Five Items Currently Making Me Happy

Zergüt Veggie Spread

Back in 2003/2004, my friend Claire and I both worked for the same company. It was one of those massive installations that had a bunch of perks for employees, including various classes. We took a nutrition/”healthy cooking with no time or some bullshit” class together once. I only remember two things about the class: the instructor saying, “Pressure is not having a pressure cooker,” and tasting this spread (affiliate link). It immediately captivated my taste buds and my mind. And then I couldn’t find it again.

Fast forward more than a decade, and I’ve wandered into some Eastern European grocery store because it looks interesting and Total Wine can wait. And, damned if there wasn’t a shelf of innocuous jars of magic right there. I grabbed one so fast they were feeling the temporal effects the next day.

And, I gotta be honest? It’s just as good as I remember. Better, maybe.

So far I have used it in potato salad, soups, as a spread for grilled cheese, as a spread for crackers with nothing else, as a spread for crackers with chevré, and in various tomato-based sauces.

It says it only has a three day shelf life, but I’m not experiencing that. And I will never live without it for long ever again.

Fridge Tea

In the summer, I really like iced tea. And I grew up on “sun tea,” which is super tasty. But, turns out? Sun tea is not really the greatest idea. What’s a tea lover to do?

Fridge tea! Courtesy of this lovely recipe from Serious Eats, I have a half gallon of whatever tea I feel like drinking in the fridge basically all the time. (In this case, it’s Tea Hunter Company’s “Fountain of Youth” green tea, which I am super digging on. Also, maybe I should tell you guys how I discovered them someday.)

My Herb Garden

I have to be honest, I am not used to being able to keep plants alive. Not even in the wondrous growing environment that is the Pacific Northwest (PNW). But, somehow? This year I have only killed one of my plants, and it wasn’t even edible to begin with.

The edible things I’m growing are:

  • Two kinds of lemon thyme
  • Chocolate mint
  • Lemon Verbena (my personal herbal “holy grail”)
  • Sweet Basil
  • Irene rosemary
  • Nasturtiums
  • Johnny Jump Ups

I am amazed and delighted at my success. Also? My success is delicious.

Irene the Succulent

On the heels of my explaining how I am not great at growing things comes the story of Irene.

Two or so years ago, a wonderful friend of ours gave us a gift of a small succulent, variety unknown. Currently known as “Ivan,” it is the plant I have kept alive the longest. It’s also the plant I have dropped about four times in the last two months…

I’m astounded Ivan survives.

But what’s cool is that Ivan not only survives, it shed several leaves. And one day I noticed that one of them had sprouted roots. I decided to try my hand at growing it. And, with a LOT of advice from my friend Daniel, Irene is about the cutest plant I have ever seen in my whole life. Just centimeters tall, and it makes the whole kitchen so much more fun.

A Kitchen Notebook

Ok, lemme be honest. This is not precisely a thing that is making my kitchen better YET. But it makes me happy to think about actually jotting down notes or proto-recipes while I work. It makes me feel truly committed to improving my cooking and maintaining this blog-thing I am currently writing on.

So, I love it. But, I must admit, I’d be happier if I’d remembered I started it as I made the killer potato salad I made a couple weeks ago. Making some notes there might have been useful. (But I do know I threw in a small amount of the aforementioned spread.)