In 2015 I got to experience a longtime dream of mine, finally finding and moving to an apartment together with my boyfriend Cory and our close Random Hall friend Devin.
It doesn’t have frills, like a dishwasher or a garbage disposal or a shower that gets hot right away, but it’s on the fourth floor. We have a beautiful view, and three large windows to watch it from. Here are some sunsets from our living room.
And here are some autumn pieces of our cozy quiet neighborhood—closer to Harvard than to MIT, more or less equidistant from Central, Harvard, and Inman Squares, near the Cambridge Public Library.
Winter and sunset both symbolize the end of things, but autumn has always been my favorite season. One of my biggest lessons of 2015 (and 2014 and 2013 and 2012) is that I can’t always control the things that matter to me. This year I found warm places to retreat to, literally and figuratively—people, places, experiences, and stories that make me feel comfortable and safe. It’s nice to go out into the world and get lost someplace new, and it’s just as nice to find our way home to our clacking radiators and the rain against the window, curl up in blankets with something good to eat, and escape to Middle Earth or Discworld or National City.
Tonight is Old New Year’s Eve (the Julian calendar is 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar), which means it is customary to make wishes and toasts. I toast the adventures you’ve had; on the other hand my wish for you is that through storms and change of seasons you hole up indoors, let the rain fall, and get cozy.
Most of the rest of this blog post is by Cory R. ‘14, the source and home of a lot of my coziness, especially the food, with intrusive photos by me. Here are some of the delicious hobbit foods (or our approximation of delicious hobbit foods) that he cooks (I chop the veggies).
Our Hobbit Food
- broccoli or cauliflower
- potato or sweet potato or yams
- garlic cloves
Quantities: I don't know, Lydia decides that.
- Chop things. I don't know what reference to give for how small to cut them.
- Place the potato (or equivalent) and garlic cloves in a metal pan. Toss in olive oil with black pepper and salt. Roast 20 minutes.
- Add carrots, tossing so they are mixed in evenly. Roast everything 10 more minutes.
- Add broccoli or cauliflower, tossing so they are mixed in evenly. Roast everything 10 more minutes.
Barley and Onions
- Cook barley in a pot on the stove. Make according to store directions. As best as I can remember, it was three cups water to one cup barley for the hulled version, 5.5 cups water to one cup for the other, cooking til water is absorbed. No guarantees. It cooks rather slowly, and may need extra water added if too much boils off.
- Chop onions finely. Pan-fry in olive oil until soft.
- Optional: shred cheddar atop each individual serving.
- Cut thin slices of eggplant.
- Dip in egg.
- Dip in bread crumbs. Preferably Italian style. Panko didn't really work the time i tried them.
- Pan-fry with ample olive oil.
- Serve and eat immediately.
Optional addition: drop whole garlic cloves in the pan alongside the eggplant slices. Cook til browned.
Note: I'd imagine they'd work deep-fried (possibly better than pan-fried) but I don't own a deep fryer to check.
This one is a bastardized amalgamation of random internet recipes. This will show how improvised my cooking is.
- Chop 12 slices bacon finely.
- Place the bacon in the bottom of a large pot to begin cooking. Original recipes typically call for a hickory-smoked variety of bacon, so I've been adding a dry seasoning mix at this stage to make up for the missing flavor. I use a smokehouse maple blend. You could ignore this, or copy me, or improvise with seasonings from your own pantry.
- Chop an onion finely.
- When the bacon is mostly cooked, add the onion. Let simmer for a couple minutes.
- Strip leaves of collards from stems.
- Drop greens in pan atop frying items.
- Add enough broth or water to cover the greens. Broth would taste better but it's serviceable without.
- Add salt and pepper, one teaspoon each (or to taste).
- Boil for an hour or until the leaves are of desired tenderness, stirring occasionally.
- Scoop out collards and serve.
One original recipe I mangled to come up with mine. It would probably be way better than mine if you care enough to do it properly.
I believe Lydia specifically means the time we bought a beef tenderloin and sliced steaks from it. Cooking steak properly is a complicated thing that people more experienced than me write lengthy articles about. This is less a recipe and more some notes on how I wing it:
- Slice to preference. Cut it thick if you want something with a bloody core. Cut it thin if you want sandwich meat, if you want something to mix into other foods, or if you just like it that way.
- Throw seasonings on it. Salt and pepper are the basics. Garlic always works, though you can also throw whole cloves in the pan if you like those. Onion can be added in the form of onion powder or of diced onion. We frequently season our steak with commercial spice mixes because we have no space for a real spice rack and don't keep fresh spices around.
- Put it on the stove til the outside isn't red any longer. If your friends think they want it well done, trick them into eating steadily rawer beef each time until their opinions improve.
I think I learned from this. There is no firm recipe. You save washed vegetable scraps after chopping, as well as meat bones or trimmed fat. Then you dump it all in a pot and boil it for a while, then you transfer it to a different container while straining out the matter.
I used this recipe.
This recipe was improvised. I did not record quantities. (Sorry.)
- Chop mushrooms and onions. I estimate that I used a full standard-size grocery store container of mushrooms and a single onion.
- Dump in a large empty pot and simmer in a bit of olive oil until cooked.
- Fill pot with broth. Cook for...call it 20 minutes? As mentioned, this was very improvised and not well-recorded.
“Adora Belle was, as even she knew, a creatively bad cook…”
—Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett, page 20
Lydia again: breakfast is one of my favorite meals, enough that sometimes I have it more than once, and sometimes again in the evening. I like oatmeal. You can add walnuts and bananas and cinnamon. If you add a lot of milk it becomes soup.