Super Bowl snax/homemade gumbo

It was Super Bowl Sunday. A native Louisianan taught me how to make gumbo. Observe:



Green onion (this was surprising to me- I thought the “trinity” for gumbo involved white or yellow onion, not green)


Plus bell pepper (1 red, chopped) which completes the “trinity” of traditional New Orleans cooking.


Set that aside.

Oh also some garlic in there.


Then you get your andouille sausage. Slice it rather thin.


Then render it (cook it slowly in its own fat) until it looks like so:


Now we have reached the most time consuming and essential aspect of gumbo preparation: the roux.

At its simplest, roux is an equal mixture of flour and oil (A used coconut oil this particular time. One can use butter but it must be clarified).

As A told me, in Emeril Lagasse’s recipe, the step preceding the step in which one makes the roux is Step Open Up A Beer. Because it’s a lengthy process and you must stir the roux CONTINUOUSLY. At a certain point I was allowed to stir but was first given a tutorial of first doing swishes up and down, then side to side, then around the circumference, so as not to miss any spots.

Note as well that this was done in a giant all cast iron pan. Like a witch’s cauldron. I dug it!


Lots of time passed between the picture above and the picture below. Lots of stirring. Lots of tiring out one’s arms. It was nice tag teaming it because then we could take bathroom breaks/drink breaks/football watching breaks (lol just kidding I don’t care about football).

Anyway, the roux moved along and darkened and got richer and richer smelling. The goal, according to A, is to get the roux peanut butter colored or even a bit darker.


Then the vegetables go into the roux and produce THE GREATEST SMELLING THING IN THE ENTIRE WORLD. How does flour+water+vegetables produce something this extraordinary?! It was kind of mind blowing.


After they’d cooked a bit, in went some broth. Then we nestled some chicken thighs in there to boil.


And because men have ridiculous kitchen tools, A used his meat claws to shred the chicken. Good grief.

The shredded chicken went back in, along with the rendered sausage, along with generous amounts of this:


And then after all that I did not get a picture of the finished dish hahaha. I was sent home with a batch and promptly stuck it in my freezer, where it will surprise and delight me later (gumbo is kind of a Mardi Gras, pre-Lent food so it makes sense to wait til after Easter!)

To be honest, we both had rather small portions that day,  because there was a lot of nibbling on other Super Bowl food whilst waiting for the gumbo to cook (it is not a slow process). A is doing some home brewing and got into that. Also got some random dips at the store.

I made something for which I suddenly developed an intense craving, buffalo chicken dip. Found a random recipe online that wasn’t really good enough to shout out that y’all should make. But still got the job done. Yummy with celery sticks and crackers dipped in.


And then the day after the Super Bowl, I had an all dip lunch (!) of leftover buffalo chicken dip with celery and leftover baba ghanoush with (so so buttery and crumbly and rich and delicious) Carrs whole wheat crackers.


As you have no doubt realized, the way I connect with sports is through tasty nibbles. Any recipes I should be making for March Madness? (GO CAROLINA)


basket of sun

My awesome mother got me a Sun Basket gift card for Christmas!

Sun Basket is a meal kit delivery service like Blue Apron/Hello Fresh/etc. but their claim to fame is that they are the hippie version. Organic produce, sustainable seafood, humanely raised meat, cage free eggs, etc. My jam. You can also select from a variety of meal plans- Paleo, gluten-free, “lean and clean”, vegetarian, Mediterranean, etc.- but I didn’t really bother with that. Each week I just picked from the available recipes/kits what sounded most appealing to me.

My feeling about meal kits (which was confirmed to be true in my experience) was not that they save you any money (and I really think the manufacturers should quit trying to make that argument) nor that they particularly save you a lot of time (yeah, you don’t have to go to the grocery store to buy ingredients but the recipes are still rather ornate).

HOWEVER. If you are looking to get some inspiration in the kitchen and to basically have a built-in activity for an evening, meal kits can be fun. Thus far I have gotten a delivery two separate weeks. Each week I got three meals, each meal with two servings.

Meal 1: Seared tuna poke bowl


Brown rice, seared tuna coated in sesame seeds, seaweed strips, shredded carrots, cucumbers (which you salted and tossed with vinegar for a bit), green onion, etc.

Though I received two servings of this meal (using Sun Basket, you can either sign up for a two-person or four-person plan) I made just the one and saved the other components for later in the week.

Meal two: nice red juicy STEAK!


