There’s a Bow on This Blog Post – by Hetal

Saved the best guest post for last! BTW – who knew that these guest bloggers would write about me?? Had I known earlier, this would be a regular thing. Seriously. Anyway – here’s my little, bitty sister’s post…my basic take-away from this was that I taught her everything she knows….so…..anyway….enjoy!

I spent some time this past weekend thinking about what to get Neha for her birthday.

But “itty bitty sister,” you may be thinking, Neha’s birthday was last week. I know, okay? Sheesh. We’re all doing the best we can out here.

Anyway, my presents to her have varied in years in form and function. Some years I really knock it out of the park–I get texts from her on a later date about how much she loves the thing I got her. Some years I get her a card sometime in June. I wonder if she notices how inconsistent I am (that’s a lie–I know she does).

Although it may seem to her that I simply forgot to get her anything, the years I showed up with nothing really meant that I spent painstaking hours thinking about what to get her, got angry, and finally gave up. Is there a way to bottle up that trauma and put a bow on it? Because that shit should count for something.

Unlike many of the people I buy books for, Neha actually likes to read, so when I heard an interview with an Indian American cookbook author who had a new book coming out, I tucked it away. Then, over the weekend, a food blogger I know she also follows on Instagram posted about the book. She raved over it, featured several pages and recipes, and I thought, damn it. Because even though I didn’t ask her, I know Neha saw it. And tucked it away. I know that cookbook is being Amazon Primed to her house as we speak, and that there is a 60% chance that I’ll be unwrapping it for my birthday this month.

Because that’s the thing. If you’ve ever met me, you’ve probably thought about how different I am from Neha. And you’re right in a lot of ways. We’re over a decade apart in age, chose very different career paths, and kinda different life paths. Neha left for New York City when I was six, and really didn’t look back. I don’t blame her. In fact, as someone who spends her days with countless 18-22 year olds, I’m impressed at her bravery and independence at that age. You’ve probably heard some of her wacky stories from college. I’ve heard them all at least twice. And the truth is, I could never have done half those things.

She also knows way more than I do about the important things in life: makeup, wine, and reality tv.

But in other ways, we’re weirdly similar. Same sarcastic humor. Same love for food. Once we showed up with the same-ish housewarming gift for our cousin Sweta and her hubby Wendell. For a while we had the exact same iPhone case–bought separately. I know what Neha is thinking right now: she’s thinking that these ways we’re similar–that’s me taking after her. I’ve wondered about that myself over the years, though I’d never admit it to her face. Has she really had that much of an influence on me? Maybe, maybe not. But if saying so gets me out of having to think about her birthday present anymore, well, pass the bow, please.

Pardon the interruption…

But had to share this. I love my husband. I’ve loved him on and off for 23 years of marriage and 27 years together. He’s a creature of habit. Once he likes something he sticks with it.

Can you guess what he likes currently?

Rao’s, we have a problem.

I think I’ve told you all before that growing up we only had Ragu Traditional. I had Saturday morning spaghetti while watching cartoons – The Smurf’s usually. Why breakfast? I dunno. My Indian mother didn’t know too much about pasta hours I guess.

But this is where we are now. Rao’s for the whole town. You want to try another type of sauce? Too bad. This is what you’re having at our house.

Also – I didn’t line them up like little soldiers for this photo. This is how I found the cabinet.

Send help, or maybe a nice pesto we can have for a change.

Greek dump dip

  1. It doesn’t need refrigeration
  2. You can make the topping the night before or 5 min before
  3. It’s 100% store bought ingredients because I love you
  4. It’s vegetarian for all those people in your life pretending to not eat bacon this year
  5. You could remove the cheese and the joy and make it vegan
  6. Someone’s already bringing the chicken buffalo dip so you might as well make this

It’s as easy as:

  • One large tub of hummus, I used Sabra – or make your own (show-off)
  • One large English cucumber
  • One bunch mint
  • One bunch regular old parsley
  • Olive, feta mix from grocery store salad bar (or just buy black, green olives and feta)
  • Salt
  • Good olive oil (like Martha Stewart good, not Guy Fieri good)

Chop everything but the hummus into a small dice. I like to remove the middle of the cucumbers, because even the English ones have some seeds in it.

