Hangtown Fry

Oh, hi. I've been having a hard time lately, and concurrently, making life difficult for those around me. Friday night, Matt said something like, "I know Bon Appétempt has run its course, but it would be nice if you had some kind of outlet, like a Sut Nam Bonsai." (Hi, Kara!)

I didn't think too much of it in the moment, but then the next morning, after stumbling upon someone else's horrific tragedy online, I was jolted into gratefulness. A little later in the day, I thought to myself: YEAH. IT WOULD BE NICE TO HAVE SOME KIND OF OUTLET. This thought was followed by: Why not post on Bon Appétempt?

I'd been wanting to make this ridiculous "gold-rush era" recipe called Hangtown Fry, which I discovered via that egg book I like so much. The ingredients are eggs, freshly-shucked oysters, bacon, butter, and scallions. Basically, you fry the bacon with butter (which felt like overkill). Then, you add the shucked oysters, quickly followed by the eggs and green onions.

It was delicious, although I could barely taste the oysters, which felt wrong.

I think that one of the reasons I stopped wanting to post here is because the beautiful photos of my own life began to feel saccharine or maybe just no longer representative of the truth. I DON'T KNOW. I do know that right now I could use this kind of filter. Like, I know that my life is beautiful, but for reasons I don't want to get into right now, it's been difficult to see it. Having Matt take these photos and curating them here is helping me. 

That being said, I also think it might help me to show you some of the other shite (Scottish accent), good and bad, going on in my life right now.

1. [GOOD] We're overhauling our parkway, which was previously just an area where grass was slowly dying.

It's not done yet. We're getting two tons of crushed granite (plus a boulder or two!) delivered on Thursday, but I'm very excited about this development. Admittedly, Matt's done the bulk of the work, but I HAVE DONE SOME OF IT TOO.

2. [GOOD] We got some worms and started a worm bin. I love it so much. They've been eating all of our vegetable scraps and soon we'll have enough of their poop to use as compost in our garden.
3. [GOOD AND BAD?] I had to get a fucking biopsy on my thyroid. I hated the entire process of it, BUT AM BEYOND GRATEFUL TO REPORT THAT I DON'T HAVE CANCER.
No one asked me about my fears and anxieties.
4. [BAD] Teddy fell off the headboard of our bed (which he shouldn't have been standing on) and landed face-first on the corner of the bedside table. 
5. [BAD] I broke my goddamn finger at gymnastics.
6. IT'S OK. I'm super lucky.


Teddy and Isaac / Time Marches On

Though I've been neglecting this space in favor of other pursuits, I couldn't not post Matt's yearly video of the kids. Spoiler: Isaac falls in love with a goat. 

Hope you all are well!


Chocolate (Strep) Cake with Raspberry Buttercream | Matt's Birthday

Did you know that small children can be "carriers" of strep throat but not show any visible symptoms? Did you know that Matt is a very open person who shares water glasses with the kids and is ready to receive slobbery kisses on the mouth from them at a moment's notice? This is all true and it's also the perfect storm to get strep throat three times in the span of five months. After Matt got it the second time, my mom mentioned the whole "they could be carriers" thing. I took the kids to the pediatricians and found out that yes, they both "had" strep. Point being, when it came time to decorate this cake (in the style of Wolfie of course) those cherry Ricolas felt juuuuuust right in celebrating Matt's year. (The plastic bug thing was Teddy's idea.)
As is the family tradition, when it's your birthday you get to pick what kind of cake you want made for you by me. Matt is typically a vanilla cake and vanilla buttercream kind of guy, but because Teddy's chocolate birthday cake was so delicious, he decided to go for this chocolate/raspberry combo. I used two different recipes: the cake is Lori's Chocolate Midnight Cake via Samin Nosrat. And the icing is from Yossy Arefi's Sweeter Off the Vine.
Isaac wasn't thrilled about the idea of waiting to eat the cake.
I don't think I've ever a made a buttercream the way this recipe instructed me to do it: you whip egg whites and sugar together in a heatproof bowl over simmering water until the sugar is completey dissolved and the mixture syrupy. Then, you whisk it, via an electric mixer, for 7 to 10 minutes, until it's super glossy and can form stiff peaks. Then, once it's at room temperature, you switch to the paddle attachment and add two whole cups of butter, one tablespoon at a time. (Teddy helped me at this stage, plopping each tablespoon in with his buttery fingers.)
The result is superb. It doesn't have that shocking sweetness of frosting made with powdered sugar. And when you get a bite of cake, fresh berry, and buttercream, it tastes like a richly flavored, multi-textured trifle. I like it a lot.  

