tomato fennel soup with gremolata

Friday, December 28, 2012

How to freak out your Handyman:

1. After he arrives and knocks, make him wait out there while your dog pukes right inside the front door.

2. Giggle uncomfortably and try to explain (by yelling through said door) why you can't open it.

3. Finally welcome him in and give him a nice smile with copious raspberry seeds in your teeth (from having just drunk this). 

4. Forget that there is dried zit cream on your chin. 

5. When you do remember, draw even more attention to it. You could even say something like, "What's up, zit cream!?!" and point at it vigorously until he needs to avert his eyes with discomfort.

6. Lay on the floor and do awkward back stretches. And when he has to walk around you, make conversation that is even more awkward and ideally rhetorical (i.e., "Remember that time last year when Lena got wet paint on her tail?! That was crazy!")

7. Let him walk in on you singing the man part in Master of the House from Les Misérables.

8. Forget he's there and then let him scare you half to death when he pokes his head into the room to ask you a question. Let your terror result in a freaky dance that would scare anyone back.

9. Let him walk in on you standing on chairs taking pictures of soup.

Tomato Fennel Soup with Gremolata
adapted from Bon Appétit
serves 4

This soup is so bright and delicious! And a quick snap to make. The fennel mellows out the tomato and the lemon juice perks everything up. Adding the gremolata, too, adds so much flavor and spunk. Don't omit it. A fantastic accompaniment would be grilled cheese sammies. Also, it is easily made vegan by swapping the butter out for more olive oil and the chicken broth for vegetable.

2 T butter
1 T olive oil
2 cups chopped fennel (reserve fronds)
1 28oz. can chopped tomatoes (strain and reserve excess liquid)
3 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 T minced Italian parsley
2 T minced fennel fronds
2 t minced garlic
1 1/2 t lemon zest

Melt the butter and olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat, add the fennel and cook until soft and translucent, even browning a tiny bit, about 7 minutes. Add the strained tomatoes and sauté another 5 minutes. Add the stock, reserved tomato liquid and lemon juice. Cover and bring to a simmer for 15 minutes. Transfer in batches to a blender or use an immersion blender right in the pot. Taste for salt and pepper.

To make the gremolata, mince all the ingredients and combine in a small bowl.

Serve the soup piping hot with a spoonful of gremolata on top, and more on the side if anyone is so inclined.


joy to the world

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A most Merry Christmas from San Diego............where tonight I saw a sunset like no other, ever. I'm taking it as a sign of prodigious things to come.

I saw this quote today and loved it so much:

"What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace."

--Agnes M. Pahro

Love, blessings and joy to you,

cornflake cookies

Friday, December 21, 2012

I'm glad to report that I just got on board with Christmas! Don't get me wrong--I do love it--It just took me way longer to catch the fever this year. I'm so allergic to being force-fed Christmastime in early November (isn't it so much nicer to catch the mirth organically?) that my denial was extra resilient. Problem is, come December 20th, it is a seriously stressful jungle out there. Does it seem more jungle-y this year to you? Or is it me? LA is CUCKOO, you guys.

Yesterday I stood in an epic post office line behind a surly man with multiple face tattoos. I couldn't stop staring so he kept giving me the stink eye (or one of his tattoos was. Hard to say which.) Then, I almost drove over a man who was pretending to be blind--he had ginormous black sunglasses on and was accompanied by a seeing-eye dog. I think it might have been a dog-training situation because this man had a couple of human handlers walking behind him and they all had matching shirts. Either they were seriously slacking or had tremendous faith in the dog because as they chatted amongst themselves, the "blind" guy narrowly missed my front bumper when he stepped off the curb into oncoming traffic. I capped off this harrowing experience with another: a trip to the mall dodging aimless walkers, tantrum-y children and people trying to spray stuff on me.

Although remarkably on edge, by some Christmas miracle I made it home in one piece. I started baking cookies and wound up feeling so at home and warm and Christmas-y and happy in the kitchen that I stayed there for hours. It was just what I needed. Will you remind me of this next year? Perhaps right after Thanksgiving?


