lunch

about a boy {day 268}

Yes, I’m counting the days again. Panic set in last week, and I’m back to playing that number game. Soon it will be nine months. I know—it made me gasp for breathe too. It seems inconceivable. I find myself staring at his pictures lately, recalling memories, and they seem to have this blurry haze around them. I look at our wedding photo, and think “gee, that girl looks really happy”.

And yet that girl used to be me.

I used to polish my nails sheer white. Now I choose brooding, dark shades of bing cherry.

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sauteed kale & white beans {how to prepare winter greens)

This article irked me recently. Perhaps it was my defense system kicking in. After all, my livelihood is creating recipes. It is also a source of immense pleasure. I go to sleep dreaming about ingredients and flavor combinations.

I totally agree with the merit of pattern recipes. Yes, "learn to cook a few basic meals and you'll be set" holds much truth. Until you get bored with those same three meals. Then you need inspiration, and while walking through the farmers' market is what works for me, I understand it doesn't come that easy for others. For many people, recipes are not the crutch or burden Ms. Buzzell makes them out to be. They actually make life easier.

For others, recipes are a means to learn how to cook. To learn technique. How to chop an onion, for instance. Without recipes and cookbooks, I wouldn't be the proficient cook I am today. My formal training consists of shelves of cookbooks, spattered with stains and notes written in the margin.

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kale, white bean & ravioli soup

I’m a perfectionist, and while I know there’s really no such thing as perfect, it’s the drive that propels me forward each day. The problem is, I often feel like life is moving in slow motion, all the while my brain shuttling fast forward to the end game.

Sometimes I need to be reminded to stop and breath. I owe a big thanks to each and everyone of you for your emails, messages and comments. I’m eternally behind in email and if I didn’t actually tell you how much your words of support and cheers meant, then forgive me. Honestly, every word has reinvigorated my energy and made me ready to roll up my sleeves and forge ahead.

In addition to spending last week launching Simple Scratch Cooking and clearing the mental cobwebs, I also decided to take a break from eating meat. If you’ve been reading for a while, you know many of my recipes are meat-free anyway. Five years ago I stopped eating commercially produced meat and made the switch to locally sourced options from farmers using ethically sound ways to raise and process their flock. It has affected the way I allocate dollars when shopping. The bottomline is animal protein is costly, as it rightfully should be. Raising animals in harmony with the earth, and treating them respectfully during their life cyle is an expensive venture when done thoughtfully.

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slow roasted tomato soup

 

TGIF. The end of the work week. Well, a mother’s work is never really done. That’s something we all know from either experience, or watching our own. I’ll be busy baking cakes for the Mr.’s big birthday this weekend. Oh, and making these amazing ribs (I can even say they’re award winning). Did I mention he also requested fried chicken? So, 20 of our friends, kids in tow, will be helping us celebrate this very important birthday (it’s a half century folks) on Super Bowl Sunday.

You, on the other hand have worked hard, right? I bet you deserve some rest and relaxation this weekend. So, it’s only fitting to leave you with a recipe that doesn’t require too much heavy lifting. Now if you’ve planned in advance, then you already have some homemade bouillon ready to go and hopefully haven’t eaten all the parmesan skillet croutons (thankfully, they are quick and easy enough to make in case you did). You’re ready to make the easiest, tastiest tomato soup.

My favorite part about this recipe is being able to enjoy tomatoes in the off-season. Start with a good-quality brand—I love San Marzano best, and lucky you if you canned your own at the end of last year’s season. I will one day find the ability to grow a tomato. For now, herbs and collard greens will have to do.

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Cooking on Instinct: farfalle with lemon, walnuts and parmesan

Well, it's been a while. Thanks to all the amazing bloggers who guest posted and shared their wonderful recipes. I was getting near the end of my rope, so to speak, and that end of summer vacation was much needed. The Mr. and I have been going to North Truro for 14 years now. Almost the furthest tip of Cape Cod, it's the last town before Provincetown, it's nestled between Cape Cod Bay and the ocean. And the view from our deck is just what the doctor ordered for this busy city girl.

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Polenta Pizza

The Mr. teases me incessantly about my Twitter addiction. It's on my laptop, on my Blackberry and when they come out with TweetBrain, I'll likely have that chip installed, but only if it has a five second delay—I wouldn't want every thought broadcast.

Frankly, I've "met" so many amazing bloggers. Some have become IRL friends and there others I'm excited to meet one day. Michelle from Brown Eyed Baker is one I'm hoping to meet at one of the upcoming food blogging conferences. Her recipes always make me hunger for the next post. After reading about her polenta pizza, you'll see what I mean.

