a word of advice

comforting carrot soup

If you don’t want anything in your life to change, say, for example, your food stereotypes?

Don’t read this book.

Because if you do, one chapter in, you might start saying things like, Maybe I could like mushrooms! Or fish! Or pickles! And so you will, try some of those things, I mean, after a lifetime of not, and you won’t hate them, not even a little, and you’ll suddenly see an entire world of menus and restaurant options that you’ve always overlooked, and, really, everything will change.

Now the second thing (which could seem unrelated): If you buy a birthday present six months early, don’t, please, make that present be for me.

Because if you do, you could be talking to me one night, about something simple like what what you did that day, while I eat forkfuls of tender pot roast and whipped mashed potatoes, and just randomly, I’ll tell you, You know, I think I’m going to buy a Le Creuset French oven next week, and you won’t be able to hold it in, that you bought me one, so within minutes, I’ll be opening the big box, uncovering the cream-colored, beautiful, beautiful cast-iron pot inside, ruining the surprise. And I will have to make something in it, right away.

Read More

up and down


Oh, spring.

I have been waiting for you for such a long, long time.

And now that you’re here, you’re playing games with me.

One minute, we’re pure magic—all fresh breezes and warm sunshine. Bailey and I go for an evening walk, his paws trotting past tiny green buds peeking out of the earth and I breathe in the new air, cold and clean, inhaling it down deep and sighing, happy sighing, the kind filled with satisfaction yet anticipation. The next, you’re waking me up in the middle of the night, my eyes swollen and my throat tight, while what feels like a hundred tiny hammers bang against my head and nothing—not the Vicks VapoRub® or the warm compress on my eyes or the two tablets of pain medication—makes me feel well again. I always forget about this part. Every year.

Then, just when I’m ready to give up on you—to say I’ll bide my time and wait for summer’s long, hot days—my mom buys and brings me a neti pot, a small contraption in the shape of a genie’s bottle that, when filled with lukewarm saltwater, clears my nasal passages and frees my airways and makes me breathe again, so I can taste your sweet, windy gusts that burst through my windows, signaling the rainstorm that will come, along with the temperate days and green, green grass.

Spring, I take it all back. I think I love you.

When I look at things clearly, I say you’re like kale. Does that make sense? Kale is dark green, leafy, sold in thick bunches wrapped with bands, filled with promise, the kind of produce you want to take home with you because it’s beautiful and healthy (!) and, you know, there will be a way to enjoy it. Even though it’s usually considered a winter vegetable, kale is easy to find on days like these in March, just like natural light and rainy evenings and smells of charcoal grills wafting through the sky.

But after I’d made a failed winter vegetable gratin and a botched attempt at blanched kale, I was ready to give up on kale. And then.

Read More

a recent discovery

carrot slaw

It’s not like I have something against healthy food. Seriously. In fact, there are times—like at the end of last week, in which I’d shared an entire dozen doughnuts with a friend, ordered things like toasted (and breaded) ravioli and huge slices of pizza, eaten meat in my lunches and dinners, gotten takeout more often than I’d brought brown-bagged meals (and had the accompanying bloating and heaviness to prove it)—where something fresh and healthy is all I do want. I know it may not seem like it around here, where I’ve posted dozens of cookie recipes and, lately, an onslaught of cakes, but I swear it’s true.

It’s just—I’m going to be honest—I don’t like eating things that don’t taste good. Is that so terrible? And, at least up until this point in my life, the things that taste good are, usually, not exactly healthy. The way I see it, if I’m already frustrated about, say, the fact that an apartment I went to see was in a creepy, creepy building with hotel hallways, I don’t want to add to that misery with bad food, do I? It wouldn’t be right.

So my solution for years, in terms of eating reasonably well while not killing myself in the process, has been portion control. I try very hard to eat because I’m hungry, not because I’m bored or lonely or something else. I eat whatever I want, but I don’t eat a lot of it, at least not regularly. (And when I do eat too much, my stomach is there to punish me, and, believe me, it does.)

But I’ve made a recent discovery that sort of thwarts my working system or, really, trumps it. This probably won’t be a secret to you, but I have been shocked. Here it is: Healthy things can taste good. Like, really, really good. Who knew?

Read More

what’s on the mind

puff pastry with spinach

This is going to be the one of the fastest post I’ve written here: I’m giving myself 20 minutes, start to finish. GO!

OK, so that picture above—the one of the beautiful puff pastry?—is from Ina Garten, one of those people I wouldn’t mind being more like. She’s so classy, isn’t she? I love watching her and her little husband, Jeffrey. They’re like the wealthy aunt and uncle I wish I had. If Ina were writing this post, she’d probably have something more interesting to say, unlike me, who, I’m embarrassed to tell you, still (STILL!) has very little else on my mind than the weather. (THE GORGEOUS WEATHER!)

If you’ll permit me: This morning, I drove to work with my windows cracked open, fresh, crisp air whipping inside my little Jetta, and I wore my bright-green spring jacket, not the parka or even my dressy wool coat. Everything was so perfect temperature-wise that I actually left the house early so I could stop at Dunkin Donuts and pick up coffee, as a celebration. I’ve decided it’s good to celebrate things like these, which might seem small to other people, just an increase in temperatures and some melting snow, so what? But to me, while I cruised through puddles, Ella Fitzgerald crooning, this was possibly the best day ever.

In the office, where we still haven’t turned on A/C (hello? it’s February?), we had to plug in the upright fan and point it on us while we worked, donning short sleeves and sipping ice water. At lunch, I swear, I was sweating when I got back into my car. The weatherman said it reached 61 degrees today, two short of the record. But let me tell you, walking down my street, you’d never have believed it.

Anyway, while I was driving home tonight (and there was hardly any traffic!), I realized that days like this are the good stuff worth savoring. After all, I’m too eager to tell you when my commute doubles or the snow makes me late. Shouldn’t I rejoice a little when everything’s completely wonderful?

And that brings me to now, when here I am, sitting at the computer, trying to think of what to tell you about the puff pastry, which is really lovely, but all that comes out is weather. What can I say?

Read More