Category Archives: Home Cooking

Beating the Heat.

I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but New York is having a bit of a heat wave at the moment. My apartment wasn’t designed for maximum air-flow, and, as a result, it’s so stuffy in there that I’ve been eating most of my meals on a tray in the bedroom, as close to my sole window-unit as possible.

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The kitchen is the hottest room in the place, so I’ve obviously been doing as little cooking as humanly possible. (When that much sweat involved, it’s hard enough to motivate to eat, let alone turn on a couple of burners.) One can only stand so many makeshift meals, though, and a few nights ago I hit the tipping point. I wanted a real dinner, dammit.

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Quick Dinner.

Due to an unfortunate case of cooking-related masochism, I tend to forget that not every meal requires hours of preparation and compilation. It took a recent experience to remind me of something that working parents have known for years: Weeknight dinners do not, in fact, need to be served at 10:00 p.m.

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After a particularly demanding day in the trenches, I was in the mood for something indulgent; I didn’t have the budget for anything fancy but wanted comfort food nonetheless. This burger, an umami*-rich combination of Italian sausage (I used half hot and half sweet, with great results), anchovy-spiked spinach, and sharp provolone cheese, couldn’t have been a better fit.

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At Home In Copenhagen.

As much as I enjoy researching and planning where to eat out while traveling, there’s nothing like receiving an invitation to a local’s house for a home-cooked meal when you’re living out of a suitcase. I love seeing how people in other areas cook, eat, and entertain, while my inner voyeur gets a kick out of being inside buildings I’d otherwise only glimpse from the street. Plus, that little frisson you get when you think about sitting down with a bunch of perfect strangers with only a bottle of wine for a buffer? Impossible to replicate.

I was informed early on in the Copenhagen meal-planning process that our Saturday night was spoken for—my cousin has a friend in the city, and her family had invited us all over for dinner. Magic hour was just hitting when we got off the train in Hellerup, a well-kept suburb to the north. (Fun fact: If you stand in the spot where I took the picture above, turn about thirty degrees to your right, and look out over the water, you’ll see Sweden. Hi, Malmö!)

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Mayor Inspiration.

I’ve kind of got a thing for Cory Booker. Dude jumps into flaming buildings to save constituents, loves coffee and isn’t that bad to look at. Oh. And he’s willing to try eating for a week on food stamps just to see what it’s like. Swoon.

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Take note. I am in no way trying to compare the situation I’m about to describe with that of the 46.2 million people who live in poverty in the U.S. Poverty and inconvenience are very, very different.

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Ten Things In 2012.

As 2013 rapidly approaches, we pause to take a look at our top food memories and discoveries of the year.

Jill: My itinerant adventures included a spring trip to Nicaragua and Costa Rice, summer visits to New York City and Cleveland (yes, a worthy destination) and a last-minute trip to San Francisco spurred on by World Series baseball. Below are a few things of note as I look back at the year that the world was supposed to end.

1. One-Course Meals.

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In 2012, I realized that while I may not be able to afford three courses of fine dining, I can create my own buffet of great eats by visiting several places for one course each. San Francisco was the perfect backdrop for this style of eating, and I found myself slurping oysters not once, but twice in the ten-day stay. The key, by the way, is to be upfront with servers from the beginning. And to tip a little extra before heading out for the next snack.

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Autumn Is for Ovens.

New York is gray and drizzly today: perfect weather for a cozy afternoon indoors, watching black-and-white movies, puttering in the kitchen, and maybe cuddling up with a sanity-challenged feline or two.

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Sadly, work beckons instead, but if you happen to be lucky enough to have a few hours at your disposal, might I suggest a cheesy, oniony, pull-apart bread to warm things up?

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Family Therapy.

Last week marked the fifth anniversary of my father’s death. Part of me can’t believe it’s been five years; the other part of me can’t believe it’s only been five years: It feels like yesterday, and an eternity ago. When my phone rings on Friday afternoons, I still half-expect him to be on the other end of the line, wishing me a happy Friday — as he did every week, pretty much, from when I left for college until he went into the hospital that final time. When I hung pictures in my apartment a few days ago, I heard his voice telling me to measure twice and hammer once; when I found a note on the back of one of those prints, in his inimitable handwriting, with birthday greetings for a year with “a pure silver lining,” I cried as if I’d lost him all over again. The enormous, overwhelming unfairness of it still just floors me.

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I miss him, every day. Not as brutally as I did those first couple of years, and for that I’m grateful, but the ache is constant. I’m usually alone on his yahrzeit — previously, I’ve marked the occasion with too many martinis and/or Manhattans — but this year, my mother and I spent the weekend together at the beach. I hope it’ll be a new tradition.

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Sunday Best.

“Let’s go somewhere cheap for brunch.” Except, as a rule, brunch is never cheap. (I can’t not order the mimosa, you see.)

So we stayed in. Because the weather was perfect for open windows and we’d get a great seat without a wait.

I’m not great at cooking morning food. I once made breakfast for a boyfriend who critiqued the entire endeavor before announcing — after he refused to do the dishes — that he guessed he was just used to his mom’s cooking. I wish I could say that I ended it right there. The breakup was awful, but amazing. I never had to watch 24 again.

This brunch was much better. Eggs cooked with Ohio-made pesto (compliments of my roommate’s mom). This-and-that from the Wayward Seed Farm produce bowl. (Plum and tomato.) Wheat toast smothered with lemon curd made by my friend Jenny. And so much delicious coffee.

To have so much local food within our immediate reach? All without having to put on shoes? Somehow upgrading from a cheap brunch to a free brunch made me feel a little rich. (Bonus: I didn’t have to do the dishes.)

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Procrastibaking.

There are a few notable exceptions to the rule, but in general, I’m not one for repeating recipes — my backlog of magazine clippings, printouts, and barely opened cookbooks rarely allows for such luxuries. When I do have the urge to go back for seconds, it has to be for something good.


Even though it pains me to turn on the oven in August, I made this cobbler twice in the past week. I think it qualifies. (Sure, baking is more fun than the work I should’ve been doing, but that shouldn’t detract from the fact that this is one stellar dessert.)

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Grieving the Grill.

This has been my first summer without a grill in five years. I cannot overstate how lucky I was to have one at my fingertips in this city, and how completely that spoiled me for life on the other side.

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If I were to tell you the withdrawal nearly killed me, would you pardon the hyperbole?

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