Another Orange Soup…

“. . . the rich ate and drank freely, accepting gout and apoplexy as things that ran mysteriously in respectable families . . .”
George Eliot, Silas Marner

Butternut Squash Bisque

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_ _I’m not a brilliant person by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ve never had my intelligence insulted more than when I was working through a temp agency my sophomore year of college. I was essentially hired to answer phones and file paperwork at a Section-8 apartment rental office, which I figured would be a breeze… until I met the woman I was going to be working with. She held loud, personal conversations on the phone while clients sat in the waiting room; she felt the need to explain to me how to alphabetize the applications; she insisted I rip up stacks and stacks of documents by hand (the office had a paper shredder)… but the highlight of my time there was the day she requested that I organize some papers in a binder and asked me if I was “OK”  to use a three-hole punch. I nearly had an aneurysm.

_ _When I hear the phrase “idiot proof” using a hole punch and making this soup now come to mind. Even if you CAN’T figure out a hole punch (no judgment… ok, a little judgment) you can still make this dish. It’s just about the easiest thing you can whip up and make your guests swoon.

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Bacon Makes Everything Better

“I would recommend examination of the bacon in the saucepan on the fire, and also of the potatoes by the application of a fork. Preparation of the greens will further become necessary if you persist in this unseemly demeanour.”
-Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend

Spinach Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette

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_ _ I think everyone feels just a little smug when they order a salad for dinner– maybe you’re like me and even raise your voice slightly as you hand the menu back to the server so you know the rest of the table hears you… That’s right, WATCH me be healthier than all of you. This sense of superiority only lasts however, if you can suppress your inner monologue reminding you “…yeah, except that you actually got the iceberg, smothered in bleu cheese and fried chicken… idiot.” Shut up brain.

_ _ Well, this salad is the perfect combination of healthy ingredients and indulgence so that you can feel good about eating it and not be stuck craving more flavor. If you eat it and still binge on a dozen peanut butter cookies, it won’t be because you’re still hungry… it’ll be because you have a problem. Like me.

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Not A Playa, I Just Crush A Lot… Valentine’s Dinner!

” . . . fan the sinking flame of hilarity with the wing of friendship; and pass the rosy wine.”
Charles Dickens, The Old Curiosity Shop

Roasted Asparagus & Tomatoes with Eggplant Parm “Lasagna”

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_ _I’ve never really bought in to the craziness of Valentine’s Day… probably in part because until a couple of years ago I had never had a steady boyfriend to spend it with and I sounded like less of a bitter sadsack if I could act nonchalant about it all– tell people I just didn’t believe in lining the pockets of CEOs at Hallmark. I was taking a political and socially responsible stand!

_ _Well, February this year finds my boyfriend away training in Louisiana. As I sat thinking about how all weekend at work I’m going to have to serve food to annoying, glassy-eyed couples as they pet each other across the table, I decided that in order to have an excuse to make fancy food, drink (too much) wine, and eat my body weight in desserts, I would invite my friend Ana to visit me. I didn’t intend to make it a vegetarian meal; I honestly picked these particular dishes because I figured they would be light enough that I could clean my plate and still have room for approximately 2,000 cheesecake-stuffed chocolate strawberries. Finally, the perfect V-day celebration: a good meal, alcohol and slasher films… Ahh true romance.

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Ohhh Risotto…

“It’s the company, not the cooking, that makes a meal”
-Kirby Larson, Hattie Big Sky

Parmesan-Rosemary Risotto

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_ _Overall, I would consider myself to be a fairly rational person; I’m a recent college graduate (I see you sneering at my liberal arts degree… sssshut up) and I try to think through any major decisions. But I have what can only be described as cheese-related dementia. I have three true scenarios and a mini pop quiz for you:

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1. When I was 13 I developed a severe lactose intolerance. At my best friend’s weekly pizza-and-ice-cream movie night, did I a) resist temptation and stick to my toast and Lactaid milk; or b) insist on eating at least half a pie, a gallon of mint chip, and spend the rest of the evening  crying in the fetal position… every time?

2. Last week I came home and realized I literally only had bread, cheese and beer in the fridge (sorry mom). Did I a) walk the one block to the grocery store and buy loads of fresh, organic produce; or b) sigh, make an “aw shucks” hand gesture– to hide my glee, in case anyone was watching– and whip out the fondue pot?

3. During an overnight shift swiping cards at the dorms last semester, I called in an order for Domino’s “cheesy bread sticks.” When they were delivered, I discovered that although one side was cheesy, the other side had been covered in cinnamon-sugar. Did I a) grumble and toss it in the trash; or b) pause for half a second of contemplation before proceeding to devour the entire loaf?

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_ _If you know anything about what a disgusting human being I am, you answered B to all of the above. As I wrote that last bit I realized I should be far more embarrassed about it than I am… Basically this was my long way of explaining why I’m obsessed with this creamy, cheesy risotto. Granted, my anecdotes may have made you question my judgment in regards to… everything, but I don’t care. More risotto for me!

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Just Because I Love Orange Food…

“Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity.”

-VoltaireSoup

Carrot-Ginger Soup

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_ _I went through a phase last winter during which time every dish I made turned out to be red or orange. They just felt so festive and in the desolate wasteland that is upstate New York in late February, you take what colors you can get. When you’ve dragged yourself home through the gray, slushy snow, and your commute has taken 30 minutes longer than necessary because Cornell students cross the streets en masse without even a glance to make sure that there isn’t a Mack truck barreling down on them… *deep, gasping breath after that run-on sentence* A hearty, spicy soup is the perfect antidote to the blues. Nom nom nom.

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Rosemary’s Baby… Or Just Amazing Bread

“People who have tried it, tell me that a clear conscience makes you very happy and contented; but a full stomach does the business quite as well, and is cheaper, and more easily obtained.”

-Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat

Rosemary & Sea Salt Bread

(Photo courtesy of browneyedbaker until I can take my own!)

_ _Ok, so homemade bread may not be the most “easily obtained” thing, but it’s undeniably one of the simplest comfort foods… welcome to my obsession with carbs. This time last year I had never attempted to bake my own bread, and honestly the thought hadn’t really crossed my mind to try- until I came upon a recipe for homemade rosemary bread (and when I say “came upon” I mean I spend hours of my free time trolling for recipes online… that’s normal, right?) Frankly I was intimidated; I have a complex about being bad at things, which I’m sure is very Freudian but I wouldn’t know because I failed Psyche101. In any case, I didn’t run straight to the kitchen, but instead allowed the idea to percolate. That night, rosemary baked goods Freddy Kreugered my dreams (it’s a verb, trust me I’m an English major); I was positive that if I didn’t make this bread immediately I would die. Yes, die. So with the help of Pam Tolbert [hi mom!] who was nearby to keep my confidence high with comments like “don’t TOUCH it! The yeast is supposed to look like that,”  I tentatively stepped into the world of homemade bread… and I’ve never looked back.

_ _I do have to give a huge shout out to my life-saving Kitchenaid mixer, because since that first day I’ve tried making bread the old fashioned way, and when I do, I weep; I gnash my teeth; I cross going to the gym off that day’s “to do” list… it’s just way more work. But whether or not you have said mixer, the smell of delicious, baking rosemary bread wafting through your house will make all the effort worthwhile. Just go make it. Now.

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