Do you ever, once you’ve made it through a pile of scary deadlines and come out the other side, just kind of melt into a blob for a week or two, one that can sit semi-upright in an office chair and guzzle coffee and maybe make ill-advised purchases of overpriced throw blankets but otherwise accomplish none of the tasks that are still remaining but that are simply not yet due? No, just me? Well, it is definitely me right now. I cannot promise that any of this will make any comprehensible sense. You have been warned.
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.”
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!
What a strange, hard week this has been. It feels like it has been hard in every sense of the word — difficult, unyielding. I hope everyone is okay. This is the first of a number of recipes I’ve had saved up for these first few baby-filled months, and, thankfully, it is so very easy. I think “easy” was going to be my mantra in the kitchen for the foreseeable future no matter what, now that we have a little person to cuddle and feed and care for, but right now it feels particularly apt to share something that comes together without much effort, without any stress, to be a treat that soothes and indulges.
We’re in Hawaii! I had a filing the night before that kept me in the office about a million hours later than I expected, we packed half the things we meant to pack and none of our laundry, but we made it on the plane (I think I set a new record for the most hours I’ve or anyone has ever slept on a single flight) and now I’m sitting at B2’s family’s kitchen counter, blissfully free of legal research and two days away from spending my first Christmas in Honolulu. I visited in January once before, but I’ve never been here for Christmas itself, so I thoroughly enjoyed this surfer Santa and his muumuu-clad Mrs. Claus, I’ve asked B2 about five times too many whether people actually say “mele kalikimaka,” and I’m gleefully sure I just overheard the words “ahi poke for Christmas.” But sunshine aside, it’s still pretty much just like Christmas with my family where it counts — with endless amounts of food, aunties and uncles galore, and B2 and his sister making fun of each other all day, and that coziness is what makes me the happiest about being here. (Also the ahi poke.)
It’s my dad’s birthday today! My brother and I are patting each other on the back because we enrolled him in a Beer of the Month club for his birthday this year and saved
ourselves him from getting something like socks or his fourth Roger Federer cap. His two great loves are beer and tennis (well, and Chinese food), so part of me is wondering how we didn’t think of Beer of the Month before, but most of me is just super glad for the friends who enrolled B2 and me in Salsa of the Month for our wedding gift, because (1) it is totally awesome to get salsa on your doorstep and (2) I definitely nabbed that idea from them.
Oh man, it’s been not-enough-hours-in-the-day days around here lately. Most of the time it is safe to ignore me when I say that because I spend about half my waking hours huffing to B2 about the “million things I have to do” and then the other half of those hours on the couch doing zero of those things until it is too late to do them, but for once, it actually has been a little nonstop from one thing to the next. One of them is a very good one, though, and it’s that one of my good friends, source of indispensable life advice, and surrogate jie jie has been in town with her new (!) and awesome fiancé! They’ve been staying with us and I couldn’t be happier about it. I’m convinced that having house guests is one of my favorite ways to see friends. I get to feel like a real grown-up person when I put out “guest linens” and coffee accoutrements “in case you want to make some in the morning” (even if I have a couch instead of a guest bedroom and I forget to put out that cone that goes in the Hario so actually you cannot make some in the morning, oops), and it fits right in with my lazy-homebody agenda (see, e.g., dinner parties) because when things get hectic for them or me, there’s still always time before bed to sit and chat in pajamas and eat cookies even though you already brushed your teeth.
Hi friends! How was your Thanksgiving? We spent ours with my parents and my brother last week, in a couple of slow, wonderful days at home. It was pretty exciting — we sat around and told the same stories for the eighty-seventh time each, I woke up way earlier than you’d ever usually find me so that I could have sleepy coffees with my dad, my sole responsibilities at any given point were not overfilling the wonton wrappers (I failed) and making sure my mom got a Black Friday discount on a jewelry box from J.C. Penney, and my little brother drove me around everywhere because I’m very lazy and he’s nice and he “misses driving anyway.” So actually it was zero percent exciting. (But one hundred percent awesome.)
I’m boring when it comes to leftovers. (Strategy: Remove from refrigerator and eat. Alternatively, freeze, forget about, then find three months later and still eat.) My mom, on the other hand, makes magic with them — I can’t remember a single time that she tossed out leftovers in our kitchen, or a time that we didn’t ask for the rest of our dinner to be packed up when we went out to eat. Instead, I can see her poised with an open clamshell container in one hand and a metal spatula in the other, mouth pursed, surveying her wok and trying to figure out how to upcycle last night’s takeout into inevitably more delicious fried rice, or stir-fried noodles, or a simmering pot of soup. Some of her recipes are ones where she even swears by leftovers, like her mapo tofu, which she won’t make unless she’s stir-fried giant prawns the day before and has the fiery-red broth left over. (Don’t tell her I gave away her secret ingredient.)
So I think I’m about five years late to this party. But I am newly, and really, obsessed with dates. They are so good. How are they so good? I don’t know how I was so woefully misinformed, but up until a couple months ago I had this idea that dates were just a vague something to be nibbled on at your grandmother’s house if all the cookies were gone, or maybe used as a convenient vehicle for goat cheese and bacon, or admired from afar as a healthful “substitute-for” things I am generally reluctant to substitute. And then I was gifted a box of really great ones, with fancy things like orange peel and almonds tucked inside, and my world was totally rocked. This is probably news only to me at this point, but it turns out dates are pretty much candy. They have a consistency like caramel and nearly the same buttery taste; they’re sticky and soft and reminiscent of wonderful things like honey, cinnamon and molasses. B2 was unmoved by my date revolution (although he hasn’t gotten tired of responding to “Want a date?” with “I thought we were already married. Get it?”) but, with or without him, I’m fairly sure I’ve eaten my weight in them since April.