Monthly Archives: October 2012

Lauren: Kale Salad


We’re back with week two of “Lauren’s Affair with Parmesan.”

Kale, Parmesan, lemon, olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper. Bam. Kale salad. Read on for this awesome, easy recipe.

For week 9 of CWC we’re going a little wild. We’re theme-less. Or rather, the theme is similar to a choose-your-own-adventure book for us, it’s a freebie, a wildcard, it’s writer’s-choice. My choice? Kale.

Feeling my risk of developing diabetes increase by the day, I couldn’t be more excited about vegetables lately, deep green kale in particular.

Kale is SO AMAZING that given free rein, it was necessary to finally discuss the recipe I’ve been harassing Caro about since June.

As discussed in an earlier post, I lived in an extended-stay hotel over the summer. Ironically I’m sitting in a room of the very same hotel as I write this. Little did I know before my summer move-in that the place doesn’t supply its guest rooms with ovens. Cue a minor freak out.

I moved to St. Louis at summer’s start with an arsenal of recipes for proteins and salads (oh come on, and baked goods, I’m not that saintly), which could, in theory, be made quickly and easily for dinner and then taken to work the next day for lunch. The thing was, they were gathered with the kitchen of my apartment in mind which did have an oven. So after moving into the hotel I went on weekly recipe-finding missions to find things that could be made 1. without an oven, and 2. the night before and stay tasty until noon the next day.

Then up popped Marin Mamma’s recipe and the angels started singing.

This recipe solved all of my food-induced woes. Not only was it said to be incredibly easy, but it involved cheese (score!) AND was said to only get better with age. Plus it was packed with fiber and all the other goods present in dark leafy greens. I made the salad at least once a week and recommended it to my friend Matt, a fellow intern and foodie, who also enjoyed it.

I shake up the recipe a little bit from its original version. While I tried to remain loyal to the lacinato kale type (non-curly, each piece is just a single long flat leaf) which Marin Mamma suggests, every time I’ve purchased it, there have been bugs on the backs of the leaves, so, grossed out, I always return to curly kale and it’s equally good. In addition, I find 3 tablespoons of olive oil a little excessive. That’s like 300 calories and a boatload of fat (yes, yes, I know it’s the good kind but too much of a good thing is still bad) for a salad, and that’s before even counting the cheese. My fix is to add only 2 tablespoons of olive oil and just over 1 cup of cheese, or enough to pretty evenly cover the kale leaves. Make sure to massage the dressing concoction into the salad with your hands to ensure an even coating. With my adjustments, the lemon in the dressing makes much more of an impact, so add salt and add oil to taste if sour isn’t your thing. I also tend to add in around half a tablespoon of red pepper flakes because I like things spicy and regularly double the amount of minced garlic (to ward off vampires, duh) because I’m a garlic fiend.


Assuage your Halloween-induced guilt with kale in one of its best forms. If you have any other kale recipe suggestions I’d love to hear them in the comments below. Peace, love, and kale leaves.

Recipe here.

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Lauren: Chocolate-Orange Espresso Thins

Waking up at 6 a.m. or earlier every day to be a “real person,” sucks. Being summoned for federal jury duty meant that for two weeks I had to do just that in order to catch the correct train to Chicago, make it to the federal building, through the security check-point, and into the juror room before 8:30 a.m. This is probably normal for most of you but I’ve been staying up way too late these days and ended up falling asleep in my courtroom chair multiple times each day. NOT GOOD. The other half of this problem is that I don’t drink coffee. I know, I know, I’m crazy. I’m just not that into coffee or coffee-flavored anything. The memories of a failed baking project from long ago are vivid; I anticipated whatever chocolatey thing I was making to taste chocolatey, and even though there was only a tablespoon or so of instant espresso mix in the recipe, I could taste nothing else and left the rest of the goods for others to eat.

