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Home » The Vine

The Vine: January 1, 2013

Submitted by on January 1, 2013 – 1:43 PM94 Comments


Dear Nation,

Happy New Year! And welcome to your resolutions open thread: share/gut-check your resolutions; get/give support for everything from new workouts to budgeting to cookie recipes; second-guess your break-ups with Diet Coke and post-10-PM chocolate.

I'll go first:
1. Order in less, cook more. Impatient + lazy = 80% of my Amex bill last month was Seamless. No good.
2. Read 50 pages every day. 
3. Make my new true-crime blog, The Blotter, awesome. (We're working on the tags thing.)

After 13-odd hours, I'm feeling pretty good about things, having 1) lunched on a tortellini casserole I made myself while 2) and 3) reading a book about the trial and execution of Lincoln's assassins. But everyone's a Viking before we all have to go back to work…and I'm going to need some help sticking to 1), because history tells us that the very first time the cupboard gets down to farfalle and that goddamn can of peaches that has now lived in four different apartments, I'm going to flee to the greasy bosom of takeout lo mein.

Also: anyone got a maple cookie recipe? (Don't make me sift; thanks.)

How you doin'?

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  • Keckler says:

    Let me know if you want any easy recipes — other than baking, I'm not so good at that — because I do like to keep my recipes with minimal ingredients and think you'd find them friendly.

  • Keckler says:

    Oops, forgot to add my resolutions:

    1. Have a baby and not freak out too much about raising two kids
    2. Pitch more pieces I truly love
    3. THINK about what my next book might be
    4. Major top-secret clear out of the house (Dr. Mathra is a packrat of stuff he doesn't even know he has.)

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    Crockpotty stuff is always welcome. I have a pot of Glark's famous chili on the stovetop right now, which I've always loved because it's like, 1) open a bunch of cans, 2) dump, 3) wait, 4) put sour cream on top.

    Longtime readers will be relieved to hear that the up-fucking of rice has finally ceased.

  • Lucy says:

    Sars, the last two Christmases I've baked Smitten Kitchen's Nutmeg Maple Butter Cookies for friends and received rave reviews. It's a really easy recipe and rolls well but I don't see why you couldn't roll the dough into a cylinder before chilling and just slice from there if you can't be bothered with a rolling pin and cookie cutters.

    One thing to bear in mind, they're definitely better using Grade B maple syrup.

    I've found the maple flavour comes through more a couple of days after baking.

  • Kath says:

    I think these are the maple cookies I've made in the past. Turbinado sugar works just fine instead of sparkly sugar. Maple extract instead of real syrup, but they're good anyway.

    Also, I love Jamie Oliver's basic stew recipe. I made the beef & beer version the other day. I'm right there with you in wanting to cook more and order in less, because I've been REALLY REALLY BAD about that in recent months. I find making a batch of something (chili, stew, etc) and freezing some of it helps a lot.

  • cayenne says:

    @Sarah D. Bunting: I have lots of maple recipes. What kind of cookies are you thinking of? I assume one without peaches.

    Happy New Year!

  • Jill TX says:

    1. Buy American (or used) whenever possible.

    2. Finish this dissertation and GRADUATE!

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    @cayenne, just a standard Tollhouse-esque cookie, but with no chips, and maple-y.

  • cayenne says:

    @Sarah D. Bunting: I have recipes for maple cream sandwiches, maple chocolate chip, maple oatmeal raisin (removing the evil, of course), and maple nanaimo bars, if you'd like any of them.

    But for a chewy drop cookie, I suggest this:

    Which I must make immediately. Going now…

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    I'd love the maple oatmeal [redacted] — can you send it to my email? Yay!

  • Abby says: is my favorite for recipes — it's all pictures from various food blogs and recipe websites, and then you click the picture and it takes you to the recipe; it's also searchable by ingredient so you can look up what you already have in your cabinets until you see something that looks delicious!

  • Barb says:

    Ooh, which Lincoln book? I'm a Lincoln assassination geek–going so far as to actually volunteer at Ford's Theatre. And hate-reading O'Reilly's Killing Lincoln. (Awful, awful book.)

