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photo by samantha goh

11.24.15 Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)

Another month has passed. Are you the same? I'm not. I feel my roots shifting and it's exciting and scary. My jaw sometimes feels weird when I wake up in the morning and I know I have been clenching my teeth as I sleep. Change is good but it can wreak havoc. I have started to emerge from behind my desk, making forays into the world beyond just sending my words out to be read. There I am, above, serving cocktails at an event created by And North; read about it here and check out the cocktail recipes here. Saying yes to many things also entails saying no a lot. Does that make any sense? Redefining your life is a process and I feel like I am approaching a tipping point.


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Tagged — Thanksgiving
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photos by gluttonforlife

11.14.14 November Hot Links & Thanksgiving Recipes

Nothing says Thanksgiving quite like a sheet pan full of scarlet cranberries, richly spiced and roasted to caramelized perfection. Unless perhaps it's that tidal wave of panic that starts to consume you when you realize hordes of relatives will be descending on your home with all their neuroses and dysfunctions fully primed. I'd be curious to know how many of you are cooking the feast this year and how many will be dining elsewhere. Leave a comment below and let me know, and you just may get a jar of my favorite St. John chutney in time to slather on your slice of (hideously dried-out) turkey breast. For now, I've compiled some tried-&-true recipes to get you started thinking about a menu. As I think you know, I am a steadfast advocate of planning ahead. It decreases stress exponentially and helps you budget your time and energy so you're not utterly depleted when the day is over (or just beginning).
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Tagged — Thanksgiving
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photos by gluttonforlife

11.22.13 Stuff & Nonsense

Stuffing. A topic as divisive as any discussion of religion or politics. You'll find it made with rice, with sourdough bread, with cornbread; studded with chestnuts, dried fruit and pecans; larded with sausage, oysters, gobs of butter. Some like it soft and steamed, emerging from the bird's cavity, while others insist on maximum crunch. It's a reflection of culture, tradition and personal preference, an opportunity for experimentation and self-expression. But, in the end, it's just stuffing. I make an alternate version with cornbread at our Thanksgiving so that my gluten-free husband can partake. In the past, I've added fresh cranberries, pecans and sausage for a sort of down-home version. This year, it's got the last kale from our garden and lots of chewy, flavorful mushrooms. Next year, who knows? Perhaps something with wild rice. And the beat goes on.
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Tagged — Thanksgiving
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photos by gluttoforlife

11.19.13 Relish Every Day

Feast your eyes. Eat my words. Relish every day. I wrote these three phrases for a little promo I sent out for my blog some time back and they have stuck with me. I feel like they capture the spirit of it in a very succinct way. 

Can I tell you something? I'm a little sick of Thanksgiving already. Isn't that sad? The internet can do that to you. Suddenly everyone is yammering on about one topic. Which reminds me: you've got to read Dave Eggers' new novel, The Circle. We're actually listening to it, as read by the inimitable chameleon Dion Graham.

But I digress. I promised you a cranberry recipe and I will not let you down. In fact, I actually had a good time coming up with something rather unconventional. Yeah, I'm a bit of a rebel. I guess you know that by now. Or not. Anyway, read on to discover cranberry relish with outsider attitude.
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Tagged — Thanksgiving
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photos by gluttonforlife

11.15.13 Say Cheesecake

Dessert is polarizing. Love it as I do, I fully empathize with the naysayers. After a full meal, who really needs more? But some would say a meal is not truly complete without it. And, like it or not, desserts are cultural touchstones. What traditional festivity is properly concluded without some elaborate confection? A grand dessert is a flight of fantasy, a sensual voyage, an affair to remember. It's a fitting ending to the type of meal that includes multiple courses, fine wine, great conversation and lots of lingering. I hope your Thanksgiving is like that. But if not (if instead it's full of screaming children and sniping in-laws and overcooked turkey), there will always be an opportunity—after your tryptophan-induced nap—to submerge your sorrows in a slice of something sinful. Every once in a while there's got to be a little devil in Miss Jones.
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Tagged — Thanksgiving
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photos by gluttonforlife

