Saturday, November 17, 2012

store up.

a list by Kendra Vaculin

Alternatively titled: Get In My Shopping Cart and Get In My Body

     You are hard to open
     So are you
     So much hard pressed apple cider
    I will make you into a soup if its the last thing I do
Sweet Potatoes
Butternut Squash
     What the heck is this? I do not know but I do not discriminate
     All I ever want
Brussels Sprouts

I am coming for all of you, none of you are safe.  You have received all due and proper warning, I have nothing else to say.

Friday, November 16, 2012

say crack again.

If it is a soccer game snack -- if someone's mom handed them out with Capri Suns after your devastating loss to the Orange Fireflies (2-4-6-8, they're who you appreciate) -- my feeling is that you should not be making them from scratch.  There is a line to be drawn somewhere, a line between homemade and overkill, and I would like to draw it here, in thick permanent ink.  Graham crackers? No. Wheat Thins?  No.  Fruit Roll-Ups?  Stop.  Goldfish?  South of the line.  Put down the fish shaped cooked cutter.  This is the beginning of the end.  Just buy them at the store.  They are snacks.  Just buy them at the store.  You know I am all for kitchen ingenuity.  But just buy the snacks.

Why do I feel this way?  I do not know.  Maybe I want to keep Pepperidge Farm in business.  Maybe I am lazy.  Maybe I feel threatened by the people who rework pantry staples to be devoid of butter/sugar/all that is good.  Maybe I want to be able to open a bag of something that I did not slave over and decimate the entire thing in front of an episode of 30 Rock.  Is this wrong?

So then, right, whatever, I saw these cheese cracker things on Joy the Baker and...I caved.  I said to myself, these are ostensibly round Cheese-Its.  The recipe calls for a lot of butter and a lot of cheese.  I am not improving the nutritional value of this snack.  I am not making these in lieu of purchasing the very same product because of a control freak problem that I have.  In fact, I will also BUY some Cheese-Its.  This is an exercise in comparison.  This is an experiment.  I am doing this for science.

Ultimately these crackers were nothing like Cheese-Its: much butterier, much thinner, much flakier, and probably very much worse for you.  Not at all like crackers, really.  Wafers?  But so freaking good tasting.  I ate many off the baking sheet, and then we threw some on top of tomato basil soup and that was an inspired decision.

Conclusion: These are a garnish.  Not a snack.  Not a snack!  Thick permanent marker line stays where it is.  Look elsewhere for recipes for homemade Triscuits or Pop Tarts or Double Stuffed Oreos, because this chick's getting her snack on out of a package, yaheard?

PS: I'm doing this thing where if I don't adapt the recipe or don't feel the need to go over specifically difficult steps with you, I just link the recipe.  How do we feel.  Do we hate this?
She said to the universe.
No one answered.
She sighed.

LOL JK, gonna go pan-fry some tofu now.


This is a song called What's Been Happening Lately.

First up are some cakey pumpkin cookies, recipe here, that were gone within a matter of hours.  I subbed in all-purpose gluten-free flour because thats how some of the people in my life roll food-wise, but you do you.

Oh MAN.  These guys were like...the tops of muffins, except crispier on the outside.  Ugh.  Before dinner, during dinner, after dinner, and then again for breakfast.  And then you'd better eat some vegetables, missy, if you know what's good for you.  That last part was for me.

(If I'd been thinking, I would have toasted some pepitas and sprinkled those on top.  When you make these -- and you will -- do as I say, not as I did.  The path to enlightenment is paved with pumpkin seeds.)

Next.  My hands.  From your left, my right: one high school class ring which I still rock, one gold Threadbare baby from Catbird, one sparkly Ganesh birthday present (I am 22 now, which is the same thing as ancient), one Bezerkely street find that looks like a mood ring, and one legitimate claddagh via my personal Irish wench amiga mejor.

And last.  These are my new shoes.  They are not online, so I cannot link them to you.  They are Topshop Office and they are so fantastic.  If you have a boy in your life who loves you, he might, without any trace of irony, call them your Cowboy Tap Shoes.  This is what happened to me.  

End of song.

Monday, November 5, 2012

boom, roasted.

These are iPhone photos because at the time my SD card was being held hostage at an undisclosed location in Skokie.  I don't want to talk about it.  It won't happen again.
I have homework to do, but I can't I just can't I just ugh I cannot.
I am eating licorice and trolling Facebook instead.
I am so backed up on blog posts.  I have so many to do.
I have only very recently emerged from the West Wing black hole which wrecked me for a seriously hefty chunk of time, namely, two weeks.

