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I haven’t bought a loaf of bread since I got back from Paris. How incredibly snotty does that sound? Well, whatever. I apologize for nothing!

Home baking is actually super easy if you do it the trendy new no-knead way. You basically mix up a particularly wet batch of dough, let it rise, stick it in the oven, and voilà. Bread. You can make extra dough and keep it in the fridge, or you can bake extra loaves and freeze them. The best part? It’s dirt-cheap. Invest in a five-pound sack of flour and a pack of instant yeast and we’re talking pennies a loaf. Well, maybe quarters. But still!

I was lucky enough to find Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day at my school library (I know, right?) and then its sequel, Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day at Borders for 75% off. The method is simple and flexible and I have messed it up more than enough times to say with confidence that anyone can do it. I’ve had to make adaptations: I don’t have a “resealable food-safe plastic container,” so I use a mixing bowl and plastic wrap. I didn’t have a pizza stone (for a while), so I used an upturned cast-iron skillet.

This version is mostly whole-wheat, which means you get added hippie points as a bonus. I made it loaf-pan-style for ease of sandwiching, but you can also bake them as free-form blobs on a pizza stone or skillet if you don’t. Seeds make a tasty garnish, but you can skip them if you dislike awesome bread. I used half of this batch to make garlic knots, which were tasty but unphotogenic, and refrigerated half for this guy.

No-Knead Whole Wheat Sandwich Loaf
from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day 
makes two two-pound loaves

  •  5 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 1.5 tbsp. instant yeast
  • 4 tbsp. vital wheat gluten
  • 1 tbsp. kosher or sea salt
  • 4 cups lukewarm water (around 100º F)
  • Optional seeds (sesame, poppy, caraway) for crust

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add the water and mix without kneading until no dry spots remain. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, leaving a slight gap at one side. Let rise on the counter until the top is bubbly and collapses a bit, at least two hours.

Lightly grease a loaf pan. Take about half of the dough, dust it with flour, and, using slightly wet hands, shape it into a ball by pulling all the sides around to the bottom (the bottom will look all pinched together, but the top should be smooth). Elongate the ball into an oval the length of your pan, and set it in the pan (it should be about 2/3 full). Let rest for 1 hour and 45 minutes, loosely covered with plastic wrap.

Preheat the oven to 450º with a rack in the middle. On another empty rack, place an empty METAL broiler tray (glass will shatter; don’t use glass!) When oven is at temperature, use a pastry brush to paint the surface of the loaf and add seeds, if you want. Using a serrated bread knife, make several slashes in the top crust to allow steam to escape. Place the loaf pan on the middle rack and pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray to create steam in the oven. Shut the door quickly and bake for 40-45 minutes, until crust is deep brown and firm.

Remove from pan and let cool completely on a rack before slicing (this prevents the loaf from drying). Homemade bread will go moldy or stale faster than store-bought, so freeze whatever you won’t be using in a few days in a layer of plastic wrap and in a ziploc bag.

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Love your knife

I turned 21 in Paris and bought myself a knife.

It sounds more dangerous than it was. The actual day was spent doing what my friends do best: drink, fall asleep early, and make brunch the morning after. C’était parfait. But since I was leaving for home the next day, most of my birthday doings involved packing, and some of my packing involved some questionably legal items. There was the bottle of the highest-rated beer in the world, double-wrapped in bubble wrap and two of my towels, that I was bringing back for a friend, there were the three jars of Speculoos spread, and then there was my knife.

For my early-birthday-present-to-self, I went to the gloriously-overstocked E. Dehillerin boutique de cuisine and got myself the only tool I consider indispensible: a 23 centimeter chef’s knife. Wrapping it in paper with a cork stuck on the sharp tip, the shop owner asked me if it was for me. “Yes, it’s my first!” I told him. He gave me a serious look. “Ne le mettez pas dans la machine à laver!” he cautioned me with a wag of the finger. Don’t put it in the dishwasher.

