By Robin Sloan
Lois is a software engineer for a San Francisco robotics company, but she is isn’t particularly happy. She works long days, subsisting on takeout and a meal replacement ‘drink’ (a nutritive gel) called Slurry. Her anxiety lives in an ever-present knot in her stomach.
Lois’ world starts to change when a Mazg takeout menu is slipped under her door. She orders the Spicy Combo, a Spicy Sandwich and Spicy Soup, and becomes hooked. The Spicy Combo becomes her daily dinner in order to quiet her anxious stomach. That is, until the brothers that own the restaurant (which, come to find out, is their apartment kitchen) leave San Francisco. When they go, the brothers leave Lois with a parting gift – an opinionated, feisty sourdough starter that was the base of their Spicy Sandwich – which Lois is tasked to care in their absence.
Armed with the sourdough starter, Lois learns to bake amazing bread that takes her from programmer to baker-programmer at a new farmers market, selling her bread while teaching a robot arm how to help in her new bread-baking business.
Review/Recommendation: I absolutely devoured this short little novel – super cute, and relatable for those that find time in the kitchen as a place of relief, a place to recharge from work or life in general. It definitely hit home with me, since I work with a bunch of tech-savvy computer guys but am a liberal arts major (who loves crafts) that would be quite content working in a kitchen instead of an office.
Sourdough is filled with fun, quirky characters – from the farmer’s market crew to the Slurry club (a group a the robotics company who subsist on Slurry, to various degrees, instead of food), to the Lois Club (a group of old woman, all named Lois). This varied cast of characters, along with research and determination, help Lois find her way to happiness.
As the book progresses, following Lois’ journey, the weird comes out. The story behind the Lois Club was cute, although a bit unlikely. The idea that a sourdough starter has personality, never mind one so feisty, is definitely out there. At the height of weirdness, the end of the book has a scene that’s completely unrealistic, but that’s ok. All of this weird somehow works, and doesn’t seem quite so odd or outlandish as your read. At least not for this reader.
In summary, this book is light, funny, and definitely worth a read. I’ll be watching the bookshelves for Sloan’s next release, as he’s 2 for 2 in my book.
Sourdough is available on Amazon.
Leftover cranberry sauce or relish from Thanksgiving is turned into a quick sweet appetizer, Cranberry Brie Bites, for Thanksgiving weekend entertaining. Don’t want to wait until Thanksgiving leftovers? Make my 5-minute Cranberry-Orange Relish for this recipe and freeze the extra for appetizers, lunches or dinners later on.
Thanksgiving Day came up on us unexpectedly this year – work, my husband changing jobs, and travel leading up to (and following) the holiday meant that I was completely unprepared this year. Thankfully, we were once again able to crash the Thanksgiving celebration held by our Family Away From Family, so prep for me was minimal. I was in charge of cranberry sauce (check! Cranberry-Orange Relish made and frozen ahead of time), wine (check!), and dessert (check? Does store-bought the night before count?).
We had a lovely day with a few of our closest friends. I’d say that it was a small, quiet Thanksgiving, except there were 2 2-year olds and 2 4-year olds running around with an abundance of energy. So while it was small, it certainly wasn’t quiet.
Nor was our mid-afternoon meal particularly small. It’s really hard to scale back on the Thanksgiving classics, don’t you think? There was quite a bit of leftovers, despite the scaled back menu and portions. We came home with a sizable doggie bag that we’ll be eating for a few days, and that’s nothing in comparison to what our hosts still had left at home.
While many love Thanksgiving leftovers, sometimes there’s just SO MUCH. It becomes necessary to make those leftovers into something new to keep things interesting. With that in mind, Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla is hosting today’s event – repurposing Thanksgiving leftovers. Check out these great ideas for how you can reinvent your Thanksgiving leftovers.
- Cranberry-Orange Brie Bites by Books n’ Cooks (Below!)