You will quickly figure out that I wanted to get a bang for my buck with sun basket so I ordered the most expensive meals I could 😀 That meant lots of seafood and red meat.

I also used my cast iron skillet a LOT more, since most of the recipes advised cooking your proteins on medium high heat, and you really aren’t supposed to get your nonstick skillet (my usual cookware) that hot.

It reminded me that most proteins taste most delicious when you throw ’em in a hot pan and get a good sear on ’em. Just another example of why restaurant food tastes so good. (Also, bearing in mind that because of this restaurants don’t use nonstick pots-> there is going to be a LOT of oil used to cook your food).

I actually had a fella around (still hanging out with A some) so I did various side projects while he seared the steak.


It ended up perrrrrrrfectly medium rare. It was topped with chimichurri (with some special fancy chilis). On the side was a salad with walnuts, bitter greens, and mandarin oranges with a yummy vinaigrette.

Of note is that this meal is paleo.

Though, uh, I think the red wine on the side isn’t so much lolol.


Next meal (#3) was REALLY good and special: spicy roasted shrimp with kale and ajo blanco sauce.

Started with just simply sauteeing some greens (sometimes the menu is slightly switched up based on market availability, so I got mustard greens instead of kale) (Note also that a bunch of the mustard greens were not in good shape. I sent Sun Basket a message and they quickly responded, apologized, and gave me a $5 credit. There were still enough mustard greens).


Then, I tossed together a parsley lemon apple slaw.


Then I cooked the shrimp: I tossed them with oil and Urfa chili peppers (! I had not known what those were. They had a sort of floral flavor and weren’t too spicy) and tossed them in a hot oven for a quick roast (! Had any of yall ever roasted shrimp? I had not. Interesting technique!)

And I mixed together the sauce: they sent an ajo blanco sauce base (consisting of garlic and almond milk) and I mixed it with the sherry vinegar they also provided.

Here is the finished dish (note that I actually stretched it to feed three people by using my reserved tuna steak from earlier in the week, making extra apple parsley slaw with ingredients I had around the house, and serving pasta on the side. Thus making it very non paleo hahaha).


Okay but for real this dish was LEGIT.


The almondy garlicy sauce on the bottom was SO flavorful and amazing. I never would have thought to combine shrimp, greens, apples, and almond sauce but the flavor combination was something I would’ve been stoked to get at a restaurant. The shrimp were perfectly tender and tasted really fresh. I was just VERY VERY PLEASED, as were my two friends I shared my meal with.

And the apple parsley slaw was so simple and good I then made another batch of it and tossed it with some orange squash. It was another nice flavor combo!


So then I took a few weeks off. I wanted to stretch out my experience. I wanted to wait for a week where I was STOKED about all the options. Plus, there is a certain amount of labor and drama to making these meals so I wanted a week where I had at least a reasonable amount of time to prepare them.

The problem is you have to confirm by ~6 days prior to your delivery day whether you are not getting the meals, so by the times I got the ones for this particular week, I had come down with a rather miserable cold.

My delivery arrived Tuesday night but I didn’t actually start making things til Thursday lunchtime. The good news is that the ingredients stayed fresh and good til I finished with them Sunday night (and obvi I was strategic and made the thing with the salad greens first!)

Okay SO: Meal#4- tempura shrimp with honey walnut sauce, charred romaine, and broccoli.


So the portion was HUGE! Lots n lots of big fat juicy shrimp plus fiber rich veggies to fill up your belly. “Tempura” is a bit of a misnomer because shrimp tossed in arrowroot powder (which made this a gluten free dish) and cooked in a small amount of oil don’t taste like shrimp battered and deep fried. Duh. They were still good though (though they got a bit singed  on the outside when cooked at the recommended temp). The sauce was sweet if not particularly remarkable.

The broccoli didn’t have any fatty component to its dressing (just lemon and green onion and things) but was actually really good. Yes, Ileana, you won’t die if you make a vegetable without olive oil or butter.


Next was Meal #5: a tasty dinner of burger and fries!


First, in the foreground, a generous pile of oven fries seasoned with Sun Basket’s herb blend that’s an homage to Old Bay.

And then in the background there, there’s a salmon burger… the salmon patty was SO GOOD and well seasoned and cooked to perfect tenderness (for which, of course, I the chef deserve credit but also a tasty recipe). Then that patty was topped with a dreamy remoulade that also involved capers (something I love and should eat more), arugula tossed with a bit of oil, and fresh cucumbers peeled and tossed with lemon and salt and pepper. And it was on a tasty chewy dense whole wheat bun.


