Category Archives: Savory

Heirloom Tomato Pizza

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Am I the only one who feels like this summer – actually, this entire year – has flown by in the blink of an eye?  One moment I was wearing sweaters (okay, lightweight long-sleeved tees…who are we kidding, this is L.A.), and awkwardly trying to turn a mistaken “3” into a “4” when writing out the year; the next moment, it’s late August and Petsmart already has Halloween costumes for sale.

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(Emma is feeling quite nautical and not ready for summer to be over.)

I woke up in a panic last week when I realized that Labor Day is staring us in the face, which, to me, typically signals the end of summer.  As much as I love fall and the return of boots and sweaters and all things pumpkin-y, there’s also that unsettling feeling that yet another year is nearing its end and I haven’t done a lot of things that I’d wanted to do.  Not to go into too much detail, but it’s been an interesting (*cough* euphemism for “challenging” *cough*) year, to say the least.  Furthermore, lately I’ve been experiencing intense nostalgia for my Boston days, particularly as autumn inches closer and I think back to those glorious New England falls that I loved so much.  Honestly, I think the nostalgia is a function of looking at the past through rose-colored glasses due to the weirdness that has been my 2014.  But still. There’s a soft, fuzzy sadness sometimes when I think back to 2008-2011, when I had just started working in Boston, lived in a sunny apartment that I loved, and spent my weekends traipsing around the Back Bay.

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Pappardelle with Roasted Butternut Squash, Shallots, and Arugula

Pappardelle

I moved from Boston to Los Angeles on January 13, 2012.  The first few weeks I was here, I pranced about in utter delight that I could step foot outdoors in the winter without having to wear my giant sleeping-bag-of-a-monstrosity puffer coat.  Sometimes I chanced it and even went outside without a coat at all.  Yeah, I was living life on the edge and totally blissed out.  Remember that dance sequence from (500) Days of Summer?  That would be me, celebrating the joys of not freezing my butt off (instead of the joys of bedding someone you have a major crush on, which is also worth celebrating, but is not an appropriate topic for this blog).

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I think we all know where this going.  Flash forward a year and almost 10 months, and I find myself actually wishing for a bit of that New England chill.  Fall has always been my favorite season, but in Boston it was particularly glorious.  I miss it.  I miss the crispness of the air, the brilliance of the foliage, walking through Boston Common and the Public Garden and feeling so overwhelmed by all that beauty.  I see pictures of people picking apples and visiting pumpkin patches (REAL pumpkin patches, not like the one in Santa Monica where they basically revamp a parking lot by hauling in pumpkins and hay, and if you squint you can see the Pacific Ocean in the distance, which just brings home how NOT pumpkin patch-y it is) and get really jealous.  And I want to wear sweaters and boots and cute sassy coats, gosh darn it.  On Saturday, temperatures were in the low 80s and I wore a sleeveless dress.  In November.  I love you, Los Angeles, but this is unacceptable.

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Baked Orzo with Eggplant and Mozzarella

Hey there, remember me?

It’s been a while, I know.  This blog has been gathering dust this summer, along with its writer’s kitchen.  Part of the reason is because of this little bugger, who for a while was doing an excellent job of keeping me on my toes.  Now, at sixteen weeks old, she’s not having nearly as many accidents and therefore can occasionally be left to her own devices.  Which sometimes means assuming the role of my shadow in the kitchen.  It’s fun to turn around and find a little puppy staring up at you, wondering what it is you’re chopping so vigorously on the cutting board and, more importantly, why you’re not sharing.

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Pasta with Garlicky Broccoli Rabe

This pasta has been a long time coming.  When I first saw it in mid-April, I wanted to make it immediately but was too busy to do so.  Then I made a trip to the grocery store and absentmindedly bought a bunch of broccolini, realizing my mistake only when I got home.  Broccolini and broccoli rabe (a.k.a. rapini) are very different creatures, with the latter being bitter and the former much more mild.  I sighed and put the broccolini in the fridge, intending to find something else to do with it.  A week and a half later, I threw it out, all wilted and sad-looking.

Then came a couple of weeks where I frequently scoured the Ralph’s and the Whole Foods near me, hoping to find broccoli rabe but leaving with empty hands.  (Well, not quite empty.  Boxes of ice cream sandwiches kept somehow making their way into my cart).  As the weeks went by, my frustration mounted to the point where, a few nights ago, I had a dream in which I was arguing with a friend, came across a guy selling broccoli rabe, and became super excited.  Upon hearing of this dream, one of my favorite people in the world said, “That is SO YOU.  Conflict — food — conflict resolved.”  Agreed.