- Cranberry-Topped Baked Brie by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- (Leftover) Turkey and Cranberry BBQ Sauce Pizza by Kate’s Recipe Box
- Prosciutto & Asiago Stuffed Mushrooms by Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck Survive Despite a Whiskered Accomplice
- Spicy Turkey Quesadillas by Jolene’s Recipe Journal
- Turkey Croquettes by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
- Turkey and Sausage Gumbo by Palatable Pastime
- Turkey Pot Pie by Making Miracles
For my part, I took my 5-minute Cranberry-Orange Relish (although you can use any other leftover cranberry sauce) and used it as topping for a simple appetizer – Cranberry Brie Bites. The sweet and tart relish is a bright contrast to the crispy phyllo crust and rich, creamy cheese. Yum!
Don’t have leftover cranberry sauce? Make a batch of mine and stash it in the freezer – for this recipe, sandwiches, a breakfast topping, or your next roast turkey or chicken dinner.
What’s your favorite way to reuse Thanksgiving leftovers?
- 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
- Roughly 1 c. leftover Cranberry-Orange Relish (or other cranberry sauce)
- 1/3 lb. brie (about half a wedge), cut into 1/2-inch cubes (no need to remove the rind)
- Preheat oven to 400F. Place a silicone muffin pan on a baking sheet and set aside.
- Sprinkle a clean counter top lightly with flour. Roll out one sheet of puff pastry dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into 12-15 square pieces. Place each square in a space in a silicone muffin pan, pressing down slightly so that bottom and sides line the space, with extra puff pastry hanging over top.
- Place a cube of brie in the center of each piece of puff pastry. Top with 1-2 tsp. of cranberry-orange relish.
- Bake for 8-12 minutes, until brie is melted and top of puff pastry is beginning to brown.
- Remove from oven. Allow to cool for a few minutes before transferring to a serving dish.
- Serve hot.
Dark Chocolate Bark is studded with sweet dried cranberries and salty pistachios, and finished with a sprinkling of sea salt – perfect for dessert to an elegant wine and cheese pairing or for a holiday gift.
I’ve been trying really hard to keep our schedule free and clear. I’ve failed miserably. Somehow, over the past two weeks, we ended up attending 4 potlucks, hosting friends for an evening 3 times, and hosting overnight guests for a long weekend. Add this to school Halloween events, prescheduled doctor’s appointments, and work crazy and I’m seriously ready for a vacation.
A couple of weeks ago, I attempted to get ahead of all of these events. I spent an epic weekend cooking and baking to get us through the busy week and the numerous events. That weekend, not only did I make Kahlua Truffle Triangles, but I made a Cranberry-Pistachio Dark Chocolate Bark – a sweet perfect for an evening out without the kids (potluck!). Bonus? Like most candies, bark keeps pretty well at in at a cool room temperature, so I didn’t need to spend that Saturday baking (in between family photos and a Halloween potluck party) before heading out to the party, an hour away.
This chocolate bark – or at leas some variation of it – will definitely be included in my holiday baking this year. Because it keeps so well, I can make it a bit ahead of time instead of stressing out at the last minute and the recipients won’t have to consume it immediately, along with all of the other holiday goodies they’re sure to make and receive.
Don’t forget to scroll to the bottom of this post for more #CranberryWeek recipes! Thanks again to Caroline at Caroline’s Cooking for hosting!
- 3 lb. good-quality 70% cocoa chocolate, divided
- 1 c. Dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
- 1 c. Pistachios, toasted and coarsely chopped
- 2 tsp. Sea salt flakes
- Lay out two baking sheets. Line each with parchment paper, taping paper to the baking sheet in each corner. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine chopped cranberries and pistachios. Toss to mix and set aside.
- Take 2 lbs. of the chocolate and chop into small pieces. Place in the top bowl of a double broiler set over medium heat and allow to melt, stirring occasionally. Continue until chocolate is melted and the temperature (taken with an instant read thermometer) is between 115 and 120. Turn off stove and remove bowl from double broiler. Wipe bottom dry with a dish towel.
- Place 1/2 lb. of the remaining chocolate into melted chocolate. Fold melted chocolate around solid chunk, which will begin to melt. Continue folding and mixing until mixture reaches 95F. Remove solid chunk from mixture, setting onto a piece of wax or parchment paper to harden and save for later use. Add remaining 1/2 lb. chocolate piece and repeat until mixture reaches 90F.
