Things to Eat When You Are Useless (Also: A Recipe for Date Smoothies)


Illustration: Tram Nguyen


Hello my name is Lucy and I am in purgatory. I am nine months pregnant, days away (I HOPE) from giving birth, and also from publishing our book, and also from moving apartments. All of my belongings—save, like, two pans, a blender, a million diapers, and a movable bassinet—are in boxes, and even if my kitchen weren’t totally packed up I would not feel like cooking anyway. I barely feel like standing up. All I can bring myself to do is eat things Rob brings to me and watch the French Open via European livestream. While lying on my side. In bed. Read more


Chicken Noodle Soup


When I was a kid, if I got a cold or the flu, instead of coddling me my mother would scold me for getting sick. She’d attribute my condition to either a weak moral constitution or my refusal to wear that embarrassing magenta snowsuit (that she had spent good money on!) to school. And then she’d cook me chicken glass noodle soup from scratch, with homemade broth infused with ginger, tender poached chicken, thin slivers of shiitake mushrooms, and silky glass noodles.

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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.

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Holiday Cheer


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.