slaw salad

I’m not sure anymore whether Syracuse feels like home. In any case, it’s good to have my own jug of milk and a fruit bowl with peaches in it. Life on the road teaches the joy in simple things. Natural peanut butter. Homemade granola. Kefir smoothies. Iced lattes that don’t cost $4.

Missouri and Colorado were good to me. Stacking up the archives with their own memories. Creeks and campfires, peaks and rough roads. Glancing back through pictures, they feel like different lives.

I haven’t hit the cutting board with the kind of excitement I was expecting. Trying to create 8 decent multimedia pieces in 2 weeks is eating up more of my time than I have to, well, eat. The work is rewarding, but tedious. The final push is here, Friday’s deadline looms like with giant jaws.

On Thursday our team was exiled from our cozy lab by the new masters class. It was a beautiful day for bonding, so we dragged our office chair-imprinted bottoms to the park for some lunch and a strange sport called wiffle ball. (It’s a conspiracy: Canadians do not excel at wiffle ball.)

I was instructed to make “a delicious salad” by our faithful event planner, and so (as any disenchanted foodie who’s been wrenched from her Henckels for too long would do), I consulted my mother. She came through faithfully, and so for all those requesting the recipe, here it rests.

It’s not really salad, with its torn leaves and chunks of veggies. It’s not really ‘slaw either, at least in the southern sense. In fact, I think it was inspired by a salad at some insipid restaurant chain, but no one needs to know that, right? Besides, any cabbaged loved by your own two hands maketh a far happier bowl of ‘slaw. At least in my home, wherever that may be.

The thing I love best about this salad is that you don’t have to follow the recipe. I bought all the ingredients on Thursday, and I’ve made it twice since the initial picnic debut, with different amounts. It doesn’t matter if you use more red cabbage one day and more Napa the next. Feel free to omit and substitute as you wish, whether it be using chopped up snap peas instead of the carrots, or leaving out the bean sprouts.  Use all the the cabbage heads to make a bowl for a large crowd. Top it with BBQ’d tofu or chicken strips, or roll it up in a wrap.

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almond roca bars

It’s bound to happen about once a year: that even me and food can grow apart. But just for a short time, and of course, the break is easily remedied.

Hosting a Christmas party, packing, a 2 day train ride, and a week with much-missed family and friends has kept me from these pages. But I’m back, and I’v got a sweet little gift to share with those of you who have still got time to check your favorite food blogs during this busy season. 

 

But first, a confession: I’m 28 years old and I have no holiday baking traditions of my own. This is the sad case for two reasons. One, we always return to our parents’ homes at Christmas, where the squares of nuts, chocolate and butter flow freely enough without my help. Two, since we leave our own little apartment in early December, there’s not much time to eat and share the goodness. 

And the last thing I want to see upon my return to Syracuse is a freezer full of New Years’ resolution killers. But what is this? you say. A tray of soda crackers hardly a Christmas cookie platter makes! I know it’s a little late, being Christmas Eve, but this favorite of mine deserves proper exposure.

 

Trust me, these candies will steal the show. Light and crisp and delicious straight out of the freezer, I guarantee they’ll be one of the easiest and most popular goodies on your plate. 

Not really a cookie or a bar, these Almond Roca Bars have been a mainstay in my family for years. Think of them as a homemade Skor bar, but so much more fun and imperfect. They come together in a snap, and once you’ve got the base mastered, can be adapted to varying tastes in chocolate and nuts. 

 

Let me warn you that if you’re a health nut like me, you’re going to have to take a moment to calm yourself. First, butter and brown sugar must be melted together in a saucepan. I know this might be difficult for you, as it was me. The key is to take frequent and deep breaths. Acknowledge each ingredient for what it is, and accept that butter and sugar too deserve to find happiness.

 

As you bring them to a bubbling boil, remember all the leafy greens and whole grains you’ve consumed over the past year. Just let their goodie-two-shoes goodness knock out all those bad thoughts about the dear sweet harmony of butter and sugar caramelizing before you. Think of all those trips to the gym, all those Omega-3’s, all those antioxidants. 

Before you start to doubt, finish up this recipe and go break yourself a chunk. Let it remind you that sometimes food can have little value other than immediate pleasure. That food sometimes is more pure indulgence than nourishment. That things can sometimes be, as my mother-in-law says, just because.

And if you’re still feeling guilty, go grab yourself a jar and some red ribbon, and go give it all away.

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