Since the beginning of 2008, there has been one eensy change after another: we’ve bought some new furniture, so our living room looks largely different. I’ve changed both my work and personal computers, so finding files, editing pictures and even, say, learning control-alt-delete in Mac-ese has been a time-consuming task. We’ve (mercifully) switched gyms to one with–get this–a pool, thus I think I’ve spent a good amount of the last week (blissfully, kickily) underwater. And at work–yes, the place I hang out when I’m not having more fun with you–I’ve taken on a whole new coverage area, which while much more interesting for me seems to mean that work takes at least an extra hour each day, and that dinner at 9:45 p.m. doesn’t even raise an eyebrow. Last but in no way least are all of these major site changes we’ve been trying to put together in our ‘free’ (ha) time, including the one that, most unfortunately, took the site offline on a day I had no time to address it.
January, 2008 Archive
Did you miss me? We here at the smittenkitchen are terribly sorry about this week’s downtime; I’ll do better to warn you (oh, and myself) next time. However, it was all in the name of, in Martha Stewart parlance, a “very good thing” which is a long-overdue migration from a hosting system whose customer service was nonexistent and whose servers we’d apparently long outgrown to a new, shiny and already more helpful one. There are still a few kinks being worked out, and there are still people (probably about one-third of you) for whom this site is not fully back up, but by the end of the weekend this will hopefully just be a blip on the radar screen of the complicated world of DNS propagation.
But you know what is especially unfair? It has been six whole days since this Yankee, this Jewish New Yorker without a single prior deep-frying experience under her belt, made her very first batch of fried chicken and she hasn’t gotten to tell you about it yet. But, oh, it was awesome.
Well, it was eventually awesome, if you must know. The first piece turned instantly black and filled our 660-square foot apartment with a thick plume of smoke, just as our first guest were arriving on Sunday afternoon to watch the Giants, astoundingly, win. The second batch wasn’t much better, and the third, in the spirit of honesty, was still not exactly a shade of cooked you’d be proud to serve to the eight and a half people in your living room. As it turns out my candy thermometer–which I had patted myself on the back for finding for a low $2.99 last year–well, it’s kind of a big, fat liar.
It has been almost a year since I told you that I don’t like boneless, skinless chicken cutlets, I never had and I never would. Furthermore, I did not understand the American obsession with them (in sandwiches! on pizza! in pasta! on salad! in 54-packs at Costco!). “They have the texture and excitement of pressed sawdust,” I believe were my exact words, and even though I knew I was in a distinct minority on this, I knew I couldn’t rest soundly until I got it off my chest.
But The People wouldn’t let it go. “You must try brining,” they whispered into my inbox, “brining is much better,” they said in the comments, “brining will change you life,” one went as far as to say, at which point I stopped listening entirely. Why should I have to work so hard to make something taste good? Obviously, it is not inherently tasty, or it wouldn’t require all of these extra steps and seasonings. Pressed sawdust, I said; case closed.
I suppose there comes a point in every food blogger’s so-called “career” when she posts her favorite chocolate cookie recipe, but I’ve avoided this point for a long time because, does the internet actually need another chocolate chip cookie recipe? 130,000 times no. But, the thing is, I do have a favorite. And sometimes, sometimes when you’re making a heavy meal full of classics that I’ll get to one by one this week, you want to end on a simple–but not too subtle–note. See, this cookie has what we affectionately call “a lot of chocolate to very little dough,” in fact, when you’re folding all of the ingredients together, it seems impossible that so many chocolate and pecan chunks will fit in so little batter, and the best part is that they barely do.
Who is the crazed, handsome genius who brings us this masterpiece? No, not Alex, though he did bake the cookies while I washed dishes on Sunday (see how we switched it up there? cr-azy!). It is, and really just has to be, the famed David Lebovitz, from his Great Book of Chocolate. And yeah, I was like the last person on earth to buy this but I’ve made up for it by making these cookies more than twice. More than twice. You have no idea how few recipes get even one repeat performance in the smitten kitchen, twice means that you need to print (yup, it’s working again) this post and go make these right now. In 30 minutes, you’re going to be all “Schmoll House who?” and you’ll never look back.
Seeing that it is a whole eleven days into aught-eight, I’m going to stagger a guess that you’re sick of carrot sticks by now. But I don’t want you to feel bad about it. We all hit that wall between our ambition and the reality that being “good” all of the time is no fun from time to time. Hey, some of us walked right past the gym last night and proceeded to go shopping instead. I’m just saying.
But since carrot sticks are inherently good, and good for you things, I see no reason to throw them out with the resolutions bathwater. Because what if that, uh, bathwater was bright and tangy? What if had a buttery dill vibe? What if it had a kick of garlic? What if you pickled your carrot sticks? If you were me, you would not be able to keep your tongs out of the jar. I had one of those “oh, let me try one and see how they came out” moments before I went to work Thursday morning. Then I tried another one. And another. Um, I had pickled carrot sticks for breakfast–I am gross. But these are not.