November 30, 2012

Turn The Tables

Today is the last day of consecutive blogging. I made it. Over the past four weeks I have shared recipes, travels, recipes inspired by travel, ups, and some downs. As things come to a close I have an unsettling feeling that I have been blabbering on, talking at you and not with you. I worry I've been like that dreaded cocktail guest who holds you hostage with their dull stories and doesn't ask you a single question. I hate those people. So I thought as I bring a close to this month of rattling that I'd ask YOU - my incredible readers - a few questions. I'll even answer them, just to break the ice, but really I'm hoping you'll answer them so I can learn a little bit more about you. (There is an amazing cookie waiting for you as a thank you!)

So here goes...

On Cooking : 
What recipe or meal do you wish you had the courage to tackle?
Duck Confit

Where do you look for / find inspiration?
One of my favorite pastimes is wandering into grocery stores in foreign places. I drag Zach to all sorts of markets and food shops when we travel. I love seeing what's on the shelves and in people's baskets. 

What is the ideal number of people to cook for?
4. After 4 I begin to get stressed. When I cook for 2 I generally make enough for 4 anyway, so 4 feels natural. 

Is there a recipe you consider your go-to - perhaps a recipe that other people have named after you because you make it so often? (please feel free to share links!)
(Talley's) Fennel Dip and (Talley's) Banana Bread

On Writing (applies to all writing, not just blogging):
Do you have a writing routine? Or do you write whenever you find a few spare minutes?
I try to sit down every morning, before breakfast but with my tea, and write for thirty minutes. These morning notes are more me releasing the busy thoughts that are taking up precious space and that once I get down on paper make room for more productive ideas.  When it comes to blogging, if this month has been any indication, I sit down after dinner and write, just like I'm doing right now. 

What is your writing process? Do you start with index cards and baby step your way to a Word document or blog platform? Or do you dive right in?
I am a slow and self-conscious writer. Before this blogging month I would write ideas - one or two lines - in a Moleskin and then draw those ideas out in bullet point form in a Word Document and then eventually start a new Word document (there is something refreshing about a blank page) and turn those points into sentences. And then finally rewrite everything in Blogger (I know!)

This past month has loosened me up a lot. Now, after four weeks of daily posts, I have started writing directly in Blogger. It's liberating. I don't fret over ever word, I simply write down what I'm thinking in that moment and then press publish. There hasn't been much time for dilly dallying. 

Do you have any tips on how to ease the angst of writing and let the words flow?
My only advice is those thirty minutes of morning pages. I'm really looking to you on this one... 

On Reading :
What do you most enjoy reading about (here or on other blogs)?
I love learning little personal details; being given little inlets into the writer/bloggers life. 

What are you reading when you aren't reading blogs?
I followed Amy's lead and downloaded Jane Eyre, which I have been reading at night scrunched up on the couch. I also just recently bought two books by Michael Chabon - The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and Telegraph Hill which the NYTimes compared to one of our favorite movies -You've Got Mail. How could I not get it?

On Eating:
What's for dinner?
Zach is at a whiskey tasting so just me tonight. I made a butternut squash, onion, zucchini and tomato sauté and ate it with torn basil leaves over pasta. 

Let's say there's something baking in your oven right this minute, what is it?
THESE (see below) cookies! You know they're done when they smell like melted Nutella.

* * * feel free to answer just one or three or all * * *
(edit: of course now 20 minutes after posting I'm nervous you won't answer at maybe just one?)
Every year at Christmas mom my makes sugar cookies, Aunt Julie's Sugar Cookies to be exact. After thinking about the recipes I'll be remembered for (see above) I decided I wanted to add a cookie to this list. I decided that one of my missions before Christmas arrives is to find my cookie. I might have found it on the first go. This buttery hazelnut cookie, which is just slightly crackly on the outside and melt in your mouth buttery on the inside, is the perfect bite size Christmas treat if you ask me. The fact that it looks like a snowball also doesn't hurt either. Let's talk about the real clincher though, the fact that this cookie smells like Nutella when it is baking. I opened the oven to check on their plumpness and doneness only to be met with the most wonderful scent, like I was floating down a river of smooth hazelnut chocolate. Granted there is no chocolate in this recipe, yet that is. David Lebovitz just recently posted a recipe for a surprisingly similar cookie with a chocolate layer. I'll be trying those next. 
 // Palle di Neve : Snowball Cookies // 
            from Biscotti: Recipes from the Kitchen of the American Academy in Rome: Rome Sustainable Food Project by Mona Talbott and Mirella Mistenti
(more on this book and the American Academy in Rome in another post)

