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.
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.)
Last weekend we had a couple of exceptionally wonderful friends come all the way from snowy Cambridge to visit us and meet Luke for the first time. Their visit was especially well-timed, not least because B3 was at his chattiest and chubbiest, now that he has 4 1/2 months under his belt (although he was also at his sleep-training saddest come nighttime — sorry, guys), but also because we had a beautiful, sunny weekend here in California, with the kind of weather that I hear is in short supply in Cambridge right about now.
Hello, all! This is Bowl Number 2/B2/Andy subbing in for Cynthia this week. I’m stepping out from my usual role on the blog, i.e. part-time hand model and taste tester, to pitch in a quick guest post. Between Cynthia’s work as a lawyer, blogger, cookbooker, wife, and mommy, she doesn’t get a lot of time off, so I figured I’d give her time to sneak in a nap this week. So here we go!
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!
So, our freezer is officially ready to burst. I wish I could say that it’s packed to the brim with healthy, ready-to-heat casseroles and nourishing breakfasts that I tucked away for the zombie days ahead, but that’s only about 30% true — maybe more like 0% true depending on how you interpret “healthy” or “nourishing” — and the remainder is more things like baked French toast (coming soon!) and frozen brownies for the nurses (okay, also for me) and that Costco 17-pack of Hot Pockets we gleefully took home last Sunday. But the good news is that we finally bought a new microwave after leaving our old one in New York a few months ago (which made the last gleeful Costco pack of Hot Pockets we bought a little less gleeful when we got home and realized our folly. Twenty-eight minutes in the oven. Twenty-eight. Sometimes more like 40. Also, what made them choose to include 17?) So we are ready to irradiate these meals to our heart’s content.
I think fried rice may have been one of the first things I learned from my mother and grandmother in the kitchen. I imagine it must be like Sunday gravy in that every family has their own little way of doing things, though I don’t know that ours was so much a heirloom recipe as just an easy, quick, and comforting way to get food on the table: for us it always began with eggs and a generous pinch of salt, whisked vigorously with chopsticks and scrambled into small wisps in a screaming-hot wok. These were set aside to make way for diced white onion, sauteed until translucent, green peas, most often straight from a bag in the freezer and thawed in the wok, and some form of cooked, diced meat (usually, in a moment of fusion before fusion’s time, bits of deli sliced honey ham), before it all got stirred up with rice, salt, and pepper, to be kept warm in the wok over low heat, crackling softly, until a crispy crust formed on the bottom and everyone got seconds, thirds, and fourths.
Like a lot of folks, I’m sure, B2 and I began as a fling. We were summer associates (or, baby interns) at our future Manhattan law firms, about to head back to our last year of law school; I was about to spend half of it in Hong Kong, and he was staying in Boston, and we had no idea where we were headed as a couple (and, wait, were we a couple?) But then, sitting on a patio at an Italian restaurant in the East Village on one of our first actual dates, I asked B2 over a plate of squid ink spaghetti where he saw himself in five years. Still in New York, or somewhere else? (I did not win any awards for creative early-dating conversation.) Somewhere closer to home, he told me. Maybe not Hawaii just yet, but California would be nice. Just to be closer to family. I remember this answer so clearly, because I saw myself in California, too; I wanted to be closer to my family, too. It was the first time we talked seriously about the things we cared about, family most of all, and to hear him say that something mattered to him that also mattered so much to me was when our nascent relationship began to feel real. (Also, the thought of eventually moving to Hawaii did not hurt.)
Earlier this summer, I spent a few glorious hours in Venice at The Tasting Kitchen in what felt like an endless parade of dream brunch fare. Before this I’d never had any kind of chef’s menu or omakase-type meal, but a group of us opted for their tasting menu (because that seemed like what you should choose at a restaurant similarly named) and it was a culinary romp that makes me wish I could splurge on that kind of treat all the time: a smorgasbord of baked goods to start, with tender, butter-yellow biscuits, dense and moist breakfast cakes studded with fruit or dark with spices, and sticky pecan buns drenched in syrup; little lox and cucumber sandwiches in crunchy, unabashedly buttered toast; omelettes tucked neatly around tomatoes and creamy avocado; perfect parfaits (redundant?) with sweet sliced plums and berries on top.