This Is It: Apple Pie

Apple pie recipe (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

We finally turned the heat on yesterday. There was snow and it was a struggle, since so far we’ve been doing well with slippers and puff vests. It’s not that we’re cheap, it’s just, well, masochism is so in this season.

But warmth is nice. From me, warmth elicits all my fuzzy tendencies, like doing other people’s dishes, talking for a long time on the telephone, and baking pie.

Cutting apples (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

So I spent the day making pie (and watching Netflix and sending emails and packing for vacation). After Thanksgiving, my mother sent me back to New York with a bag of apples grown in Adams County in South Central Pennsylvania. Our traditional Thanksgiving pie is always made from these apples, which are harvested in the fall and sold at orchard stands lining the hilly back roads. My apple pie recipe is really my mother’s, and what makes it so good is based largely on those fresh, Adams County apples. And a lot of brown sugar and butter. The pie is requested at most family gatherings, and for a long time, whenever she traveled back home, she flew with an apple pie in her carryon.

Butter and brown sugar crumble (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

This pie has truly traveled the world. After my study abroad semester in Australia, two friends and I went to New Zealand to farm. Our second night in Christchurch happened to be Thanksgiving and this was the first time any of us hadn’t been with our family for the holiday. So we found a grocery store and bought a rotisserie chicken, a few potatoes, a packet of powdered gravy, a bag of salad, biscuit mix, a bottle of red, and a few apples. Back at the hostel, as Emma and Dan boiled and mashed potatoes, prepared biscuits and gravy, I made an apple pie. We sat at a small table with our improvised feast and gave thanks. » Continue reading this post…

Dinner Stroll: Fettuccine with Chicken-Liver Sauce

Chinatown, New York (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Our apartment’s fire alarm is hyper-reactive, erupting into warning cries at just the intimation of heat. This means that when I cook, I spend almost as much time running back and forth between the two alarms with a long wooden stick and disengaging them with a well-aimed prod, as I do standing in front of the stove.

I do a lot of walking in New York in general, so the fire alarm situation is nothing out of the ordinary. The other night, I met a friend for dinner after work. We were meeting at 6:15 and I was done with work at 5 – so rather than wait around uptown, I walked the thirty or so blocks from SoHo to 6th and 20th. I like to walk casually but with purpose, separating myself from the throng on the city streets. Everyone is stressed in New York, even the tourists, who must somehow subconsciously feed off everyone else’s frantic energy. To set yourself apart from this and still be in it is an almost elevated feeling of peace, like every commercial where there’s that one guy standing there while the rest of the world blurs by like water.

Uptown, New York (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I like the introspection that comes along with walking – the mind’s mimesis of wandering feet.

And especially walking in New York, I have these moments where I thrill that I live here. It’s a very special moment, to know where you are going, to know that after you leave your bank on Broadway and 10th, you can wander generally South and left (I actually do all my directions this way; I’ve mastered North and South, but I find East and West a little elusive), and you can pick up a bottle of cheap wine at the Broadway Liquor Warehouse, check on a new milk frother at Sur la Table and finally end up at your favorite pasta shop on Grand and Mulberry for fresh egg fettuccine and next door, a slab of Sicilian black pepper cheese. » Continue reading this post…

I Prove Myself Wrong and Bake Delicious Cookies: Brutti Ma Buoni

Brutti ma buoni recipe (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I keep telling people I can’t bake. This, for the most part is true. My numerous attempts at banana bread are too dry or too soggy or too awkward. Regarding a dense and lumpy batch, a friend told me, “It tastes like vegan banana bread,” which I guess could be a compliment.  Or…

But today, while looking for recipes to use for my Thanksgiving dinner, I chanced upon this gem for brutti ma buoni. The name translates to “ugly but good” and these nubby little cookies are just that. They taste like something from my childhood, like afternoon walks in the fall and honeyed granola. And they’re easy enough to make that not even I can screw them up.