But I am going to be ok because I do not have season three nor any viable means by which to obtain season three, and as long as that is true, I am SAFE and can ACCOMPLISH some things.

First order of business: an autumnal side dish that you might just eat out of the pan and that's fine.

Roasted Sweet Potato, Apples and Pearl Onions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat a large pan to medium-high heat before adding a teaspoon or two of olive oil, and then a bunch of (thawed and patted dry) frozen pearl onions.  You could spend 157 hours peeling normal pearl onions, but I have better things to do during that time like watch CJ do The Jackal.  Cook onions for about two minutes, or until brown.

Add a bunch (this is my measurement, a "bunch") of chunks of apple and of peeled and chopped sweet potato to the pan and place pan into the oven for 10-12 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through.

Remove pan from oven and add a small pat of butter, salt, pepper, and a solid amount of fresh thyme, mixing to melt and coat.  At this point your house will smell really good.  Pour mixture into a bowl and devour.

Friday, October 26, 2012

a brief departure.

That's Serg.  I took this.  How can that be true.
Its possible that if you aren't a big fan of the San Francisco Giants or of baseball in general, and if you happen to be an English or poetry nerd, you know the shot heard round the world as a line from the Emerson poem about the Revolutionary War called "Concord Hymn."  That's where they got it -- "they" being the people who go around giving notable historical events interesting epithets.  When the (then New York) Giants won the National League pennant against the (then Brooklyn) Dodgers in 1951 with a miraculous 3-run home run by Bobby Thompson in the bottom of the ninth, they named it The Shot Heard Round the World.  I don't know why.  It wasn't much like the Revolutionary War.  But if I had to guess I'd say there were probably a bunch of baseball fans in Seoul at the time listening on their radios, and even thousands of miles from home, they could hear Thompson rip one over the left field fence.

I've been working on a long piece about baseball for a few months now, which means I've been sporadically typing relatively ineloquent paragraphs about the game and the way its rearranged vacations/moved dinner into the living room in front of the TV/introduced a lot of orange into the wardrobes of and for my family full of fans.  I start the thing with Russ Hodges famous call of The Shot Heard Round the World, which became relevant once again last Monday when the G-Men won the pennant and my father left me a screamingly celebratory voicemail to that effect.  I already knew, of course.  I was illegally streaming the game onto my laptop while I was sick in bed.  These are the kinds of things we do.  

My dad called me again the next day to say that he had made up his mind and was about to go through with the craziest plan his brain had ever hatched.  The next day I had an airline ticket in my email inbox and a seat at Game 2 of the World Series at AT&T Park in San Francisco.  I would be home for a total of 16 hours and fly back to Chicago early Friday morning probably still wearing eye black.  These are the kinds of things we do.

Now that I am back in my room in Evanston, back on my bed consuming season 2 of West Wing as well as a bag of ghost shaped marshmallows with equally wild and unabashed fervor, I cannot begin to describe for you what it was like to sit three rows above the Tigers' bullpen and watch my home team win the second game of the World Series.  I know its gotta go in my paper somewhere, but I'm not sure how.  Perhaps under the heading, "In Which Kendra Froths At The Mouth When Trying to Explain What Waving an Orange Post-Season Rally Towel With 43,000 People (Plus Her Parents and Her Sister) Feels Like."  Its ok that you're bored by this.  Its ok that you don't care.  What I'm trying to say is that I didn't wear eye black but I did high five a lot of strangers.  I didn't have asign sign that said TUCK THE FIGERS but most other people did, and when my mom read it out loud she giggled.  About 270 people attempted to climb on the statue of Willie Mays outside the park after the game at the exact same time and all of them were screaming and chanting and clapping.  The older woman to my left grabbed and squeezed my hand when the Giants left the field at the end of the 8th inning.  "Here comes Romo!" she said happily.  "Its in the bag!"  I fell asleep in the car on the way home like I used to when we'd drive home from my cousins' house on Christmas Eve, the kind of car sleep that happens after something exhaustingly wonderful.    

I don't know.  I don't know how to end this.  Sorry for ranting.  Sometimes when things happen I open up this blog and vomit words onto it with no intention of posting, but this time I think I'm going to.  God I'm lucky.  That was really cool.  I did that.  My whole family was there.  A 26 year old veteran and triple amputee threw the first pitch to the Say Hey Kid himself and I almost lost it right then and there.  When the entire crowd sang "When The Lights Go Down in the City" in between innings as is tradition, the scoreboard's camera turned to Steve Perry, who was in attendance, waving a rally towel and screaming his heart out to his own song.   

