Photo courtesy of Delancey
Who has two thumbs and loves to cook? This kid obviously. Anyone else? Head on over to Delancey this weekend, May 3 and 4, for a killer cookbook sale to benefit the Friends of the Seattle Public Library. The library is very close to my heart. I live quite close to my neighborhood branch (a beautiful, old Carnegie library) and get most of my reading there. All those books you read about in my book reviews? Property of Seattle Public Libraries. Combined with a fundraiser that let’s me cook for you even more? You know we have a winner.
Cook Your Heart Out! Cookbook Sale
Saturday and Sunday, May 3 and 4
9am-3pm each day
Delancey 1415 NW 70th St, Ballard
Cash, check, and credit all accepted
Hop over to the Friends of the Seattle Public Library to find out more about their other book sales throughout the year. And if you need any more reason to support libraries in all their glory, check out this awesome book domino video made at the Rem Koolhaas-designed central library in downtown Seattle.
SPL Book Domino
To round out Meal Planning Week, I asked my buddy, Evie, to give us the 411 on the meal swapping plan she and some friends have cooked (ha!) up. (Sorry about the dad jokes, E.) You can find more of Evie’s delightfulness at A Cup of Shit. Have a great weekend! xo, L
How to Have Dinner in the Bag a Few Nights A Week
1. Become tired of spacing out in the produce section in your sweaty gym clothes at 7 p.m. trying to remember how food happens, Googling “how can dinner?”, as your plummeting blood sugar causes your vision to narrow.
2. Find a few friends who are good candidates for a dinner exchange: unfussy eaters, leftover enthusiasts, reliable, hardy of spirit.
3. Be a good candidate yourself! If you will worry your fingernails to the quick wondering how your cooking will be judged, this will just make you miserable. Or this will force you to get over that!
4. Buy a set of communal glass casserole dishes with lids in which all meals will be transported. Decide which day of the week will be the swap day. Discuss how exchanging will work. Will you alternate each week who makes the deliveries? Will you meet in one place?
5.Cook 4 (or 6) servings and portion them into the containers. Swap. Heat and enjoy. If it’s really really good, you may have to step up your game next week. Or don’t. You’re a child of the universe. It’s okay.
I got into more details about my weekly dinner share over at the Billfold last year, if you’re interested. And I collected some of my “greatest hits” recipes from the past year in a post on my unvarnished-lifestyle blog, A Cup of Shit.
What else can we tackle by farming it out to friends? Housecleaning? Taxes?
I’m trying to get some momentum going on this idea where you get together a group of five people and do a baby-shower-share. Each year, everyone in the group throws in $75, and then one person shops for and attends for all the baby shower invites for that year. Four years in five without baby showers! It’s so beautiful I can’t hold it in my mind for very long without getting misty. What can I say, I’m a sap.
True, it might be awkward to be the proxy at someone’s cousin’s shower. But what I’m saying is if we get enough people on board, it will become normalized.
“Oh hi, I’m Evie, you must be the mom-to-be. This is my baby shower year. Ooh, profiteroles!”
Multigrain risotto with asparagus
Trader Joe’s, normally my womb-to-tomb BFFL, did something very mean. After years (years!) of purchasing their very reasonably priced arborio rice for my risottos they stopped carrying it. Just stopped. No warning. No time to stock up. Just, poof! Sure, I could buy it at another grocery store but it’s a certain kind of indignity to have to make a second stop to pay three times the price.
I’d seen barley and farrio risottos around the food internet and so I thought I’d give another grain a try. TJ’s does have plain barley and plain farrio but once I start poking the beast I have to go full throttle. While browsing the grains section, I spotted this Harvest Grains blend: a mix of Israeli (aka pearl) couscous, orzo, garbanzo beans, and quinoa. I approached it like any other risotto: saute some onion and garlic, coat the grains in the pan, slowly add heated stock, grate a ton of parm in at the end.
And it mostly worked. The downside of this particular mix of grains is the rather different cooking speeds. The couscous and orzo cook much faster than the split garbanzo beans. Everything worked out and tasted delicious (parm hides many sins) but I’m not sure this was the right mix for this particular experiment. Cooking it longer would have resulted in mushy couscous and orzo but my dinner companions and I ate slightly crunchy garbanzo beans. Truth be told, I sliced some cooking sausage on top and no one seemed to even notice.
Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains blend
Everything I tell you!
4:55pm “Sweet, I’m totally going to get on the 5pm shuttle, hit the pool, then go home and make dinner.”
5:10pm “Man, the shuttle is running late and I’m feeling a little pinched on time.”
5:25pm “Damn, it’s cold out here. I guess I could just do a yoga video at home. Super annoying that I lugged my swim stuff around all day.”
5:45pm “GAHHHH! Seriously?! Where is this &!*% shuttle! I should be getting home right now.”
5:50pm “Effing finally! An hour later. Thanks for nothing. I should be home right now. I’m totally making gnocchi for dinner.”
6:00pm “Naturally everyone and their mom is on this bus. I’m totally sauteeing all the veggies and putting it on my gnoochi.”