So you can see why then, when my mom found this recipe for chocolate-orange espresso thins last week, I was hesitant to take on the project. But they were great. The best part is that YOU CAN (safely) EAT THE DOUGH. I’m not one to usually eat doughy things anyway, after you’ve had salmonella once you aren’t anxious to get it again. The point remains: you can eat this dough without fearing for your intestinal well being. There are no eggs in the dough and eating it is similar to eating a really sophisticated fudge.

I have only two complaints about this recipe: 1. The log of dough (which looks less than delicious) has to chill over night which is torturous when all you want is a petite chocolate-orange disk in your mouth, and 2. I could. not. stop. eating them. Neither could the rest of my family. I only baked half-a-log’s worth of cookies the first time for one Sunday night dinner with my grandparentals, and we collectively gobbled up every last one. My mom baked the other half for me to tote along to St. Louis but forgot them at home in the rush to the airport. Best welcome home ever.

The recipe has four steps; the most difficult of which is rolling the log into a truly cylindrical shape before chilling. My first cookies came out a little lopsided, luckily we fixed that before baking the other half of the batch. In addition I recommend slicing the cookies a little thicker than 1/4 inch since at that degree of thinness, eating the cookies is like not eating anything at all.

These delicate, crumbly little chocolate wheels are a dream. The orange and espresso flavors are subtle and yet present, and the cookies have the texture and taste of a chocolate shortbread. Coffee exception made—these are so, so good and the espresso only enhances the flavor. You’re socked by the deep, dark chocolate flavor first which is thankfully more bitter than sweet. These cookies do not have that all-too-common level of sweetness that makes it feel as though you’re literally eating diabetes, and they make an excellent pairing with a hot beverage like Tazo Wild Sweet Orange tea. Top the cookies with orange-colored sanding sugar in place of white and they’re perfectly dressed for Halloween.

Recipe here.

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Department of Redundancy Department

Redundancy.

It happens when you repeat things unnecessarily.

For the record, Caro would like to point out that her favorite moment involving redundancy occurred when she and Lauren were editing their school newspaper and let the name “John M. Olin School of Business School” slip through the cracks and onto the published paper. Still makes her giggle.

Lately, though, we have come across several instances of redundancy in our lives that are making us batty and leading us to believe the masses could benefit from a few words on the topic. Fret not. We’re here to offer some advice on how to fix common redundancies.

Caro would like to draw attention first to the so-called “ATM machine,” because she just wants to SMACK all the people she hears who say “ATM machine.” Or maybe just give them dirty looks. (She’s really not violent enough to smack anyone.) Friends…you all know that ATM stands for automated teller machine, right? So when you say, “Oh, I just need to stop by the ATM machine,” you’re saying “Oh, I just need to stop by the automated teller machine machine!” See how SILLY that sounds?! So, please just limit yourself to saying ATM. Or say automated teller machine if you’re feeling all pretentious. We won’t judge.

Next, let’s address the words “reason” and “because.” You know what Caro can’t stand (aside from Rachael Ray’s voice and the song “Mercy” by Duffy)? The fact that people say, “the reason is because.”
Example:
“Hey, Tina! Why didn’t you come to my dinner party?”
“Well, Vicky, the reason is because you can’t cook.”
What?! WHY do you need both words? Caro is firmly of the belief that you can either say “because” OR “the reason is that.” Pick one. No need for both words in one explanatory sentence.
Revised example:
“Tina! How could you say such a thing?!”
“Vicky, I say that because your mashed potatoes make baby food look good.”
OR
“Vicky, the reason is that the last time you cooked, the macaroni was soggy, the peas were mushed, and the chicken tasted like wood.”

As for Lauren’s redundancy peeves, the list is brief. Redundancy in general frustrates her, for example, when people repeat the exact same sentence or phrase over and over. Weirdly, she also likes to have things explained to her multiple times to ensure she understands. That does not mean you should repeat the same line to her multiple times, but rather change your phrasing because exact repetition generally doesn’t clarify the issue.

