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Candied Bacon and Curried Almonds (link to recipe at the bottom of this post)

With the holidays over and things slowly coming back to normal, I want to get back into the habit of blogging more regularly again. So in order to do that, I need to clear out some mental clutter.

1.
Tuesday marked the first day in about two weeks that the temperatures went significantly over the freezing point; when preparing to go out to pick up some bread for dinner, I had steeled myself for the slap of cold I had come to expect when walking outside and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was…mild. I know it’s still early-ish in January and we have a long ways to go until spring, but it’s nice to have a bit of a respite from it for at least a few days.

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Fried Oysters with Pickled Pepper Mayo and Cucumber Salad

With Christmas less than a week away, it’s time for me to start packing up all of our stuff to bring back to PA for the holiday weekend and get a cooking game plan set for Christmas Eve. We’re leading that particular dance this year, which is great since we did zero cooking during Thanksgiving. We are going to do the seven fishes this year, but in order to maintain our sanity and to make sure that everyone can try at least a bit of everything, we’re keeping the portions small and basically treating the meal like a tasting menu. Read More

I’ve been going back and forth on posting a gift guide this year; even posting one in early December feels like it would be too late to do so as I know I’ve made most of my purchases by now, though I still have a few more to get. But I have so much fun making these guides each year (and once again, there are no affiliate links here), so I’m going to go for it anyway. Read More

The Sinsear Cocktail

I was doing so well in getting back to the blogging habit, and then my weekends got busy there in October between visits home and visitors here and a trip up to New York for work, so I’ve been a little distracted from this space. I’m always eager to get back to cooking after a few days on the road, and that combined with the acquisition of five new cookbooks since my self-imposed buying embargo lifted meant that I took to both weekend meal planning and figuring out what I’m making this week while Michael is away with gusto.

One of those books was the Cherry Bombe cookbook, which was one I was not expecting to get so soon, but a few weeks ago I was scrolling through Instagram and saw that the authors (and founders of the magazine) were coming to Baltimore as part of their cookbook tour, and they were having a really cool event up at Trohv in the Hampden neighborhood. It was billed as a party featuring some local food people and promised delicious snacks and YesWayRose’s Summer Water, so I ended up getting two tickets for Michael and myself and we took an Uber up on an otherwise unassuming Monday evening after work. Read More

Pressure-cooked fresh tomatoes–even better than canned.

I’m finally finished with my cookbook project–after nine months and change, I’ve cooked or made at least one thing from every cookbook in our primary collection, all 105 of them. In retrospect it was a really valuable exercise, not only because it gave me a new appreciation for the recipes that I had at my disposal, but also in helping me develop some really helpful techniques. Had I not set out to do this I wouldn’t have tried Massimo Bottura’s method for making pasta completely by hand, or Alton Brown’s shrimp scampi, or Mimi Thorisson’s dry pan-roasted mushrooms. I’ve pushed myself in ways I wasn’t expecting, and because of that I feel like I’ve grown as a cook, and I feel better-equipped to improvise where necessary. Read More

My thyme going nuts.

Welp: it’s finally starting to feel a bit more seasonal. Saturday was the first in ages that hadn’t gone above 70 degrees as the high, which is weird considering we were dancing close to 90 earlier in the week. (I know this personally for a fact because a post-work jaunt across the harbor to Whole Foods left me a pretty drenched mess, even with a boat ride to cut into the walk itself.) When we lived in Stamford this would have me feeling both wistful and worried over how I could possibly my herbs before the winter temperatures took them out; at least here, with my indoor windowsill garden, I don’t have to fret over that.

I’ve been meaning to offer an update of sorts to my gardening exploits, and now seems as good a time as any to do so. My plants from last year are all still going strong. We were worried that something was wrong with the basil, but it turned out it was likely only suffering from a few nights of having the window open when it was still cool at night. The most exciting development among those plants is that my Meyer tree has not only blossomed, but is gestating a lemon as we speak! Apparently they can take up to 6 months to mature and turn yellow, and based on my calculations that might be happening sometime within the next few weeks. In the meantime a new branch of the tree has sprouted up and seems to grow like a weed, and I’m hopeful that a few more buds might be forming, but to be perfectly honest I am simply glad that the tree seems to be doing well and hasn’t died yet, you know? Read More

Shrimp scampi via Alton Brown.

Few dishes scream “I was big in the nineties!” like shrimp scampi, maybe because even writing words takes me back to a table at a Red Lobster with a plate of butterflied fried shrimp and shirmp scampi before me, with the latter drowning in too much butter and probably some crappy white wine. It was so ubiquitous (to the point of nauseatingly generic) that it served as symbol in the ’90s romantic comedy Only You* that a shared love of the dish was a superficial connection at best.

So color me surprised when a few weeks ago I was flipping through the remainder of my cookbooks that I had yet to use and I found myself flagging a recipe for shrimp scampi in Alton Brown’s first cookbook I’m Just Here for the Food. There was no butter involved here–just a couple of tablespoons of olive oil–and not even a mention of wine. Instead, the idea is that you broil the shrimp with the garlic and some seasoning (salt, pepper, and some Old Bay) for a couple of minutes, and then stir in some lemon juice, panko breadcrumbs, and parsley, and put it back in the broiler to let the shrimp cook through and the breadcrumbs attain a lovely golden color. Intrigued, I put it on the list of things to make for dinner this past week. Read More

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