MATBUCHA

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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WHOLE ROASTED CAULIFLOWER

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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BUTTER-ROASTED PEAR + HALLOUMI SALAD

You never believe it till you hit it, but being in your twenties is like free falling without a parachute. For whatever reason, when you’re a kid and a teen and even in college, you imagine you’ll have everything sorted out once you’re in your twenties. I blame TV for this, mostly. Twenty-something sitcoms are notoriously inaccurate. But they do get one thing right - something you completely neglect to appreciate until you’re chin-deep, flailing about the most confusing decade of your life thus far.

You find comfort in the oddest places.

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COLORFUL KALE SALAD WITH TOMATILLO DRESSING

I never thought I’d consider getting a haircut an oddly intimate experience. Intimacy is reserved for people you’ve dated, family members, a handful of good friends. Probably a doctor or two. Maybe, the woman who gives you bikini waxes. But never hair stylists. Or so I thought.

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GARLIC SCAPES GREEN GODDESS DIP

Today, I saw Bradley Cooper in the NYC wild.

What normally would have been a typical Wednesday with great weather, quickly became a glorious afternoon. I can’t take credit for the first sighting, though. My assistant saw him first. Obviously, the most logical next step would be to grab the nearest coworker and go get a coffee from the cafe next door to Bradley’s lunch spot. We certainly weren’t what I’d call covert, but we mastered the slow-walk and side-eye.

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CRISPY KALE, BRUSSELS SPROUTS + POTATO HASH

Shopping at Trader Joe’s is a dangerous game. You could be perusing the frozen foods section, looking for some fruit to improve your smoothie game when suddenly it catches your eye - the chocolate covered something that you’ve been trying to avoid but your willpower is simply not strong enough.

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ROASTED BUTTERNUT, FETA + POMEGRANATE KALE SALAD

When I lived in Jerusalem (OH MY GOD YOU LIVED IN JERUSALEM YOU NEVER TALK ABOUT IT), I was invited to a friend’s for Shabbat lunch and was tasked with making a side dish. I decided to explore my horizons and make something I’d never made before, and for some reason settled on mashed butternut squash with feta and pomegranate seeds.

Which like, sounded delicious.

But boy was it a mess.

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BREAKFAST SWEET POTATOES WITH QUINOA GRANOLA

So I think my 27th birthday was one of the best days of my life.

Last Friday marked my 27th turn around the sun, and I got to spend the day with some of the loveliest humans I know. I walked from Morningside Heights to Midtown East through Central Park and saw a man walking 10 dogs at once. I walked from Midtown East to Chelsea and saw so many tourists. Punctuating all of this walking was coffee with new coworkers, brunch with best friends and drinks with my partner. It was already pretty damn lovely.

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CRISPY SPROUTS WITH TAHINA AND POMEGRANATE

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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SWEET PATATAS BRAVAS WITH CRISPY EGG

It should come as a surprise to no one that Ann Arbor's been on my mind lately. Committing four years of your life somewhere will do that to you. But while my time at Michigan was filled with adventure and my first real heartbreak, there was one thing that Ann Arbor never lacked in. And that's food. 

Living in New York, I'm truly spoiled by the over-abundance of world-class restaurants at my disposal. I mean you could essentially close your eyes, spin around and point your finger at anywhere on a map and you're bound to find somewhere wonderful to tickle your palate. But Ann Arbor really brought it's A game. Of course, you have the super-famous Zingerman's deli - everyone's favorite sandwich-spot, but there were quite a few others that popped over over my four years. Mani Osteria had the wood-burning oven pizza down and I still dream about Isalita's steak nachos. But one restaurant I never got around to visiting was Aventura, owned by the same woman who ran Sava's, another Ann Arbor favorite of mine.

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SPICY POMEGRANATE GUACAMOLE

As I sit at my desk on this blustery afternoon, my mind naturally turns to what I'm going to eat for dinner. Do I want to spend a couple hours at the grocery store, stirring and measuring and roasting after a long day?

Fuck no. I want a bowl the size of my head filled with guacamole. With some crunchy things to dip thrown in for balance. A reasonable request, I would say.

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BLACKBERRY QUINOA SALAD WITH LEMON MINT VINAIGRETTE

I know what you're thinking. Another salad. Right? Well, let me tell you, there's no such thing as too many salads. I've mentioned before that salads are traditionally thought of as boring, but what if I told you that this salad was packed with so much flavor it would almost make you forget how healthy for you it is?

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GRAPEFRUIT AVOCADO ENDIVE CUPS

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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PASSOVER-FRIENDLY EGGPLANT PARMESAN

Talk about a case of the Mondays! Yesterday was one for the books, let me tell you. It was one of those days where a lot of little things added up to yield a pretty mediocre day. Nothing a hot shower, hearty dinner and episode of Sabrina, The Teenage Witch couldn't fix. Thank you late 90's nostalgia!

All in all, it wasn't a truly awful day, I mean, I've had worse. I just have to give myself a little credit, take a deep breath and stay positive. I mean, Michigan did win Saturday night's game with a mind-blowingly magical buzzer beater. So, there are things to cheer about. I pride myself in my realistic optimism - instead of having my head in the clouds, I turn my face towards the sun while keeping both feet firmly planted on the ground. But sometimes, even the sunniest of personalities require a little brooding. Mondays suck for everyone, so don't beat yourself up. 

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SALTED CARAMEL MACAROONS

I've never been the impulsive type. I like planning, organizing and being a general type-A personality. But I think deep down there's a part of me that loves to be impulsive. Take a spontaneous trip. Drive a car through Tuscany with my little brother. Trust Rina when she suggests we make something suspicious, like vegan nachos. Because even though I'm weary of anything not smothered in cheese, more often than not, these impulsive tendencies lead to something wonderful. 

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ZA'ATAR POPCORN

There is a bakery on the corner of Dizengoff and Hamelekh George in Tel Aviv that I am convinced is run by wizards. It is nothing more than a bakery case and a counter at which to order, super easy to miss, which would be a shame because it houses some of the most amazing baked goods in the area. I used to live 45 seconds away from this place, and the day my roommates discovered it was a blessed day.

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PAN-FRIED CHICKPEA + HALLOUMI SALAD

In my dream world, Rina and I work in a light filled studio with professional equipment. Our kitchen is white and full of state-of-the-art stainless steel appliances and large windows. Our counters are covered with fresh flowers; our workplace filled with props and kitchenware that photograph wonderfully. Jon Hamm makes frequent visits and Ina Garten does cooking demos for us. It's a pretty damn great place to be.

But, sadly, my magical powers haven't kicked in yet, so we have to work with what we have on hand. If that means shooting in Rina's bedroom, where the sunlight is, or doing dishes every six minutes to keep her tiny sink from overflowing, then so be it. It's all part of the process that hopefully one day we can look back and laugh at. Anyone who's stopped by or been privy to the tornado that is our recipe testing and shooting days (hi, Cornelia!) knows that's it's basically a hot mess. But it's something we love nonetheless. 

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CHEDDAR, SCALLION + SRIRACHA LATKES

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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SWEET POTATO LATKES WITH VEGAN CHIPOTLE AIOLI

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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BUTTERY CELERIAC POTATO MASH

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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