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Holiday Cheer

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I‘m not one for romantic Valentine’s Day celebrations. The first time I had a boyfriend on this holiday, in high school, I skipped the first half of the school day so I wouldn’t have to face some embarrassing display of V Day-related affection. When I finally did show up at school, an hour before it was over, the boy cornered me in the parking lot and gave me a love poem he had hand-written on a pink and red construction paper heart. I’m not proud to admit I broke up with him the next week.

I found my perfect Valentine’s Day boyfriend in Rob, who has never given me a gift or in any other way acted foolish on this sentimental, made-up holiday. Often he’s working and I watch figure skating in bed with my cat, eating both a donut and pancakes, because why not? This year, however, Rob has been bullied into buying me flowers by the people who are doing our wedding decorations (how do you tactfully say “no thanks,” when your wedding florist tells you to buy your girlfriend flowers?), so I figure I will do my part, too. By that I mean I plan to make myself a devil’s food cake from the Tartine cookbook, and when he arrives home from work late at night I will have saved him a slice. Was I going to make this cake anyway, for non-Valentine’s Day related purposes? Yes. Does he know that? Well, maybe he does now, I can never really tell how frequently he reads this blog. But whatever. As long as he doesn’t write me any love poems, and as long as he treats me like a divine goddess every day for eternity, I’ll be happy.

Article

No-Snow Day Cookies

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Illustration: Tram Nguyen

 

When I was growing up, my family had a term for food so junky it was not technically allowed in our house: Nut Googies. This phrase was apparently coined during my mom’s childhood—something about my grandfather misunderstanding “Nut Goodies”—but by the time I rolled around it was used as a place-holder for any dessert that was just disgusting enough my siblings and I were all dying to try it: ice cream blasted with several types of candy; brownie bars with crushed-up Oreos in them; anything involving marshmallows. My parents were pretty health-conscious, so this kind of “food” made only the rarest appearances in our household. Among these special occasions, however, were snow days.

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Consumer Report: Icelandic Candy

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A week or so ago, Rob and I were heading back to New York on the connecting leg of an 8-hour flight, and I started to worry about being hungry. I have this thing on long flights where I get really, really famished exactly at the moment when all the flight attendants mysteriously disappear, so for hours I sit there starving, and obsessing over how starving I am, because of course I’m too nervous to push the summon-a-flight-attendant button to be like, “hi I’m a little piglet, can you bring me more snacks?” So this time around, thinking ahead, Rob and I decided to order a boatload of food during the flight attendant’s initial pass through the cabin.

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Article

The Genteel Vagabond

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Illustration: Tram Nguyen

 

The first time Lucy saw my kitchen, always looking on the bright side, she cooed, “It’s so cute and retro!” And while I appreciate her positive spin, “cute” was not the word for it. The “retro” part might be appropriate, as the kitchen had long been overdue for a remodel, since its last update seemed to have been during the Reagan administration. And even then, the homeowners only chose the crème de la crème of what the industry euphemistically calls “builder’s grade” cabinets in this great sickly beige color, and fake wood laminate countertops. Over the years, I painted the walls, hoping that the canary yellow, pale gray, soft black, and then finally what I’d optimistically dubbed “Le Corbusier green” would somehow counteract all that beige laminate and fake wood. It didn’t. It was like putting lipstick on a pig. We did switch out the appliances eight years ago, because they had stopped working. So there’s that. But since then, the kitchen remodel was put on the back of our priority list, usurped by things like fancy Italian cheese graters and mortgage payments and dental work.

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We Got Something To Say

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Hello! We have a little announcement: We are thrilled (and slightly terrified) (but mostly thrilled) to tell you that Pen & Palate is going to be a book! It will be an illustrated coming-of-age story, and it will have recipes, and, thanks to our amazing and badass agent Brettne Bloom, Grand Central Publishing (HELLO) is putting it out in 2016. Yay!

When we started this thing a little over a year ago, no one read it, not even our moms*. We did it to amuse ourselves, as a creative outlet outside of our day jobs, and we never imagined anyone else would actually be interested in hearing about our kitchen disasters. So it is with the sincerest gratitude that we say thank you to everyone reading this blog—for your comments, your suggestions, and your support!

 

 

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HO HO HO!

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Let’s talk about the holidays, shall we? Being a godless heathen myself, I spend Christmas day at my favorite Szechuan restaurant trying to selfishly gobble up all the salt and pepper triple seafood delight before my boyfriend can beat me to it. Afterward, we roll ourselves home and usually watch a good movie like Beverly Hills Cop or Coming to America (In my world, Good Movie=Eddie Murphy Movie, apparently).

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Article

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Illustration: Tram Nguyen

Illustration: Tram Nguyen

 

One thing that happens when a person works from home is that “getting dressed” becomes a highly relative term. For instance, right now I consider myself dressed because I am wearing sporty leggings and a tank top, so if there was a fire I would be able to leave the house fairly quickly (once I put on shoes). But as “looks” go, it falls somewhere along the cat mom/occasional jogger spectrum, and it is not an aberration.

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