Yesterday though Lauren found another peeve, this time about pets. She has been serving federal jury duty in Chicago for the past two weeks. On Thursday morning during the pre-courtroom gathering, half the table of jurors was deep in discussion about cats and “mousing,” where cats chase after and eat mice. She had the misfortune to overhear this less-than-delicious conversation which was bad enough as it was. But then one juror started doing BOTH of Lauren’s redundancy pet peeves at once, repeating the same phrase over and over, and repeating a nonsensical redundant phrase at that! How meta right? Ok but really, it was painful. This particular juror insisted on repeating, “My cat uses mice as play toys.” Play toys. THESE ARE NOT THINGS. You play with toys. A toy is a play thing. Play is something that is done with a toy, but it is NOT a modifier of the word toy. Please refrain from using this made-up, incorrect, and repetitive term in your own life and you will save this copy team from anguish and heart break.

Your assignment this week, should you choose to accept it (and you should), is to reduce your redundancy footprint. It’s kind of like the carbon kind except less permanent. Your second assignment is to count how many times the word redundant or some variation thereof appears in this column. Big high fives if you guess correctly, and I mean come on, who doesn’t want a high five from us? No one, that’s who.

On that note, this is Caro and Lauren saying sayonara from the John M. Olin School of Business School. Over and out.

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Lauren: Pumpkin-Banana Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

It’s pumpkin season, people!


Caro and I have been awaiting the arrival of this particular week on the blog since before it was even a thing, way back in May. In fact, our first food column in Student Life was about pumpkin-flavored muffins and pancakes. Speaking of which I really need to make those pancakes again, they’re so tasty and festive.

While pumpkin is a welcome addition to many foods, it can also totally suck. As Caro and I discovered when making those pumpkin chocolate chip muffins last spring, and which I reaffirmed only a month ago with some pumpkin donut muffins (photo below), it’s easy for pumpkin to be bland, tasteless, rubbery, and pretty much any other synonym you can think of for disappointing.


I knew extra-careful research was necessary for this particular ingredient theme. There would be no more pumpkin disappointments in my house! When I found these “skinny” pumpkin-banana bars, I knew and feared that this would be a recipe so spicy, moist, and seasonal that it wouldn’t tolerate being made only once a year for say, Thanksgiving. Nope. It was practically begging to be made right there and then, and then promptly scarfed down while standing around the kitchen island. Seats be damned!

Let me tell you, this cake is so good that it deserves to be eaten standing up. Preferably while listening to your friend tell you stories of office romances and workplace weirdos. Thanks to the delightful combination of pumpkin, banana, and spices, it’s like the best banana bread and pumpkin pie got together and had a baby. Less than 24 hours since its baking already half of it has disappeared. This is definitely the best thing that has come out of my oven in over a month.


Click me for the pumpkin-banana cake recipe! Do remember to grease the pan (I used unsalted butter) because this cake is extremely moist and will stick to the pan if it is left ungreased. I substituted unflavored Greek yogurt for her soy version and it was great. Secret I: I’m not a fan of frosting in general. Secret II: This frosting is so good that unless you are vegan/lactose intolerant, ignore her recipe for it and make this frosting instead. I used two cups of powdered sugar instead of three, but really just add it until you have your desired sweetness and consistency. As someone who prefers food on the less-sweet side, this would have been even better with just under 2 cups of powdered sugar, but hey, I’m not complaining.

As my mom said upon tasting the cake, “Now we know what we’re serving on Thanksgiving,” and like I said, half the cake is gone. Do yourself (and hopefully lots of friends/family/acquaintances/hobos) a favor and make this cake. It’ll put you in a good mood no matter what kind of craziness you’re dealing with on the holidays. Or have it with some hot cider right now. Until next week I wish you chilly days, colorful trees, spooky music, and lots of Tim Burton movies. Happy almost-Halloween!

