I know what you’re thinking: ugh, another raw kale salad? That’s so 2012; I’ll just skip over this post and no one will be the wiser.
But don’t skip this post! I swear this is the best way to eat raw kale, and I bet 99% of you would thoroughly enjoy this salad. A bold claim, I know.
This is my new favorite winter salad. I think I’ve made it about seven times in the past few weeks.
After all the Christmas-y cookies and quick breads, and after all the nights it’s been too chilly to find cold salads appealing—and we’ve gone the noodles/rice/soup + bread route instead—it just feels right to return to fresh greens! (Even if we’re still enjoying those greens as a side dish to our breadier entrees.)
I’ve been making bagels for a while now—definitely long enough to feel that I’ve gotten the hang of making them.
I don’t make them very often, though, and unfortunately, I have a bad habit of not following baking directions completely. Call it overconfidence or neglect: I’ve been having a hard time remembering a critical step while making bagels.
It usually happens when Allison is out of town and I start in on a horror movie marathon while multitasking. I will be surfing the internet, knitting, doing laundry, and/or baking while Evil Dead or An American Werewolf In London is playing on TV.
Usually I do pretty well at all that multitasking, unless I’m trying to make bagels. I like to think that since bagels are so easy, that they don’t require constant attention. And they don’t really; but there are so many separate steps involved on the first day that I need to pay attention and practice each step deliberately.
Happy new year!
Paula and I rang in the new year together with my parents who are in town, visiting from Wisconsin and enjoying temperatures about 70 degrees warmer than they would be back home.
On New Year’s Eve, we all spent a cozy night in, enjoying moule frites, fresh from the local seafood market, and sparkling rosé. (And instant Netflix.)
We have a lot to look forward to in 2014. Paula and I will be (legally!) getting married in California in September. My little sister is getting married in Wisconsin a few months before we do. I will finally (fingers crossed) be finishing my linguistics PhD in 2014, after a respectable 7 years!
This all obviously calls for many celebrations and pre-celebrations.
Good thing we still have a freezer full of tamales.
Earlier this fall, Paula and I had a dinner party, and I was overly ambitious with the menu and the cooking plan.
Nothing new there—I always make WAY too much food for our little gatherings; the only difference this time was that Paula stepped in and stopped me from going completely overboard on the dessert. So I made an apple galette (like this one, except with apples instead of apricots, and blueberry jam instead of almond flour) a day in advance of the party, but nixed my plans to try combining pears and cranberries into a crisp.
(I suppose it’s true that if you bake a galette and buy a quart of vanilla ice cream, you can probably stop right there and still be forgiven.)
This worked out fine because I still had plenty of other cleaning, soup-making, and dish-washing tasks to do before the party. And when I finally tried out this recipe later that week, Paula and I got the entire 8 square inches of crisp to ourselves. It only took a few desserts and a breakfast or two to devour it all.
This year marks the third Christmas since Paula and I started dating.
Not that we’ve gotten to spend all of those Christmases together… Last year I’d been visiting family in Wisconsin on my own, and I planned to fly home to California on Christmas morning to spend the holiday with Paula, but my flight got cancelled. (And not even for weather-related reasons! The entire crew had called in sick. Or possibly “sick”; I’m not sure which one.)
After initially being told that the airline couldn’t get me on another flight until early January (?!), I considered it to be a miracle when they found me seats with a different airline the very next day.
So I resigned myself to an additional 24 hours of keeping my back muscles tensed against the cold Wisconsin weather, before I could finally make it back to California and relax them. (And before I could see Paula, who had spent Christmas day solo, eating Chinese take-out and biking to the beach.)
The first time I can remember tasting a persimmon, I was studying abroad in Barcelona, and my host mother came home with some super ripe “caqui” for dessert.
We halved them and scooped the bright orange pulp out of the peels with a spoon. They were like nothing I’d ever had before—sweet as nectar and with a texture that could only be described as gloppy, yet incredibly aromatic and appealing, like the fruit had been laced with ginger and cinnamon.
I didn’t encounter another persimmon until I moved to Japan, where suddenly the origin of the Spanish word caqui hit me: persimmons are called kaki in Japanese.
In Japan and Korea, persimmons are beloved and enjoyed in just the same way.
This is no easy task: eating persimmons out of their peels with a spoon is not unlike eating half-set persimmon-flavored jello out of a flimsy bowl that’s collapsing under the weight of the liquified fruit. (It may be messy, but you’re still going to scrape up every last bite.)
If you have not yet fully recovered from the excesses of Thanksgiving eating, then you’re not alone.
Discussions of calorie counts aside, Thanksgiving is lovely for the wide variety of dishes, all crammed together on the dinner table. There is such an assortment of complementary textures, colors, and flavors, it’s no wonder we eat until we’re beyond full—after all, we’re only sampling a little bit of everything.
But in the aftermath of so much cooking and indulging (and endless dish-washing), I found myself in the mood for something simpler, a meal that took the comforting form of a single bowl of noodle soup.
Not that soup weather has quite arrived in Santa Barbara yet, but I guess you could say I was thinking of my (more) northern hemisphere friends.
Delectably chewy udon noodle soups were one of my favorite wintertime meals when I lived in Japan, though I usually enjoyed them at restaurants (little hole-in-the-wall shops specializing only in udon, sometimes also in soba) rather than making my own at home.