140 g / 5 oz hazelnuts
300 g / 2 cups + 2 tbsp all purpose flour
230 g / 1 cup + 1 tbsp butter
85 g / 1/4 cup + 3 tbsp granulated sugar
5 ml / 1 tsp vanilla extract
5 ml / 1 tsp water
325 g / 2 cups + 3 tbsp confectioners sugar for coating

Preheat the oven to 150ºC / 300ºF

Spread the hazelnuts evenly on a sheet pan and toast for 10 minutes or until the skins begin to split. While the nuts are still warm pour them into a kitchen towel. Cinch up the kitchen towel and rub with your hands in a circle direction to work the skins away from the nuts. The skins can be somewhat bitter so removing some or all of them is helpful. Lift the nuts out of the towel, leaving the skins behind, and place in a food processor and pulse with 2 tbsp of flour until they are an even sandy texture. 

Cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and water and mix until incorporated. Add the ground hazelnut mixture and the rest of the flour and continue to mix on low speed until the dough forms a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic and place in the refrigerator for  at least 30 minutes. 

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and form into 80 balls, about 9 g / 1/3 oz each. At this point you can place the balls of dough in a zip lock bag and store the freezer for up to a month until you are ready to bake them.

When you are ready to bake the cookies heat the oven to 180ºC / 350ºC

Place the balls on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper leaving about 1 inch between them. Allow the balls to come to room temperature (if they have been in the freezer). Bake for 10-12 minutes. 

Cool the cookies completely on a wire wrack and then roll in confectioner sugar a few times, or sprinkle with a sifter a few times (of if you are like me you can do both). 

These cookies are best freshly baked. (Although I baked them yesterday (made the dough Wednesday) and just ate one and they are equally delicious today as they were yesterday). 
And so it ends, 4 weeks of blogging. It has been a wonderful experience, in a large part because I knew you were there reading. Thank you! 


  1. I'll answer! My go-to dessert is YOUR chocolate flourless cake for my celiac roommates. And tonight I'm making butternut squash soup in the Vitamix. Is that cheating? I figure the Vitamix is sick of being used only for smoothies.

    Sigh. Tea and morning pages is a recipe for my writing inspiration as well.

    I'm going to miss your daily posts!

    1. thanks for kicking things off Ker! So glad that my chocolate cake is now YOUR chocolate cake. And yes morning pages - are you still doing them? And in general do you try and write in your apartment or at a cafe?

  2. Jane Eyre!! I just finished it last night, oh it was so good! I'm not sure where you're at in the book but the first bit is a little slow if you're having doubts... I just had to put that out there (obviously I can't just be satisfied that I liked the book, but I have to make sure everyone else does too).

    Anyway, in regards to (outside blog) reading I do love literature like Hemingway, Camus, stuff like that. Every time I haven't read a book like that for awhile I start to get a bit antsy, like "the well has run dry." And regarding your "tips" question, I think reading in general is where I get most my motivation to write. When I read something good (in a book or blog, or wherever), and it just makes me really FEEL, I usually have no hesitations in at least wanting to try to get those feelings into semi-coherent thoughts in writing. You are awesome/crazy for having worked through that whole notes-outline-post-blogger pattern for your posts! I don't know if I could be that disciplined. And in regards to what I like reading on blogs, I think my favorite posts are either when they point out small details in life, or when they're very relatable -- whether through little things and habits or through big things like ideas, hopes, fears, things like that. I feel like your blog is very relatable, and very rarely has a "talk at people" vibe. So don't be worried about that, because so often I think the length of comments (like this one!!!) show the gravitation to feeling, on some level, the same things you're talking about.