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Pasta e Fagioli

If a homebody is someone who enjoys staying at home, then lately I think I’ve carved out my own niche and become a bedbody. I cannot emphasize how much time, in the past couple of weeks, I’ve spent buried under mounds of soft pillows and comforters. Each morning when the alarm goes off and I have to get ready for the day, parting with my bed is the saddest goodbye ever. And when I’m at work, my thoughts frequently turn to how nice it would be if I were slumped in my bed with my iPad instead of shuffling through mountains of paper.

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Stecca

I’m late jumping on the Hunger Games bandwagon.  I’d heard of the books but never felt any desire to read them, which is odd considering that given my fixation with food, you’d think a series where food features prominently would appeal to me.  But no.  I stuck to my first beloved series, Harry Potter, eagerly awaiting the releases of the movies long after the final book had been published, and mourning the end of an era when the final film came out last July.  And when Entertainment Weekly featured the Hunger Games movie as its cover story in early March, I tossed aside that particular issue as one that I wasn’t interested in reading.  Oh, how wrong I was.

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Egg & Asparagus Gratin

I have to admit, a couple of nights ago I had a mini panic attack. I started listing out everything that I wanted to review in these last few days before the exam, upon which I realized that I would be very pressed for time. It was a sudden change from the feeling of general competence that I’d had for the last week or so, and it caught me off guard. So although it was late and I really wanted some down time before bed, I re-opened the outline I had been reviewing and kept going until I literally couldn’t anymore. Then I laid in bed and tried to take deep breaths to calm down, but the exam and a couple of other issues kept floating around in my mind. Things snowballed from there.

I’m not sure what to do in situations like this other than to tell myself that everything will likely turn out okay. And to remind myself that in the grand scheme of things, the stuff I have to worry about are luxuries compared to what some other people have to worry about. And finally, to try to take comfort in things that make me happy, no matter how simple and small. In that respect, there are definitely certain things in life that are undeniably comforting to me:

1. A soft, deep couch that I can nap on. I ordered such a couch in late November. It has not arrived yet because I picked a color that had to be custom-made. But seriously, Crate & Barrel, you’re a huge national retailer. It really takes you 3 months to make a couch? Wtf.

2. My bed. I make it every morning, partially because my mother drilled such behavior into me, but also partly because the sight of an unmade bed makes me want to jump back in and bury myself under the covers. I know my weaknesses and I take steps to avoid them.

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Kimchi Fried Rice

The very first movie I ever saw in theaters was a re-release of Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I was four at the time, we were living in New Hampshire, and I was beyond excited even though I doubt I fully understood the concept of going to a movie. In order to get me to calm down, my mom told me that we would go to the movie theater only after I finished dinner. For some reason, I remember very clearly that we had fried rice for dinner that night.

Growing up, I was never gaga over fried rice. Sure, the stuff at restaurants was fine but I always brushed it off as Americanized Chinese food. My mom made her own version occasionally with peas, onions, green onions, eggs, and that meat that is so adored by Asians, Spam.  Sometimes she’d mix ketchup into it, which sounds weird but actually adds a nice tangy tomato taste.  When I moved out of the dorms after freshman year of college, I sometimes made fried rice just because it was a quick and easy meal to slap together.

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Butternut Squash and Chickpea Moroccan Stew

Over the last few years, I have come to dread the end of daylight saving time.  I used to feel differently – it was always nice to sleep for an extra hour, and in Houston, let alone California, it never bothered me because the sun still never set that early.  Once I moved out to the East Coast, I gradually changed my mind.  My first year of law school, everyone else bemoaned the fact that it was dark by the time we got out of Contracts at 4:30pm, but I loved the novelty of it.  I also loved snow that first year.  I was so naive.

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Sweet Potato & Black Bean Soup

There are vegetable soups, and then there’s this soup.  I made it on a day when I woke up to dreary, gray skies and a faint drizzle – something which, sadly, has been an unwelcome frequent occurrence this fall in Boston.  I wanted to roll over and re-bury myself beneath my covers, but alas, there was an appeal brief to edit and a section of a summary judgment opposition to research and draft.  Plus, a tray of cinnamon rolls (acquired a few days ago on a trip to the newly-opened and insanely-packed Wegmans) was waiting for me in the kitchen.  Priorities.

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