The cruelest month of the year is not April – it’s September. As soon as Labor Day passes, most of the U.S. puts away the flip flops and pulls out the boots, tweeting things like “It’s sweater weather!” and posting taunting pictures of hearty bowls of soup on their instagrams. Meanwhile, we have been suffering through triple digit temps and, to pile insult upon injury, humidity.
Maybe Eliot didn’t live in L.A.
Intellectually, I KNOW that September is the hottest month of the year here – that fall doesn’t even officially start until September 22, and doesn’t really start in Southern California until November. But that doesn’t stop me from being surprised, every year, by the sheer horror that is September in Los Angeles. 105 at my house, folks. 99 degrees at 9 pm. 95 at my office, and the air conditioning broke. I know that when I see my power bill this month I am going to cry. There was really nothing to do but hide in the house, shades drawn, A/C on full blast (which only cooled it to 80, sob), and do absolutely nothing that required any sort of exertion, whatsoever, except eating and drinking very cold things and reading the J. Peterman Catalog. (It goes without saying that I am being just a tad hyperbolic, and September in L.A. compares favorably to being in say, Mosul right now).
So this is it, rest of the world: you are used to Angelenos crowing about the weather, sitting smugly in 75 degrees when the rest of the country freezes their tootsies off in a polar vortex. But not now. This is the week when you can gloat.
Hey guys – I’m back with a pretty big announcement – Savour Fare is now the Domestic Front! Please update your bookmarks and links.
When I chose a name for this blog five and a half years ago, I knew nothing about naming things for the web. I liked the pun! I liked the English spelling of savoury! Hyphens are AOK. Now, several years later, the name that I once loved has become uncomfortable. First, the topics I want to write about have expanded far beyond the original pure food blog I envisioned (though don’t worry – there will still be plenty of food), so the references to Savouring Fare seemed restrictive. Second, even my closest friends can’t freaking remember how to spell my website’s name – how am I supposed to expect the rest of the world to do it?
Why the Domestic Front? I can’t get away from puns, it seems (daughter of two English professors – it’s in my blood!) Seriously – I have a day job where I go to work and solve big problems and offer very smart advice and draft very long documents – I’m not going to write about that. This is about the other front in my life – the family, the home, the kitchen, the library – life on the domestic front. Also, I think that as food websites have proliferated, the very pretty, perfectly styled, extremely curated food blog is everywhere. I wanted this to be a place where reality has a place, too. Where I can talk about how my kids wouldn’t touch a cute bento box with a ten foot pole, how house decorating projects take literally years, how yes, we eat delicious and beautiful organic food cooked from scratch, but sometimes we have fish sticks. Sometimes daily life does feel like a battle, and we must marshal our resources on the domestic front and fight the good fight.
The transition will (hopefully) happen over the next few weeks – the internal links have been updated, and I’m slowly making changes to social media accounts as well. In the meantime, thanks for sticking around through change and growth (and a summer vacation that ended up being a little longer than I intended.)
We have a zucchini plant in our garden this year. Just one, as we have learned from years past that zucchini quickly becomes overwhelming. Fried zucchini blossoms are one of our favorite summer treats, and one of the most cost-effective ways to get our hands on them is to plant our own zucchini plant.
Apparently, though, there is something mysterious in our soil because that one zucchini plant has grown to monstrous proportions. It’s the tomacco of zucchini plants – each leaf is the size of a cocktail table.
We are diligent about seeking out the zucchini and picking them when they’re either still flowers or at a reasonable size, and we’ve been eating a lot of zucchini fritters and zucchini bread this summer. However, occasionally one will escape our notice, hiding under a massive leaf, until one day we discover this Godzilla-zucchini, and have to figure out what to do with it. They’re more watery and less flavorful than the little ones, and the seeds are enormous, too.
Staring at these enormous zucchini this weekend, I was struck with inspiration. What do you do with any excess vegetables? Make soup. But since it is July, and it is going to be 101 degrees at my house tomorrow, chilled soup is the game.
Around these parts, it feels like the glory days of summer. The tomatoes are (finally) ripening! The Nuni has finished summer school and is now living out my nostalgic old-fashioned childhood summer dreams at day camp where she gets to swim and ride horses and do archery and build forts and generally have a grand old time. We have been working diligently at our summer bucket list (last weekend: farmer’s market and train ride. Next up: s’mores, and the obligatory weekend hammock time). Hard to believe we are back to school in a month!
1. From the archives:
Tomatoes are finally peaking at the farmer’s markets (and if you planted yours earlier than I did mine, in your garden), and now is the perfect time to capture that ripe goodness in a jar. Sweet tomato jam might sound weird, but the flavor is just wonderful – familiar and exotic all at once. This one tastes exactly like the one my great-grandma used to make.