  • cayenne says:

    @Sarah D. Bunting: sent. Please let me know if you don't receive it; otherwise, happy baking!

  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    I have tons of recipes! How's the rest of the week looking for you? Grab a pencil.

    Just kidding, but here's one I just started making but already adore: Life Changing Green Soup, from Reader's Digest (yes!) It's quite easy and truly life changing in the best sense [note: you will need a blender for this.]


    3 cups water
    2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    2 yellow onions, chopped
    1 tsp salt, divided
    1/4 cup rice (Recipe says arborio, but you can use any kind that's not brown)
    1 lb assorted dark greens–kale, chard, mustard, etc.
    14 cups (12 ounces) of fresh spinach leaves (I buy the prepackaged kind from the produce section–they're labeled as to how many ounces they are)
    4 cups veggie broth (I use the boxed kind)
    Cayenne pepper to taste
    1 Tbsp lemon juice

    Heat oil in large skillet on high. Add onions and 1/4 of the salt. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or unti onions begin to brown. Turn heat to LOW, add 2 Tbsp of water, and cover. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions caramelize (20-25 minutes.)

    Meanwhile, combine 3 cups water, remaining salt, and rice in large pot or dutch oven. Bring to boil. Reduce to simmer, cover, and cook 15 minutes.

    While onions and rice are cooking, chop or tear apart greens and spinach, removing any tough ribs or brown spots. Keep greens and spinach seperate.

    When rice is cooked, stir in greens (not spinach). Return to simmer and cook 10 minutes.

    After 10 minutes, take a little of the greens-and-rice liquid and add to caramelized onions and stir to loosen. Immediately add onions to the rice and greens. Then add veggie broth, cayenne, and spinach. Return to simmer, cook 5 minutes.

    You now have a big pot of wet and depressing leaves, but fear not, blender to the rescue! If you have an immersion blender, immerse away and blend until velvety smooth. If you have a regular blender, blend soup in batches (have a big bowl on hand to pour finished batches into). When all is blended smooth, add and stir in lemon juice.

    This soup is GREEN. Bright, paintlike green, and you can practically see the chlorophyll and vitamins wafting upwards from it. Serve with a big hunk of bread (I love hawaiian sweet bread with this) and revel in getting your veggies in such a delicious way.

    Enjoy and Happy New Year!

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    @Barb: "Lincoln's Assassins: Their Trial and Execution" (co-authored by James "Manhunt" Swanson). It's a bit repetitive in spots, but the contemporary materials are really cool. I finished that one about an hour ago and now I'm buried in "The Man in the Rockefeller Suit."

    @cayenne: Got it! I think I have all the ingredients except the dark syrup, which is what at-loose-ends boyfriends are for. Hee.

    @Jen S 1.0: Thanks!

  • KatieCat says:

    This year's resolutions for me are to meet my weight goal, start trying for a baby, and to be in a mental/emotional place where I don't have to change or eliminate multiple meds when I do get pregnant. Oh, and pay off my credit card so the Husband and I start the little one's life without that hanging over us.

    Wow, those sound big when written out, but identifying them is half the battle, right? Surely admitting them to the Nation helps too. :)

  • adam807 says:

    This is my favorite book for quick and easy recipes. I've made almost everything in it!

    My resolutions are boring, but let's just say I'm doing a 3-day juice cleans next weekend, and my 20th high school reunion is in June, so…

  • NatalieJane says:

    I keep a stash of frozen cheese ravioli in my freezer for those nights I'm tired or late getting home and am tempted to order takeout. Dinner can be ready in 10 minutes–five minutes to cook the ravioli,five minutes to drain and toss with a good jarred spaghetti sauce or with olive oil and garlic. (I chop garlic and sautee it in the olive oil if I have the time/energy, or use garlic powder if I don't.) I also keep a stash of frozen cheese tortellini–toss them into boiling broth to cook, wait ten minutes, and you're good to go.

