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As someone who rarely eats meat and almost never makes it to the fishmonger, I’m always on the lookout for vegetarian main dishes that don’t just feel large side dishes. Mujadarra is one of my favorites: basmati rice, Puy lentils, and lots of spiced yogurt for serving and scooping.

This here is another rice+lentils creation, the idea for which came from a couple of Food52 recipes. The first is a pistachio dukkah, which I’ve had my eye on for a while; do you know all about dukkah already? It’s pretty new to me, and altogether delightful: a combination of nuts, seeds, and spices that’s technically a condiment but very easily slips into savory granola territory. The Food52 folks warned me that I might shovel this stuff straight into my mouth, and that’s pretty much what happened. Fortunately, I made a double batch.


The other recipe was for lentils and rice with tamarind sauce, which rather ingeniously called for tempering nigella seeds before mixing them with tamarind paste. Nigella seeds are a favorite discovery from my time living in Jerusalem: their flavor is subtle, a bit like caraway but less severe and more mysterious. I don’t use them nearly enough.

Combined, these two recipes became a pretty magical vegetarian main: a pile of rice and lentils drizzled with tamarind sauce, sprinkled with crunchy dukkah, and served with a scoop of yogurt. It’d be great alongside curried tofu or salmon with Indian spices, but it’s substantial and interesting enough to stand on its own.

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Better Hamentaschen

Since we’ve already established that I’m entering the era of last-minute, hastily prepared dinners, it should follow logically that down-to-the-wire blog posts may happen as well. In this case, it occurred to me perhaps a bit too close to Purim that I should share an update to my hamentaschen recipe. At least one of the changes came about due to desperation — of the “ice storm, not enough butter in the house” variety — but this year’s cookies are the best in recent memory, so even if you’ve got loads of butter in the house (and lucky you if you do!), you might want to make them.

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Big Kale Salad with Pomegranate and Feta

A few days ago, I sat on our couch in stretchy leggings, nursing a mug of my favorite chai and watching Adi figure out what hands are. She brought them really close to her face and just stared, turning them slowly, trying to figure out whether they were attached to something, or someone, and what they might be there for.  And I realized, as I watched her patiently, painstakingly, unrelentingly trying to figure out her limbs, that this first chapter of parenthood might already be behind me.

I’ve got so many photos and videos of Adi cooing and laughing and doing sweet, adorable, hilarious things that my icloud won’t sync. Among those photos are a few hastily snapped shots of the salads we’ve been eating for dinner, and the (very simple) stews I’ve been making on the weekends to feed us at work. My real camera is lurking neglected in some corner of our house, patiently waiting for our kitchen to be not 90% done, not 97% done, but actually, 100% done. (Did I mention we’re redoing our kitchen? This seemed like the ideal time, because, you know, we don’t have much else going on. We’re waiting for it to be done, too, but not so patiently.)

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Since the above pics were taken, we got a fresh coat of paint, cabinet hardware, and a few more finishing details in place. I tell myself that once the granite is installed and the moving boxes are gone, I’ll start blogging in earnest again, with the same frequency as before Adi was here. But that’s probably not realistic. Life is busier now. There’s less time, which means fewer fussy recipes, and fewer pictures. The whole enterprise of eating feels different these days; I’m proud if I manage to bake off a loaf of (no-knead) bread in time for Sunday breakfast. When dinner isn’t one of my increasingly-becoming-my-specialty salads, it’s a bag of soup or beans from the freezer. As I slowly but surely draw down my stash of frozen meals, I wonder when I’ll have a chance to replenish it.

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Punchy Crunchy Ginger Salad

So here’s something that just occurred to me: It’s ironic — cruelly ironic — that the season of resolutions (and trying to keep them) coincides with the season of trying not to freeze here on the east coast. The food pages hawk salads and smoothies; bluster and chill begs for stew and hot cocoa. Perhaps we should mark the new year in May, or just move to California. Or Australia. Alas, I don’t have much pull with the folks who set the calendar – and I may have even less sway when it comes to convincing my wonderful wife that the west coast would suit us well. DC friends, rejoice: we’re not leaving.


Instead, we’re hunkering down under fleece blankets and finding one too many excuses to make hot cocoa. But even the frigid depths of January and February require occasional salads. We can’t subsist entirely on soup (though rest assured, I have tried). Here’s what I have to say about those winter salads: they don’t always want leaves. They certainly don’t want to be nibbled, or speared politely with a small fork. These are hungry days; we want to shovel our salads with a spoon, in big heaps, and let them fill our bellies.


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Having been out of cooking commission for most of fall, I missed the season of fancy party snacks and holiday breakfasts. I spent December gazing at a certain very delicious little face, foregoing the mistletoe and the cocktail parties. Now it’s January, and the cinnamon rolls and champagne flutes are fading in the rear view mirror on your way to the gym. 2015, you came quickly.

