Well, folks, this is it. I’m packing up my suitcase to head to Australia for 12 days–a journey I plan to document on the blog as I go (we’ll see how I do!)–and Craig is asking me to make a big pot of something to leave him in the fridge so he can have food to eat when I’m not here. I feel very wife-from-Babe. Coincidentally, friends at a Halloween party recently asked me to write a post on this very subject: things you can make on Sunday night that allow you to eat well on Monday and Tuesday. So here, now, is a list of dishes that meet that very criteria; most will taste better the longer they refrigerate. Also: you can store these dishes in the cooking vessels you cooked them in and put them right back on the stove to heat them up. You can also double the recipes and eat for even longer. (As for what I’m making Craig tonight, it’s Gina DePalma’s lentil soup from my cookbook, as documented by Deb here.)
We all eat at different speeds. Me? I wolf down my food a lot like my dad does, though I try to slow myself down. When my friend Diana eats dessert, she savors each bite like one of those people on chewing diets who count their chews 25 times before they can swallow. Craig, generally speaking, eats at a normal speed, unless he’s talking in which case his food might sit there in front of him getting colder and colder as he enthuses about the trailer for the new Alfonso Cuaron movie or the injustice of getting older. When this happens, I make sculptures with pieces of straw paper and balance chopsticks on little plastic containers.
At last night’s BBQ bonanza (wait, am I allowed to call it a BBQ?) I noticed a funny thing. Craig ate his corn by rotating the cob and leaving his teeth stationary; I ate mine by chomping across and then rotating the cob. So the plate above is Craig’s and you can see how he worked it. Below, you’ll see mine.
A few months ago–what seems like an eternity ago–Craig’s mom, Julee, asked if I’d be willing to donate a cookbook dinner for a charity auction to benefit the Whatcom Center for Early Learning in Bellingham, Washington, where she and Craig’s dad, Steve, live. I said, “Sure” and didn’t think twice about it. Of course I’d be happy to cook a dinner for charity, no biggie. Then I forgot all about it. Months passed and then Julee reached back out: the auction item was a big hit. Two couples had paid money (real money) for a meal that would be cooked by yours truly for them and four other people (they could each bring two more people) based on recipes from my cookbook SECRETS OF THE BEST CHEFS. This was really happening. Holy crap, what was I going to cook?
On Thursday night, we were supposed to go to dinner with Craig’s former boss and the boss’s wife. A work dinner, so to speak. “7:30 at Pizzeria Mozza,” said Craig, earlier in the day.
Then, as 7:30 rolled around, Craig pulled me aside. “I told a white lie,” he said. “We’re not going out with (name redacted) and (name redacted). I’m taking you to Rustic Canyon.”
Hey there! So guess what? A few weeks ago I had an idea for a podcast: what if I host a dinner party where I invite one food world guest and one non-food world guest over for dinner with me and Craig and I record the conversation? Wouldn’t that be fun to listen to? Well, after a trip to the Apple Store (where I procured a large, round microphone called a Snowball) I decided to put my plan into action. The result is what you see/hear below: The Clean Plate Club, a brand-spanking-new podcast that may become a regular feature here on the blog.
Our debut episode features two EXTRAORDINARY guests. The first is the celebrated food critic from L.A. Weekly, who stepped into Jonathan Gold’s shoes when he moved to the L.A. Times: Besha Rodell. The other guest is a hilarious author and playwright who took the world by storm with her brilliant Smash-recaps for New York Magazine’s Vulture site: Rachel Shukert. Her Kindle single about that experience is climbing up the Amazon charts.
So sit back, relax, click play and join us as fellow members of The Clean Plate Club. Then let me know what you think in the comments!
P.S. If you want recipes for the meal that I cooked for a famous food critic and a famous Smash critic, here’s my Caesar salad and here’s my chicken with cous cous and salsa verde. The plum cake is coming later this week.
Let’s pretend that I have a boyfriend (or partner or whatever it is you prefer I call him, you touchy readers you) named Craig and let’s pretend that Craig, one day last year, bought a designer bookshelf from H.D. Buttercup in Culver City. The bookshelf, in this story, was so heavy you couldn’t lift it and so important to Craig that it remained in our bedroom, virtually empty, for a year. We’d talk about the things we might put on it (“What about a vase?” “No, I hate vases,” Craig might reply) but never actually put anything on it except the one time I put a bunch of my favorite paperbacks on the top shelf and they looked incredibly feeble and minuscule in this giant bookcase. “You know,” I may have said, if this story were real, which–to be honest–it is, “what would look really good on it?” “What?” “Cookbooks.”
I’m a pie fool which isn’t the same thing as being a fool for pie. Julie Klausner recently pointed out in her podcast that Jews are cake people, Christians are pie people. From my own life experience, I find that to be true: my Jewish parents and grandparents, when at a social gathering, would put out cake. My dad would eat Entenmann’s crumb cake or lemon coconut cake at home for breakfast or dessert. I can’t recall a single time that a pie ever made an appearance at my house in my childhood. Whereas Craig, who grew up in a Christian family in Bellingham, Washington, ate pie. His dad makes a killer apple pie; pie is part of the fabric of their existence. Which is probably why when I make a cake, I could eat the whole thing and Craig will have a little slice; when I make a pie (especially apple), he goes nuts for it.