I remember the 3:00pm slump being the biggest challenge of the 9-to-5 work day. Energy is low. I’ll have been working for more than half the day, but, with plenty of work still to do before the whistle blows, I won’t seem very close to going home. No matter what my productivity had been like, no matter how much I jostled between various pressing needs and priorities, at that very moment only one thing is on my mind: I must take a nap.
But sadly, a nap isn’t an option, at least it wasn’t for me. The next best is a snack and some fresh air. But during your quick walk around the block, be careful not to succumb to one of the more lucrative snack traps, which is a candy bar or some kind of pastry that will weigh you down and put you back in the mood for nap time. Continue reading
When I think of fried rice, I think of, well, takeout containers, but I also think of vegetables that have a lot of crunch. This is one of the primary principles behind the stir-fry method: vegetables get a shock of very high heat, are tossed—literally tossed in a wok by a flick of the wrist—and that’s about it.
To accomplish this, each ingredient is cooked separately. This may seem tedious on paper, but trust me, it’s so not a big deal. The only real elbow grease required in a dish like this is to chop all the vegetables, and if you eat vegetables with any frequency at all, those are some familiar muscles you’ll be flexing. Continue reading
I just had a long holiday vacation where I visited friends and family in Reno, San Francisco, and South Lake Tahoe, and when I arrived home last night, it seemed ever clear that 2012 is going to be spelled b-u-d-g-e-t. This soup—which ought to get me through a couple meals—is one of the first things I made.
A few months ago I attended a very fun demonstration by New York Times columnist and cookbook veteran Melissa Clark at The Brooklyn Kitchen. If you’re paying any attention to best-of-the-year round-ups right now, you’re probably aware that her new book Cook This Now is popping up at the top of many of them. After I got my copy and returned home that Friday night after her demo—and this is going to give you a good picture of my bustling social life—I plopped down on my sofa and read the whole thing cover to cover. In all honestly, this actually does describe a perfect Friday night in my mind. But Cook This Now is the type of cookbook that will inspire such behavior in anyone who likes cookbooks. You’ll want to sit back and read it. And then get up and cook from it.
For me, Thanksgiving is usually about letting go. I try not to be annoying. I do my best to stay out of the way of whoever is in the kitchen. I try to keep my mouth shut when the electric mixer comes out to whip the potatoes (one year I brought my potato ricer with me, and I haven’t done that since) and canned green beans are taken out of the pantry for the casserole. I help if I’m asked t0 and I offer my services as a dishwasher. It’s just that while I always want to try new things—maybe give that menu from Bon Apetit a shot and do it to a T, or perhaps make cornbread stuffing, rather than the kind we always make, eh, eh?—in my family it’s all about doing things the same as we’ve always done them. My grandpa makes a very, very good stuffing, and my grandmother’s recipe for candied yams—boiled yams, sauteed in an electric skillet in butter and brown sugar and a few pinches of salt (to which I secretly add a few grinds of black pepper, which is unorthodox)—is, indeed, something to look forward to all year long. And holidays are about traditions, and the repetition of familiar things is just what traditions are. What’s my problem with having one holiday, one day a year, when you can roll up your sleeves and put your muscles through the those familiar motions, savor those familiar smells and familiar tastes, and enjoy the familiar company in the kitchen? Here I pound my fist on my desk: But doesn’t it start to get old, even if it’s just once a year? I think it does! Can’t a holiday can be made more special by giving something new a shot?