Boxing Day Dinner

I volunteered to cook Boxing Day dinner for the family, and it went reasonably well, but I made two frustrating mistakes — cooking in someone else’s kitchen is a little stressful, trying to figure out where everything is and how to use unfamiliar appliances, and I guess I don’t always think so clearly in those circumstances.

Appetizers — tried to go easy and kid-friendly here:
• two kinds of cheddar (basic and more interesting) with mango-ginger chutney and crackers (Ritz crackers continue to be wildly popular with the kids and go incredibly fast), put out with some cut-up watermelon and pineapple

• carrot sticks and sliced bell pepper, with ranch dip

• chicken marbella (for some of the grown-ups)
• sautéed chicken thighs in béchamel (for everyone else)
• buttered egg noodles
• roasted asparagus

• sautéed broccolini

• lots of leftover Christmas cookies

• mango fluff

The two mistakes I made? Well, one was a simple error with the mango fluff — I forgot that fresh pineapple will keep the gelatin from setting; usually I remember and use canned, but they had fresh on hand and I just didn’t think about it. Sigh. So it was more mango dessert soup? Still tasty, but a little frustrating.

The bigger mistake was with the chicken marbella. I haven’t actually made it before, and while it’s a simple enough recipe (marinate together: garlic, green olives, prunes, capers, red wine vinegar, oregano, bay leaves, salt, pepper, brown sugar, and white wine with chicken pieces; bake; sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve), the timing was off.

I’m honestly not sure why, but we brought it to the table and served it, and some of the chicken on the bone was still pink near the bone. Argh. We put it back in the oven to finish cooking, and it was totally fine the next day, but frustrating.


• try not to cook in a hurry, especially in an unfamiliar kitchen
• remember relevant chemical interactions
• always check that meat is cooked through before serving, esp. meat on the bone, which takes longer

• don’t try an unfamiliar recipe for the first time for a big party!

Oh well. Everyone ate well anyway, because I made too much food per usual, and we had enough for leftovers the next day, and it’s all fine. Just a little irritating!

Here’s a recipe for chicken marbella, which I really do like a lot. Just watch those cooking times!

Turtles on the Wishlist

Kevin’s mom put turtles (the candy) on her wishlist. We could’ve bought some, of course, but it seemed like a fun opportunity to make some with the kids. Super-easy, esp. if you buy caramels and melt them (with a little milk) to make the melted caramel, and melt the chocolate at half-power in the microwave. Thanks to Jed for letting us make a bit of a mess in his kitchen. 🙂

Done? DONE! I wrote a book, peoples!

I arrived exhausted at Alex and Christa‘s, just bone-weary, and for the first two days we were there, I think I mostly rested and recovered. It was a LONG semester.

But by yesterday I was feeling mostly like myself again, and by today, I actually felt like I could write, for the first time in months. Much credit to their soothing, restful home!

This morning, I finished the last edits to Vegan Serendib and handed them off to my staff. They’ll implement the edits and proof it, then they index it, then we order a print copy (two, actually, for hardcover and paperback) and proof THAT, and then, um, I think we will actually have a book? Yes, a book!

It took a solid 6 months longer than I’d hoped — I think I allocated a year for writing this book, and it was more like 18 months. But hey, I wrote a book during a pandemic, so an extra 6 months doesn’t seem so unreasonable.

Tentative plan is to launch July 2022, if all goes well. Will we be able to schedule book tour for July / August / September? I certainly hope so. That’s the plan. If you’d like me to come visit your city and bookstore, now is a great time to let me know. I love travelling, so any excuse…

Next cookbook will be Gluten-Free Serendib, which I actually think we’ll be able to bring out relatively quickly — I’m pencilling in July 2023 for that. So for those of you waiting for that — thank you for your patience, it’s coming, but also, I’ll note that 95% of Feast of Serendib is already gluten-free. Benefits of a rice-based cuisine…

Pre-order Vegan Serendib here — and hey, it’s not too late to order it as a holiday gift and give them a nice little note saying the actual book will come in July:…/vegan-serendib-recipes-from…

Amazon is also claiming that if you have Prime and order A Feast of Serendib today, you can have it in your hands on December 24th — a great gift for the foodies in your life!…/dp/1645432750/ref=sr_1_1…

Book book bookity book book. One down, a dozen to go…

Hope They Love Them

I spent about half of yesterday making passionfruit marshmallows and cranberry-cashew milk toffee and dragonfruit chocolates for a gift order — I think someone was giving them to clients or staff? Hope they love them.

I’m going to add cayenne-chocolate gilded roses to the Serendib store as a confection option — I thought people might like them for Valentine’s Day, if their love is spicy — any other requests? Let me know!

It’s too late at this point to order custom confections from me for this Christmas, sorry! If you want them for next year, think early December — and if it’s a big order, even earlier would be appreciated. You could set a calendar reminder now… 🙂

Feast at Carnivore

Swung by Carnivore Oak Park to drop off some more copies of Feast — they’d sold out of the ones I brought before. It really is a great holiday gift!

They have the last of my paperbacks for now; I’ve ordered more, but doubt they’ll arrive before Christmas. So stop by Carnivore if you want one, locals — someone bought one when I was there (!), so there’s just four left. 🙂

Reducing the Day of Hecticness

Party tip: prep trays in advance and cover with plastic wrap (refrigerating as needed) to reduce day of hecticness. Also, Trader Joe’s really does have some fun holiday beverages. Also, I feel totally justified in buying a giant gnome platter now. 🙂