YUM. YUM. YUM. Like yes, it seems rather silly to go through the production of a meal delivery service to literally make a sandwich from bread and a premade patty… and yet all the components were excellent and though I might be capable of making this on my own… I haven’t. I got to borrow the creativity and legwork of this meal delivery service so all I had to do was throw this together in a matter of minutes.

My final meal I’ve cooked (so far) was Meal #6: sesame crusted salmon with carrot orange mint salad.


This was one of their “lower calorie” options. I liked it! Simple and good. The sesame crust made it feel more glamorous than typical salmon made at home.

And look at this pretty pretty salad! The salad was quite large for two so I definitely had more of the carrot/orange mixture than pictured on my plate above.


Okay here is my big picture view of Sun Basket (and meal delivery kits in general), listed as pros and cons:


  • It’s stupid expensive. Anyone who says that using one of these services saves you money is talking total nonsense. I mean, unless you routinely go out for meals that exceed $10 every night. And if you are, lucky you, you don’t have to worry about money.
    The way, hilariously, you save money is by recruiting your friends (it saves them money too). If you get a $40 off deal for your first time trying the service (which I gave my friends and in turn got for myself- you have a chance at the bottom, too) it comes out to $5 a meal and is much more reasonable… but that’s only your first time. Unless you go on to recruit other people, which continues to save you money.
  • The packaging is wasteful. Duh. Though at least they have some useful containers (see below)
  • You have to know if you’re going to have time/energy to prepare a bunch of fancy food and which foods you’d like to eat a week in advance. This was a bummer the week I got sick.
  • The recipes are rather time consuming for a weeknight. And require a certain amount of brain power which I can’t necessarily muster every time I’ve done three patient home visits in a row.
  • The meals are rather high in calories. I blessedly have become a rather intuitive in recent years so if I eat a higher calorie dinner I kind of shrug and figure that I’m less inclined to snack later in the day. It’s also the kind of meal one eats more mindfully so that’s a net benefit for intuitive eating/satiety/etc. But, some of the meals are up in the range of like 700-800 calories which I know is a lot for some folks. As noted below, the portions are generous and you could definitely feel satisfied on less than one serving as defined by them (and lots of these would’ve made for tasty leftovers).


  • By and large, the recipes are REALLY GOOD. I enjoyed all of my meals and some of them had particularly excellent components- the salmon burger and the roasted shrimp (THAT GARLIC SAUCE!) were probably my favorites. And there are some surprisingly chef-y touches. New and interesting spices. Etc.
  • The recipes are also chef-y. They remind me to actually make the effort to use my good heat conducting cast iron skillet. Yes, it takes a little longer to cook than my nonstick pan but it gets a beautiful sear on my proteins.
  • It’s built in entertainment. If you like to cook, it’s an activity for the evening that’s fun and creative and pleasing to multiple senses. It’s also a nice way to treat a friend/date/whoever to a nice dinner without having to go to a fancy restaurant (and okay fine only in this case it might be more economical).
  • It’s a nice way to shake up your cooking style. If you find yourself buying the same things over and over, this introduces something new. If you find yourself making the same meal pattern over and over, it can help with that.
    For me personally, it was a good reminder that, really and truly, I don’t need to have some enormous serving of starch with every meal. Like, yes, I can be satisfied without half a pound of pasta or whatever. Yes, a protein and fiber-rich vegetables will fill up my belly and give me sustained energy. Riveting, I know.
    Yes, I am a registered dietitian, ay yi yi.
  • The portions are generous. I gave one of my coupon codes to a friend from work and she said her hus usually complained about the portion sizes with some of the other meal kit delivery companies and she said they were both happier with the Sun Basket portions.
    There were moments where I was like, “Holy *** there is more shrimp on my plate than I need!” I think it’s a safe bet that many of us have not often had that experience.
  • It is nice getting the EXACT RIGHT AMOUNT of food to make a recipe. As someone who’s by and large cooking for one, it can be sort of anxiety-producing to have an entire heart of celery, or an entire 1/2 gallon of milk, or other such large quantities of perishable things. I don’t hate that when you get the fixins for these meals you don’t have extra things languishing in your fridge for which you feel responsible/guilty.
  • The plethora of containers is ridiculous BUT some of them are pretty high quality and have twist on lids and are handy for reusing as salad dressing carriers for work lunches and so on.

Anyway, that’s my experience and I’m curious if other have folks have tried these and have any other points to make about them.

