Takeout is a better option, especially if you have a deli close by!

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It seemed like a good idea at the time-a rented Airbnb in sunny Palm Springs with a hot tub and a fully equipped kitchen. My husband could bask in bubbly turquoise waters to his heart’s content while I stilled my nerves and skirted COVID-19 fears with meals composed of carefully curated food, mostly imported from home.

But, as they say, beware of best-laid plans; they tend to go awry. My “easy” meal of Trader Joe’s pasta and jarred tomato sauce, augmented with onions, mushrooms, red wine and ground turkey, didn’t work out so well. It was awkwardly balanced on Jeff’s knee (no indoor table) as we watched aghast the repeated images of domestic terrorists and thugs sacking our Capitol and threatening our legislators-and our democracy-on CNN. …

Finding solace in cooking, recipes and stories during a horrible year

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The message on my favorite mug is a perfect coda to the state of our nerves in 2020. A gooey brownie helps.

Happy New Year!

We’re entering 2021 with a hope and a prayer that it will be better than the terrible year that just passed. Could it possibly be worse? (Okay, let’s not tempt fate!) In his Washington Post Year in Review column, Dave Barry calls 2020 “a year of nonstop awfulness” in which the only good thing he could say was that “nobody got killed by murder hornets. As far as we know.”

While the coronavirus epidemic has deepened the food insecurity crisis for too many Americans, some of us have been lucky enough to eat well-maybe too well-despite initial runs on grocery stores that led to panic buying, hoarding and scarcity. …

Sometimes a classic chocolate chip or peanut butter is just right!

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Barbara’s chocolate chip cookies on a plate made by her husband. (Photo by John Scott)

“No one makes cookies like my sister Barbara,” my neighbor Susie told me a while back. “They’re always so crisp.”

“That’s how I like them,” I said. “Mine are usually too soft.”

“I’m sure she’d be happy to tell you how she does it,” said Susie, the subject of a previous post on this site.

With the holidays coming up, what better time to talk about cookies? I already wrote about rugelach, a favorite at our Hanukkah table, but with Christmas just days away and everyone in need of something comforting to dunk into a cup of tea or coffee, I was eager to talk to Barbara. Were there perhaps some special Christmas cookies in her family passed down through the generations? …

Crispy croissant-shaped rugelach are easy and fun to make — and eat!

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Cookies sprinkled with blue sugar and almond macaroons with nut or cherry centers-those are the Hanukkah cookies I remember from childhood. But in recent years, rugelach have become the stars of my holiday cookie plate and probably my favorite cookies, both to make and to eat.

It was a bit of serendipity that I became enamored of these twisty little cookies that look like mini croissants or, if you buy them at Canter’s Deli in the Los Angeles Fairfax District, like small, jam- or chocolate-filled pieces of strudel.

Hanukkah foods summon memories of holidays past

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Hanukkah arrives this year on Thursday night at sundown.

If this was a “normal” year, I’d be planning my annual Hanukkah party for 20 to 30 close family and friends. But nothing’s normal. We’re in strict lockdown mode once again as the ICU capacity of local hospitals shrinks to alarming lows. It’ll be me and Jeff lighting candles, just as it was the two of us for Thanksgiving. No brisket and roast chicken to feed a crowd. No jigsaw of card tables in the living room.

But we’ll still light candles, adding one more each night to reach a full count of eight a week later. And of course I’m making latkes, as I do every year. It wouldn’t be Hanukkah without filling my entire kitchen (and the house!) with the smell of grated potato, onion and egg pancakes frying in bubbling oil. …

A downsized meal can be delicious — just pack to-go for those you miss!

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When I try to conjure up memories of Thanksgivings from childhood, my mind’s a blank. No Norman Rockwell images of loving parents, happy families, and mega-turkeys. My parents were immigrants, and Thanksgiving, the quintessential American holiday, wasn’t really in my Scottish mother’s wheelhouse. Nor were turkey and all the trimmings. Roast beef and leg of lamb were more her style.

Yet, in the recipe notebook I inherited from her, there are clippings for cooking times for “holiday birds,” including an admonition to “never, never defrost a frozen stuffed turkey.” Another entry for stuffing calls for sautéing two chopped onions in half a pound of oleo and mixing it with a large box of crushed cornflakes. …

Lessons in home milling, sourdough and Wonder Bread

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Did you know that many of the commercial breads we buy are essentially “indigestible gluten bombs”?

This is the point of view of Roe Sie, and it’s well worth considering. He’s the charismatic founder-owner of The King’s Roost, an artisan flour and grain supplier and, in pre-pandemic times, a popular cooking school in Los Angeles’ historic Silver Lake area.

(You can listen to audio of the entire conversation by clicking on this link.)

Family serves Mexican fare and memories with love

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Carlos and Rosa De Alba in front of the Day of the Dead altar in their restaurant, Tomatillo Mexican Grill. (Most photos by Jefferson Graham)

On a drive one Sunday to the Palos Verdes Peninsula in Southwestern LA in quest of spectacular coastal views and a safe al fresco spot for lunch, we chanced on a hidden gem of a restaurant. Small outdoor tables, nicely spaced, and a welcoming vibe within from the family-run establishment, named after the tomatillo, a prized ingredient in chili, pozole and salsa verde.

An Artist’s Palate: From Pizza and Pancakes to Okonomiyaki

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Nagisa with a pizza she served when we visited in 2018.

Almost exactly a year ago I was sitting at a table set for three in a tiny studio apartment near Kobe, Japan. It’s home to my son Sam and his wife Nagisa, a talented artist who loves to apply her creative imagination to the meals she prepares for Sam and-if I’m lucky enough to be visiting-me.

(You can see a full array of Nagisa’s dishes on Instagram at Nagisa’s Kitchen. …

About

Ruth Stroud

Blogger and podcaster on the platform Ruthtalksfood.substack.com

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