The young girl she once was would’ve been so disappointed. It was what Mad thought whenever she stepped onto a tour bus. She’d flashed her badge to the hefty bouncer and climbed the filthy steps up into the bus to find that it was precisely like all the others. Crowded with guitars and scarves, littered with debris, and the air vaguely damp. This one smelled like soup, she thought with a pang for that young girl. Vegetable soup, she thought and wrinkled her nose. She had become a reporter to write about music but the rock stars she followed around the country had, mostly, left their wild ways behind. Most of them were vegan and skinnier than her. The heaviest thing they drank was tea with honey and lemon.
The band was absent from the bus at the moment, thankfully. Mad appreciated the moment to collect herself. She was exhausted. Festival season was going to put her in the ground. The hot, dusty ground. She caught a glimpse of herself in one of the many, many mirrors on the bus and scowled. With her cropped black blazer, the sleeves rolled up past the elbows, the loose braid over her shoulder, the smeared black mascara, she looked like a poor imitation of Chrissie Hynde. And there was another pang.
She’d met Chrissie Hynde, almost eight months prior. Introduced herself. When she mentioned she was a reporter, a music critic, Chrissie Hynde had paused. “Who isn’t, these days?”
Mad wiped the liner from her eyes and took a swig of water from the bottle in her purse. There was a whiff of that soup again and she swore under her breath. This interview would be insufferable, she thought. Another week of her life that she would not be able to get back. It would be one thing to talk to The Kit Shickers and then leave but she had agreed to ride with them for their next slate of shows down the West Coast. A few years ago, she would’ve leapt for a shot like this. But the hot desert air made her brain throb and the bands had started to blur, merge together, into one androgynous blob. She cleared some debris from a seat and perched herself at the edge of it. She needed a break from herself, is what she needed.
Then there was a rush of sound outside, a kind of roaring, and suddenly The Kit Shickers were there, up the stairs, hollering their greetings to the hefty bouncer. Two of them were in conversation and glided right past her, two sylphs in black, heading for the back of the bus. That would be Tom and Harris- she mentally checked them off her band dossier. They were cousins. And then the lead singer, whose name escaped her, hilariously, since he zeroed in on her instantly and clasped his hand to hers. He was beautiful, they usually were, and magnetic in a harmless way. He wasted his magnetism, she thought uncharitably. “You must be from Vinyl. I’m Pot.” He gave a little shrug, one that said she probably already knew that, and Mad felt her free hand clench against her side, into a fist. “Welcome.” He glanced down at the state of the bus and smiled apologetically. Christ, how old was he, she thought. Twenty? “Sorry for, uh, you know, the state of things here. Baxter, come here and say hi. This is Baxter.” He grabbed his bandmate and pulled him to his side. “Apologize better, would you?
“Yeah, no probl-” The words got stuck in her throat, just for a second. Baxter was drums. He was tall. Older than the rest. Cleaner than the rest. Of all the rock and roll on the bus, he was the least. He met her eyes and offered her a smile, a real one. Shit, Mad thought. There she goes. Another one bites the dust.
*You all gave such lovely character name suggestions for our annual giveaway so I thought I’d give you proper credit. Our last story featured the names Margo and Natalie, suggested by Tabitha H. and Mitzie T, respectively. Today’s story names come courtesy of Natalie.
You may have noticed, over the last three years, that the typed recipe on the blog often looks different than the beautiful recipe card that’s attached to each post. That’s my fault. I cannot leave well enough alone. Nicole creates the beautiful recipe card and sticks to what was written by our source (in this case, the lovely Love and Lemons. I could crawl into that site and pull up the covers and take a nap there, I love it so much.) And I… futz. I tinker with the words. I can’t help it.
I never used to be this way but over the last three years, I’ve become obsessed with scribing (or re-scribing) recipes in a way that makes sense to me, that makes me feel calm and in control. Beyond my notice, I’ve developed recipe idiosyncrasies. They are, as follows:
Adding “of” to the ingredients list. As in “3 cups of flour.” For some reason, the lack of “of” was making me crazy.
