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College was a very out of character time for me, food-wise. Freshman 15 anyone? The dining hall is not designed for restraint — when you’ve got a limited number of meals, you’re trying to maximize fullness so you don’t have to spend money on food later. There are two things that I specifically remember becoming obsessed with in college, which I had never touched before. Sugary cereal, specifically Lucky Charms (I had a Jerry Seinfeld moment) and cottage cheese with canned peaches in syrup. Whoa.

What amazes me is how much those peaches in syrup taste like peaches that have been baked into things. Somehow they seemed so artificial at the time, like they weren’t really peaches at all but some approximation of peaches, like watermelon-flavored candy (have you ever had a watermelon that tastes like that?). But, yes, they are real peaches. And when you cook peaches, they get silky soft and so, so flavorful. Kind of like the actually good version of those canned peaches.

I also love almond cakes so this recipe was too good to pass up. Word to the wise, though: add a generous pinch of salt. It’s missing from the ingredients list, and it’s necessary! The great thing about this is that I was able to use some over-ripe peaches that probably wouldn’t have been that awesome to eat on their own, and I think it would work with almost any other fruit. I’m thinking pears in the winter, sour cherries, even, call me crazy, grapefruit? OK that last one I can’t make any promises.

Food 52’s Simple Summer Peach Cake

I am pretty sure I’ve been cooking non-stop for the last month since leaving my job. It has been incredibly fun — making lunch for the Sir Kensington’s office, official and unofficial catering, creating recipes for Turtle Bay CSA, hosting a potluck, and lots of home cooking. For each of the recipes I post on the site, I probably make ten things I don’t post. At least. In the past few weeks I’ve made, in no particular order: sour cherry jam, mushroom blue cheese quiche, hummus, baba ganoush, pasta with basil and corn, plum cobbler, and countless other things that either I can’t remember or aren’t worth mentioning, but that I prepared and ate nonetheless.

What I’m trying to say is, I’m tired.

I was making the aforementioned cobbler last night and my oven was smoking a bit. What did I discover upon cleaning the oven today? This little piece of broccoli that escaped my sheet pan a week ago…essentially transformed into charcoal, through and through. I like this little piece of broccoli. It has a sort of odd beauty, and apparently my cat likes it too.

Tomorrow I’m cooking a full, real shift, at a commercial kitchen, starting at 7:30 am (!). I have my knife kit and my embarrassing clogs and silly hat all set to go. But tonight I’m going to relax, watch some Olympics, and enjoy the leftovers.

So, I’ve been MIA (again) for awhile. At first, it was because I went on vacation and couldn’t get back into the groove when I got back. And since then, I’ve been finishing up at my current job, because I decided to leave to work on personal projects (and food stuff!!). It’s all very exciting and  new but I guess I’ve gotten a bit overwhelmed and it’s tough to focus on so many things at once.

Soon, I’ll have time to cook and post during the day, when the light is good and I’m not too tired to pause between cooking and eating to take pictures. So I hope to get back to it.

Also, if you have ever enjoyed a blog post here, I am now cooking for hire via Kitchensurfing, a cool new start-up. Check out my profile there and I promise I’ll be back soon!

I think I temporarily forgot I have a food blog. I promise, I have a few posts ready to go when I can get the motivation to edit the photos and write down the recipes. Which I’m hoping will be tonight. In the meantime, I am happy to report (well, happy is probably the wrong word) that after all my whining, it turns out that this July will have been the hottest month on record in New York. EVER. I feel vindicated, but it doesn’t make me want to turn on my oven any more…

OK, OK, I know the last like, 3 months (oh god, has it been 3 months? almost.) have proven to me that blogging is hard. When you also have to, like, do stuff and work. But frankly it’s made me a bit sad to see it fall by the wayside. I have completed a dreaded move (though my new oven is…touchy) and am ready to jump back in. Or so I hope. Perhaps this weekend I can make it to the farmer’s market and create something tasty that does not involve baking. In any case. I’m baaaaack!

grahamcrackers

I love this time of year. New York has come through with phenomenal weather this past week, that crisp, cool weather that seems so rare. Fall obviously means “back to school”, and although I am not heading off to class tomorrow, there is a sense of newness and anticipation that fall brings no matter what. Melancholy usually accompanies it, but I like that too.

It seems appropriate then that today I made graham crackers. They seem like such a school snack, and not something you’d really think to make yourself. But I’m making cheesecake bars for my bake-off in October, and thought making my own graham crackers for the crust would be stepping it up a notch. I won’t repeat the recipe here, you can find it at Smitten Kitchen — I made one mistake of using all “white whole wheat” flour instead of part all-purpose and part whole wheat, so I think mine came out a tiny bit tough because of it. But these are super tasty and crunchy, and with some peanut butter on them, they’re a perfect snack, whether you’re headed off to school with your backpack or just off to another day in the rat race!

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I’m not gonna lie. I’m distracted this week.

But somehow I managed to make a decent cold noodle salad and passable lemon bars last night. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? Well YOU TOO can make said dishes, hopefully with a little more enthusiasm than I did. Really what happened is that in a moment of weakness, I went into Barnes and Noble. I should know better. I am queen of 1,000 unfinished projects. I have two scarves, half knit, sitting in a box in my room. I need to reupholster and paint chairs in my apartment, organize the closets, learn how to make jewelry. But instead of doing these very tangible things, I pile on new projects! Back to Barnes & Noble. So the problem with the books I bought is that they are on 2 very specific topics: canning, and making cheese. These activities require planning, time, and special equipment. I am going to do both, to the detriment of my other projects and responsibilities I’m sure, but when I’m fantasizing about making my own farmhouse cheddar, it’s hard to focus on the task at hand, i.e., dinner.

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So far, so good. Well, except for the fact that Key Foods doesn’t carry BUTTERMILK. Or I should say the Key Foods closest to my apartment. I hate that grocery store. Truly, Key Foods sucks. However, the incident pointed out one of the pitfalls of budgeted eating. Sometimes the cheapest solutions take the most time. And time is definitely worth something.

Instead of walking all the way to the Trader Joe’s and potentially waiting in a long line just for some butter and buttermilk, I went to the pricey grocery store up the street. I payed at least double for the butter as I would have at Trader Joe’s, but the 30 extra minutes for the cheap option wasn’t worth it, partially because the sky looked like it was about to open up. So unfortunately the cornbread I made was worth a little more than I thought it would be.

I also have to admit a little pang as I walked by the Haagen Dazs, because it is about 100% humidity in New York and there were so many happy people eating ice cream. But I figured if I bought some I would have to cop to it here, and I’m sure enough transgressions will come over the next few weeks. Day 2 didn’t seem the right time to throw one in!

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So, official Day 1. My daily allowance for 2 people is $7.14 to equal $50 for the week.

Breakfast: Brown Bread = $.23 x 2 servings = $.46
Lunch: Leftover Arroz con Pollo = $1.58 x 2 servings = $3.16
Snack: Orange (already accounted for cost in scone recipe)
Dinner: Black Bean Soup = $.74 x 2 servings = $1.50

Total: $5.12

The Arroz con Pollo recipe, which I made for dinner Sunday, was supposed to serve 4, but definitely came out to 6 servings (and I think I put in 1/2 the chicken it called for!). So that brings my per meal price down significantly. Here are the recipes and prices:

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