by Liz on 01.09

2013 was a fickle year.

I like when I can close out a year and definitively declare it “good!” or “bad!” I’m a person of blacks-and-whites and very little grays, and if I can, I’d rather vilify an entire 12 months rather than shrug that it was “alright.”

But 2013 doesn’t let me do this. It instead offered unexpected high points, and devastating low, with several solid months of square-in-the-middle.

If I strain, peeking back through the Good, the Bad and the Middling, I can make out a pretty solid theme. A theme of unanticipated, kick in the face surprise.

The low points were very unexpected, probably contributing to their being so low. Similarly, the brightest highlights of the year were things that I’d have never imagined for myself just awhile back. They made perfect sense right there in 2013, after 2012 and so on. Looking backward, it’s obvious that I took this step, and that one followed. But teenage Liz, or even early-twenties Liz, wouldn’t have foreseen any of this, let alone set it as a goal.

So my resolutions will be mundane. I’ll halfheartedly try to eat better. I’ll place that Jillian Michaels DVD by the television, just in case one day as I pass I’ll get some rush of motivation to pop it in. I’ll spend this afternoon reserving a slew of books in the library that’ll all arrive at once and go unread, anyway. I, myself, am predictable and boring. But there’s a good chance 2014 won’t be.

my favorite dinner.

by Liz on 11.04

I shamefully rarely make Josh’s favorite foods. Not because I’m some jerk, but mostly because he always likes THE most expensive and time-consuming and labor-intensive foods on the planet. I once slaved over a multi-layered chocolate candy bar that took me TWO DAYS, and he continues to request that damn pie every birthday. This particular meal isn’t expensive, per se. Though it requires some stuff I don’t usually have on hand (dried cherries?) and also calls for bourbon. Any meal that asks me to give up precious drops of whiskey for COOKING, of all things, is bumped up a few “expense” rungs. Despite all that,  we eat this every fall. And I brag-tweet about it when we do. Because, honestly, I can’t help myself.


You’ll need:

  • a pork tenderloin
  • probably some stuff to season that
  • yams
  • butter and milk and nutmeg and things
  • brussel sprouts (I use frozen)
  • a shallot, chopped
  • butter, so much butter
  • and salt too
  • about 1/4 c gorgonzola crumbles
  • heavy cream
  • another chopped shallot
  • 1/4 c dried cherries
  • 2 shots bourbon
  • 1/3 c balsamic vinegar
  • 2tbs brown sugar

Just a heads up. This is not an “Easy Weeknight Dinner!” post. It’s not “Eating Healthy.” It has no connection to words like “fast” or “light” or “budget.” This is solid hibernation preparation fare.

Start with the pork loin, the most important, least important part of the meal. Make it any old way people make pork loins, as long as it’s not too flashy or showy. Something basic. A blank meat canvas you’ll splatter with saucy paint. I throw it in the crockpot for a good 8 or 9 hours on low, with a few garlic cloves, some rosemary, maybe a sprinkle of brown sugar. But you could roast it or whatever people typically do to pork loin. I don’t know, what am I, a food blogger?

Then get your veggies rolling. Make some mashed sweet potatoes. DISCLAIMER: I have never ever made a solidly good mashed sweet potato. For starters, I think I actually use yams and call them sweet potatoes. But, lumpy or stringy or drippy or half-cooked, there’s always something wrong with them. So, yeah, again (this is working out to be quite the recipe post, isn’t it) find yourself a good standard mashed sweet potato recipe and go with that.

Defrost your frozen brussels sprouts. Unless you’re using fresh. In which case, I guess you’d probably parboil them? Is that a thing you do to brussels sprouts? You want them to be tender, so do something to make that happen. Then rinse them in cold water until you can stand to touch them, and slice them in half. Heat a good slab of butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat and toss in the brussels sprouts. Leave them there for maybe 5 minutes before flipping them around. You’re going to have an urge to move them. RESIST. The goal is to get them good and charred and crispy before you bother them. Keep adding more butter to the pan whenever things look like they’re sticking, and eventually, when you feel like it, add the chopped shallot. When they seem crispy and brown (black, even) in spots, sprinkle with a load of salt. You’re trying to get a sort of buttery, salty, crispy crust to them. They may be the only green thing on the plate, but that doesn’t mean they need nutritional value.

Let the brussesl sprouts go for awhile before you start your sauces. These things are fast fast, so no rush to get them started early.

Heat 1tbs of butter in a small saucepan, 2tbs of butter in a slightly bigger one. In the small saucepan, toss the gorgonzola crumbles and let them melt together a bit. In the slightly bigger saucepan, dump the chopped shallot and let it get soft and fragrant. Small saucepan again: drizzle in heavy cream until it looks good and saucelike. Let that simmer for a minute and then take it off the heat and let it thicken. Other saucepan: pour in the dried cherries. It’s going to look like not-enough cherries, and you’ll probably think to add more (because why not? You bought a whole bag) but don’t, it ruins the whole balance of the thing. Add the balsamic, bourbon and brown sugar and let that cook for a bit til it looks sort of syrupy. Then, remove from heat and let it cool a smidge. The two sauces going simultaneously will take about five minutes, max.

(If that paragraph was confusing: melt gorgonzola and add cream for the cream sauce. Heat butter, shallots and add cherries, bourbon, balsamic, and brown sugar for the cherry syrup.)

In theory, the sauces are to be layered on top of the pork. But really, the flavors and textures of everything all work together. Drizzle some of the cherries on your buttery brussels sprouts. Pour some gorgonzola into the sweet potatoes. Etc etc.


Basically just smash everything into your face.



halloween traditions.

by Liz on 10.29


I’ve said it before. We’re Holiday People. We over-celebrate. We get into the spirit. This was always the case, long before having a kid (but at least we have something to blame it on now).

Really, we just like a good reason (or a lame one) to have some fun.

At Halloween, this translates into a gallon of cider, perpetually in the fridge and ready for warming with cinnamon (and rum, for the grown-ups). It means these spiced wafers (do other people eat these, or is it a Philly thing?) and baking sugar cookies in the shape of bats and a ceramic pumpkin brimming with Reese’s cups.

Okay, so maybe all of our Halloween traditions are food-related. You could’ve seen that coming, be honest.

Today I’ll start construction on the Halloween costumes. I guess homemade costumes are a sort of accidental tradition, too. And then we’ll walk to the neighborhood doughnut shop to buy two doughnuts with black and orange sprinkles, crunching leaves the whole way. Then we’ll come home and watch Arsenic and Old Lace and Charlie Brown over that cinnamony cider.

What are your Halloween traditions?