My sister recently asked me for my current fave shrimp recipe, and I had an instant answer for her: Melissa Clark’s shrimp scampi, found on The New York Times website. Joie was hunting for shrimp dishes because, as she said, they were only recently back in her life and she kept forgetting that they were once again an option. Having moved from Sweden to California in the fall, she’s still getting used to having non-mini shrimp at every grocery store. I’m not sure if she took this particular Melissa Clark advice–she was a smidge more interested in trying yet another Melissa Clark shrimp hit–but just suggesting it to her was enough to make me need to make this dish again my self. It’s fast as a weeknight dinner can be, delicious, and oh so easy. This makes three MC shrimp recipes I’ve loved enough to blog about, and the third time is just as charmed as the first two.
When Laura and I were together last week, one of the (millions!) of things we talked about is how hard we sometimes find weeknight meal planning. And not even large scale let’s figure out the whole week meal planning, but the much more basic what’s for dinner tonight?!? question. We marveled at how our mothers managed to just DO IT, seemingly without the angst that we both feel sometimes. We talked about the weird combo of things that make planning tricky, and did some brainstorming about what can make it easier. One of the things that definitely helps me is having a growing roster of simple weeknight dinners that don’t require too many ingredients or take very long to cook, that I can decide to make in an afternoon and shop for quickly on the way home. Shrimp is the star ingredient in several of our favorite dinners like this, and I’m very happy to add another to the list: hot honey shrimp.
As I’ve said many times before, I’m a recipe person. Especially the first time I’m making something, my preference is absolutely for a nice tidy list of ingredients and instructions that I can follow to the letter. I’m highly envious of folks, like my husband, who can just follow their instincts and create something delicious without a recipe. So I’ve been interested in the trend for “not a recipe” recipes I’ve seen floating around lately, like Bon Appétit’s Cooking Without Recipes series and Food52’s new (Not)Recipes app. I like reading them, and I like looking at them, and I like wondering if a more narrative less list-y approach *really* makes something not a recipe…but nothing pulled me to deviate from my recipe love until I saw a Bon App post titled, “Got a Can of White Beans? You’re Halfway to Dinner Tonight.”
Probably my most frequent I feel like being fancy or celebratory but don’t want to actually go out meal is clams and chorizo. I often make it for me and Hal on Friday nights when we want to toast the end of the week but the week itself has been too busy to make leaving the house at all appealing, and it’s also one of my faves for low key hostessing–especially with the addition of bucatini, to stretch it into a pasta. I probably make it at least once a month, and I love it every time. It’s especially a favorite in the summer, when I serve it with a quick saute of halved cherry tomatoes and corn cut from the cob, with a handful of torn basil wilted in at the end. So when I found a recipe on the wonderful Food52 for a one pot clam dish that subbed in bacon for chorizo and bourbon for white wine, and went ahead and tossed the corn and tomatoes right in, I had to try it. Variety is the spice of life, after all, and if that spice tastes like bourbon and bacon then so much the better.
Rhubarb doesn’t have quite the urgently brief feeling season of, say, ramps, but this recipe still makes me want to shout…quick! quick! make this instantly! Seeing bright pink stalks of rhubarb sticking out of a produce bin at the grocery stores is such a nice solid indicator of spring, isn’t it? The tart with a touch of sweet veggie (I had to look that up, by the way–vegetables for dessert!) feels like the perfect bridge between the weather we are so over and the weather we’re so looking forward to. And in that springtime spirit, even though I had been planning on something chocolatey or cakey to top off a recent graduation celebration for my sweet friend Sarah, rhubarb kept calling my name.
Back in February of 2015, my sweet sister sent me the cookbook Date Night In, by the author of the blog Not Without Salt, with a note saying “Happy happy Valentine’s Day to my favorite newlyweds! I hope this book is as good as it looks and lives up to its perfect 5-start Amazon rating!” And did it ever–the photos are lovely, the recipes make me hungry, and the stories about the author’s life and relationship so compelling that it reads more like a memoir than a cookbook. I had an immediate case of the kind of life-envy easily inspired by particularly gorgeous lifestyle and cooking blogs (hello there, Mimi Thor). I loved the romantic idea of making a spiffy at home date night a regular thing, and immediately had piles of day dreams about following the example set in the book. But, funnily enough, the only recipe I’ve yet cooked from the book or blog I made just for myself: pasta with walnuts, lemon and herbs.
Last summer, I started volunteering with a local non-profit that encourages children to eat healthier and move more. The lessons are built around a community garden and teaching how to “grow your grub.” Let me tell you, it is fun—both for the kiddos and for me. There have been so many highlight reel moments. Kids squealing with excitement over finding a ripe watermelon. Proud mini-miners showing off their absurdly large sweet potatoes. Tiny fingers poking seeds into soil, one by one. Needless to say, Thursday with genHkids has become a favorite part of my week.