    It's looking pretty certain that my work hours will be cut significantly in the New Year (probably in June or July), so my resolutions are mostly based around preparing for that. I'm going to work on further cutting expenses, building my saving account, and developing new skills that could help me land an additional part-time job. (Maybe the American Frozen Pasta Association PR department is hiring?)

  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    I have terrific bolongese sauce recipe that freezes well for those nights when the naked pasta staring at you, if you'd like it!

    Oh, my resolutions:

    Not to go to McDonalds. I hardly ever do anyway, but I figured that'd be an easy thing to cut out and encourge me to keep others.

    Move to a new apartment. We keep meaning to but moving is such a colossal pain we keep putting it off. But this year is the year! I mean it this time!

    Read all the books in my pile before buying any new ones. At least until April when the new Kate Atkinson comes out.

    Take healthier lunches to work on the weekend to avoid aforesaid McD's temptation.

  • cjw says:

    Stop sleeping with inappropriate men. No, really, that's it.

  • Sandman says:

    I can vouch for the excellence of the nutmeg maple butter cookies Lucy links to. Like most butter cookie recipes, the end result is more tender the less the dough is worked, so rolling the dough into a log and slicing discs should work perfectly. And, yes: it's worth hunting up the darkest grade of maple syrup you can find. And freshly grated nutmeg.

  • Lore says:

    I loved "Man in the Rockefeller Suit."

    New Year's Resolutions:

    1) find some form of exercise I enjoy enough to stick with it (and ideally slightly more calorie-burning than long walks, which I enjoy but which need to be pretty time-consuming to be helpful)
    2) try to develop a few dietary staples/quick dinners that don't revolve around cheese
    3) be more organized about planning fun things

  • Lore says:

    ps: no maple, but I have a seriously kick-ass ginger cookie recipe. No sifting, no raisins, spicy and delicious.

  • Matt says:

    I just wanted to go to the gym more. It probably helps that I've finally joined a gym.

  • Elissa says:

    I'm going to try to get more focused in 2013. No more aimless phone surfing. Cutting back on Twitter and Facebook time. More reading, knitting, and writing. (And cooking and swimming.) Seriously I spend a lot of mindless time on FB.

    As to crockpottery, please let me lend my mom's pulled pork recipe to the conversation, it is super easy. (My mom, in true Italian lady fashion, does not use measurements, so you're going to have to just judge in some cases.)

    Pork loin (I usually get one of those … log looking things, that weighs about 2 lbs.? But you can use whatever boneless pork you'd like)
    1 beer (any kind)
    1 can of tomato sauce (the little del monte ones)
    brown sugar (I'd say … about a cup?)
    salt and pepper to taste

    Throw everything in the crock pot and cook. When it's done, pull the pork apart. At this point I generally leave it to soak up the juices for about a half hour. Then I drain the juice, and, for extra deliciousness, add barbecue sauce.

    I usually serve the pork on little slider buns with cole slaw on top. Yummy.

    Happy new year everyone, and best of luck with your resolutions.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    @Lore: Hit me.

    (Just a side note: please keep sharing crockpot recipes for meaty things, amongst each other — but I don't eat things what walked on land, so the ones that can take shrimp/portobello/Quorn substitutions are best for me. Not to discourage anyone!)

  • JB says:

    What, no one has a delicious recipe for Peach-Farfalle Casserole?

    Seriously, my resolutions are to:

    a) take out the recyclables as soon as the bin is filled

    b) have the courage to look for a new job if the promotion I am seeking falls through

    c) order less fast food (and to not rationalize to myself that Chipotle TOTALLY doesn't count.)

    There are exactly two resolutions that I have ever kept in my first three decades: nightly flossing and to stop buying desserts or chips in non-single-serving packages.

  • Dsayko says:

    1. Continue working towards my weight loss goal. I hit my end-of-year goal (go me!) and my next goal is to lose ten pounds by mid-March (my birthday).

    2. Be present during the time I get with my kids. I work so much that I don't get much time with them and I need to put my phone away during playtime.

