“All By Myself” Remix: Food Edition (feat. hotdogs)

30 May


Dear Zoe,
So, here’s the thing: since Thursday I have been home by myself for what has been the start of a two week stint of solitude during which I ought to be packing up my house in preparation to move. So far, pitifully little packing has progressed leaving, as you might suppose, plenty of time for this sometimes food blogger to make trips to the grocery store or the farmer’s market (hello spring!) for prime ingredients to transmogrify into magnificent, single-portion meals. But yeah…no.
Rather, for the past four days, I have been taking time out from reading online news blogs and playing the same songs over and over on my guitar, to fix myself this lunch.
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I am no longer in denial about the inevitable transition to winter.

3 Oct

Dear Emma,

I love picturing you out at Mary and Steve’s farm, horse-sitting. Despite the raucous cat-dog-puppy fight that I overheard, it sounded so peaceful – a warm end-of-summer-sun shining down over the fields and horses, turning everything golden. I miss home.   Zoe

Being from Iowa, I like to talk about the weather. Honestly, I don’t think it’s as dull as it sounds, (Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C, I rest my case).  But the past month, in Washington, DC the weather has been DULL. Day after day of gray compounded by an unrelenting drizzle of cool rain, and no spark of sunshine as a quick break.  September had no wild and windy thunderstorms, no cold snap, or heat wave, just weird mix of humid warm air, cool rain, and gray, gray, gray.

Gray, Gray, Gray

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Breaking the Rules

27 Sep

Dear Zoe,

I recently revisited my childhood home, and spent a moment soaking in the memories still lingering in a room at the bottom of the creaky basement stairs.  It was the room that held all our families dearest treasures: shelves lined with jewel-toned jars of tomatoes, peaches, applesauce, pickles, and jams.  My mother laughs to think that what to her was a matter of making ends meet could now be one of my favorite hobbies.  Even just thinking back to last summer–you and I up to our elbows in an ice-bath full of cucumber slices–fills me with joy.  Here’s to the yearly ritual of putting up treasures!


When people find out I’m into home canning, they often look at me with awe: “Wow!  I wish I could do that…”  And then I say “Uh, duh–you can!”  I am not a woman of perfection.  So frankly, I’m irritated by the bureaucratic institution of home canning perpetuated by the USDA.  They produce publications titled “So Easy to Preserve”, and then fill it with scary don’ts.  DON’T REUSE YOUR LIDS OR YOU AND EVERYONE YOU LOVE WILL CONTRACT BOTULISM!!!!! Continue reading

The Feng Shui of Baking a Cake

23 Aug

Dear Zoe,

You remember that look you gave me over skype the other day, when I told you I was learning about feng shui?  Well, get over yourself.  And just to annoy you further, here is a post about a cake I made, analyzed using feng shui principles.

xoxo, The Dark Turtle (Emma)

Ok, this post isn’t really about feng shui.  But it is about the color red, and I will mention that I mad this cake in the part of my kitchen that represents fame & reputation, which is associated with this very color.  I’d like to think that making this cake was a chi cure for my aspirations as of late, but that has yet to be proven successful.

Seeing red.

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Super Summer Salads

3 Aug

Dear Zoe,

My week with you in D.C. was heavenly for so many reasons.  But one of them was the meal we shopped for and prepared so lovingly for your sister’s birthday.  I should’ve known that when Lucy said her meal of choice for her special birthday dinner was “a nice salad”, that you had some tricks up your sleeve to make it something wonderful.  Your approach to salad-making is now my official summer meal fallback plan!


July is my favorite summer month: the Iowa roadsides are a-bloom with mullein and chicory–and the farmers’ market is overflowing with peak variety: cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, melons, new potatoes, green beans, sweet corn…the list goes on and on.  I love this explosion of nature’s colorful abundance!

Assembling the team

I often eat dinners of giant salads made of whatever is left in my fridge after a trip to the market.  But there is a certain elegance to the following approach to salad-making that can elevate a simple salad to a smorgasbord of deliciousness. There is something about this combination of cooked and raw vegetables served simply that creates the perfect opportunity to savour them each for their seasonal seductiveness: Continue reading

Just Add Wine Cocktail – Yields One Chichi Summer Outdoor Experience

20 Jul

Dear Jess,
Thank you and Shannon so so much for coming all the way down to Canada (down, technically, right? when you’re coming
from Minnesota to South-Western Ontario…) in order to celebrate the 4th with us!  Your  patriotic cynicism and Shannon’s grill-mastery made the evening.
After this excellent string of BBQ’s, which you anticipated in April with your Portobello Mushroom grillers, I am starting to feel, well, thirsty.  And while Coors Light and Molson Canadian may have been appropriate for an All-American, er, Canadian cook-out, our subsequent ‘cues have lacked a certain classy, refreshing, thirst-quenching element.
Thus, I dedicate this post to summer, to sparklers, and to you, dear sister, who always bring the culinary class!
Love, Bec

happy plants from the Spring enterprise

Earlier this summer Nina requested permission from our landlord to plant a garden in our back yard.  Three days of dedicated digging and fertilizing and hoeing (bow chicka bow…oh nevermind) and deliberating about how much space tomato plants really need and how deep the holes need be (no bow-chicka intended) we finally had 1/2 of the plants we’d bought in the ground.  The other half has remained in their seedling pots on our front porch until today which, for anyone keeping track, is JULY! Continue reading

Melons in the Midwest

18 Jul


Dear Emma,

Honeydew melons remind me of you and of childhood. They flash me back to Stringtown Grocery with its gas-lamps and Amish ladies selling peaches, apricots, Muscatine melons and honeydews in bulk. Then rattling home in the “way-back” over country gravel roads, pretending that we were driving the car backwards while dust filtered in through the cracks in the van.

Our friendship, which spans the whole of both of our lives, is so engrained in my own history that I can’t help but be reminded of it all the time. Especially while standing at the grocery mulling over melons.

xoxo, Zoe

I worked briefly at a French restaurant in Milwaukee. During my two-month tenure of 10 shifts a week, I would wake up every morning, fling myself out of bed and immediately fall over. My feet were tingling stumps, an odd combination of numb, swollen and on pins and needles.

The evening kitchen was manned by a chef, a true Frenchman with a growling accent, a cloudy disposition, and an allergy to any politesse. The female servers were salopes and his male kitchen help had an equally endearing nickname (dumbfu*k). Though I made less money, I preferred working lunch shifts because the Frenchman was at home in bed.

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