And I don’t, thank you very much. What’s the moral of this tale? Well, it’s that everyone needs a good knife. You do not need a knife block pre-loaded with 15. You do not need 3 knives in different curvy shapes and you do not need Japanese carbonized whatever. You need a knife that is sharp and that fits your hand. Sharp knives cut cleaner and faster (and if you do cut yourself, they leave you without a jagged edge that is tougher for your body to heal). A knife that fits your hand makes cutting easy and comfortable.

I love mine and I use it literally every day, often twice or thrice. I do dorky things like put it gently on a magnetic knife rack and hone it because I spent My Own Money (56 euros, merci beaucoup) on it and it is An Investment. But it chops onions and minces garlic and even cuts through chicken bones like a champ.

So: invest yourself. Then learn how to use it, because it’s the best tool you can own. These knife skills videos are good, and I got this book from the school library and have yet to return it because of its fabulous diagrams of almost every fruit and vegetable being peeled, sectioned, and chopped into little pieces. Good luck, and remember your bear claw!

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Seasonality! What a thing. As I mentioned before, I’m currently in the throes of a major crush on rhubarb. I could seriously eat rhubarb compote right from the pan, burning my tongue in the process, and it kills me that I have no way to can all this bounty and save it for grayer days when I will sorely need it.
But for now, you can throw it together with any number of carbohydrate-and-fat toppings and make crisps, cobblers, betties, slumps, pandowdies, and, of course, crumbles. My choice of making crumble was informed mostly by my lack of oatmeal to make a crisp topping and my lack of patience to make a drop biscuit topping.
Lest anyone think I make dessert with any regularity (ha!), be it known that this was a Special Occasion follow-up to the delicious pulled pork dinner Shannon and I made. We had it for breakfast the next morning, and it was still great. I highly recommend doing the same if you have the self-control to make it last.
Rhubarb Crumbleadapted from Smitten Kitchen & Animal, Vegetable, Miracleserves 4-6
1 stick butter, melted
1 1/3 cup flour (I used a little whole wheat because I ran out of AP. Not a bad flavor, really)
3 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. white sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
~3 cups (one farmers’ market bunch) rhubarb, chopped to 1/2 inch pieces
1/3 cup honey
1 tbsp. cornstarchPreheat oven to 375º. Combine flour, sugars, and baking powder in a small bowl. Pour in melted butter and stir until it’s crumbly and no dry streaks remain. Sample a hunk, then stick it in the fridge to cool. Meanwhile, toss the rhubarb with the cornstarch until thoroughly combined. Stir in honey and pour mixture into a buttered 8 or 9 inch baking pan. Top with reserved flour/butter mixture and bake for 40 minutes, until browned and bubbly.

Seasonality! What a thing. As I mentioned before, I’m currently in the throes of a major crush on rhubarb. I could seriously eat rhubarb compote right from the pan, burning my tongue in the process, and it kills me that I have no way to can all this bounty and save it for grayer days when I will sorely need it.

But for now, you can throw it together with any number of carbohydrate-and-fat toppings and make crisps, cobblers, betties, slumps, pandowdies, and, of course, crumbles. My choice of making crumble was informed mostly by my lack of oatmeal to make a crisp topping and my lack of patience to make a drop biscuit topping.

Lest anyone think I make dessert with any regularity (ha!), be it known that this was a Special Occasion follow-up to the delicious pulled pork dinner Shannon and I made. We had it for breakfast the next morning, and it was still great. I highly recommend doing the same if you have the self-control to make it last.

Rhubarb Crumble
adapted from Smitten Kitchen & Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
serves 4-6

  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 1/3 cup flour (I used a little whole wheat because I ran out of AP. Not a bad flavor, really)
  • 3 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. white sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ~3 cups (one farmers’ market bunch) rhubarb, chopped to 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch

    Preheat oven to 375º. Combine flour, sugars, and baking powder in a small bowl. Pour in melted butter and stir until it’s crumbly and no dry streaks remain. Sample a hunk, then stick it in the fridge to cool. Meanwhile, toss the rhubarb with the cornstarch until thoroughly combined. Stir in honey and pour mixture into a buttered 8 or 9 inch baking pan. Top with reserved flour/butter mixture and bake for 40 minutes, until browned and bubbly.
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Conventional wisdom says you should never alter a baking recipe the first time you make it, and definitely if you don’t really know what you’re doing. But conventional wisdom also says things like “don’t grocery shop when hungry” and “don’t ask for a stand mixer for your birthday because they’re expensive and you’re only 21”. Clearly, I’m a flouter.