Grab a platter you’ll leave at the bbq and pick up months later, put a thick layer of hummus on and dump the topping on top.

Drizzle with olive oil

Ina Garten and Smitten Kitchen both have versions of this recipe (incase you are overly impressed at my creativity).

Enjoy and happy weekend!

Two plates, one marriage

Nothing will give you a better sense of how different my husband and I really are better than a look at our dinner plates.

His plate.

My plate.

His plate.

My plate.

Carnivore and carbivore. Living in perfect harmony. Kind of.

I’m made my peace with lamb shank bones and rare beef. He’s made his peace with how many pasta/cheese/crushed red pepper combos I can come up with. At least I’m a cheap date.

We’ve been at this since 1991. The ying to my yang. The mustard to his hot dog. The chutney to my samosa. I think we’ll be like this for the rest of our lives, or until we see a cardiologist.

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This post is dedicated to Howard. Who loves when I write about literally nothing. That’s his favorite. In opposite world.

Phyllo, fancy parties…and medical marijuana?

Thursday night my husband and I decided to go out on the town! Have dinner, see a late show, like other people do. But a few too many of these went down.

And then, long story short,  I went down too. For 34 hours post night out I was out for the count. Coffee didn’t help. Two disco naps didn’t help. I even tried the hair-of-dog…. it didn’t help.

But last night was our book club – and I was not going to miss it. We had a real, live author coming in. We’re hot like that. The book was the wonderful Smiles and Ductape written by my dear friend April’s sister-in-law, Jesse Torrey (did you follow that?). 

The book is about the family’s journey after their son Jack develops ALD. It’s sad, happy and full of love. We were having a good discussion by the time Jesse started talking about the latest part of Jack’s story. It involves using medical marijuana. And then our little book club lit up…not literally, just conversationally. We had questions, lots and lots of questions. We became Charlie Rose level interviewers. I’ve never seen us come alive like that.  It was hysterical. 

And speaking of getting the munchies (just kidding)…

Usually when I go to someone’s home I like to bring a little bite to eat or some wine or both. My mama brought me up right. But did I mention I was exhausted? And old? Luckily for me my girl is home from college and had plans to meet friends for a “fancy dinner”. She had googled an appetizer she wanted to make and like any good mother I offered to buy her all of the ingredients… and then made her to make some for me to take too. I knew having kids would pay off eventually.

Now I love entertaining. I have for a long time. But in all those years I’ve never used Phyllo. Or is it just phyllo with a lower case p? In any case I’ve never used it/bought it/thought about it.

It was a revelation. Easy. Light. Tasty. How come more people don’t talk about Phyllo/phyllo?? 

Here’s what she made and I stole..

You need: Phyllo/phyllo cups, 2 tablespoons of heavy cream, 4 oz of goat cheese, 1 block of cream cheese, thyme, honey, red seedless grapes and black pepper. 


Fillo!! Wtf?? Which is it?



Combine the room temp cheese and heavy cream and whip


Bake Phyllo/phyllo/fillo shells to crisp up (this is optional because they are already fully cooked but remember she was going for “fancy”)


Fill each with the cheese mix – drizzle with honey, sprinkle in the thyme and black pepper, and finish with half a grape. Or one whole grape if you’re a Rockefeller.


Use fancy Ziploc bag as pastry bag….


And here’s my girl and her crew at their dinner. And then me with half the bookclub with the author (lower right) below. 

I’m sure that’s juice punch in that bowl… ahem.

oh hey….

Remember me? No? I don’t blame you. It’s been a few days, or weeks or maybe months (ouch).