    A quick question about these cookies: would you compare them with mexican wedding cookies? They sounded a bit like them, only the variation of the hazelnut and thus nutella-ish quality to them (which sounds awesome). And just so you know, I saved these to my computer as "talley's cookies," so I think you being known for them is already underway.

    PS I have yet to really successfully tackle fried foods. I'm so intimidated by them, but I wish I weren't.

    1. YIKES that is the longest comment ever! Sorry!!

    2. I LOVE long comments! You are the bestest Amy. I am finding Jane Eyre a bit slow, but I haven't given up yet and I'm definitely going to keep on going. Charlotte Bronte has such a unique take the colon and semi-colon, don't you think? She uses both constantly. I find her littering of colons refreshing actually as I fear the rest of us have become a little self-conscious about using them.

      I know exactly what you mean by FEEL! I've made a promise to read more books in an effort to find that FEELing. I found it most recently in Dear Sugar, so much life there. I need to tackle Hemingway again. I read so many wonderful books in grade school and high school, but I wasn't writing then, or I was, but it was boring school stuff.

      And as for the blogging - it's not discipline, it's just that i'm scared I'll press "publish" by accident instead of preview in blogger if I write directly in there. I think it's good to start directly in the blog platform though, it is a blog afterall, an electronic journal entry of sorts and over-thinking things only works to disturb that 'of the moment' sensation.

      I can't really say if these are like Mexican wedding cookies because I've never had one, at least not one I can remember. I just looked up a recipe on Martha Stewart and they do seem quite similar except for the nut used obviously. I think the roasted and ground hazelnut makes these stand out. I'm not sure I'd like an almond or walnut version as much. They remind me of Viennese crescent cookies a bit in their texture. Perhaps Mexican wedding cookies have the same texture, I guess I'll have to make some to find out! I'll report back.

      I haven't tackled fried food either, I mean besides from some fried onions for the top of a casserole. Bubbling hot oil scares the crap out of me. Maybe if I had a big outdoor frying bucket, like the kind you can fry a turkey in I'd try it, but until then I think I'll eat my fried food when I'm out.

    3. Oh no! Well for me page 233 is when Jane Eyre started getting really good... quite some pages to get through, haha! But yes, I really do like her writing style. I think you're right about people (including myself) being too self-conscious about using colons/semi colons. And yes, I've re-read books that I had first read in high school lit classes and they are SO much better when there isn't the pressure of analyzing it to death for imagery or motifs or whatever they all have. Oh, and I've written down Dear Sugar on my list of books to read/check out during my winter break.

      I think there are a lot of variations of Mexican wedding cookies, and honestly while these cookies here do look really similar, they look like the best version I've seen yet.

      Oh, and I have to comment, after having read Darcy and your's responses: my mom emails me too after every post! Sometimes she'll put in the email subject title, "your editing mother," haha. Funny how that's a mom thing!

    4. I haven't (and won't) give up on Jane Eyre. It's been on my reading list for a long time now. I look forward to page 233.

      Love to hear that your mom is your editor too! Too funny! My mom also writes things like "your editing mother." Maybe our moms should get together :)

  3. Talley, what a fun post! I've really enjoyed this month of posts from you (really, you haven't been talking at us), so congratulations on getting through to the end of it! The cookies, by the way, look wonderful. I definitely going to have to find the time to make these.

    I'm just going to pick something to answer from each of your categories:

    In the Mission Street Food cookbook, there's a recipe for peking duck, but the method is pretty non-traditional. I'm mostly intimidated by the ingredients list (where would I get 1 lb of raw duck skin in this city or anywhere, for that matter??) Also, the recipe involves making your own duck confit for the final dish (the list of ingredients for this is also intimidating--2 cups of duck fat, eek). We should team up!

