Sometimes my job is cool.

One day, Rina and I will publish a heartwarming cookbook and entertain you with our kitchen mishaps, yummy recipes and music recommendations full time. Until then, we’ll be side-hustling away while our main hustle brings provides us with money, health insurance and 401K.

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Have you missed us? Sorry we went MIA, but This Is Us was on hiatus, so we thought we’d take a break too.

Kidding, of course. But we do apologize for the break — some of us were traveling a lot this summer.

And by some of us, I mean me.

But I had a magical summer crossing timezones to visit Japan, and don’t worry — I was thinking about you the whole time. Well, more thinking about what delicious treats Rina and I could recreate for you all!

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Ah, 2019. Hello there! You snuck up on us rather quickly. We had plans! We had goals! We had holiday-themed posts! And all of that got lost in the end-of-year, pre-holiday chaos.

But yet, here you are. So, we will try to make a comeback. For our own sanities. Because we’ve missed you so much.

I’m not really one for “new year” hype. Too much pressure, too much buzz, too many people at the gym. There is one thing, however, that I’m super excited about. It’s a book.

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My entire family is either vegetarian or vegan; meat hasn’t made an appearance in my parents’ house since, like, maybe 2010. This makes mealtimes and restaurant choices extremely easy. Holiday menus that revolve almost exclusively around a giant bird that wasn’t lucky enough to receive a presidential pardon, though? Not so much.

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We decided we wanted to make purple potato knishes six months ago.

Six. Months. Ago.

Six months ago I lived in a different apartment, with a different roommate, in a different bourough. I had a different job. I had a different life.

And yet. AND YET. These knishes haunted my dreams through it all.

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Three times a year, my company offers a free book drop. They send out a list of about 75 titles and you get to pick seven that will magically appear on your desk 3-5 business days later. Granted, you can always email publicists and editors around the company to ask for a specific book, but there's something extra-special about the free book drop. 

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So I'm a little afraid of my kitchen.

"Rina, you write a food blog, what the fuck?"

I know, I know! I should have full kitchen confidence, wielding knives with Benihana flamboyance and blowtorching shit all over the place.

But I'm a little afraid of my kitchen.

And the reason I'm a little afraid of my kitchen is because my oven is old, small and makes a clicking noise every once in a while. It's not not the title character from Alien.

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One of the perks of living in a massive city is that it is CONVENIENT. Unless you work in an office, it is now totally plausible to never have to leave your apartment: you can freelance from your couch, order everything from coffee to toilet paper (in under an hour!) to pet food straight to your door, and access movies and TV shows at lightening speed. Skype your parents every once in a while and your fortress of solitude is complete.

I really try to not rely on these services. Even when it's pouring rain and the last thing I want to do is run errands, I make myself get off my ass and into the pharmacy. There are times, though, when the prospect of bagfuls of groceries magically appearing on my doorstep is too appealing - since we started the blog, we've needed a lot more flour and sugar than I will ever be able to carry, so sometimes I cave.

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So, Passover is next week. Insane, right? I don't know where January or February went, but now Passover is in a week - maybe 2018 is trying to do us a favor by ending as quickly as possible.

I'm not going to my family for Passover this year, which means I'll be staying home in the city, staring longingly at bagels until I come to my senses.* In helping a friend menu plan her seder, I've been thinking about the foods and traditions my family has for our own. We always have props for the ten plagues on the table - plastic animals and bugs, those plastic monster finger puppet things and, for some reason, tiny plastic cowboys with guns for the death of the first born plague, maybe?

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I've been on a travel high for the past week. Ten days in Israel will do that to you. A country seen too-often for for the bad press it gets and conflict it seems to sustain, it's not until you travel there that you realize how truly magnificent the place is.

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I was talking to my parents on the phone last night, and I started the conversation with a cheerful statement: people are terrible and girls are growing up with habitual predators literally everywhere. Everywhere! I knew this before the Harvey Weinstein news hit, as did every other woman on the planet, but now that we're openly acknowledging and condemning sexual assault, it feels simultaneously better and worse. Better, because people (ahem, men) are finally, FINALLY listening and believing, but worse, because, well, after seeing man after man after man whom I admired be accused of sexual assault, the little faith I had in humanity is pretty much shot. Bye forever, grain of hope. It was nice hosting you for a while.

I do some bat mitzvah tutoring on the side, and lately I've been thinking about how to empower girls of all ages in a realistic way. When Hilary Clinton lost the election, it was a major fuck you to the idea that a girl can grow up to be anything she wants. She can try, but if a man, regardless of his qualifications, is vying for that same position, she's screwed. So what is there to do?

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You know those days where you wake up and immediately suspect a bad day is afoot? Like, a day that's a worthy rival of Alexander's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (a favorite in the Adler household growing up)? That was what yesterday was like. 