- Quickly pour half of the chocolate onto one of the prepared baking sheets.
- Recipe by Books n’ Cooks, but I followed the tempering technique outlined in Fine Cooking, issue #144. Fine Cooking also recommends using the largest blocks of chocolate you can find for making bark, in particular for the tempering, as the larger blocks are easier to remove. (When removing the blocks from the chocolate, place on a piece of wax paper and pop back in the fridge to set again. Store in an airtight container or baggie and save for use in another recipe.)
- If you choose to use milk or white chocolate for this recipe, please be sure to read the above Fine Cooking article, as the temperatures listed in this recipe will be different.
- I used Scharffenberger chocolate for this recipe.
See all the other recipes being shared for today’s final Cranberry Week post – we hope you’ve enjoyed following along and will try some of the many cranberry creations!
- Cranberry Bliss Bars (Starbucks Copycat) from Family Around The Table
- Cranberry Clementine Gin from Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Cranberry Clusters by The Freshman Cook
- Cranberry Cream Cheese Bars from Sew You Think You Can Cook
- Cranberry-Pistachio Dark Chocolate Bark from Books n’ Cooks
- Panettone from Caroline’s Cooking
- You Make Me Blush Cocktail by A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Warm Cranberry Punch from Everyday Eileen
Tart cranberries are sweetened with sugar and an orange to create a relish perfect for the Thanksgiving table, a topping for breakfast favorites like french toast and waffles, or a spread for turkey sandwiches.
I think I’ve mentioned before, but I’m not really a big fan of Thanksgiving. I can take or leave most of the food, and pretty much never host. I’ll bring a dish to a friend’s house when we crash their dinner, but the lack of Thanksgiving recipes on this blog give you an idea of how little I get excited about the holiday. I eschew the standard pumpkin or pecan pies for a cranberry pear tart, or maybe, as a homage to the traditional, a chocolate pecan pie. I’ve got some lovely cranberry appetizers on this blog, which scream fall and Thanksgiving appetizers to me. That’s as close as I’ve really gotten to Thanksgiving recipes on this blog.
Until now. This cranberry orange relish recipe is similar to one my uncle brought one year to Thanksgiving at my parents house, when I was growing up. Compared to the canned cranberry… sauce? gelatin? that my mom used to buy, this was wonderful. Tart cranberries sweetened with sugar and orange, with a hint of Grand Marnier – yum! It’s a wonderful side dish/condiment for your Thanksgiving table, or even better – a topping for brie, pancakes or french toast, or a spread for Thanksgiving Leftover Sandwiches.
Thanks again to Caroline at Caroline’s Cooking for hosting #CranberryWeek again! Be sure to scroll down to check out more fall cranberry recipes for all occasions!
- 1 12-ounce package fresh for frozen fresh cranberries (see note below)
- 1 medium orange, cut into eighths, not peeled with seeds removed
- 3/4 c. granulated sugar
- 3 Tbs. Grand Marnier
- Place cranberries and orange slices into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until desired consistency.
- Transfer to a glass bowl. Stir in sugar and Grand Marnier.
- Refrigerate at least an hour, or until serving.
- I used frozen cranberries in this recipe, which gives it a more liquidy texture (like in the photos above). If you use fresh cranberries, the relish will have much less liquid.
- This recipe was adapted from Ocean Spray Cranberries.
- Relish may be frozen for future use on pancakes, waffles, sandwiches, baked brie, or for use in other recipes. I recommend freezing in 2 Tbs. portions (i.e. in an ice cube tray) or in 1 cup portions.