    Writing process. It varies for me. For blog posts, I just start in Blogger, but it can still take me a couple of days to finish a post. I'll work on the post whenever I have a spare moment. When writing academic papers, I make lots of notes. I jot down structures for introductory paragraphs. I write down snippets of arguments. I collect pages of quotations from the literature. And then, typically, I never look back at them while actually writing the paper. I don't know why. All of the earlier stuff is just pre-writing, a sort of warm-up, I guess. With class papers, my tendency was to write the paper once, carefully and deliberately. With the paper that I'm working on right now, though, I've had to forego that process. Because the paper's so important, I find myself stalling, getting worked up over wording. So the current strategy is to just get the arguments out and worry about style later.

    Current reading. Unfortunately, I don't make the time to read much fiction while school is in session. I've been reading bits of the current issue of Lucky Peach before bed recently, and I've had a borrowed copy of Jonathan Franzen's Freedom by my bed for ages now. I'm told it's really funny.

    Dinner tonight will be haphazard. Polenta and leftover andouille sausages fried and served with a quick tomato sauce. Where are the vegetables?? Didn't get a chance to shop today...

    1. Katie - thank you, I'm so glad to hear that you enjoyed my daily posts!

      Peking duck, huh? And 1lb of raw duck skin? That is a ridiculous amount of duck skin, and your right, likely an impossible item to find in town. And 2 lbs duck fat? oh man! But it's from Mission Street Food so I have no doubt it's good, but I wonder if they realized how hard it would be for people to find the ingredients and courage to make it in their own home. Yes, next time I come to Chicago or you find yourself in Zurich we can have a duck party.

      I loved reading about your academic writing process. It reminds me so much of my college history paper process and even my writing process in architecture school. I am admittedly an obsessive researcher, always anxious I don't have enough information and always going out on the hunt for more. I could never seem to start writing without a hefty stack of notes and quotations, most of which I never ended up using. I always used to try to change my process, but I found that without those prewriting steps, my writing never quite flowed. And I know what you mean by getting worked up over wording, I used to edit as I wrote, perfectly each sentence before moving on. It was slow going and definitely hampered the flow of ideas. Are you enjoying your new strategy of write - then style, or are you missing your strategy heavy on pre-writing? What is the path of a philosophy grad student? Do you imagine you'll transform papers into books?

      Freedom is great! Perhaps something to start over Christmas break as if I remember it was a little slow in the beginning. I need to look into Lucky Peach and Wilder, I keep hearing about both.

      Sausage and polenta - delicious! Putting that on my 'what to make for dinner' list.

    2. Lucky Peach is great. The recipes tend to be pretty inaccessible (but still fun to read through), but it can be wildly funny (in an irreverent sort of way), and you learn a lot about food, food history, and cooking techniques that are sort of off the beaten path. I'm also really curious about Wilder.

      I'm not sure how I feel about my new approach to writing. What's important right now with deadlines looming and all is that I'm making progress instead of getting lost in writing a paragraph for a whole afternoon (and still not being very satisfied with it). But I know that in a couple of days, I'm going to have to go through what I've written very carefully and probably do a lot of re-writing before I can submit the paper again. Still, what's hardest sometimes is just getting it all down in the first place and committing to something. I think that's what's behind most of my hesitation.

      Books are a long way off. Most philosophical writing these days comes in the form of 20-30 page articles published in philosophy journals. Philosophy dissertations are usually the size of small books, but people often go back and break down their chapters into self-standing articles for publication. It's rare that a whole dissertation ever gets published. But either way, having published work is important for getting a tenure-track position at a college. No one makes a living by publishing their work, really. So maybe, just maybe some version of the paper I'm writing right now will end up as a journal article. But it is nowhere near ready for that right now. Speaking of which, back to work!

    3. I hope if you are at the rewriting point by now that it is going well. It can be hard to regroup around your own writing, but I trust that the idea of being done with this paper is outweighing the need to make it absolutely perfect.

      Interesting to know that philosophy writing tends to lend itself more to articles than books. I guess it makes sense; the writing is probably very dense and rich to the point where you need to read it a few times over, at which point it's the length of a book.

      good luck Katie!

