Posts tagged blogging

Until the New Year…


I thought I’d have some time to write this week, but it’s just not going to happen. I’m heading to Italy for work and Prague and Vienna for fun, so I won’t be around for the next few weeks. I’m frazzled trying to prepare for the trip, and I’m still not fully recovered from Thanksgiving. So I’ll leave you with these three pies—one chocolate-pecan, one pumpkin, and one cherry—until I’m back and blogging. With the future jetlag and holiday craziness, I’m sad to say it might not be until the New Year. I hope you’ll wait for me until then! Oh, and any food-related tips on Prague and Vienna would be much appreciated. Happy Holidays!

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Sunshine, Cobwebs, and Baked Orrechiette

I thought I’d let you know that I’m determined to get past my writer’s block and general food malaise. Last weekend’s gorgeous weather actually inspired me to get off the couch and think about writing again. Focus, clarity, and blogging seemed to be within my grasp, and I looked for a new recipe to help bring everything together.

I can never resist a baked pasta dish; there’s something about the mix of melted cheese, tomato sauce, and chewy pasta that hits the spot and lifts my spirits every time. So as soon as I received this month’s Food & Wine and saw this recipe for Baked Orrechiette with Pork Sugo, I folded down the page and vowed to make it as soon as possible. In my mind it promised to be a more elegant version of my beloved Baked Ziti with Spicy Sausage recipe, and we all know I could use a little more class in my life.

As the sun shined through my kitchen window on Sunday afternoon, I chopped celery, carrots, and garlic. Next I browned the pork in my Dutch oven and added the vegetables, tomatoes, red wine, and chicken stock before allowing it all to simmer slowly for a couple of hours. After cooking a batch of orrechiette and grating some Parmesan cheese, I threw everything into a baking dish and then into the oven.

As I proudly pulled the pan from the oven thirty-five minutes later, it hit me: I completely forgot to add onion to the sauce. I guess sunshine isn’t enough to clear the cobwebs from my brain. I swear I read through the recipe several times before I started cooking, but somehow the word “onion” never registered with me.

Sigh. Obviously I’m not over this nasty bout of block yet. And since I forgot an essential ingredient in this dish I’m reluctant to pass judgment on it. The salty cheese, rustic shredded pork, and vegetables mixed with one of my favorite pasta varieties indeed provided me with the comfort I was seeking. But clarity and focus? I think I still have a ways to go.

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I’m not sure what’s wrong with me. I’ve spent the past few days trying to write a new post, but the words won’t come. I stare at the blank computer screen, type out a few sentences, and then quickly delete them. I’m out of sorts and, I fear, out of blog posts.

What’s funny about this situation is that lately I’ve been cooking up a storm. Nothing too exciting or labor-intensive, but I’ve been using seasonal ingredients in simple ways and trying out a lot of new recipes. With all this home cooking going on, Jim and I haven’t been eating out much—hence I don’t even have any restaurant experiences to write about.

But at least we’re enjoying all of these personally prepared meals while we retreat into nesting mode. (Perhaps we’re getting a head start on winter?) Food & Wine has helped us put some new dishes on the table, from the Triple Tomato Penne I made last night to the Pork with Arugula, Prosciutto, and Tomatoes and Crisp Vegetable Gratin we had a few weeks ago. Jamie Oliver’s Sweet Cherry Tomato and Sausage Bake may have been the easiest yet most exciting dish I made all summer, while his farro with roasted vegetables from Jamie’s Italy didn’t quite work for us.  

You would think that with this flurry of kitchen activity I’d be inspired to write post after post, with hardly a pause in between. Somehow this hasn’t happened. As I said earlier, I don’t know why, but I hope you’ll bear with me. Maybe I just need a weekend to recharge my blogging batteries. I’ll do my best.

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Happy Anniversary to the Choke

Jim mixing dough for the pasta 

Today is the first anniversary of Artichoke Heart! That’s right, one year ago today I blogged about making pasta for the first time. This awkward entry was soon followed by writings related to pizzelle and bread baking, trips to Paris, Italy, Singapore, and California, and exercises in book reading, restaurant reviewing, and Jamie Oliver worshipping.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this past year as much as I have. I started this blog looking for a creative outlet and a way to express my enthusiasm for all things food-related. Artichoke Heart has given me all that and more in a year filled with ups and downs, so I am going to continue blogging, for as long as I have ideas.

In the coming months you can expect more recipe testing and pasta making, as well as whatever new food adventures come my way. I’m sure there will be more love for Jamie Oliver. And more Jim! (That’s him up there, mixing the pasta dough.) Oh, I also want to challenge myself more and add some personal profiles to the mix. I just need to summon the courage to actually speak to some of my favorite shopkeepers in the neighborhood. I hope you’ll stay tuned. Thanks for reading!

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