This began pretty harmlessly; my husband told me recently that whatever magic they roll buffalo wings in (basically: a lot of butter and Frank’s hot sauce) was unquestionably one of his favorite flavors on earth. (I put the jar of Nutella in the cabinet on notice.) A few days later, I spotted an ode to buffalo wings in the format of caramel popcorn and sent him the link, joking that I’d probably regret it. I shouldn’t have joked. It quickly became clear that to know that this popcorn existed and to not make was an act of cruelty; why so mean, Deb? Is writing a cookbook, running a website, occasionally cooking dinner and mashing up sweet potatoes for the little sweet potato really a higher kitchen calling than buffalo wing popcorn? And so I made it, but it looked rather sad and lonely in the bowl by itself so then I made some blue cheese dressing on the side with celery to dip into it and, lo, it was wonderful and the story should end here.
I closed out 2014 somewhat exasperated (and quietly anxious and queasy because I was first trimester-ing this bunny) that I had so much I’d wanted to cook and tell you about that year but couldn’t fabricate the time. Then I added a new tiny wonderful human to the mix and needless to say, the song has not changed. So, I’m going retune it. It’s better to have too many ideas than too few, after all, I’m sure there will be a time when these kids don’t call (sob) and the apartment is finally clean and organized and there are no items left on my tumbling to-do list when I’ll maybe even miss the chaos the chaos of feeling like I was barely keeping afloat. Plus, seriously, this was such an unquestionably excellent year, from impending babies, actual babies, missing front teeth, a new weekly digest newsletter, and even crazy milestones, like the 1000th recipe on this site (my favorite cocktail, go make yourself one, I’ll wait). How could I want to change a thing?
Does anyone remember Garbage Pail Kids? Can I go predictably off-course here and admit, as I just did to my husband, who is now cracking up, that I was kind of scared of them when they came out? It was 1985! I was young! I was super into Cabbage Patch Kids and definitely did not have a grasp of parody and was this… something that could happen to a Cabbage Patch Kid? I mean, was it going to happen to mine? Why did everyone find them so funny? Ahem, right, so of course I now find them dark and brilliant, which should be no surprise given that they were co-invented by Art Spiegelman, something I learned exactly five minutes ago from Wikipedia but will now pretend I knew all along.
Guess what, guys?! This weekend, we’re going to make dulce de leche. Or maybe cajeta. Or maybe both.
Step away from the cupboard; I don’t mean like that, the way we’ve always made it. It’s time to break up with the can of sweetened condensed milk; it’s us, not it. Because I’ve tasted the other side, the one where you take that milk in your fridge that you needed to use up anyway, the sugar that’s already in your pantry, a bit of salt, the smallest snippet of vanilla bean and maybe a cinnamon stick, if you so desire, and boil them together until it smells like the heavens exhaled in your kitchen and the mixture becomes the most complexly flavored thick copper caramel with a deliciousness will bring tears to your eyes. And no, I am not being melodramatic; you’ll see.
You have all of your holiday shopping done, don’t you? I bet everything is wrapped and in gift bags, and that you know how to tie ribbons into bows without cursing. I suspect everyone but me knows how to… fluff? Is that what they call it? I bet everyone knows how to arrange the tissue paper inside the gift bags so that it looks perfectly festive and even a tad enthusiastic. I have a hunch that your gifts are homemade and hand-lettered; that you made your own cards. Oh, you didn’t? Well, come sit down over here. You’re among friends.
Once upon a time, when I was probably no older than in grade school and sadly, not a whole lot shorter than I am today, a friend of a friend of my mother’s presented her with a bag of peanut butter and chocolate candies that my mother and I, chocolate and peanut butter fiends, went ballistic over. Here in this plastic bag (that we kept in the freezer, a history of hiding foods I have no self-control around in the freezer long predates this site) were all of the awesomeness of Reese’s peanut butter cups but, a) larger and b) homemade. We had to have the recipe.