12/18/18

Pixel woke me up early and we shared some yogurt, muesli and a banana. I’m not so crazy about bananas, but she ate it with her standard dog enthusiasm and then some.

I’m wanting Persian cucumbers more intensely and more frequently. By mid-morning, I eat them same as yesterday, salted and dipped in hot, hot sauce.

I’m learning to make hand shaped pasta from Linda Miller Nicholson’s excellent book, Pasta, Pretty Please. And I am very sorry to report that I am not a pasta prodigy, though I had expected I would be, given my special touch with other mediums such as pie dough and fondant. No, I have many practices to go before I show you a picture of the pasta I’ve been making. I ate it for lunch and it was terrible. I think the spinach in it had gone ever so slightly bad, I managed to over salt the water and I used too much toasty garlic olive oil. I ate it anyway and spent the afternoon grumpy about it.

Oh, and I’m still sick. My friend Kelli says there’s a special strain of cold going around that comes in three waves, which explains my miraculous recovery and subsequent demise.

Dinner was the exciting part, as promised. I got a Pantry Raid entry a couple weeks back about squash and yogurt and golden raisins and I told the person (I think it was my friend Paige) to roast the squash with warm spices and top it with yogurt, pickled raisins, and cilantro.

Last night I made a grain bowl version of that. I roasted butternut squash, cauliflower and sweet potatoes in olive oil, warm spices and a pinch of brown sugar- hot and fast until they were deeply caramelized. They sat on a bed of farro cooked in homemade chicken stock and topped with my herbed tahini cream and yogurt. To brighten it up a little bit, I also added slivered almonds and golden raisins I soaked overnight in pickled pepper vinegar. NOT. TOO. SHABY. Might even make it again and photograph it to share with you properly.

I believe I have formed a habit well out of my means…I ended the night with two more Dream Drops.

12/17/18

I very rarely get sick, but when I do, I’m a huge baby about it.
Yesterday and again today, I am sick. I had a cold last Wednesday, felt better on Thursday and not bad at all on Friday and Saturday. Is it possible I fully recovered from the first cold and caught an entirely new one on Sunday?

I started the day lazily with the remainder of my tube of pre-cooked polenta, topped with sautéed red bell pepper (I’m not sure where it came from, tbh), caramelized shallots and herbed tahini sauce. Apart from some eggs, yogurt, whole grains, muesli, noodles, and peppermint Joe-Joe’s, there was very little left to work with in the house and I reluctantly went to go buy groceries.

The line to turn into the Trader Joe’s parking lot stretched down Hillsboro Pike and I took it as a sign to finally, after nearly a month of cravings, treat myself to Shake Shack for lunch.

I have to say, I’m partly doing this because I’m nosey. I wish everyone told me everything about what they buy and cook and eat all the time. So, sitting in more traffic to exit the Trader Joe’s parking lot, I decided to share my grocery bill with you: two packs of fizzy water, a butternut squash, two large sweet potatoes, a head of cauliflower, slivered almonds, portabella mushrooms, pecorino, a pound of parsnips, green onions, four large shallots, persian cucumbers, tahini, a pound of meyer lemons, a bag of golden raisins, and a can of artichoke hearts, $49.05. I’d say that will last me through the weekend, with one or two meals eaten out. I’m desperately hoping I’ll feel well enough to go to happy hour at Babo and to have a solstice dinner at Hathorne.

I felt so sick by dinner time, all I wanted was warm liquids. So I heat up another pot of homemade chicken stock, again with a spoonful of miso and sugar snap peas and green onions, but this time I topped it with a little of the ginger oil I made on Sunday and washed it down with a hot toddy. While I ate that, I let some Persian cucumbers sit in salt and when they were good and pickle-y, I ate them dipped straight into very hot hot sauce. I finished the day with a dark chocolate-dipped peppermint Joe-Joe and a Dream Drop, as my Ema always told me that dark chocolate is the cure to anything that ails you.

12/16/18

I’ve spent the latter half of this year feeling like I was waiting for my life to start again and now that I’m back in Nashville, I’m very antsy for the new year and all of its new promises. I decided to jump the gun on my new years resolution: write down what I cook every day.

I thought I’d publish what I cook every day for a little while and see how it goes. You’ll notice that about 80% of the time, what I’m cooking isn’t exactly thrilling, but that I am doing a never-ending game of Pantry Raid with myself basically any time I’m not eating out. Leave me a comment at the bottom with feedback and as always, please be kind but very honest.