For starters, it was a Monday. Nothing good happens on a Monday. Even holiday weekend Mondays are really just Sundays in disguise. But this Monday, started with a wake up call from my parents checking in on me after hearing a pipe bomb went off at Port Authority. No casualties, thankfully. Then, five minutes later, the fire department comes barreling down my street, with firefighters in full gear clamoring up the stairs of my building. It was just steam, they said, thankfully. The worst part of these incidents was that I realized how New York I've become. I was not scared to ride the subway or be in a burning building. I was worried about being late for work and possibly having to evacuate in my pajamas. 

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Like dry wine, stuffing is an acquired taste. 

To tell you the truth, I wasn't always a fan of stuffing. In fact, until we made this recipe, Rina wasn't much of a fan either. I get it -  there's something bizarre about a bread casserole with fruit in it. But once you dig your fork in and take a bite, I'm willing to bet you'll become a believer.

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Thanksgiving at my house is a bit of a scene. Depending on whether the Michigan-Ohio State football game is in Ann Arbor or Columbus, we usually have between 20 and 35 people at what I can only accurately call a Thanksgiving feast. Even though my mom complains about hosting, I know she secretly loves it. Family from both sides come into town along with a few old friends and college pals - what's not to love? It's certainly a joyous occasion filled to the brim with laughter and lots of carbs.

Ah, carbs. If Thanksgiving was a Jewish holiday, I'm pretty certain it would be a mitzvah to eat carbs. Between the stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and rolls, you've got all the starch you need to hibernate for the rest of the winter. My mom loves to complain about the carbs. In fact, she chooses her carbs wisely (and dutifully reports back to me) usually opting for stuffing over mashed potatoes. I'm more of a little bit of everything kind of girl, myself, but I will admit that in recent years the mashed potatoes have been so lackluster that it's been hard to make the case for multiple carbs.

Enter this celeriac mash.

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I so wanted to save this recipe for Thanksgiving. The idea of bringing a rich and comforting bowl of love to your favorite meat-eater's house in lieu of turkey was just the compliment my favorite holiday needed. But then, life happened. Rina and I have been swamped, as of late, between the Jewish holidays and fall kicking into full swing (though the weather would beg to differ), we haven't been able to cook and shoot as much as we wanted. Thankfully, we had this killer recipe in our back pocket. And you know what? Today might not have been Turkey Day, but it was the perfect day for a bowl of cheesy carbs. If you're in NYC, you'll know that this weather has been absolutely dreadful. Skyrocketing levels of humidity that dare any straightened piece of curly hair to withstand its wrath accompanied by the most depressing grey skies is enough to make a case of Mondays take a turn for the worse. And I know I wasn't the only one feeling a bit anxious and blue today, it seemed that all my friends and coworkers were in the same boat as I was. So, this recipe is just what the doctor called for, and if we're being honest, it's the perfect way to kick off the week.

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It's Sunday night, and I just got off a plane. Scratch that - I just returned from the airport of horror, LaGuardia. The last thing I want to do, let alone think of, is making dinner. In my imagination, dinner is already ready and waiting for me. Perhaps, for practicality purposes, served by a handful of singing-and-dancing knick knacks? 

OK, so maybe my life doesn't involve any Disney movie magic - which is too bad because how cool would a magic carpet be? Especially in New York, you'd save time and health commuting via magic carpet. I digress - but this blog is pretty magical. Especially when it comes to turning an over-abundance of veggies into the most convenient and delicious dishes your Sunday night has ever seen. 

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It's no surprise that there's science backing nostalgic smells, but if you ask me, nostalgic tastes are just as real. Home Run Inn frozen pizza meant sleepovers at my best friends house. Minute Maid Frozen Lemonade cups were exclusively eaten at Detroit Pistons games. Of course stuffing was for crisp Michigan Thanksgivings and chocolate chip cookies were for Friday night dinners. But when I think of Rosh Hashanah, my mind immediately goes to my mom's delectable cinnamon noodle kugel. 

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I really hate mayo. Like, I just hate it so much. Actually, most squidgy, gelatinous, off-white substances freak me out. If I had a nickel for every time I heard "that's what she said" after a statement like this, I wouldn't be rich because inflation is REAL, but I would have a pretty hefty chunk of change.

What would I do with said hefty chunk of change? I'm not sure, but I can tell you what I wouldn't do: BUY MAYO.

I just don't get it. Why ruin a perfectly delicious sandwich with a slathering of this sad, strange substance? My freshman year of college some friends and I did a late-night Jimmy John's delivery when we were all totally sober and my veggie delight sandwich had been smeared with mayo by mistake. Veggie delight my ass. I gave it to a friend who ate it gleefully, while I slumped on the couch and rued the day mayo was ever created.

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A lot of my stories start out with, "When I lived in Israel..." (the cleaner - most of the time - version of Alyson Hannigan's infamous "When I was in band camp...").  Usually they take place in Tel Aviv, but every once in a while a good one comes out of Jerusalem - Tel Aviv is just a much better city, in my opinion-that-is-also-a-fact.  Feel free to fight me on this one. I'll win, but I welcome a challenge.

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