What I’m cooking
When I bake I like to keep things simple, but I had some gorgeous pears that were begging to be on an upside down cake, and this maple-y version was relatively unfussy and delicious.
The exception to the rule of simplicity is that I participated in a holiday cookie exchange, so I went all in on some earl grey tea sugar cookies, which won the (friendly, low-stakes) contest. The cookie was just my favorite sugar cookie recipe with some extremely simple icing, but the secret is that I infused the butter with tea: I covered a small pan with loose tea (2-3 tablespoons) and covered that with 2 sticks (1 cup) of butter, then heated it on low until the tea toasted and the butter melted and browned. Strained the butter while it was still hot, but let it cool and solidify completely before using. Also I treated myself to a $10 Prepworks decorating bulb, which was delightfully easy to use and I do recommend it.
I’m participating in Dry January (or Drynuary, which is delightfully weird to say) so I made some cranberry syrup, but the strained cranberry solids made and awesomely tart and delicious compote. I also replenished my supplies of bay leaf honey syrup and rose hip syrup for making mocktails.
I had a ridiculous abundance of cabbage this fall, and when I got tired of braising it with bacon, I was glad to find this crunchy slaw with peanuts.
Here’s some stuff leftover from summer I didn’t want to forget about. Ages ago I had some dill yogurt dip that was pretty excellent and I didn’t want it to go off, so I put what was left of it into these two-ingredient flatbreads. Slightly more than two ingredients for me–I had no self-rising flour so I had to mix in baking powder–and I baked them on a cookie sheet rather than the griddle method suggested, but they were easy and awesome.
One day I needed to reheat some leftovers that seemed boring to me (stewed tomato and squash), so I threw a yogurt crust on it. I have no idea what this is actually called; it’s something I learned from a moussaka recipe one thousand years ago. I mixed up a couple of eggs with maybe a third of a cup of plain yogurt and a dash of parmesan cheese: beautiful, golden, savory crust.
Late summer is corn season, so I gave Sohla’s corn risotto a try on a friend’s recommendation. I do not have a pressure cooker, so I mostly followed the corn instructions but made risotto rice as I normally would. It’s good, but the real attraction is dressing it up elote-style with chipotle and salty cheese as she does for these pancakes (I do not pancake them, we are not all pancake wizards like Sohla).
What I’m looking forward to cooking
My oven’s been out for a week so I am looking forward to roasting and baking again. I’ve been cooking and reheating everything on the stovetop, which is fine, but one likes to put an oven on and walk away for thirty minutes.
Two standouts from the holiday cookie exchange were honey tahini cookies and thyme cheddar cheese biscuits, which I would love to try. I might also, at some point, up my cranberry game to include this vodka-based cordial.
I’ve had a month off from my CSA due to their holiday break and my biweekly schedule, which has been tragic, but it starts back up again soon and will include foods from their partners in Florida: avocadoes, kiwis, citrus fruits. I’m excited to get a bunch of limes for lime cordial, and have a grapefruit on the way which I am planning to char in a stovetop skillet.
What I’m writing
It might be Dry January but my figurative ink has been dry for months. I almost deleted this section for that reason–nothing to share, why talk about it?
But really, why not talk about it? Feeling like I have nothing to say and no desire to say anything anyway is part of why I’m doing the sobriety month–trying to be more intentional, more alert, more engaged day-to-day. There’s nothing in the world I would rather do than turn my brain off after work every day–and there are many ways I do that, not just with alcohol but also doomscrolling and playing video games and watching TV I’ve already seen, none of which are bad on their own, but which for me personally have become a way to avoid thinking and feeling.
I chose my intention for 2021 and it is to cultivate: plants, habits, friendships, and more. Cultivating self-awareness and transparency seem like a natural extension of that intention too.