  4. No more daily posts? I am sad November is over! Lovely pictures as usual in this post, Talley. I'm seeking the same answer as a previous commenter - are these like Mexican Wedding Cookies? I had a peppermint Mexican Wedding Cookie tonight and it was SO GOOD. I think those are made with walnuts though?

    Let's see....

    I wish I had the courage to tackle a whole fish! Really, I need the courage to BUY a whole fish. Those eyes. They are always staring at you!

    I LOVE foreign grocery stores (the best I've visited was in Morocco or Chile). But, I live in the US now and my foreign travels are limited. Instead, I look for inspiration on Pinterest, in magazines (old issues of Gourmet and BA), and in my cookbooks. Also, from meals I eat out... right now, I'm snacking on a pumpkin pop tart from a local bakery. Yum.

    4-6 people is ideal. Agree - more than that makes me anxious.

    A go-to recipe? I have a risotto (I should post about) that I love. Profiteroles for dessert (determined to do that post this weekend).

    I write directly into Square Space... this is why my Mom often e-mails me to alert me to typos (so embarrassing). I agree with you - I love the personal details of other people's blogs. I love a window into someone's life. And thinking I know someone I don't really know.

    Reading! One of my resolutions for 2012 was to read 30 books for pleasure and I am on 29 right now! I've read some great ones... The Art of Fielding, all of Edith Wharton (fell in love with her, despite her depressing outlook on life), A Fine Balance... but this book you say is supposed to be like You've Got Mail must be written with me in mind (that is my favorite movie).

    Phew - long response ! Dinner - leftover pasta....

    1. Darcy! Thanks for commenting!

      Apparently I'm going to need to make some Mexican wedding cookies asap so I can answer your questions. I'm not sure I've ever had one, and if I have I don't remember it. I think the fact that these cookies are made with roasted hazelnuts makes all the difference. The fragrance of hazelnuts and the slightly sweet flavor make for a killer cookie. I'll report back after I make some mexican wedding cookies. If anything they remind me of Viennese crescent cookies in texture, but I think those are made with almonds most often.

      Oh! You should definitely tackle the whole fish. Get Rob in on it (for some reason men seem to love whole fish) and just stick it on the grill. Ali has some wonderful recipes for whole fish that I keep meaning to try. Perhaps when summer rolls around.

      I love that your go-to recipes haven't made it to the blog yet! I keeeeep meaning to post about the fennel dip, which i've made about 95 gazillion times, but I just always seem rushed when I'm making it and never take any photos. Would love to hear about your risotto and profiteroles! I LOVE profiteroles!

      My mom emails me after with typos! She's my editor! It's amazing the mistakes I make. Thank goodness for moms who read every single line and every single word.

      Haha - yes, that's it - thinking you know someone you actually don;t! exactly!

      I'm going to look into some Edith Warton, any recommendations on where to start? And love to hear that your favorite movie is You've Got Mail! "152 - the number of people who think he looks like Clark Gable. 152 people who think he looks like a Clark bar" HA! Love!

  5. These are some fantastic questions. Not only do they make me want to write again (I'm in the middle of a move of household from North Carolina to Boulder CO!) but definitely to cook and explore my new location, ASAP Can't wait to get back to the routine......when that will be I don't quite know LOL

    I have to say the first thing I love about your blog is your integration of fantastic and rewarding pictures that are of really great quality. And your recipes are spot on.

    I also love the travelogues, the trips to the market, the hikes, the adventures. I live a crazy, pretty non-traditional life, but I still love to hear about other people's daily fun. It's my secret armchair addiction!

    As for writing (which sadly I have had very little time for in the past few months-- Blogging, Twitter and FB included), I usually do my best writing early in the AM with coffee on hand and the house quiet. I sit at my computer and just type, walk away from it, read it, then edit. But that being said, I am not talented enough to just write off the cuff. I have generally laid in bed in those early morning halfwake hours and gentlycomposed the story and outlined my piece.

