Unlike certain others of my friends, I've never been a huge fan of Thanksgiving. It's fine, but it's no Halloween. It hasn't been a family holiday since I left for college, at least in the traditional sense. Greensboro was a long way from Florida, and it never made sense to travel such a long way for such a short time. (I suppose I probably inherited my lackadaisical attitude about Thanksgiving; no one in my immediate family has seemed enthusiastic about the whole ordeal.) I've had the big dinner with the family of friends - driving down to Atlanta with my freshman year roommate, or having a friend's family take me to a cafeteria in Greensboro. I've spent Thanksgiving alone in a dorm room.

Two years ago, I had my first "Friends-giving" (also called Friend-Thanksgiving) with Daniel, Jo, and some of our GSO friends who were similarly in town for the holiday. This was before cooking sunk its claws in me, so my contribution was wine-bringing and bread-crumb-making. The three of us wound up in the same city after Jo & I graduated, so we brought the newly minted tradition of Friend-Thanksgiving with us. This really just meant that we all had two Thanksgivings in three different places, between the five of us that participated.

And this year, for the third year in a row, we will have Friend-Thanksgiving. And for the first time, I am responsible for something other than wine! That's right, this year I will be making my pumpkin cheesecake again. Which is why there's no recipe here today. But don't you worry, I have Other Holiday Baking that I am doing, which is kind of hush-hush right now, so there will be all sorts of goodness in the coming weeks. I'm excited.

(I realize I don't actually talk about gratitude in this post, but suffice it to say I am so grateful for these people who have welcomed me into their families for Thanksgiving, and who have joined with me to form our own little families, and also - of course - for my own family, even if I haven't shared Thanksgiving with them in a while.)


perfect as a Sunday can get

Sundays, I think I've mentioned before, are usually one of my least favorite days. Sundays are days full of goodbyes and gearing up for the long haul of the workweek. This past Sunday, though, was pretty much as perfect as a Sunday can get - four of us went for the best pizza in the city, then walked it off at the Zoo, and three of us continued to play a whole bunch of Mario Kart and eat a delicious dinner (which is not what I'm going to talk about, sorry, I was too busy playing Mario Kart).

Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures from the day, though not for lack of cameras. We averaged a camera per person, with 2 SLRs, a baby Holga, and a digital. Three of those were mine; yes, yes, I know, I am some kind of monstrous fiend. My goal was to use up my second (!) roll of black and white film that came with my N80, and so I never really thought to pull out my digital camera.

It's funny, shooting with film again after so long with the instant gratification of digital and Polaroid has made me think about things totally differently. I've been forced to consider light and how that will effect the outcome of the photos, about ISO and aperture and other things that I am really still just learning about. It has also forced me to be patient - every roll of film I've shot so far has needed to be sent to the labs, which they say takes two weeks but is really more like three, in my experience. So I wait.

And in the meantime, I bake.

Bread, mostly, this weekend. I attempted a pumpkin ale beer bread, which smelled fantastic but was not exactly what one might call delicious. I'm not sure if it was the recipe (which seemed fairly complicated) or me, but either way, I ended up with most of a loaf of bread in the trash. C'est le pain. Luckily, I had a back-up plan.

Perfect Sunday Rolls

These really deserve a better name than that, but what can I say? I'm not great at naming food. Anyway, these are fantastic. I kind of couldn't stop eating them. I imagine they'd be good with pretty much any kind of dinner, though they, uh, also make a pretty good breakfast (with some Nutella!).

1/4 cup warm water

1 cup hot water
1 package (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

Combine 1/4 cup warm water and yeast in a small bowl for about 5 minutes, or until dissolved.

In a large bowl, mix the butter, sugar, and salt. I find it's easiest if the butter is room temperature or softer, especially for this next part. Pour 1 cup hot water over the butter mixture and stir until dissolved. Let cool a little (by the time you're done stirring, honestly, it should be cool enough) and stir in the yeast.

Add in the egg, beating until fully mixed, then pour in the flour until a dough starts to form. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with tin foil, and set in the refridgerator for 2 to 12 hours. (I left mine in there for about 5 hours.)

Punch down the dough and divide into as many rolls as you'll want. Shape into rounds and place onto baking pan to let rise for 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Bake for about 18 minutes. Move to a rack to cool.


winter is coming

And so are all the winter illnesses.

Oh, dear reader, I am fighting (what I figure is) the common cold. I don't know about you, but when I start to get sick, all I want is to be taken care of. Since I've moved away from home, I am the one who has had to take care of me. This has taken a lot of different forms in the past: early in my college career it was drinking absurd amounts of Juicy Juice (100% vitamin C, plus childhood nostalgia) until I moved on to the Odwalla juice that was more readily available on campus, then in Italy it was gallons of Earl Grey and blood oranges (again with the vitamin C, you'll notice a trend).

So when I woke up on Sunday with the sniffles, I knew what had to be done. I got dressed and went out into the gloriously-near-70° weather, trucking myself to the grocery store. Unfortunately, my beloved blood oranges are not as easily found here as they were in Italy, but my 5-lb. box of clementines works just fine. Better, in fact, since I am rarely in the mood for a full-sized orange.

I also got the only kind of soup I really genuinely like and would buy for myself (I know, this might make me some kind of monster), namely, creamy tomato & basil. This might be because it is a nearly perfect vehicle for animal-shaped cheese crackers. I'm pretty sure these are key to feeling better, actually, because treating yourself like a little kid while you're sick seems like a pretty good way to go. Plus, they are delicious.

And so, in lieu of a recipe today, I give you my not-so-secret cough remedy. I don't remember where I heard about this, only that one night when I was coughing so hard I could barely lie down, let alone go to sleep, it was the only thing that helped. And that is: drinking a cup of hot water. Just heat up some water like you're going to make tea, except instead of steeping tea, drink it. It works wonders, I swear it.



a good feeling

It was granola.

That was when I really knew I was in deep. I mean, what kind of a weirdo hippie makes her own breakfast cereal? This kind, obviously. More than that, it was the first cooking project that seemed maybe beyond my ken. Sure - I had looked at recipes and it seemed simple enough, but still. Granola? That didn't seem like something someone (like me) should just be able to make, willy-nilly.

I was wrong, of course.

And that's what I'm learning: with enough patience, nothing is necessarily out of my ability range. Don't get me wrong, I am by no means claiming to be good at everything. After all, remember this? I'm still just starting out at this cooking thing, slowly learning to experiment in the kitchen. It's a good feeling.

Unfortunately, I haven't been in the kitchen much lately. I've been swamped at work so when I get home I'm either too tired to cook or I've gone to hang out with friends. And, still being swamped, don't have much time to write this very blog post! But don't you worry, dear reader, I've still got granola for you.


3 cups rolled outs
1/2 cup raw almonds, chopped
2 tbsp sugar
6 tbsp mild honey
2 tbsp vegetable oil (I use canola)
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate, chopped
pinch of salt
dash (or two) of cinnamon

Preheat oven to 300°F.

Combine oats, almonds, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.

Warm the honey and oil together, whisking gently until the honey is loose. Pour over the dry ingredients and stir well.

Spread the mixture over a cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Stir carefully and put back in for another 10 minutes. When done, remove and stir again. Let cool.

Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the chocolate. Store in an airtight container.