To paraphrase another maxim, necessity begets creativity, and when I needed cookies and wanted not to go buy white flour or white sugar (only partially out of philosophy, mostly out of laziness and the fact that it was 8:30 PM), I had to wing it a bit. The resulting cookies are really more like biscuits (hence my name for them) and they’re not so sweet—in fact, they’re barely sweet at all, and just a tiny bit spiced.

I debated whether or not the recipe was even worthy of writing up. But here it is, because 1. I’m proud they weren’t utter failures and 2. they make very good tea biscuits (and I won’t tell anyone if you spread some honey on them). They’re crumbly when baked and reminiscent of slice ‘n’ bake cookies from a tube (remember those?) when raw, so eating them either way is acceptable (salmonella is low on my list of food fears, for some reason).

Molasses-Spice Tea Biscuits
heavily adapted from Joy the Baker
makes around 24 biscuits, your mileage may vary 

  • 1 ¼ c. whole wheat flour (all-purpose is fine too)
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ea. nutmeg, cloves, ground black pepper
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • ⅓ c. brown sugar
  • ¼ c. molasses
  • 1 egg

Sift together the first six ingredients in a mixing bowl. In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream butter & sugar together. Add egg and beat on medium until fluffy and light, about 2 minutes. Add molasses and combine on low speed. Add all dry ingredients together on low speed, increasing to medium when danger of flour-splosion is negated, until combined. Transfer dough to wax or parchment paper and roll into an approximate log shape about 1 1/2 inches across. Chill log in fridge 1-2 hours. Preheat oven to 350º. Cut into 1/4 inch slices, sample a few uncooked chunks, then bake for 10 minutes on parchment paper’d baking sheet. Let cool slightly before removing from sheet.
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The only polite thing to do if you are entertaining a recently converted vegetarian is to serve them copious amounts of meat.
It’s a win-win situation: you both get to eat lots of tasty animal flesh, and they will be especially effusive because it’s a tasty novelty. If you use your crock pot, bonus points. As it happened, I’d been harboring a weird obsession with pulled pork for about a week and I needed a good excuse to whip some up. Shannon’s arrival in Chicago plus a visit to the pork lady at the farmers’ market meant it was happening. Pork city, baby.
And how! Braising a tough cut of meat makes it all melty and delicious, and it literally takes three ingredients, plus salt and pepper. It’s obscenely easy and tastes like it took thrice the effort it does. All you need is time, a crock pot, and a hungry friend.
(Also, I converted her to coleslaw! The non-mayonnaise kind is always worth a try, people.)
Braised Pulled Porkadapted from The Kitchnserves 2-4 (we two finished it easily) 
2-3 lb. pork roast (we bought a loin roast because it was what was left, but any tough cut will work—confer with your butcher or farmer. They know better than anyone).
Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
1 cup white wine
8 cloves garlic, sliced or minced
Sage leaves (optional because I didn’t have any)
Season the pork with salt and pepper on all sides. If you’d like, brown it in a skillet until it’s colored to your liking. Or don’t. Pop it in your crock pot with the wine, garlic, and sage leaves, and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. Shred with two forks. Devour on the porch with a gin and tonic.

The only polite thing to do if you are entertaining a recently converted vegetarian is to serve them copious amounts of meat.

It’s a win-win situation: you both get to eat lots of tasty animal flesh, and they will be especially effusive because it’s a tasty novelty. If you use your crock pot, bonus points. As it happened, I’d been harboring a weird obsession with pulled pork for about a week and I needed a good excuse to whip some up. Shannon’s arrival in Chicago plus a visit to the pork lady at the farmers’ market meant it was happening. Pork city, baby.

And how! Braising a tough cut of meat makes it all melty and delicious, and it literally takes three ingredients, plus salt and pepper. It’s obscenely easy and tastes like it took thrice the effort it does. All you need is time, a crock pot, and a hungry friend.

