I don’t really associate New Year’s Eve with champagne or sequins. Instead, I associate New Year’s with food — maybe even more than Thanksgiving or Christmas, at my house, New Year’s Eve meant a family feast. A traditional Chinese New Year (and regular December 31 New Year’s Eve, because we totally double-down on our New Year’s celebrations) at my house was hot pot and “long life noodles,” hot pot because it symbolized prosperity and celebration, and noodles because they symbolize … well, long life.
This year marks the first Christmas that either Bowl #2 or I will spend away from our parents. But it also marks the first Christmas we’ll spend together. So it’s a little bit of sad, but also a lot of happy. (Like the fact that we stayed up late last night playing cards and eating chips and ice cream.
Instead of going to midnight mass. And celebrating Jesus’s birthday at home.)
This is the first Christmas, too, that I’ll be sharing with you all through this blog! I don’t know if I’ve ever stopped to say this, but this blog brings to life dreams and passions I didn’t know I had even six months ago — it’s given me an outlet for so much that brings me joy. And obviously that wouldn’t have been possible, at all, ever, without you. So, for all that you do, thank you so very much. It means the world to me. And for those celebrating, I hope you’re all having perfect Christmases. 🙂
I’ve grown up eating savory-sweet food all my life. I thought it was just a quirk of my mother’s to add sugar to everything until I looked up Shanghainese cuisine on Wikipedia a few years ago and found that, evidently, it’s a Shanghai thing. Nowadays, I follow exactly in my mom’s footsteps and add a bit (or a lot) of sugar to almost everything I make — pasta sauces, soy sauce glazes, stews, whatever. I drench my sausage links in maple syrup. (One of my earliest memories is dunking sausage links in maple syrup at Bob Evans. What an underrated restaurant. Did anyone else have family dinners there?)
But the advent of adding savory to sweet only came upon me recently — mainly in the addition of bacon. To everything. Most recently, chocolate chip cookies and pancakes. I can understand feeling squeamish about bacon in chocolate chip cookies — but in pancakes? The bacon’s usually right next to them anyway. It’s only right. It just makes life easier. And infinitely more delicious.
For these, I just used the same go-to “buttermilk” pancake base that I got from Joy the Baker. I’ve never looked back since trying it — it’s fluffy, pillowy-soft but substantial, and it gives your local diner’s version a run for its money. I put buttermilk in quotes because I’ve never actually used buttermilk in it — I always use a mix of half Greek yogurt and half milk (any kind, almond, soy, or regular) and it’s never steered me wrong. I don’t think you’d ever guess it wasn’t buttermilk pancakes straight from IHOP or your favorite diner.
And then I added bacon!
So. Good. (Oh yeah, and that’s me deciding that ramekin of maple syrup wasn’t enough and getting serious with the Aunt Jemima.) Edit: Since a lot of you don’t like savory and sweet together — totally understandable — I just wanted to add that this pancake base is phenomenal with pretty much anything. Slices of banana, blueberries, Reese’s Pieces (!), or, if you’re feeling super decadent, instant espresso, chocolate chips, and Nutella. My personal favorite after bacon might be Reese’s Pieces — seriously awesome. And I never find I need syrup with those, so it might balance out to be better for you?! Relatively.
This is what we’re having for Christmas morning this year — hope you have something equally comforting and cozy lined up, too. And if not, try this. 😉 Merry Christmas, friends!
Here are three situations that I should have learned how to handle better at some point in my upbringing but never did. Ready?
1. Sharing free food. Or, how to go to that lunch talk with the pizza from that place you like and wait in line without freaking out about whether that person ahead of you is going to get the last piece of pepperoni pizza or wondering how you can subtly take extra to save for dinner because you’re cheap.
2. Other people giving me free food. Or, how to politely accept one of whatever has just been offered you by a friend, then eat it, placidly, without immediately convincing yourself that what you just ate was the most delicious thing on the planet and you are so missing out on life and happiness because you could only have one.
