in our exercise room on friday morning there was a man in loafers, dress pants, and a tucked-in oxford striving mightily on a stationary bike, and i salute him.


candied tangerine peels. the pith beneath the peels was so minimal and easy to remove that i didn't bother to try to trim it; i gave each tangerine a soccer-practice quartering, peeled each quarter and chucked the fruit into the juicer, julienned the peels after trimming their tips, and that was that. these were delicious, and we now have a jar of tangerine simple syrup for making old fashioneds. all's right with the world.

homemade cheez-its. midtown manhattan was uninterested in selling me annatto seeds with which to boehner my dough when i first attempted this recipe a month ago, so i subbed in a few teaspoons of pimentón; i also grabbed the wrong pepper grinder and ended up adding a dash of garlic powder by accident. i've repeated those mistakes in four(?) subsequent batches, and i'll probably repeat them in four more before the year is out. mike bloomberg would pose for a photo with these crackers.

pretzel & nut mix. at some point i should probably write david lebovitz and let him know he's been my kitchen's godfather for years. this mix takes no time to throw together, it's a deeply sexy blend of maple-syrup felicity and a chile kick, and it makes you feel like a roald dahl character who lives in a fabulous pie.

roasted butternut squash salad with warm cider vinaigrette. learning that ina garten was a nuclear policy analyst before she was the barefoot contessa has led me to forgive her for the fact that this recipe only works every other time i follow it (and thursday wasn't one of those times); she doesn't have time to idiot-proof her salads and weigh in on budget legislation (and source her weapons-grade velvet pantsuits; i saw one in person and was altered). i could of course be to blame for thinking i could sub mesclun in for arugula, but we needn't point fingers. in future attempts i'll be conservative with my greens, liberal with my vinegar, and in velvet of my own, hopefully.

green bean casserole. martha stewart takes a hell of a long time to pull together her gourmet version of a cream-of-mushroom-soup casserole base, but i'll concede that it's fancy-tasty; the whole casserole, moreover, can be pulled together and refrigerated a day ahead of time, so the fact that it takes, er, an hour isn't quite so terrible. i neglected to account for its chilled state when i got around to baking it on thursday, so it didn't reach the table in what i would call a piping-hot state. i hear this happens to everyone on thanksgiving? at some point i should develop an oven schedule like rachel's.

nick's nut roast with warm coriander dressing. this dish has been my friend cara's holiday main for years, the scotsman describes it as "a stonking veggie alternative to the christmas roast," and there was no way i wasn't attempting it. i found the lingham's chilli sauce at shi eurasia on orchard street; the owner, thrilled that i'd called her about it, took me through her mother's special recipe for fried crabs. the black nigella seeds turned up at kalustyan's on lexington, and i was straight-up smug by the time i packed the roast into my bundt pan on wednesday night (we didn't have a big enough loaf pan, and we grew so enamored of saying "nut bundt" that we felt we had to go with it). the roast wasn't especially interested in debarking from the bundt when i baked it the next day and looked a bit like a laird's ruined castle when i brought it to the dinner table, but it was crunchy, spicy, and like nothing i've made for a holiday meal before. omnivores went back for second helpings. you are good to me, cara.

savory mushroom gravy. god knows what happened to the gravy. well, hubris happened, as i assumed it was the one part of the meatless meal i definitely wouldn't shank (even tofurky gravy is good, and tofurky is the devil's doorstop), and gullibility happened, since i believed the internet when it claimed this was the BEST RECIPE EVAR, but i worked hard and played by the rules, and i expected to retire in comfort. instead i had to call joe in to what-seems-to-be-the-trouble-little-lady my nasty-ass gravy and spoil my solo-thanksgiving-prep streak, and it ended up tasting marvelous, and fuck capitalism.

butterscotch-pecan ice cream. another david lebovitz joint, and my favorite homemade ice cream of all time; it came out beautifully, as it always does. i was so excited the first time d-lebz tweeted at me that i printed and squirreled away a screengrab of the message. i'm not ashamed.

tangerine sorbet. also also lebovitz, and a solid formula for any citrus sorbet. i used a megajuicer i inherited from my magazine's food editor to juice my tangerines, and in retrospect i probably should have done it the old-fashioned way, for the pith that remained between the segments after i removed the peels gave the juice just a touch of bitterness. what are the domestic arts without a touch of bitterness, though?

imaginary reading group discussion questions

01 if martha stewart had worked for the government in the '70s, what would her job have been?
02 do you make schedules and charts when you cook, if you cook?
03 is the internet right about anything?
04 i'm leaving for my first-ever tropical vacation as a grown-ass adult next wednesday. what should i bring? (bathing suit already acquired.)


esb said...

i am so confused about the gravy.

lauren said...

SO AM I. it just tasted like warm dirt, then i asked joe for help and he added a million things to it and it was fine, even good.

Rob said...

04 Sand repellent.

LPC said...

01 Head of housekeeping at the Watergate Hotel.
02 I count backwards from time on the table and if the dishes >3 then I note start times for each.
03 Is there a God?
04 I'd show you my suitcase, having just returned from Kauai, but I have no skeletons so it's probably not usable for you. That said, coverups are critical, sarongs and tunics alike. Also flip flops. The tropics didn't invent those things for no reason. Have fun.

Rachel said...

They are all liars, this is the best veg gravy recipe ever. I promise. You must make the vegetable stock that goes with it, but it's well worth the time. Also, the gravy is perfectly good heated up, so you can make it a day or two ahead and then just reheat.

My family has learned how good it is and I have to fight the omnivores off so my sister and her husband can get some.

RIBS!!!!!! Enjoy the beach, kiddo.