I don’t know about you, but for me the holiday season means baking – a lot. I have found that there is something very satisfying and comforting in baking a cake, especially during the festive season. It relaxes me and it allows me to be creative and to show the others how much I care about them. Moreover, as I gather my ingredients, get my tools ready and butter and flour my baking pans, my mind journeys into the past and memories, some seemingly long forgotten, come back to life and to me. I think baking is a personal enterprise by definition. Whenever I bake I like to reflect on what that particular recipe means to me. I also like to think of the earliest recollection I have of baking that cake/those cookies. Despite my best intentions, sometimes the memories are scarce. Thankfully, on many occasions, there are plenty of things I remember. Such is the case with the cake I am going to write about today: my mom’s spice cake.
I’m sure you know it by now, but I’ll say it again: I love peppers! I love their vibrant and varied colors, their sweet and delicate flavor, their abundance of vitamins – and the list goes on. Before starting off this website I did not think much about peppers, and I never actually realized how much I used them in dishes on a regular basis. This conscious writing and cooking exercise has made me think about peppers very often, and has helped me learn more about myself and my culinary preferences. This has been an amazing journey of self-knowledge, and I’m thankful for that.
Since peppers were on sale at my local grocery store the other day, I thought it would be a good idea to buy some and to make a recipe which, like my vegetable sauce, is a staple in our household: roast pepper dip.
I have vivid memories of our first Thanksgiving. We had lived in Chicago for about six months, and by then we were fully immersed into the realities of our new home country and its culture and traditions. I was very excited that we were about to spend our first Thanksgiving, and I did a lot of shopping to mark the occasion. I bought and roasted a whole turkey, which we had for lunch and dinner for a good few days. Then, I made other dishes and forgot about the half-eaten turkey. Two weeks later, the turkey was still in the fridge, and I found it and threw it away. I was so ashamed at the waste of half a cooked turkey! In retrospect, it was all my fault. I bought a whole turkey when I should have known better.
These past couple of weeks have been really crazy at work. We are approaching the end of the semester, and demand for tutoring is increasing. Students have lots of assignments to turn in, lots of questions in preparation for the final exams, lots of extra credits to think about. There’s so much to do, and so little time. I’ve been dragging my feet (figuratively speaking) from one day to the next, hoping to catch a break and to get a few hours of extra sleep. All of my co-workers are exhausted, and we all look forward to the winter break.
Sadly, I haven’t been around much lately. I’ve been a slacker in the kitchen, living off cold sandwiches and late night store-bought pizza. At the moment Thanksgiving still seems very far away, and I haven’t even thought about the menu. But I promise you, my readers, that I’ll be back soon. I’ve even planned a little surprise for you. So stay tuned! 🙂
Today is Halloween, and we’re about to say farewell to October. Where has this month gone? I don’t know. These past few weeks have been very busy for me, and sadly I have been further and further away from the kitchen. Still, I wanted to make a pumpkin pie to celebrate fall – and what better way to make a pie than to use fresh pumpkin, and thus to make use of one of the most popular fruits of the season?
In my experience, eating dinner is the last thing you want to do when you get home late, on a freezing cold night. You just want to shower and cuddle up under the blanket, hoping that spring would be upon you soon (if only this were true!). Still, on this cold Chicago weather, what can be more enticing than a hot panino, oozing cheesy goodness, nutritious, and quick to prepare? I think panini are the perfect quick comfort food: You can make a healthy meal out of only a few ingredients in very little time. A fresh panino and a hot cup of cocoa – that’s my new idea of dinner bliss.
Going back to this blog to write about food and the pleasures of eating and drinking – to write about life – is not easy after a week of grief, following the death of a friend. I needed time to heal from sadness, and now I’m glad to be back. Also, on the plus side, my job has kept me very busy, and I’m grateful for that. Being so busy, I had less time to cry while thinking about my friend, and I channeled my energy into my work and my new responsibilities as a school tutor. It is difficult but not impossible, and I’m working on it – taking it step by step, one day at a time.