(Also, I converted her to coleslaw! The non-mayonnaise kind is always worth a try, people.)

Braised Pulled Pork
adapted from The Kitchn
serves 2-4 (we two finished it easily) 

  • 2-3 lb. pork roast (we bought a loin roast because it was what was left, but any tough cut will work—confer with your butcher or farmer. They know better than anyone).
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 8 cloves garlic, sliced or minced
  • Sage leaves (optional because I didn’t have any)

Season the pork with salt and pepper on all sides. If you’d like, brown it in a skillet until it’s colored to your liking. Or don’t. Pop it in your crock pot with the wine, garlic, and sage leaves, and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. Shred with two forks. Devour on the porch with a gin and tonic.

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Having visitors is wonderful. Company, in general, is wonderful, and when your best friend finally comes to see you in your college domain after three years AND becoming a carnivore, it makes you want to cook up a storm.
But more on meat later. Breakfast comes first, as always. Making food for one day after day gets lonesome and dull pretty fast, and there’s nothing like another mouth to feed to inspire you to wake up early and make banana-infused baked goods on a weekend morning. Besides, Shannon and I are both inordinately fond of our morning routines (though she’s a little fonder of copious amounts of coffee than I am), and nobody doesn’t like banana bread (except for certain people who shall not be named). Unfortunately, I lacked the foresight to replenish my supply of whole wheat flour before her visit, and being loath to use boring old AP, I swapped in some spelt flour I had left over from an impulse bulk-bin purchase on one of my precious few Whole Foods trips.The resulting bread is crumbly (as spelt tends to be) and yeah, kind of healthy. But the advantage of using overripe bananas is that they make everything moist and sweet and so you end up not minding so much. The recipe is adapted from my go-to banana muffin recipe, which I stole at some point from Mark Bittman’s website (I think), but I really use it as more of a template than anything else. It’s magnet-ed to my fridge for any time I feel like making something special but not so sugary that I go into a coma after eating it. I know baking is where you aren’t supposed to get too creative, lest things go terribly awry chemically, but this bread came out tasty and gave us some much needed sustenance for two mornings and one late-night snack. Make it when you have friends in town and make sure there’s lots of coffee.
Crumbly Spelt Banana Breadmakes 1 loaf 
1 cup spelt (or whole wheat) flour
1 cup wheat bran
3 tbsp ground flaxseed
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
3 tbsp. melted butter
2 very ripe mashed bananas
2 eggs
1/4-1/2 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup honey or molassesPreheat oven to 375º. Grease a loaf pan (or, really, muffin tins. This is, after all, adapted from a muffin recipe). Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. In a smaller bowl, mix together wet ingredients, using just 1/4 cup of the milk to start. Fold the wet into the dry; if it looks too dry still, add remaining milk as needed. Pour batter into loaf pan, bake for about 40-45 minutes for loaf or 20 minutes for muffins, until long thing object stuck into the middle comes out clean.

Having visitors is wonderful. Company, in general, is wonderful, and when your best friend finally comes to see you in your college domain after three years AND becoming a carnivore, it makes you want to cook up a storm.

But more on meat later. Breakfast comes first, as always. Making food for one day after day gets lonesome and dull pretty fast, and there’s nothing like another mouth to feed to inspire you to wake up early and make banana-infused baked goods on a weekend morning. Besides, Shannon and I are both inordinately fond of our morning routines (though she’s a little fonder of copious amounts of coffee than I am), and nobody doesn’t like banana bread (except for certain people who shall not be named). Unfortunately, I lacked the foresight to replenish my supply of whole wheat flour before her visit, and being loath to use boring old AP, I swapped in some spelt flour I had left over from an impulse bulk-bin purchase on one of my precious few Whole Foods trips.

The resulting bread is crumbly (as spelt tends to be) and yeah, kind of healthy. But the advantage of using overripe bananas is that they make everything moist and sweet and so you end up not minding so much. The recipe is adapted from my go-to banana muffin recipe, which I stole at some point from Mark Bittman’s website (I think), but I really use it as more of a template than anything else. It’s magnet-ed to my fridge for any time I feel like making something special but not so sugary that I go into a coma after eating it. I know baking is where you aren’t supposed to get too creative, lest things go terribly awry chemically, but this bread came out tasty and gave us some much needed sustenance for two mornings and one late-night snack. Make it when you have friends in town and make sure there’s lots of coffee.

