Bitten by the bug

Hi there! It’s been a few days. In my defense, Jeff and I were both bitten by the nesting bug (although I doubt he would call it that). By that I mean cooking, cleaning, gardening. We pulled every single item out of our living room, cleaned it, and put it back (how that much dust gets between CDs, I will never know). Surfaces gleam, curtains are clean…as if in a dream. (Sorry!)

In between the dusting and scrubbing and the whacking back of overgrown plants in our front garden, we managed to cook quite a number of tasty items from scratch. Alas, not from any of my new cookbooks (I’m so bad). One was from an older cookbook, one was from a library cookbook, one was from the New York Times, and one was from February’s issue of Bon Appetit.

That last one, from Bon Appetit, was Thai spareribs from a “How to Braise” feature. It was a recipe two days in the making. It wasn’t a hard recipe, but it involved cooking and cooling and overnight marinating, then cooking again the next day. It also involved lemongrass, which could be hard for some people to get their hands on. I myself had never cooked with lemongrass before (yes, I was quite excited to tread new-to-me ground), but had a easy time finding it, at my beloved Uwajimaya. The results, which we enjoyed last night, were most delicious…and a great way to use the big package of spareribs from the half-of-a-local-pig in the freezer. I encourage you to link to the recipe to at least drool over the photo.

On Saturday, I was a bit surprised when Jeff commandeered a corner of the kitchen, the corner that contains my shiny red Kitchenaid mixer. “Ahhhhh,” I thought, “The baking bug bit.” Ironically, I rarely bake anymore, in spite of having gone to pastry school a half-dozen (and 50 pounds) ago. When you live in a two-person household and are trying to be fit and healthy, doing a lot of baking is a recipe for disaster, in my opinion. So I generally limit my dessert wizardry to potlucks, holidays and impending arrival of houseguests.

But a few times a year, Jeff gets the urge to bake. As my home’s nutritional gatekeeper, I allow this urge go unchecked, provided that it’s been months since the last occurrence. As it was on Saturday. Who knew that the New York Times was a gateway drug to dessert? He started by innocently reading an article on Japanese pour-over coffee, which then quickly escalated to a recipe for Yuzu Chiffon Cake. (I blame the photo.) We didn’t have any yuzu, although I’m sure we could have procured it at Uwajimaya, but lemon was listed as an acceptable substitute, and I can vouch for the fact that the results were delicious.