California, Here We Come
Holiday travel begins, squash season, and pumpkin cookies
One perk of growing up in New York and still living here is that I don’t usually travel for holidays. I relish the emptier city during big holidays and the chance to slow down, run errands, go to museums, and take it easy in my beloved hometown. Dale and I did a staycation in December 2020 and it was a bright spot during a really hard year (also the only time I’ve gotten a hotel room for under $100 in Manhattan). I also don’t have experience with the chaos that is holiday travel. That changes this year—I’m currently en route to sunny California to spend the holiday with my West Coast family (and hopefully my flight left on time). I’m excited to all be together at my grandparents’ house, eat some great food, and get a little break from the cold. Having family far away can be hard at times, but it was acutely hard in the winter of 2020 and I don’t take being able to gather for granted. The family group chat has been buzzing and I can’t wait to spend time together.
I hope this week gives you some time to rest and feel supported by your family or chosen family and learn about the Indigenous community whose land we live on (this is a great place to start). I feel very grateful for your support, especially after the past week!
If you’re starting your holiday shopping this week, check out the 2022 gift guide (so many of the items are on sale) and remember that Meal Prep Made Simple, the meal prep ebook Erica and I wrote, is on sale with code THANKS. It’s our biggest sale of the year and the book is perfect for post holiday cooking once you finish the Thanksgiving leftovers.
I’ll be back later this week with a thread for paid subscribers about holiday cooking! And I’m happy to help with any last minute kitchen questions in the comments.
Now, let’s dive in.
Something to cook:
We went to a Friendsgiving at Joe and Nicole’s on Saturday and it was so good to see everyone. I went festive with my contribution and made this Ina Garten butternut squash salad with cider vinaigrette (I didn’t serve the dressing warm). If you’re traveling for more than an hour with a green salad, bring it in many containers and assemble it when you arrive. Otherwise the parts get soggy. I also tried Maya’s beloved pumpkin cookies and they’re so good. They really taste like pumpkin and I am not a pie person so they were a great way to get a holiday pumpkin fix. They’re also an extremely easy cookie to make—one bowl, no mixer required, if you’re looking for a last minute Thanksgiving dessert.
I attended a dinner with Our Pantry last week where Chef Silvia Barban cooked a delicious dinner using all of the sauces. We had bucatini with the yellow tomato arrabbiata, squash and onions roasted with the ginger barbecue sauce, salsa and plantain chips for appetizers, a salad with oranges and pumpkin seeds, roasted potatoes with bbq sauce mayo and simple gelato for dessert because you always have room for dessert. So good! We drank Zuzu, a 5% ABV agave based bottled cocktail. The calamansi flavor was so good and it’s light and not too sweet.
Something to order:
This Needs Hot Sauce had a lovely birthday party at Philomena’s and it was the perfect setting. The space is so pretty and it was such a blast to celebrate in person. Leah brought custom Williamsburg Pizza and I’m so appreciative of Ghia, Sanzo, Red Clay, and Omsom (all featured on gift guides) for sending gift bag goodies!
Getting to Prospect Heights from Williamsburg is a trek but for Olmsted (and Oset), it was worth it. I went for a dinner with Mijenta Tequila, which was very smooth and thoughtfully made, and the food was excellent. I loved the bread program, the beer battered delicata squash, the squash rangoon with xo sauce and grilled honeynut squash, and the chocolate mousse, served with a tequila old fashioned.
Dale and I had dinner at Mesa Coyoacan to catch up during a busy week and it really never fails. I love the mushroom tacos and all their salsas and my favorite margarita at the moment is the grapefruit.
Tilden and I met up on Sunday morning for a hot beverage and a pastry (one of the best kind of meetups). The pastries were from 7 Grain Army, a fully GF bakery and the coffee was from Oslo. The coffee cake muffin was really good—it had a swirl of coffee crumb in the middle and lots of crumb topping. They only have takeout and outdoor seating so plan accordingly depending on the weather.
Something to read:
Alicia Kennedy’s book is now available for preorder. I’m so excited to read it and learn more about the history of meatless eating.
Raise your hand if you got your ears pierced at Claire’s (I did when I was 8). The mall staple is reinventing itself.
How to launch a brand on social, from the consultant behind Graza, the olive oil that’s everywhere.
How to spend Christmas (or any holiday) alone. I share this every year.
I spent too many hours last week trying to buy Taylor Swift tickets. It shouldn’t be this hard to buy concert tickets and now the Justice Department is investigating Ticketmaster.
The Best Pasta Shape Is Fusilli Corti Bucati. This shape is neck and neck with rigatoni for me.
Inspired by the gift guide, I’d love to hear what’s on your kitchen wishlist this year! I’m definitely hoping to get a copy of the new Smitten Kitchen cookbook, Keepers! Reply to this email with your thoughts and I’ll share them next week!
Take care this week and thanks for reading!