Crumbly Spelt Banana Bread
makes 1 loaf 

  • 1 cup spelt (or whole wheat) flour
  • 1 cup wheat bran
  • 3 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 3 tbsp. melted butter
  • 2 very ripe mashed bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4-1/2 c. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup honey or molasses

    Preheat oven to 375º. Grease a loaf pan (or, really, muffin tins. This is, after all, adapted from a muffin recipe). Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. In a smaller bowl, mix together wet ingredients, using just 1/4 cup of the milk to start. Fold the wet into the dry; if it looks too dry still, add remaining milk as needed. Pour batter into loaf pan, bake for about 40-45 minutes for loaf or 20 minutes for muffins, until long thing object stuck into the middle comes out clean.
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This is the story of how I did not burn down my apartment.
You may wonder why it’s this story, and not the story of making asparagus bacon pizza, that I am sharing, but actually: they are the same. But not to hear my smoke detectors (plural!) tell it. “She was playing with fire! LITERALLY!”
Don’t listen to them. Every damn time I fry bacon or make pizza (or, God forbid, both), the thing starts screeching with such fervor that I have to stand underneath it flapping a dishtowel for a good five minutes before it shuts up. This time, however, it would not stop. No amount of flapping would silence it. So, having slid the pizza onto the stone, washed all the dishes, and generally just had it already, I dragged out my unsafe wobbly ladder and yanked out its D-battery. Peace at last.
Or not. Apparently we have two smoke detectors.
Sigh. The moral of the story is: this pizza is worth it. Bacon and asparagus is a beautiful together, and a few slices of tomato on there don’t hurt either. Also: do not fear homemade dough. There is like, zero kneading, and it tastes awesome.
(Apologies for the photo. There was no natural light to be had, even for good money) 
Two-Alarm Asparagus & Bacon Pizzaserves 2-3
1 1/2 cups flour (I used half whole wheat)
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. yeast (I used instant because I have a whole jar of it)
1 tbsp olive oil
Cornmeal for sprinkling.
1/2 bunch asparagus, chopped into chunks
3 strips bacon
1 small tomato, sliced
1/2 cup mozzarellaStir together the first three ingredients in a bowl. Add water and olive oil, mix into a ball-like shape. Flour your countertop and knead it just long enough to form a real ball. Coat the bowl lightly with oil and dump your dough ball back in, rolling it around to coat all the sides. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled in size, an hour or two.Punch down the dough (i.e., squish out all the extra air—you can be gentle) and roll it back into a ball. Let it sit another 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to as high as it will go. If you have a pizza stone (like lucky lil’ me), stick it in there first. If not, don’t worry. Either way, sprinkle a baking sheet with lots of cornmeal. In a frying pan, fry the bacon until crispy. Remove to paper towels, blot off the icky fat. Chop it up into pieces. Eat a few, I won’t tell.Toss your pizza dough in the air (over the counter! Mine fell on the floor once, shh) or use a well-floured rolling pin to roll it out on the prepared baking sheet. Top with asparagus, bacon, cheese, and tomato, in whatever order you like. It’s not really a science, just don’t go too heavy and you will be okay.Now, use the baking sheet as a pizza peel and kind of jiggle your pizza onto your baking stone, or just stick the whole thing in the oven and bake directly on the sheet. Be sure to (temporarily!) disable the smoke alarm. About 10 minutes later, take a peek. If it’s just getting blistered, you’re golden. 

This is the story of how I did not burn down my apartment.

You may wonder why it’s this story, and not the story of making asparagus bacon pizza, that I am sharing, but actually: they are the same. But not to hear my smoke detectors (plural!) tell it. “She was playing with fire! LITERALLY!”

Don’t listen to them. Every damn time I fry bacon or make pizza (or, God forbid, both), the thing starts screeching with such fervor that I have to stand underneath it flapping a dishtowel for a good five minutes before it shuts up. This time, however, it would not stop. No amount of flapping would silence it. So, having slid the pizza onto the stone, washed all the dishes, and generally just had it already, I dragged out my unsafe wobbly ladder and yanked out its D-battery. Peace at last.