I just haven’t been in the mood. Every form of social media that I used to love and get excited to be a part of became a vehicle for me to voice my frustrations. About what you ask? Well, you know what. Tuesday, November 8th is what. And since the middle of the year I’ve been caught up… in it…with it. Up to my neck. Who knew I was so civic-minded? Not me – my priorities (outside of my family of course – I’m not a monster) were usually my DVR rotation and what I was having for my next meal. But I got hooked. And it felt great. And I did and do and will always believe in it. But I’m exhausted. A friend texted me the night of the election and said she was gutted. That’s the perfect word for how I felt too. Gutted. Not just by the results, but by the ride.

And when I woke up the next day and hopped a train to work – I felt like a zombie. But then I started seeing friendly faces. Talking. Laughing. Commiserating. My team and I  literally broke bread (NYC bagels) together the morning after and talked about how we all spent the night before. It felt great – and it wasn’t just the sugar from the carbs hitting our system. It was hearing about plans for the next weekend. Complaining about upcoming meetings and joking about family.

Now, a few days out, I’m coming out of the fog. And it doesn’t hurt that the leaves are bursting with psychedelic color and my favorite cooking shows are all focused on Thanksgiving (I don’t even mind the Christmas commercials already airing).

So I’m going to start a cleanse. And this cleanse has nothing to do with kale or juicing. I haven’t lost my mind. I’m going to stop indulging and eating up the news. I’m going to stop soaking up opinions and articles and shows about the state of the world.

You’ve heard me say that I love Facebook – or I used to. I loved seeing posts from friends and family near and far about their daily lives and what they were up to. But in the last year, the news feed that used to make me happy has either incited me or validated my opinions. I’ve felt the need to read and absorb every single good/bad/hurtful/helpful thing that comes up. And it’s depleted me. I joined a local group of supporters who felt like I feel and think like I think and I thought it would make me feel better. But it didn’t.

So I’m cleansing and purging. I deleted all my posts that were political in nature – and the comments good and bad that followed. If I thought for a second it would feel like a copout – it didn’t. It felt great. I also hid every single person on my news feed that posts constantly about their political/social views – whether I agree with them or not. I would never unfriend them – but now I only see what they post when I want to. I realized a lot of my actions were reactions to other people. That can’t happen anymore. Instead my newsfeed is full of people who post dog pics, their latest cooking ventures and what they did the night before. If you checked in to a good restaurant last night, I want to know about it. If your kid’s team won – I want to cheer him on with you.

Does that mean I don’t care anymore? No.I care a lot. None of my views have changed. Not one. I still believe in every single vote I cast. And I’d do it again (I will for sure in 4 years). But I have never been a fighter. I’m not into it. I don’t enjoy making someone feel bad. I’ve worked hard to only have people in my life that make me feel good – make my family feel good.  Passion is good, but it needs balance so it doesn’t become rage. And I value kindness above all other things. Period. I don’t always succeed, but I try.

So I’m going to focus on Cranbury sauce recipes and whether I should add buttermilk to this year’s mashed potatoes, is that a crime? I’m going to put all my brain power where it belongs – on a new brine recipe for the turkey. Furthermore! I need to start thinking about Black Friday….will I or won’t I? I’ve been ignoring these major decisions for too long.

Talk soon, xoxo

 

Good morning roast

Sometimes…on a Friday morning, for no good reason, I wake up and make a roast. 

Normal right?

A few years ago my husband got me a Dutch oven. It’s high romance around here. Since then, I’ve slow braised the hell out of chicken, beef and lamb. And oh the chili I’ve made! 

I don’t make any veggie things in it because I feel like there’s braised meat in the bones of this Dutch oven. The soul of it is now meat. That’s right. It’s got a meat soul.

It’s an easy recipe. Cover the roast in salt, pepper and garlic. Sear the meat on high to get crust. Let the meat rest while you cook down onions, carrots and celery. Then add beef stock and a few bay leafs. Put the beef back in. Cover and into a 350 degree oven for 2-3 hours depending on size of roast. Done! 

Now go about your day, smelling like meat and bay leafs. You’re welcome.

   
    
    
   

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