Big news and a new place to follow me

My poor, neglected blog! I’m mostly here to tell anyone still following along to, well, follow me somewhere else.

We bought a suburban 1978 brick of a house, and rather than write about it here, I’ve decided to do a TinyLetter about it. I love reading these—it feels like I’m friends with really good writers—and it felt like an appropriately intimate medium to talk at people about DIY and design successes and failures, meals and, probably a lot, what home and community mean in what feels like a dystopian hellscape. I’d love if you all followed along.

But What Do We Do Without the Snow?

As someone who’s spent my entire life, minus a few months here and there, in the Northeast region of the U.S., I think it is my right to complain about the weather constantly. Summer is too hot. Spring is too rainy. Fall, well, fall’s perfect. No complaints. Winter? Too miserable. If it’s not the snow, it’s the slush and the ice and the general gloom and mess all around.

But secretly, I just love it. I love staying inside, making stews and hot toddies, knitting, stroking my dog and cat, watching British period dramas (seriously, I feel like I’ve known Downton Abbey my whole life, even though we’ve only just met). 

So what’s a girl to do during a mild winter? What excuse do I have to stay in my pajamas, and when will I make the Irish Stew?!?! I mean, I know there are bigger problems in the world, and if it blizzards tonight, it will obviously be all my fault. But in the meantime, if anyone has any non-cold-weather slowcooker ideas, give me a shout. (I did barbecue chicken last week, and chili all the time, so not those please!)

I Eat Me Spinach

I have a near-compulsive fear that I won’t eat vegetables before they go bad, so I cooked and froze two delicious leafy green lunch items, so I’ll give you some recipes!

Italian Wedding Soup

1/2 lb. ground turkey or beef (I used turkey)

2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

1/2 tsp. each of rosemary, oregano and garlic powder

1 Tbsp. bread crumbs

1 egg

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

5 cloves garlic, smashed

4 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup Israeli couscous (or orzo, ditalini, whatevs)

1 cup chopped spinach

Make meatballs by piling meat, salt, pepper, other seasoning, bread crumbs and eggs in a bowl and then mixing by hand until everything is just blended. (Nobody likes a tough meatball).

Heat oil in soup pot and add onion and garlic, then make little meatballs and drop them into the oil. Cook until outside of meatballs is browned, then add chicken broth.

Bring soup to a light boil, then add couscous. Cook for 8 minutes, then add spinach. Cook for another 4 minutes, et voila!

Spinach Turnovers

1 1/2 cups spinach

1 Tbsp. cottage cheese

Salt, pepper, garlic, cumin to taste

One tube Pillsbury crescent rolls

Lightly steam spinach, mix with the cottage cheese and seasonings. Divide into four portions. Sandwich each portion between two triangles of crescent dough. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350.

P.S. Obviously I would totally make my own pastry instead of using canned stuff, but my kitchen is too little. No counter space! Don’t judge me.

In any case, I’m hoping my muscles will pop out like little baseballs strapped onto my biceps every day at lunch from all the spinachy deliciousness. I’ll keep you posted!

Things That Happened in My Kitchen

I was lucky enough to enjoy the most relaxed holidays ever, in my new home, with A and Jasmine and Beatrice frolicking about. I spent a lot of time knitting and even more time cooking. My most proud accomplishments were beef gyoza and baked beans (from scratch!).

I bought gyoza skins at Fairway a while back, fried up the ground beef with onion, ginger and garlic (all chopped wicked finely, since I don’t have a food processor), stuffed the mixture into the skins, fried ’em up and put them in the freezer. A’s evaluation: “This is a good something different, not a weird something different.” The total ingredient cost was about $3 for 30 gyoza, so I was pretty excited.

The baked beans were a much longer process, but not much work. I was supposed to use navy beans, but there weren’t any at my grocery store, so I got something called miniature red beans, soaked them over night, threw them in the slow cooker with onion, turkey bacon, brown sugar, maple syrup (didn’t have molasses), ketchup, worcestershire sauce and water. They needed to cook for like 14 freakin’ hours, but the total ingredient cost was only like $4. Next time I would forgo the turkey bacon, because it doesn’t add much in a slow cooker situation, so if nothing else, this is a good go-to for frugality.

