November, November, November! One of my favorite months of the year, every year. I love that it stops being hot. I love that I can wear sweaters and drink tea and wrap a blanket around myself. I love turkey and mashed potatoes and the anticipation of the impending holidays.
November began with a restful weekend. There were clear skies and lots of walks.
I headed to the newly opened bakery, Gjusta and was so overwhelmed I didn’t get nearly as many things as I had hoped. But I did get to eat this lemon poppyseed cake and drank a cappuchino. Must go back!
The big T-Day is next Thursday and if you’re the organized cute person I know you are, you’re probably in big time planning mode. This week is Thanksgiving week on this lil’ blog. There will be sides. There will be a big bird. And of course, PIE will make an appearance!
To kick things off, we’re starting with the most important cooking aide: wine. Cooking is so much better, albeit a little more dangerous, when there’s a glass of wine in everyone’s hands. Wine has the ability to iron out all of the inevitable Thanksgiving woes like fun family tension, messing up the pie crust and maybe making the bird a bit too toasty.
I know most of you aren’t in Los Angeles, so I’m approaching this a few different ways. Two of these wines are available via Domaine LA and they can be shipped to you. If you’re in LA, you can obviously just stop in and pick them up.
We’re also providing tasting notes for each of these wines. The idea behind this is that you can go into your local wine shop and request a wine that tastes similarly.
So, for instance, with the wine just below, you can drop into a wine shop and say you’re looking for an orange wine that’s bright, a little chewy, and under $20-$25. And lastly, if the wine shop doesn’t have an orange wine, there are other alternatives listed that might be a good replacement.
2013 Folk Machine Jeanne d’Arc – (Chenin Blanc from California) Skin contact white wine, or “orange” wine, is so versatile with food because of its savory edge. A little chewy, golden and delicious.
Alternatives: Sherry, Chardonnay or Savagnin from the Jura, Bottle fermented beers, Cider.
NV Provenza Spumante Rosato ‘Turbian’ – (Gropello and Marzemino blend from Lombardy, Italy) Fruity but bone dry, refreshing and gulp-able. And a perfect example of why you shouldn’t buy wine based on how the bottle looks : \
Alternatives: Lambrusco, dry Italian or French rosé, Txakolina, Pink Petillant Naturel
It’s not every weekend when I get the opportunity to gather my friends together and host a dinner party, so when I was invited to be a part of the #BertolliGoldLabel Italian Progressive Dinner Party, I said a-ok!
I’m a pretty casual person; this means I like my dinner parties to feel very fuss-free. Here are some guidelines I like to follow:
1. I kinda start to stress out when I see the host get up a million times. I feel like I should help! I don’t want my friends to feel like this so I make sure everything is ready (entree included), on the table, served family-style. This means from the time they arrive everything is very laid back.
2. At least one course is completely store-bought. In this case it was the sauce from Bertolli (more on that later), cheeses, charcuterie, figs and grapes and olives. Easy breezy!
3. Wine matches the food. My friend Whitney helped with this, selecting the perfect, super affordable Italian wines to go with our Italian-inspired dinner.
This past Friday my manuscript was due, so I’ve been scurrying, testing last-minute recipes, shooting, and writing a whole lot in order to make the deadline. Turning it in felt epic. And this past weekend was the first few days I’ve had off in a while, and even then I was working. But there’s something about working from bed that doesn’t feel like it actually counts as real work, so I feel back to normal, refreshed and ready to have another busy-ass week.
This month was a blur. Lots of making food, shooting food, remaking food and shooting it again. The days were long but they left me energized. My body sort of started to ache after a few days but every day my mind was still going strong. This stuff makes me happy. I’m grateful I can actually call it my job.
These monthly round-ups are kind of my favorite because usually I think my life is super boring and plain and then when I go to write them and search through my photos, they make me stop and go, hey! this month was kinda kewl! But not this month. I took no photos on my phone. None. I was too busy with my head down.
I love cookbooks. LOVE. There’s a gigantic part of me that wishes I could edit cookbooks, that’s how much I love them. I want to read, gaze and cook from every single one that catches my eye. Most of the cookbooks you see above aren’t out yet, but they will be soon, so feel free to get your pre-order on!
1. Bar Tartine. I went last month for the second time (the first time was years ago) and it was incredible. Josh of course geeked out on the server and we ended up leaving with three loaves of free bread. I’m not kidding. The free bread isn’t want makes me want this book. I just know that the book will be full to the brim with perfectly written recipes that will wow anyone who comes over when I make them. Also, dat font on da cover.
2. Prune. Ions ago I read Gabrielle Hamilton’s memoir, Blood, Bones and Butter and loved it. Every single time I go to New York, I make a promise to go to Prune and then something happens and I don’t. Now I can just open up the book and be transported there instead.
3. Homemade Decadence. Joy was the first blogger I got an internet crush on. I was like, I want to eat all the baked goods she makes AND be her friend. I’m really excited about all the indulgent things I get to bake this season. And I imagine her witty sense of humor and heart will be in this book too. How can it not be?
4. Make It Ahead – Oh Ina. She can do no wrong, except when she bakes with extra large eggs and tells me to cook with fancy red wine. Why??? If it’s fancy then I want to drink it, not put it in my coq au vin. Besides that, she’s the queen. Her food is beautiful and simple. And I want to grow up to have that barn! Also, Jeffrey! I love Jeffrey.
5. Flour and Water. I have a dream and it is to be able to make pasta at home in a super legit way. Most of the pasta I’ve made (and it has been on very rare occasion), has been really awful. I went to a restaurant a few months ago, which will remain nameless, and their homemade pasta was so terrible that I compared it to my homemade pasta. Not ok. This cookbook should fix my issues.
