Check out The Millions for the essay.
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When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Salt.

We shot this video about two weeks ago. Can you tell?

I have many thoughts and feelings about the current state of things. But for now, let me just post this beautiful poem.
Take care, my friends. I love you!!

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Dancing Beans

I keep referencing Ghostbusters II around here to describe how I feel about this toxic election. Remember the 1989 classic—the river of pink slime underneath New York City and how it kept growing and growing, literally feeding off people’s negative vibes?

Even when I take a conscious and deliberate break from political media outlets and/or social media, the drama of this election still finds me and usually upsets me. At night, when Teddy takes his bath, we often FaceTime my mom, who says she won’t vote for Hillary. [UPDATE: We got a response from my mom in the comments section below. She is "unknown." She wants to make it clear she's not voting for Trump either. With 18 days left 'til the election...maybe we can get another update from her that she's going whole-hog Democrat?! One can dream!] It takes everything in my whole body not to steer the conversation away from Teddy’s bath-time toy adventures and toward my outrage at Trump’s latest offensive remark and/or the people who refuse to denounce them. (But sometimes, I have to anyway.)

Enter: this video by Celia Rowlson-Hall and Mia Lidofsky. Never in my life had I wanted so badly to put on a pantsuit and dance, dance, dance. It reminded me how important it can be to move our bodies. It reminded me that sometimes we have to seek out joy. But mostly, it got me dancing.

Slow-Simmered Pinto Beans
Serves 8

1 lb. dried pinto beans, rinsed
2 tablespoons lard/bacon fat/ or olive oil
10 sprigs cilantro, chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 jalapeno, slit lengthwise
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium tomato or 4 to 5 cherry tomatoes, chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Kosher salt, to taste
1-2 limes
avocado, sour cream, corn tortillas or tortilla chips to serve

Combine beans, lard, cilantro, garlic, jalapeno, onion, tomato, cumin, cinnamon and 7 cups water in a large dutch oven. Boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender, about 3 hours. Pour over the juice of one lime and at least two teaspoons of salt. Taste. It very well may need another teaspoon or two of salt.

Serve in bowls with a large dollop of sour cream, some avocado slices, lime wedges, and either tortilla chips or warm corn tortillas.
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Sfinciuni (Palermo's Stuffed Pizza)

I really enjoyed making this sfinciuni, a stuffed pizza, which according to Marcella Hazan, is “to Palermo what pizza is to Naples and to the rest of the world.”

Gone are the days when I would get an itch to bake something and then bake it that very day. So it had been a long time since I’d made pizza dough from scratch and even longer since I’d sautéed ground chuck with onions and then let it simmer in white wine until the house smelled part-Grandma and part-special occasion. The air had the slightest feel of autumn in it and to basically repeat myself: it felt really good to make something so basic but not quite.
The sficuini was my particular offering to our latest cookbook club gathering—the cookbook being Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. Another cookbook club member brought homemade pasta and bolognese to go along with it. Another brought olive oil cake. Someone brought meatballs. Another, poached shrimp. In short: all the food came in shades of beige or brown and it was all delicious.
Sfinciuni (Palermo's Stuffed Pizza) slightly adapted from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
3/4 cup lukewarm water
2 cups flour
tiny pinch of sugar
1 teaspoon salt
extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon for the dough plus more for the bowl and assembly
2 tablespoons whole milk
cornmeal (for assembling)
2 tablespoons bread crumbs (for assembling)

Dissolve the yeast completely in a large bowl by stirring it into 1/4 cup lukewarm water. When dissolved, in 10 minutes or less, add 1 cup flour and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Then, as you continue to stir, add 1/4 cup lukewarm water, a small pinch of sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and 2 tablespoons milk. When all the ingredients have been smoothly amalgamated, add 1/4 cup lukewarm water and the remaining 1 cup flour, and mix thoroughly once again, until the dough feels soft, but compact, and no longer sticks to the hands. (You may need to sprinkle a bit more flour on top if yours is sticky.)