    3. Keep the house tidy. We have a cleaning lady to actually clean, but I need to get better about keeping the house tidy.

    Quick vegetarian recipe (no measurements, all according to taste):
    Cook lentils according to package directions (I usually use about a cup). In a pan, sautee minced garlic in a bit of olive oil for two minutes. Add diced carrots and cook until the carrots start getting soft. Add one can diced tomatoes (including the juice). Add cinnamon, coriander, and cumin to taste. Add cooked lentils and simmer for a few more minutes (add some water if the liquid is cooking out). Enjoy over the grain/carb of your choice or by itself.

  • Profreader says:

    I'm a fan of things that can all bake in the oven together with minimal prep. Wintertime, I do a lot of roasting of veggies like butternut squash, beets, and brussels sprouts. (I am thinking that brussels & beets were on your yaaaargh list, but maybe not…)

    Brussels sprouts: put em in a pan (I use a cake pan), splash of olive oil, swirl 'em around to get 'em oily, toss on some salt, bake.
    Butternut squash: either cut one in half & scrape out seeds, or get precut. Put on cookie sheet, splash on some olive oil, bake.
    Beets: cut off stems/roots, wrap in foil, drop those wrapped beets in a pan, bake. When baked, slice & sprinkle with feta.
    My default is a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes for all these.

    For meat eaters, you can drop in chicken breasts – same thing, splash of olive oil, some kosher salt & some pepper, and 400 degrees for about 45 minutes will do it. I've put chicken breasts and brussel sprouts in the same pan, with beets in the same oven in their own pan … about 5-10 minutes of prep, in the oven it goes, I do other things – then grab them out. Toss some salad greens on a plate, splash those with oil & vinegar, arrange the baked things on top – yummy winter dinner.

    I like my veggies roasted until crispy-crunchy. If your oven runs hot, 375 might work a bit better. It's flexible.

  • Jen says:

    I have some resolutions, some of which I've already started working on…
    – Eat more fiber (Fiber One for work snacks)
    – Eat at home more (crockpot and panini recipes)
    – Do yoga (got all of the supplies, carved out a time)
    – Read more (fixed the ottoman, set aside Friday nights)
    – Fix chipped tooth (made dentist appointment)
    – Find dermatologist
    – Edit video for last trip
    – Finish "#26Acts" project

    …but I have a couple of major ones for which I could use some direction:
    – Stop the constant paranoia that I'm terrible at my job [I've worked on curbing procrastination so that I won't actually be so terrible at my job but I noticed that I'm still seeking constant assurance that I'm not so bad. It's not fair to the friends from whom I seek it, and it's not going to help me.]
    – Don't be afraid of intimacy [literally not a single clue how to do this]

    Suggestions invited! Please!

  • Dana says:

    Do you like squash, salmon, or Brussel sprouts? I have three killer go to easy recipes I can share.

    – the requisite weight loss one (I MEAN IT THIS YEAR. At least once my aunt's homemade biscotti are gone.)
    – read more, Internet less.
    – clean out and reorganize the one seriously messy room in our house.
    – spend more time regularly working with my daughter on reading and schoolwork. (Lest ye think I am seriously remiss in not doing this already… She is in kindergarten and so far ahead of her grade level that I don't need to do much with her after school, but I worry this is setting up poor habits for later.)
    – not kill the toddler going through a really bad case of the terrible twos.

  • AngieFM says:

    Sars, have you checked out Fresh20? They send you a meal plan, with grocery list and nutrition info, every week. I don't love all the recipes, but I like at least four per week, and it encourages me to cook new things. They have a veggie option. (I got a Groupon for it, and it might be worth looking around for one.)

    My big resolution is to finish the book I started writing in 2010. Thirty minutes a day is what I'm starting with, and I'm hoping that will get the last fifty pages or so written, and the major plot holes filled. Wish me luck, Nation!

  • Jamie says:

    Add me to the 'lose weight from the last baby, get pregnant, and fix our finances now that I have a full time job' groups.

