I have a secret strategy when I don’t want it to rain on my vacation: I pack an umbrella. Then I carry that umbrella with me everywhere—fully prepared for the rain that never shows up—and I usually end up having to splurge on supermarket sunblock the first chance I get.
Once my parents and I were caught, umbrella-less, in a San Francisco downpour. We had no choice but to keep on slogging through it, until we got to a drugstore on Market Street and bought an umbrella. And just as we left the drugstore, the rain stopped.
I’m sure this was only memorable to me because it proved my oddly superstitious conviction that the weight of an umbrella in my bag is often enough to ward off the rain. I’m sure there are thousands of counter-examples that I’ve failed to remember, since they didn’t support my theory… but I still can’t help but think it tends to be true.
I’ve recently discovered a similar phenomenon, also weather-related, but in this case the question is not to pack, or not to pack, an umbrella. The question is what to have for dinner.
I’m writing a short-ish post this week, since that’s all I have time for—too much going on with my dissertation right now!
(And, as I mentioned last week, I guess I’m still not willing to sacrifice time spent on cooking, so something else had to give…)
Simply put, charoset is the main reason I love the Passover holiday: chopped apples, walnuts, dates, and wine, with a little cinnamon sprinkled in. It’s quite sweet, but still somehow manages to be addictive and refreshing.
Charoset recipes often call for the super-sweet Manischewitz wine. (I’m pretty sure my parents have a bottle of this wine, which I believe is used once a year. For charoset.)
I prefer to just use whatever red wine we probably already have open, along with extra dates for sweetness, or better yet, a little pomegranate molasses.
My dissertation stress has been catching up with me recently, more than ever before. So much that I actually considered not posting a recipe this week.
I have all sorts of big and little deadlines, self-imposed and otherwise, and I sometimes fall into the trap of too much calendar-checking—trying to conceptualize too many future obligations at once. This always leaves me feeling overwhelmed: while working on one task, I can’t help but feel guilty that I am not working on others. (As absurd as that sounds.) So inertia takes hold and instead of getting to work, I do nothing, while feeling increasingly… awful.
The one thing that helps—other than working on the dissertation (but even that doesn’t help sometimes)—is cooking.
Paula loves Campbell’s tomato soup, but to me it tastes metallic and sweet. Far too sweet—like it’s been loaded up with sugar. (It’s mystifying to me that Paula can’t taste the sugar in it at all!)
I’ve put up with my share of canned-soup buying and even cringed through eating it, since my reward was grilled cheese sandwiches on Paula’s homemade bread. But every time, I’ve told her that I wanted to try making her a from-scratch tomato soup that she’d like even better than Campbell’s.
This was not supposed to be that soup. This was just a recipe I came up with in honor of my new immersion blender. (My last one broke after only three uses… six years ago.)
It’s just about as different as you can get from Campbell’s—that was the last thing on my mind when I was creating it—so I had no idea that this soup, warmed up with aleppo pepper and thickened with creamy red lentils, would be the one.
It’s finally here! The recipe I’ve wanted to share with you for ages. (Not that I’ve mentioned that to you, since I had no idea just how many rounds of recipe testing it would take.*)
I’ve never been to Nepal, but I have an immense love and nostalgia for these dumplings from one of the Nepali restaurants in Madison, WI, where I grew up. The momo dumplings at Himal Chuli on State St. are one of my must-eats in Madison, and momos are one of my favorite types of dumplings.
Momo fillings are seasoned with fresh ginger, cilantro, and the same types of hearty, savory, curry spice flavors you’d find in a samosa, but the delicate dumplings are steamed rather than fried, and can be served with spicy or mild tomato chutney.
I am a sucker for steamed dumplings, but especially when they are packed with peanuts and cilantro, and surrounded by a moat of tomato cilantro sauce.
You might be aware that California is in the midst of a terrible drought this season. Well this past weekend it finally rained in Santa Barbara—and it rained hard! (We’re talking torrential rains and coastal flooding.)
Although they’re reporting that the storm wasn’t enough to re-fill the state’s dried-up reservoirs, those few days of rain were still good news for California. And bad news for my car.
For some reason that none of the various mechanics I’ve taken it to can figure out, my car seems to hate the rain.
Unfortunately the rainstorm followed an exhausting dissertation week—when I’d still managed to do quite a bit of cooking—so it was one of those lazy weekends when Paula and I both wanted to throw in the kitchen towel and just go out for brunch.
But of course we couldn’t drive anywhere in the rain without my car threatening to die. Good thing we had this brunch-worthy recipe up our sleeves.