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W lives in Minecraft world, where even when he’s not attached to the screen everything revolves around swords and armor and pickaxes and protecting oneself from creepers. The creepers in my world are the cinnamon buns that I have to bake in the morning for a photo shoot, and then sit lustily on the countertop, warm and needing to be eaten. The succession of recipes to be tested and photographed – the pizza straight from the oven, the baked cheese and waffles and pasta carbonara that I have to make and shoot, still steaming, before it gets dark. The lunch meetings and restaurant openings, the rationalization that I need to eat all this, in the name of research. It’s my job, dammit.

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Here’s a quickie for ya – this was one of those impromptu meals I had no intention of documenting, until it turned out as delicious as it did. It was a means of chipping away at the contents of my freezer in order to transfer everything to the new fridge, and a garlic sausage was the first to make its escape. When Mike and I were younger – newly married and past the novelty of Eggos and Hamburger Helper (the things my mom smartly denied my sisters and I as kids) for dinner, I decided that since he was of Ukranian descent, I should make him big panfuls of kielbasa and cabbage. Though he had grown up on nothing of the sort (think KD and Twinkies – his family didn’t even like peroghies) he loved it (must have been in his blood), but at some point I got distracted and forgot how delicious it was. And then my friend Elizabeth went on a trip toContinue reading

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We spent a chunk of time out in Tofino again this summer, something you may have noticed we do every year. (For those who’ve asked, it’s because my parents have property out there.) Their place has turned into something of a second home, one we can settle into for as much time as we can possibly manage at one go. We’re starting to leave shampoo and toothbrushes behind, as if we were in a new relationship that has comfortably evolved to the next level. And because we’ve been coming out for so long, we’ve gotten to know the locals, so to speak. We now have Tofino friends we see a couple times a year, and friends from home have started coming to visit while we’re out there. So really it’s like being home and away, the best of both worlds, which means we often invite friends over for dinner while on vacation. And when we don’t have the house to ourselves, it’s full to overflowingContinue reading

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We’ve been eating a disproportionate amount of pizza these past couple weeks… not only because it’s easy to cook on the grill (we’re currently without a kitchen), but because it’s easy and requires little in the way of dishes – just napkins that can be tossed in the garbage. (Doing dishes in the bathtub tends to make one acutely aware of just how many dirty dishes one generates.) This particular pizza is not the thin crust variety; it’s made on thickly patted out biscuit dough, making it sort a of quasi-focaccia, but then again not really – it’s more like thick wedges of comfort; dough topped with cheese, served warm. You could, of course, add anything you might add to a pizza – and the dough itself can be stirred up in about a minute, without kneading (a bonus when you currently have no countertops) or the need to let it rise. Which means you can come home from work and have a pizza inContinue reading

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Apparently, the world is divided into two types of eaters: those who want to segregate everything on their dinner plates, and those who like everything mixed together in a big jumble, like pad Thai or a rice bowl topped with all manner of meat, eggs and veggies. That’s me. The grill continues to rule our world. I’m amazed how much I don’t miss my oven. (This will change in the fall, I know. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.) Thinly sliced, intensely marinated steak cooks almost instantly on the grill while you do any number of veggies alongside – sliced zucchini, peppers, eggplant, asparagus – anything goes. Totally different from the usual barbecue fare, but perfect for eating outdoors – a pair of chopsticks is all you’ll need.

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I do all my cooking – and dishes – outside now. It’s kind of like camping, with real beds. The grill is my new BFF. Really, it’s amazing what you can do on it. I’m wondering if I even need a stove. I’m getting so used to cooking in my back yard that I might not want to go back into my kitchen even if it does miraculously get finished. This morning I made jambalaya on it. I came across this recipe called “camping jambalaya” – I don’t know what kind of crazy camping cooks are out there, but I’m not this ambitious when I’m cooking over a campfire and sleeping in a tent. To me, camping is an excuse to eat hot dogs and Cheezies. I’m pretty sure you won’t find me mincing garlic at a campsite any time soon. However. You can grill the meat bits (sausage, chicken and shrimp) on the barbecue, and the rest of the bits in your cast ironContinue reading

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That’s charred, as opposed to chard, which would likely also be delicious. I just made this for lunch, and wanted to share it right away. It was a spur-of-the-moment salad, made because it occurred to me that such a combo would be delicious, and because I’m making a concerted effort to not fill up on banana muffins and toast and eat mostly things that are nutrient-dense (and delicious), even if it requires a lot of chopping and our kitchen counters are currently torn out. (One of the pieces landed on our back porch, and has been turned into an outdoor kitchen of sorts. The barbecue is earning its keep. Our new dining table is outside, and it’s called laps. What do people do when they renovate in the midwinter? Takeout?) As a salad, this is open to interpretation. And the measurements are pretty lax. I’ve been on a bit of a homemade salsa kick this week (a result of a story I was working on),Continue reading

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I may be spoiled for pasta now. On the first morning of our first day in Italy, we walked to the Academia Barilla, an institute in Parma dedicated to the preservation of Italian food culture. (And to that end, the Academia Barilla Gastronomic Library houses a collection of over 11,000 cookbooks dating back to the 16th century – it’s open to the public and can be accessed online. More on that later, because WOW.) We were set up with little piles of flour and dark-yolked eggs, and mixed up dough the way you see them do it on TV – not in a bowl, but by making a little volcano out of the flour and cracking the eggs in, then stirring/corralling the eggs as they try to escape from ditches in the flour until it all comes together into a smooth, yellow dough that’s oh-so satisfying to run through a pasta machine into smooth, thin sheets, then cut into piles of ribbons or fill withContinue reading

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