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Favorite/least-favorite words

We’re cooking and we’re copying, but we’re a little sick of lecturing. We’re breaking up the weekly lessons with our new column: Caro’s and Lauren’s favorite and least-favorite words! We’ll post updates as we find new words we like/hate. It’s quick and easy, and, hey, who doesn’t like a good list?

Lauren’s List (definitions courtesy of Webster.com)

Favorites:

  • Splendid: excellent.
  • Spiffy: fine looking, smart.
  • Pantaloons: three definitions, all about pants. Makes me think of pirates. ‘Nuff said.
  • Hellacious: I didn’t even know this but there are four definitions: 1. exceptionally powerful or violent; 2. remarkably good (isn’t that odd?); 3. extremely difficult; 4. extraordinarily large.
  • Magnificent: exceptionally fine. It’s so grand!
  • MacGuffin: an object, event, or character in a film or story that serves to set and keep the plot in motion despite usually lacking intrinsic importance. What a great word to say.
  • Snuffle: 1. to snuff or sniff usually audibly and repeatedly; 2.to breathe through an obstructed nose with a sniffing sound. I’m a sucker for cute-sounding “ff” sounds.

Least-Favorites:

  • Chassis: the supporting frame of a structure. I HATE THE WORD CHASSIS! As Caro informed me last week, the word is not spelled phonetically like I originally thought (read: chassy, (it even looks awful)). At my house we’re deep in the throes of buying a new car and if there’s one thing dealers like to talk about it’s the chassis of their vehicles—if I hear this word one more time I will slap someone.
  • Purge: to get rid of. My mom uses it with the correct meaning but all it does is evoke images of bulimia. Not a fan. Can’t we just say “clean out” or “get rid of”?
  • Moist: not even going to go there.
  • Crunch: It isn’t this word that’s so bad. It’s the fact that people do strange things when pronouncing it. The originator of the butchered pronunciation is Giada De Laurentiis; if she says “chhrunchhhh” one more time, heads are going to roll.

Caro’s List (in no particular order)

Favorites:

  • “Oodle” words: Noodle. Doodle. Poodle. Caboodle. Canoodle. Oodles. Toodles. You love them, too. I know it. Don’t deny.
  • Ethereal: The first time I ever tried to decide what my favorite word was when I applied to Princeton for undergrad. (They asked for it. Random, yeah?) I couldn’t pick a word, so I closed my eyes, opened my dictionary to a random page, put my finger down on it, opened my eyes, and found myself pointing to “ethereal.” Realized I LOVE it, and it’s been a favorite since.
  • Architecture: I can’t really explain this one. I just like it, a lot.

Least Favorites:

  • Moist: This is on everyone’s least-favorite words list. No explanation needed.
  • Crusty: Ugh. Is this ever used flatteringly? “Thanks for the pizza, Mike! It was super crusty!” or “Man, the crusty edges of this casserole are the best!” Like… no.
  • Chunky: Ewww. I am cringing. Just awful.
  • Comfortable: Do you know why I hate this word? Because I am 22 years old, and I am STILL not sure how to pronounce it. Some say, “come-fruh-ble,” some say “come-thra-ble”… I went through a phase sometime around age 10 when I insisted on pronouncing every syllable. (“Oh, what a come-fort-uh-ble couch.”) I don’t know. I can’t figure it out. I just say “comfy” now.

This is the world as it sits right now. We’ll be back to you with more fun next week. Until then, adios and have a lovely fall weekend!

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Caro: Epic Apples

I made a big old mess this weekend.

Actually, I made a whole bunch of big old messes.

I made a mess of…
– dishes in (fine… and around) the sink.
– rejected Saturday outfits on the floor.
– new purchases in the trunk of my car. (Please tell me I’m not the only one who’s too tired after a day of shopping to lug her treasured finds upstairs when that can so conveniently be left for the next day.)

