Two hour headboard

It all started with our narrow staircase, up which a box spring could not fit. A makeshift bed on slats and wheels served us just fine for a year, but I grew frustrated as the pillows slipped behind the bed every night while we slept. Sitting against the wall was uncomfortable -- I started looking on Pinterest for inspiration (always dangerous when studying should be occurring).

Jumping on the opportunity afforded by TWO WHOLE WEEKEND DAYS off, I found time (and energy) to make a headboard for our bed. I bought pine slats from Lowes, and connected them by drilling two vertical pieces into the back of the slats. I cut out a hole for the outlet to come through, and finished with a pretty stain.

Overall, the whole project only took a few hours and was under $60!



I have always loved Rosh Hashanah. Apples and honey, a sweet new year. January never feels like a new year: the middle of winter, in the middle of a break. Nothing is really beginning anew. But fall! Leaves are changing, weather getting cooler and crisper. Fall is when the school year began, and thus always felt like the real beginning of a new year.

And truthfully, for me, the most important part of Jewish holidays is food. And Rosh Hashanah in my family always means brisket (!!!!), apples and honey, honey cake, round challah.....and even Italian plum cake. My mom used to let us have a little bit of the challah dough to braid into a mini loaf--she would then bake it directly on top of the larger challah or sometimes right next to it.

I'm not going to include a recipe on this one since it's pretty much directly out of Rustic European Breads: From Your Bread Machine. It's a great book, one I fully recommend. To make the challah round, I'm going to use a line from T.S. Eliot: "In my beginning is my end" (i.e. tuck the last part of the braid under the first).


Upcycle Project: Washboard Earring Holder

I found this adorable vintage washboard at an estate sale this summer for $10. I couldn't pass it up, especially with the "Carolina Washboard Co." written across the top...

Using some picture hanging wire and superglue, I managed to stretch three rows of wire across the washboard. It was a little tricky to get the wire to stay, but I twisted the ends into little flat loops and tucked them in the space between the metal part and the wood with some superglue to make sure it held.


Summer Cucumber Salad

This cucumber salad is so perfect--cool, refreshing, satisfying, and really easy. It's especially good when made with the pickling cucumbers from summer farmer's markets!

Cucumber Salad
  • 4 cucumbers, peeled and sliced as thinly as you can
  • 1 small yellow onion, minced
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 tbs dried dill

Boil the sugar, water, white vinegar in dill. Mix together the cucumber slices and onion; once the vinegar/sugar/water mix is boiling, pour it over the cucumber slices and onion mixture. Let it sit in the fridge for a day before eating (if you can resist). It is good after the first day but continues to get better--I often end up doubling the recipe to let it last a week!


Ball Jar Soap Dispenser

Study breaks are always more fun when they're creative. After taking a practice test and reading a review book all morning, I was ready to get out my toolkit and make something. I found an antique Ball jar in the basement with the zinc top (my favorite). Used wire cutters to make a hole in the top and stole the dispenser from some cheap hand soap!


Kitchen Island Salvage Project


One of the real reasons I haven't updated my food blog in so long is not that I haven't had time to do it (I still cook), but that there is was no place to take lovely and beautiful food photos in my new kitchen. I absolutely love this house, which I moved into last June. It was built in 1929, and still has many of the original features. The tiny kitchen, however, was destroyed by the last renters (college students). The landlords redid it before we moved in, but there was only so much counter space they could squeeze in.

The lovely kitchen with the horrid "student" makeshift counter space addition.
The table above looked just perfect for that space when we moved in. It was an old student desk, poor quality but "worked" for that corner in a kitchen with almost no cabinet space. Over time, the surface didn't last, getting not just scratched but covered in stains that couldn't be cleaned. I yearned for such beautiful kitchen carts that lurked among the items at sites like Wayfair.com...one that would not only look lovely in the kitchen but would provide the much needed storage space below.

I have always had a love for renovation and home design; while other kids watched CatDog and Ren and Stimpy, I (who had no cable tv), watched This Old House on PBS. I loved watching furniture being built and homes being made over. Now that I finally have cable, I watch embarrassing amounts of HGTV. One of my new favorite shows is Rehab Addict, with Nicole Curtis. Watching her work with salvaged wood and furniture is incredibly inspiring.

I was taking my dog for a walk the other day and found that a neighbor had redone the kitchen, leaving all of the cabinets on the side of the road. I took one that was the perfect size, realizing that the antique breadboard I've had for a few years would make a perfect top. 

