Diary of a Wimpy Kid trailer!

Okay, I know everyone and their brother has already seen this, but I have to post it anyway. I'm so friggin EXCITED! I give you the Diary of a Wimpy Kid trailer:

The countdown starts!

Cooking with kids

Those of you who cook with kids must check out Kitchn's post: On Cooking with Kids.

It perfectly captures my own feelings about cooking with Bug and children in general. Why, because it's children, must so many kids' cookbooks be baking centric?! Kitchn's post has a great list of recommended cookbooks that don't dumb down food but are still kid-friendly.

Eat, drink, and encourage our kids to do the same!

Porridge (comme les francais)

Like most people, I have been struggling to...um...zip up my pants post-holidays. I indulged heavily this year - and it was heavenly - but lately I've realized I need to recommit myself to eating consciously, with my head.

So I am re-reading French Women Don't Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure by Mireille Guiliano. To say that I am a devotee of this book is a vast understatement. In conversations with the Soul Twin, we just refer to it as "The Book", as in "I overindulged last weekend but I'm reading The Book again and getting back on track." What I appreciate about The Book is that it's not a diet book; it's a lifestyle book (no derisive snorting, please). I read it for the first time five years ago, and the timing was so right: I connected with its message to eat (and live) with your five senses in tact, to not settle for bland, flavorless food (or life) that gives you very little return for the effort. It's really not the point but, for those of you concerned with numbers, The Book inspired me to drop 20 pounds and keep it off for 5 years.

But moving on, I'm re-reading French Women. Yesterday morning, I adapted Guiliano's recipe: "Grandma Louise's Oatmeal with Grated Apple." I didn't have any lemons so I just left that out (the recipe only requires a 1/2 tsp so I didn't miss it much). And I didn't have oatmeal so I used steel-cut oats, making it according to the instructions on the can. It was so satisfying and such a powerhouse way to start my day. How can you not conquer the world after eating this?

And thanks to the apple's natural sweetness and sugar, there really is no need for added sugar.

Steel-Cut Oats with Grated Apple
(adapted from Mireille Guiliano's recipe)

4 c. water
1 c. steel-cut oats
Pinch of salt
1 medium apple, coarsely grated
1/2 c. milk (or however much gives you the consistency you want)
1 tsp. butter
Nutmeg, to taste
Cinnamon, to taste

Bring water to a rapid boil. Pour in oats and salt; stir. When mixture begins to thicken, turn stove to medium-low and simmer, uncovered for 30 minutes.

Add grated apple, milk, butter, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Heat about two more minutes. Remove from stove and serve. Serves 3.

If you are the type of person who likes some more protein in the morning, eat a piece of cheese on the side. I have also been known to add chopped walnuts to this recipe. And - here's a major indulgence, I have also sprinkled crumbled bacon over the top too.

With treats like this in the morning, getting back to fighting weight is a pleasure.

Eat, drink, and derive pleasure from both


Chicken Noodle Soup

I know I've been posting a lot of food lately and thanks to all my bookish friends for being patient. I've actually written three posts in the last two weeks about work and books and life...but I couldn't quite write them in a way that was...uncontroversial. So until I figure it out, I'll talk about food.

Last weekend was glutinous. On Saturday night, thanks to Eatery Row: Forest Hills, we discovered the local joy which is Manor Oktoberfest. I ate every bite of an enormous bratwurst and drank a whole pint of my new favorite lager, Kostritzer. Sunday morning started with poached eggs and potatoes fried in duck fat for breakfast. Sunday night ended with Boeuf Bourguignon. It was worth it but, by Sunday night, we were drinking lemon ginger tea to help our digestion and popping Tums.

