Yotam Ottolenghi's Raspberry Meringue Roulade
Ashley Rodriguez's Bittersweet Brownies with Salted Peanut Butter Frosting

Getting Back in the Saddle

Dear Readers,

I have fallen and I can't get up. I took a little break over the holidays, just a little one, I thought, and now I cannot for the life of me figure out how to get back in the blogging saddle. I keep sidling up to it, but I can't even get a foot in the stirrup! I just stand there, staring at the horse and its big, glossy-black side, and then leave again because I'm so intimidated. And tired. Gah. (In case you were wondering, the insomnia continues unabated. But I am seeking professional help, starting this week. Cross your fingers.)

So today I'm going to make a list, because list-making soothes me. And perhaps by making said list I can actually pass along some kind of interesting content to you? We'll see. Let's take it slow. Thank you.

1. The hilarious Amelia Morris of Bon Appétempt is about to publish her first book, a coming-of-age story with recipes. It is, as I said in my blurb, wry and touching (I still feel the same way!). It made me laugh out loud (no joke) and also kind of broke my heart. Plus, on page 230 of the book, Amelia shares a recipe for potato, corn and chile soup that we declared the best soup discovery of 2014. It's exciting (chiles! avocado and cheese topping!) and comforting (potato soup with corn thrown in, enough said) at the same time, plus you get to crumble tortilla chips on top of the soup, which is at the top of the list of reasons why being an adult can be, at times, a lot of fun. Thank you, Amelia!

Action shot of adult tortilla-crumbling:

Potato, chile and corn soup

2. We got the keys to our new apartment on Friday. Renovations start today (we are replacing the electrical system, having the walls painted, and installing a kitchen). The process of finding and buying this apartment has been so smooth and uncomplicated thus far that my level of terror regarding the renovations has reached DEFCON 3. Something has to go wrong at some point with this whole endeavor, doesn't it? What will it be? Black mold in the walls? Murderous, chain-smoking neighbors? A hidden World War II bomb lodged in the ceiling? (As you can imagine, my lack of sleep is totally helping me out on this one.) Here's a picture of the kitchen, in all its dingy glory. We are keeping the 105-year-old tiles, which I am thrilled about, and the 105-year-old floor, which I am less thrilled about, and will finally have a gas stove again, for which I give thanks every single day, forever and ever, amen.

We will not, for the record, be keeping that stove. Hallelujah, praise be.


3. From June 15-20 this year, Rachel Roddy of rachel eats and I will be hosting a food writing workshop called The Language of Food at the Anna Tasca Lanza Cooking School in Sicily. For five days, we will read, write, explore and cook together, with the flavors and fragrances of Sicily as inspiration. Fabrizia Lanza, the owner of the school, will take us on excursions throughout the region, from Agrigento to Polizzi Generosa, as well as introduce us to local winemakers and food artisans. It will be fun and delicious, but more than anything I hope it will be an inspiring and productive week for anyone who can join. (There are 10 to 15 spots available!) I cannot overstate how thrilled I am to be co-hosting it with Rachel, whose writing fills me up with contentment and joy every time I read it. For more information, click here.

Here is a picture Rachel took at dusk last June at the school during aperitivo hour. Aaaahhh...

Case vecchie

4. The one thing I have made three times in the past month has been this chili, but with beef instead of turkey and with twice as many beans and half as much meat. The first time I made it, it was actually to use up a batch of stale cornbread (Edna Lewis's sour milk cornbread), but we loved it so much that I can't stop making it. I have no idea if it is authentic, nor do I really care. It's very delicious, very easy and can be easily doubled to feed a crowd, with leftovers to boot. It even pleased every single member of my book club recently. You should know about it.

Behold the cubed stale cornbread:


And that's it! That wasn't so hard after all, I guess. Happy New Year, everyone, if it is still acceptable to say so on January 19th. I'll be back soon, after trying this milk-roasted chicken and making something from this beautiful book (I am still waffling between trying the salted chocolate chip cookies and the bittersweet brownies with peanut butter frosting - have a preference?).