  • Amanda Mysteriosa says:

    Those of you who have some sort of tidiness in your resolutions may enjoy Unfuck Your Habitat. Like most organization-related blogs, the style is not necessarily for everyone, but a lot of people who found that, say, Flylady wasn't really working for them have responded pretty well to UfYH.

    My resolutions:
    – Get the fuck out of Ohio already, gawd
    – work on time management (I use the Pomodoro Technique and it works pretty well – the main trick is keeping my breaks ONLY to 2-10 minutes)
    – Write AND read more

  • Amanda Mysteriosa says:

    Oh, and drink more water.

  • Hellcat13 says:

    I don't generally make resolutions, but two years ago I resolved to floss regularly. Did it for all of 2011, got praised by my dentist, and then got drastically sick in 2012 and fell out of the habit in recovery. Now that I'm almost back to my normal self, I thought I'd go back to trying to floss daily. Because WOW dentist trips are way more awesome when you don't get the floss-shaming speech.

  • RJ says:

    I hadn't really thought about this as a resolution, but we're buying a house this year. No more renting. And I'm terrified and have no idea how to begin. Yippee! :)

  • PBnoJ says:

    Minimum five minutes of exercise a day.

    Drink minimum three large glasses if water a day.

    Track spending.

    Where I can use help … figuring out my Goals. If I knew what I wanted I could take steps to achieve it. Bit I don't know what I want!!

  • Anlyn says:

    I need to cook more too; eating out has been costing me in more ways than financial.

    I think my main resolution though is to cut back on the sweets for a whole year. I've abstained for the last three years during Lent, and last year I managed to go 8 months without craving sweets, until I finally caved. I'd like to make it a whole year this time.

  • Amanda Mysteriosa says:


    I've been using Toshl for a few weeks (I use it on an iTouch but they have a web version too) and like it. My only complaint is that when you sign in on the web version, it gives you personalized greetings like, "Hey, Amanda Mysteriosa, how's that travel you've been spending money on?" ("Travel" being one of the tags I had used recently.) Mildly creepy.

    Anyway, there's a free, bare-bones version and a pay version that is less than $20 a year.

  • Erinwithans says:

    1) Get back into dating. (In Portland, OR, Nation. Just sayin')

    2) Finish house design, and hopefully construction. Yay!

    3) Get back on the exercise horse.

    On the cooking front I'm a big fan of making a pot of something on Sunday, and then eating it all week, or freezing some for later. Chili is great for that, and I make a mean carrot soup:

    2 Tbs olive oil
    1 ½ cups chopped onions
    2 garlic cloves, pressed
    1 tsp grated fresh ginger
    1 tsp cumin
    1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (I generally double that to 1/2 tsp, but ymmv)
    1 tsp salt
    2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into ¼ inch rounds
    2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
    5 cups chicken broth (or veggie stock, as you prefer)
    1/2 cup orange juice
    3 Tbs peanut butter
    Toasted pumpkin seeds and chopped cilantro, optional

    Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, ginger, cumin and cayenne pepper and saute until onions are soft, 7 to 10 minutes. Stir in salt, then add carrots, potatoes and chicken/veggie stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes.

    Working in batches, carefully puree soup in a food processor until smooth (or buy an immersion blender. They are miracle machines). Add orange juice and peanut butter, then continue to puree until well combined. Transfer soup back into stockpot. To serve, ladle into bowls and garnish with roasted pumpkin seeds and/or cilantro.

  • GeorgiaS says:

    Super easy dinner: "Bake" a potato in the microwave, top with steamed or microwaved broccoli (fresh or frozen), beans of your choice (I like kidney here), and cheese.

  • Christy M says:

    I stepped on the scale yesterday morning and promptly joined WeightWatchers. Another goal – get pregnant with child number two, or get some perspective if it's not going to happen (been trying for a year with no results – made a doctor appointment to discuss). We also just moved to a new house, so I'm also resolving to be more crafty in a thinly veiled attempt to save money decorating. I got a sewing machine for Christmas and I've already made a couple practice curtains!

