Browned Butter Sage Stuffing with Walnuts & Cranberries (& a Thanksgiving Menu)

This is better than I thought it would be. Truly, when I went to put together suggestions for this year’s festivities I thought it would be slim pickings. That there wouldn’t be much to choose from because I hadn’t gotten up nearly as many posts as planned. I’d been behind, slacking, negligent about my duties and responsibilities. Turns out, that wasn’t (entirely) the case. It’s rewarding to look back on the year and see what’s been accomplished. I got more up than I planned! And a lot of it would fit nicely on the Thanksgiving table, if there’s still room.

Browned Butter Sage Stuffing with Walnuts & Cranberries

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Maple & Vanilla Bean Granola (& envy)

When I met Jen, I didn’t like her.

Maple & Vanilla Bean Granola

Not actually. But I didn’t like how she made me feel. Behind, inexperienced, and so uncool it was painful. Of course, this had nothing to do with her or her actions towards me, and everything to do with myself. And my insecurities. It was a new job, I was still unhappy in SC, everyone else in that kitchen knew the rhythm and how things worked. How they worked. I didn’t. And it killed me not knowing.

There were inside jokes I wasn’t a part of, techniques I’d never heard of before, a storage system in the fridge that was entirely new to me. Next to her – tall, blonde, round blue eyes behind the hippest glasses – I felt as if I could bathe in a thimble. And often wanted to hide under one during my shifts.

Maple & Vanilla Bean Granola

My dislike for her was solidified the day she showed me how to make gnocchi (something I’d never done before, phony food connoisseur that I was). Her technique was simple and quick and almost effortless. She was as fluid as the water simmering between us. I was green with envy at her abilities. During conversation, I found out she was a few years younger than me and turned the deepest shade of forest. I felt so behind, she seemed so ahead.

Maple & Vanilla Bean Granola

And then, one day, she messed up. She left granola in the oven too long. Way too long. It was burnt. Charred. Inedible. She’d ruined a dish.

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Homemade Vanilla Extract (& gifts)

I’m way behind.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

I usually have Christmas presents bought and buttoned up by now. Or, at least started. I begin shopping – little by little, piece by piece – in the summertime. I’m normally working my way down a list that was made in the spring.

I’d like to think I do it this way because I’m so thoughtful and giving and generous. That my gift giving was borne within me, it’s a part of me, it cannot be denied for 12 months out of the year and so, I must shop early and shop often. How else can I uphold the claim that I am like Leslie Knope when it comes to presents?

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Sure, it’d be nice if that were the case. In all actuality, I start shopping that early because I don’t like seeing my bank account take such a wallop the last six weeks before Christmas. If I spend the money slowly over a longer period of time, it doesn’t hurt so badly.

But, this year has been a crazy one for me (Umm…October is next week? What?!). I’ve had a lot going on that hasn’t involved shopping. Which is kind of crazy. Because I love shopping! And all things Christmas related!

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