Or not. Apparently we have two smoke detectors.

Sigh. The moral of the story is: this pizza is worth it. Bacon and asparagus is a beautiful together, and a few slices of tomato on there don’t hurt either. Also: do not fear homemade dough. There is like, zero kneading, and it tastes awesome.

(Apologies for the photo. There was no natural light to be had, even for good money) 

Two-Alarm Asparagus & Bacon Pizza
serves 2-3

  • 1 1/2 cups flour (I used half whole wheat)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp. yeast (I used instant because I have a whole jar of it)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Cornmeal for sprinkling.
  • 1/2 bunch asparagus, chopped into chunks
  • 3 strips bacon
  • 1 small tomato, sliced
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella

    Stir together the first three ingredients in a bowl. Add water and olive oil, mix into a ball-like shape. Flour your countertop and knead it just long enough to form a real ball. Coat the bowl lightly with oil and dump your dough ball back in, rolling it around to coat all the sides. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled in size, an hour or two.

    Punch down the dough (i.e., squish out all the extra air—you can be gentle) and roll it back into a ball. Let it sit another 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to as high as it will go. If you have a pizza stone (like lucky lil’ me), stick it in there first. If not, don’t worry. Either way, sprinkle a baking sheet with lots of cornmeal. In a frying pan, fry the bacon until crispy. Remove to paper towels, blot off the icky fat. Chop it up into pieces. Eat a few, I won’t tell.

    Toss your pizza dough in the air (over the counter! Mine fell on the floor once, shh) or use a well-floured rolling pin to roll it out on the prepared baking sheet. Top with asparagus, bacon, cheese, and tomato, in whatever order you like. It’s not really a science, just don’t go too heavy and you will be okay.

    Now, use the baking sheet as a pizza peel and kind of jiggle your pizza onto your baking stone, or just stick the whole thing in the oven and bake directly on the sheet. Be sure to (temporarily!) disable the smoke alarm. About 10 minutes later, take a peek. If it’s just getting blistered, you’re golden. 
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It’s mid almost late May and still cold and rainy. It’s also totally unfair. This past Sunday I couldn’t even be bothered to leave my apartment, and spent long hours on my sunroom porch playing The Sims 2 and wishing for sunshine.
The upside (is there one?) is that my normal breakfast of oatmeal fits right in. Eating hot oatmeal on a warm day (with a cup of hot caffeinated whatever) can make you break a sweat, and no one likes you rolling in to class or work with perspiration dotting your brow. But I digress! The point is, a bowl of oats with fruit (and flaxseed if you’re a crazy hippie like yours truly) is a great breakfast. And it’s healthy! Nutritionists love yelling at people to eat oats. So there.
Since this kind of weather makes you want to stay in bed as long as possible, I recommend making steel-cut oats using the super-secret overnight method. Steel-cut oats look like little bitty brown grains, because they’re chopped up with, surprise, steel instead of being squashed out with steam like your standard Quaker flakes. They take longer to cook, but if you make a big batch this way you can stick ‘em in the fridge and reheat them all week. Delicious! And enough to sustain you until the goddamn weather gets better!
Overnight Steel-Cut Oatsserves 4
1 cup steel-cut oats (buy them in the bulk bins at Whole Foods and they’re super-cheap!)
1 tbsp butter
3 cups waterStart this the night before you want your oats, unless you’re some kind of nighttime breakfast weirdo. In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the oats, and stir so that they are all fully coated. Toast for about 3 minutes, or until they smell nutty but not burnt (NB. if you’re allergic to nuts, like me, don’t panic! They only smell nutty!) Add the 3 cups water and bring to a boil. Once it’s at a rolling boil, turn off the heat, cover, and back away slowly. Go to sleep. The next morning, wake up, turn the heat on to medium, and heat ‘til warmed through. Add in whatever fancy toppings you like (cinnamon and vanilla extract are awesome, as is a splash of milk) and scoop yourself out a bowl. The leftovers will keep (and reheat nicely) for about a week.