Writing “and” between whole numbers and half numbers. I actually stand by this one- do you know how many times I’ve glanced down and thought 1 and 1/2 teaspoons actually stated 11/2 teaspoons and ended up doing crazy math in my head before coming to my senses?
Numbering each separate task in the instructions. (Hi, is this the party for Type A List Makers? It is? Great.)
Again, in the instructions, stating the item you need first. As in, “take a baking sheet and add cauliflower” and not the other way around. I… don’t know why I feel it’s necessary to do this, I just do.
Anyway. No matter how you choose to read the recipe, you should make the soup. I will, this weekend. It’s lovely. There’s something about creamy white soups that remind me of Julia Child and leeks always make me think of spring. I feel like I could use a dose right now.
Creamy Cauliflower and Leek Soup
Note: Overnight alert! You will need to soak the cashews overnight.
About 2 cups chopped cauliflower
2-3 Leeks, white and very light green parts, chopped (about 1 to 1.5 cups)
2 Cloves of garlic
Olive oil, for drizzling
1/2 Cup of raw, unsalted, un-roasted cashews, soaked overnight*
1 and 1/2 Teaspoons of miso paste (or just salt if you don’t have any)
Leaves from a few sprigs of marjoram or thyme
3 Cups of water
2 Tablespoons of more olive oil (to blend into the soup)
1/8 Teaspoon of smoked paprika (or more to taste)
A squeeze of lemon
A few more pinches of salt
Red pepper flakes (optional)
Splash of white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar, at the end
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. On a baking sheet, spread cauliflower, leeks and garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a few pinches of salt and pepper. Roast for 20-30 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through. Remove when everything starts to turn golden; you don’t want to burn the leeks.
3. Toss the roasted veggies, drained cashews, marjoram leaves, miso paste, a squeeze of lemon and 1.5 cups of water into a blender. Blend until pureed. Add olive oil, paprika and the rest of the water. Blend again. Taste and adjust seasonings.
4. Pour puree into a medium saucepan and heat until it’s just warm (and thus, soup). Stir in a little more water to desired thickness. Serve with bread.
*Use plain, raw cashews or the soup will taste too much like cashew.
They sat on a blanket in the grass and leaned their backs against a tree. Margo scratched an errant itch on her arm and gazed out over the fields. “Do you think French women complain about yogurt as much as we do?”
“I dunno.” Her friend Natalie let out a rumbling sigh.
“God, I’m sick of eating yogurt.”
“I know you are.”
They sat in silence for a moment. The wind rustled the weeds around them and a cluster of reeds played them a song. Margo settled back against the tree and tried to get comfortable. “Do you think French people really eat baguettes every day? I mean, that’s a lot of baguettes.”
Natalie reached between them and tore the end off a baguette. “That’s true.”
“Throw me a piece?” Natalie complied and they ate the bread in silence.
“Do you think French people-”
Natalie smiled and placed a floppy hat on her head. She hopped up off the blanket and grabbed the handlebars of her bike. The blanket and baguette were tucked into the little wicker basket in seconds. “Let’s just go back to town and ask them. Okay?”
Margo smiled and grabbed her bike from the other side of the tree.
Look! Bread! WE MADE BREAD.
I’m as shocked as you are.
I will admit, I had my doubts about this recipe. (I also found it hilarious that Food52 is all “It only takes four hours! You can do it!” where other places are trying to get recipes down to, like, 10 minutes or less. We are not a normal group of people, huh?)
But anyway BREAD. On the scale of leave it to worth it (the leave it category includes croissants and bagels. As in, too much work for subpar results at home. The worth it category includes ice cream, air popped popcorn and granola.) I’m going to go ahead and say WORTH IT. These came out truly impressive. They were delicious and so professional-looking. Which is a shock considering I was bumbling around the kitchen most of the time like some kind of demented French cartoon character. BREAD. Glorious bread!
