The problem, if there could be one, is that if a 30-something with a kid out of diapers ever says to a group of people, “I have news!” certain presumptions are made. So, to quell any wild ideas before they take off, no, this is not that kind of news. I’m sorry; we’re bummed too.
Guess what we’re making this weekend?
I have been obsessed with make soft pretzels at home since about 16 seconds after I learned that you could, 7 years ago. For something that looks so twisted, dark and complex, they’re actually simple to make, requiring only a basic bread dough (flour, water, salt and yeast), formed into pretzel knot (a rope with the ends twisted together, then folded back over itself), dipped briefly in a baking soda solution, salted, and baked until pretty. This is almost exactly the way they are made in southern Germany and surrounding pretzel-loving regions, save one bit: instead of a baking soda bath, the pretzels are dipped in a lye solution. Lye, as in the poison. As in the stuff used in oven cleaners, drain openers, the kind of thing you shouldn’t touch without a mask and latex gloves, the kind of thing no sane cook would bother with at home.
You guys, I owe you an apology. It’s been nearly a month since I first encountered this grilled bacon salad and I couldn’t find a window to tell you about it until now. That wasn’t right of me. When you try it, you’ll understand.
Five years ago, I fell in love with dry-rub barbecue. Prior to the summer of 2008, I naively believed that the only way to make ribs deliciously on the grill was to mop them with copious amounts of a wet, tomato-based barbecue sauce. I know, I know, silly Deb, but what can you really expect from a Yankee?
Back when I started dreaming up a cookbook I would one day write, all I knew is what I didn’t want: I did not want to work every weekday, weekend and evening on it, I did not want to set an insanely close deadline and then have to hastily throw together a book I wasn’t pleased with and above all else I did not want the time I had to devote to this web space to become squeezed, although I understood that there would probably be a harried point right near the end that all three rules could be suspended for a good cause. And indeed, they have been. I hope to deliver my manuscript in August and it’s pretty all-consuming right now — in a good way, because I’m finally starting to see the whole thing coming together. So, if things are a bit slow between now and then, do understand that I cannot wait until late summer when my attentions can be what they were before my son was 4 months old, and instead of doing normal New Mom things like catching up on sleep or rounding up preschool applications (ha!), I decided that at my earliest convenience, I would write a book instead.
On the kind of clear-skied, warm summer evening when people without sleepless, feverish babies to tend to were drinking beers outside and grilling on rooftop decks, we stayed in last night and, for once, did not feel the eensiest bit jealous. We were eating ribs for dinner and we hadn’t even needed to leave our apartment to get them.
I didn’t mean to bury the lede on you all, but that mango slaw was a side dish. I know! What has the smitten kitchen come to? I made, like, a meal, with a side dish and a main course, all while someone yanked on my flip-flops. I barely know what came over me. I do know that my timing was terrible, because I made this last Tuesday. “Wow, Deb, that’s great! Fascinating. Really.” No, Tuesday. In New York City. It was 102 degrees, the hottest day since August 2001 and I decided, at once, that I had to make a very specific dinner that would require me to turn the oven up very high for a sizable amount of time. I think that sleep deprivation has scrambled what’s left of my brain because I’d like to think I wasn’t this dimwitted 10 months ago. (Don’t tell me otherwise.)