So this was a cleansing week. On Tuesday night, I made Chicken Noodle Soup from my new cookbook, Simple Chinese Cooking by Kylie Kwong (a Christmas present from MC [mother-in-law] and her husband). I had to make some minor alterations but here is how it turned out:

Chicken Noodle Soup
(a variation on the recipe from Kylie Kwong)

1/2 bunch bok choy
9 oz. package fresh linguine noodles (Buitoni brand is available in most grocery stores)
6 cups low-sodium chicken stock
2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp ginger julienne
2 tsp oyster sauce
1 tsp white sugar
13 oz free-range chicken breasts, cut widthways into 1/2 in. slices
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 scallion julienne
1 red jalapeno, finely sliced on the diagonal

Remove cores from bok choy, cut crossways into 4, then wash thoroughly and drain.

Place noodles in a colander and rinse well under hot running water, then drain.

Bring stock to a boil in a large heavy-based pot. Add soy sauce, ginger, oyster sauce, and sugar and stir to combine. Reduce heat, add drained noodles and simmer gently for 30 seconds. Add bok choy and chicken (yes, raw) and simmer for a further 2 minutes or until chicken is just cooked through (took about 5 minutes with my soup). Stir in sesame oil, then remove pot from stove.

Ladle soup into large bowls. Place scallion and pepper in a separate bowl alongside the soup or do as I did and just sprinkle over soup as garnish.

This also turned out to be a super kid-friendly meal since I just gave Bug the broth and noodles. You could also make it vegetarian by omitting the chicken and use vegetable broth instead. The soup had a bright flavor and it was so cleansing and fresh after all the heavy winter food I had been eating!

Eat, drink, and don't prescribe to the idea that winter only means heavy foods!


Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon

Can you believe this is the very first Julia Child recipe I've made? It's fitting that it should be the first, don't you think? Though, I have to confess, that I felt like such a cliche when I said to the guy at Chelsea Wine Vault, "I need two bottles of Chianti to make Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon." Yeah, yeah, isn't everyone making it?

Off the bat, I had a problem: I don't own Mastering the Art of French Cooking. But that is what the interwebs are for. So this is the recipe I used. But there just seemed to be details missing. First, "sliced" carrots and onions. Thin? Fat? What? And what about the "mashed" garlic? Mashed, as in slammed under my chef's knife? Or mashed, as in rubbed with salt and made into a paste? I put in 4 cloves (only 2? Puh-leeze) and just smashed 'em under my knife. And "small white onions"? Like pearl onions? Or just small white onions - I found some non-pearl ones at Union Square that were about the size of large shallots. Overall, I was not happy about the lack of detail. Those of you who own MtAoFC, can you confirm that Julia includes more detail? Wasn't she known for detail? Ack!

That said, it all turned out okay. While the recipe took forever, it still wasn't incredibly difficult. Don't confuse lots of steps with being very difficult. Because this was nearly a one-pot meal, it didn't take a lot of coordination and, while it sat in the oven for 3 hours, I played Guitar Hero and watched the Jets lose to the Colts. Does that sound like a woman who slaved away in the kitchen?

Behold, the photos:

Some notes:
  • I got my bacon at Dickson's Farmstand Meats and they didn't have any rind left so I made it without. I didn't miss it.
  • As I mentioned, I used 4 cloves of garlic instead of 2. Perfect.
  • The recipe just said "fresh mushrooms" - I used cremini.
  • I used grass-fed beef which doesn't brown nearly as well as corn-fed or -finished. This recipe says to sear over medium heat - I had to use high heat to get any color. Even then, I got very little. Be careful - if you leave the grass-fed on too long it'll get tough!
  • I can't emphasize this enough: taste for seasoning! Before you put it on the table, make sure it doesn't need more salt and pepper!
  • I didn't put this over rice, noodles, or anything else. Not my style. I served it as a straight-up stew with some sliced baguette on the side to soak up the juices.
It was worth every minute. It tasted like earth and herbs and winter and mud. In the best way possible.

But that doesn't mean Julia is going to get me to try those nasty aspics.

Eat, drink, and hurry up before spring gets here!