Tray of ugly cookies (Eat Me. Drink Me.) » Continue reading this post…

Even the Novelists Must Eat: Sunchokes in Cream & Greens with Cheese & Egg

Prepping (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I may have mentioned that I’m writing a novel. I thought I’d challenge myself and participate in the November national write a novel in a month thing. It’s painstaking. So far I have seventeen pages of what will undoubtedly be the next great American novel, and each paragraph is a tortuous crawl towards some enlightened end – that has as of yet not been revealed to me. I decided today that someone’s going to die, definitely. But maybe not until, like, page ninety. Which means I only have seventy more pages to fill with something that resembles plot. Even a goal of three pages a day is killing me. (And, do the math,  seventeen pages on November 9th equals clearly failing.)

When I write, I writhe. I sit in my desk chair with my sweatshirt hood pulled over my head and moan. I write a sentence, I delete it, I change the POV ten times, I do a series of gymnastic exercises in an effort to find a position in which I can write something I actually like. After every paragraph, I mumble, “Novels are haaaaaard,” and slump further in my chair before I can start another sentence.

I had to laugh today at the grocery store as I bought lunch for myself: two $1 frozen Celeste personal cheese pizza and a cherry Pepsi. I was still wearing my yoga pants, hoodie with the hood up, puff vest, and moccasins. I looked like a total dirty bum, and definitely not like the person who was writing what would (undoubtedly) be the next great American novel.

So I wrote and writhed and ate pizza and finished up seven (!) whole pages. When I was done, when I’d picked the person who was going to die and felt like there might be a story, I realized I was hungry. » Continue reading this post…

Those Onions Always Make Me Cry

Roasted potatoes and sauteed greens (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I had forgotten what real vegetables look like. I went to the Greenmarket in Union Square yesterday and walked past stalls where vendors, wrapped in balaclavas, parceled out apple slices and goat cheese on popsicle sticks, and every other stand sold hot cider. Walking through the Greenmarket is an exercise in maintaining your Zen, since everyone hustling in and out of stalls, vying for the biggest carrot. If you can keep breathing and let the crowd carry you instead of fighting through it, the market is wonderful.

I’ve gotten used to my Associated Supermarket on the corner and I’ve even started thinking, yeah, that’s some nice parsley. Maybe because compared to the bodegas where bunches of browning bananas and wilted bins of lettuce sit beside bags of chips and bouillon cubes collecting dust, Associated’s water-sprinkled produce glistens. Then I went to the Greenmarket and remembered what vegetables look like. And that they smell, even in brumal November. In the apple tent, giant lobes of jonagolds and pink ladys were musky perfume and there was a bunch of sage at one stall so fragrant I did a double-take just to close my eyes and smell. I found perfect red radishes, plump shallots and garden onions, goat cheese, greens, multi-hued fingerlings, sunchokes, tangy Kefir yogurt drink, and a spray of verdant flat-leaf parsley.

I carried the parsley in front of my face like a bouquet of flowers just to keep the fresh smell close.

Fresh parsley (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Cooking from the farmer’s market is like adding an extra layer of love to what you make, since someone has loved the rutabaga before it was a rutabaga. A farmer’s market fruit is loved in a way a supermarket fruit has never known. When you cook with loved food, there’s less work to do. Greens wilt themselves into your skillet, tomatoes only ask for a little salt, onions are ferocious and tender. » Continue reading this post…

Comfort Food and Pumpkin Things: Pasta with Tomato and Pumpkin

Pumpkin and tomato pasta (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I haven’t written about comfort food in a while. Although this is probably entirely untrue, since I was once accused of describing all foods as comfort foods, after which point I decided that food, for me, is comfort.

I wasn’t even going to make dinner tonight and just settle for the baguette with brie and a cappuccino that I snacked on a while ago while writing an article. But I got some bad news today, and bad news always makes me crave tomatoes. And, oh, the news is so tedious and repetitive (let’s just say it involves creepy crawlies…) that I don’t want to talk about it. But I do want to talk about this brilliant little tomato and pumpkin pasta.

