I probably won’t be the richest grandma so I doubt I’ll leave copious amounts of money to a school or hospital; I won’t end up buying a ton of jewelery in my lifetime so there will be no diamonds (sorry, grandchildren); and there’s a good chance I won’t be leaving behind large amounts of land in the hills of Wisconsin (are there hills in Wisconsin?…you get what I mean).
My hope is that my grand kids will tell their friends about how their grandma looked so sweet and small yet she was strong, told sarcastic jokes and had a foul mouth. I hope they tell their friends that whenever I visited, I made them the most elaborate ridiculous lunches and wrote them the sweetest notes for them to find at lunch time. And I hope they tell their friends about how their grandma, with her super veiny hands, made the best pies ever.
1. If your dog is annoying you, an empty-ish (plastic) jar of almond butter will distract him/her for hours. HOURS, I tell you. Amelia sat under the couch and tried her hardest to reach the bottom of the almond butter jar. She failed, thus creating about four hours where I didn’t see her/hear her. Glorious. Pretty sure she was drunk on almond butter.
2. Pinterest will shave hours off your life. Hours. Lots of ‘em. I feel like I’m actually liking Pinterest for maybe the first time ever.
3. Bar Method, my recent workout endeavor, will seem easy and calming and girly, but then the instructor will push you to work those lil’ muscles you never knew existed. and then the next day you’ll wake up barely able to move. It’s a good thing, apparently.
3. Persimmon and salt-cured fat (aka lardo) taste soooo good when they’re on the same plate! AHH! This salad is my new obsession.
This salad makes my Thanksgiving salad dreams come true. I’m a notorious lettuce-salad-hater. It’s from years and years of being forced to make the dinner salad growing up. They were sad. They were depressing. (Sorry mama.) And they were always made with terrible lettuce.
In an alternate universe, I have long hippie-flowing hair, I can wear long dresses (I’m so very short) and have the super power to go on walks in the forest and name every single flower I come across. I can gather a random medley of flowers, take them home and effortlessly arrange them in one of those antique-y looking vases. In this alternate universe where I’m a flower-whisperer, I’m guessing I probably HATE sunflowers. (I feel like most florists whom I’ve met do.) I’m a flower snob, guys.
In my non-alternate universe, I kinda like sunflowers. They’re definitely not my go-to flower at the market, but I like them in fall. They’re so warm and cheery and harmless. I will admit, they’re definitely homely, but I think that’s part of their charm. For the longest time I had no idea what that sunchokes were related to sunflowers. Honestly, for a long time I had no idea what the hell a sunchoke actually was. I thought it was an artichoke. I dunno. When I found out the two were related it all made sense. Sunchokes do sort of taste like nutty, the way a sunflower seed tastes. You can eat them raw, shaved in salads or pan sautéed and thrown in a hash with an egg, but I love them in soups. They make the creamiest, silkiest of soups.
When I was in third grade I had in a role in my first play ever and it was my all-time favorite, Oliver Twist. I sadly was only given one line in the whole dang thing (I was gunning for the role of Dodger but didn’t get it) and that was, “Can I have some more porridge, please.”
I made sure to make my eyes look really sad and puppy dog-like and used the best fake English accent I could muster up. I’m pretty sure it was awful. I remember never really knowing what porridge was at the time, and honestly my opinion of it as I grew older was scarred from that experience. I figured it must’ve been awful if all “orphans” could get their hands on was a big bowl of mushy porridge.
Porridge has made a big 180 in my head. Porridge would be pressed to find a bigger fan. This porridge love story starts with persimmons, the other love of mine.
I’ve been in New York this week on a trip that’s been mostly vacation, with a few meetings sprinkled throughout, and it’s been crazy amazing. While roaming around the city and eating all sorts of awesome things have been great, sleeping in has been the highlight. I never sleep in, and it’s not because I’m a super responsible, productive person, it’s because I have an animal that wakes me up way too early. It’s been a glorious week.
While I was writing PANCAKES, there were a lot of recipes that hit the cutting room floor. This was one of them. Not because it wasn’t worthy of being in print (it was!), it simply had to do with redundant. The Apple Pie Pancakes had already won its place within the book and there simply wasn’t room for a second apple pancake recipe. But I haven’t forgot about these apple ring pancakes. I’ve just been waiting for the right time to share ‘em.