But I’ve been making up for lost time, now that the babe and I have hit our stride. We’ve had scones and omelettes for brunch, wintry mixed drinks at happy hour, and plenty of snacks. I’ll spare you the over-the-top breakfasts and the bourbony indulgence — for now — but the snacks I’ve been making these past couple weeks are too good not to share. Think of it as some belated holiday cheer.

These dates snapped back into my repertoire after I received a version of them from a friend, shortly after Adi was born. Jana, an excellent cook (and now a maker of very fancy cakes), slipped some chevre into pitted dates, and topped each date with a slice of pistachio and a pinch of minced chives. I ate one, then shamelessly ate all the others before D could get any. And then, the very next day, I added a TJ’s run to our itinerary to pick up dates and chives and chevre and do the whole thing again.

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Since Adi was born, we’ve been the extremely lucky beneficiaries of meals that our friends have prepared and delivered to us a few times each week. While I’ve managed to cook and bake a few things, the opportunities tend to come in very short spurts: 30 minutes of down time in the morning means I can put up a bread dough or simmer some lentils, and if I’m lucky, I get an hour of quiet in the afternoons to bake off that bread or season those lentils. Lunch time isn’t downtime, though, so I often find myself reaching for a few apple slices and a hunk of cheese from the fridge, just enough to tide me over. I’ve got a bag of mixed nuts and raisins that I keep on the side table where I nurse, and I’d say I polish off that bag and call it lunch more often than not.


There was a time when apples and cheese weren’t just snacks to grab on the go. We’re part of a wine club, which meets once a month for wine tasting and a dinner, cooked by the host, to match the wine. Before the babe was born, my brother- and sister-in-law Adam and Julie hosted an evening of Rioja tasting, and Julie made an absolutely bang-up meal to go with the wine, riffed on tapas she’d eaten at restaurants around town. Pretty much everything on the table was a standout, but one recipe in particular has become a staple in our house ever since: a simple, addictive apple salad with shavings of manchego cheese, buttery marcona almonds, and roasted garlic dressing.


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Curried Carrot Apple Soup

In the weeks leading up to Adi’s birth, I started baking and cooking food intended entirely for the freezer. If I’m being honest (and inviting you all to take some jabs at my sensibilities), some of what I stowed away was a bit…frouffy: butternut sage scones and carrot bran muffins, for the absurd but oh-so-likely future occasion that I need to throw a brunch together at the last minute; embarrassingly large quantities of cookies (NYT chocolate chip and chocolate gingerbread and snickerdoodles, I know you’re curious) because nursing is really hard, and after a long day of rather painfully feeding my babe, I need to feed myself and you know what? These days, that involves a cookie.



Not that cookies aren’t a practical choice, but I can assure you that in plotting what would occupy my precious freezer real estate, I did consider courses other than dessert. I’ve frozen small bags of chicken stock to have on hand for easy rice or vegetable dishes, and I even froze some of Lisa Fain’s fantastic seven-chile chili. which I make precisely once a year. But most of what I froze in the non-brunch, non-dessert department consisted of soup. And since we’ve now had the chance to defrost a couple of containers for no-thinking-required dinner, I can tell you that this curried carrot-apple number has proven a clear favorite.

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In a cliche to end all cliches, thanksgiving came early for us this year.


Our little Adi was born Saturday before the holiday. She came into the world with a super-alert gaze, a chill, lovely disposition, and a full head of hair. Needless to say, we’re over the moon.

We’ve spent the past few weeks offline, adjusting to the rhythms of parenthood. I keep thinking back to the Friday night dinner we hosted back in early November, where I made Peking duck, and that last apple pie I made the week before I went into labor. Both feel like they happened eons ago. Now there’s a tiny human in our house, and we’re responsible for her. It’s all quite surreal.

To our great fortune, my brother- and sister-in-law also ensured that we had Thanksgiving of the more traditional variety. There was turkey, stuffing, kale, green beans, brussels sprouts, sweet potato casserole, gravygravygravy, cranberry sauce, and more pies and cakes than I had time to inventory. Loving, eager hands held and passed Adi all night; she cooperated perfectly. And when we had to leave rather abruptly, our wonderful family sent us home with a huge bag of leftovers to sustain us through the weekend. I even managed to secure a piece of gingerbread chocolate cake for the road.

Friends, I have so many recipes to share with you. If you’ll be patient, I’ll try to work through them over the next few weeks. The days (and nights!) are rather unpredictable, but they’re growing less so. And to my great surprise, my desire to cook hasn’t really faded since I gave birth. Time is in shorter supply and comes in small spurts, but I’ve managed to squeeze in a bit of cooking and baking between feeds and burps and whatnot. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, happiest of holidays to all of you. Enjoy this lovely time of family and friends. See you back here in a bit with a recipe or two. xo.