Let’s go pink for Valentine’s Day, ok? As a kid, I remember making homemade Valentines with my mom. This year, we BAKED homemade Valentines together. Last weekend my mama came for a visit and we spent nearly 24 hours in our aprons baking pink desserts. 24 hours might be an exaggeration, but between burning a batch of lollipops and a few dozen cookies, and heading to the store at 10pm to pick up an oven thermometer, things took a bit longer than expected. Our first pink v-day treat? Homemade pink velvet sprinkles! The flavor of red velvet with a pink hue. If you’re looking for the perfect easy-to-make homemade Valentine to give someone special, wrap up a handful of these pink dots with ribbon and a note. You’re the sprinkles on my ice cream.
The other night as we were going to bed, I let out an exasperated, “winter sucks!” As if he could read my mind for once, Lucas echoed my concern, “…because stone fruits aren’t around!” Yup. That’s how I feel when the single sign on the what was once multiple crates of peaches reads, “End of season; get them while they last!” Their departure…and the sign…it all feels so personal. It’s all about mindset though; the dwindling bins of fresh peaches make room for an entire row of winter citrus! Just when you thought winter was about hearty stews and warm soups, I’m here to tell you that this is what winter is all about – satsuma mandarins, navel oranges, and grapefruit.
When you insist on experimenting with new recipes every single week, there are occasional meals when you and your husband awkwardly smile at one another from across the table and you know you’re both wishing you’d just ordered pizza instead. And still, he packs up the leftovers of whatever flop you just created and takes them for lunch the next day, because he knows you’d be upset about wasting food. Usually about halfway through the meal, you break the silence with, “we probably shouldn’t make this again” and he reassures you that it was a good idea…in theory. And it’s not that bad. Then the next night, you know that you must redeem your cooking skills with something guaranteed to please the taste buds – something like this smoked salmon served over cold sesame soba. This quick soba bowl is a wow-worthy dinner that definitely made up for the spiralized beet pasta/salad I tried to pass off as dinner the night before.
When Lucas got his wisdom teeth extracted a few weeks ago, I knew I’d spend the weekend nursing him back to health – making sure he was comfortable, stopping residual bleeding, keeping him medicated, capturing video of the funny things he said, and bringing him soft foods. I used it an excuse to turn my kitchen upside down, covering every surface with pots, pans, and ingredients, just to make the whole experience a little more enjoyable. For me, anyway; I don’t think anything could have made it more fun for him…except maybe not having his wisdom teeth taken out. I promised you there’d be more puréed, mushy, creamy, smooth, or silky foods to come and I wasn’t lying. Now featuring: salted caramel pudding.
We’re a very traditional family when it comes to holiday meals. For Thanksgiving, an enormous roasted bird sits surrounded by cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole, and green beans. Dessert is always homemade pecan pie and pumpkin pie. Like clockwork, sometime around mid-November you’d find childhood me begging my mom for ham this Thanksgiving, which she in turn would always promise and usually deliver for Christmas. For the December meal, we’d swap out some of the sides for my Aunt’s scalloped potatoes and mandarin salad. And if my mom was really feeling adventurous, we’d give pot roast a starring role. This year we went rogue. Mom suggested throwing caution to the wind and trying something new for Christmas; I tossed out the idea of tamales and, like that, it was settled.
With the husband asleep on the couch all weekend after getting his wisdom teeth yanked out, I spent two full days in the kitchen last weekend. It felt refreshing; usually this is the time of year when my friend Cas and I pull out the glitter and glue for a week-long craft-a-thon. Alas, Cas has up and moved to Boston on me, and crafting is just not as fun without a sewing buddy. Instead, I loaded up my grocery bags to lock myself in the kitchen for a weekend.
Little known fact: Snixy Kitchen is not my first blog. Back in 2007, I had a five-post stint as a blogger telling detailed classroom stories of teaching adventures, in which I replaced all my students’ names with Disney characters. I wrote about the time I discovered that 4th-grade Gaston had written, “Ms. Nix is next,” in the margin of his book (next for what?!), and the time Pocahontas raised her hand to, in complete seriousness, announce that she needed to poop. This blog lasted all of 5 days because I discovered that teaching is truly a more-than-full-time job.
Even though my poor circulation is not a big fan of the cold, one of winter’s redeeming factors is soup. This cold winter slows me down and has me constantly wishing I was sitting in front of a warm fireplace with a cup of hot cocoa in my hand. Apparently our cats share this feeling – the fireplace part, not the hot cocoa…I don’t think. Do cats like hot cocoa? Steamed milk perhaps? While we were on our honeymoon, the baby kitties spent 3 weeks at Chez Grandma and Grandpa snuggling up underneath the wood stove – probably scorching some fur while they were at it. Life was great. And warm. When they came home to the land of no wood stove, the cats claimed a new “bed” – curled up on the heat vent behind a box under the side table in the back corner of the living room. They seem to find this a suitable alternative for when the stereo receiver is not turned on (their other heated bed). I agree, guys – we need a wood stove. Soup will have to do.