Also, should you desire to try it yourself you can get $40 off your first delivery by going through this link (I get $40 off too for recruiting you, as noted above. Capitalism!)

the end of winter- this n that

Honestly, as I start writing this post, it is February 24th and it is 76 degrees outside. Winter is done in NC. It was real short.

Here are some brief chronicles about what I got into when it was (sort of) real winter.

Hot beverages, OBVI- here’s a nice bit of latte art at Guglhupf.


Here is the BEST MUG OF ALL TIME in which Kyle and Shay fed me hot chocolate

IMG_0915 IMG_0914

And here are snow day pictures! We got ELEVEN INCHES of snow! Nobody could believe it! Because my town is the best, everyone was playing outside. I fortunately have a flexible enough job that it’s NBD for me to work from home (just do lots of phone assessments/education with my patients) and I can also be flexible when I do so (ex take a longer lunch and do a magical snow walk before going back to work and working a bit late).

Look at these adorable woodland creatures (aka Nicole and Alli) who accompanied me!


I just love the whole demeanor of this snow person (person? Alien?) made by my neighbors.


Lola was cold and she tucc herself under this shawl and just… I can’t even. I wept it was so cute.


When the weather is cold I always really feel for dog owners and parents of young children. My cousin is both. Look at these pictures of her kiddo and just try to imagine how it must’ve gone for her and her hus when they were stranded inside…


He is just kind of a blur. Also for the record that is marker on his face, not blood. Is he supposed to play with markers? Not really. Does he mainly just try to eat them? Absolutely.

I got some GREAT new cookbooks for Christmas! Including The Moosewood Restaurant Table from my aunt and uncle. Maybe some of y’all have the old school Moosewood cookbooks (the restaurant/collective has been in business since the 70s)- well, this one is the new and updated and snazzy.

It has an ENTIRE CHAPTER on GRAIN BOWLS. It is hippie food at its finest.

I had some frens over (entertaining at home is always nice when the weather is miserable)

For the occasion I made African bowls (millet, roasted sweet potatoes, veggies, coconut herb dressing, peanuts) and veggie burgers (shredded sweet potatoes, Indian spices, chickpeas, cashews- THESE WERE EXCEPTIONAL)


After our eating we played Celebrity, which was fabulous.

Another day I fortified myself with brunch with one of my girlfriends. I got this sweet potato bowl which is so reliably delicious:

  • spicy cornbread fritters
  • sweet potato mash
  • scrambled eggs
  • black beans
  • spicy sauce
  • feta
  • avocado
  • tomaters


Wintry weather also calls for comfort food cooked for oneself at home.

Sometimes that’s simple stuff like scrambled eggs (with garlic, tomatoes, and soy sauce- so ugly but so good!) and quesadillas


I made this meal for my sister- chicken sausage, mashed sweet potatoes, and green beans (with garlic and bleu cheese- delicious but stunk up the whole house for >24 hours).

It’s funny because I use the plate method with most of my diabetic patients and this really does a good job approximating it- 1/4 of the plate lean protein, 1/4 of the plate starch, and 1/2 the plate non starchy vegetables!


Lola entertained our houseguest while I cooked (oh how she loves to smack! It’s funny though because she’s so soft and gentle about it so she’s “fighting” you but it just feels like getting tapped with soft furry paws. She is so precious)


A final fun cold weather activity…

It began with me, Shay, and Sara piling into a car, intent on taking a serious road trip. Hilariously, despite the fact that Sara and I are both registered dietitians, our mandatory first stop was for greasy and amazing biscuit sandwiches at Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen.


Then we drove two and a half hours (!) to Lynchburg, VA, to arrive at a room filled with these:


Because we were going with Shay to buy her WEDDING DRESS!

Facts about wedding dress shopping:

  1. I believe that as someone accompanying a dear friend on a wedding dress shopping trip, my job is to be helpful and compliment the bride-to-be incessantly. I do not understand the nutters on Say Yes to the Dress who have a whole agenda of their own and criticize other people’s wedding dresses. IT’S NOT YOUR DRESS! MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS! YOU ARE THERE TO MAKE YOUR FRIEND FEEL GOOD ABOUT HERSELF AND PROVIDE EMOTIONAL SUPPORT!
  2. All wedding dresses are freaking beautiful. It’s not like going to a normal store where some clothes are nice and some are fugly or poorly made or whatever. All wedding dresses are made of gorgeous fabric and ornately put together and meant to make whoever dons them look beautiful. Plus Shay is a beautiful girl with a committed relationship with Orange Theory Fitness so this was doubly true for her.
  3. If you are within, say, three hours of Church Street Bridal and in search of a wedding dress, it is worth a visit. The shop is actually a nonprofit connected with the YWCA. They have relationships with fancy dress designers and get donations of dresses that have been worn in fashion shows and so on… so, they aren’t 100% new and pristine but they also haven’t actually been worn in a wedding (which to me is key- I don’t want someone’s used wedding dress! What if they got divorced?! What if the bride murdered the groom, or vice versa?! Too much juju!) And for that reason, they are waaaaaaaaaaaaay cheaper than these kind of dresses normally retail for. As in, the dress Shay ended up choosing was $350 when we looked it up and it retailed for $1,000-$2,500.