The 4 Hour Baguette
1 and 1/2 Cup (12 ounces) of tap water, heated to 115°F
1 Teaspoon (1/8 ounce) of active dry yeast
3 and 1/4 Cups (14 2/3 ounces) of all-purpose flour
3 Teaspoons (3/8 ounce) of kosher salt (if using a fine-grained salt or table salt, use less salt)
1/2 Cup of ice cubes
1. In a large, clean bowl, whisk together water and yeast; let sit for 10 minutes, until yeast is foamy.
2. Add flour to yeast/water and stir with a fork until dough forms and all flour is absorbed. Let the dough sit about 20 minutes.
3. Add salt, then transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Transfer dough ball to a lightly greased bowl, cover bowl with plastic wrap and place bowl in cold oven or microwave. Let dough rest until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
4. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface, and shape into an 8-inch x 6-inch rectangle. Fold the 8-inch sides toward the middle, then fold the shorter sides toward the center, like a T-shirt. Return dough, seam side down, to the bowl. Cover with plastic again, and return to oven. Let sit until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
5. Remove bowl with dough from oven, and place a cast–iron skillet on the bottom rack of oven; position another rack above skillet, and place a baking stone or upside down or rimless sheet pan on it.
6. Heat oven to 475° F.
7. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface, and cut into three equal pieces; shape each piece into a 14-inch rope. Flour a sheet of parchment paper on a rimless baking sheet; place ropes, evenly spaced, on paper. Lift paper between ropes to form pleats; place two tightly rolled kitchen towels under long edges of paper, creating supports for the loaves. Cover loosely with plastic wrap; let sit until it doubles in size, about 50 minutes.
8. Uncover; remove towels, and flatten paper to space out loaves. Using a sharp razor, knife, bread lame, or scissors, slash the top of each baguette at a 30–degree angle in four spots; each slash should be about 4 inches long.
9. Pull out the oven rack with the stone or baking sheet on it and, using the corner of the parchment paper as a guide, slide the loaves, still on the parchment paper, onto the baking stone or pan. Place ice cubes in skillet (this produces steam that lets the loaves rise fully before a crust forms)- (so cool!)
10. Bake the baguettes until darkly browned and crisp, 20 to 30 minutes; cool before serving.
A few notes:
- The step by step instructions on Food52 include some photos which may help.
- My dough didn’t rise as much as I was expecting but the loaves still came out great. So as long as you don’t kill your yeast (see link in instructions) you should be okay.
- The next day: the bread was still chewy and good but could benefit from toasting. So, you know, eating three loaves of homemade bread the first day is probably not necessary. Or you can just pretend I didn’t say that.
Smitty & The Mother
Read the First 31 Episodes | Previously on Smitty & The Girl: It’s been a long day for Petula Mathers. She swept into town just to cause her usual amount of mayhem and drama only to end up conked on the head by her twin sister and tossed into the backseat of her car, to be hauled out of town. Now she’s come to, only to realize that her long-lost son is feet away from her…
Her sister was not being as quiet as she thought she was.
Rose kept one eye on the kid and one eye on the car, which rocked ever so slightly. She must be awake by now, Rose thought. Probably considering how she could make a run for it, in Rose’s own car. Rose stood up. “Want to get a look at her?”
Freddy blinked, hands on his knobby knees. When she’d first spotted him, he looked older than his years. Now he looked much younger. He looked like a little boy. “Uh, okay.” He followed her to the car.
Rose didn’t rush but she didn’t hesitate either. She opened the passenger door, smoothy bent down and retrieved the dangling car keys from the dash and gestured toward her sister. “There she is. Your mother. Petula Agadora Mathers.” Rose leaned against the door frame and nudged her sister’s foot with her own. “Right now, she’s pretending to be unconscious.”
