Goodbye, 2010! Hello, 2011!

If there were one post that I've been looking forward to writing this year, this is the post I've been looking forward to writing all year---the last post of 2010. The past 365 days have been filled with such enormous changes---a new way of eating, not to mention someone new to eat with, a new job, even a new (used) car I officially own as of Tuesday thanks to a quick trip to the DMV---and as a rare project, I've been chronicling the whole thing, even beyond our chats here, with a picture a day, every day, all. year. long., along with other food bloggers (or maybe because of other food bloggers), only missing four days. But now that the day has come, I guess all I really want to say is, it's been a good year, and I'm thankful. So even though I had wanted to give you a long, heartfelt, recap-style post today, all I'm bringing is these few sentences. That, and a big, heartfelt wish for a happy new year---one that's as blessed as this one has been. See you in 2011! … [Read more...]

Sweet & Tangy Meatballs

My family's never been big on annual traditions. I mean, sure, at Christmastime, there's a tree and presents. We mail greetings and watch movies that come on TV, like most people do. We eat cookies (but then we always eat cookies). And then there are a few other recipes we associate with the season, you know, things that sometimes get made, sometimes don't, from fudge to cream cheese to the gem I bring you today: sweet and tangy meatballs. But these meatballs aren't just for Christmastime, and they're not always with Christmastime---with my family, few things are. In fact, some of you may remember seeing them at our (hot and balmy) blog party last August, where 32 people managed to eat over 100 in the space of a few hours. There were so many requests for the recipe afterwards---Mom gets all the credit there---that I had to post a quick version over on our Facebook page, with plans to give these year-round appetizers better treatment later on. Now's that time. Because while … [Read more...]

Pumpkin Pie + Homemade Pie Crust

OK, I know what you're thinking: pumpkin pie in December? Why don't I just put on a Halloween costume and sing the Star-Spangled Banner while I'm at it? Listen, I know. Pumpkin pie is traditionally associated with Thanksgiving, and I know, here we are, a few days from Christmas---a time decidedly post-Thanksgiving. But I've thought this one through, and I'm bringing it to you today, anyway, despite the backwards holiday timing and seeming ignorance of appropriate blog content. I'm doing it for two reasons: This is the best pumpkin pie I've ever had. I can't stop making it. (Oh and PS: pie pumpkins are currently on sale at my grocery store, so hello?) I'm also posting this now because it includes a pie crust recipe! for a homemade crust! (Once you start making excuses, it's hard to stop.) I've posted this dough recipe before, with a quiche in early November, but I've since made it with all my pumpkin pies, as well as another version of that creamy pear pie, and … [Read more...]

Grass-Fed Pot Roast

Early last month---it might have been the cooler weather or the fact that I hadn't eaten red meat in a couple weeks, or it might have been since I already had a couple grass-fed chuck roasts in my freezer, purchased from a local farm---I got a fierce craving for pot roast. Now if you're anything like me, you've probably made pot roasts before. My versions were usually in a crock pot and surrounded by carrots and potatoes. Pot roast is one of those classic American dishes---like mashed potatoes and apple pie---that we have all had and made and probably prefer a certain way. As for me, I like my pot roasts very tender, flavorful and fragrant enough to turn the kitchen into a different place while cooking. It's kind of like my morning routine: where you might wake at a set time, have breakfast, read the paper and get in the car, I like to read and pray in bed before pulling out my laptop, still without having taken a shower, and get a few work things done. So early last … [Read more...]

Holiday Baking

At lunch the other day with Jacqui and her sister Jenny, we got talking about cookies and holiday baking, about how everyone has their favorite type of chocolate chip cookie and how my grandma used to make dozens of cookie tins to give away each year. I eventually found myself saying, with animation even, cookies are my favorite thing to bake, ever. And it's true. While this year is going to be my family's most low-key Christmas yet, with not a lot of celebrations to worry about or long shopping lists to work through, and I won't be seeing everyone I want to---a fact that gets me a little down when I start thinking about it---I'm still surprised to say that, here we are, December 13, and I haven't baked a single holiday cookie. (There were sticky buns this weekend though, so don't feel too sorry for me.) So in an effort to get myself back in the holiday-baking spirit and to point you to a few quality cookie recipes stashed away on this site, I present Christmas Cookies 2010. If … [Read more...]

Chicken Roulade

The truth is, I've been wanting to tell you about this chicken roulade recipe for over a week now---ever since last Tuesday, when I pulled chicken out of the fridge and wondered what to make for dinner. I'd gone through all the usual options in my mind, things I've had before, things I've made, but nothing sounded like it would be worth the high price tag of the Amish, antibiotic-free poultry I've been buying, nothing until this beautiful, impressive chicken roulade. Chicken roulade, if you've never heard of it, is essentially rolled chicken: the meat gets pounded and flattened into a large surface area; topped with cheese and a filling made of greens, onions, dried fruit, and nuts; rolled tightly; tied up with string; browned and baked. When it's finished, you slice the bundled breasts into slices stuffed with flavor and color, and it's the kind of thing that makes you go wow. This version comes from the lovely Angela of Spinach Tiger: she'd posted it as an idea for a … [Read more...]

Cheddar-Garlic Biscuits

Last night, two hours into a kitchen disaster that left dishes in the sink, flour on the counters and about a dozen buckwheat ravioli in the freezer (i.e., pasta with the texture of burlap), I gave thanks for the thing we call cooking. Because last night, cooking was part something to do, part a way to release energy and part an opportunity to be creative with concrete objects I could see, even if I turned those objects into tough dough set in thick sheets that didn't cut well. I am thankful cooking adapts to our days, adjusts to our needs. It has been, at times, a way to relax. At others, a chance to feel productive. The night before Thanksgiving, while I made a pie around midnight, it was the only thing that could keep my mind occupied. On the Saturday after, while I made another pie and then these cheddar-garlic biscuits, it was a welcome distraction and comfort, better than remembering the holiday ended and everyone had to go back home. Sometimes I don't even care … [Read more...]