Baked spinach.

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My family was sitting around the dinner table one night in the mid ’90s. I was about eight or nine, still young enough to play with my dollhouse, but old enough to start stressing out about things like our house getting burglarized or burning to the ground. (I was a weird kid.) My sister must have been about six, probably missing a couple of her front teeth and generally being adorable.

Our mom had made zucchini for dinner, and neither of us really enjoyed it. I could handle it, but Katie – ever the typical showman youngest child – could. not. even. We were not rude, spoiled monsters, so we obviously did our best to eat stuff we didn’t like, but at that point in time, neither of us had much success conjuring up any enthusiasm. (Currently, we both dig it. THIS IS GROWING UP, KIDDOS.)

My mom asked us – probably in a sarcastic way that was meant to convey one or both of us was being ridiculous about something – what we thought the worst thing god could ever make us do was. I said something probably apropos of my weird, macabre, overly anxious childhood self, like, “Make you kill the people you love.”

Katie, however, was more…well, Katie about it.

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Broccoli salad.

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I don’t know about you, but I thoroughly enjoy salad bars. I like piling a random assortment of vegetables, fruits, dressings, nuts and seeds on my plate. It’s so much more fun than getting a regular salad assembled by someone else. I mean, maybe I don’t want just Caesar salad. Maybe I want some Caesar salad, and a spoonful of Waldorf salad to go with it. If I want to plop some baby corns or cherry tomatoes on my mixed greens, I can do that. And if my favorite salad bar staple, broccoli salad, is there, then awww yeah.

Sadly, broccoli is not one of the shining stars of the vegetable aisle. Admittedly, I didn’t like it when I was growing up – and I wasn’t one of those kids who eschewed her vegetables at every turn. I generally ate my peas and string beans without a fuss, and considered carrots and cucumbers to be pretty neat snacks, but unless broccoli was slathered in Velveeta, I wanted no part of it – and even then, I’d bite the florets off the stalks, leaving those behind…possibly concealing them under some mashed potatoes.

But now, I can get down with broccoli. Especially if it’s tossed together with some other veggies, bacon, cheese and a creamy dressing.

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Summer saute

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Ok guys. So it’s clear that I really, really love food. Not only do I (semi-regularly) write a food blog, but I’ve also been known to take it into some weird territory by writing love letters to pot pies and what not. I’ll be the first one to push any dish that features gobs of cheese or crispy bacon, but this – this healthy, vegetarian, cheese-free (ok, I caved and added cheese last night) meal – might be my new favorite dinner. I’ve made it the past two nights, and I don’t really see myself wanting anything else in the near future. I get like this with music, too – when I really, really like a song, I listen to it about five dozen times in a row. I’m not (too) ashamed to admit that, currently, all I really want to listen to “Blurred Lines.” I’ve been in this place for about a month and a half. You’d think I’d be ready to stop, but … no.

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Quinoa fried rice, and tri-state area pride.

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Growing up a stone’s throw away from the greatest city on earth (and hailing from the home state of aforementioned superlative crooner, thankyouverymuchnowgetoutoftheleftlane), I recognize that I’m lucky to have immediate access to a wide array of (well-done) cuisines – with the exception of barbecue, maybe. There’s an incredible Chinese takeout place across the street, two amazing pizzerias down the block, and quite possibly the best sushi (and half price, most days) I’ve ever eaten less than 10 minutes away. And I live in a teeny little suburb! Killer burritos, to-die-for-tapas, cracker-thin pizza, melt-in-your-mouth sushi; you name it, it’s possible for me to have that for dinner tonight and be one hundred percent satisfied. Now, I don’t mean to sound cocky; I recognize that (with the exception of maybe pizza), restaurants/takeout here may not be the absolute, hands-down, best-in-the-nation. For example, I’m sure the Southwest has better burritos – but ours are nothing to sneeze at.

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Summer fare. Because it’s SUMMER.

Originally posted August 2012.

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Dear Everyone,

You are out of control and need to be stopped. Freeze. Wait, don’t freeze. That’s the opposite of what I’m trying to convey. Put down the pumpkin beer. Stop pinning football recipes. Step away from the displays of Halloween decorations. And for the love of bacon, don’t even think about pulling on that wool cap.

People, it is August. It is AUGUST 20TH. It is still summer, and will still be summer for another month. Please, just let me revel in this for awhile. I saw this comic the other day and wept a little on the inside because I think I can count the number of times I’ve been to the beach on one hand and the days are getting shorter and I want it to be summer forever. And you people, all of you, are pushing fall WAY TOO EARLY. Fall, it’s not your turn yet. We still have 33 days of summer. Just let it be. We’re all going to be miserable, pasty crankypants counting down the days till spring soon enough. Can’t we just enjoy the sunshine? The warmth? The abundance of zucchini?

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