-Jennifer

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Mango Hummus + Island Time

Is it really Friday? I'm so thankful to have a busy work schedule given the economy and job market but I'm always torn between the sunny outdoors and air-conditioned confines of the home office. I've got some haricot vert and fingerling potatoes that I hope haven't passed their prime, along with a few tomatoes from the farmers' market, so I'm going to make something out of them for lunch. Before I do that, though, I wanted to post that mango hummus recipe I tweeted about a few weeks ago. I created it for Role Mommy as a back-to-school lunch snack. As I suspected, the mango lent a sweet undertone followed by a hint of spice from the garlic. It also doubles as a sandwich spread, and I used it on that eggplant and manouri cheese panini last week.

This is my last week before leaving for the sandy shores of Cape Cod. I cannot wait to switch my internal clock to "island time". I've got some great guest bloggers joining starting August 24th, so get ready for some extra company in the kitchen. September is also shaping up to be quite busy with the added project of editing and recipe testing a cookbook (specifics are top secret for now, and it's not my own, but a fun assignment nonetheless) and this little thing called BlogHer Food in San Francisco at the end of the month. I'm going to lay-low this weekend and maybe make my six-year-old's favorite breakfast on Sunday, buttermilk pancakes or perhaps some French toast bread pudding, while catching up with the morning news shows and Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me. See you all on Monday.

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Mediterranean Mackerel Salad

My husband is the tuna king in our family. The man can't step into a diner without ordering a tuna melt on rye with Swiss cheese. It's pretty rare I even get a craving for the stuff, but when such an occasion rises, I head to the Italian market a few blocks from my house for some of the good stuff. Even if tuna is one of your staples, you must treat yourself to some high-quality fillets packed in oil from Italy. I know you're saying wait a minute, I thought this was a mackerel salad. Well, it is but that only happened by chance.

I woke up a few weeks ago thinking I should try feeding the baby hard boiled eggs. Then I thought, hmm how many peole know how to make a really good hard boiled egg. And well (parents will appreciate this next line, the rest of you can google Laura Joffe Numeroff), if you give Jennie a hard boiled egg, she's going to want tuna salad to go with it. And by the way, the baby didn't care for the consistency, but she's only 14 months and still developing her palate.

Back to my story. Off I went to the market only to find they were out of my favorite jarred tuna. I saw another jar filled and asked the owner for his opinion and that's when I learned this particular jar was filled with mackerel fillets, not tuna as I thought (I haven't retained much of my high school Italian, and couldn't read the label).

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Pizza Fridays

One of the things I love about my Brooklyn neighborhood is the sense of community. You'd think living one apartment on top of another in a big city would drown out a sense of camaraderie and love thy neighbor feeling. Luckily, we found not only good friends but one couple in particular has weaved a special way into our lives. Our daughters share the same birthday, albeit one year apart. They have the same middle name. Vania and I have an older sister with the same name, spelled the exact same way (Marissa). And, as time passes—we've now known each other 4 1/2 years, we continue to find more of these similarities. I'm getting to the pizza, so just sit back and enjoy the story.

Until Vania started her medical residency last year (talk about juggle—she has a 5 year old and 2 1/2 year old too!), we used to have pizza fridays. We'd alternate apartments, order a few pies, let the kids play and watch a movie while we relaxed with some wine and chit chat. I miss those days. I miss Vania. They still live next door but life's gotten much busier. Tonight I'm making pizza (the dough's rising as I write), and thinking about the Kaspers. I'll be raising a glass to them as IRP and I curl up to our own ritual when the Mr. is away: mommy/baby movie night. Thankfully, some things never change in a world of constant movement. My girls will always be my babies, even when they have their own, so I'm going to check on that dough and shred some mozzarella now. I've got a date with a cute six-year old tonight. In the meantime, here's a how-to video to get started on your own movie and pizza night memories (it'll take a minute to load, so remember patience is a virtue).

See you in June!

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Chicken Noodle Soup

I never watched how my mom made chicken soup but know she used to puree the celery and pour it back in to the soup because she said we didn’t like it. She’d also mash the carrots and serve it with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, as many Italian-Americans do.

While I still have an aversion to raw celery, I love it cooked. My own recipe for chicken soup used a complicated technique listed in numerous cookbooks. Dump raw chicken and vegetables into pot, cover with water and cook. Quite a few years back, I started making my stock from leftover roasted chicken carcass, a not so secret way to infuse extra flavor. It’s a wonderful green, waste-not-want-not use for leftovers, and I’ll still use it on the day after I make roasted chicken. Recently, though, I came across a recipe that turned out to be the best & quickest chicken soup I’ve ever made in From My Mother’s Kitchen (Ryland, Peters & Small, 2009), which I’m featuring in the August/September issue of Working Mother magazine (is this where EW would insert “spoiler alert”?).

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