It’s mid almost late May and still cold and rainy. It’s also totally unfair. This past Sunday I couldn’t even be bothered to leave my apartment, and spent long hours on my sunroom porch playing The Sims 2 and wishing for sunshine.

The upside (is there one?) is that my normal breakfast of oatmeal fits right in. Eating hot oatmeal on a warm day (with a cup of hot caffeinated whatever) can make you break a sweat, and no one likes you rolling in to class or work with perspiration dotting your brow. But I digress! The point is, a bowl of oats with fruit (and flaxseed if you’re a crazy hippie like yours truly) is a great breakfast. And it’s healthy! Nutritionists love yelling at people to eat oats. So there.

Since this kind of weather makes you want to stay in bed as long as possible, I recommend making steel-cut oats using the super-secret overnight method. Steel-cut oats look like little bitty brown grains, because they’re chopped up with, surprise, steel instead of being squashed out with steam like your standard Quaker flakes. They take longer to cook, but if you make a big batch this way you can stick ‘em in the fridge and reheat them all week. Delicious! And enough to sustain you until the goddamn weather gets better!

Overnight Steel-Cut Oats
serves 4

  • 1 cup steel-cut oats (buy them in the bulk bins at Whole Foods and they’re super-cheap!)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 3 cups water

    Start this the night before you want your oats, unless you’re some kind of nighttime breakfast weirdo. In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the oats, and stir so that they are all fully coated. Toast for about 3 minutes, or until they smell nutty but not burnt (NB. if you’re allergic to nuts, like me, don’t panic! They only smell nutty!) Add the 3 cups water and bring to a boil. Once it’s at a rolling boil, turn off the heat, cover, and back away slowly. Go to sleep. The next morning, wake up, turn the heat on to medium, and heat ‘til warmed through. Add in whatever fancy toppings you like (cinnamon and vanilla extract are awesome, as is a splash of milk) and scoop yourself out a bowl. The leftovers will keep (and reheat nicely) for about a week.
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Behold, rhubarb! Until last year, I didn’t even know what rhubarb was. And now? I’m a rhubarb fiend. That’s what a summer on an organic farm will do for ya: instill lifelong obsessions with seasonal vegetables.
The first Farmers’ Market in Hyde Park was last Saturday, and a friend and I gamely trooped down to 61st street for some produce, cheese samples, and farmer socialization. I came away with a reasonably-priced (I think) pack of pork chops, pounds of asparagus, and some otherworldly tomatoes (greenhouse products, apparently; but that’s for another day).
So, a marriage of ingredients was in order, and I had just the recipe source. Even though I’m more of the New Yorker mindset and the Cosmo demographic (ha ha ha), the only magazine I subscribe to is Real Simple. Yes, I am a suburban housewife! How kind of you to notice!
But really. I enjoy having something to leaf through that isn’t as terrifyingly ambitious as Ms. Stewart or as finicky and precise as Cook’s Illustrated. The recipes in Real Simple usually take things I like or have on hand, and that makes cooking much more enjoyable. This one was no exception, and I am tempted to go eat several more spoonfuls of the chutney, thankyouverymuch.
Pork Chops with Tangy Rhubarb Chutneyadapted from Real Simpleserves 2, or 1 twice
1/2 lb rhubarb (I used three biggish stalks), chopped into 1/2” pieces
1 small onion, diced
1.5 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 bone-in pork chops
2 tbsp olive oilHeat 1 tbsp olive oil in a small saucepan. Add onion and cook over medium heat until soft and almost brown. Add rhubarb to saucepan with 1/4 cup water and sugar. Cook until rhubarb is tender and almost mushy, about 6 minutes. Stir in vinegar, remove from heat. Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a skillet and season chops with salt and pepper, then add to skillet. Cook for 7 to 9 minutes per side, and be sure to worry they aren’t cooked through, call your mom for verification, and finally just nuke the damn thing to make sure there are no parasites. Serve with vegetables and top with chutney.

Behold, rhubarb! Until last year, I didn’t even know what rhubarb was. And now? I’m a rhubarb fiend. That’s what a summer on an organic farm will do for ya: instill lifelong obsessions with seasonal vegetables.