I should probably get back to West Wing and stop eating these marshmallows.
I'm getting emotional.  

Friday, October 5, 2012


By Corpus jacket and dress, LUX vest, Sperry's. SF Giants umbrella, B. Makowsky bag coiled around my fist weirdly.
A jacket that has, with pleather elbows, forced its way into my fallish uniform --- and also Cheesie's.

I know I look upset, but I'm really not.  Grilled cheese, faded denim, tater tots (!!!?!).  I'm overwhelmed with aesthetic pleasure, if anything.  Also my mom sent me caramel apples in the mail and today I thought about wearing a scarf soooooo.....fall.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

rally cap.

Eating really doesn't have to be hard, I promise.

Eating also really doesn't have to only be pasta.  Somehow somebody decided eating should only ever be pasta and then they told all the college kids and all the college kids believed them.
It was a lie.  It was a lie that they told you.  Break out of the downward spiral of pasta!  It will end your life if you don't!

Not that I don't like pasta.  I really do.  And Kraft mac and cheese is my comfort food.  The one shaped like the alphabet with the alien cheese powder packet.  I love that horrible processed shit.  LOVE I SAY.  This got tangental.

Just know that you can spend very little time on dinner (less time -- and this is radical -- than it takes to boil water) and still eat interesting and new and good tasting things.

Idea: Mash up some goat cheese, arugula, salt, pepper, garlic, a teensy bit of lemon and a little honey and stuff a big ol bella cap.  Drizzle with a little olive oil and stick it in the oven.  Done.

I want a search bar on this blog.  Going back to find that ravioli post was rough.  It must be serrr hard when you have to hunt through my blog archive for old recipes you want to look at, omgzzz.  That was a joke because you'd never do that.  Only I do that.  Because I stalk myself.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

"one of you will be the winner,

and one of you will be chopped." a line that they say during a really good television show.
It is also a line that pertains to this salad that I'm obsessed with because it is a chopped salad, and when I eat it, I am a winner.

Nice.  Nice transition.  That's some real writing major ish.

One quick thing before I get to the salad.  Today I bought hot coffee for the first time since April.

It was really very sad.  I don't really like hot coffee and I have an amorous passion for iced coffee.

An iced coffee love song exists, but I've only heard tell of it and have never heard it proper.
Otherwise I'd sing it for you now.

A thought that makes me sad.

Okokok enough.  Salad.

Pea Salad with Tahini Dressing

12 oz snap peas, chopped
1 2/3 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup chopped walnut bits, toasted
shredded parmesan
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons tahini
1-2 tablespoons honey
1-3 tablespoons water, olive oil, or a combo
salt and pepper to taste

Combine first four ingredients in a large bowl.

Mash garlic and lemon juice in a small bowl with a fork or use a mortar and pestle if you're fancyfancy to make a paste.  Mix in tahini, and then honey and water/olive oil/both depending on your desired sweetness and consistency.  Pour over salad and toss to coat.

A great side, a great lunch, good thing this makes a lot cuz you'll want it for breakfast tomorrow (done it, and its totally still good in the AM).

Thursday, September 20, 2012

the best that i could do.

Cheap Monday slit shirt; BDG jeans; vintage necklace; Toms; silence + noise blazer
My right eye is staging a very puffy revolt against me.  Lipstick and myspace-style iPhone pictures don't really help but it was as I say in the title, and also what John Cougar Mellencamp says in naming his 1978-1988 greatest hits compilation.  If that album makes you feel like cleaning the garage, you and I must have had similar youths.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

occasional failure.

I swore I would never make cake pops, but then I ruined a perfect bundt cake.
I didn't flour the pan, and all that sifted incredible vanilla stuff of dreams got stuck in there and would not come out.

Best cake ever.  Stuck in pan.  Will not come out.  Best cake ever.  I have had worse problems than this before in my life but nothing ever so devastatingly delicious.

SO.  I scooped the cake out in chunks, mashed it up with frosting, rolled it into balls, dunked it in candy coating and covered it in sprinkles.  Did you know that's how you make cake pops?  It is.

Did you also know that cake pops suck?  Like pretty objectively, they're bad.  So sweet I thought I was gonna die.  Little circular globs of sugar.  I think I ate nine.  And I didn't really love myself very much afterwards.

