Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese (Inspired by Joni Mitchell)

THE DISH
Tomato soup with an apple-cheddar grilled cheese sandwich (recipe here)

THE INSPIRATION
Joni Mitchell will forever be one of my all-time favorite artists, and while there is always at least one song of hers that’s fitting for any given season or mood, I associate her most closely with fall and winter (and not only because of the song “River”). In “Urge for Going,” a song she wrote in 1966, she sings about the year’s first frost swallowing up the summer (“I awoke today and found the frost perched on the town/ It hovered in a frozen sky and it gobbled summer down”).

It’s sorta perfect for New York’s weather right now, since we’ve had small tastes of winter throughout the last couple weeks, and now we have what I expect is our final run of nice weather before winter swallows it up for good. And when that happens, I’ll want to crawl under my covers and escape. But since I won’t actually be able to do that (I’m going to Chicago next month; certainly not a warm-weather getaway), sitting at home with a warm bowl of soup and a grilled cheese sandwich will have to serve as my “escape” for now, or at least my way to make the weather more bearable. In college, my friend Julie and I would stop at The Dairy Store for lunch in between classes, which was particularly rewarding in the winter: On Mondays we could get a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup for just $2.10, and it instantly made us forget about the slush we had just trekked through.

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Raspberry-Peach Jam + a rainy-day playlist

THE DISH
Raspberry-peach jam (recipe here)

THE INSPIRATION
It’s funny to be posting this on a day with zero chance of precipitation, but the start of last week was all rain, and the weekend forecast wasn’t looking much better. (I’m going to Seattle at the end of the month; clearly New York has been testing my rain tolerance.) So I wanted to take on a food project fitting for a rainy day, since between the weather — which actually ended up being OK! — and the train I live near undergoing some major weekend construction, I wasn’t planning on going far from my apartment. So I picked up a few jars and took my first trip to the Brooklyn Kitchen, where I picked up a candy thermometer, canning funnel, and a super-awesome little book about jams, jellies and canning.

Making jam and canning is sorta labor-intensive, and I was definitely nervous about jars exploding while I was boiling them, but the whole thing was actually pretty exciting and I will totally be doing it again! (Even though the second batch I made was too runny…whoops!) Also, you can definitely use this recipe for my next recipe post.

THE PLAYLIST
Some songs about rain! If you’re on Spotify, you should be able to check out the playlist here (please let me know if it doesn’t work!). Here are the songs:

Bob Dylan, “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35”
Basia Bulat, “If It Rains”
The Tallest Man On Earth, “It Will Follow The Rain”
Garbage, “Only Happy When It Rains”
Fleetwood Mac, “Dreams”
Joni Mitchell, “Rainy Night House”
Adele, “Right as Rain”
Mayer Hawthorne, “I Wish It Would Rain”
NewVillager, “Black Rain”

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Beet-Avocado “Tartare” and a California playlist

THE DISH
Beet-avocado “tartare”

THE INSPIRATION
At the end of February I took my first trip to Los Angeles, to visit my cousins for a week. I did lots of yoga, went hiking, saw a not-so-hilarious improv show, played with puppies, and wandered around Santa Monica. I also ate lots of awesome food, like spinach and corn tamales from Hugo’s Tacos, a lemon bar from Big Sugar Bakeshop, an insanely fresh egg salad sandwich with avocado at The Trails in Griffith Park, and a huge veggie plate at Border Grill.

My most memorable meal, though, came from Madeleine Bistro, a fancy vegan place in Tarzana (run by Chef Dave Anderson) where I ate with my cousin, my yoga teacher and her daughters. I didn’t actually have a choice in what I was ordering — the girls just told me, “OK, you’re getting the beet tartare and the bigger mac.” The bigger mac is like a vegan version of a McDonald’s Big Mac, and it was awesome, but the beet tartare was gorgeous and something totally different (beats over a tofu “cheese crouton” with cucumbers, some kind of sauce and a balsamic).

This dish is inspired by that (a photo of the real thing at the bottom of the post — mine pales in comparison, but I am not a chef so I guess that’s OK! I also wasn’t trying to recreate exactly the same thing…), and also the other foods I ate on my trip: perfectly-ripe avocado, alfalfa sprouts, tangelos, and blood orange balsamic vinegar (the latter two I brought back to Brooklyn with me). And it’s vegan because hoooly smokes were there a lot of veggie/vegan restaurants there! (Not a complaint.) Anyway, I need to make this again and make it better because it’s not totally amazing, but it was yummy.

THE PLAYLIST
I spent a lot of time driving around with my cousin, which meant plenty of time to share music. These are some songs that were significant to my trip for various reasons — some are obvious/cliché California jams, some are songs my cousin and I both love, and others just found themselves running around my head while I was there.

http://listen.grooveshark.com/widget.swf

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