The first Farmers’ Market in Hyde Park was last Saturday, and a friend and I gamely trooped down to 61st street for some produce, cheese samples, and farmer socialization. I came away with a reasonably-priced (I think) pack of pork chops, pounds of asparagus, and some otherworldly tomatoes (greenhouse products, apparently; but that’s for another day).

So, a marriage of ingredients was in order, and I had just the recipe source. Even though I’m more of the New Yorker mindset and the Cosmo demographic (ha ha ha), the only magazine I subscribe to is Real Simple. Yes, I am a suburban housewife! How kind of you to notice!

But really. I enjoy having something to leaf through that isn’t as terrifyingly ambitious as Ms. Stewart or as finicky and precise as Cook’s Illustrated. The recipes in Real Simple usually take things I like or have on hand, and that makes cooking much more enjoyable. This one was no exception, and I am tempted to go eat several more spoonfuls of the chutney, thankyouverymuch.

Pork Chops with Tangy Rhubarb Chutney
adapted from Real Simple
serves 2, or 1 twice

  • 1/2 lb rhubarb (I used three biggish stalks), chopped into 1/2” pieces
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1.5 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 bone-in pork chops
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

    Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a small saucepan. Add onion and cook over medium heat until soft and almost brown. Add rhubarb to saucepan with 1/4 cup water and sugar. Cook until rhubarb is tender and almost mushy, about 6 minutes. Stir in vinegar, remove from heat. Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a skillet and season chops with salt and pepper, then add to skillet. Cook for 7 to 9 minutes per side, and be sure to worry they aren’t cooked through, call your mom for verification, and finally just nuke the damn thing to make sure there are no parasites. Serve with vegetables and top with chutney.
[PHOTO]
Let’s start with breakfast.
Makes enough sense, right? And I do love breakfast. The moment I knew I wasn’t adopted was when my dad once told me he goes to sleep thinking about what he can have for breakfast the next day. I’m the same. If it comes down to being late for class or eating something first, I will always be the one sliding into the lecture hall 15 minutes after the lecture starts with a travel mug in my hand.
My dad likes cereal in the mornings, and I do too, but boxes get expensive and sometimes I just want vegetables. Besides, in the never-ending Quest for More Protein, you could do worse than eggs. I eat two because one is hardly enough, and when I cozy them up on a bed of sauteed spinach and cornmeal mush, it’s a fairly warm and savory start to an unfairly cold May morning.
Eggs in a Bowlserves 1
Prepare a bowl of cormeal mush/polenta, grits, or even oatmeal if you’re feeling adventurous. While it cooks, heat 1/2 a tablespoon of olive oil or butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat and sauté a good handful of spinach until it wilts. Push the spinach to one side and crack in two eggs, cooking until the whites are set. Grate a bit of parmesan into the cereal, then transfer to a bowl and top with spinach and eggs. Eat it with a spoon, I dare you!

Let’s start with breakfast.

Makes enough sense, right? And I do love breakfast. The moment I knew I wasn’t adopted was when my dad once told me he goes to sleep thinking about what he can have for breakfast the next day. I’m the same. If it comes down to being late for class or eating something first, I will always be the one sliding into the lecture hall 15 minutes after the lecture starts with a travel mug in my hand.

My dad likes cereal in the mornings, and I do too, but boxes get expensive and sometimes I just want vegetables. Besides, in the never-ending Quest for More Protein, you could do worse than eggs. I eat two because one is hardly enough, and when I cozy them up on a bed of sauteed spinach and cornmeal mush, it’s a fairly warm and savory start to an unfairly cold May morning.

Eggs in a Bowl
serves 1

Prepare a bowl of cormeal mush/polenta, grits, or even oatmeal if you’re feeling adventurous. While it cooks, heat 1/2 a tablespoon of olive oil or butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat and sauté a good handful of spinach until it wilts. Push the spinach to one side and crack in two eggs, cooking until the whites are set. Grate a bit of parmesan into the cereal, then transfer to a bowl and top with spinach and eggs. Eat it with a spoon, I dare you!