Freddy looked at her and then at Petula, bewildered. “She is?”
“Why?” The poor kid was so confused, Rose thought. Cripes, what a mess.
“Because she’s a coward.” Rose narrowed her eyes at her twin sister. And suddenly she had an idea, one that made her belly burn and her heart sing. “Let’s see if you can still fake it when Mike gets a good look at you.” And she swore she saw Petula twitch in response.
“Come on, kid,” Rose said. “We’ll take you home.”
You guys, I don’t want to jinx anything but it was fifty degrees and sunny today. FIFTY DEGREES. It felt like eighty degrees. Say what you will about winter but damn, nothing gives you an appreciation for the slightest bit of warmth like months and months of relentless, frigid cold. Warm sun and risotto for dinner. In a funny sort of twist, Nicole and I made the same dinner this week. The difference is that she plated it, shot it and turned it into a calendar and, uh, I just ate mine. Semantics. (Hello asparagus! Old friend!)
Download free April 2014 Desktop and iPhone calendars:
For your computer:
Click here for 1920 x 1080 version.
Destiny and Keevah never really met, formally. There were no real introductions, no mention of last names or what they each did for a living, at the time. They ended up in the same small circle at the home of their mutual friend Maris who had decided, on a whim, to throw an informal brunch for everyone she knew. The only thing she had said as she glanced from side to side at her friends was, “My two most unusually named friends, under one roof!”
Destiny and Keevah had both smiled sheepishly and sipped their coffee before they fell into separate conversations.
In the corner of the room, unseen, the same Destiny and Keevah stood. They were ten years older and surveyed the brunch scene, and their younger selves, with bemused horror. “God, look at my hair,” Keevah said. She reached a hand up to touch her own natural curls, now unruly but still far, far improved from the days when she would forcibly iron her hair into flat, shiny submission. “Why am I talking to Brad Saunders? Ugh, I hated that guy.”
“She’s serving that burrata salad. I remember how impressed I was about that. Burrata at brunch.” Destiny, now largely pregnant, rested a hand on her kicking belly and stared at the back of her younger self. “Is that really how I look from behind?”
“You’re fine.” Keevah scowled at her younger self who, at that moment, batted Brad Saunders on the arm and laughed. “I wish we’d been friends at this party,” she said. She’d shuffled home miserably after the party, Keevah remembered, exhausted by the chitchat and the forced splendor of Maris’ home in the South Loop, depressed about her own crumbling apartment, stung by an offhand comment from Maris about the state of her love life. Or lack thereof.
“Me too.” Destiny arched her back and winced. “Look at poor Maris. Trying so hard to have a good time.” They both glanced over at the friend who had introduced them or, really, just off-handedly put them together in the same room. She was wearing pearls but was barefoot because that had seemed very elegant, to be in pearls but barefoot. She could not really pull off the look though, when so many people nearly stepped on her naked feet.
How could Maris have known that this was the first of many times that the two women would be thrown into the same awkward party or social situation? That they would eventually come to seek each other out. That they would catch each other’s eye when someone said something just too ridiculous to go unnoticed. That they would then meet up for a drink, just the two of them, and end up, as it happened, talking about Maris, who they were both struggling to still be friends with, or find things in common with.
More trips to the bar, stops at the bookstore, coffee after coffee after coffee, lounging movie nights, late night texts after one of them had broken up with a guy or was starting to see a guy or when each of them had met the guy. Keevah at Destiny’s mother’s funeral; there was a moment when she could feel Destiny start to go beside her and Keevah reached out and grabbed her arm and Destiny did not cry, which was what she wanted- she was trying to be strong for her brother. Destiny running up the steps at city hall in her black pants and boots when Keevah called in the middle of work on a Tuesday to tell her she was getting married and could she get there quick, as Keevah had changed her mind at the last second about wanting a witness. All the little moments in between; countless, endless, stacked up like gold coins between them.