Paint, primer, brushes, sandpaper and wood glue set me back only about $40 at Lowe's. The whole project was done over two days, and maybe, just maybe, 6 hours total time spent on it.

To quote Nicole, "Is it gonna be perfect? No! It's old, it's not supposed to be!" 

But, (quoting my great-grandmother now), if I must say so myself, it's pretty darn good.

Doors off, handles off, sanded down and finished with a coat of primer and paint

Top glued to the base, second coat of paint
Finally, the handles go back on!

At home in the kitchen, baking supplies below


On hosting brunch

Deb of SmittenKitchen has a wonderful post about how to cook brunch and still sleep in. This is inspired by her.

The menu:
The night before:

Prep french toast and stick it in the fridge. Make the tart dough.

The morning of:

Make crostata and put it in oven. While it is baking, start prepping some of the easier things (cut grapefruit and put in in fridge. When it is around 15 minutes to the end of the crostata's bake time, make the muffins. Bake the muffins. While they are baking, prepare the kale frittata. When the muffins come out, put the kale frittata in for a few minutes to finish the top. While it is in the oven, cut up the potatoes. Take the frittata out and put the french toast in. Make the berry sauce (frozen berries cooked down with sugar to taste), potatoes (cut up potatoes and fry them lightly in olive oil with rosemary and sea salt) and sausages on the stove while the french toast is in the oven (time it to come out of the oven right before people come over). Make the coffee.

Whenever you have a spare minute, work in time for setting up.


Curried Quinoa Pilaf with Cucumber Mint Raita

I was tired of winter food. Tired of winter skies and stubborn patches of snow still clinging to the ground in mid-April. One day last week, I opened the door to the house and was engulfed by the incredible scent of curry emanating from the kitchen. It filled the living room, drifting into every corner. I asked my roommate for the recipe and made it the very next night.

It was amazing, and even more so, took almost no time at all (around 30 min total including prep work). The combination of the Greek yogurt and the quinoa leaves you satisfied for the rest of the evening. It was suggested that it be served with spinach, but I substituted spicy arugula which complimented the sweet curried quinoa and the cold, minty raita. (It's a tossup as to which part is my favorite).

Curried Quinoa Pilaf with Cucumber Mint Raita
(adapted from Cooking Light)

  • 2 tsp olive oil 
  • 6 tsp curry powder
  • 3-4 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • chopped fresh cilantro
  • raisins and chopped dried apricots
  • 3/4 cup finely diced peeled cucumber 
  • 6-8 teaspoons chopped fresh mint (2-3 bunches)
  • 2 1/2-3 c plain Greek yogurt
  • Arugula

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the curry and the garlic to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add quinoa and water; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 16 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat; stir in salt. Let cool completely (if you can wait---I couldn't). Add the raisins, apricots, green onion and cilantro to cooled quinoa; toss gently.

Combine the cucumber, mint, and yogurt in a small bowl, and stir well.

Serve the quinoa on top of a bed of arugula with a (very, very) generous dollop of the raita.

And yes, I took photos of the leftovers. I tripled the original recipe (factored in above) but not the raita (again, I have fixed it above); served with plain Greek yogurt it was still almost as delicious.


Chinese Coin Quilt

Since it's all cozy and warm in my room, (and with more than a foot of snow outside), I am appreciating the quilt I made this summer!

I meant to post photos this summer, but I suppose med school is a fairly busy time....

I started with a Chinese Coin quilt idea, and looked for size ideas online.

I got a bunch of fat quarters that matched.

And then sewed them into long strips.

And then made a border and a back.

I didn't measure correctly (and changed my mind about the pattern a million times), so I had to make a "scrap quilt back with the extra fabric.


Not Your Grandmother's Oatmeal Cookies (aka the "OhMyGod Cookies")

There are two reasons why I call these the "OhMyGod cookies":

  1. When you bite into one, the toffee-chocolate-oatmeal deliciousness melts in your mouth and you spurt out "OhMyGod". This has happened spontaneously to several people who have tried them.
  2. When you are putting them in a container to take to the event you baked them for, you look down and "OhMyGod" you've accidentally eaten 2 or 4 or 10 or the entire tray
True story.

These photos are from the first time I made them. Since then, I have perfected the technique (baking time, how far apart on the tray, how big each drop of dough is--things that are particular to your equipment and oven). My most recent batch was much prettier (they can be very fancy looking cookies), but they were all demolished before I got around to taking photos.