Last winter it felt like every single restaurant I went to there was some sort of kale salad on the menu. Usually some sort of hard cheese was involved like pecorino or Parmesan. There was sometimes fruit on it. And it was always massaged. I want a massage. Good gracious, enough with the dang kale, man. The last thing this universe needs is another kale salad. And here I am throwing another kale salad in your super cute face. But, this kale salad is really good. And there’s lardon dressing involved. I mean…bacon fat dressing, c’mon!
This lardon situation was supposed to be guanciale, which is my current love, but when I headed to my local hipster super artisinal neighborhood market and they didn’t have it, I turned to bacon. I figured if I couldn’t get it, you probably wouldn’t be able to find it either. So, instead we have this bacon/lardon situation. This salad is as fall as fall can get. There’s fennel, roasted delicata squash, pomegranate and sturdy kale. The kale can easily be swapped out for another kind of green, it just needs to be able to stand up to the hot, warm dressing and not wilt and wither away.
This salad is easy with a capital E. The lardons are fried up in a pan, removed and then to that fat the dressing is made. A heavy splash of red wine vinegar, lemon juice, lots of pepper and a garlic clove are added to make up the dressing. The mixture is poured over the kale and massaged and tossed until the kale softens a bit. It’s a winner of a salad.
I live and die for this Acorn Squash Soup with Cheesy Croutons. It’s a throwback from 2011 and one of my favorite fall things to make. The soup you see pictured is like its very interesting cousin who reads a lot, is well traveled and went to a fancy college. Sometimes I just want something to be easy and cheesy and comforting and other times I want things that make me think. This is the latter. I like it A LOT.
Sage and curry need to come together more often. I’m an enormous fan of butternut squash, but sometimes I think it’s too sweet. I think the sage and curry serve as really awesome savory elements that balance out the sweetness perfectly. This soup is easy to make; I’m talking 30 minutes tops and it’s perfect for days. The full recipe for this grown-up soup is over on PBS Food.
On another super random note, do you guys know the UP Series? Have you seen it? If you’re unfamiliar, I’ll be quick: it’s a series that started in the 60s with 14 kids from different social classes and backgrounds. The kids were interviewed, talked about their hopes and dreams for the future, and every seven years they were interviewed. Initially the series was supposed to be a study about class division in England, but over the years it’s turned into so much more. The movie is really beautiful, sad and heartbreaking at times and just totally fascinating. Today on PBS the “56 UP” aires! WUUUT! All of the kids are now 56. I’m so stoked to watch it. I cannot get enough. If you haven’t seen it, please do! It’s one of my all-time favorite movies.
This week has been solid. Super solid. Lots of full days, long to-do lists and lots of check marks next to stuff. The feeling of “have- worked” is one of my favorites. It makes that shower and beer at the end of the day feel soooo good. I even drank a beer in the shower and it was amazing. Do you drink stuff in the shower?! I sometimes have my morning cup of coffee in there and I loooove it, though it is tricky. You don’t wanna get soap water in your coffee/beer/juice, you know?
Earlier this week there was a lil’ giveaway and one of you in the comments said, “I can’t wait to make Pumpkin French Toast…” and I was like, whaaaa, that’s a thing?! I couldn’t get it out of my brain. I had to make it immediately! And so I did. It was heaven on a plate. I’m not trying to be all bossy, but you need to make this for breakfast very, very soon. You’ll love it.
Have I ever told you my love affair with salted butter? I never ever buy salted butter. I could go on a whole rant as to why I don’t (not the freshest, can’t control salt content, I’m a control freak, etc.) but I won’t! (I sort of just did.) But I secretly loooove it. What isn’t there to love about salty butter on baked goods? Good gracious.
I feel like I’ve made a version of this pumpkin bread a million times. Every fall it’s the same old story: at the start of autumn I buy a can of pumpkin with grand plans to make something like pumpkin cheesecake or pumpkin clafoutis but just end up making pumpkin bread. It’s seriously the easiest most delicious stand-by ever. The rye gives it a delicious nuttiness to it. I love rye. The seeds give it great texture. Eat it with salted butter. You won’t regret it.
The whole recipe is alive and well over on PBS Food!
McCormick sent me an email and asked me if I’d be willing to take on their Go4Gourmet challenge of creating a dish with four secret ingredients. I love a challenge and I would consider myself a bit of a competitive person. In third grade I “accidentally” tripped this girl in a derby race. I’m not proud of that moment but I did win. So, I said yes.
When I found out the ingredients (acorn squash, pecans, honey and chipotle chile pepper), I was pumped. In my brain I loved the combination of spicy, smoky, sweet and crunchy and nutty. Perfect combination of flavors. And I knew exactly what I wanted to make. I’ve been wanting to make acorn squash boats for forever!