Category: Recipes

Oh, hell yes.

I think, for me, a new year starts at my own new year. That’s St. Patrick’s Day, not New Year’s Day. And, so, it’s time for my word of the year. Let’s go crazy and make it a phrase.

Fresh Scratch, lemon curd

I’ve wrapped up the final days of my third decade. Here’s what I have to say to that: oh, hell yes! I could even go as far as saying I’d really rather prefer to replace that “hell” with another four-letter word, but I lived in the South for a while and I just can’t do that on that outside. Rest assured, I am doing it on the inside.

40 doesn’t scare me. And it’s not a finish line. It’s not a climax. It’s not a pinnacle. It’s kind of like in Ms. Pac-Man when you chomp those big things that give you power or make you invincible to those strangely fast ghosts. Forty years of life has offered lessons that have turned to wisdom. Forty years have finally shown some “adventure lines” on my face in such a way that Clementine wants to now call them what they really are.

Oh, hell yes! Keep it coming, world. Bring it. I was born for all of this. Like Vince Vaughn earnestly said in this podcast, I want to ride all the rides at this carnival. Every sweet carousel, every romantic ferris wheel, the roller coasters that make me scream, and the spinny rides that make me want to throw up. And all of it with probably a little ice cream dripped on my shirt.

Because we are talking about me, here. It’s just inevitable I will spill something.

40 years or not, we each deserve nothing less than hell, yes. A big old no to everything and everyone that doesn’t elicit that twinkle in your eye. We only get to do this whole thing once.

What gets an oh, hell yes! from you?

Here’s what’s been getting a major one from me:

What I’m Cooking: Freutcake’s lemon curd – a shout-out to my homie Pati for the Meyer lemons this winter that were grown on her mama’s tree in California.

What I’m Watching: I saw all nine of the Oscar-nominated films this season! I finished with Moonlight last week {hint: not as hard to watch as I’d braced myself for – such a beautiful ending}, but Hacksaw Ridge surprised me as my favorite.

What I’m Reading: I just had my heart ripped out by Salt to the Sea. I have been on a real World War Two/historical fiction jag for the last year and just cannot seem to get satiated.

Where I’m Going: A winter farewell weekend in the Cascades with Shara and our kids – look out, sledding hill!



put on your yarmulke.

Fresh Scratch, Menorah, HanukkahI didn’t grow up celebrating Hanukkah. It’s one of those things I’ve created space for in my life as an adult. I was drawn to it years ago when I noticed on my family tree that my great-oma’s last name was Morowetz. I pieced together a story somehow, and that story led me to purchase the gorgeous menorah in this picture, hand-forged in Vermont by some blacksmith in his barn. Because – come on! – this is my menorah we are talking about. It simply had to be folksy.

Long, long ago, somewhere up my family tree – maybe past what I can see – these eight nights were a big deal. I don’t want to forget that. I want to remember it and honor it. A lot was lost for these celebrations to continue. It feels more right each year that I should make space for these flames.

It’s funny what we come to know about ourselves. Some of it takes so long to rise up to the surface. When my girls and I light these candles at sundown during this season of hustle and bustle, it’s like my soul sighs a sigh of great relief. Everything goes quiet and still inside of me. It is indeed a holy time for a girl whose idea of “holy” is generally pretty unconventional. It feels right.

These candles and this ritual that we hold for just a hair over a week center me somehow. They pull me into myself. They pull me out of myself. The stillness makes me feel a gratitude that moves me. When the shamash is lit each night, I almost feel a memory that is not mine. It exists further back. I feel tethered to something that’s hard to explain. It’s the weird deja vu feeling I get when I am in eastern Europe; it somehow feels connected to the way I love the grittiness of those cities and towns because the grittiness makes the beauty sparkle all the more. It’s kind of like life, isn’t it?

So this is my menorah in my new front window. I think it looks best here of all the homes it’s been in. I will take that as a bit of holiness, as well. Look what happens when we just feel our way through everything – we stumble sometimes into the divine.

The runner-up to lighting these candles every night of Hanukkah? Hanukkah dinner. I do not even know if this is a thing. But I have made it quite the thing, so let’s just go with it. I just finished up the dishes from tonight’s big feast {dish duty was accompanied by a dog at my feet and this! podcast! with! bruce!}. My cousin Evie and her family were over earlier, and kids were running around, we were drinking wine, I burned my hand in the oil… and we still managed to feast on brisket, noodle kugel, and latkes with applesauce. If you could scratch and sniff that photo for the smells all around that menorah, you’d want to write home about it.

There is absolutely zero I change in these recipes when I make them, so we will call them “borrowed.” Just click on the links above – the brisket goes in the crock pot all day and couldn’t be easier, the noodle kugel isn’t much more than mixing some stuff with some par-boiled noodles and throwing it in the oven, and the latkes aren’t too scary to make, even if they are from a Martha recipe.

There’s one more night left, homies. To quote Adam Sandler, “have a happy, happy, happy, happy Hanukkah.”

Or whatever it is that brings you quiet deep down in the places that matter.


ms. fresh scratch