january in london: biddiekitchen’s top ten

London is by far my favorite city in the world. I was lucky enough to spend the past three weeks there visiting the people I love, seeing some pretty cool things, and eating incredible food. I ended up cooking a fair amount because of the tiny but glorious market located right by my boyfriend’s house in Herne Hill, which sells the most beautiful produce I’ve ever laid eyes on. Most days I would wake up, make coffee, go for a run, work on my thesis research, and make myself a cute little brunch. In the evenings, Leo and I would usually cook dinner (he did most of the work) while watching episodes of MasterChef Professionals (the best show to grace television screens). Pretty much my idea of a perfect night in.

I also ventured out some days to explore. My friends and I played tourists at The Globe and Tate Modern, bummed around Brixton, and went clubbing in Camden (slight cringe). This past weekend we even took a little road trip to Bath and Bristol that may or may not have ended with a six hour tow back to London after Leo’s car broke down on the A4 (the struggle was, in fact, real). Despite that minor drawback, we had a great trip. It was mostly planned around food and every place we went never failed to impress.

Here, in no particular order (mostly because I am too emotionally attached to all of these foods to rank them), are my favorite eats from my January in Londontown: Read more

on food

Food is endlessly fascinating to me. It is my strongest passion, my biggest vice, my nerdiest hobby, and my longest love.

Many of my fondest memories are associated with the tastes and scents of different dishes. One of my earliest food mems is of a four-year-old me watching my dad generously butter both sides of a piece of Wonderbread in preparation for a “Pickle Surprise.” While the name sounds pretty nasty now that I think about it, you really can’t go wrong with a classic American grilled cheese stuffed with dill pickles. Maybe the weird part was that I would drink the pickle juice straight from the jar while my dad made the sandwich. (Disclaimer: pickle juice consists mostly of salt and vinegar.)

My tastes have, of course, expanded since the days of the Pickle Surprise. I love being adventurous with food (although “adventurous” is completely relative to the culture you grow up in and the taste preferences you are born with). For me, adventurous eating means not only trying foods from many cultures, but learning how they are made, as well. This is where having friends comes in handy (I have friends!).

I am lucky enough to be able to form many of my relationships around food. It has become a way for me to connect with people on a nearly (dare I say it) spiritual level. Whether it’s through experiencing a traditional English breakfast cooked by my devastatingly British boyfriend, watching my best friend make his ultimate comfort food, congee (a garlicky, gingery Chinese rice porridge with chicken), or helping my mom bake her unbelievably delicious chocolate cake with raspberry filling and ganache, I have learned that food forms us. The process of making a meal is therapeutic in and of itself, and the sharing of that meal can go even further by teaching us something about the person who prepared it.

It comes as no surprise, then, when I say that I love to cook and eat. I travel as much as I can, and I attempt to try as many unusual foods as I can find on my journeys. My everyday eating may be a little more tame than the seven course Scandinavian meal I consumed on a trip to NYC, but I make an effort to work new ingredients into my cooking as I come across them.

I also believe strongly in making dishes as healthy as possible (without sacrificing flavor, of course). I love trying wacky “health foods” and discovering that they are actually as delicious as many fattier/ greasier/ more sinful alternatives (plus I’m a nut butter addict, so you know I’m a little crunchy). I often like to cook vegetarian and vegan dishes for healthy, divinely delicious, and environmentally low-impact meals, too.

With all this in mind, biddiekitchen is my outlet for creating and adapting recipes that have special meaning to the people I love and that are compatible with living a realistically healthy life. (By “realistically,” I mean that I won’t hesitate to throw in some butter every once in a while when I’m making a batch of cookies.) Continue reading for ways to eat adventurously and eat well–I might even come up with a new and improved Pickle Surprise.