  • Lore says:

    Cookie recipe below. Seriously delish. Also, on the relatively-easy-vegetarian score: two variations on roasted potatoes. Thin-sliced mix of sweet and regular, roasted with olive oil and pimenton/paprika, or chunky mix, throw in some red onion, roast with olive oil and sherry/balsamic vinegar. Not as good leftover, but still pretty tasty.

    yields: 3-1/2 to 4 dozen cookies
    1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter
    1/4 cup molasses
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    2 c unbleached flour
    1 c brown sugar, packed
    2 tsp baking soda
    1 tbs ground ginger
    2 tsp cinnamon
    1/2 tsp nutmeg (East Indian preferred)
    1/4 tsp cloves
    1/4 tsp cardamom
    1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
    1/4 tsp salt
    1 beaten egg
    1/2 c candied ginger, snipped into small pieces
    turbinado (raw) sugar for rolling
    (I often increase the nutmeg and cardamom–and the last time, I also added some grated fresh ginger. The end of the dough can get a little crumbly so the extra liquid may have helped, but not sure it made a difference in the flavor.)
    Melt butter; stir in molasses and vanilla and let cool. In separate bowl, mix flour, sugar, all spices, and salt.
    Add beaten egg to the cooled butter mixture. Fold into bowl w/flour and spices, and add the candied ginger.
    Preheat oven to 375.
    Cover and refrigerate at least 15 minutes to make the dough firm.
    Put raw sugar in a shallow dish, Using a cookie scoop (or a measuring tablespoon), make balls of the dough, rolling each in the raw sugar. Place on an ungreased baking sheet, 2 inches apart.
    Bake for ten minutes until cookies are starting to brown on the bottom and tops start to crack. (They will still be really, really soft at this point; you want to take them out when the bottoms are golden brown, even if they feel really mushy or even look a bit raw by the standards of another kind of cookie.) Let cool on a rack for 5-10 minutes–they will firm up, and they're much chewier if you take them out sooner rather than later.
    You can leave them in a tiny bit longer if you like a crunchier cookie, but err on the side of under- rather than overbaking–otherwise they can get dry and a little bitter.

  • Sarah says:

    I'm still sorting out my resolutions, but so far they are…

    1) Lose weight (I spent the last 4 years with a health condition that caused me to gain 70 lbs, I'd like to lose most of that this year, I did lose 10 in the last quarter of 2012).

    2) Figure out what the hell I'm doing with my career.

    That's as far as I've gotten. Cooking more, eating out less is a good one. Maybe should add that to the list.

  • pomme de terre says:

    1. Do 100 strength workouts and 100 cardio workouts. (Roughly two per week of each.)

    2. Do 5 hours of sketch writing per week.

    3. Read all of the books I have in my house before buying any more.

  • Ashley says:

    My two favorite vegetarian crockpot things: cheap, easy, big batches, freeze well: 101 Cookbooks' Lentil Soup and The Wednesday Chef's Chana Punjabi. The lentil soup I usually need to amp up the spices on, and I like it best topped with crumbled goat or feta cheese, not the saffron yogurt she suggests. The Chana Punjabi is perfect as is, and you can skip the blending step with perfectly fine results.

  • ebstarr says:


    How does one make a tortellini casserole — might you be willing to share, Sars? It sounds yummy. And maybe easy?

  • Ashley says:

    Oh, I thought of another soup recipe that I like a lot (with mods). I don't think it would be great in the crockpot but it's easy enough to do a big stovetop pot on the weekend and then eat it all week. It's Chunky Celery Soup from 101 Cookbooks. My mods are to add flavor–juice and zest of one lemon, salt, pepper, celery seed. I keep the grains separate and add a cup or so as I reheat the soup, otherwise they get mushy and gross; I also toss in white beans for protein and a handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley. (You could probably add shellfish to this and have it be tasty.) Definitely top with the parm.

  • garli says:

    RJ, I have a similar goal for this year and both of my parents are real estate agents so I know how to get going. Post an email address if you need help from some one. Don't worry I won't try to sell you anything, I'm an engineer.

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