So. These cornflake cookies are ridiculous. After this cornflake adventure, I got it in my head that I wanted to make cookies with cornflakes in them. So I did a ton of research and love the result: they are buttery and snappy and nutty and cereal-y and delicious. I'm pleased to say these have found a spot in my regular Christmas cookie rotation for sure. The minute I tasted them it was like a forgotten memory. Yes, this is extremely dramatic talk for a cookie but I think you'll know what I mean. They might just launch you into the Christmas spirit!:)

Cornflake Cookies
makes about 36

1 cup sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 t vanilla
1/4 t salt
1 1/2 cups flour
1 t baking soda
1 t cream of tartar
2 cups cornflakes, crushed
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans, if you wish)

Preheat oven to 350. Place the cornflakes in a ziploc bag and smash with your hands or the back of a small skillet, making sure some larger pieces remain for texture. Mix the flour, baking soda and cream of tartar together and set aside. In an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar for several minutes until very light. Add the vanilla and salt and mix well, scraping down the sides as necessary. Add the dry ingredients bit by bit, mixing until just incorporated. Stir in the crushed cornflakes and nuts. Drop by tablespoonfuls* onto a parchment-lined baking sheet (they'll spread out so place them 2" apart) and bake for 12-15 minutes or until just starting to turn toasty on the edges.

*Alternatively, you can divide the dough in half, roll into two logs (about 2" in diameter) and Saran-wrap. Refrigerate at least two hours and slice into 1/2" rounds before baking. They come out looking the same this way, it's just a little faster to prep them for the baking sheets.

Happy Holidays!!!

P.S. Other yummy cookie ideas, Christmas or not:

Homemade Oreos
Chocolate Walnut Banana Bread Cookies
Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies
Iced Pumpkin Cookies
Chocolate Sables with Sea Salt
Grandma's Italian Biscuits (<-----these have frosting!!:))

heavy/full heart

Saturday, December 15, 2012

I sat and sat here yesterday with a cookie recipe all ready to go and just didn't know what to say alongside it. My heart was so heavy and sad pondering events in Connecticut that it didn't feel right to trudge forward with a lighthearted or funny post. And even though it sorta felt like that was what we all most needed, there was no way I could wrap my head around writing it. I woke up today and thought a lot about my life. And those I love. And tried to turn my helpless feeling into something proactive. Even in the smallest way. And as hackneyed as it sounds, it brought tears to my eyes to realize the thing we can do is love fully and appreciate each other and extend kindnesses. These horrifying things that happen have the power to shake us awake and remind us that this is our one precious life. It's a tiny tiny tiny silver lining that is giving me a sliver of peace and comfort today. 

Wishing you peace and love.

how nice for you

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I'm about to tell you a story that makes me look like an idiot. But only because it's one of my favorite stories EVER (even though it's at my expense). Just remember I was young.

I've already told you about moving to NY to sing and dance when I was 19. Well, very shortly after I arrived, I auditioned for a scholarship at one of the big dance studios and got a job working there in exchange for classes. I manned the register and really enjoyed it. It was incredible to people-watch from my behind-the-counter perch. I'd sit there for hours taking in all the dancers and bustle and NYC energy. I loved it.

One day (it was December) there was a HUGE blizzard. The kind of winter event in New York where the subway shuts down and people are literally cross-country skiing in the streets. It was hard to get around (to say the least) but since I only lived two blocks away, I managed to climb a couple of snowbanks and make it to the studio. I got there to find several classes cancelled because their teachers couldn't make it into the city, so I was in charge of giving refunds to the few students who had shown up and already paid. This sweet middle-aged woman came up to the front desk and as I was doing her refund paperwork I couldn't help noticing how familiar she looked. This was odd to me since I had just moved there and knew about 3 people on the entire island of Manhattan.

"Are you from San Diego?" I asked. She smiled. "No. Are you?"

"Yes!  I just moved here," I said.

"Oh, cool." She nodded and had the kindest eyes.

There was a pause while I turned away to staple something. I tried to let it go but it was bugging me. I knew I knew her.

"I'm sorry. You just look SO familiar. Are you an actress?" I asked. "Nope," She said.

I kept staring at her.

"I'm actually a singer."

"Oh, really?! Where?" I pictured her producing self-recordings in her makeshift basement studio and maybe playing the odd coffeehouse.

"On records," she said, smiling again warmly.

"How nice for you!" I said.

I handed her the seven dollars back and as she headed out she asked, "What's your name?"

"Jolie," I said. "Welcome to New York, Jolie." She shook my hand. "It's nice to meet you. I'm Carole King."

She walked out the door and I stood with my mouth agape for a full ten minutes.


P.S. To fully understand how scarred I was by this experience, read this.

P.P.S. How awesome is she???:)

P.P.P.S. Welcome, new subscribers! And Posie readers! I'm so glad and touched so many of you came to visit. (BTW, how delicious is baby Amelia?????!!!)

hide and seek

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

My sweet girl. Those ears give her away every time:)

Here's hoping you have a wonderful Tuesday.....................................

P.S. She's not all sweet.
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