So, here’s what I made for myself yesterday.

I woke up so anxious I didn’t think I could leave the house and immediately started prepping food for the week, which is one of the only things in life sure to make me begin to feel at peace. I made a ginger, garlic, shallot and green onion oil, herbed tahini cream with honey, lemon and parsley, and finally, pasta dough.

You may have noticed that there were extra walnuts on the plates of melomakarona that didn’t really stick, but got coated in honey syrup and cinnamon. I started yesterday by scraping them off the plate and eating them on yogurt.

At lunch, I heat up homemade chicken stock with a spoonful of white miso paste, chopped sugar snap peas, roasted mushrooms and lots of green onions. It was nice and light and left me hungry not long after. Do you know about Trader Joe’s Persian cucumbers? They’re my #1 favorite snack at the moment. I especially like them in fast salads topped with crunchy peanuts, like this. But they’re also excellent for dipping in hummus, or in my case yesterday, Alouette everything bagel spreadable cheese I found in Eivind’s fridge.

By 4pm I felt better, not great. Still pretty anxious. Anxious enough to be consumed by the thought of having Shake Shack for dinner and unable to leave the house to go get it. So for dinner, I worked with what I had: a tube of pre-cooked polenta, a can of artichoke hearts and butter. I pan fried slices of polenta in butter, halved the artichokes and crisped them up too, and topped the whole thing with the herbed tahini cream. Paired with the oh, so elegant, Sparkling Coconut Water with Yuzu. It hit the spot and I went back for seconds.

I guess this last bit isn’t really cooking, I just want to brag on my friend Sarah Souther. I ended my night with these things she makes at Bang Candy Co. called Dream Drops. They’re pieces salted dark chocolate studded with popping sugar, laced with a hefty dose of local CBD oil and coated in a bronze shimmer.

Greek Christmas Cookies

A new tradition is born! While doing an internet search for kourabiedes, the Greek cookies my family eats on special occasions, I stumbled upon several recipes for melomakarona- Greek Christmas cookies. And I simply cannot figure out why we haven’t been baking them every year. They’re simply everything you want in a Christmas cookie: citrus-y, bright, sweet, nutty and warm with cinnamon and clove. You could easily make them vegan by subbing in thick, Grade-B maple syrup for honey.

You make them by throwing together the hardest, most terrible olive oil shortbread, then pouring copious amounts of spiced honey syrup over it. The little cookies eagerly drink the syrup and it gives them a soft, delicate texture.

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A few notes: I made them using what I had, so no, this recipe is not strictly traditional, but it is close. You can make them look more authentic by forming the dough into eggs instead of balls. They get better with time! The honey preserves the shortbread and I’ve read that they will last up to a month, though you’ll be hard pressed not to eat them all within a couple days.

Greek Christmas Cookies (Μελομακάρονα)
-makes about 80 small cookies

for the shortbread:
1 cup good olive oil
1 cup grapeseed oil
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup bourbon
3/4 cup raw cane sugar
zest of 2 unwaxed oranges
7 cups AP flour*
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda

For the syrup:
1 cup honey (the runny variety)
1 cup raw cane sugar
1 1/4 cups fresh ginger tea
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick (didn’t use it, didn’t miss it)
5 whole cloves
rind of half a small lemon

For the garnish:
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
cinnamon

1. Whisk together the oils, sugar, and juice in a small bowl until well combined.
2. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Pour wet into dry and fold together until a dough forms.
3. Refrigerate your dough for at least 30 minutes.
4. Preheat the oven to 350. Pinch off pieces of dough that are about a heaping Tablespoon in size- I believe each of mine weighed 22g. Roll into balls and press down gently on the top with a fork like you would if you were making peanut butter cookies.
5. Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly golden all over.
6. While the cookies bake, make the syrup. Bring all the ingredients to a boil, skim off any foam, then simmer for 10 minutes.
7. Arrange cookies on a vessel with a lip. While the syrup is still warm, pour it- all of it!- evenly over the cookies.
8. Flip them over to get a good, sticky surface on the top, then put them back flat side down. Sprinkle them with the crushed walnuts and a light dusting of cinnamon. Let them sit in the syrup until it’s all soaked about (should take an hour or so).

*You may need more flour if your dough looks overly oily. Don’t panic if the oil separates out of the dough after you refrigerate it. Just gently fold it back in.

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