Recipe: Savory Waffled French Toast

When I saw this recipe for Savory Waffled French Toast stuffed with bacon and Brie over at Elly Says Opa, I knew I had to try it. Despite appearances, this is exactly the sort of unfussy, kid-friendly, easy meal I favor on weeknights.

Here is Elly's recipe, verbatim:

4 thick slices of bacon, cut into a few pieces each
4 slices day-old sourdough bread
4ish slices of brie
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk or half and half
2 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
leaves from 2 sprigs of thyme
freshly ground pepper

Preheat your waffle iron or griddle. Cook and drain the bacon and for extra deliciousness/fattiness, reserve a little bit of the fat to brush onto the waffle iron.

Make two sandwiches with the sourdough bread, using the bacon and the brie. In a baking dish, whisk together the eggs, milk, parmesan, thyme and pepper. Place the sandwiches into the dish and let them soak for a minute or two. Flip and let them soak another couple minutes.

Grease the waffle iron or griddle with a little oil, butter, or bacon grease. Place the sandwiches on the iron, close, and cook until golden brown (or, if using a griddle, just cook for a couple minutes per side, or until golden).

For the record, I used bacon grease for my waffle iron. I debated putting mustard on the sandwiches and went along with Adam who declared he didn't like bacon and mustard together. But I thought it a tad bland without it - next time I'll try some honey mustard.

I just cut up an apple for Bug's plate, and I made a walnut salad for me and Adam. I take salad greens (in this case, arugula) and sprinkle with walnuts. For the dressing, I use walnut oil, white wine vinegar, a dash of sherry vinegar, about a teaspoon of mustard, salt, and pepper. Super simple, super flavorful.

A buttery Chardonnay was the perfect accompaniment. Adam had some beer he liked with it, but it doesn't matter - my wine was waaaay better.

Eat, drink, and simplify.


ALA Midwinter highlights

It can be officially declared that I don't think I'll ever have time to blog at a conference, and I probably won't have time to tweet either. It's just too crazy. So I hope to make this a feature instead: highlights from the conference. I won't cover everything that happened, of course, but I'll share with you the best bits for me. As a reminder, I did this for NCTE as well.

So here are the particularly special things that happened at Midwinter:
  • Meeting so many special authors. Linda Urban wandered into our booth and, being a huge fan of Crooked Kind of Perfect, I was able to gush and slobber all over her. I'm sure it wasn't as good for her as it was for me, but I loved seeing her. Loree Griffin Burns, author of Tracking Trash, was with Linda and they were both incredibly sweet and gracious, given that they were dealing with a crazy fangirl. I also met Stuart Murphy rather spontaneously and, as a librarian, I always found his books invaluable because they filled such a particular niche. Holly Cupala also stopped by the booth, as Harper is publishing her upcoming book Tell Me a Secret. She is a sweetheart with a smile that'll stop traffic (who also turned me on to Sock Dreams).
  • Eating at Hamersley's Bistro. They had a crispy duck confit that stopped me dead. Perfect in every way. Kayleigh had the roast chicken and believe me when I assure you that it was in no way ordinary or plain. In fact, I never knew chicken could melt in your mouth. And I mean that in the best way possible.
  • Eating (always food, right?) at Taberna de Haro. The food was pretty good, but the dessert...well, I had an intimate experience with the dessert. The server put the plate on the table with three small truffles and some small pieces of grilled bread. He sprinkled a generous amount of sea salt on the truffles, followed by a good shake of cocoa powder, and then poured olive oil over all of it. The olive oil and chocolate became this decadently goopy syrup and we used the bread to mop it up. The truffles were super dark and, combined with the salt, were small pieces of ecstasy. It was a once-in-a-lifetime dessert.
  • The ALA Youth Media Awards. Even though it's a bit different now that I'm working for a publisher (I have a team to root for now!), I still experienced the same thrill and excitement as before. And I loved the Printz announcement - the room was in an uproar as there was one surprise after another. They shook it up big time, and thank goodness for that. It was a hoot.
  • The ALA Tweet-Up. It was insane, just insane, but it was also a great chance for me to hook up with old friends (Liz, Heather, and Jen) and meet some new ones (Laura and Melissa Rabey).
  • The Seaport Hotel. Need a place to stay in Boston that, frankly, is not terribly near convenient stuff? Stay here. The decor in the room wasn't anything spectacular, but the staff was super nice and there were all kinds of cute amenities: terrycloth robes, a "pillow library", an umbrella in the closet, and a black washcloth labeled "makeup" on the toiletries shelf. And the quality of the room service food was very good. And the "tip is already included" policy was awfully nice as well.
  • I got a kick out of this: Saturday's top tweets as chosen by Library Journal. And here are Sunday's as well.