    Interestingly I never write the complete first paragraph--just type in jibberish or ideas. Once the body is done, I go back and write the start to fit the story. Maybe it's from all those days writing Motorsports press releases that were so formulaic--I keep my favorite and most creative first part of an article for the end and savor it.

    I love that you've asked questions. Fun to think, fun to engage. Thanks! Cristi

    1. Hi Cristi - Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I'm so glad to hear that you like what I'm doing here. It is always nice to here a bit of praise, especially since I send the posts out into the enormous internet vacuum and have no idea how they will be received.

      How exciting - a move to Boulder! I've had a a few friends who have lived in Boulder at one time or another and they all love it.

      It sounds like we have the same early morning, before breakfast and still in our pjs, approach to writing. I find my mind isn't so busy in the morning, so clouded with to-do lists or tasks. I also find that with the whole day still in front of me it's easier to sit down and write without feeling like I should be doing something else.

      I feel like I am trying to unlearn so many things I learned in school - like the intro argument paragraph which leads into 3 body paragraphs and a conclusion. It's a great way to write a history paper, but it's been a bit restricting when it comes to free writing. I've started doing as you do which is jibberishing the first paragraph and then coming back to it. It's a nice change.

      Hope you find and enjoy your new routine soon!

  6. Oh Talley, thanks for sharing!
    On Cooking :
    What recipe or meal do you wish you had the courage to tackle?
    Perfecting Tiramisu---its my favorite, but somehow when I've tried it doesnt come out right....
    Where do you look for / find inspiration?
    Brooklyn! So many restaurants, so many types of food, so many neighborhoods....
    What is the ideal number of people to cook for?
    Me +1 , so I can test out all of my worst ideas and not feel self conscious!
    Is there a recipe you consider your go-to - perhaps a recipe that other people have named after you because you make it so often? (aude's) Bean Salad and (aude's) Cranberry Mango cole slaw.... Both super healthy, so I can eat a ton of it anytime.

    On Writing (applies to all writing, not just blogging):
    I've never been much of a writer, but I try to spend 30 minutes a day making collages. That's the way I clear my thoughts---and it seems like a similar feeling. Through repeated process and practice, many nuances can emerge. Your writing does that. I like your thought about being direct. Overthinking is the enemy of everything, but carelessness is also a pitfall. Finding the balance in the process is what counts in being creative--whether it is writing or drawing.

    On Reading :
    Personal writing like what you engage in is a kind of portrait that arises over time through fragments. I am really interested in portraits, character complexity. Storytelling can only come from this. Even though I do not write, I look for fiction stories that have those qualities, and think of my drawings as fragments and attributes which are part of reappearing cast of complex contradictory characters.

    What are you reading when you aren't reading blogs?
    Classics on audio-books. I prefer more opaque reads, that reward through repeated reading / listening.

    On Eating:
    What's for dinner?
    Polish pickle soup
    Kielbasa from the local polish market, and sauerkraut. It's winter and SO cold this weekend--and I miss Greenpoint and its polish restaurants right now. So I am on a eastern European food kick. Next I think Ill try homemade Spaetzle--another favorite comfort food. Never made it myself before even though it is a swiss special... Any tips?
    Missing you from New Haven!!!

    1. Aude! you are so nice to comment - thank you!

      I really want to perfect tiramisu as well. Rachel of recently posted a tiramisu recipe that I think might be my inaugural tiramisu test. She lives in Rome and pulled the recipe together from friends and a woman she bumped into on the bus - sounds authentic to me! It definitely takes some forethought to gather the ingredients. My biggest hurdle is the lady fingers, but Aude, you can walk right down the street to Libby's and get some amazing lady fingers.

      I'd love to hear about your cranberry mango salad - care to share?

      I absolutely love the idea of collaging for 30 minutes everyday. Where do you source most of your images? Magazines you have lying around the apartment? or do you just use colored pieces of paper. I might have to try. Thanks for sharing.

      What's an example of a recent, fairly opaque book, you've read recently? I too appreciate fragments slowly coming together to create story or character.

