It Led Me On

November 18, 2008

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted a disappointing recipe, and this one was a real heart breaker. It’s not that there haven’t been less-than-stellar results in my kitchen lately. Oh, no, there have been more of those than I care to share. There have even been good recipes gone bad (just ask my friend Gena about my fairly disastrous take on this recipe which ended in one u.g.l.y. birthday cake). And there have been bad recipes that I can’t fix. I’m not sure which camp this recipe, for cranberry coffeecake, falls into, but I can tell you that it takes the cake (pun intended).

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You see, this recipe led me on. I had been looking for a good holiday breakfast recipe (I don’t know why; I can bet my bottom dollar that my parents’ pantry will be bursting with an astonishing array of Woulette’s delectable pastries when I’m home for both Thanksgiving and Christmas) and this one had so much promise. It enticed me with visions of a holiday morning, mug of coffee in one hand and a thick slice of this garnet-swirled cake in the other, fat snow flakes drifting down outside. And, well, I fell for it.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

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On Cast Iron and Strata

November 16, 2008

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I’m bone tired right now, but in the best possible way. It was a jam-packed weekend that included about 18 hours in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and also a very, very busy day back here in Chicago today. But this is the kind of exhausted that I love: I had people to see, things to do—and see and do I did. And, of course, I cooked too.

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Our visit to Ann Arbor was tightly edited (we were visiting Kevin’s sister, who’s a surgery resident, and we wedged our stay between her shifts): in less than a day, we caught the football game, which is truly the show in town (but, sorry Ms. Arbor: Go Cats!); sampled beers at two breweries; ate a great dinner; took a spin around campus; talked politics and celebrity gossip and music and wine and food; and skipped down memory lane. Oh, and I managed to ferret out the best kitchen store in town.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

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I have to confess that there’s a big upshot to my camera-flash-less existence, which I bemoaned less than 48 hours ago right here on this site.  I was whining (who, me?!!) about the fact that the practically Alaskan length of daylight going on right now in Chicago, combined with my need to photograph the food that I cook (it’s important!) and my desire to avoid my camera’s less-than-stellar built-in flash, has forced me to cram all my cooking into the hours between sunrise and sunset on Saturday and Sunday.  (Or to take photos in my office, which I’d like to avoid moving forward.)

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While this leads to quite a weekend kitchen frenzy, it’s not all bad.  For one thing, I’ve been spending a lot of weekend time doing something that I love (and also, lest you worry, making time for other weekend things I love, like going to dinner with Kevin, wandering around the city on foot, and melting into my favorite nook of the couch).  But, even better, it’s meant that I make a lot of things in advance.  Soup is a natural here: eat on Sunday night and pack into tupperware for lunches throughout the week.   And, last weekend, lasagna fit the bill.  So, on Sunday, I assembled a pan and stuck it in the fridge, so we could bake it off during the week.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

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This Show on the Road

November 12, 2008

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Friends, we’re taking this show on the road. Or, more accurately, I already took it on the road. To work, to be exact, on Monday. I took the photo up there just before I slurped down that cup of soup—a chipotle chicken chowder—for lunch yesterday. And all I can say is that it’s a good thing my office has a door, or I suspect I would have gotten some strange looks from passersby for photographing the lunch I’d just microwaved. Oh, and also that I’m glad I just bought a ridiculously large gym bag that has more than enough room for my rather bulky camera (not to mention an unwieldy tupperware of chowder).

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Somewhere between tucking my camera back in my bag and unsheathing my plastic spoon, my phone rang, so by the time I got around to my first bite of this chowder, it had cooled a bit. But it was still delicious. I knew it would be, because this was the third batch I’ve made. In less than a month. It’s that good. But because, these days, the sun starts to set at 4 PM (I really, really wish I were kidding), I made the first two batches in the dark of night. And since I try not to take photos after dark, we spooned up the first two big pots of this chowder with not even one photo to prove it.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

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Hello, November

November 9, 2008

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As you know, it’s November. In fact, we’re nine days into November. And, well, I’m downright shocked that I haven’t mentioned the month’s arrival yet. Because November is my birthday month, a 30-day portion of the year that I take quite seriously. And it’s also the month of Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday for a number of reasons, not least of which is that I was born on the holiday (calling my mother’s doctor, as legend goes, away from his turkey-carving duties; patience was tough for me from the get-go, it seems). And, 28 years later, this Thanksgiving and my birthday will coincide again. I can’t tell you how that thrills me.

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Thanksgiving is also my favorite holiday because it’s filled with food (if I could use only one word to describe my parents’ holiday spreads it would be “abundant,” but I really wish you’d allow me two words so that I could also tell you it’s “delicious,” all of it) and family (the exact composition shifts every year and the word “family” is of course elastic, making room for close friends and perfect strangers and even new boyfriends). There’s also the napping and football and the snapshots and the card games and the brisk walk with the dog. And I adore all of it.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

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