Et cetera, et cetera. (For some reason, when I just wrote et cetera, I said it in my head in a British accent.) (I feel like noting that as I write things—from essays to text messages to blog posts—I totally say them in my head. Out loud sometimes, if no one’s around. Like a narrator? Kind of?) (I’m crazy. I’m aware of this. Moving right along…)

So, I know I should be responsible, and I know dirty dishes and invisible-due-to-being-covered-with-clothes floors aren’t exactly acceptable in the real world, and blah blah blah. BUT. One of my weekend messes was absolutely, definitely, entirely excusable.

Because it involved apples, chocolate, caramel, sprinkles, nonpareils, and M&M’s. So my kitchen is covered with the last three, and there’s chocolate on the walls, and all but one of my utensils are coated in caramel. Best mess ever?! Uhh, yeah. So, whatever, don’t hate.

Besides, I deem the current apocalyptic state of my kitchen to be so worth what I got out of it. Granny Smith apples, submerged in rich caramel, double-dipped in milk chocolate, covered in varied colorful and texture-enhancing toppings.

epic apples

I had a specific goal in mind while I was making these. I was trying to recreate the first dipped apple I ever truly loved.

I’ve never liked candy apples. (You’d think my crazy-intense love of cinnamon would extend to cinnamon-flavored candy, but it does not. I firmly reject cinnamon-flavored candy.) I’ve also never liked caramel apples, because I’m really not a big fan of caramel without chocolate. So the dipped apple creations that are so definitive of fall flew under my radar for most of my life. Until…

My freshman year of college. I went apple-picking (now seriously my favorite activity) at Eckert’s Orchards in Belleville, Illinois, and with 10 pounds of fresh-from-the-tree apples in tow, I set off to peruse the on-site country store for goodies like fudge and apple-themed home decor. But what really caught my eye was the most beautiful dipped apple my eyes had ever beheld. It was seriously half the size of my head. It boasted a layer of caramel, a layer of chocolate, and a generous coating of crushed mini M&M’s. All this over a freshly picked apple. (PEOPLE, you have NOT had an apple unless you have had an apple straight off a tree. Actually life-changing. Really, really. I can’t even properly express how much more amazing they are than supermarket apples. At least 816 times more amazing.)

I brought that apple home with me and ate it for dinner alone that very night. And it was every bit as amazing as I had been daydreaming it would be during my entire ride home. I was lucky enough to be able to return to Eckert’s each next year until I graduated, buying (at least) a couple of these apples each time. So I decided… since this is my first year away from my beloved St. Louis with no Eckert’s access, what better recipe for apple week than a recreation of that magical jazzed-up apple of my dreams?

epic apples

These babies aren’t quite the same as the Eckert’s ones, of course, mostly due to the fact that my apples came from Walmart (no apple orchards in Tampa 😦 ), and also due to the fact that my disastrously sloppy apples look almost nothing like the crisp, clean, perfectly dipped ones on display at the country store. Still, though. One bite transported me right back to the fall days of my college experience. Even with supbar apples, these are still special. And who cares what they look like if you’re just going to eat them anyway?! (Really, though, you won’t even think about gifting these. I promise, once you try a piece of one, there will be no way you will let the rest of the batch leave your house.)

These are seriously indulgent, unbelievably delicious, and the very best approximation to my apple muse that I could come up with. It makes me giddy to think that I can now have a little slice of my STL life whenever I want, from a distance, and relive some delectable memories. Happy happy 🙂 .

epic apples

Well, what are you waiting for?! I believe you have some apple bliss to create!

Click here for the recipe!

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Lauren: Chaussons aux Pommes (French apple turnovers)

Totally overwhelmed (“You can be overwhelmed, and you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be ‘whelmed?'”—name that movie!) by the number of apple recipes in the world, I took a different approach to recipe-finding this week, instead of seeking one out, I sat back and waited for one to come to me. And come to me it did! One day after choosing apples as the theme an email from Bon Appétit popped into my box with a subject line reading, “15 Ways to Cook Apples; Fall Pasta Recipes.” Obv I ignored the latter part and got to clicking.