      I need to try Spaetzle! I had some great Spaetzle at a restaurant called Alpenrose that focuses on traditional, but not stuffy, Swiss food. It was so light and good. It was also really simple, just served plain, intended to be eaten alongside everything else on the plate (meat).

      It's cold here too. SUPER cold. It's actually snowing as I write this. Today is one of the 4 Sundays in the year when the shops are open so I think we might brave the cold in a little bit and do some shopping.

      Come back soon!

    2. Maybe I will try tiramisu over the holidays.... The best one I ever had was here in Siena:
      I just dont know what was in this one to make it so good--but it would be a daunting challenge to try to get it right. (Or repeated tastings--which unfortunately I cant have as an option!! Can someone go there for me and replicate it?!! :)

      My slaw started as kind of a hybrid between "Plenty"'s winter slaw recipe (skip the peanuts, the extra oil, lemongrass and syrup) and "How to Cook everything"'s carrot cole slaw with cumin. I know, sounds kind of weird---but it works for me. Mostly it's lots of shredded carrots, 2 kinds of cabbage (red and green), mango, pomegranate seeds, dried cranberries, green onion, thinly sliced radishes,chopped yellow peppers, cumin, lots of vinegar (including some balsamic), a bit of olive oil, lime juice, a small amount of parsley and a bunch cilantro, and the tiniest bit of sesame oil. I think of it as "healthy-boring" but other people seem to like it.... It gets better on the 2nd / 3rd day, when the pomegranate juice seeps in.
      I'll let you know when I try the Spaetzle.... It seems like a trial and error thing--albeit simple:
      I like to use textures from blog photos---(architecture blogs!) or bad pictures I take in my drawings. I take bad photos so I like to use parts as textures instead and print /cut them up, or use photoshop.
      I think reading Flaubert is like that, and the language is like poetry. Also I re-read "American Pastoral", and thought it had some of those qualities--though a much easier read. I have been mostly reading classics, so I havent quite found a recent book like that---let me know if you find a good one... Enjoy the snow!!!

    3. Aude your salad sounds delicious. Anything with pomegranate seeds is bound to be good and flavorful. After eating at least twenty cookies today I think a little salad cleanse is probably a really good idea. How about you just come here and make it for me - talk about a good idea!! Once your here we can tackle spaetzle together.

      I've been meaning to read American Pastoral. Perhaps that will be next. I need to stay off the internet and read - if only it was that easy.

      miss you aude!

  7. Full bolito misto with all the sauces. Travelling (wandering) and eating and cooking with others (I cook with someone else at least once a week.) 6. Pasta and beans and poached pears. It's chaos, lately nap time (luca's) and early in the morning. I plan what I am going to write while I walk. Walk and talk to the air. Life, stories and lessons that help me understand the food. Childrens books, The guardian, Philp Larkin. Lentil soup. Bread.
    Now where's that soup and red wine. x

  8. ...and the biscuits - Super.

    1. Rachel! Thank you for commenting. Did you see my comment above to Aude about your tiramisu? It is on my list to make and has been since you posted it. I'm thinking about making my own lady fingers using Mona's recipe in Biscotti. I fear Swiss/grocery store lady fingers just won't cut it.

      I love hearing about your writing process. I can imagine wandering around the streets of Rome talking to myself. Rome is so lively and colorful. It seems only natural that you would talk to the air and to the buildings and to the Tiber. Walking is really the answer though. My expat revolves around walking. It keeps me sane.

      I hope your soup and wine was good.

  9. have adored being able to read so much of your musings over the past month - please keep it up! even your "im just sitting in bed, here are some pictures" posts are delightful. onto the questions:
    1. beef bourgogne - stefan (my husband) and i adore it, but we had the most divine version while in the burgundy and ive been terrified to attempt it since as ill never be able to beat it!
    4. cake's (my nickname) cheesecake - i made it for stefan's family my first time in switzerland when i met them the first time and they adored it. they always ask for it when i come to visit. i used this recipe: but given that it's tough to find graham cracker crumbs in switzerland, i substituted whole wheat biscuits (which were delish!) and then topped the finished product with fresh strawberries as opposed to the chocolate.
    writing routine - i often think of things to blab about while on a long leisurely run, crafting out the full piece in my mind before heading straight to blogger and just going for it. at first, i would edit and re-write until i thought what i had could get no better, but now, i just write and publish, well aware that the bulk of what i produce is lackluster, but knowing that just the act of it - writing daily that is - has a great catharis for me.

