Stovetop Squash Pudding with Toasted Hazelnuts

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I love Thanksgiving because I need thanksgiving. I need to practice gratitude, and I need to do it every moment of the day. I need to see my full hands. I need to stop and offer thanks. I need thanksgiving because I need to taste joy---oh, how I need to taste joy!---in the midst of the days that don't go my way and the days that do. … [Read more...]

Rosewater Cardamom Lassi

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The first time Tim took me to Indian food was the first time I liked Indian food. It was also the first time I ordered a lassi. I am half Indian, my dad grew up in southern India, and my Italian-German-Danish mom taught herself to make a mean curry, but I wasn't on Team International Eating until well into my adult years. By the time I'd met and married Tim, I liked plenty of different cuisines, just not Indian, so on our one-month wedding anniversary, we decided to celebrate by doing something to change that. We went to Nashville's Sitar and ordered Tim's favorites: butter chicken and garlic naan. Turns out pillowy herbed dough heady with garlic, alongside creamy, tender chicken, is not a hard sell. I was in. Mostly though, there was that sweetened yogurt drink that had caught my eye on the menu and accompanied my meal. Served over ice in a tall glass, it was sweet, just barely, and flavored with rosewater---it was also the most wonderful offering I'd ever sipped through a straw. I've … [Read more...]

Kabocha Squash Custards (Gluten-Free)

Every time I make my pumpkin pie, which, in our household, is not reserved for the holiday season that is fast approaching, I end up with enough extra pie filling for one little ramekin. And when the two dishes come out of the oven, the pie plate and the ramekin, both of them sitting atop the stove to rest, Tim and I cannot help ourselves from digging into that mini custard, the two of us with spoons, blowing away steam and reveling in the hot and caramelized comfort. So about a month ago or so, it occurred to us: Forget the pie. Why not pour all the filling into ramekins? That's how these kabocha squash custards were born. Here is what you need to do to start: Get yourself a kabocha squash. Do you guys already know about kabocha squash? This squatty gourd, also called Japanese pumpkin, came into our lives this fall, as one of the heavier ingredients in a weekly CSA box. At first, it seemed a clone of butternut or acorn squash---slightly different in appearance … [Read more...]

First Anniversary + Basil Shortbread Cookies (gluten-free, grain-free)

When you first get married, it’s wonderful and it’s strange. Part of you has this sense that becoming a new family only makes sense, like it’s the way things were always supposed to be, like, thank God, this person you love so much is now joined to you the way you’ve longed for him to be. Yet right alongside that joy, simultaneously, even as you know those things, another part of you has to constantly catch herself, realizing, oh, there’s another person who needs to be consulted before I make any big decisions or changes or future plans; all of your struggles become our struggles and his pain, our pain; one or both of you faces illness or discouragement or deep hurt and brings it into us; you, together, hit points where you don’t know what to do; sometimes, even, you fight. Because, being straight-up honest with you, there are days when marriage is so over-the-moon easy that you find yourself saying things like you think your heart could burst, even when beforehand you would’ve … [Read more...]

Pumpkin Cake + Pumpkin Trifle

pumpkin wedding cake | FoodLovesWriting.com

Exactly one year ago today, Tim and I were up in the Chicago suburbs, driving out to the DuPage County courthouse to lift up our hands and solemnly swear that we were who we said we were and get the nice lady in the sea of cubicles to hand us our marriage license, our marriage license! I remember walking out of that building, into the crowded parking lot, hand in hand with Tim and thinking, our marriage license! It’s official now! Not just in terms of a giant dress in the closet and a chalkboard seating chart, but, as in, according to the government, we’re actually about to do this thing. Three days from now, we’re getting hitched! I know I’ve said this here before, but, seriously, there are so many more details involved with planning a wedding than I ever would have imagined, and, when you plan your wedding fast, like we did in six months, you learn to scrap a lot of those details in the name of staying sane---like a wedding cake maybe. We had pretty much ruled it out, thinking … [Read more...]

Panna Cotta with Figs and Honey

“You take two cups of milk and two cups of cream and warm it on the stove,” Tim’s saying to me from the dining room. I place our medium Le Creuset saucepan, the cream one with the handle, on the back burner. “OK, then what?” I call back to him. “Add ½ cup of Sucanat and stir until it dissolves.” While the sugar combines with the milk and cream, I set out a bowl and fill it with six tablespoons of water, then toss five teaspoons of gelatin over the top. I return to the stove. A couple minutes and a few stirs later, the sugar's totally dissolved, and I remove the saucepan from the heat. I add vanilla extract and almond extract, stir, and pour the saucepan's contents into the gelatin-water bowl. Stir. Let it all dissolve. “Then I just pour it into the cups?” I say to Tim, thinking aloud that this has been too simple, wondering if we've somehow skipped a step. He’s in the kitchen next to me now, right beside me while I divvy up the mixture, pour it into oiled ramekins and … [Read more...]