I’m obsessed with the podcast Spilled Milk and after listening to Molly and Matthew discuss their respective “Day of Perfect Meals” 20+ times on loop, I get it, Molly, Chaussons aux Pommes are awesome—flaky puff pastry, tart apple compote “stuff,” a little sugar sprinkled on top, SIGN ME UP!

Molly said that on her day she’d teleport back to Paris and have the pastries at Eric Keyser’s bakery/patisserie, what Ms. Wizenberg didn’t say was that she has a recipe for them. So eight slides into the Bon Appétit article I found it, I found Molly’s recipe! And it looked so good that I decided to be fancy for once, suck it up, and make something with puff pastry.

Enter: amazingness. Eating my apple slipper (the literal translation of the recipe name) was like taking a little trip to France. Even eaten on the way to the car dealership, the next day for breakfast, the day after that for no reason at all, well, you get the idea, these are really really great. Though, do note that their flavor is HIGHLY dependent on the quality of the puff pastry dough. While the apple compote had flavor, the more predominate flavor was that of the flaky pastry and egg wash. I happened to be lunching at Whole Foods when I went shopping for this recipe, where there was only one option in the way of pastry dough, and which had apparently won an award at the aptly named Fancy Food Show, and I, a sucker for anything with fancy in the name, was sold.

Unlike Molly, I made GIANT Chaussons, whoops. A package of this particular pastry dough should have yielded eight pastries, yet mine somehow only made six. Whatever, more puff pastry and tart apple compote is far from a crime in my book. Pastry dough is finicky so make absolutely sure that you adequately flour the surface on which you roll it out, and flour the rolling pin, and either work quickly or work on a cold marble slab otherwise prepare for a sticky, unwieldy mess that refuses to unstick itself from its new best friend, the marble counter top. Clearly I had this problem; my remedy was to speed up my assembly and pull the dough away from the counter as fast as I could. The end result was three photogenic pastries, and three little round, alien-looking, apple blobs.

Click me for the recipe!

As with all vacations, gustatory and otherwise, it had to end, but I plan to go return the very first chance I get, like maybe the next time we have house guests, or for Thanksgiving! Speaking of Thanksgiving, stay tuned for next week’s posts—you won’t be sorry. Until then, au revoir mes amis and bon appétit!

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Homophones!

Let’s talk about homophones!

Because we use only the most sophisticated and credible sources for our research here at Cooking with Copy, we turned to Wikipedia to confirm our definition of the word “homophone.” A homophone is one of the words in a set of words that sound the same but have different definitions. Sometimes the words in the set are spelled the same way, too, but that’s a can of worms we’ll open some other time. Today, we’ll focus on homophones that sound the same but have different spellings.

Now. You’d think that, even though the words sound the same, the different spellings and, umm, entirely unique definitions would keep people from confusing the members of a set of homophones. Not the case. Homophones are so frequently used in contexts in which they don’t belong that it makes our heads spin. We’ve picked a couple of commonly messed-up homophones about which to educate y’all.

They’re/their/there
You knew this set would make the list and you knew it’d be first. Arguably the most mixed-up homophones ever, these words are no strangers to misuse. Let’s try to break this down for those who may still be convinced that “their taking there food over they’re,” or something like that is acceptable…it’s not.
They’re = They are. It is a contraction that represents a subject and a verb. If you want to use “they’re” in a sentence, make sure you can replace it with “they are;” and if you’re planning on replacing “they are” in a sentence, make sure to use “they’re.” It’s the only way. Don’t mess this up.
There = actually a bit confusing, because there can be a pronoun, a noun, an adjective, an interjection…but, more often than not, it’s an adverb! So think of it that way. It modifies a verb. Where are you going? You’re going over there. Easy.
Their = adjective, always. It modifies a noun and describes whose possession something is in. Whose socks are these? Their socks!
See how simple this can be?! Yay! Let’s move on.