Get a look at this amazing house (just purchased by Andy Samberg) in LA’s Beechwood Canyon featured on Curbed LA. Mary Astor and Charlie Chaplin once lived there, and it’s a Moorish fantasy, with ornate ceilings, Moroccan tile designs, stained glass, a door with carved camels on it(!) and a cave(!!) near the swimming pool. There also appear to be white subway tiles in the kitchen, if you’re worried about the hipster cred. I’ve been totally obsessed with Moroccan tile designs lately, so this is right up my alley and some serious eye candy.
If you haven’t read Bossypants by Tina Fey, you have to. Rebecca Traister (whom I have long loved) wrote a great piece on being a woman in a man’s world that’s worth a read, and makes excellent use of one of my favorite anecdotes from Bossypants.
I wear glasses almost every day (my job involves a lot of computer time, and if I wear my contacts, I’m crying uncle by 4 pm), and have to recommend these frames. First of all, Zenni is generally awesome -I buy prescription glasses from them all the time, but these, which I totally bought on a whim, get complimented EVERY SINGLE TIME I WEAR THEM. Seriously, I have gotten compliments on them from the other moms at daycare, my daughter’s teachers, my boss, the checkout guy at Trader Joe’s, my dental hygienist. And they only cost me $50, WITH LENSES.
I know the World Cup is over and nobody in the US cares about soccer anymore, but I, for one, have a newfound love of the sport. It’s so dramatic! Every time a player gets a scratch it’s a federal offense! It’s a lot like living with a seven year old, frankly. Anyway, NPR covered this phenomenon beautifully, and asked the question: What if we lived life as if we were in the World Cup?
When it comes to mothers, mine is (almost) always right.
When I was a little girl, I, being a child of the 80’s, wanted nothing more than crap for breakfast. I watched the beguiling commercials – Super Golden Crisp! Pop Tarts! Leggo my Eggo! – and I asked, nay, begged my mother to give me this super-sugary stuff of my dreams for breakfast. My mother, having come of age in the crunchy late 60’s and 70’s in California, wisely turned me down. I had to eat healthy breakfasts, which always included protein. Cream cheese, peanut butter, whole grain breads – on test days I always had eggs. Protein in the morning was her mantra. I, sulking, vowed that when I had children, I would buy Cocoa Krispies for breakfast!
Of course, my mother was right. One day she gave in to my pleading and let me have pancakes for breakfast (though it’s possible my father had a hand in this disaster). 2 hours later the school nurse called her – I felt awful – headache, stomachache, you name it. My mother crisply told the nurse to feed me some cheese and lo and behold! I felt better! Low blood sugar. (I wish I could say that from this day forward, I happily ate my eggs and turned my nose up at Lucky Charms, but, sadly, it took many years of collegiate hangovers and maturity before I submitted to her wisdom.)
Now I am a mother, and Karma is an ahole, because I have the same battles with my kids. Every morning (or every weekend mornings, because weekdays I have learned enough not to ask), the girl says “Please! Can we have pancakes? You never make pancakes!” and the boy, who worships his sister, pipes in with his little voice, shouting “Pancake! I wan’ Pancake!” and then adds, hopefully, “Frosting?” (Because cakes have frosting. I am clearly more relaxed about sugar than my mother was. Pancakes do not, however. I’m not THAT relaxed.) And I repeat back to them my mother’s mantra, and try to wangle some sausages into them and the whole thing, is frankly, exhausting.
It’s the summer solstice! The longest day of the year! The official first day of summer, which, by some magic, is also Midsummer. No matter how you slice it, today is the day when even your most pedantic friends can’t deny that summertime is here, and with it, summer cooking. We’ve already been going crazy with the stone fruit in our house (my children are fruit bats, and I keep finding half-gnawed nectarines in the oddest places) and last week I broke out the first official BLT.
Here’s a list of great The Domestic Front recipes to get you in the mood for cooking this summer!
I live 2 minutes away from where I grew up. This was a combination of happy chance and deliberate decision making – we knew we wanted the kind of beauty and community my hometown provided, and when we decided to buy a house, the first one we looked at happened to be here, in this neighborhood, 2 minutes away from my childhood home. What that means is that to some extent, my children are living my childhood – playing in the same park, reading in the same library, walking the same streets.
My childhood comes back the most vividly for, me, however, when I’m in the kitchen, with my daughter (who is truly my mini-me), making dinner from my mother’s recipes. Cooking together is a thread that links the generations of my family. One of our family’s favorites is meatloaf – the recipe is forgiving enough for little hands to help, and we can work together – chopping, mixing, shaping. I let her choose the McCormick spices we add (within reason), and she has pride of ownership when the meal comes out of the oven, “Daddy, I MADE UP this recipe.” The meatloaf becomes hers, as it has been mine, and my mother’s before me. When we gather outside to eat (because we are Californians, and we eat outside three quarters of the year), I hope that my children feel the strong sense of home that I felt, that brought me back here, to my home town, to my neighborhood, and to the family table. That is American Homemade to us.
