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Ragu alla Bolognese


I went to a wedding recently, and the man giving the homily said this thing that I wrote down, he said, "Tell each other the story of being someone who has been loved well." 

Or something like that. 
And I thought, what a beautiful thing. 
The story of someone who has been loved well. 


I've been thinking a lot about marriage recently, maybe because all of a sudden, people my age and a little older are starting to get married, and I’m seeing all these newlywed people pop up in my facebook feed, and also in my real life. 
Some of them are even having babies. 
And it's all so magical and wonderful, but at the same time-- 

what. 

I mean. 

What. 

And the sort of quiet realization that the people you meet and maybe wake up next to and spend your minutes and hours and days with, does it all suddenly matter more? Is this the big leagues of life? Has it always been the big leagues and I just haven’t been paying attention???

It all suddenly seems much, much more real. 

The story of someone who has been loved well. 

In addition to being recently obsessed with the whole concept of marriage, I've also been obsessed with recipes that are stupifyingly simple. Because painfully and perfectly simple things are usually the best. So fuck crazy spices, fuck elaborate and trendy and especially fuck everything to do with quinoa. (I keep trying and I keep wishing and the supposed actual taste-goodness of quinoa keeps not happening.) 


But this ragu. 
This humble meat sauce with pasta. 
This is it. 
Like most painfully perfect simple things, it takes time and a little heartache and attention and also confidence. Because you have to be gentle with it, and you have stir it for forever, and you brown everything, and let juices evaporate, and then, most importantly, you let it simmer for a million years.
By the end of making this ragu, you’re basically in a relationship with it. 
And that’s okay. 

Baby, I’m wishing you good things. 
But more than that, I hope you know that you already own the story of being someone who “has been loved well.” 
You are already that person. 
You really are. 
But if you feel like maybe you need a little boost of confidence, then make this ragu.  
You’ll like it so much, you’ll wanna put a ring on it. 



I love you. 



Ragu alla Bolognese 
via TheWednesdayChef.com and her book My Berlin Kitchen 

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large yellow onion, finely minced
2 large carrots, finely minced (you want roughly equal amounts of minced onion and carrot)
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1/2 cup red wine (open a fresh bottle and drink the rest with dinner)
1 28-ounce can peeled San Marzano tomatoes, pureed
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

1) Put the oil and butter in a large cast-iron pot over medium heat, to melt the butter. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for about 7 minutes, until the onion is well cooked. Do not let it take on any color. Add the minced carrots and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring now and then.

2) Add the ground meat to the pot, and using a wooden spoon, stir and chop up the meat so that it cooks and breaks down into uniformly tiny pieces. Raise the heat to medium-high or even high as you do this. It takes a good amount of elbow grease and a little bit of time. Continue to stir and cook until the meat is no longer pink (at no point, however, should the meat be browning). There will be liquid at the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook until that liquid has mostly evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes.

3) Add the wine and stir well to combine. Simmer until the wine has mostly evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes.

4) Add the pureed tomatoes and the salt and stir well to combine. The sauce will come to a simmer almost instantly. Lower the heat to the lowest possible setting, put the lid on the pot, and let the sauce simmer for as long as you possibly can, stirring it occasionally. Seven hours would be wonderful, 5 hours is pretty good, but any less than 3 and you're really missing out. The longer you cook the sauce, the richer and more flavorful it will get. At some point in the cooking process, the fat will separate from the sauce and float at the top, so just give the sauce a good stir every so often to reincorporate the fat.

5) At the end of the cooking time, taste for seasoning and add more salt, if needed. Then serve tossed with pasta or use in a classic lasagne (this recipe makes enough for a 9 x 13-inch pan).

Chicken Curry with Cashews


My whole life I've struggled with self-doubt. 



I've wasted so much time asking myself "Am I worthy?" of work and love and questioning over and over and over again if I am enough or capable or deserving. 

So much doubt. 

I don't know why. 
I don't know where doubt comes from. 
Fear, I guess. 
And specifically the fear of failure and pain. 

I don't doubt myself when I cook. 
Because there is something to measuring, there is something to learning how to knead bread, and follow a recipe-- that makes my doubt melt away. 
Because all you have to do is whatever comes next, and that is enough. 
That's all you can do. 
And if the recipe is bad, or you mess something up, fundamentally, it doesn't really matter. 

So I like taking risks in the kitchen. 
Because why not? 
Because thinking that I'm not capable of cooking something is stupid and only leaves me hungry. 
So I made my first ever curry, because surprisingly, I had all the right ingredients.  
And I made it and I liked it. 

And making it made me feel capable. Like I was enough. 

Of course, doubt comes back to me, all the time. 
It's a problem that all the curries in the world probably can't solve. 
But maybe. 
Maybe with each new recipe,  I'll keeping doubting a little less, until all the doubt is finally gone. 
I hope so. 

I love you. 

XOXOXO




Chicken Curry with Cashews
from Gourmet Today by Ruth Reichl 

NB: Though the recipe calls for a cut-up whole chicken, you can use an equivalent amount of chicken parts or all thighs. 

1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
3 tablespoons curry powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 (3 1/2 to 4 pound) chicken, rinsed, patted dry, and cut into 10 serving pieces (breasts cut crosswise in half) 
1 (14 to 15 ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro 
3/4 cup cashews (toasted or raw) 
2/3 cup whole-milk yogurt 
garnish: chopped fresh cilantro
accompaniment: basmati or jasmine rice

Heat butter in a 5 to 6-quart wide heavy pot over moderately low heat until foam subsides. Add onions, garlic, and ginger and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add curry powder, salt, cumin, and cayeene and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add chicken and cook, stirring to coat, for 3 minutes. 
Add tomatoes with juice and cilantro and bring to a simmer; then cover and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, about 40 minutes. 
Just before serving, pulse cashews in a food processor or electric coffee/spice grinder until very finely ground (do not grind to a paste). Add to curry, along with yogurt, and simmer gently, uncovered, stirring, until sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes. 
Serve chicken over rice, sprinkled with cilantro.  