For those of you who have tuned into Mom Rage, thank you so much! (We fixed an audio glitch so along with some great interviews with fellow parents, in two or three more weeks, you can look forward to some super clean, crisp audio too.)
In short, happy birthday, Matt! May this year bring you joy aaaaaannd far less strep! xoxxo

For chocolate cake recipe, go here:
Raspberry Buttercream via Yossy Arefi's Sweeter Off the Vine

8 ounces (225 grams) raspberries + another 8 ounces for the top of the cake
5 large egg whites
1 1/4 cup (250g) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
2 cups (450g) unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into tablespoon-size pieces

Use an immersion blender or potato masher to puree the raspberries, then pass the puree through a fine mesh sieve. Discard the seeds (or feed them to a four-year-old kid who is helping you).

In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large heat-safe bowl, whisk the egg whites and sugar together. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water, ensuring that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water, but rests just above it. Cook the egg whites and sugar, whisking often, until the sugar dissolves and the egg whites are syrupy and very hot to the touch. 

Remove the egg whites from the double boiler and, with the whisk attachment, whip on high speed until stiff glossy peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the salt. Switch to the paddle attachment and turn the mixer down to medium low. Slowly add the butter to the meringue, tablespoon by tablespoon. During this step, it is likely that the frosting will "break," and you will think you have messed up. You didn't! All you have to do is turn up the speed on the mixer for a few seconds and the buttercream will come back together.

After all the butter has been incorporated and the buttercream is smooth and fluffy, very slowly stream in the raspberry puree and mix until well combined. 


Hot Dog Rice Bowl + Mom Rage!

I wanted to make something special for you to officially announce the launch of my brand new podcast: Mom Rage. I was thinking about something akin to a Mom Rage Pie or Mom Rage brownies. I dunno. It didn't happen! What you get instead is the above Hot Dog Rice Bowl™. It's kind of an LOL, but also pretty delicious. It's a version of a typical weekday meal for us. Instead of hot dogs, I usually serve it with roasted garbanzo beans and a fried egg or two. If we're going to add hot dogs, I prefer the turkey variety, but alas, they were out of those at the grocery store, so what you see here is a mix of chicken and all-beef hot dogs atop basmati rice with a delicious salad (Kenter Canyon Farms winter greens, cucumbers, goat cheese, and a lemon juice and olive oil dressing). We always serve this kind of bowl with whole-milk yogurt and chili-garlic sauce. Bon appétit, guys! (Looking very forward to this post kicking off a major hot-dog rice bowl trend. You saw it here first!) 

OK, and now introducing: Mom Rage

I hope you'll listen. It's a passion project for me and my friend and co-host, Edan Lepucki. Our goal is to expand the conversation about motherhood. We're approaching this by talking honestly about our own lives as well as talking to other parents. In my more ambitious moments, I like to think about it as a podcast version of Stud Terkel's Working. I've also taken to riffing on a line from Women who Run with the Wolves. The line is: "Every woman is entitled to an Allelujia Chorus." And what I've been saying to Matt is: "Every woman is entitled to an interview on Mom Rage!" 

Here are the first two episodes! You can listen here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Please also note that the fanastic theme song is by Matt, Teddy, and Isaac.

Let's rage!


