Small Victories

January 20, 2009


I think we’ve come to the point in the winter where you have to grasp at the small bright spots—pin pricks of light on what seems like an inky dark horizon.  Take yesterday:  Kevin and I took a walk through the neighborhood and marveled at how downright pleasant it was.  Sure, we had to pick our way over snow drifts and patches of ice—but the sun was shining and the temperature was in the double-digits.  Small victories, but victories, nonetheless.


There are other bright spots to January: the day light slowly but surely lengthens; there are so many good movies out that you could contemplate moving into a theatre near you, subsisting on pocorn alone; it’s a new year, which, this year, comes with a new president.  Better than all of these things, though, (except maybe the new president part!) is citrus.  Like the friend who knows you better than anyone, it arrives in your darkest hour (or, say, month), just when you need a pick-me-up.

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I had something of a wheat thin addiction in college.  For an entire summer, I am fairly certain I went to the grocery store almost exclusively for those yellow boxes and, well, beer.  I’m not proud.  But, for the record, we did throw at least a few backyard barbecues and I remember making a fresh salsa (wondering how the heck one removed the little leaves of cilantro from the stems) and helping my friend Louie make ribs (on a industrial size charcoal grill he’d “borrowed” from his fraternity).  But, back to the wheat thins.


After college, I became intrigued by all the letters on those wheat thin boxes.  And I’m not talking about n-a-b-i-s-c-o.  I’m talking about the quadruple-plus-syllabled-words in the ingredients list.  I investigated, became icked out and quit wheat thins cold turkey.  I miss those salty, crunchy little squares more than I care to admit.

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Menu: Cozy Winter Evening

January 14, 2009


Every time I’ve wanted to complain about the weather this week (“I can’t feel my toes!”; “Let’s move to southern California or better yet Maui!”; “When’s our next vacation?”; “Is the sun still yellow, I wonder, because I don’t even remember”; “Why, Chicago, WHY?”), I visit and type in my grandparents’ zip code, which has frequently elicited an air temperature well below zero and a truly horrific “feels like” temperature (which, I’m convinced, is just a cruel feature and should be ashamed of itself for even thinking of it).  If my grandparents can handle this Alberta Clipper, so can I.

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Perhaps it Was Fate

January 11, 2009


I didn’t expect to check one of the New Orleans-inspired recipes off my To Make List this soon. For the biscuits, in particular, I thought I’d be searching for the perfect recipe for weeks. And, frankly, I was kind of looking forward to the buttery, flaky auditions. But they won’t be necessary: this recipe is a clear winner.


As I mentioned last week, one of the first things Kevin and I ate in New Orleans was a big, hot biscuit, served with a foil-wrapped pat of butter at Mother’s. And it was perfect—dunked in my gumbo or standing alone. None of the other biscuits we ate during the trip quite lived up and I was doubtful that I could find a recipe to stand up to the Mother’s memory in my own kitchen.

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Kristin + This Pie

January 9, 2009


Sometimes it seems like all I do on this site is fall in love—with a new recipe, a novel cooking method, a city visited for the first time, or that roommate of mine. It’s not all that unlike my middle school years: a new crush practically every week. Except these days, instead of loopy, heart-filled diary entries about the latest gent to catch my eye, I gush about produce and pots and such on this site. What can I say? Cooking is thrilling for me. Maybe because, in the grand scheme of things, I’m relatively new to the endeavor. But, really, I hope it never changes. So I suppose that means that my gushy posts will continue to clutter up your Google Reader.


Today’s recipe had all the trappings of a gushy post—homemade pastry, hand-whisked lemon curd, billowy meringue. Just thinking about making this pie practically sent me into raptures. But (you had to know there was a “but,” no?) instead of becoming my next new heartthrob, this pie was a heartache, through and through. So much so that I could’ve just curled up with a pint of ice cream and some angsty, croony music (which would’ve rounded out the middle school image, quite nicely, I think), except I made the pie on Christmas Eve and there was no time for a pity party.

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