They watched the scene before them and their singular, struggling selves and then Keevah snagged two glasses of mimosa from the side table and handed one to Destiny. “Just a sip for you, Mama,” Keevah said and she raised her glass. Destiny looked at her expectantly. “To Maris. Who did her job.”
Destiny grinned and raised a glass to toast their hostess. “Who did her job.”
Thank you so much for helping us celebrate our three years of SKS this week! All of your warm and lovely comments were deeply appreciated. And, uh, wow- I got a lot of good name ideas so thank you for that too. The full list is below. I think it’s safe to say that we, as a group, wish we were living in a romance novel.
And now… drumroll please for our two winners! The numbers picked, by Random.Org were comments 31 and 3; congratulations to Allison Day and Melanie!
We will email you today to discuss which foodie package you would like to receive in the mail from us. Our most sincere thanks to everyone who participated.
Here were your character names, in the order received. I should be good for the next three years with these. Or ten years.
Computer (for a dog)
Earlene and Earl (twins)
Eleanor and Leanore (twins)
Jeanette and Antoinette (twins)
Axel de Luna
Baloney Raymond (ha!)
Anders (Workaholics fan?)
Bronwyn (perfect for that Lord of the Rings fan-fiction I’ve been meaning to write…)
Ogee Eckard (your own name IS amazing)
Reese Luisi (I’m Italian, so I liked the full name)
And now, ladies and gentlemen, your salad… specifically, your Heirloom Tomato, Chorizo and Burrata Salad which, frankly, is almost too beautiful to eat. Let us just stare at it and behold its wonder and be thankful that cheese exists. Especially burrata which is like mozzarella but magic. If burrata is ever on a menu, you say “We will have all of the burrata you have.” End of lesson.
Heirloom Tomato, Chorizo and Burrata Salad
400 grams of heirloom tomatoes, halved
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
6 Slice of chorizo, sliced diagonally
1 Tablespoon of capers, rinsed
1 Ball of Burrata cheese
2-3 Slices of fresh baguette
1 Garlic clove, halved
Fresh basil leaves
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 265°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
2. Place halved tomatoes on baking tray, drizzle with oil, season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Turn tomatoes so cut side is facing up and roast for 30 minutes. Transfer smaller tomatoes into a bowl to cool while the larger tomatoes roast for another 30 minutes. Remove from oven and add to bowl.
3. In a frying pan, grill the chorizo on each side for 1 minute until golden. Transfer to paper towel to drain. To hot pan, add capers and fry for 30 seconds until slightly golden. Transfer to paper towel with chorizo.
4. On a baking sheet, place the baguette slices. Drizzle both sides with olive oil and grill until golden. Remove and rub one side with the cut garlic.
5. To serve, place the tomatoes, chorizo and capers together on a plate. Top with the burrata, drizzle with oil and balsamic to taste. Scatter with basil leaves and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve with grilled baguette.
Some Kitchen Stories is three years old this week!
We want to celebrate by giving you free stuff. This year, we’re doing something a little different. We’re going to offer three SURPRISE prize packages. Comment below to enter for a chance to win one of them! We’re giving away two, one from me and one from Nicole.
Each package will be filled with fun stuff that fits the theme (stuff you’ll actually want, we promise) with locally sourced products from our homes (Chicago and Maine) and one delicious baked good, baked personally by us as a thank you to you. Think of it as a delicious care package from a stranger who loves food and food gadgets as much as you do.
You could win one of these babies:
A loaf of delicious cake-bread (banana! chocolate banana! zucchini! lemon poppyseed!)
An assortment of items that will be perfect for your next fancy breakfast party.
Cookies or Bars (winner’s choice)
Fun stuff for your dessert table! Could be syrups for sundaes, cute parfait glasses, zippy serving ware.
A candy or savory treat, just for you, baked by us.
And yet more candy and savory treats. Treats of all kind! Perfect for hiding away and snacking on in the dark when all of your loved ones are asleep.
