Monthly Archives: July 2013

Bringing Your Attention to a New Feature…

About a month ago, my mom asked if I had ever considered including some sort of index on my blog where people could easily locate recipes that I have posted.

I’ve been hesitant to do this. Partially because I still have some adolescent resistance to doing things my parents suggest, even if it’s something I had thought of myself.

Mainly, though, it’s because I don’t see this as a food blog. It’s a mix of things that I’m interested in sharing, and as it turns out, a lot of the time, I’m interested in food.  (Probably because, as busy as grad school can get, I still have to eat.)  But I have absolutely no culinary training.  I’m completely inconsistent in the format I use to share recipes.  In fact, a lot of the time, I just include a link to the original recipe.  And the meals that I post that are my original creations are very loose and most certainly have not been tested beyond, “This is what I made for dinner and this is what I think I remember about how I did it.”

I like to think of it as being reflective of how I would converse with friends about cooking- sharing recipes, ideas, and improvisations. But the benefit of a blog is that it’s like having all of these conversations archived and available to refer back to.  And having an index certainly makes that easier.

So, now you can find all the recipes and I’ve ever talked about right here, and there’s a handy Recipe Index tab on the home page.  You can thank my mom.

 

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Welcome Home Scones

If your Facebook feed looks anything like mine, you probably are under the impression that everyone in the world is:

a. buying a new house

or

b. getting pregnant and having babies

Seriously, my Facebook feed is nothing but photographs of fetuses, bellies, and babies, and exterior house shots, stacks of boxes, and shiny new house keys.  Oh, and there are still a lot of photos of cats and food (but not cat food).  These are my friends, after all.

Because these are my friends, fortunately I don’t see a ton of the inappropriately first-person-plural updates about infant waste elimination. (You know what I’m talking about: “We’ve already filled five diapers with poop today and it’s not even noon!”  We?? I really hope that’s not something you’re doing with your baby.)

In fact, I felt rather proud of one of my best friends when she posted something referring to a poop situation as a “pants disaster.”  Understated, humorous, and leaves something to the imagination, even if I choose not to imagine it.  Now that’s what I’m looking for in classy baby-related status updates.

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I actually still owe this classy new mom and her husband (also a wonderful friend) a post-baby dinner.  I have a terrible habit of offering to make things for people and then not following through with it. Not because I don’t want to follow through or because I’m flaky and forget about it.  I end up with performance anxiety about the final product, whether it be a painting or vegetarian enchiladas.  There’s something unsettling about trying a new recipe and sending it off for someone else to consume, without having tasted it yourself first.

So, when our friends moved to a new house with a baby, I remembered that I had told them several months before that I’d make them a meal after the baby was born.  Oops.  In the midst of packing, moving, and unpacking, knowing dinner was waiting in the fridge or freezer would probably be really helpful. But I still hadn’t had a chance to test an enchilada recipe. Guilt and obligation versus perfectionism and procrastination.

I ended up compromising by baking scones.

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In their old house, we shared lots of evenings together. Games were played, movies were watched, and bottles of wine and pounds of cheese were consumed.* For some reason, separate nights eating strawberries and gingersnaps also stand out to me. So strawberry & ginger scones seemed like a good idea.

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Something sweet with a little spice.

I used Smitten Kitchen’s recipe.  She calls them biscuits, but also refers to them as scones. I just think they’re delicious. I’ve made buttermilk scones before, but these use heavy cream instead. They really do taste creamy, which is lovely with the strawberries.

I followed the recipe exactly except for also adding in about a tablespoon of fresh grated ginger.  They did not turn out very gingery, although I wondered if I just did not thoroughly stir in the ginger and someone got a very gingery bite.

If I was going to make them again, I might sprinkle a little raw sugar on top.  I like when scones have a bit of crunchy crust on top, and since these are not very sweet to begin with, a little extra sugar wouldn’t make them too sweet.

Oh, one more thing. I didn’t feel like using biscuit cutters, so I shaped the dough into a rectangle, about 3/4 inch thick, and divided it into 8 squares. Further halving each square diagonally yields a good scone portion, in my opinion, but if you want a larger, more indulgent scone, I fully support your decision.

scones

*Let’s just assume I mean cumulatively over the years, and not per evening.

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Sometimes You Have to Be Flexible: White Bean and Farro Salad

I love working with preschoolers. One minute you’re listening to a five-year-old answer a question, demonstrating a shockingly advanced level of metacognition that a lot of adults probably don’t possess.  The next minute, another child is telling you about how they learned that some beetles poop when they get angry. And then a third child solemnly informs you that she owns a sword. A real sword.

It’s seriously like being in one of those AT&T commercials.

The weird, funny things the kids say are certainly part of the fun. But what I really love is those moments when a preschooler says something that is amazingly insightful or thoughtful.

We’ve been asking kids about how they would solve different problems by giving them hypothetical scenarios. We’re interested in how they adapt when they encounter obstacles to completing a goal. When you ask preschoolers to explain their problem solving strategies, you get a lot of “I don’t know” and “Because it would work.”  But sometimes they surprise you, like this five-year-old the other day who explained to me, “Sometimes you have to be flexible.”  She elaborated with examples showing that she was not just repeating something she heard – this is something she is fully aware of.  Impressive.

So maybe you’re thinking, “Um, Sarah?  This is some awfully research-y talk for a blog that claims to avoid such discussions….”

Be patient. I have a point.

She’s right.  Sometimes you have to be flexible.

Like when Matilda wants to wear a fancy hat, but realizes she doesn’t own a fancy hat.  She might have to adapt her definition of a fancy hat to include “sparkly cat toy”.

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Or like the other day, when I was craving my favorite lentil and Israeli couscous salad.  I went to Trader Joe’s to buy some steamed lentils, because they are way better than any lentils that I have ever cooked.  I’d pick them up, go home and make the salad, and healthy lunches for the rest of the week. And they were completely sold out.

I was really tempted to just throw up my hands and grab a burrito bowl at Chipotle for lunch.

But I’m trying to eat more healthy meals, and I had spinach and tomatoes at home needing to be used up. So I had to be flexible, and buy a can of cannellini beans instead. Since I was changing the recipe anyway, I used farro instead of couscous (or a blend of the two).

Sometimes, being flexible works out pretty well.

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