I am not here to talk about cake pops, actually.
Instead I implore you to make the following pound cake, and to flour your pan when you do it.
I wish you much success.
Good day.

Vanilla Pound Cake
from Baking with Julia

3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 eggs, room temperature and whisked to blend
1 cup milk, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  GREASE AND FLOUR a 10 inch or 12 cup tube pan or decorative pan.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set aside.  I know the whole room temp/sifting thing is something you think you can overlook, and you can, your cake will still be edible, but it will not be awesome.  So.  Do the things.

Beat butter in an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth.  With the machine running, add the sugar in a steady stream.  Continue to beat until mixture is light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes.

With the mixer still at medium speed, add the eggs one tablespoon at a time.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the mixer attachment from time to time.  After 3 to 4 minutes, all of the eggs should be combined and the mixture should be white, fluffy and increased in volume.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture and milk alternately -- 4 additions of flour, 3 of milk -- and fully incorporate after each addition.  Add the vanilla and mix to blend.

Pour batter into PREPARED pan, smoothing out the top with a spatula.  Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until golden at the top and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.  This is great with a simple vanilla or lemon glaze.

PS: Guess who's nice?  A lot of the many people I know.  I know nice and good people.  Sometimes I get stuck under my comforter/inside a book/inside the fridge/inside my brain/like, on Pinterest or something and forget about the nice and good people that are all over the place.  Just sayin.  I know you don't care but YOU came HERE to MY blog and no one forced you so you're gonna have to deal with the occasional rando-rant okkrrr??!?  End of post.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

long time coming.


There is so much I could say.  I have a lot to say.  But I am weary.  I am heavy with Late Summer.

Late Summer is a delicious burden and it is barefoot and sweaty.  Late Summer doesn't have to be actual weight but it always feels like it.  Late Summer is the thing that makes my fingers swell and is the reason I am laying on my couch at 9:30 on a Wednesday night still in the clothes I went running in this morning.  I feel too lethargic to do anything substantive.  Like type.  Or eat anything other than nachos.  Late Summer a multifaceted problem and there is melted cheese involved.  I don't make the rules.

Yeah let's just get to the cake.

Poppyseed Baked Alaska
from Bon Appetit

This cake is a triumph.  I had heart palpitations when my mother cut it.  I think it is the thing that I've made of which I am most proud.  And honestly?  Its fairly easy to do.  If you have a day in advance, a big bowl and a bunch of people you need to impress, you can do this.

Baked Alaska inherently involves a lot of decision making.  The cover recipe from Bon Ap's April 2002 issue suggested the following poppyseed cake with a combo of strawberry ice cream and strawberry sorbet, but you can do any flavor of anything.  I switched in raspberry ice cream and peach sorbet for color contrast/seasonal fruits/blahblahblah and that was a good plan.

For cake:
nonstick vegetable oil spray
4 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup flour, sifted then measured
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
6 tablespoons butter, melted then cooled

For filling:
2 pints sorbet, softened
1 quart ice cream, softened

For meringue:
6 egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Spray 9-inch springform pan with non-stick spray.  Springform is nonnegotiable and I mean it.

Whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla to combine, and then heat in a large metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water without letting the water touch the bottom of the bowl (this is how you fake a double boiler, ask your mom, that's what I did)(my mom, not yours)(anyway).  Whisk constantly and remove after two minutes, when warm.  Beat mixture with an electric mixer until very thick and ribbons form when beaters are lifted, about 7 minutes.  Add flour in three additions, folding to incorporate after each addition.  Fold in poppy seeds and then quickly fold in butter.  It will be a weird and frothy mixture.  Pour into prepared pan and bake until a tester in the center comes out clean, about 28 minutes.  Cool completely before removing sides of pan.

Line a 4 quart, 10-inch diameter bowl with plastic wrap.  Spread sorbet at the bottom, freeze for a bit, and then layer ice cream over it.  Invert the cake onto the ice cream, and stick entire monster into freezer for four hours or overnight.

Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Gradually add in sugar, beating to incorporate, and then vanilla.  Should be sturdy and glossy.

The goal now is to get your cake upright, out of the bowl and onto a baking sheet.  This will take ingenuity and patience.  Maybe you have to remove the bottom of the springform from the cake first.  Maybe you have to tug on the plastic wrap while someone else tugs on the bowl.  Maybe you have to wedge a spatula between the frozen part and the bowl and go around in a circle.  Do yo thang, ladies and gents.  If you get stuck, call me or something and we'll figure it out.  Stick it back in the freezer to solidify once you've extracted the beast before coating it all over with meringue.  Then freeze again for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Allow cake to brown on top and at the edges, about five minutes.  Remove from oven and serve immediately.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

i'd like it if you did, thanks.

