We are now solidly into the magical stretch between Thanksgiving and Christmas, that no-holds-barred span of weeks that I typically use to indulge all of my wildest cookie and hot cocoa and cinnamon roll whims, and yet, much to my dismay, I’ve spent most of it so far thinking about, not chocolate or candy canes or marshmallows, but vegetables. In particular, these leafy greens. I am as surprised as you are.
I’ve been meaning to make some form of sticky toffee pudding for at least a few years, ever since a friend of mine first waxed lyrical about one she’d had at a pub near our offices called the Shakespeare. At that point, I’d never had sticky toffee pudding or, possibly, even heard of it, but her description alone had me sold–of a sticky, soft, eat-it-with-a-spoon cake, gooey with dates and draped in an abundance of caramel sauce, served warm and ideally with ice cream on top (which, in and of itself, is enough to get me on board with anything).
If you’d told me a few years ago that I’d enjoy anything about fall other than, say, eating pumpkin-y things and, nominally, wearing fluffy slippers, there’s not a chance I would have believed you. (This is how deep my fear of the cold runs.) But then we moved to a quixotic land where my Michelin Man puffer jackets are happily useless, so I no longer had the cold to dread; and shortly thereafter a very important fall birthday was added to our calendars that B2 and I are way more excited about celebrating than we’ve ever been about our own. A year later, here I am: recovering SAD-sufferer and cautious fall enthusiast.
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.
My commute here in LA is almost the same as it was in New York, 40 minutes give or take. The only difference is that I sit my butt in a little Corolla instead of the blue-benched 4/5, and so I can no longer do either of the two things I used to do on my commutes in New York — sleep, or read, but mostly sleep — because I would die. For exactly 3 days I filled this void in my travels to-and-fro with music from my own playlists, before I got tired of my apparently very limited musical taste, and then for a few more weeks it was music on the radio, before I got tired of their slightly less limited ones. So now I’m at a happy medium of NPR (I have officially become my dad) and the wonderful world of podcasts.
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.
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.
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.
As of a couple of weeks ago, I’m officially back at work. Unlike his mama, B3 thought the transition was a total breeze — he sees me off to work every morning with such blasé cheerfulness that I’m wondering whether I shouldn’t be at least a teensy offended. (He is, however, in a war of attrition with his Public Enemy No. 1, The Bottle, so there is at least one part of me that he misses. Or, more accurately, two parts.)
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.