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Sausage and bean soup

There hits a point sometime in mid-winter (read: right about now) when the only foods I want to eat can be boiled down to a category best described as carbs, soups, pasta, and more carbs. This is especially true this year – when we are somehow approaching the beginning of March when it seems we never properly finished the last one. 

All that to say, when I got up this morning and saw the snow piling up on my patio (again!), I just couldn’t bring myself to keep writing about knife parts and handle materials – I wanted something a little more tangible. 

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Valentine’s Day grapefruit sugar cookies

There has been snow on my patio for nearly two weeks at this point – and not small amounts either. I have discovered that snow comes in different textures and road salt in different colors. I’ve watched the owners of the car across the street unsuccessfully attempt to unearth it from nearly five feet of plowed and piled snow. 

The southerner in me is equal parts delighted and baffled by all of this. (For context, it was nearly 70°F in my hometown last week.)

I don’t know why all the snow is making me think of citrus – maybe it’s that I keep thinking of all those hot, punchy colors against the white snow. Either way, when a friend asked for a box of Valentine’s cookies, grapefruit was the first thing that came to mind. 

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An exhaustive guide to toasting nuts in the microwave

At this point in the pandemic, it’s fair to say that the YouTube algorithm knows me pretty well. So when it suggested Food and Wine’s Mad Genius video on toasting nuts in the microwave, I obviously clicked on it. 

Weird method, easily testable subject, potential for drastic time savings? Yes please. 

I figured this would be a fun, fast little experiment that I could knock out in one or two days and then move on to some bigger projects. 

And then I got interested. And did some research. And realized that I wanted more robust answers. And that’s when my fast little test spiralled into something a little more complicated. 

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13 reasons I’m avoiding work right now

  1. I promised myself when I started writing this blog that I wouldn’t apologize or excuse absences.
  1. So this is not an apology or an excuse. Just an explanation. 
  1. Also, I’ve missed you guys, and I wanted to get something up just to chat and see how y’all are doing. 
  1. Those of you who are subscribed to the newsletter know that January has gotten off to a slow start for me. Beyond my completely justifiable trepidation about jumping full throttle into 2021 given what happened last year, I wanted to take some time to focus on creating a healthier work system for myself, to set up a schedule, and to research digital marketing and content promotion so I can work on taking steps to grow our little community in the new year. 
  1. I have learned a lot about food photography while procrastinating actually researching digital marketing. 
  1. I have also started researching a whole hybrid video series on knives and knife skills that I’m really excited about. 
  1. This means I have also learned a lot about videography while procrastinating actually researching digital marketing. 
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Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Marshmallows

Look, I know this isn’t technically a cookie, and I know that technically the workweek is over, but I just freaking love marshmallows*, ok.

Before you panic about the idea of making marshmallows, let me reassure you that if you can boil water and make whipped cream, you can make marshmallows. The whole process has like three steps, and one of them is scraping all that beautiful sticky fluff into a pan. I promise you, the extra effort is worth it.

Homemade marshmallows are pillowy and lush, with a fun springy snap that storebought can’t match. Plus, they actually have flavor! And some texture from the peppermint pieces! Imagine that!

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Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

I am not a big chocolate cake person – but I love to make chocolate cake. Seems odd on the surface, but it boils down to one simple truth: I don’t like doing dishes. And most chocolate cakes are one- or two-bowl recipes that are essentially dump and stir – no stand mixer required.

So it stands to reason that I love this cookie – three bowls (you could probably manage it in two), no appliances, and a truly spectacular result. And, unlike chocolate cake, I actually want to eat these.

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Raspberry Pistachio Thumbprints

My apologies if this post seems a little rushed – I need to pack up a few boxes, go vote, and hit the post office before it closes at five. It is currently 3:30. Could I have prevented this little conundrum with better planning? Absolutely. But this is not Eighth Street Everything Goes According To Plan, so…

But you’re here for the cookies.

In a glorious, grown-up ode to peanut butter and jelly, these thumbprints hit just the right balance between rich, nutty pistachios and sweet, slightly sharp raspberries. There’s a hint of ground cardamom and honey to bump up the complexity, and just enough rubbly pistachio chunks to keep things interesting.

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Gingerbread

My family makes gingerbread every Christmas – in one form or another. When I was little, we would throw a birthday party for baby Jesus, and Mom baked a gingerbread house for every family. These days we keep it simpler – just a batch or two of gingerbread men for the church Christmas shindig. The year I made 8 gingerbread houses and eighty-something ninja-bread men for a youth party is an outlier, and should not be counted.

All that to say, our go-to gingerbread recipe is a workhorse. But as I’ve gotten older and my love for ginger has grown, the old recipe has started to taste flat – lots of molasses and cinnamon, and not enough sparkly ginger kick.

So, I tried a new one.

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Pecan pie cookies

I’m not through with cookies this week, but I can already say, with confidence, that if you bake nothing else this week, you must bake these. I’ve earmarked all the cookies from this grand experiment as holiday gifts, and I’ve already had to hide the containers of pecan pie cookies to keep my family out of them.

Heck, my mom said if Dad hadn’t gotten to her first, she would marry these cookies.

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Lemon spritz cookies

Well, this was certainly starting off cookie week more with a whimper than a bang. I’m not going to say these were bad cookies – after all, even bad cookies are pretty good – but I have to admit that the standout elements, for me at least, had a lot more to do with making than eating. Generally, that’s not a selling point.

I’ll admit that these cookies made the list because a dear friend’s grandmother gifted me her vintage cookie press, and I’ve been looking for an opportunity to use it ever since. Now that I’ve tried it, I would guess more modern cookie presses have certain advantages – even pressure, controlled dosing, and less metal-on-metal screeching – but I have no plans to trade in.

For me, this press is a connection to a history of hosting and hospitality, and the honor of having been included in it outweighs any of the small inconveniences. I love that every time I pull it out, I think of Grandma May and all the good memories I have made (and will, in better years, continue to make) with her. Which is good, because given my tray full of slightly lopsided spritz cookies, I’m going to need a lot more practice.

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Hi! I’m Jessi

A culinary degree and two years of professional experience has not stopped Jessi from making stupid mistakes – she just makes them more efficiently. She habitually reads cookbooks before bed, loses track of time on Wikipedia, and yells at cooking shows like dads watching football. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband Jackson, five plants, and more cookbooks than a 600 square foot studio should hold.

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