This is not The Dress, but it’s pretty, no?!


A final fact: due to the emotional nature of the process, and the bounty available, wedding dress shopping takes… awhile. Wear comfortable clothes. Fuel yourself appropriately!

Okay those were some cold weather adventures. Now that we get into spring/warmth/allergies/etc. I’ll have more to share.

weekday meals

I am super sick and gross (no surprise as being a home visit dietitian amounts to spending all day every day with sick people!) so I am gorging myself on potato chips and popsicles (the only things that make my poor throat feel better) and catching up on blogging. Please excuse any typos or non sequiturs.



Sometimes I just make coffee. Sometimes I make cafe au lait. Sometimes I make cafe au lait with a bit of maple syrup and black pepper (!) or vanilla extract and stevia or almond extract and stevia (that last one was less good because almond extract drips out of its container too fast and flavors a beverage far too strongly. Consider yourself warned).

Sometimes when I feel sorry for myself for working from home and not having good company I remind myself that I can make myself fancy weekday breakfasts sometimes. Toast (fancy bread from Weaver Street Market), scrambled eggs, pear.


Avocado toast and a hard boiled egg plus Trader Joe’s Everything-but-the-bagel seasoning.



Sometimes when I’m already in Durham and have an awkward time gap between patients that doesn’t really give me enough time to go to the office (and deal with the parking kerfuffle, lengthy walk to and from the car, etc.) I opt to get lunch at Guglhupf.

This was a lovely persimmon and goat cheese salad.


With secrete pomegranate seeds!


Another day I stopped at Weaver Street Market and got a bunch of veggie-y things.


And sometimes, I’m driving all over rural North Carolina. That is a story called The Other Dietitian Who Covered The Rural Counties Retired. And They Still Haven’t Replaced Her.

Working in the rural areas has been super interesting, but it is QUITE different from Durham- I can’t just pop into some cute coffee shop with wifi. On the rare occasion that I am actually near civilization, it is more often a Burger King or the like.

One day, I found myself starving and baffled over options. I ended up throwing together this hot mess at Food Lion:


To be fair, dried apricots dipped in peanut butter are underrated and delicious. Note that I did not have a spoon for that yogurt, which was quite an adventure.

Then I camped out in my car in my patient’s driveway, waiting for her to get home. Taking selfies in the meantime.


Dinners are mostly pretty boring (I could sincerely eat avocado toast- plus sometimes a protein and/or vegetable- three meals a day)…


(that’s tomato red pepper soup and baked tofu)

However, I’ve had some fun weekday evenings out.

Went to Bartaco for my friend Jessie’s birthday. I got a mushroom taco (boring), shimp po’ boy taco (FAB), tuna tataki taco (fine), and a spicy cauliflower taco (solid!)


Jessie just got hired to do cool and inventive nutrition things for Google (!!!) on their California campus. I will get to say I knew her when.

Another day I did a roomie date with Alli at our usual sushi spot. We are both creatures of habit and got our usual items- in my case, a bento box with sashimi (salmon and tuna) and a crunch roll. Reliably great.



My friend Roxanne is married to a guy named Kareem. I love them, I love their love story, I love their energy. As it happens Kareem is Frawnch and so once they got married there was a certain amount of green card hoop jumping for them to do. Roxanne texted me one day like, “Agh, can you write a letter verifying that you have witnessed our love?!” and I said “Of course!” because they are good ones. I got all verklempt writing about seeing Kareem with Roxanne’s son and watching them learn from each other and build a life together and… *sob*

And then, because Roxanne is ridiculous, she thanked me by taking me to a fabulous weeknight dinner at Lantern.

First we had wine, then we had their famous fried shrimp (omg) and fried dumplings for appetizers.