If you didn't already have a reason to make them, here's a few more:

  1. They are EASY. 
  2. Even though they look like a fancy-pants florentine, they take almost no time at all (15 minutes to mix up the batter and put them on the pan and then 12 minutes to bake).
  3. They are made of ingredients that any baker has on hand (butter, flour, oats, sugar, vanilla, eggs).

As usual, they are from my ever-favorite baker Lauren Chattman's book Mom's Big Book of Baking.

Oatmeal Lace Cookies
This recipe is easily doubled....and when doubled easily eaten.

  • 1 1/2 c rolled oats (not instant)
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 2 tbs all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 egg, beaten lightly
Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl, then add the eggs, butter and vanilla. Drop 1/2 tbs or slightly more (I promise they will spread and get big) onto a baking pan covered with parchment paper. Make sure the cookies are 3-4" apart or they will melt together!

Bake at 325º for 12 minutes (or in my always-too-hot oven less than that) until they are golden and crispy looking. As Lauren Chattman says, "Carefully slide the entire parchment paper with the cookies onto a wire rack and let them cool completely."

When they are cool, drizzle melted semisweet chocolate chips on them in a fancy pattern if you like. 


Beer Bread and Beef Stew with Hearty Broth (and yes, beer in it)

Ok. So, remember how just yesterday I wrote a whole post about how I get so tired of winter dishes? The kale salad solution apparently cured me of that so much that today I came home and made the heartiest of winter soups, with warm, fresh bread to go along with it.

The beer bread is from Gerald Norman on Food.com, and I didn't change the recipe one bit. It turned out phenomenally, and went unbelievably perfectly with the soup.

Beef Stew 
(loosely adapted from Mark Bittman)

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed but kept whole
  • 2 lbs stew beef, cut into 1" cubes
  • 3 onions, diced
  • 3 tbs flour
  • 4 1/2 - 5 c veggie or beef broth (though it's up to you how thin or thick you want your soup, and how much broth)
  • 1 12 oz. bottle of beer (however much of it you want to put in)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 medium potatoes, diced
  • any chopped veggies you want to put in (I used a carrot or two and some chopped green peppers that I froze from the market last summer)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Sauté the garlic clove in the oil in the bottom of a Dutch oven. Add the stew beef and cook for ~10 minutes or until it's cooked and pink in the middle. While it's cooking, add salt and pepper. Remove the garlic clove and beef from the pan, but keep the juices in the bottom. Sauté the onions in the juices until transparent and slightly browned. Add the flour and cook for two minutes, then add the broth, beer, meat and seasonings. Adjust all the seasonings to taste--you're the one who's going to eat it!

Let it come to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and let cook uncovered for 30 min. Add the potatoes and veggies, and let come to a boil again. Turn the heat down, cover, and let simmer for anywhere from an hour to two or three (the meat will get more tender and the flavors will meld with longer cooking time, but I got hungry....).  Serve with beer bread and parmesan if you desire.


Kale and Avocado Salad

With three feet of snow outside and bitterly cold walks home from the hospital every day, most days I find myself craving warm soups, roasted vegetables, hot bread fresh from the oven. You know, winter foods.

And yet, every once in a while, I can't bear the thought of one more day of some iteration of winter vegetable soup.  I begin to crave fresh fruit and summer salads, things that aren't baked or roasted or boiled before being eaten.

That's where this salad comes in. It's wonderfully fresh, but still feels like winter. It's a "same old" winter vegetable (kale, which I love in almost all forms) infused with a new kind of flavor. It's January's version of a summer picnic's guacamole, disguised as a dressing for kale. It's absolutely delicious (in fact, my carnivorous boyfriend, absolutely insisted that I make this again).

Oh, and it's super easy and takes 5 minutes and looks impressive.

This recipe, like many, is adapted from one of my mother's. As with all of her recipes, when I asked her how to make it, she said "Oh, I don't know, I just throw together the ingredients. I don't really have a recipe". As with all of her recipes, it always turns out perfectly. So feel free to change it around amount-wise.

Kale and Avocado Salad

  • 1 bunch kale, washed and torn into bite-size pieces (use the thinnest kale you can find, like dinosaur kale)
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 lemon
  • olive oil, to taste/texture
  • salt, to taste

Use your hands to mash the avocado up with the kale, olive oil, lemon juice and salt. Stir in the garlic. Serve.