Boot Stuffers

Ok, now that Thanksgiving has passed I give my permission for everyone to start with the Christmasey things. Caroling, twinkle lights, pine boughs and all manner of red and green. I’m sure you all waited until I gave my go ahead and I really appreciate that. One holiday at a time people.

Christmas is the one time during the year that all 7 members of my family get together. We are scattered across the country and have gained a few members in the last couple years, so this year will be particularly epic. I’m a very strict traditionalist, and so see myself as the Enforcer to make sure we continue with all the little things we do every year. For instance, instead of stockings we leave out winter boots on Christmas Eve, as an homage to our Hungarian history. On December 6th, Hungarian children leave out their boots for Szent Miklós to fill with treats.  Our boots are usually filled little knick-knacks, goodies, small makeup items and sometimes little clues to larger presents.

Below is a little Stocking/Boot Stuffer Guide, for food lovers obviously. Hope it gives you some inspiration! Merry happy!

 

Stocking-Stuffers-Gift-Guide

 Whetstone, Veggie Tattoos, Produce Sheets, Parchment and Lemon Wraps, Canned OctopusCheese Labels, Crack Pie Mix, Heirloom Seeds

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Brussels and Apples

Brussels-and-Apples-salad

 

 

Lately, my favorite day of the week is Thursday.

 

Thursday means a new episode of Serial which I listen to on my bus ride to work in the morning. As it ends, with Sarah mysteriously hinting next week’s episode with her loaded “Next week… on Serial”, I literally shake my fist at the sky in frustration and suspense. Thursday morning also means that no one sits next to me on the bus…  Have you been listening to Serial? You need to listen and then talk to me about it. The storytelling is gripping and it is all the more intense knowing that the producers are still investigating and don’t really know how it is all going to turn out in the end. Though I wish I could binge listen to them all in a day, it is probably good for me to be forced to wait a week between installments. An exercise in patience, delayed gratification and fully digesting a chapter before moving on to the next. Rare in this age of Netflix and watching a season of a show in a day. Thursday also means a new Spilled Milk episode and a leisurely happy hour at Sun Liquor for Brandon’s “Friday ” night. Thursday means the work week is winding down, yet don’t worry about getting everything done because there is still tomorrow.

It is glorious to enjoy where you work everyday so you aren’t desperate for the light at the end of the tunnel, otherwise known as the weekend. The actual workday has more positives in it than just a midday meal. The other day, I didn’t quite have the time or desire to create anything elaborate to bring to work for lunch. I threw a handful of brussels sprouts, an apple and a corner of parmesan cheese in a bag and whipped up a simple vinaigrette to assemble at lunch time. Turns out, this was crispy, crunchy and autumnal with a nice savory essence from the dijon dressing. Super simple and it has got to be healthy since it has fruit AND vegetables right? Winning. Also, shaving parmesan on a microplane is super therapeutic. Delicate, gently falling tendrils mesmerize until you realize there is now a mountain of powdery cheese on your salad. Eh, there are worse things.

 

 

 Apple and Brussels Sprout Salad

 

Peel off the outer layer of 7-12 brussels sprouts, depending on how large you want your salad. Slice or use a mandoline to shred them into strips. Choose an apple that is crisp, not mushy or overly juicy or sweet. Dice and toss with your shredded sprouts. Mix a couple glugs of olive oil, a bit of lemon juice, a spoonful of Dijon, small squeeze of honey, salt and pepper till it emulsifies. I like to use a mason jar, screw on the lid and shake it like my life depended on it or I was Taylor Swift being judged. Pour your vinaigrette over your sprouts and apples and toss to combine it all. Top with a little salt and black pepper. Shave parmesan or another similar cheese on top. And thats lunch! I bet a side of some warm bread with a smathering of blue cheese would be a nice companion.

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

 

Creamy-Curry-Cauliflower-soup

 

 

Soup season has arrived.

 

This, my second, Autumn in the Pac Northwest has been a bit more damp than the first one. Soggy, vibrant leaves are crushed underfoot and eventually create outlines, almost fossil-like imprints in the sidewalk. As long as I’ve got my rainboots on and a mug of something warm is within arm’s reach, I am totally on board with all of it.

I been working at my new job for a month now. Going to work everyday in a gorgeous cookbook store with incredible events, and working alongside smart, amusing and hardworking people has done wonders for my disposition. I’m spoiled and it has made the months and months of job searching, applications, interviews and almost-but-not-quite-what-we-are-looking-for’s worth it. Which makes it quite impossible to see this blustery fall as a negative.

It is dark by the time I get home now, and I’m often just a tad carsick from the 8 bus’s constant stop and go while overflowing with riders. They really need to get on top of things with that bus route. It is out of control. Anyway, though surrounded by cookbooks and constant food creativity, sometimes one is just too tired or overwhelmed to create anything gourmet for dinner. Most often, I just require an aromatic, flavorful dinner that induces warmth, comfort and satisfaction. Plus, my immersion blender is so fun to use and it makes my soups seem lavish. With a smooth,puréed soup you can pour that fancy flourish of golden olive oil on top which instantly elevates a simple soup to 11.

 

 

 Creamy Curry Cauliflower Soup

adapted from The Kitchn 

 

Pre-heat oven to 400 F. Cut up a large head of cauliflower into florets, toss with olive oil, salt, black pepper and a couple dashes of cumin. Roast in the oven, stirring occasionally till lightly toasty and browned, about 10 minutes or so. Meanwhile heat up some olive oil in your soup pot and dice up a large sweet onion and 3-5 garlic cloves. Once the oil is hot, cook the onions with some salt until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Toss in the garlic and cook until slightly browned. When the cauliflower is done roasting, add it to the soup pot and stir together. Add about 5 cups of vegetable broth and stir to combine. Cover until it starts to simmer. Add a couple pinches of salt, and 1 teaspoon of curry powder, 1 teaspoon of cumin, 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon of coriander and any other of these types of spices that strike your fancy. Adjust these to your taste. Let the soup simmer for about 10-15 minutes or so to let the flavors all meld. Take off the heat and blend, using an immersion blender or carefully using a regular blender. Pour 1 cup of half/half or milk or coconut milk into the soup and stir to mix or re-blend to combine.  Return the soup to the stove and keep on low to keep it hot as you come back for seconds and thirds. Taste it to see if your seasonings need adjusting. Dish out into bowls and top with a curl of olive oil, red pepper flakes, fresh parsley and fresh black pepper.

All soups need a warm, bready substance as a delivery system and my favorite with this is Trader Joe’s frozen garlic naan. Spread a bit of butter on top and toast in the oven for a couple minutes and you’ve reached absolute dinner perfection.