Then, JUST LOOK at our gorgeous entrees:


First we have:

hot chile, fresh turmeric, dill, fried shallots, roasted peanuts,
spicy heirloom carrot salad, jasmine rice


Then we have:

spicy green papaya salad, roasted peanuts, fried local farm egg, steamed jasmine rice


We shared both (though as y’all know I’m not a big pork eater… but since there was an absurd amount of food I did just fine. Also the pickled veggies with the pork were REALLY good!)

Good grief everything was amazing. We both had wine, we gabbed about our respective careers… when I met her I was about to be accepted to UNC and she was hard at work on nursing school. Now she’s an RN at Duke and I’m an RD at Duke! So fun to look back at everything that has happened in our journeys!

christmas vacay

A girl in her onesie, a cat in his sweater.

Christmas with family, what could be better?!


My sister’s cat has developed allergies and created a bald spot obsessively scratching his back. Thus, the sweater. Also, let me assure you, that is one of THREE onesies owned by my sister.

So it’s February, which means it’s as good a time as ever to reminisce over the holidays. (Work just completely brutalized me last week so it’s nice to look back at happier, easier times!)

I’ve continued a tradition of wrapping some of my Christmas presents in old ads from Vogue.


I truthfully took hardly any pictures when I was home. I was too busy having fun and being happy and reading Harry Potter in the bathtub at my mom’s house (yessss).

My baths were greatly improved by the sassy gift given to me by my cousin Stephen:


I tried to keep up my physique over vacay, once getting my mom to do a modified Body Pump class in the basement, me using five lb dumbbells, her using soup cans 😀 It’s silly AND YET, as I constantly tell my patients, you really can exercise anywhere and don’t need fancy equipment. Also I created a custom playlist for us that featured I’m So Excited by the Pointer Sisters and (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life from Dirty Dancing. So really you should be jealous.

I even dragged myself to the gym once or twice, mainly so I could pick up Sweetgreen on the way home (I miss that place!)


I took a trip up to Annapolis to see my aunt Jeanie and uncle Tim’s gorgey new house and we sat around and spent a *lot* of time discussing Cooks Illustrated recipes and also a *lot* of time (as usual) digging deep into the (extensive) psychological issues of our relatives.

I got my Korean fix (which is essentially impossible in Chapel Hill, alas, but which is everywhere you turn in my mom’s town in the DC ‘burbs). My mom and I hit up Lighthouse Tofu for potstickers and pickles and stew and barley tea and all the goodness.


An of course, my aunt Kathy and uncle Tom threw their annual Christmas morning feast. There was laughter, nostalgia, gag gifts, a lovely warm fireplace. My sister and Eric brought their dog, Billie Jean, who was everyone’s favorite. At one point I ran out to the car and came in and literally everyone in the kitchen/dining area was just standing in a circle admiring the Bean. She LOVED IT.

More cute animal snuggles continued with Bodie Dog and Jasmine Cat later in the day with my dad’s side of the family. Bean did not attend that, as Bodie tries to get a bit… amorous with her heh. Of note is that my aunt made REALLY great scalloped potatoes from the Foster’s Market cookbook.

Then it was time for our annual post-Christmas, pre-New Years open house. It was also my sister’s boyf Eric’s birthday.


It began with Malindi making this (#@)#%&@#% incredible) birthday cake for Eric. If you love pumpkin spice and cream cheese frosting (and YOU HAD BETTER), then do yourself a solid and make this cake.


There’s the finished product on the right (the icing was a wonderful collaboration between my mom and sister), and on the left is my mom’s homemade baklava (amazing as ever).


Malindi also made mint brownies, and I made these gluten free peanut butter cookies from Smitten Kitchen (which were so yummy!).


This year was the year I made peace with the fact that I really don’t have to make ten thousand kinds of cookies. Mom and Malindi bake stuff. People bring stuff (including my aunt Nan, who somehow mystically condensed what tasted like the flavor of a pound of chocolate into each single, incredible cookie that she brought).

Also, there was an extensive savory department!

Lotsa dips, including muhammarra and artichoke cheddar dip (made by me), labneh and taramosalata (lovingly bought at the store), and baked brie topped with fig jam and wrapped in puff pastry (made by my aunt Kathy, and SO AMAZING as always!)


Also literal pounds of cheese, various pickled things, some kind of crescent roll concoction dreamed up by Malindi, and deviled eggs made by me peeking out of the corner there.


Birds eye view! With the turkey and ham and rolls and even more yummy things on the table.


