here we ended up going out to eat not one, not two, but three nice, awesome, meltdown-free times.  Three! And sight-seeing! Luke either slept or stared at everything. In retrospect, I’m not sure if he was being a good baby or just freaked out by all the hubbub (and we had a very tired bub on our hands later that evening) but it was a revelation anyway.

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kimchi potato skins

kimchi potato skins | two red bowls

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.)

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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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