I have no complaints about this conference at all, though I do have to ask what the heck is up with Bostonian cabbies - they're infinitely more shady than the NYC variety. Wow.

Eat, drink, and finally get some sleep.


2010 ALA Midwinter Conference

Patty, my boss, warned me that the Midwinter conference would come screaming around the corner after NCTE, and she wasn't lyin'. My second conference since joining Harper is coming up this week, and I'm fired up. For one thing, ALA folks are my peeps, my friends. Second, having one conference under my belt, I have a better idea of what to expect when I get to the convention center (clue: endless boxes...go armed with a box cutter).

Here are some more reasons I'm excited to get up to Boston:
  • Three words: Megan. Whalen. Turner. As you may know, her next book, Conspiracy of Kings, is coming out this year (Apr 2010). While we're not having her sign in our booth, she will be doing a signing at Harvard Bookstore on Saturday, January 16th at 12:00 pm. See more details at Megan's website.

  • Foodie field trip! I'm going to score some sticky buns from Flour Bakery with Kayleigh (The Roaring 20s) on Friday morning!

  • The fab ladies of the HarperCollins Children's school & library marketing team (that would be Patty, Emilie, and yours truly) will be presenting titles for our upcoming 2010 spring and summer season. There will be food, there will be laughs, there will be FREE BOOKS. See our website for the full details. All are welcome, no need to RSVP. Be there or be square.

  • I love the Youth Media Awards. Love them. The anticipation, the surprises, the cheering, the crowds. I'll be there in person, but you can watch the live webcast here.

  • In addition to Flour Bakery, I'll also be eating at Hamersley's Bistro and, tentatively, Taberna de Haro. Anyone else have any must-eat recommendations in the downtown Boston area?

Again, if you're in the Boston area and/or will be at the conference, make sure to stop by and say hi (just like Monica did at NCTE)! I'll be in booth #1404, waiting for you with a smile and free books!

Eat, drink, and don't be shy!


Things I Don't Want to Eat

I just don't know about this: Oysters with Cocoa Nibs and Apple.

Photo & recipe courtesy of Peace Love & Chocolate. Link thanks to the kitchen.

Gorgeous Slow-Cooked Duck Pasta

That recipe name is Jamie Oliver's - not mine. Only someone like Jamie can call his own dish "gorgeous". Especially with that "gorgeous" British accent.

I won't lie: this dish wasn't a slam dunk. It was "easy" in that it didn't take great culinary skill, but it was wicked time-consuming. I was in the kitchen for no less than three hours, only taking about a 5-minute break to have a glass of Prosecco in the white chairs*. That said, it was worth every single millisecond. This meal was winter personified: eating it made you feel warm, safe, comforted. I knew for certain that I was packing on the fat to keep me warm in winter. Indeed, that's what my zipper told me this morning too. And, again, it was worth it.

Because I'm lazy as all get-out, I'll link to the recipe as posted at Jerry's Thoughts, Musings, and Rants!