Take the dough out of the bowl, and slap it down very hard against the work counter several times, until it is stretched out into a long and narrow shape. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes. Pat the kneaded dough into a round shape.

Film the inside of a clean bowl with 1 teaspoon olive oil, put in the dough, cover with plastic wrap, and put the bowl in a protected, warm corner. Let the dough rise until it has doubled in volume, about 3 hours. While the dough is rising you can prepare the conza (filling). [FYI: After my dough was risen, I put it in the refrigerator for the night. In the morning I took it out, let it come to room temp and then rolled it out.]

Conza di San Vito (Meat and Cheese Filling)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup sliced onion very thin
1/2 pound ground beef
black pepper
1/2 cup white wine
1/3 cup cooked unsmoked ham, chopped rather coarse
1/2 cup fontina cheese, diced 
1/4 cup fresh ricotta

Put the olive oil and onion in a sauce pan and turn on the heat to medium high. Stir occasionally, and cook until the onion becomes colored a deep dark gold. Add the ground beef, salt, and pepper. Crumble the meat with a fork and cook, stirring frequently, until it loses its red color. 

Add the wine, turn the heat down a little and continue cooking until all liquid has simmered away. Transfer the content of the pan to a bowl, and set aside to cool.

When cool, add the ham, fontina, and ricotta and toss until evenly combined.

To assemble (FYI: I heavily adapted this part of the recipe since I don't have a baking stone or peel.)

30 minutes before you are ready to bake, put a baking sheet in the oven and pre-heat it to 400F.

Divide the dough in half and place one half of it onto a nicely floured work surface. Set the other half aside for now. Either using a rolling pin or your hands, stretch the dough into a roughly 10-inch-in-diameter oval/circle. 

Place a piece of clean parchment down. Sprinkle the paper with cornmeal and then quickly transfer your dough layer right on top of it. 

Distribute 1 tablespoon of bread crumbs over the dough and 1 teaspoon olive oil, stopping about 1/2 inch short of the edge. Spread the meat and cheese conza over it, again stopping short of the edge, and top the filling with 1 tablespoon bread crumbs and 2 teaspoons olive oil.

Unwrap the remaining dough, put it on a lightly floured work surface, and roll it or stretch it into a disk that will roughly match your bottom layer. Place it over the stuffing and crimp the edges of the two circles securely together. 

Brush the top of the dough with water. Then, with oven mitts, grab your hot baking sheet out of the even. Grab the corner of the parchment paper holding your uncooked stuffed pizza and quickly slide it onto the hot baking sheet and then pop the whole thing into the oven. Bake for 25 minutes. (Mine looked quite pale on top but was completely cooked.) After removing it from the oven, let it settle for 30 minutes. Cut into pie-shaped wedges and serve. 
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Videos: Lamb Burgers and Homemade Roti (and MORE!)

I've been meaning to post some of the recent episodes we've done for Mom.me. So here they are! I'm not sure we captured my genuine excitement over the roti we made to accompany the lamb burgers. They are truly easy and super rewarding to make. I highly recommend doing it. Also, I'm pretty sure traditional roti uses whole wheat flour, soooo you might want to try it that way?

I don't know where we'd be as a family without kimchi fried rice. We make it almost once a week. Teddy's version is basically just rice, eggs, a bit of shoyu drizzled over with maybe some avocado or cucumber mixed in. In other words: a rice bowl. So, yeah, he's pretty on trend.

(For recipes, go here and click through.)

We're in Pittsburgh for the week visiting family, which is helping me transition out of The Olympics and back to normal life. It's not easy though. If you want to talk to me about your favorite moments, I'd be happy to hear them. (If only I had some kind of call-in number--an Olympics-withdrawal hotline per se?)

OK, that's all for now. Talk to you guys soon! xoxo
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