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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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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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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

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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