3. Those two situations combined into a mega-situation, or, what happened last Christmas, when a neighbor dropped by my parents’ house and left us a sleeve of cookies – big, cheerful, cranberry-studded shortbread cookies with flecks of sunny orange zest. Man, those cookies were so good. Either because I couldn’t get them anywhere else but from this goddess-baker-neighbor, or because I had to share them with the rest of my family, I swear to God those cookies were the best cookies I’d ever had. I coveted the crap out of them. I calculated how many I could fairly eat without hogging them … and then I ate some more. After I’d had (more than) my fair share, I stared at them wherever they were and stared at each of my family members as they ate theirs. It was so normal.
Please still be my friend.
My oven doesn’t like cookies. I didn’t know it was possible not to like cookies, but if there was anyone or anything that didn’t, it’s my oven. (Well, and Bowl #2, unnaturally immune to the powers of sugar and fat. It’s weird.) It’s mainly that the cookies don’t spread — even with different pans, less flour, different temperatures, and an oven thermometer to make sure it’s calibrated correctly, they just stay little chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin huts. I’ve eaten a lot of little fat cookie truffles since moving here.
But even my stubborn oven liked these gingersnaps. And so did Bowl #2! Based on a recipe from Smitten Kitchen, they are simple, elegant, easy perfection, and came out of the oven bakery-ready. I almost couldn’t believe my eyes when I pulled out batch after batch of cookies that were all perfectly shaped, perfectly crisp, perfectly brown, without having to check on them once, without having to poke or prod or squash, and all exactly at the baking time she specified. It was (Christmas) magic. They’re perfectly gingery, just sweet enough, with a good snap, but just a bit of chew, too. Truly classic, and truly no-fail.
It’s December! Which means all I want to do these days is bake Christmas cookies and post about them. But, while that’s definitely coming, I felt like I needed to do a post first on this Korean staple (again, all about the blog staples!) because it’s so essential in some of the recipes I’ve posted, and because I’ve already been talking to so many of you about it in comments. So I’m resisting the ginger snaps, cranberries, and peppermint extract for now (so hard!), and sharing with you all my (limited) experiences with making homemade kimchi.
So I really wasn’t planning on posting this recipe. When I made these bars and this frosting, I felt like I’d already posted more than enough pumpkin recipes, so I just snapped a few lazy shots of them (because I can’t not) and shelved them. But then I tasted these. And I tasted this frosting. And this frosting alone made me go back and scour the few photos I had for something halfway decent. Because this frosting is just too damn good, y’all. Made by Laura at Tutti Dolci, it’s maple syrup, and brown butter, and cream cheese, all whipped into the most decadent, satisfyingly complex frosting imaginable. It can’t not be posted, because the whole world needs to know about it. So here’s an extra little mid-week post, in all its poorly photographed glory. I know I’ll have some leftover pumpkin after Thanksgiving to use on making these bars, so if you do too, I highly recommend trying this remarkable frosting on it.
It’s almost Thanksgiving! So this week I thought I’d post on what seems to be the Thanksgiving vegetable of the year. If last week was about bucking trends (or being unable to participate), this week is definitely all about falling in line with them. At this point, I think I may be the last blog on the Internet not to have done a post on these toy cabbages. But just in case you’re not already Brussels’ed out, here’s several more ways to roast them — as chips and as hearts, and in three different flavors. (In other words, if you’re not Brussels’ed out, after this you will definitely be.)
I know that these couple of weeks in the run-up to Thanksgiving are all about pie. It’s even Pie Week in some parts of the blogosphere this week! And if I had the mini pie pans to put them in or the extra mouths to eat them, I would love to be tearing into all the gorgeous pie recipes that are popping up these days. (See the end of this post for a list of my favorites!) But tragically I have neither, so I hope you’ll forgive me for proposing an alternative Thanksgiving dessert — these teeny-tiny individual apple crumbles. With brown butter in the crumble. And cheddar cheese. You forgive me, right? 🙂
I realized this weekend that it’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted anything savory. Which is funny, because I consider myself a pretty novice baker — I guess we just rotate much more frequently between tried and true meals, whereas Bowl #2 never has any input on sweets, so I just try any new thing I feel like. Anyway, I thought I’d change it up by posting about one of our very most favorite “tried and true”s — kimchi fried rice.