Tuesday, April 15, 2014
The superfood of the Andes is, as everybody knows, kosher for Passover because. . . Come on! Those Andean Jews weren't about to be growing any treyf quinoa. Natch.
So. Perfect Quinoa Bowls. Yes, this used to be called "Make Your Own (Quinoa) Sundaes," and yes it's a recipe you've seen before. But it is such a persistent favorite that I'm putting it up on this site, to claim for my very own. The quinoa-cooking method alone is worth a look. I never make it any other way. [Note: I backdate recipes when I add them. So all the older stuff will say "November 2005," but it's not really from then. It's just so it doesn't gum up the current posts. If that makes sense.]
Chappy Pesach, dear ones.
In other news: how about Goldfinch winning the Pulitzer? Right? But you already read and loved that and you and your dad already complained to each other at length about the ending, and you need another book. So read Home Away. It's like A Year in Provence, but refracted through anguished domestic comedy and very mild alcoholism. In other words, my life (except in France). Plus, every time you read about the husband character "Bill," you can imagine the guy who lived next door to you freshman year, the one who was crazy nice and kind of dorky and later turned out to have been a secret hunky catch all along. In other words, Bill is a real person, and he lived next door to me freshman year.
Also (Lean in for this. I am going to whisper, because of my superstitious nature.): I am publishing another book! With Little, Brown! And it's because of you, it just frankly is. When I was making a long and labored case to my new, lovely, wonderful editor there, I sent so many cut-and-pastes of things you'd written--things like "Write another book!" and "What's with not ever writing another book?"--that she finally said, kindly and gently, that she thought she had enough material of that type. (I omitted all the comments that were like, "Enough already with the mildly alcoholic comedic angst. I just need a chicken recipe.") So, as always, thank you, thank you, thank you. The book should be called: The Kids: They're great. They're annoying. I'm afraid they're going to die. Instead it's going to be called, in a similar vein, Field Guide to Catastrophic Happiness. It will come out in spring of 2016. Knock wood. Thank you, my darlings. xo
Monday, April 07, 2014
Thursday, April 03, 2014
Monday, March 24, 2014
|Frank Cottrell Boyce. He was not exactly driven to writing by homeliness, if you know what I mean.|
Finally, on a friend’s recommendation we have now listened to more or less everything on tape by Frank Cottrell Boyce, and we have loved every single book: Cosmic, Millions, Framed, and the short but wonderful The Unforgotten Coat. He is English and funny and deeply kind, and the books are all different, but they’re all about the kinds of awesome, quirky kids who obsessively memorize details of saints’ lives, say, or note in a huge journal every car that passes. Some of our own recent car trips, even long ones, have passed in a blur of pleasure.
Please, share anything relevant (or irrelevant!). We are, as you know, always looking to read, listen to, and play new things. xo
Friday, March 14, 2014
pressure cooker on you again.) It’s always exciting. I put out chopped raw onions, a little cruet of olive oil, some feta, fresh herbs, hot sauce, flaky sea salt—and everyone gets to top their own beans. Could there be a more delightful dinner? (Don’t answer that.)
Wednesday, March 05, 2014
|Between my shrewy kvetching, Ben's squeaky whatever, and this dreary photograph, I will understand if you don't sprint to the kitchen to make this. But please, take my word for it: you should.|
And yet. And yet I very rarely experience this family as difficult to feed, and I think it’s because they happily eat around most of the things they don’t love, and also they have a cheerful outlook about food in general. I mention that because after dinner last night, I looked at Ben’s plate—and it was full of green beans. “Tell me you’re saving those for last,” I said, and he smiled sheepishly. “The pasta was so, so delicious. But I’m turning out not to really like green beans. The way they squeak in my teeth.” He shuddered. I was, I should point out, having a bad day: frustrating work interactions, frustrating marital interactions (not the sex kind), frustrating dirty house, frustrating chimney needing to be fixed for $4000. “Do I have to do every single fucking thing?” is a (rhetorical) question I actually uttered out loud at some point yesterday. Seriously. Michael should have been wearing a t-shirt with an arrow that said, “I’m with jerkhole.”
|I'm so busy pissing and moaning I forgot to mention that Birdy, my baby, turned 11.|
If I'd had fresh herbs, I would have used them. If I'd had a mint teabag, I would have used dried mint. Instead I used this beautiful California bay leaf that I stole from Ava's family's holiday wreath. It was outrageously fragrant. Probably everybody secretly hated the flavor but me. [Sighs self-pityingly.] A secret: you could make this without the fresh beans: add another can of beans, or use 3/4 of the pasta.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
|Final plating: Spinach Salad with Cranberry Croutons, Coriander Vinaigrette, and, inexplicably, Whole Coriander Seeds|
However, for a pair of kids or a small group of kids or a large group of kids, playing Chopped is extremely fun, on the one hand, and, on the other, gets all or some of your dinner made. We've now done it loads of times (birthday parties, sleepovers, play dates, summer "camp") and kids get totally psyched, even if they're teenagers and you'd think they'd be too cool to get excited about celery seeds or almond extract. They'll surprise you.
|An unretouched photograph of enthusiastic teenagers competing at salad. Bonus Ava sighting!|
1) Come up with a game plan. For kids with limited or unknown cooking skills, plan for them to make just a salad or dessert (more experienced cooks can do more courses and/or an entree, but make sure you have enough time). Gather or buy the 3 or 4 special ingredients that the cooks will have to use, and make sure that you have others that they'll likely want or need. So, say you're doing a salad: put the weird or fun ingredients in the basket (we've done raw cranberries, dill pickles, bread, coriander seeds, pomegranate molasses, shallots, hearts of palm, dates, turmeric and vanilla extract, among others) and then make sure you have some basic salad stuff (greens, cukes, carrots) on-hand. (We did a dessert one on New Year's Eve with a huge group of kids, and I think they had to use baguette, cocoa powder, navel oranges, and heavy cream. Tofu is a great ingredient for entrees, since it's safe to eat even if it's cooked improperly). I usually put a small amount of each required ingredient in a shopping bag for each team, so they can grab-and-go when the contest starts.
Edited to add a comment from below: "LOVE IT!! Just think that my kids and the kids we know wouldn't be as adventurous as yours. We might need to use Cream cheese, peanut butter, mini chocolate chips and apples in order to get them to produce anything eatable. Thanks for the tip!" Of course! That's a great idea. Rice cakes or toast could be a great base for an easier assembly-type project.
|A mortar and pestle is so great to have. Here, cranberries are getting shown what's what.|
|Shallots getting chopped, before being sauteed and added to a cranberry vinaigrette.|
|The littlest AND rowdiest kid, all rolled into one sharp-knife-wielding contestant! But look at that concentrating face. Those cranberries weren't going to cut themselves in half, after all.|
|It is fine to make a "no heat" rule! There have definitely been some alarums, if you know what I mean. And what I mean is the smoke alarm going off.|
6) Start the timer. Then retire helpfully to some comfortable nearby corner, ideally where you have installed a kitchen couch, like I am always reminding you to do. The kids will need to know where things are, especially if there are kids who aren't your kids. Also, they might want advice about ratios of oil to vinegar, and you can give it to them or not, depending on the ground rules you've laid out. Do be sure to give them time alerts in a dramatic and threatening way. Address them continually and menacingly as "Chefs!"
|The final plating.|