With any luck, this will grow into a collaborative collection of my own recipes, as well as contributions from my friends, co-workers and random stumblers. I will make a valiant attempt to re-create any recipes I receive. Feel free to send your favorite recipes to firstname.lastname@example.org!
I moved out of my parents’ house, the house I spent my entire life in, in August of 2009. I don’t count college, because although I lived on campus at a school about an hour away from home, I still had a room at my childhood home. I still had a bed there, collages and photographs on the walls, clothes in the closet, and I returned there many weekends, and every single winter and summer break. While I lived away for the majority of the year, a dorm was never my “home,” no matter how comfortable it was or how much fun I had. Home was the place where I’d spent my entire childhood, learned how to ride a bike, thrown an oversized pink-and-purple softball against the wall with the steadfast hope that my female-equivalent-of-Little-League softball coach would let me pitch just ONE game. When I think about it, that house will always be home, in some way, although literally within 24 hours of moving out, my sister high-tailed it into my bedroom and painted my once soft yellow walls pumpkin orange. So…there’s that.
I’m getting sidetracked. In August of 2009, I moved into a two bedroom apartment about 20 minutes way from my childhood home with one of my best friends. We lived there for two years and, in spite of the wildebeests living above us, we had a great time. Chelsea is kind, funny and easygoing, and I’m thrilled that we meshed as well as roommates as we did as friends.
However, in the summer of 2011, I moved in with the love of my life, and while I couldn’t be happier with the life we’re building together, I do miss hanging out with Chelsea several times a week, watching 30 Rock (good GOD, Lemon!) and Parks & Rec every Thursday, curling up on the couch to plot our own killer sitcom, and lavishing attention on
our her petulant, adorable bunny rabbit, Mr. T. We did make a pact to have date nights at LEAST once a month, and in spite of our crazy schedules and job changes, we’ve managed to adhere to that pact pretty well, which makes me really happy because I’m generally terrible at keeping in touch with people. Seriously, if I lived in an age where Facebook wasn’t a thing, I’d probably be a hermit.
Dear chicken pot pie,
Hi, I’m Lauren. How are you? I’m OK. I’d be better if I hadn’t poked a hole in my own eardrum the other day, but hey, what can you do, other than pop some ibuprofen and fervently pray to all the powers that may or may not be that it doesn’t turn into a horrifying, excruciating infection like the one that rendered me a weeping, painkiller-addled mess in 2006. But this isn’t about me, and my unfortunate eardrum problems. This is about you.
First off, I am a huge fan. Always been. Growing up, my mom made some pretty delicious dishes, and her version of you was no exception. I usually got so excited about the prospect of putting a spoonful of you in my mouth that I accidentally seared my taste buds and dealt with that weird, stripped-tongue feeling for a few days. It was OK, though. It was a reminder of your utter deliciousness.
Every year, I do this thing where I get tired of winter and start doing things that one has no business doing during winter. For example, this weekend I made a side dish of sauteed zucchini and tomatoes to go with my salmon. While pretty much perfect during July and August, they’re a discolored, flimsy disappointment in February.
And today, I decided that I’d wear a dress. Not a sundress, mind you, but not something with sleeves, or made out of wool, and not something that came even remotely close to hitting my knees. In my defense, I did pair it with a cardigan and tights, although those tights were pantyhose and did basically nothing to keep my gams toasty.
I’m not sure if I’m just impatient, or defiant, or unconsciously trying to will the seasons to change early, but whatever the underlying cause may be (I’m going to go ahead and say that it’s an equal blend of all three of those things), whenever I start doing this, I always end up somewhat disappointed. At this point in the season, I’d really like to be able to fast-forward to June, when I’ll be over the hump of debilitating pollen allergies, able to escape to the beach after work (!!!), and go to a couple of sweet family reunions. However, I’d settle for being able to fast-forward to March 31, when the greatest show ever (with maybe the exception of Arrested Development) returns with what are guaranteed to be crazy-awesome episodes, and when I’ll be able to walk my dog for more than 30 seconds without wanting to run back into my apartment and wrap myself in a bathrobe/Snuggie/785219 blankets.
I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas/Hanukkah/Festivus/Solstice/Chrismuhanukwanzukah! I, for one, had a fantastic Christmas. I was a little worried when, by about the second week of December, I just wasn’t in the Christmas spirit. When you’re a kid (obviously), or even an adolescent or college undergrad, I feel like you’re so much more susceptible to the holiday buzz. I suppose it’s impossible to not get swept up in it all if you have a little munchkin around, excitedly jabbering about Santa Claus and begging you to help them make and decorate approximately 20 dozen Christmas cookies.
But for me, I was just… not into it. I didn’t want to listen to Christmas music. I wanted to want to listen to Christmas music - I love nothing more than cozying up with some Ella Fitzgerald or Nat King Cole holiday classics - but this year, until about December 21st, I just wasn’t having it. Maybe I was annoyed that I’d been bombarded with jingle-jangle advertisements and window displays since my birthday in September. Maybe it was because I didn’t watch Elf or Home Alone. Maybe I was too stressed. Maybe it was knowing that an entire community of people had their foundations rocked - shattered, really - in the midst of all the holiday hubbub.
But at some point - probably about four days before Christmas - I finally exorcised my mental Scrooge. I discovered Duke Ellington’s rendition of The Nutcracker Suite (seriously, I never thought “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” could be sexy, but that man makes it so), bought/made some kickass gifts for the people I couldn’t live without and baked a few dozen cookies, which I’ll talk about some other time. I know, right? How dare you, Lauren, even deign to mention delicious cookies and not share the recipe with us right this instant?! Well, tough cookies.
