Shopping is Cooking

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When you’re having friends over for dinner at 7:30, and it’s getting on in the day, time grows precious and you have to prioritize. Do you spend it shopping or do you spend it cooking? More often than not, I spend it cooking. My usual cooking routine goes: rush to Gelson’s, gather up overpriced ingredients, hurry home, make the dessert, assemble the entree, get things ready for the appetizer and drink a glass of wine while listening to “The Music Man” just as the guests show up. But last week I changed my dinner party strategy. Instead of spending most of my time in the kitchen, I spent it on the road, gathering up great ingredients to see if it made a difference. And you know what? It totally did. That strategy yielded better results than if I’d spent that same time stirring over a stove. Here’s why.

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Banana Nut Waffles

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Greetings from Seattle! I’m at a coffee shop staring at Molly Orangette’s back (this is true: after seeing her yesterday, I randomly ran into her again today). I’m here, though, for a very important reason. I’m here to tell you about these banana nut waffles that will be perfect for a holiday breakfast this weekend. Some of you may be celebrating Christmas; and if, after unpacking your stockings, you load up on these before tearing into the presents? You’re bound to be happy even if your significant other gifts you with a poodle sweater.

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Raw Kale Salad with Walnuts, Pecorino and Lemon

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Say “raw kale salad” before serving dinner and you may not get the round of applause you were hoping for. That’s unfortunate, though, because raw kale–which, I should say here, is incredibly good for you–is so easy to dress up. I’ve had raw kale salads before, mostly at hip Italian joints like Franny’s in New York, but I’d never made one. Then last week I had some leftover kale (Tuscan kale, in fact) from a lentil soup that I love from my cookbook (just 8 more months ’til you can buy it!). I decided that, along with the leftover lentil soup, I’d serve up a raw kale salad that I would improvise on the spot.

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Yogurt with Walnuts, Raisins, Honey & Mint

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As a kid, I felt the same way about plain yogurt as I did about white crayons: why do these things exist? Who would eat plain yogurt? Who would color with a white crayon? What kind of sick, twisted soul would find these things appealing?

As an adult, I still feel the same way about the white crayon–Why does it exist? To color on black paper? Who has black paper?–but I’ve had a change of heart about plain yogurt. Especially now that I’ve discovered plain Greek yogurt, which is thick and rich and, when paired with other flavors, very satisfying as an afternoon snack.

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