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It’s been a rough, dark week. We were reminded, once again, that we can’t possibly know what’s going on in someone’s head. That we all have to pay more attention to those we love, be kinder, be more understanding. We need to talk less, listen more. To not be afraid to reach out, to say something, say anything. That we shared an uncommon connection to public figures we don’t know and the level of emotion it dredged up surprised us all. It’s sad. So very sad. So we do the best we can, cope in the ways we know and the new ways we learn. For me, I often bake.

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A few months ago, suffering from a terrible bout of jetlag, I decided to sort and rearrange my cookbook collection. I purposely avoided counting them (some things just don’t need to be known) but let’s just say I have a lot. In the course of sorting, I found quite a few I haven’t cracked in years and were happy reintroductions, others left me perplexed as to why I had them and yet others made me laugh out loud. One of the later was The Northern Exposure Cookbook: A Community Cookbook From the Heart of the Alaskan Riviera. I’m sure it was a gift though I don’t recall from who. I loved that 90’s show about small town Cicely, Alaska and all the characters that lived there. Plus DJ Chris Stevens was hot. (When has John Corbett not been hot?) While the DVDs are readily available, the show doesn’t seem to be streaming anywhere. That’s a shame.

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This recipe has been stalking me. True story. It first appeared in The New York Times in October of 2017 and has shown up in my social media feeds regularly ever since. Last summer it showed up in my feeds every single week for two months. Maybe it’s stalked you too. Every single time that bright green sauce caught my eye I thought, I’m going to make that one day. Well, that day is here. I needed something to bring to a holiday BBQ and thought, well here we go.

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A few years ago I met a friend for brunch at The Publican, a great restaurant in Chicago’s West Loop. Chef Paul Kahan knows what’s what; his restaurants are always outstanding. We scanned the menu and settled on a few savory dishes to share but we kept coming back to the waffle. We wanted it all so she smartly suggested we order the savory dishes to start and split the waffle for dessert. It was the best decision ever made.

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A few weeks ago, my dear friend Kate Hill (of the Kitchen at Camont) posted a cake recipe. It was a simple French version of pound cake, quatre-quarts, and she served it with the most magnificent looking strawberries. In fact, she made it specifically to go with those strawberries. The recipe is easy to remember: equal parts eggs, sugar, melted butter and flour. Weigh the eggs first, in the shell, and this determines the quantities of the other ingredients. It looked phenomenal though to be fair, everything Kate makes is pretty phenomenal.

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In my teens, I had a deep love for a particular type of pickled cauliflower. It was bright yellow, briny, a little spicy and I would eat it by the jarful. Sometimes it had carrots, sometimes it was just the cauliflower. Sometimes my mom would buy a jar of what was more like a chunky giardinara that contained the cauliflower and carrots but also pearl onions, celery and cherry peppers. I didn’t like that as much and would pick out and eat only the cauliflower and carrots, leaving the less desirable bits behind. This would really piss off my family. Oh well.

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I used to work near a little Italian deli that made the best food. Subs layered with various Italian meats, cut to order. Homemade meatballs with a fresh, tangy marinara. Freshly fried arancini, those addictive fried balls of risotto with cheese stuffed in the middle. Fat squares of cheesy pizza dotted with pepperoni or bits of sausage. Everything was so good. My favorite lunch was a spicy Italian sub, a Pellegrino soda of some sort and a lemon knot cookie. The cookies were sort of cakey, sort of dry with a close crumb and a lemon glaze. They weren’t the greatest cookies I’d ever had but I still loved those things, a perfect finish to a delicious lunch. After I left that job, I missed those cookies so every once in a while I’d try a recipe but it never quite delivered on the memory. But I think I’ve got it figured out.

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