6:15pm “Ready to be home, pleaseandthankyou. Oh hell yes! I totally have a few meatballs in the freezer. That. Is. Happening.”
6:45pm “Why doesn’t the winebulance exist/deliver? Everything is terrible.”
7:00pm “Give me all the carbs, all the jammies, and all the TV. I should have been home an hour ago.”
Recipe: Pork Meatball Banh Mi from Bon Appetit
Om nom nom
This sandwich is amazing. You should make and eat it.
(That is literally all I had written for five days. I’ve gone back to my drafts half a dozen times trying to think up a story or a tie in or something, anything more profound than “put this in your mouth as soon as possible!” But there is nothing. I mean, there are plenty of things. There is Sherlock to watch. There is some Chris Christie scandal I should probably be paying more attention to. And there is a wild and glorious internet to conquer. But there is nothing more to say about the sandwich. Make the sandwich. Eat the sandwich. Die happy.)
Soundtrack: We the Common by Thao & the Get Down Stay Down
An honest meal
We had some canned pumpkin puree left over from Thanksgiving that somehow ended up next to half a bag of arborio rice in our pantry. Clearly these two should be joined a holy union, I just had to figure out the best approach.
I started a basic risotto (technique here) and seasoned the rice with a little smoked paprika before beginning to add the warmed stock. In a separate bowl I combined half a can of pumpkin puree with a bit more paprika and some salt and pepper. Once the rice was nice and starchy and nearly al dente (a few cups of stock, don’t rush things) I folded dollops of the pumpkin mixture in. For a last step, as is required by all delicious risotto, I stirred in a few generous handfuls of parmensan.
Recipe: Butternut Squash and Chickpea Salad from Smitten Kitchen
Soundtrack: Motown: The Complete No. 1’s
I was supposed to make brussel sprouts for Thanksgiving. I was going to roast them in lemon infused olive oil and grate a crap ton of parmesan cheese on top. They were going to be crispy on one side, tender and earthly inside. I was going to horde them and eat them in heaping servings bite after delicious bite.
Unfortunately for me and my poor brussel sprout-loving stomach, I went to Trader Joe’s at 3pm on Wednesday. I know better. I should have planned. I should have been there Monday. Alas. At least the stocker was nice and let me down fast and easy, “we were out by 9:30 this morning.” Ouch. I barely stood a chance.
So what is a gal to do? I stood in the produce section and quickly ran through my options. Green beans are boring or at least require unholy amounts of butter and cream to make interesting. The rosemary roasted sweet potatoes suggested by Emilia were too close to the sweet potato pie Kat was planning to make. Panicked I googled “smitten kitchen butternut squash”. I wasn’t really sure what I was looking for but Deb consistently publishes beautiful recipes that taste amazing. This salad was the first hit. It only required me to buy three additional ingredients. Sold.
The internet saved Thanksgiving. Let’s eat*!
*and read some Zinn to keep some perspective on the historical roots of the holiday
Recipe: Tacos by MB featuring Cook’s Country Pico de Gallo
Soundtrack: The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse by the Besnard Lakes
Extra avocado because duh
The world needs more tacos. The world also needs more people that will cook for me on a Friday night and then put me in front of cartoons on Netflix.
We were supposed to eat tacos and then go see DJ Vadim at the Nectar. But the pull of the couch on a rainy night is strong among the late 20s set and so Bob’s Burgers won out.
Same base, different toppings
We had some house guests Sunday morning. One is a regular (hi, Reubs!*) and one from California. While everyone hung out, woke up with a cup of coffee, and nursed a political hangover from debating theory all day Saturday, I pulled together a quick hash based on odds and ends in the fridge. When folks began announcing their different toppings preferences (I’m sorry, is this a democracy? Fineeeee.) I immediately remembered the venn diagram approach from Dinner A Love Story. It’s my favorite way to tailor to people’s requests without losing the grace that inspired me to cook for them in the first place.
On the fly hash
Saute onion and garlic in olive oil over medium high heat. Once they’ve sweated out a bit and picked up a little color, add slivered brussels sprouts and cook until tender. If you eat animals, push the vegetable mixture to the sides of the pan to make a hole in the middle. Add chopped, pre-cooked sausage and saute until warm and golden. Serve topped with a fried egg (Kat), avocado (Jessica), both (Liz), or nothing (Reuben).
*This greetings will be increasingly less friendly the longer you hold out on the Buffalo mac-n-cheese.
Recipe: West African Peanut Soup from Cookie + Kate
Soundtrack: Leaked copy of Reflektor by Arcade Fire
Warm and filling
Holy moly, what a week was last week. Highlights: two concerts, a leaked Arcade Fire album, beautiful fog, some movement on going full time. Lowlights: chillier temperatures, driving all over town, not enough down time. When I got home on Friday I was super ready to curl up with something warm and a nice glass of red. I’d been meaning to try this recipe for a while. I swapped out the collards for kale because I had some to use up. It really hit the spot. Catching up on Scandal was just a bonus at that point.