See all the other recipes being shared today as part of Cranberry week – follow #CranberryWeek on social media for all the tasty cranberry creations:
- Butternut Squash Wild Rice Salad with Cranberries and Fennel from Caroline’s Cooking
- Cranberry Almond Chicken Salad Wraps from Family Around The Table
- Cranberry Cheeseball by The Freshman Cook
- Cranberry Cobbler from Cookaholic Wife
- Cranberry Gremolata from Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Cranberry Orange Relish from Books n’ Cooks
- Jellied Cranberry Sauce from Palatable Pastime
- Orange Cranberry Sweet Rolls from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
- Pear Holly Cocktail from Bear & Bug Eats
- Roasted Green Beans with Cranberries from Making Miracles
- Slow Cooker Cranberry BBQ Chicken from Jonesin’ For Taste
- Slow Cooker Cranberry Pot Roast from Everyday Eileen
- White Cheddar and Cranberry Dip from Sew You Think You Can Cook
- White Chocolate Cranberry Blondies from House of Nash Eats
Cranberry Moscow Mules are a fall twist on a classic cocktail.
Welcome to the start of Cranberry Week, a week-long virtual event for all things cranberry. #CranberryWeek is the official hashtag, so be sure to follow along on social media all week long to see the recipes we have in store for you. And big thanks to Caroline at Caroline’s Cooking for hosting this event!
Moscow Mules seemed to be all of the rage last year, but I was never impressed. They were alright, but not something I’d choose or get excited about. And I doubted that I could finish a whole one.
But Moscow Mules were everywhere – all over the blogs, on many restaurant menus. What was wrong with me? Did I just try them on an off day? And then I started experimenting with versions made with some other flavor – a bright fruit juice or an herb – and my opinion changed. I found that while I might not get excited about a traditional Moscow Mule, I enjoyed the drink much more when there was some fun twist to the original recipe.
My go-to version is a Cranberry Moscow Mule. I always have a couple bottles of fresh cranberry juice in the pantry and a bag of cranberries in the freezer (stashed away when they’re plentiful in fall), making it easy for me to mix up any time I wanted a change from my evening glass of wine.
What do you think about the Moscow Mule? Do you enjoy the traditional version or do you have a favorite variation you enjoy? Please leave a comment and tell me! I’m always on the look out for new flavor combinations.
See all the other cranberry creations being shared as we kick off Cranberry week today – follow #CranberryWeek to see all the delicious recipes.
- Cranberry Apple Cider Sangria from Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Cranberry Apple Pecan Bread from Cookaholic Wife
- Cranberry Apple Pie from House of Nash Eats
- Cranberry Butter from Family Around The Table
- Cranberry Coffee Cake from A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Cranberry Loaf from Making Miracles
- Cranberry Moscow Mules from Books n’ Cooks
- Cranberry Mousse Chocolate Dessert Bowls by The Freshman Cook
- Cranberry Swirl Bread from Sew You Think You Can Cook
- Double Chocolate Cranberry Almond Bark from Frugal Pantry
- Frosted Cranberries from Bear & Bug Eats
- Pear Frangipane Tart with Cranberries from Caroline’s Cooking
- Roasted Cranberry Chicken Salad from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
Give a homemade snack for the holidays this year. Sweet, sugar-cinnamon Chex Mix will be a winner with kids and adults alike.
Guys, this fall has turned out to be way busier than I ever planned it to be, and things don’t seem to be slowing down. It’s so bad that I think I’ve accepted that I won’t be hosting a holiday party this year, or even a brunch for our closest friends. I LOVE the annual tradition, but you know what, I just have to keep myself sane. And this year, there’s just no way I can commit to it.
So instead, I’ll talk to you about last year. I hosted a brunch for a couple of our closest family friends. While I missed our annual party, I switched it out for a brunch so that close friends could bring their young children without having to bump into nap time. And I shrunk the guest list way down to keep from stressing out and spending hours cooking and baking.
Even though the brunch was simpler than my child-free parties, I still wanted to do a little something special for friends. The children received small Christmas gifts, the men received boozy brownies, and the woman received sweet, cinnamony Chex Mix. Want to talk about a snack that is like crack? Both the ladies and the lucky children who snuck fistfuls loved it. I couldn’t stop eating the leftovers. It’s quick and easy to make and is soooo yummy. Gift it as a gift, serve or bring it to an upcoming holiday gathering, or hoard it for yourself. There’s no wrong answer. 🙂
- cooking spray
- 9 c. Chex cereal (Rice Chex, Corn Chex, or a combination of the two)
- 1/2 c. granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 c. light brown sugar
- 1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter
- pinch of kosher salt
- 1/4 c. light corn syrup
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray with cooking spray and set aside.