Two/too/to
Here’s another really commonly mixed-up set of homophones.
Two = the number. We don’t really see how this can be confused with too or to. These two are not numbers.
Too = “as well.” Example: “I am in love with Ryan Gosling, too!” = “I am in love with Ryan Gosling, as well!” Too can also be used to describe a state beyond what is normal or acceptable…for instance: “I am too hungry to stop at just one cheeseburger.”
To = preposition, often used to describe where something/one is going.

Peak/peek
This one may seem very random, but we were only inspired to include it by Caro’s recent run-ins with peak/peek mess-ups. In just the last week, she has found, in sources varying from commercial ads to blog posts, three instances of peak being used where peek was the right word! Sheesh! Unacceptable, peeps. We can help you figure out which is right.
Peak = a high point, like the top of a mountain.
Peek = an often-sneaky look.
So, if you take a look at something, you are taking a peek at it. You are not taking a peak. Unless you are stealing a mountain or something. But, really, we’re guessing (and hoping…?) that’s not the case. So just remember that peek = look. (This is easy to remember because they’re both double-vowel words! Hooray for memory tricks.)

Capital/capitol
Lauren continues to see these two misused and confused. What she didn’t know until tonight, though, was that the two are confusing to her as well. Here’s what she found after several scans of the Webster.com definitions, as well as a few Google searches.
Capital = This has many meanings, but the one we’re talking about here is: a city serving as a seat of government but NOT the BUILDING in which the government sits, that brings us to…
Capitol = the building in which a legislative body meets. Here’s where it gets tricky though. When capitalized into Capitol, the word ONLY means the capital building of the United States, in Washington, D.C., not just any capitol building in any state. If we were talking about the capitol building in Madison, WI, keep capitol lowercase.

And we’re signing off. Until next week, toodles!

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Caro: Potato and Sour Cream Biscuits

Why, hello there. Guess what. I made us biscuits!

potato and sour cream biscuits

Pretty, pretty potato biscuits.

potato and sour cream biscuits

Truth: I’ve spent the last week in a sort of state of general breakdown punctuated by existential crises and episodes of relentless self-analysis. It’s hard to explain. Suffice it to say that I’m feeling lost in oodles of ways and have been kind of hard on myself. It’s the classic “What’s my purpose in life?” with some “Why can’t I just be more like (insert one of various role models)?!” and a little “I should disregard who others influence me to be and focus on who I really want to be… except that I have no idea who that is!” stirred in for good measure… only 10 times more intense.

Thoughts like this have made occasional stops in my mind in the past, for sure, but they’ve never invaded it for an entire week like this. It’s been weird and kind of rough.

But, a few things have been helpful.

1. These two songs on repeat:
“Dancing in the Dark” – Bruce Springsteen. The BOSS. I am actually in love with him.
“Carousel” – Vanessa Carlton. I mean… just beautiful.

2. The Mindy Project. Anything that takes my mind off life and gifts me with 22-ish minutes of out-loud laughter is so welcome right now.

3. These biscuits. You saw that coming, right?

potato and sour cream biscuits

Oh, these biscuits. They are, like… the comfort food to end all comfort foods for me. Because biscuits are tender, buttery pillows of love, and because, well, I ADORE Yukon Gold mashed potatoes more than you could ever even imagine, due to a steady stream of this food making its way from my abuela’s kitchen to my tummy when I was a wee one… and because what we have here are biscuits that taste JUST like Yukon Gold mashed potatoes. For real! I totally did not expect the level of potato flavor these biscuits delivered… surprise score. This is probably not nearly as exciting to the average person as it is to me. But for moi, they were absolutely perfect.

potato and sour cream biscuits

And they are just so darn cute. I think. Man, I love biscuits. I ate two of these straight out of the oven (topped with a pat of butter and sprinkled with extra salt, duh) and settled into bed for a sunset nap. It was the loveliest late afternoon in the midst of my crazy week. Exactly what I needed. And they were easy as pie to make. (Wait… why do people say “easy as pie”? Pie’s hardly the easiest baking project I can think of. Anyway…)

Your turn now! Go buy some cheap ingredients and make potato biscuits. Or your own favorite comfort food. Relax this afternoon. Thank me later.

