It’s time, again.

For someone who despises clutter, I sure have plenty of it in my life. Decluttering, after all, means revisiting the past, and THAT requires opening yourself up to sadness: birthday cards in your grandmother’s handwriting, photos from the awkward summer you turned twelve… and in my case, old issues of Gourmet.

I was only at the magazine for five years—a hot second, really—but it was the first job that felt like home. That said, what hurt most about the demise of Gourmet had  nothing to do with me. I’d lost jobs before, after all. It was that the magazine was gone. And by that, I mean the recipes. Those recipes!

If you’re worked on enough cookbooks, you will go one of two routes: collector or snob minimalist. The former is curious, fascinated by anything and everything, because you never know where interesting culinary ideas will pop up. I get it, but that’s not me. I’m the other type, the one who loves to read cookbooks, work on them, think about them, enter their worlds and laze about there… but own them? Meh. I know could survive perfectly happily on just two cookbooks: The Gourmet Cookbook and The Gourmet Cookbook, Volume II.

And yet. So many of the recipes I fact-checked, fell in love with, added to my repertoire never made it into either cookbook. And what about all the ones I never got around to making? That’s why I can’t bring myself to part with a single issue of the magazine, despite having barely opened them for eight years now. When I needed something—say, my favorite pouding chômeur recipe—it was easier to turn to Epicurious than reach for the Montreal issue on my bookshelf and start remembering.

But it’s time, again. This month, I’m going to do what used to come so naturally: cook out of my December issues of Gourmet. For my annual Christmukkah party, I’ll crank out the zucchini latkes with Mediterranean eggplant relish and egg salad with lemon and fennel (December 2008). If I get my act together, I’ll definitely make the chocolate babka again (December 2006). And then there are all the dishes I never did make. Kielbasa with golden onions and apple? Braised Swiss chard with currants and feta? Bitter green salad with roasted pears? Welcome (back) into my life. I have missed you.




Cooking Your Feelings?

I spent this past weekend cooking my feelings. And what they demanded was very specific: roasted spiced sweet potatoes sprinkled with fennel, red pepper flake, and sea salt; creamed spinach with plenty of Sriracha (which translates to just a hint of sass); and garlic-sage breaded pork chops.

This is NOT a meal I’ve ever made before. Usually when we crave comfort foods, we revert to whatever made us happiest as children (and so I can’t count the times I’ve turned to Nestle Tollhouse for emotional support, something I talk about here). But the mishegas around the Senate tax bill demanded something a bit more… sophisticated. I didn’t want sugar; I didn’t want drama. I wanted stability. I wanted to feel like an adult in a world that seems increasingly driven by adolescent outrage and toddler id.

Just as I was serving dinner, a pal down in DC texted to say she’d spent the day making borscht. Knowing her, it was real-deal borscht, the kind that takes hours of simmering, the kind you can stick a fork in and it will stay standing, the kind that transports you halfway across the world, or back in time, or forward.

Thought #1? Clearly, I’m not alone.

Thought #2? Borscht, I’m coming for you.