Thai Rice Soup (Khao Tom)

Guys! It's been so long. I know. I'm sorry. But I got so much done in the interim. In fact, making this soup and timing it with Matt's availability to photograph it on a weekend reminded me of how much effort it takes to bon appétempt. First, you have to find a new recipe (you have to make time to browse cookbooks and magazines). You have to seek out ingredients you usually don't buy (lemon grass, white pepper). You have to make the recipe (chop five shallots and slice eight cloves of garlic, ETC.), and then you must enjoy the recipe (someone has to convince Isaac to go watch Shaun the Sheep). But, I'm glad we did it. It was delicious and refreshing, especially for Matt whose been suffering from whatever kind of cold the kids had this past week (or three). I don't know if we'll make this exact soup again, though definitely a variation thereof. The meatballs came together so quickly and would be so good in a simple broth with some rice added to it.  

Speaking of broth, we may not have had the energy/bandwidth to try and document new recipes, but Matt has been making chicken stock on Sundays about twice a month with the carcass of a roasted chicken (plus veggies, herbs, and a bag of fresh chicken backs in a deal he's worked out with the egg guy from the Atwater farmers' market?). It's been quite special and also very Ina Garten of me to always have a freezer full of homemade chicken stock. 
When recipes call for white pepper, I usually use black anyway, but the meatballs in the Milk Street photo of this recipe looked so pale and white that I decided to get some. It was also a good opportunity to use my mortar and pestle. In the words of Patience Gray: “Pounding fragrant things—particularly garlic, basil, parsley—is a tremendous antidote to depression.” TRUTH.

OK, so what have I been up to, apart from chopping all these shallots? So much! 

1. I turned in a revised, respectable 307-page draft of my novel to my agent. I've hardly shared it with anyone. I have no idea what my agent will think/say. It kind of boggles my mind in a way, that I wrote another book without anyone asking me to / sans paycheck, and yet at the same time it makes perfect sense. Whether or not this book gets published, I needed to write it. I did write it. So there.

2. I'm starting a podcast with my friend Edan Lepucki. It's called Mom Rage. I hope you'll listen to it! We're aiming to air the first two episodes in mid-May. To read more about it, please go to our website. OR follow us on Instagram or Twitter

3. Yoga and gymnastics. Yoga and gymnastics are basically the new Bon Appétempt. When I started this blog, it felt so necessary and vital for me. Right now, yoga and gymnastics (i.e. feeling strong in my body) are the vital things. Maybe it's a mid-life crisis? Maybe it's not being pregnant or breastfeeding? Maybe it's just incredibly fun?
Thai Rice Soup (Khao Tom) slightly adapted from Milk Street
serves 4

8 ounces ground pork [next time I'll get closer to a pound b/c those meatballs were goooooood.]
3 tablespoons fish sauce, divided, plus extra to serve
2 tablespoons chili-garlic sauce, divided 
kosher salt and ground white pepper
3 tablespoons lard or coconut oil (or some sort of neutral oil)
5 large shallots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/2 a head of green cabbage, chopped (optional) [We had leftover cabbage in the fridge.]
8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 lemon grass stalks, trimmed to bottom 6 inches, dry outer leaves removed, lightly bruised
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
2 1/2 quarts chicken broth (homemade, if you have a partner who makes some as his Sunday passion project)
4 cups cooked, chilled jasmine rice [Whenever I make rice now, I make a ton. We always eat it somehow. Usually via kimchi fried rice.] 
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons lime juice plus lime wedges, to serve
soft-boiled eggs, peeled and halved, to serve

In a medium bowl, mix the pork, 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce, 1 tablespoon of the chili-garlic sauce and 3/4 teaspoon white pepper. Form into 20 small meatballs. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, heat the lard until shimmering. Add the hard-fought sliced shallots and cabbage (if using) and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened or maybe even browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the lemon grass and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the broth and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Reduce to medium and simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove and discard the lemon grass. Add the meatballs, stir gently and simmer until the meatballs are just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the rice and cook until heated through, about 1 minute. Off heat, stir in the remaining two tablespoons fish sauce, remaining 1 tablespoon chili-garlic sauce, 1 teaspoon white pepper, the cilantro and lime juice. Ladle into bowls and serve with egg halves, chili-garlic sauce and lime wedges.