    and the cookies look delish, im definitely adding them to my must bake - we just did our annual round of swiss xmas cookies (mailanderli, spitz bueben, basler brunsli, zimtsterne) and they turned out much better than last years thanks to all the fancy swiss-made tools that stefan's mother gifted me last xmas ( have you attempted any of those?

  10. Hi Katherine - thanks so much for commenting! I just visited your blog and saw your incredible, enviable cheese wedding cake - genius! Which slice was your first bite?

    Zach and I went to Burgundy last year at this time and we ate the most amazing Beef Bourguignon at a little restaurant in Beaunne, who's name skips my mind right now. I came home and made Julia Child's recipe, which was really delicious, but not quite the same. I think it has to do with those beautiful white cows so prevalent in that region of France. So you're right, it won't be quite as good, but it will still satisfy the craving I think.

    That cheesecake looks and sounds incredible. The lack of graham crackers irks me, but I substitute English digestive cookies, similar to what you used I'm guessing. I actually like them a bit better, they are bit heartier.

    I fully appreciate your efforts to just write for the practice of writing. I often feel that I could write better, or more interesting and captivating posts, but then I remember that it is just one day, and that tomorrow I can write again, and that the more I write the better I'll get. I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one who skips perfection in the aim of posting more frequently.

    I love that you made ALL the swiss cookies. Amazing. I want to try Zimt Sternen, they are my favorite. I can't imagine I'll be able to make them much better than Sprüngli or Jung or Globus, but I'm going to try anyway. I bought some six-pointed star cookie cutters yesterday. Any tips?

    Next time you are in Switzerland let me know - we should meet up!

  11. Beautiful cookies and photographs! Thank you

  12. The last few weeks have been insane, and I know this response is a bit past due, but it is such a fun post idea.

    On Cooking:
    I'd love to learn to make French macrons!

    Eating seasonally has done a lot in providing culinary inspiration. I get so excited when I see pumpkins at the Farmer's Market in the Autumn or asparagus in the Spring. Knowing that these items will only be in town for a few months makes cooking with them extra special.

    I agree with you. Four is a perfect number to cook for.

    My sister-in-law always asks for Chicken Enchiladas when she visits. And White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies are a must for visiting friends and family.

    On Writing:
    I used to have a writing routine - and then I had a baby. So, these days it happens when it happens. It drives me a little crazy because I don't always have the opportunity write down my ideas as they come to me.

    So my process is chaotic. I bring together all the little bits I've written down in my Molskin, on post-it notes, on the back of receipts, etc. I write a couple drafts, giving myself a day between the final draft and the final copy. Then, I just have to let go. Being a perfectionist, I could edit and rewrite forever!

    When I hit writer's block, I read. I find other people's words comforting and stimulating. An espresso is also helpful.

    On Reading:
    I appreciate complex thought and good grammar in blogs. There are a lot of blogs out there that so painful to read. I understand a blog is not a magazine or publication, but it is a body of work meant to be read.

    I love to read! I majored in English and prefer the classics - Fitzgerald, Austen, Shakespeare, Thoreau. I've also been reading a bit of non-fiction recently, such as books by Malcolm Gladwell, Eric Schlosser, Elaine Sciolino, and Michael Pollan.

    On Eating:
    For dinner today, we kept it simple. The baby is teething and was crying all day. We made pasta, put him to bed, and opened a very, very large bottle of wine.

    If I were baking something right now, it would be the chocolate cake from David Lebovitz's "Sweet Life In Paris." So, so good. Also good with said very, very large bottle of wine.

    Congrats on your four weeks of blogging! I truly love your blog. I grew up in Germany and miss Europe constantly. Your blog is essential to my survival. Thank you and keep up the amazing work.