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Easter_Sunda_Egg_Hunt_21

If you’ve read previous posts about important days in the year – Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, etc, you’ll know that my strategy in approaching these events is something along the lines of “oh cr&p, it’s [insert holiday]”. Often it’s “oh cr&p it’s [insert someone’s] birthday.

Now before I unintentionally paint myself as the world’s most insensitive mother, please know that this doesn’t relate to children’s birthdays, which are usually SWAT team-planned the day before. And generally follow the creative bake-a-cake-and-make-your-favorite-meal variety. Elaborate birthday parties, with the exception of this one aren’t my strength.

You can impute thusly that preparation for national holidays isn’t my strength to the power of infinity. Taking that one step further, it wouldn’t be so shocking to learn that I was duly unprepared for Easter this year.

But Easter hasn’t happened! [yells the reader before throwing her shoe at the screen]

Hold on…I’m getting to the punchline.

According to the Gregorian calendar, it has yet to happen. But in our family, Easter will be spent in the coach section of United Airlines flight ABC123, hauling three kids and corresponding bag tonnage to a Caribbean island far far away. So, based on a technicality, Easter actually happened last Sunday. In the form of a neighborhood egg hunt planned by others, and open, mercifully, to all.

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I have a serious question: why are all of the jam and jelly canning classes left until August? Do the preservation experts of the world not realize that strawberry season will be upon us in the blink of an eye? And that perhaps some of us would be interested in learning to properly preserve them at the peak of freshness?

I’ve bought a few books on preserving, and I’m ready to take the plunge, but for some reason, oh I don’t know why, I’m a little scared of botulism. That was one of the reassuring things about making beer – despite the long list of ingredients, and the multi-staged sanitizing efforts, our teacher swore to us that if we messed up, our beer would not make us physically ill. The worst thing that could happen is that we’d brew a batch of horrible tasting but perfectly healthy beer.

That, I cannot say for jam. One wrong move and you’re done, correct? Maybe I’ve read one person’s horror story and am making sweeping generalizations. But one person or many, I’ve been scarred. Jamming can wait until I have a professional tell me the same thing as our beer instructor: relax, you’ll be fine, your jam won’t kill you. Reader, if you’re that jamming professional from whom I seek validation, please speak up. And if anyone knows of a jam/canning class in NYC before the summer starts, I will pay you back with Bitcoins and praise.

But pickles…I’ll blow through a batch of pickles in a few days so there’s never any need to worry about long storage times. And it’s just about the easiest thing you can do in a jar. Water, salt, sugar, vinegar, that’s it. Throw some spices into the mix and you can take the flavor profile in any direction you’d like – classic with dill and coriander, or exotic, like I did last week with some beets, using cinnamon and star anise.

A few weeks ago I tried out some Vietnamese Do Chua – carrot and daikon radish thinly-sliced and left to marinate for a few days in a simple bath of water, white sugar, salt and vinegar.

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Let me tell you, there is nothing like homemade Do Chua when you’re craving Banh Mi. Not craving Banh Mi yet? Get yourself over to your nearest Vietnamese takeout spot where you can sample the real deal. And if you’re up for it, Banh Mi is pretty easy to make at home – it took 20 minutes to make this bad boy and my stomach was singing all afternoon.

Banh Mi

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