Click here for the recipe!

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Lauren: Roasted Potatoes

I really, really hate bugs, but I really, really love roasted potatoes. While my hatred of bugs is nothing new, my love affair is. My relationship with the starchy staple began only this summer. Here’s what happened:

After graduation I moved home to Chicago for the summer, only to be notified two weeks later that I had gotten an internship back in St. Louis, and that the company wanted me to begin there in, oh, six days. SIX DAYS. Let’s just say it was a bit of a scramble. The last-minute schedule meant there was no time to apartment hunt, which was fine because I had just so happened to have checked out one apartment in case this sort of situation materialized—and it was beautiful.

The place had two bedrooms and two bathrooms, a dishwasher, central air (a necessity in 110-degree heat, perhaps you heard about us breaking records last summer?), a newly-redone interior, an upgraded kitchen, and a baby bunny that lived outside my bedroom window. To top it off I was on the first floor but still elevated above ground level making the moves in and out as painless as possible, and it was in a cute and safe neighborhood with the best candy store ever on the corner. Everything had fallen into place—it seemed almost too good to be true.

And ohhh, it was.

One day after I moved in the bugs came out. I won’t gross you out with the details (thankfully they were not cockroaches), but let’s just say that after two visits from the exterminator, the bugs weren’t going anywhere, but I was. A combination of hotel rooms and the guest room of my boyfriend’s parent’s house in the suburbs got me through until I found a new place of residence.

Even though I eventually moved into an extended-stay hotel, I was still invited to Chris’s house for dinner at least once a week.

Enter: potatoes. Helloooooo my little roasty friends!

See, Chris’s dad loves to cook. He makes dinner for the family every night of the week, and often, makes his outstanding roasted potatoes as a side dish. They’re unbelievably easy and totally delicious. Seriously. There may or may not have been numerous occasions where I’d accidentally eaten through most of the contents of the serving bowl. Whoops. Sorry. Not sorry. They get to eat them all the time and I don’t. (Even if I’d had the recipe then, the extended-stay hotel room didn’t have an oven so I HAD to eat them when I went to Chris’s house, duh, it was the only option.) Rationalization is totally acceptable.

Flashback to last weekend’s visit to St. Louis—Chris’s dad made them the night we came over! After telling him that the upcoming post was inspired by his mythic potatoes, he gladly gave me the recipe. It’s really not even a recipe so much as an ingredient list. So here you go. The key to potato happiness lies here:

Potatoes (any kind), olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Yep. That’s all. They’re even vegan in case you care!

Recipe: Mr. Lauber’s Magical Roasted Potatoes

FYI: He used Paula Deen’s Silly Salt instead of salt and pepper independently. I couldn’t locate the stuff in any stores and was not about to order it from Amazon just for this little project, so plain old s & p works just fine.

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit.

2. Wash and slice your potatoes. In this case I used four and cut them into small wedges. Mr. Lauber’s potatoes look like little boats where the ends come to points. I cut mine in long wedges first though, so they ended up with flat ends but you can always cut yours differently.

3. Toss them in 3 tablespoons of olive oil (or whatever amount seems necessary to coat all the potatoes), then salt and pepper them to taste, and toss again to make sure the potatoes have a coating on each side.

4. Put the potatoes into a flat-ish pan, mine was about one-inch high, and bake them in the oven for 50-60 minutes until the edges of the potatoes are brown and crispy-looking.

5. Get out your fat pants. Commence potato bliss.

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