Thursday, December 31, 2009

Another Year Over

From new year, new food

So I have no idea where the last 365 days went, but I'm eager to find them (they're probably hiding in a box in my closet somewhere) and thank them for being quite the time of learning, laughter, and food. Sometimes 2009 kind of sucked, and sometimes it was great, but overall, it was quite a ride.

No, I won't be hitting up any major parties, nor will I be trekking off for a night of debauchery in Times Square this New Years Eve. I'm actually off to make some Cuban food with my friend Terra (YES I'll be posting about it. Wahoo!) and to spend the evening with friends and family, enjoying a few drinks while playing a particularly vicious game of SPOONS. You heard me right. I don't mess around when it comes to playing SPOONS, and neither does my sister, as evidenced by her military-like tackles whenever we play.

Let me leave you with one of my favorite quotes that might do you well in 2010. These words always help focus and encourage me when that whole "What the heck do I want to do with my life?!" question looms a little too large, which, coincidentally, seems to come up every year around this time.

"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to win the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one's self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sing with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived---this is to have succeeded."

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Be safe, Happy New Years and see you in 2010!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Snow Day Pancakes

Winter, my friends, is upon us.

From new year, new food
Oh hai, winter wonderland!

This year the snows, wind, and cold snuck in quickly and softly, and before we knew it, it had snowed for about 28 hours straight, the entire city shut down, and people burrowed themselves inside, mugs of chocolate in hand, a weekend of hibernation right before Christmas.

From new year, new food
Yes, that is snow built up on our sixth floor window... and no, we don't have a windowsill.

The weekend forecast actually predicted a THUNDERSNOW. What the heck is a THUNDERSNOW you ask? It’s a snowstorm that actually thunders…the gods apparently like bowling in the winter as well as the summer. I’m a bit disappointed I didn’t hear much of any thundering…I was looking forward to surviving a real life THUNDERSNOW and telling future grandchildren about the GREAT THUNDERSNOW OF 2009. And yes, I have to capitalize all of that, because how can you write THUNDERSNOW and not capitalize such an awesome term? Impossible, my dears.

One of the main reasons I love the idea of winter hibernation is the return of the Big Breakfast. Saturday mornings in my home consisted of pancakes, French toast, or waffles (with the occasional appearance of crepes and fresh strawberries thrown in if we were really lucky), bacon or sausage, eggs, toast, freshly ground and brewed coffee, and orange juice. My mom and dad just did not mess around when it came to Saturday morning breakfasts. It was the time we all got together before the weekend dragged us to different appointments, parties, errands and naps, the hour where we could reconnect in the quiet of the morning before the real world banged through the door and demanded our attention. We chatted over the newspaper, movies and books that were coming out, current events and the weather. We discussed our work weeks, our dreams from the night before, and told jokes. We had a lot of dinners together during the week as well, but the Saturday Morning Breakfasts were slow and delicious, luxurious and cozy.

From new year, new food

I’m pretty sure more than a few people busted out a Big Breakfast this weekend when there was nothing to do but stay inside or shovel sidewalks. I’m also fairly confident more than a few of those people indulged in pancakes, and while I KNOW everyone has a favorite family pancake recipe, I’ve stumbled upon a pretty solid recipe that has become my go-to for hotcakes.

I love Ruth Reichl. Former editor of Gourmet magazine, she’s incredibly passionate about food and people, and those two worlds culminate in her memoir, Tender At The Bone, which referenced, at least once, the making of pancakes and the tradition of Big Breakfasts. “Ruth’s Pancakes,” which I borrowed from The Gourmet Cookbook, are buttery, hearty, and slightly sinful, the perfect pancake in my mind. Not too sweet, they are delicious with maple syrup, chocolate chips, blueberries, or fresh strawberries, and are a snap to whip up.

From new year, new food

I recently made them when a good friend of mine came for the weekend, a friend whose birthday I’m always exactly 2 days late in wishing him for, and who I also haven’t seen in 3 years. I figured the least I could do was make Ruth’s Pancakes for him, and by jove, I think they redeemed my bad birthday memory AND established the fact that I can, indeed, cook a Big Breakfast. Joy!

From new year, new food

Safe travels to all of your holiday destinations! I hope you get a chance to make these pancakes and have a lazy morning with your loved ones in the midst of Christmas shenanigans. I myself am traveling back to Arizona with Erjona for a fabulous holiday time we’re nicknaming FERMAPALOOZA 2009. Again, another word you can’t write without all-capsing it…you know how I do.