11.12.13 Side With Me

The concept of side dishes is sort of an outdated one, left over from a time when the meat took center stage and the satellite vegetables were only supporting players. And though Thanksgiving is allegedly all about the turkey, we know that the side dishes are what's most exciting about the over-hyped meal. Right? If your traditional sides are starting to seem lackluster, or still belong to the Dark Ages of marshmallow fluff and canned fried onions, perhaps you'll let me tempt you with these simple but rather spectacular yams. As I mentioned earlier, they have snuck into our Thanksgiving rotation the past few years and I've heard no complaints. For one thing, they contain crispy bits of pancetta. For another, they are glazed with good olive oil and dark maple syrup and goosed with a nice kick of chile. And, yes, you can make them ahead of time.
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Tagged — Thanksgiving
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photos from here and there

11.8.13 Prep Talk

In some situations, preparation is everything. Well, maybe not everything, but it can make the difference between an occasion that is relaxing and fun and one that is borderline hysteria. Yes, I'm talking about Thanksgiving, which is less than 3 weeks away. My sister-in-law and I got on the phone earlier in the week to plan our menu. Every year we do our best to inject a bit of newness into the proceedings. Some years we succeed more than others. It's now part of our tradition to make two turkeys—one roasted and one deep-fried. This way, we are not challenged for the all-important leftovers.

Since we're going to have a king's ransom's worth of hot peanut oil on hand, I though I would take advantage of it to make David Kinch's drool-worthy herb beignets to amuse our bouches. I've been reading about them for a couple of years now, and finally have the recipe from his newly published Manresa cookbook. Don't roll your eyes at me. I'll also be making some easy standards and—new this year—a ginger pumpkin cheesecake. More highlights follow...
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Tagged — Thanksgiving
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photos by gluttonforlife

11.22.12 Count Your Blessings

Wild Geese
by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
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Tagged — Thanksgiving
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photo by george billard

11.23.11 Heartfelt Thanks

I threw my back out. Had a fabulous massage on Monday night and by yesterday afternoon I felt that weird incipient wobbliness (this has happened before) and soon enough I was in full-on crisis mode. I have to lie on the ground and put my legs up the wall for 30 minutes at a time—not the best position for cooking, or anything else for that matter—and thus far it hasn't helped much, so the first thing I'm grateful for is that I'm at my sister-in-law's house and not welcoming the hoards into my own. Tomorrow I'll be thankful when I look around at this wonderful family I married into, complete with adorable nephews and a mother-in-law who likes my cooking, not to mention for the gargantuan feast that will be laid out in all its aromatic glory. Our menu? Since you asked:Devils on Horseback (Dates stuffed with Parmesan & Wrapped in Bacon)Pigs in BlanketsSalami Chips with Spicy MustardCheese with Pickled RampsChicken Consommé with Mushroom RavioliTurkey Two Ways, Deep-Fried & RoastedBrandied CranberriesGingered Green BeansShaved Fennel & Brussels Sprouts SaladClassic Billard Stuffing2 kinds of GravySpicy Yams with PancettaMashed Potatoes & Celery RootApple-Cranberry PiePumpkin Custard with Candied Pumpkin SeedsVanilla Panna Cotta with Wine-Poached Apples (Winos)Chocolate Cake (for the kids)3 kinds of Cookies (brought by Mum)Life is short, life is sweet, we're so lucky to have plenty to eat. Seems excesssive, no? Hopefully no one will slip into a food coma. In case I do, let me say thanks to you now, gentle reader, for your support and encouragement. I picture you out there, clutching your morning latte or evening glass of red wine, maybe stealing a moment at your desk or while the baby's napping, and I am inspired to keep sharing with you all the things for which I am grateful so that together we can make every moment count.  I wish you all a happy, healthy Thanksgiving!
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Tagged — Thanksgiving
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pilgrims' progress

11.17.11 Ready, Set, Go

My sister-in-law says I am giving her àgita with all my early talk of Thanksgiving but guess what—IT'S ONE WEEK AWAY. If you haven't formulated your game plan by now, you really need to get cracking. Maybe instead of going to your in-laws, you're headed to an inn and won't be slaving in front of a hot stove at all? Maybe you're one of those people who sneers at holidays and will be taking advantage of the opportunity to eat Chinese food and go to the movies like a good Jew on Christmas? If so, best to avert your eyes now, because this entire post is about recipes for Thanksgiving. I will refer you to some of my own past posts, but I've also compiled links to other great resources with tons of recipes, techniques and tips for sailing through this feast with style and aplomb. (In case you think this link compilation thing is shirking, trust me, it's not. My ass is flat as a pancake from sitting in front of the fire glued to this computer as I tumble down one interweb rabbit hole after another in pursuit of hot links for you.)
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