Here is how it turned out:
Should you decide to give it a go, here are some notes I made:
  • Jamie calls for sultanas and pine nuts. Don't bother. The flavors without them are still intense, rich, and complicated. Adding the sultanas (raisins) and pine nuts would muddy it up. There is a lot to be said for simplicity and subtlety, Jamie.
  • I used a half-bottle of Pio Cesare Barbera d'Alba for the recipe and drank the other half with the meal. Heaven. But should you want to pair beer with it, Adam's Brooklyn Brewery Brown Ale gave my Barbera a run for its money. Just make sure your ale isn't too cold - just above room temp is ideal.
  • Jamie being Jamie, he didn't give a size for the duck. The recipe just says "a duck". For god's sake. For the record, I had a 5-pounder.
  • My duck skin didn't get "thin and crisp" like Jamie said. So I took off the skin first and set it aside. I took all the duck off the bone and tossed it in the sauce, per the recipe. While the sauce was "blip"-ing for another half-hour, I put the skin on a cookie sheet and kept it in a 350-degree oven for that half-hour. Blissfully crispy skin was the result. I salted and peppered it and set it on the table (you can see it in the photos). It was good both as a snack with dinner and a topping to the pasta.
  • There are lots of variations on this pasta. I probably won't use pasta next time. I'll put it over mashed potatoes, as Jamie suggests. Or better yet, I'm going to eat it as a stew with no pasta or starches. Maybe some crusty bread for soaking up the juices at the bottom of the bowl. Aaaaahhhhh...
  • This was a stupid amount of pasta for only 2 people. There's enough for Adam and I to eat the whole week. Next time, I'll halve it. With the other half of the duck meat, I'll make something different later in the week, like Ina Garten's Warm Duck Salad. On the upside, here is what I'm eating for lunch on a Sunday, at this moment as I type this:
Oh, and in further I-Don't-Hate-Winter news, here is what we had for a nightcap:

Eat, drink, and embrace the cold.

* Many of my regular readers have been to my apartment before...thus they know the white chairs. If you don't know the white chairs, then you need to invite yourself over!

Note: I know I gave lots of notes. This is the rub with Jamie: he leaves lots of room for interpretation...but for those who need/want lots of guidance, he is not your guy. So consider yourself warned.


500th Post

Yep, this is the one. My 500th. Appropriate for a new year and a new decade, no?

There are no words, truly, to express how my life has morphed and grown and changed in the 2 1/2 years since I started this blog. I want to thank Betsy (aka Fuse #8) for harassing me endlessly about blogging - I probably wouldn't have done it without her nudging. I also want to especially thank all of you who take a moment to comment on my posts - it's always wonderful to meet you and hear from you, and it's always a relief when one more person reminds me I'm not alone in the 'sphere.

Here are some highlights from the last 499 posts:

Favorite posts -
Favorite photos:
Favorite "Eat, drink, and... -
  • Eat, drink, and read - all at the same time
  • Eat, drink, and go out and smash it. Like, oh my god.
  • Eat, drink, and get by with a little help from my friends.
  • Eat, drink, and persevere in the kitchen!
  • Eat, drink, and if you don't succeed, try again.
  • Eat, drink, and always have bread available to soak up meat juices!
  • Eat, drink, and use declarative sentences.
I apologize for not being more eloquent but I'm feeling truly sentimental and nostalgic by this anniversary - I'm at a loss for words. My cup runneth over. It's been a joyous and challenging and fulfilling journey and I look forward to 500 more posts!

Eat, drink, and...

I would love it if you would fill in the blank! Post a comment about what you eat, drink, and...!

I Love My New Toy!

Goodbye craptastic photos of previous years! 2010 has already brought many new joys, most specifically my new toy, a Canon Rebel camera!

And on the same day I bought the camera, I received a package from Lisa who was the one recommended the Rebel. In it, she sent two books: Shutterbabe and Photography. She even marked the pages that would be particularly helpful to me: food photography, light, depth. It was a double blessing: a camera and a wonderful, thoughtful friend!

So here is a mixed bag of the fun I've had so far:

Eat, drink, capture every moment! Happy New Year!