Category Archives: Side dishes

DIY Cranberry Sauce

cranberry sauce

This year I have been asked to make Thanksgiving, which I have never done before on my own.  Naturally this has led to a great deal of cooking via project management (see also: Project: Christmas Cookies — which clearly explains why I didn’t get a lot of dates in high school).  I’ll document the insanity I have resorted to for Thanksgiving planning in another post.

But part of that planning was that I was not going to make my own cranberry sauce.  “The can is fine!” I said.  “Don’t obsess about making everything from scratch!”  Yeah right.  Next thing I knew I’d gone to the grocery store and had a black out moment and come home with a giant bag of cranberries.  Then I read you can make cranberry sauce a week ahead.  OH FINE, I’ll just make it.

Continue reading DIY Cranberry Sauce

Turkish red lentil soup

Turkish red lentil soup

There is a wonderful Turkish restaurant named Istanbul Grill in Rice Village in Houston.  Their meats are always full of flavor and they have a rice pilaf with chickpeas that I could eat forever.  But what always makes me think of going there is their red lentil soup.  A few years ago a friend recommended it to me and I’ve been in love since.  It is the perfect soup for a cold day.

Unfortunately right now in Houston it’s been hitting the 80s in February.  But between bouts of existential dread at global warming we have had a few chilly days and I decided to try making Turkish red lentil soup myself. Continue reading Turkish red lentil soup

Roasted Beets

Beets and goat cheeseA friend recently mentioned that she may, unexpectedly, have discovered that she likes beets.  I feel very strongly about beets, so I knew a beet post was due!

I was also a beet skeptic until I did a CSA for a few months a couple of years ago.  I picked the option with the strangest vegetables I wouldn’t normally use, since I wanted it to force me to do new things.  I got lots and lots of collard greens and turnips, which I never really came to love, but the big surprise was the beets! Continue reading Roasted Beets


Homemade applesauceFor a few years I’ve wanted to make my own applesauce, but the recipes I’ve looked at called for a food mill.  I resist obtaining new kitchen gadgets unless they are things I will use all the time, so I figured applesauce was something forever out of my reach.

Until last week I stumbled upon an applesauce recipe by Ina Garten that didn’t require one!  Immediately all I could think of was making applesauce, even though it’s not a food I eat very often. Continue reading Applesauce

Dal Makhani

Finished daal and rice
I wish I hadn’t eaten dinner and could have had a bigger taste of the final product!

Recently I got a Dutch oven, I think primarily because they are colorful and I’ve seen them referred to quite often in recipes.  Once I had it, I realized I didn’t really know what they were good for.  Clearly my planning for this kitchen tool purchase was at its finest!

After a little research, I discovered that a Dutch oven mostly seems to be in its niche when used as a low tech slow cooker or if you have a recipe that needs to go between stovetop and oven.  My first dish in the Dutch oven was a whole roast chicken, but it didn’t really roast it much differently than my normal method (which is to use a large cast iron frying pan in the oven). Continue reading Dal Makhani


Are you supposed to store the rice cup here? I do.

I’ve had a lot of conversations lately about cooking rice and so I thought I would give this deceptively complex topic a go on The Spice!

As a kid, we ate instant Minute Rice and it was my favorite thing, with lots of butter.  When I got older I lived in Japan for a year and experienced the cultural and culinary institution that is Japanese rice.  I still remember my host family having a conversation for over an hour about different types of rice and how they differed based on their origins.  This was not an exciting conversation, particularly since I could only half follow it. Continue reading Rice

Halloween party food!

Halloween table
Halloween table

My absolute favorite holiday is Halloween, but the past few years the crazy Halloween parties of the past haven’t been happening.  So this year I decided to have my own.  I had a few friends over for Halloween-themed snacks and then we watched part of The Addams Family, Troll, and all of Evil Dead.  I was hoping for more classic monster movies, but they were all certainly appropriate to theme! Continue reading Halloween party food!

Quick Pickles

Quick pickles
The pressure is on!

My first experience with Japanese pickles, tsukemono, was at a family restaurant in Kyoto, definitely nothing fancy. I don’t even remember what the pickles were except that they were kind of slimy, strong tasting, and definitely gross. Even though I try to be open minded and adventurous with new foods, I kept a wary distance of tsukemono after that.

Pickle press
Pickle press

Many years later, a friend recommended a Japanese cookbook to me, Washoku by Elizabeth Andoh. She had met the author and also knew that my favorite kind of Japanese food is more “home cooking” style, not sushi or tempura.  It’s ended up being my favorite Japanese cookbook and makes just the kind of food I love in the from-scratch style I like to cook in. Continue reading Quick Pickles