Dates: Thursday, March 20 to Thursday, March 27, 2014 (contest ends 12am ET on the 28th)
How to Enter: Just leave a comment below with a character name (I always need more character names).
Selecting a Winner: Winners (2) will be selected on Friday March 28, 2014 using random.org, a random generator. The winner will be notified by email and will have until Monday to respond. If the winner doesn’t respond to the winning notification email, another winner will be chosen.
Boring/Horrible Disclaimers: You must be 18+ to enter. We will only be shipping within the continental United States. SKS reserves the right to disallow comment submissions for the following reasons:
- Any rude or obscene comments will not be approved. (But I will laugh at them silently before deleting them.)
- All spam comments will not be approved. (Again, some of these make me laugh. But they will not be approved.)
- No purchase is necessary to enter. A purchase will not increase your chances of winning. I’m not even sure what you would purchase to win, honestly. Wait, was someone going to send me money to increase their chances? Maybe I should rethink this disclaimer… (aw, happy three year anniversary to you, snarky contest disclaimers!)
So what are you waiting for? Go win free stuff!!!
Next week, I’ll tell you a story. I promise.
Something magical. Something with faeries maybe. An angry faery named Tegan. Yeah, that sounds good.
Right now, it’s nine o’clock on a Friday and I can barely keep my head up. I am amazed at how thoroughly tired I feel. Everything is depleted, everything, everything. I am so entirely and wholly grateful to my parents, who drove to Maine from New York and took care of my dog while I was in Austin for six days. I walked into the house on Wednesday night, at one in the morning, and found four loaves of Irish Soda Bread waiting for me on the dining room table, and a fridge full of pasta and sauce and meatballs and chicken cutlets. What more could an exhausted thirty-two year old Irish/Italian ask for?
Things will resume their normal pace soon, I hope. For right now, all I’m focused on is taking said dog for one last walk and climbing into bed. Maybe I’ll shake the dreams of snow and cold and dream of this salad instead, all bright color and snap and verve. Nicole tells me it was delicious and I believe her- we eat with our eyes first and it’s a beauty, isn’t it?
Roast Carrot and Avocado Salad with Orange and Lemon Dressing
500 Grams of medium carrots (leafy tops still attached)
2 Teaspoons of whole cumin seeds
1-2 Small, dried chillies
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Cloves of garlic, peeled
4 Sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves picked
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Red or white wine vinegar
1 Orange, halved
1 Lemon, halved
3 Ripe avocados
Red wine vinegar
Small slices of ciabatta or other good-quality bread
2 Handfuls of mixed winter salad leaves (arugula, radicchio, Treviso), washed and dried
2 Punnets cress (just kidding, I have no idea what that is)
150 ml of fat-free yogurt
4 Tablespoons of mixed seeds, toasted
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Parboil your carrots in boiling, salted water for 10 minutes until they’re nearly cooked. While they’re cooking, smash up the cumin seeds, chillies, salt and pepper. Add the garlic and thyme leaves and smash them too, until you have a kind of paste. Add enough olive oil to cover the paste and a splash of vinegar. Stir together.
3. Drain the carrots and arrange them on a roasting tray. Pour over the marinade and coat the carrots well. Add the orange and lemon halves to the tray, cut-side down. Place in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden.
4. While the carrots and marinade are roasting, halve and peel the avocados, discard the stones, then cut them into wedges lengthways and place in a big bowl.
5. Remove the carrots from the oven and add them to the bowl with the avocados. Using tongs, squeeze the roasted orange and lemon juice into a bowl and add the same amount of olive oil and a little swig of red wine vinegar. Season the dressing with salt and pepper.
6. Mix together, have a taste and correct the seasoning.
7. Toast your bread. Tear the toasted bread into little pieces and add to the dressed carrot and avocado. Mix together and toss in salad leaves. Spoon over a dollop of yogurt and sprinkle with toasted seeds and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.