Yes, that was on purpose.
Anyway, for Christmas, I got some pretty awesome loot - including a computer that doesn’t have about a dozen multicolored lines running down the screen (thanks, Mom & Dad!) and, from the dude that knows me better than pretty much anyone, the most perfect cookbook for this nerdy wannabe-chef - A Feast of Ice and Fire.
I love, love, love corny jokes. You know, the ones that most people groan upon hearing? I’m usually snorting with laughter. Legitimately.
Most people get ticked off when conversations on Reddit devolve into pun threads, but whenever that happens, I do a little fist-pump and I’m in my glory. The nerdier the topic, the better.
So several months ago, when I found a cooking blog titled “Crepes of Wrath,” I knew that, to make a Steinbeck pun, its author must be good people, and that I simply had to try at least one of her recipes.
I decided on this baby, as I was looking for a recipe using cube steak that wasn’t chicken fried steak. Don’t get me wrong, chicken fried steak is the ultimate in feel-good comfort food, but it is also the ultimate in get-huge-and-have-a-heart-attack food. You really can’t have it more than five times a year if you want to live past 40… and I’m pretty sure that I do.
Ten points if you can name that movie!
I hope you guys had a fantastic Thanksgiving. I know I did. Even though we celebrated a day late because my sister’s father in law is a firefighter and had to work on Thursday, we all had a blast up at Katie’s place in the North Country. Seriously, it’s like, Arctic-north up there. It’s freezing and you can get Canadian stations on the radio. They’re very amusing. Everyone speaks with slight accents and there are commercials about curling. Really.
There were seven humans and five dogs in a two-bedroom apartment, so it was a cacophanus (that’s not a word, is it? I’m making it one. I decided.) holiday weekend-of-sorts. I say “of sorts” because the festivities ended Friday night (for us, at least), when Colin and I, bellies full of turkey and stuffing and tiramisu, embarked on the nearly-six hour trek home. The drive was totally worth the company, though, and it beats the hell out of the 14-hour drive to Savannah, where Katie and Craig used to live. (I’m still a little bummed we never got to visit the Forrest Gump bench, though, and I do miss Tybee Island more than I should.)
As you must know, since you have a working Internet connection and are presumably not a time traveler who just arrived here in 2012 (and really, why would you want to come to 2012 if you were a time traveler? I’m digressing), you know that last month, we got sacked pretty hard by a hurricane. Or superstorm. I’m not quite sure what we’re calling it. Either way, it was pretty ridiculous. People were out of power for days/weeks — some are still waiting for their power to come back on! — and others tragically lost their possessions, homes and, in some cases, lives.
Despite living in a bayfront town, we were pretty lucky. There was no damage to our apartment or cars (though my car did almost get smashed to bits by a colossal pine tree — silly me for thinking my car would be safer at my parents’ house further inland), and while being without power or heat for a week was not even remotely fun, it could have been a lot worse. I went to the Jersey Shore to help a friend who was one of the unlucky ones. While I thought the term “devastated” and all its variants seemed overused, it’s really the only word to describe what happened down there. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen up close.
Before this gets too depressing, let me tell you about something I threw together before we got gobsmacked by a worst-case-scenario storm and alternated between living off of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches (curse you, electric stove!) and going out to eat all the time in order to escape our 50-degree living quarters and put something lukewarm in our bellies.
Last month, my co-worker, Nan, celebrated a birthday. Because we’re a small, close-knit bunch, we generally celebrate our birthdays with baked goods, fruit, coffee and possibly a lunch out to one of the nearby burger (or Korean food) joints. But this year, I had a plan for Nan.
You see, Nan is obsessed with Peeps. You know, those horrendous, marshmallow-y, crunchy-sugar-crusted chicks that you can really only find during the Easter season? Yeah. She loves them. She might be the only person I know who loves them.
But shortly after her birthday last year, I happened upon this recipe while searching for good Thanksgiving/Christmas side dishes. I guess that’s what you get for searching for blanket “holiday” recipes. Anyhow, I immediately knew that I needed to make this peep cake for Nan’s next birthday. So the recipe sat in a draft email, along with approximately 42290322 billionty other recipes, waiting for October.
Guys, I had to turn my heat on yesterday.
I had to wear a hoodie AND a coat when I took Sam for a walk.
It’s dark at, like, seven.
These kinds of things do not make for a happy Lauren. However, in my defense, I coped with yesterday’s sudden drop in temperature very well. I didn’t sulk (much), busted out some of my favorite cold-weather music (check out Craig Cardiff; the live version of “County Road Christmastime” on Bombshelter Living Room is one of my all-time favorite songs), and cooked up what is a contender for the king of lazy Sunday comfort foods: pot roast.
After spending Friday cleaning practically every corner of the apartment, Colin asked if I would be so kind as to clean the kitchen for him the next day.
What I said: Sure!
What I didn’t say, but should have also done: Found some sort of magical way to pull the metal stopper out of the drain in the sink so we don’t have to brush our teeth in the bathtub.
What I did: Continued my umpteenth re-read of the Harry Potter series, played with Sam, talked to my college roommate, made banana bread.
I was banking on Colin not caring that the kitchen was still in pretty scruffy shape by the time he got home from work, because that kid loves banana bread.
Also, it’s not like I didn’t clean the kitchen on Sunday. I’m not that horrible.