So I was more than happy to collapse in my jammy pants at the end of that rowdy day…

… but that was not the case for Malindi and Eric, who drove to Baltimore, had a fancy dinner, walked by the water in frigid temperatures, AND GOT THEMSELVES ENGAGED. Some of us knew it was coming… but Malindi did not, which was the goal 🙂 They seem real happy and cute and I’m sure there will be a wedding update on here before you know it.


Recent(ish) meals.

Further evidence that I am in a life-long love affair with carbs.

Weekend breakfast: Trader Joe’s pumpkin pancakes/ avocado omelet


Dinner for a couple nights: Trader Joe’s frozen gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce (didn’t care for it, likely won’t buy again) bulked up with cherry tomatoes and asparagus


Homemade chili: three kinds of beans (pinto, black, kidney), can of rotel, chipotle chili powder, mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, etc. Honestly, I made this as an excuse to pile cheese and sour cream on top of it (additional batches also involved avocado and hot sauce).


Green bean casserole: made a few weeks before Thanksgiving. Just cause. Made the lazy way (Trader Joe’s condensed mushroom soup, sauteed mushrooms, frozen green beans, Trader Joe’s crispy onions, a bit of parmesan). With a chicken sausage for protein.


Ribollita: I made super unsuccessful homemade bread (measuring the ingredients for bread with measuring cups is a crapshoot- this is why I’m stoked to’ve received a digital scale for Christmas). I reappropriated the bread into homemade soup, roughly following this New York Times recipe, but instead of putting crostini on top, I cut the bread into crouton shapes, tossed it with olive oil and toasted it, then tossed it into the soup.

Also shared this soup with my friends who had the new bebe in November.


Pizza: I still had another batch of unsuccessful bread dough to which I added a lottt of water (i.e. probably too much but oh well) and revamped into pizza dough. I topped it with some weird hippie-ish toppings (homemade barbecue sauce, roasted broccoli, chopped up baked tofu, random cheddar cheese I had lying around) and baked it as hot as my oven would go (slightly burning the bottom in the process but I didn’t totally mind that honestly).


Pot pie: After Thanksgiving, I had a spare frozen pie crust, so I tried to fashion a sort of lentil-root vegetable pot pie. The filling was a bit dry and one note (I used celery root, parsnip, carrots, I think sweet potato too?) but I mean it still had pie crust on it. I ate it happily, particularly with some cheese melted on top.


Broccoli pasta: after Thanksgiving, I also had some heavy cream in my fridge (rough life, I know). I also had some broccoli. This led me to this Smitten Kitchen recipe for spaghetti with broccoli cream pesto which was BOSS.


Pretty standard: one could hardly call this cooking but my default meal these days is avocado toast+ some kind of protein+ more vegetables if I’m being good.

Thus, below, baked tofu, avocado toast, and Trader Joe’s premade salad kit (this had dried cranberries n apricots and cheese and a champagne vinaigrette).


Another leftovers triumph: On New Year’s Day, I pulled the turkey carcass from Thanksgiving out of my freezer and made homemade stock. Then I thawed some turkey meat and some cooked rice from my freezer and put that in the stock. Then I whipped up some eggs with lemon juice, tempered them with hot broth, and threw them in too.

Thus, avgolemono soup. So great. You have to put lots n lots of black pepper on top.

Here, simply served with salad.


Finally, the most exciting thing I have cooked in awhile: SPAGHETTI BOLOGNESE! (Plus massaged kale salad with lots of lemon for a brightness and bitterness and acidity foil to all the richness)


For Christmas, my auntie Jeanie gave me the compilation of all of Cook’s Illustrated recipes for 2017. I LOVE reading Cooks Illustrated articles the same way I love reading short stories. They are the OGs of nerdy food science and I always learn things.

The compilation included their “weeknight bolognese” (<< so called because it was “quicker” and “easier” than traditional recipes). I’m dubious on the weeknight bit (it took an hour and a half, required a trip to Whole Foods for pancetta and Italian-style egg noodles, and trashed my entire kitchen).

That being said, IT WAS EXTRAORDINARY. And since you basically have to make a ridiculous amount of it (you use the pasta’s starch to thicken the sauce so you can’t make the whole batch of sauce and freeze part of it, which would honestly be my preference, but oh well) it’s a good thing that it was great. I ate it for like five happy days and shared it with some of my favorite people 😀

holiday amalgamation

A bunch of only vaguely related fun things I did around the holidays. Hint: mostly fun things= tasty eating.