Omelettes




I like my omelettes a little crisp and lacey, almost an eggy snowflake, folded over cheese and greens. With an extra grind of salt on top. 

I like the sameness of omelette making. The technique might vary, but in the end, you always get an omelette. 
Or hopefully you do. 

I talked to a friend today, I told him how much the transience of life has been scaring me lately. 
Change. 
And he looked at me and said simply, "That's the way it's always been."
He's right. 
But I can't shake the fact that most of the people I know now, I probably wont know in five years. 
Despite the aches and bruises, the same/dullness of school, that guy who never called me, the cruel thing she said, the times I cried in the shower, and all the breaking aching disappointments of growing up and living more, I love this now. 


I love these people and laughing until crying with them, the dreaminess of Friday afternoons, my neighborhood grocery store, the fact that I live above a doughnut shop, running in the quiet neighborhoods around the university, coffee shops and conversations that roll and unwind endlessly... 
These are things worth remembering. 
These are things to love. 

But five years from now it wont really matter. 
So I look forward and smile. 
Hopefully by then I'll be writing better songs and living in Brooklyn, with an apartment full of plants and twinkle lights. 
And it will be better




But five years from now, no matter the location, no matter who I still know, or who I am. 
I will still be making omelettes. 
They're the perfect comfort food for when you are hungry and maybe a little lonely and need a hot meal. 

Omelettes: a meal for every now and every future. 

XOXO
m

L'Omelette
from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child

2 or 3 eggs
Big pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper

Beat the eggs and seasonings in the mixing bowl for 20 to 30 seconds until the whites and yolks are just blended.

1 tablespoon butter
An omelette pan 7 inches in diamete at the bottom

Place the butter in the pan and set over very high heat. As the butter melts, tilt the pan in all directions to film the sides. When you see that the foam has almost subsided in the pan and the butter is on the point of coloirng (indicating it's hot enough), pour in the eggs. It is of utmost importance in this method that the butter be the correct temperature.

Let the eggs settle in the pan for 2 or 3 seconds to form a film of coagulated egg in the bottom of the pan.
Giving the handle of the pan with both hands, thumbs on top, and immmediately begin jerking the pan vigorously and roughly toward you at an even, 20-degree angle over the heat, one jerk per second.
It is the sharp pull of the pan toward you which throws the eggs against the far lip of the pan, then back over its bottom surface. You must have the courage to be rough or the eggs will not loosen themselves from the bottom of the pan. After several jerks, the eggs will begin to thicken. (A filling goes in at this point, if using.)
Then increase the angle of the pan slightly, which will force the egg mass to roll over on itself with each jerk at teh far lip of the pan.
As sson as the omelette has shaped up, hold it in the angle of the pan to brown the bottom a pale golden color, but onlya second or two, for the eggs must not overcook. The center of the omelette should remina soft and creamy. If the omelette has not formed neatly, push it with the back of your fork.

Turn omelette onto a plate and rub the top witha bit of butter and serve as soon as possible.


Peas and Shells Alfredo

I write you from a distinctly uncool coffee shop. I'm people watching and admiring the faint outline of a sign that used to say OYSTERS. 

I feel quiet. 

I love it when you know that Life is Happening, and things are exciting. 
Life is Happening is events: the party where you meet someone new, or a conversation that changes you, or a new job or move. 
When Life is Happening it feels like the gears of a watch are clicking into place. 



You can almost hear it. 

I used to believe that the exciting, crazy "Life is Happening" moments, are when you become who you are, and know what you're about. 

Now I think, that maybe those moments are just the product of the quiet, thoughtful days where nothing is really going on. The days when you're quietly and slowly figuring out how to make the dial of your watch click forward on your own. 



I made this pasta with some of the people I love the most. 
We had a round of toasts and then ate and laughed together. 
I realized then, that maybe, becoming the person you want to be, can be as simple as eating the meal you want to eat, with the people you want to eat it with. 



Maybe I'm all wrong. 

But I swear, this pasta made me feel like all the gears in all my watches were clicking into place. 


Peas and Shells Alfredo
from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman 

Yield: serves 2 generously or 4 petitely. (We made extra, so about a pound of pasta.) 

Salt to taste
1/2 pound dried small pasta shells
1 cup fresh shelled peas (about 1 pound in the pod, but we used canned peas because we're lazy)
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta and cooking according to package instructions. Add peas to cook during the last 30 seconds of pasta cooking time. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, and set aside. Drain the pasta and the peas together. 

Dry out the pasta pot and pour in the heavy cream. Bring the cream to a simmer, and cook it until slightly reduced, about 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the butter, and stir it until it has melted. Generously season the sauce with freshly ground black pepper, add a pinch of salt as well as the lemon zest. Add 3/4 cup of the Parmesan, and stir it until the sauce is smooth, then toss in the drained pasta and peas. Cook the pasta in sauce for 2 minutes, until the sauce has slightly thickened. Add the reserved pasta water by the spoonful if needed to loosen the sauce. 

Divide the pasta among bowls. Garnish with remaining Parmesan and the flat-leaf parsley. 

Note: We also added the meat of one rotisserie chicken, mushrooms and some shredded spinach. For extra goodness.