Tryna be respectful?  Yeah, that'd be cool.

Unrelated note, some things I'm liking to look at.

Friday, August 17, 2012

the weather, man.

A new BGSK farmer's market post!  Brooklyn Borough Hall and fried green tomatoes, one thing that's a good place to visit and one thing that's a good thing to eat.  Peep that sheet, yo.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

but my own.

Have you heard this song before?

I saw The Lumineers perform it in Central Park last week and had a little bit of a moment.
And then I was like, This is my song.
This is a song about ME.

And then I thought about it,
and I was like,


The lyrics of this song are, "I ain't nobody's problem but my own."
And I am a number of people's problem, I think.

I have created some problems for people, in my time.  Problematic.

If I am your problem: I am very sorry.
Let's listen to The Lumineers and forget about it.

Friday, August 10, 2012


A Collection of Thoughts Triggered By My Current Lifestyle

There are a number of calories in a Viand black & white milkshake and that number is not insignificant.  If you discover said number and then tell it to me, I will be forced to Facebook unfriend you because you will have ruined my life.

Sometimes you take the subway somewhere, and then try to take it home post-midnight, only to discover that with the dawning of a new day your monthly pass has run its course.  This is the most depressing of all surprises.

It is on the day that your sock bun rivals the Winehouse beehive in size and scope that a woman in your office will stop you on your way to your desk in the morning to tell you that you look really pretty.  Attempt to not gawk at her in disbelief.

Sometimes you eat a salad which the menu said included fish, and you can't find the fish, but you do really love the little fried crunchy things that are all over the top of it.  And then your friend picks a fried crunchy thing up between two fingers to inspect it, and the fried crunchy thing has eyes.  Also known as: The Time You Ate a School of Fish.

The people who have really fabulous manicures all of the time are not doing nearly enough living, which is something I tell myself to quell the jealousy.

If liking a Negroni makes you a New York City adult, I am a California six-year-old because that shit is gross.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


The third installment of my New York City farmer's (farmers'? farmers. farmer's's'. phahrmehrz) market-stravaganza life choice is now visible for you right here.

You should really just read it, but perhaps you are in a time crunch so here is a summary:
I whine a little bit about NYC prices, hashtag moneyproblem$, etc.
I gush a little bit about the Union Square Greenmarket, aka The Most Best Place of Ever.
I buy some rainbow carrots and heirloom tomatoes and then make a carrot, tomato and beet slaw.  

I would recommend you do at least that last thing at your leisure, but preferably right at this very moment.
Thank you very much.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Zara top; Kimchi Blue shorts; Tory Burch flats ugh; Badgley Mischka bag
Things that are funny in this picture: all of the people in it, and the big bruise on my leg. Also why is my bag so full?  What am I even carrying around?  Do I need any of that crap?  These are the questions of our age.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

all the dayz later.

Happy birthday, NSED.

Its been one year since I began this web log animal.

In that time, I have overshared, posted a stupid amount of selfies, made a lot of delicious food, neglected writing for days at a time and on the whole been so so happy that this is a thing I decided to do.

Thank you for hanging out and being bored and coming here to look occasionally.
Thank you for cooking food and telling me about it.
Thank you for seeing me in real life and saying things like, "I saw that shirt on your blog."
Thank you for reading.

I can't wait for new things.
I love you.  The end.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

alright well then

Remember the every Sunday thing I said before?  I was lying, it seems.  Week #2 of Big Apple, Small Basket is live!  I think after this one, normalcy will begin.  Or I can hope.  I just submit the words and pictures, folks.  Anyway.  Take a look.

PS: I had a cool farmer's market/city street picture to upload, but blogger is telling me that I have reached my picture uploading capacity and I figured the rhubarb cake was more important.  Um but like I'm not downnnn with having reached capacity and also have no idea how to circumvent technology, so.  Who knows how to fix it?!  Help a lady out, yo.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

dirty veggies.

OH.  I am so excited to be doing this way cool weekly column for BGSK about New York City farmer's markets!  Its called Big Apple, Small Basket, which is cheesy and wonderful and I didn't think of it.  But I do write it.  New posts come out every Sunday and detail how lost I get on my way to various produce stands, what I buy from them and what I make from it.  Admit it: you don't care at all but you're sort of curious.  Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-check it out.