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Hunger Games

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What are you doing this weekend? The Chicago-based half of Pen & Palate will be attending the 10th Annual Bucktown Apple Pie Contest, the biggest apple pie contest in the country, clad in my finest pair of elastic-waist stretchy pants, chowing down on some homemade baked goods. And since Lucy can’t make it because she lives in some place called New York City (here in the Midwest, we refer to anything east of Gary, Indiana as “flyover country”), where such wonders do not exist, I will be eating for two. Sacrifices, etc.

I nearly gave myself an aneurysm last year, not finishing my apple pies until 3 AM, the morning of the contest (I think it lent a sense of urgency in the finished pies, which I believe worked in my favor), but that shouldn’t stop you from entering! Last year, they had upwards of 2,000 people show up. This year, who knows? Perhaps famous Chicagoans Kanye West and Billy Corgan will make an appearance. You know who else is from Chicago? A certain President of the United States of America. Just saying.

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Conspicuous Consumption

Pen and palate banana

A couple of weeks ago, I got a mysterious text message from my friend Soo. “Skillets and frying pans are 40% off sticker!” it read. I was confused. Last I checked Soo was on vacation in Africa, and why would she be shopping for cookware directly before getting on an international flight? Have they started selling pots and pans in duty free? After a few follow-up questions, Soo revealed she was actually in Rhode Island, at the Le Creuset outlet, offering to buy me a cast-iron skillet. I was incredibly touched. Anyone who would spot you $80 bucks* and then lug a 15-pound pan across state borders—all in the name of a good deal!—is obviously a true friend. Read more

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The French Montana

Pen & Palate The French Montana Cocktail

Illustration: Tram Nguyen

 

Let’s talk baby names. I’m not pregnant, nor do I plan to be any time soon (Can you hear that *creeaaaakkkk*? That’s my empty womb calling out to you.), but I’m at that age where everyone I know is either popping out babies or just about to. The topic of what to name a child has been on the forefront of my mind lately. Every so often, I like to run an up-to-date list by Lucy, just to get a rise out of her. Some recent candidates: DRose, Theory, the letter “K”, and James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser. After Lucy asks what the hell is wrong with me and voices concerns about the welfare of my hypothetical children, I usually reconsider. Any kid of mine is most likely going to be an awkward, artsy, weirdo, and they’ll have a rough enough time as it is, so perhaps it would be better to not saddle him or her with a ridiculous name as well.

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Friday Links

pen and palate rice

Hi, happy Friday, what are you up to this weekend? Lucy has a birthday, after which she has big plans to turn into a cobweb and disappear forever. That’s in addition to: eating Japanese food, eating Chinese food, eating cake, drinking wine, eating more cake, drinking several beers, etc. Rob I hope you’re reading this (hint: bake me a cake). According to the internet, other people on this planet will be doing things like drinking Cheez-It cocktails, ordering from the secret Mister Softee menu(???), and more. Check it out after the jump. Tell us fun things in the comments. Read more

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Shameless Self-promotion

pen and palate drink

Lucy and I did an interview two months ago with Saveur, explaining the origins of Pen & Palate, our inspirations and process. We’re just getting around to sharing the link because…we didn’t realize it actually ran until a few days ago? Too busy doing important things like playing Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, I guess.

If you are not too busy cultivating your Kim K skills, you can read our interview here, or a see a complete list of the the Best Food Blog Awards 2014 winners here. We highly recommend our babely Canadian friends Lindsay Anderson and Dana VanVeller’s FEAST: An Edible Road Trip.  Not only are these ladies lovely, talented, funny writers, they also do all sorts of adventurous things like eat narwhal, “the unicorn of the ocean”.

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Friday Links

pen and palate bottleHiiii, it’s Friday again and, unlike last week, when Tram and I were hanging out IRL and too distracted to post, this week we are back again with the links thingy. It’s an experiment, ok?! If you would like to weigh in on whether you think it’s good or sucks, please do so in the comments. This week we have Jane Pratt’s candy-hindered colonoscopy; hypercolor ice cream; raw narwhal consumption; and more.   Read more

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Freelance Gazpacho

pen and palate tomatoes market

illustration: tram nguyen

 

The “freelance writing lifestyle” has its ups and downs. It’s been about a year since I quit my full-time reporting job to do the whole freelance thing, and during that period I’ve learned a few things about myself. For one thing, I am disturbingly okay with my limited degree of human interaction. Being at home alone with my cat all day suits me basically fine! I also like being my own boss. No one is going to give me shit if I sleep in or take a 2-hour ice cream break or work from bed while wearing my soft clothes; and because there’s no one to ask me to write cheap-click blog posts in the interest of “generating content” or getting X number of page views, I have no real reason to do so. It’s basically forced me to hold myself to a higher standard, which means that, in the last year, I’ve done mostly work in which I’m actually interested. That alone feels like an enormous luxury.  Read more

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Birthday Babes

pen and palate pizzaToday’s our first birthday, which means Pen & Palate was born less than a week after Prince George, a very impressive feat. We’ll be celebrating by eating pizza and lying in bed (Lucy), and hanging with some very cool babies (Tram), but if you’d like to give us a prezzie you can “follow” us on Tumblr, give us a million dollars, throw us a “kidchella” birthday party, or just continue to click over here and read our stuff when you feel so compelled. Thanks for being a friend!

 

 

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Virtuous Kale Braised in Coconut Milk

pen and palate kale web illustration

illustration: tram nguyen

 

This time last year, I was afflicted with the sudden fit of self-improvement mania that arrives like clockwork annually. I made all sorts of lofty, thigh gap-centric goals and ordered a new yoga mat and a workout DVD from Tracy Anderson, Gwyneth Paltrow’s personal trainer.When it showed up in my mailbox a few days later, I was pleased that it had arrived in such a timely fashion. I then stowed it away in some shadowy recess for safe keeping and never touched it again.

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