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Do you like macarons? Avocado toast? Matcha?

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Hello? Is there anybody out there? We apologize for our absence! Lucy and I have been up to our necks in writing, painting, and testing recipes for the book (also, hanging out this past weekend in Chicago—presumably to get some “work” done, but really just mainlining Gilmore Girls episodes on Netflix), but as soon as we knock this manuscript out we will be back with new recipes and embarrassing personal anecdotes in a few weeks.*

While we get our acts together, might we suggest you check out the nominees for Saveur’s 2015 Blog Awards? They assembled this list of the best and the brightest, whittled down from an impressive 50,000 submissions this year. Come vote for your favorites and discover a few new food blogs to follow. Voting is open until April 30th. Oh, and we were judges for the first round!

Warning: Completely irrelevant GG rants below the jump. Feel free to weigh in on the debate if you are also a big nerd. :)

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WWLCD?

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It’s a testament to the infectiousness of Colwin’s enthusiasm that her recipes seem appealing even though the food she described was often unappealing to the point of being categorically gross – and she knew it. Her favorite foods include mashed vegetable fritters, meatloaf, steamed puddings, and the jelly that surrounds cold leftover meat, spread on toast and eaten for breakfast. Her enthusiasm for fermented Chinese black beans is boundless, and in several of her recipes these salty, pungent beans are combined with cheese, or yams. “A cold steak sandwich is sort of disgusting, but it is also sort of wonderful,” she confesses, after specifying that this sandwich must include the hardened cold meat drippings, plus butter, because “this is a recipe for people whose cholesterol is too low.” And “Chicken salad has a certain glamour about it.” In a chapter titled “Kitchen Horrors,” she includes a recipe for something called Suffolk Pond Pudding, a suet-heavy British dish that a horrified guest describes as tasting “like lemon-flavored bacon fat.” “I ate almost the entire pudding myself,” she gleefully reports. It’s also refreshing to read a cookbook written by someone who unabashedly confesses to having made baked chicken and a particular creamed spinach casserole literally every time dinner guests came over — for years.

 

This essential weirdness translates to a sense of unlimited permission, which might be why Colwin is especially beloved to people who, like her, specialize in writing non-expert, enthusiastic reports from the front lines of cooking trial and error – in other words, food bloggers. Indeed, some of them see her less as influence than as a sort of spiritual ancestor.

-Friend of the blog Emily Gould on Laurie Colwin.

We highly recommend that you read Emily’s excellent piece on the author Laurie Colwin. In it, she articulates the reasons why Colwin’s work, and more specifically Home Cooking, a slim, unassuming collection of her food writing, has inspired such devotion and garnered an almost cult-like following, decades after her death. Lucy had recommended the book to me for years, and I put off reading it, and put off reading it, mostly because it was not available for digital download and I am the kind of garbage person who can only read on a screen these days. Shameful, I know. Eventually, I ordered a hardcopy, and greedily devoured the entire book in a few hours, kicking myself for not listening to Lucy earlier, as I should have. (Lesson learned: Always follow Lucy’s book recommendations. She has impeccable taste.) [Ed note from Lucy: It’s true that I have impeccable taste in books, but Emily’s is even better—in fact, it was she who introduced me to Laurie Colwin—so everyone should donate to her newly launched Emily Books Kickstarter campaign! So that we can all continue to benefit from her and Ruth Curry’s excellent literary taste for years to come.] I’m certain that our readers are not garbage people, but just in case, I am happy to inform you that Colwin’s entire catalogue is now available in both digital and traditional formats.

Also recommended, Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant: Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone. Inspired by one of Colwin’s most famous essays, it is a collection of stories about the secret meals one eats when there’s no one else around.

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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.

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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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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!