6. A Kitchen in France. Mimi lives a life that doesn’t seem real. Me, over here in my one-bedroom apartment with way too much dog hair accumulating near the wall’s baseboards…very real. Mimi? Not so much. But who cares, that’s why I read her blog and am so fascinated with her whole shebang: life a farm, with a ton of kids, a handsome husband and even more animals than kids. It’s fascinating! I want to jump in the book and cook with her.
7. Ovenly – One lesson I’ve learned over the years is always go to meetings with treats. Always. It’s a really simple gesture that goes such a long way. It’s your way of saying, Hey you, Tuesdays suck, here’s a cookie. When I was in New York last fall for a few meetings, I went to Ovenly and picked up an array of cookies. Everyone loved everything! Luckily in the cab ride over, I was smart enough to eat a shortbread cookie studded with caraway seeds and dried cherries…bomb. P.S. I love the cover so freaking much.
8. Thug Kitchen. The f-word might be my most used word. It’s true. I love it. And in this space of lifestyle, food blogging, da internets, I feel like everyone is trying to be the next Martha Stewart. Everyone acts so dang perfect. And it drives me crazy. Really, it makes me want to say fuck. A lot. I’m excited about this book because apparently the f-word shows up a lot, along with some fun recipes.
9. Dominique Ansel. The cronut was the thing to eat in 2014. And apparently it still is in 2015. I never understood the fascination. Deep-fried croissant dough? Lots of people can do that…but then I visited his bakery last fall (pictured here) and can honestly say the rest of his pastries are really what’s special. They were magical, perfect and really, REALLY beautiful. It felt like I walked into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, except Ansel wasn’t some mad man tyrant, but instead an actual real pastry chef who constructs all these delicate little prizes of sugar. If anything, the cronut has brought attention to his bakery, but it’s his other pastries that really are worthy of the obsessive 5am hoards of people.
10. Heritage. This is on this list because I’m obsessed with his laugh. It’s this, like, southern laugh that reminds me of my uncle. I can’t describe it. Awesome laugh aside, Husk is at the very top of my must-visit restaurants. His episodes of PBS’s Mind of a Chef are my absolute favorite and his approach to food and story is what draws me in.
Am I missing any? Are there a few that are on your list?
I think it’s safe to say that August was a pretty rough month for the entire world. There was a lot of stuff going on; a lot of sad stuff.
For me on a personal level, it was pretty work-focused. I’ve been plugging away at finalizing the recipes and DIYs for The Year of Cozy and I’m feeling pretty good about it. I’m excited and nervous, but mostly just crossing my fingers you’ll like everything as much as I do.
The first half of this month was maybe the worst two weeks of the year. Luckily things only went up from there and the last two weeks have been so much better; they’ve been full of lots of hope and better news. I’m still super deep in recipe testing for da book (aka The Year of Cozy) and am having lots of fun. Right now it’s all about Christmas cookies which is sort of strange considering I’m wearing nothing but tank tops and shorts.
The month kicked off with lunch at Gracias Madre with Kimberley and Gaby. I ordered the ginger ale thinking it was gonna be on the lines of like Canadian Dry and then this beautiful arrived and I was like WHOA!
I ate this delicious canele. It was full of these cute little craters.
Phew! I don’t always say this but I CANNOT believe June is already over. I wish it wasn’t. I wish I could do it all over again. June was pretty cool. I feel like April was a big gigantic downer but June was different. It was full of a lot of productive work on my book. Lots of failed recipes. I’m talking TONS, but a few really good winners.
In between work and more work, were moments that were pretty amazing, mainly CORG-A-BUNGA. We’ll get to that later, but first…
I want to share a picture of the pie that bugged me to no end. After a million times making it I realized it wasn’t my fault. Peaches leech way too much water and it messes up the custard over and over again. So goodbye, peach custard pie. Goodbye, I will not miss you.
I’m writing a book! (I’m currently doing jazz hands in Amelia’s face! She hates it/loves it.)
The book will be called The Year of Cozy. It’ll take you through an entire year of recipes, DIYs (oh yeh, we’re getting crafty!) and ideas on how to make the best of the small, seemingly insignificant moments. (I know that last part sounds hippie-dippy and maybe it is a little, but I swear it’ll make sense.)
The book is being published by Rodale and I’m lucky enough to be working with my dream editor, Dervla Kelly (who also happens to write a super fun blog, The Curator)!! Over the course of the next year, I’ll be putting this book together, glue gun and rolling pin in hand, and will be sharing sneak peaks via my favorite social media channel ever, Instagram. I’ll be sure to be a good social media user and hashtag everything properly with #TheYearofCozy. I used to boycott hashtags because I thought they were cheesy but look at me now! (P.S.: I’ve already shared some stuff because I couldn’t help myself.)
The book will feature pictures of my favorite animal and roommate. And a few dog-friendly recipes (hello doggie doughnuts!) will also appear.
There will be kitchen crafts and projects (like this Breakfast in a Box) so your holidays can be cute.
A lot of the recipes will be project-oriented; some easy-breezy and some that will be more involved. I promise that all of them will be delicious.
I don’t want to give away too much but there will be ice cream because what else are we supposed to eat for dinner during those summer days that are too hot to cook?!
But in all seriousness, I wanted to thank you so very much for coming to this lil’ blog to read, comment and hang out. You all really are the best. I sincerely appreciate your continued support. Thank you, thank you!