Too bad I mostly ate the cakes and cookies from A’s grandmothers, instead of my delicious homecooked goodness. I guess that’s what New Year’s resolutions are for…

Remember Me?

Hello bunnies. I haven’t posted in over two months. Here’s the deal:

  • I’m moving on Sunday. Stay tuned for all kinds of fun info about my DIY projects. I’m making a Roman shade! And I have weird kitchen cabinets (lots of them), so maybe we can get interactive about what I should do.
  • Andrew Beahrs, a food historian and supercool badass kind of guy, wrote this story for Hemispheres, that magazine I work on. I made the chicken pie with turkey bacon, and it was magical. Read and learn and do it.
  • Stay tuned here for some more fun links. I’m a busy girl.

In the meantime, hope you’re all enjoying the fall by jumping in leaf piles and gorging yourself on apple cider and pumpkin lattes (not at the same time please).

Stocking Up the Larder

It looks like summer might end after all. I was kind of hoping for miserable hurricane weather to keep me in my kitchen. The hurricane never came, but I’ve been cooking up a storm. Here’s my summer-to-fall foodie concoctions.

  • My pickled green beans came out wonderfully. (Boil equal parts water and vinegar [I did half and half white and balsamic], with half that amount of salt and about four cloves garlic. Put green beans in a jar with a sprig or two of fresh dill. Pour brine over green beans. Leave for two weeks. Eat while standing in front of the refrigerator trying to decide what to cook.) I will be doing more pickling for sure.
  • I seem to be in a constant state of making and freezing spaghetti sauce, only to unfreeze and eat it about three days later. This time around, I sauteed turkey bacon with the garlic before adding the crushed tomatoes. Deliciousness ensued.
  • I’m having a little love affair with lentil salad these days. I thought that lentils were hard to cook and needed to be soaked overnight and whatnot. They don’t! Once cooked, I added carrots and feta, and a vinaigrette of balsamic, EVOO, lemon juice, garlic, cumin and some more fresh dill. I suspect the pickled green beans will make a nice addition to one or two servings.
  • Nothing makes me feel more domestic and accomplished than making and freezing a bunch of burritos. I currently have chicken in the slowcooker with sofritos, garlic, lime, salt, cayenne and a dash of cumin. I’ll shred and wrap it up with refried beans, rice and cheese. Between that and the lentils, I’ll be the happiest lunch-eater in my office.

Natural Woman?

Guys, I really want to do one of those natural, shop-in-your-pantry beauty regimes. It sounds so simple! You’re supposed to just need lemon juice, honey, aspirin and olive oil. Cheap, right? Well, lemon juice made me rashy, honey made me sticky and I’m terrified to put oil on my face. The only people I’ve heard say it is good for one’s face are anonymous internet types, and we know how reliable they are. I’m holding out hope that a paste of crushed aspirin and water will make my skin look like a baby’s bottom. Stay tuned for updates.

Summer Eating

A few weekends ago, I was eating pickles, and A walked in and asked if I was doing my summer eating thing. The answer is yes. I don’t like to eat in the summer. I stick to foods such as cucumbers and popsicles—low-calorie, no cooking involved. It’s a balance, because these thing can get expensive. Pickles segue into olives, followed by hummus, then cheese. Individually, it’s a small splurge here and there on a nice, brainy-looking French cheese or a small olive bar expedition. But when one of those things only lasts a day, because it’s all I eat, yeah, pricey. So I’ve boiled it down to a list of budget-friendly essentials that can last for days (A’s diet—RED MEAT—not included):

  • Tomatoes
  • Canned black olives that you can eat off your fingers
  • Pickles
  • Avocado
  • A block of regular old grocery store mozarella
  • Pasta
  • Mushrooms
  • Cucumber
  • Plain yogurt
  • Frozen blueberries

This list can be mixed and matched into salad, pasta salad, warm pasta salad, whatever. The yogurt can become a creamy salad dressing, soup (when mixed up with the cucumber), or a base for the blueberries. Try the Layla Summer Eating Plan (TM). You’ll feel refreshed and summery, and so will your wallet!