- Prep: Place cereal in a very large bowl. Set aside.
- Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Cook: In a large pot, heat brown sugar, butter, salt, and corn syrup. Stir until butter is melted and sugar is mostly dissolved. Bring to a boil. Let boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda.
- Pour mixture over cereal, and stir until cereal is completely coated. Turn out onto prepared baking sheet. Spread into an even layer. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar, enough to coat. Put the extra aside.
- Bake for 5 minutes. Flip and spread out. Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon-sugar and bake for another 3 minutes. Chex Mix will be starting to turn golden brown.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Break into pieces.
- Store in an airtight container.
This recipe was adapted from Confessions of a Cookbook Queen
Check out more fabulous food gifts for the holidays.
- Chocolate Mixed Nut Clusters by Family Around The Table
- Mama T’s Garlic-Parmesan Seasoning Mix by Tip Garden
- Chocolate Holiday Stir Sticks by The Freshman Cook
- Reindeer Crunch by Palatable Pastime
- Peppermint Bark Fudge by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
- Taco Spice Mix by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
- Churro Chex Mix by Books n’ Cooks
- Espresso Hot Fudge Sauce by Strawberry Blondie Kitchen
- Old Fashioned Divinity by House of Nash Eats
- Rosemary Parmesan Crackers by Karen’s Kitchen Stories
- Infused Olive Oils by Bear & Bug Eats
- Brownie Mix by Making the Most of Naptime
- Mulled Cider Spice Mix by Everyday Eileen
- Caramel and Chocolate Dipped Pretzel Rods by Making Miracles
- White Chocolate Cranberry-Orange Bark by The Redhead Baker
- Orange Cranberry Walnut Loaf by Red Cottage Chronicles
- Hand Blended Mulling Spices by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Life, On the Line:
A Chef’s Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat
By Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on the link and purchase, I make a very small percentage (at no additional cost to you!) which goes towards maintenance of this blog. Thanks for your support!
Life, On the Line is the story of Grant Achatz, a young man from Michigan who grew up in the kitchens of family restaurants and how he rose to become one of the greatest chefs in America.
Review/Recommendation: Although I consider myself to be somewhat of a foodie, Grant Achatz was unknown to me until my husband received his gorgeous cookbook, Alinea, one year for Christmas. After paging through the cookbook – which was more of a coffee table book full of incredible photos than a cookbook for the home cook – I immediately ordered Life, On the Line to learn more about Achatz.
Achatz’s story – his drive and passion for food and cooking – was incredible, and shown through every aspect of the book. I was rooting for him from the beginning, as a young chef out of culinary school who wanted nothing more than to learn and become the best. We readers watched Achatz grow, experiment, and find himself in Life, On the Line. We watched him nurture his restaurant and his food to become Best Restaurant in America, per Gourmet magazine.
I also was really touched by Achatz’s relationship with his mentor, Thomas Keller of The French Laundry. Another famous chef from one of the country’s best restaurants, I loved reading about how Keller mentored Achatz, encouraged him to find his own way, and cheered on his successes.
About 80% into the book, the tone changed completely as Achatz’s life was turned upside-down in his early 30s. For those that don’t know, shortly after Achatz’s restaurant took off and started receiving national accolades, the chef was diagnosed with stage IV squamous cell carcinoma – tongue cancer. The end of the book was emotional and sometimes tough to get through, as the reader followed Achatz’s battle for his life – his fight to find the will to survive, the journey to figure out how to keep his tongue and his livelihood, the torture of his treatments, and his struggle to maintain his passion for food.
Food-lovers would love the insight into the drive and passion of one of America’s greatest chefs. But truthfully, Achatz’s story should inspire everyone to work hard to make their dreams come true, despite any obstacles that get tossed in their way.
Life, On the Line is available on Amazon.