Summertime! And the living is easy! And the drinking should be, too. This Trader Joe’s Cheap Wine Pick is one of my favorites, and has been a staple of my summertime tippling for several years.
Wine: Espiral Vinho Verde Region: Portugal Style: Crisp, refreshing white with effervescence Price: $4.49 a bottle
I first discovered Vinho Verde when I lived in New York, and it was one of my favorite wines for a New York summer. Nothing cut through those muggy days like a nice cold glass of vinho verde – super crisp and refreshing, with d just a few bubbles. When I moved back to LA, I was thrilled to find this great (cheap!) Trader Joe’s version for only $3.99! (Though I think the price has gone up this year to $4.49). Vinho verde originates in Portugal, and refers to a region and a style rather than a specific grape. Vinho verde wines are made with very young grapes (hence the nice acidity you will find in most vinho verdes) and have a slight sparkle to them (that wikipedia tells me originally came from malolactic fermentation, but is now usually a result of artificial carbonation.) It’s low in alcohol – the Espiral Vinho Verde is only 9% ABV – so it’s great to drink in hot weather without getting that sticky feeling you can get from too much of the hard stuff, and it’s a nice mixer for some of the lighter summer wine-based aperitifs, like a kir. It’s nice citrusy flavors pair well with a lot of summer food – fish, grilled chicken, tomatoes, pesto, pasta. Eminently quaffable!
Yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Classic. If you ask most people what their favorite cake is, they will answer, “Yellow cake with chocolate frosting.” It’s the cake of our fondest nostalgic imaginings, bringing to mind the best birthdays of childhood.
Not my birthdays, though. I was a child of the 70’s with more imagination than sense, which means my earliest birthday cakes were carrot cakes (of course!) and then, when I was old enough to ask, I’d beg my mother to make a somewhat horrifying concoction of angels food, devils food, chocolate mousse and 7 minute frosting). Now that I am an actual grown up (I can no longer deny this fact due to thenature of 1) my tax return, 2) my grocery list, and 3) my color-coded online family calendar) I have a greater appreciation for classics. Things that never go out of style.ellow cake. Chocolate Frosting.
Last week, my baby turned two. Which means he is hardly my baby anymore. He no longer stays where I put him – instead he is constantly climbing and getting into everything. A few days ago, he went into the kitchen and poured himself a bowl of cereal. With milk. Which was pretty impressive if I ignored the milk all over the table. On the other hand, he is an extraordinarily charming two year old – head of blond curls, little voice that repeats everything, and lots of silliness. I wanted to celebrate his birthday with style, with class – and how better than with the classic – yellow cake with chocolate frosting?
It’s after Memorial day, the Nuni has finished first grade (!) and summer vacation is in full swing around these parts. I am kicking off the summer by breaking my pinky toe and going slowly insane because my children are whining. You?
1. From the archives:
I don’t know about you, but our zucchini plant is growing like crazy. Instead of drowning under a bushel of zucchini come July, pick them while they’re tiny and make these fried zucchini blossoms.
2. Fashion Find:
I bought two pairs of these shoes and they are super cute and super comfortable. Yes, they are made of pleather, and yes, they will probably fall to pieces after about 3 months but for $23, what do you expect? Red shoes!
3. Let’s Get Serious for a Minute
I don’t know if you’ve been following the #YesAllWomen movement, but in the wake of the Isla Vista shooting and the misogynistic hate screed that accompanied it, women are stepping forward to tell their stories. It’s both depressing (so much to be done!) and inspiring (women having a voice!) It’s worth checking out the feed, and if you have something to add, posting.
4. Best of the Blogs:
My friend Rachel Cedar runs a very successful parenting consulting business in New York. In February, she ran a great series with a bunch of talented writers on playing with your kids, called 28 Days of Play. With the long days of summer vacation looming, the series is worth revisiting. (Rachel is also a go-to for very sage parenting advice, so check out the rest of her blog, too).
5. Funny of the day:
Mindy Kaling gave a commencement address at Harvard Law School and knocked it out of the park. This pushes so many of my buttons: Mindy Kaling (love her), lawyer jokes (funny because they’re true!, but I’m only allowed to say that because I’m a lawyer) and just a touch of anti-Harvard bias (go Bulldogs!). So many good quotes, but I particularly love this one:
“You wrote the Terms and Conditions that I scroll through quickly while I download the update for Candy Crush. Terms and Conditions are the only things keeping us from the purge, everybody. I don’t read them—I just hit Accept. iTunes may own my ovaries for all I know.” (OK, this might only be funny to corporate lawyers)
Based in Los Angeles, the Domestic Front is the home of Kate, a working mom who is low on time but high on life. I hope this site helps you find ways to make your life richer, easier, more beautiful and more delicious. You can read more about me and the site here and feel free to email me with any questions or feedback!