I’m lucky enough to live close enough to several branches of In-N-Out that I don’t have to go that far. But as I was musing on Super Bowl recipes (gross out food) and In n’ Out Animal Style Fries (also gross out food) I hit on the idea of a dip that recreates the experience of a Double Double, Animal Style. Only with crackers. What’s not to love about that?
When I was a little girl, my favorite restaurant was a steakhouse in my hometown called the Sawmill. The interior was one of those 1980’s restaurants with no windows, an open kitchen, dim lighting, a terrarium, rough-hewn wood beams and leather club chairs, but to very small me it was heaven. I always ordered a steak sandwich and a Shirley Temple (in a short glass, with extra cherries), but what really made the restaurant my favorite was the old fashioned salad bar. Young children don’t usually have that much control over what they eat, but at a salad bar I was master of my destiny. After much trial and error (what is the POINT of baby corn?) I settled on the winning combination of romaine lettuce, spinach (this was before the era of ubiquitous mixed greens), chick peas, scallions, croutons, bacon bits, blue cheese dressing and beets. This was a particular treat because we NEVER had beets at home — to this day my father claims to be allergic based on a rash he got in 1948 (and to this day, I remain skeptical about the existence of such an allergy), and I loved their earthy sweetness.
Fast forward to 2006, and when enjoying a lovely (outdoor) dinner at a local Greek restaurant in Los Angeles, I discovered Patzaria — a Greek spread made from yogurt and beets. Spread on toasted pita bread, the sweetness of the beets tempered by the tang of the yogurt, this spread was my favorite beet dish I had had since those childhood salads. So I decided to reconcile the two experiences, and come up with my own patzaria that replicates the flavors of my childhood nostalgia with a modern Greek spin. (As a housekeeping note, I’m giving away a set of Oxo Tools and you have until 11:59 Pacific Time Wednesday to enter! What are you waiting for?)
I hate to say that I don’t care about the Super Bowl because it’s such a lame girl thing to say. On the other hand, I don’t really care about the Super Bowl. And I am kind of a lame girl. In my defense, L.A. hasn’t had a pro football team in years, so I can’t exactly root for the hometown. But the truth is, I’m just not really a pro football kind of girl.
Football food, however, is something I can get behind, because I am an appetizer kind of girl. Salty, spicy bite sized morsels? Yes please. Creamy dips with crunchy chips? Absolutely. I remember a highlight of my college dining hall experience being Super Bowl Sunday — in addition to the regular Sunday night fare like lentil tortilla rollups or Salisbury steak (this was before Alice Waters reformed my college dining hall) the chefs would provide an array of traditional Super Bowl nibbles for students to take to the buttery or back to their rooms to watch the big game. Things like nachos and hot dogs were popular, but what I looked forward to every year were the delicious crunchy spicy cheesy bites of goodness — the jalapeno poppers. My roommate and I would load our plate and head back to our room to read poetry (our freshman year, when we were intellectuals), listen to Tori Amos (sophomore year, when we were angsty) or watch girly movies (junior and senior year, when we were cool). OK, so we were kind of lame girls. But we were lame girls with jalapeno poppers (and our Caribbean themed spa party that took place during the Super Bowl senior year was super fun. We made blue cocktails and cranked up the heat in our room and gave each other pedicures).
Now I’m married to a boy who did not grow up in Los Angeles and does not have that as an excuse, and he likes watching the Super Bowl to boot, sadly without pedicures, which means my only consolation is the snacks. (And the commercials). Oddly enough, jalapeno poppers can be tough to find here in L.A. (which is usually a city where jalapenos are ubiquitous). Fortunately, I’ve managed to recreate the creamy spicy crunchy goodness in an easy to make dip form, which has the added bonus of tortilla chips.
New Year’s Day is really a strange holiday. Everyone celebrates hard on New Year’s Eve, leaving the holiday itself as a day to lie around, nurse your hangover, and watch the Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl on TV (which is an excellent hangover nursing activity, though perhaps I’m a little biased towards the Rose Parade since I grew up in Pasadena).
But New Year’s Day has some lovely traditions, most of which are associate with the idea of beginning the New Year as you mean to go on. My friend Rebecca spends all of New Year’s Day doing activities she hopes to do throughout the year — spending time with her family, doing the things she loves. This is a tradition I try to aim for, but I’ve already spent more time doing dishes this morning (a byproduct of the fancy New Year’s Eve dinner I cooked, which I’ll tell you about at some point) than I would like to for the rest of the year. Still, I’ve also spent time reading, talking to my husband, exercising, and calling old friends on the telephone. Later, I plan to go out to lunch with my husband and spend some quality time with my daughter and my parents, and of course, cooking.
There are also traditional foods that should be eaten on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, which are supposed to bring luck and prosperity in the New Year. Greens (to represent money) and pork (to represent progress) are often named, but it’s black eyed peas that are most often thought to bring luck, in a tradition that dates back to 500 AD. My New Year’s Day tradition, then, is to make a variant of this dish to bring luck in the New Year. It also has the added advantage of being healthy and delicious, so if I begin as I mean to go on, this is a great beginning.
I'm Kate, and between my day job and my home job, life is pretty full. Look around to find some of the recipes, projects, stories and tips that keep me sane on the domestic front. Read more about me here and feel free to email me with any questions or feedback!