We’ve been having a lot of fun with pumpkins here on Starr St. I bought a misshapen monstrosity at the grocery store the other night and scooped out all the flesh and Anette carved a very Matisse-esque design in the shell which lasted one whole candle-lit evening before the morning evinced a crumpled pumpkin looking like nothing so much as the old woman without teeth who sits on the stoop down the street. I made a pumpkin curry and pumpkin pie and roasted pumpkin seeds, and I still have enough pumpkin to last through the winter. One pumpkin is a lot of pumpkin.

Pumpkin monster (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

So tonight, I made a pasta sauce with pumpkin, whole peeled tomatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. Served over angel hair pasta and topped with chunks of black peppercorn-encrusted creamy parmesan cheese.

Things are looking up already.

Pumpkin pasta (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Pasta with Tomato and Pumpkin

1/2 package dried pasta
1 yellow onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 carrots, chopped
3/4 cup cooked fresh pumpkin
1/2 can whole peeled tomatoes
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
Salt & pepper, to taste
Grated parmesan

Set a large pot of salted water to boil. » Continue reading this post…

Where Manhattan Meets Dinner

Bread salad (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I can see Manhattan from my roof. There is the dazzling slope of the Chrysler Building, the geometric cascade of the Empire State, and further to the left, the spanned wires of the Williamsburg Bridge. I was going through a rough patch a while back, and my favorite place to sit was on the roof, staring over the rooftops of Brooklyn at the Manhattan skyline and thinking of all the other people who were struggling with me. Each light representing a life. I’d sit alone, cradling a plate of pasta or bread with jam, balancing a glass of wine on the rooftop, and be silent and breathe. There was one bad night, where I wanted nothing but stillness, that I made myself a bread salad to eat on the rooftop. I had some leftover, almost stale baguette, and there’s nothing I’d rather do with stale baguette than add cherry tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, garlic, olive oil, rice wine vinegar, salt, and pepper to it. I put in extra garlic. There are advantages to eating alone.

The roof is a good spot in times of peace, too. The skyline is stalwart whatever my case may be. There is the noise of the basketball games in the park, the ever present cacophony of sirens, planes, Latin music from the bodega on the corner. But underneath the calm of an unobstructed sky, the frenzy is at a comfortable remove. Tonight, I made a bread salad with French bread and plenty of garlic, even though I’m meeting people later. I took it up and watched the sun set.

Bread salad with olives (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

A composition (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

There’s a nook on the roof, a joint where the ledge covered in poorly spackled silver paint butts against the building’s edge. I sit here, my back against the wall, my feet propped up, gazing at the skyline as tacky and beautiful as a velvet painting. » Continue reading this post…

Another Reason to Love Bushwick or Surprise, the Post Office is Not so Bad

Pork bbq kebabs (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Besides the fact that the L train just wasn’t running this weekend (I’m sorry, New York City, what were you thinking?), I keep finding more reasons to love my new hood. These are the last warm days of the year, and now that the park has reopened post a sweeping up of the fallen trees and debris from the tornados, there is a comfortable amount of foot traffic strolling past my still open windows to remind me that I should go outside and eat ice cream, dammit, before the city is covered in an interminable blanket of snow, slush, misery, and fur-lined parkas.

I had the day off on Friday, and as any self-respecting masochistic New Yorker would do, I worked. Three loads of laundry, picking up mail from the old apartment and the shoes I’d had re-soled, scrubbing the bathroom, cleaning out the pantry, and gathering up the energy for a trip to the post office. The post office is unfortunate, like a theme park without any fun at the end of the lines. And in Bushwick, the post offices are especially bad. At my old Bushwick post office, I used to put aside an hour for a trip, because no matter how many people were in line – fifteen or five – the wait was one hour. Always. One hour.

So a trip to the post office requires reserves of zen-like patience and at least one and a half good books.

I gathered my packages. I gathered my books and my patience and set out to find my new post office. As I passed the Jefferson stop, where the train was spitting out commuters lucky enough to come home before 11:30 at night when the train would just. stop. running, I paused at the rich, charred smell of barbequing meat. » Continue reading this post…

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