• Pretending to Cook

    Rolling in Dough

    I’m not sure if it was all the Great British Baking Show I watch, or all the time on my hands lately (calm before the busy-season storm), or the fact that I haven’t picked up a new hobby in…well, forever. Whatever it was, a few months ago I decided I wanted to learn how to make bread. From flour, yeast and water to a warm loaf of delicious carbs, I wanted to make it with my own two hands. As a first step on this baking adventure, I turned to what has become a bible of sorts for me in the kitchen, The Joy of Cooking (a 75th Anniversary edition…

  • City Stories,  Pretending to Cook

    Eating Chicago

    Between days at work and evenings unpacking, a girl’s gotta eat. Lucky for me, my neighborhood is far from lacking in options where sustenance is concerned. I’m just two blocks from a grocery store, so keeping my (full-sized) refrigerator stocked isn’t a problem of availability. Rather, I have to remind myself to just shop for what I can make at home rather than head out to the myriad restaurant options within walking distance. In just over a month (two weeks of which I haven’t even been in town), I’ve managed to check out a fair share of what’s near by, and I gotta say – I don’t hate it.

  • Pretending to Cook

    Turkey & Black Bean Chili

    I haven’t had much time to cook lately, what with visitors in town, busy weeks at work and more. I also haven’t been feeling terribly motivated to try any new recipe – no craving for anything in particular, no dish I wanted to have a go at. So this week when the thought crossed my mind to give chili a try (spurred on by a disappointing experience with a bowl of deli chili for lunch recently), I decided I should follow my taste buds and see what I could concoct in my tragically underused slow cooker. I dug around for a few recipes that seemed like the kind of chili…

  • Pretending to Cook

    And then you indulge

    For the last month or so, I’ve been generally successful at keeping inordinate amounts of dairy out of my diet. Butter on my toast, cream in my coffee – these things remain. But generally speaking, I’ve avoided macaroni & cheese lunches (if you’ve ever had TJ’s frozen meal version, you realize what a sacrifice this is) and cream-cheese-laden bagels (which is nearly torturous in New York City of all places) for several weeks and am filling the space with roasted vegetables and broth-based soups instead. But since the dietary change wasn’t due to any intolerance or other medical requirement (thank goodness), I’ve found myself resisting a craving for something creamy…

  • City Stories,  Pretending to Cook

    It’s all in the bag

    I did a lot of cooking this weekend. Like, a lot. I made winter squash soup (an unparalleled success, btw); egg and ham breakfast cups; three dozen pumpkin muffins; roasted brussels sprouts; even sliders I dolled up with fresh sage left over from the soup recipe. I think it’s safe to say I was making up for the appetite I’d lost with my cold last week. This means I spent a lot of time in the corner of my apartment that passes for a kitchen. I’m already working from a disadvantage compared to most – a size disadvantage. The one-wall it occupies has a small stove, oven and sink – the…

  • Pretending to Cook

    An 8-inch Pan

    I am not making it up when I say I’m not a great cook. I have found ways to mess up recipes that would make even the most uninitiated chefs laugh. My mom loves to tell the story about the time I tried making chicken salad and, thinking I had it under control (and having failed to read the recipe closely), I added equal parts mayo and brown mustard. That’s like a quarter cup of brown mustard. These are the ways I mess up in the kitchen. Creative ways, let’s say. I have never in my life made soup from scratch. I wanted to try making soup last winter, but…