A brunch. Sam, the most extroverted and accomplished woman I think realistically in the world, was down visiting from DC and had a mini grad school reunion. We went to Venable and I had the reliably wonderful herb-roasted eggs, subbing avocado for bacon on the side. Dreamy.


Weaver Street Market had a mini Thanksgiving showing off all of their holiday offerings (yes, this was a few weeks prior to Thanksgiving, yes, as usual the things I blog about are hilariously out of date)


I MEAN. Imagine a world where one could just drop $$$ for all local organic free range dreamy goodness cooked for you by someone else for Thanksgiving. Eh, maybe I would miss cooking though.


The smoked salmon/cucumber/goat cheese/caper toasties were one of my favorite things.


Then I did some baking of my own!

For some reason the whipper attachments to my hand mixer have disappeared (thus making it useless) so I used this fun whisk to hand whisk rawther a lot of egg whites.


Look how beautifully I separated out the yolks! I thought they looked so artistic!


The end product was tres leches cake for Kyle’s 30th birthday party! We did Asian-style karaoke in a private room. It was real silly.

The cake can be found here, at Smitten Kitchen, who gives me such reliably great dessert recipes. This was less tooth-breakingly sweet than some tres leches recipes and just… so so so good. Moist and rich and dreamy. I wish I had real vanilla bean but c’est la vie.


A reminder that I am 97 years old, so every weekend I go to my favorite coffee shop for coffee and a crossword. In this case, also a cheddar-herb scone. Simple pleasures, friends.


GAH lookit how bit my cousin’s baby is?! He’s round about 15 months in this picture but essentially believes he is an adult who needs to get into All The Things. Fearless, this one. Parenting him seems… lively.


Went to The Bazaar to do some holiday shopping. Me and my lady frenz split three flavors of these donuts SWOON SWOON SWOON. All the donuts are sweet potato based and there are a variety of toppings/glazes- we did cinnamon sugar, cider glaze, and lemon glaze. They taste like heaven.


Another day I was tired of my own thoughts so I went to hang out with my friend. This friend makes me (a committed introvert) seem like the life of the party- 90% of the time, he’s hanging out in his living room, with his cat, watching either The First 48 or the NFL.

I brought football snax. I zoned out. It was real nice.



So I work at a clinic one day a week and my organization’s medical director, who’s an attending physician at the clinic, was nice enough to invite me to their holiday party at his GOOOOOOOOORGEOUS historical Durham house. I MEAN:


This clinic goes ALL OUT for their holiday celebration. One attending (pictured below at leftat left) can play pretty much anything on guitar. One doctor (Dr. Low Carb, I call him- he’s a big of a obesity medicine celebrity, and is pictured below at right) can play literally anything on piano.

So we had the most lovely, rowdy, singalong. I managed to dredge up the harmonies I learned for various Christmas carols in middle school. One cute family- mom, dad, and teenaged children (! They didn’t even mind hanging out with their parents on a Friday night! They were so cute!) did super sweet performances. There were toy instruments for banging and clanging and jangling in the background.

It was just a DELIGHT.


Another day, another Christmas market. This one in Saxapahaw. The Haw River Ballroom looked like the inside of a snow globe and I loved it!


Another day, another Smitten Kitchen cake! My friend Myra is currently preggers and could not enjoy a birthday cocktail… so I made her a hazelnut brown butter cake!

More egg white whippage plus butter browning (THAT SMELL!) and grinding hazelnuts with flour and so on.






One of many reasons I love Smitten Kitchen so much is because when I make her recipes they actually look as beautiful as when she makes them!

Another day another sugar rush… I went to a friends’ Christmas open house and melted down some Swiss chocolate to make these:



And finally a few things in the savory treats department:

After I delivered Myra her birthday cake, she and her hus Alex and I went for dinner at Radius in Hillsborough. I got their gnocchi with sweet potatoes and kale and pesto cream topped with salmon. This was RICCCCCH so it easily became two meals.


And I did a movie night with the First Wives Club and we as usual went way overboard on the snax… I LOVE IT. I was sort of a good dietitian and brought carrots and hummus and some broccoli pasta (I’ll blog about that in a bit) and then there were additional nibbles and cheese and so on.


And of course there was an epic dessert selection, pictured below. My contribution is in the upper left hand corner. I made lemon curd with the egg yolks leftover from making the hazelnut cake. And sandwiched the lemon curd with perfect tiny sugar cookies. SO nice! Oh God also the lower right corner was my responsibility… apple slices with cookie butter. Oh dear.


So as we’ve already shared in this post my cousin’s baby is cute but also HE SHARES! Sweet little angel.