Monday, December 19, 2011
Life is filled with milestones. Some are big, like going to Europe for the first time, graduating from college, buying your first car, or even getting engaged. These are important, life-changing experiences that you're unlikely to forget. They don't happen to often, but when they do, it's a time to reflect on your past, present, and future, and to appreciate yourself and how much you've grown and accomplished as a person. Milestones like these are a big deal.
Other milestones are much smaller but no doubt some can be just as meaningful. Milestones like beating your best mile-time on your afternoon jog, your first kiss, poaching an egg perfectly the first time you try, or learning how to wear contact lenses are special events that are far less recognized than more grander achievements, but, to me at least, are just as important. Sure, we may end up forgetting these occasions in a few years, but at the time they're a source of excitement and personal pride, and for that, they should not be overlooked. It's these every day milestones that keep us going.
I don't remember when I first learned how to fry, but I know that my mom taught me how by making french fries. French fries were a rarity when I was growing up, but home-made french fries were even more special. My mom would cut a russet potato into big matchsticks, and carefully slip then into a big pot of sizzling oil. The fries would emerge, piping hot and golden brown, and be sprinkled with a generous palmful of Kosher salt. Watching and learning how to make french fries was a skill I was able to apply to a litany of my favorite cardiologist condemned foods as I got older, like fried chicken, fried eggplant, and zucchini fritters. And I have my mom to thank for it. Learning to fry was certainly a small milestone, but an asset I'll carry with me for the rest of my life.
These apple donuts are the perfect treats to hone your frying skills. I recently bribed my boyfriend to drive two hours to visit me with this post from Joy the Baker (along with the promise of eternal love etc). It worked, and a few Sundays ago we whipped up these little guys for a decadent breakfast. They're crunchy on the outside, soft and tart on the inside, and with a generous sprinkling of powdered sugar on the top, they're just the right amount of sweet. I used Granny Smith apples and followed Joy's recipe pretty exactly and they turned out beautifully. Plus, they're slightly less terrible for you since they actually contain fruit instead of dough... or maybe I'm just grasping for straws. Either way, they are incredible so give them a try. I can't think of a more special way to celebrate an everyday milestone. After all, isn't that what life is really about?
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
What's your favorite winter food? Mine's beef stew. No, it's hot chocolate. Wait, I think it's turkey chili. Sometimes it's sauteed kale smothered in yolk from a perfectly poached egg. Yeahh... that's the stuff.
Winter is a time for hearty things. For comfort foods that warm your heart and stick to your bones. When it's cold and blustery outside, we can't help but want to curl up with our loved ones and a cozy meal. It's in our blood.
But what about those sunny, crisp winter days, the ones that feel invigorating and inspiring the very moment the sun crests the rooftops of sleepy homes as if to say, "Wake up! The day is young, the time is now to make the most of it!" Those are the days I make it to 7:00am spin class. I try to cherish them, because I know as winter wages on, they will be few and far between.
On days like those, our favorite rich, winter comfort foods won't do. We need something fresher, crisper, and greener, and studded with pomegranates. Lucky for us, winter provides plenty of fresh and healthy options, they're just a little unexpected. You know those braised brussels sprouts you ate for Thanksgiving? You know that fennel you sauteed into soup? Remember those apples that you baked into pie? Those things can all be eaten RAW, in a delicious salad that's pretty good for you. No, don't groan. This is yummy, I promise. If Joy the Baker invented it, it can't be bad (I followed her wonderful recipe, minus the almonds). Plus, you'll feel pretty good after you eat it. Crisp winter morning good. Spin class good. So good, in fact, that this may become one of your new favorite winter foods. It certainly has become one of mine.