Forget hand bumps of caviar. Springing for pasture-raised organic eggs these days is the real flex; that is, if you can find them in the grocery store. Eggs are expensive right now, and inflation isn’t the only culprit. Apparently a bird flu outbreak has contributed to the high prices with millions of birds needing to be culled. 

Still, we can’t get enough eggs. Americans eat an average of 300 eggs per year per person. Whether you like them poached, fried, scrambled, deviled, or in a cake, eggs have a seemingly infinite number of uses. You can use egg whites to clarify stock, as a face mask, and for a myriad of other uses if you are feeling like channeling your inner hippy

As a savory breakfast kind of gal, eggs are an essential part of my morning plate (or afternoon, or midnight…eggs can happen at any time of day!). As a kid, my mom made me soft boiled eggs for breakfast. So simple and delicious – two soft-cooked eggs in a small bowl with salt and pepper. And hard boiled eggs for an afternoon snack – cut in half and sprinkled with salt and pepper, maybe some hot sauce. 

In college, I cracked an egg into my almost cooked instant ramen and crowned it with a slice of american cheese and a drizzle of sriracha. I considered myself a fully formed adult when I started using egg cups for soft boiled eggs. Boil some water and, when bubbling gently, carefully lower your room temp eggs into the water. Cook and swirl for one minute so that the yolk settles in the center, and then cook for an additional 3 minutes and thirty seconds. Use a slotted spoon to transfer your eggs to the egg cups, narrow end down. Cut the very top off the eggs with a sharp knife and sprinkle on salt and pepper. Use buttery toast cut into spears to transport the egg goo to your mouth. Then more salt and pepper, and use a spoon to scoop the white out. Chef’s kiss!

Egg yolk also makes for a creamy vinaigrette or a luxurious pasta sauce. Spaghetti carbonara anyone? Save the whites for meringue. Ha!  Who am I kidding? When was the last time I made a meringue? NEVER, actually. Sure, I save the whites in a plastic container with the date written neatly on top. They sit in the fridge until I discover them a month later and toss. Egg whites only keep for a week in the fridge (several months in the freezer though). Honestly, I don’t feel bad about it. The white is kind of bs. Even the crows leave that behind. 

Times may be tough for egg lovers, but my egg-thusiasm shall not be cracked! Please enjoy these snaps from a few recent egg-centric meals. And let’s take a moment to appreciate all those egg-layers that make our breakfasts brighter.

Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi on

The Limit & The Luxury of The Recipe

Have you ever made a recipe so often that it begins to evolve? Maybe you start combining two versions of a recipe, taking what you like best from each. Or you use an ingredient in a different way and it ends up being better. However it comes about, you find yourself finessing, rather than following (directions). Congratulations, you have leveled up your cooking skills!

In my experience, cooks (and I am speaking about home cooks here, because I don’t feel qualified to make generalizations about our professional counterparts) generally fall on a spectrum that ranges from those who follow recipes to those who do not. For some, recipes are commandments not to be ignored, lest the culinary gods bring down the holy hell of a broken sauce, an over-spiced soup, or a rubbery scallop, on your next dinner party. Others intuit their way through the process. To them, recipes are suggestions, inspiration. I envy these people because I have always been in the former camp. That said, I would love for my cooking to be easy, casual; a little bit of this, a little bit of that. Taste, adjust, and voila! Instead, I am reading a recipe, then reading it again, and mentally checking off each step as I go. I am pretty good at following recipes while leaving a little room for inspiration, so my dishes generally turn out well. However, I am not doing anything original or innovative and I am not really challenging myself. More recently though, I have noticed that I feel more comfortable veering off the rails, and I believe it is because of the simple fact that at this point in my life, there are certain dishes that I have made a lot.

Chicken Piccata is one of them. Sometimes I use Ina’s recipe and sometimes I use Giada’s recipe. I like the crunchiness of Ina’s cutlets and the silkiness of Giada’s sauce. I like lemons and capers, so why not use both? I like a lot of sauce, so why not use chicken stock, wine and lemon juice? Let’s live a little! 

Traditional Chicken Piccata

Small adjustments such as the above are great, but sometimes a whole “new” recipe is born. Wanting to preserve the spirit of chicken picatta, but use my preferred chicken parts (bone-in thighs) and give Andrew a break on dish duty, I created a sheet pan version I am calling Piccata’ed Baked Chicken Thighs.

Piccata’ed Baked Chicken Thighs

This is a simple, easy recipe that requires only a few ingredients and pretty straightforward steps. It is also a recipe that benefits from some prep ahead of time (the salting) though this is not strictly necessary.

Serves 4

  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 1 lemon
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 1 heaping tablespoon capers
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1 cup chicken stock

If able, salt the chicken a couple hours ahead of time with about half a teaspoon of salt per thigh and leave uncovered on a plate in the refrigerator.

Mash up the garlic and capers in a medium bowl with the juice of half the lemon. Season generously with salt and pepper. Taste. This should be almost too salty and tart.

Add the chicken and a few glugs of olive oil and toss. Let sit at room temp for 30 mins while you preheat the oven to 425 F.

Stuff some of the garlicky, capery marinade under the skin of each thigh along with a thin lemon slice from the other half of your lemon.

Arrange the chicken on a foil-lined half- or quarter-sheet pan then dump the remaining marinade all over.

Add the chicken stock to the pan and cook for 30-45 mins. The chicken is done when it reaches 165 F.

Serve with rice, pasta or mashed potatoes, spooning the sauce from the pan all over.

Non-traditional but still delicious. Cries out for some crusty bread for dipping!


I am happy that I am at a place in my cooking journey where I can start to improvise more and use the skills that I have learned by following recipes to branch out and make food that I can be especially proud of as my own. Occasionally I hope to share these recipes on the blog under the title “Hungry Ginger Original.” Keep an eye out!

Adventures in Meal Planning #001

I have never been great at meal planning. I tend to have big ambitions and am swayed by shiny new recipes. I am also easily bored of what is in my fridge. I find that sturdy green vegetable that has been hanging out in the back of my crisper for a week totally uninspiring. Yet I’m salivating over that chicken dish I saw on Instagram and, even though it calls for five ingredients I don’t currently have, I MUST make it. Sometimes, I end up working until 7p and then really do NOT want to cook. Takeout Thai it is.

Each week, I meal-plan using a program called Notion that allows you to have different databases that are connected to one another. So I have my recipe database and my meal planning database. Throughout the week, I find recipes and save them in the recipe database and then, on Thursday or Friday, I plan meals for Saturday through the next Friday. My plan is usually a mix of new recipes and old favorites, online recipes and cookbook recipes. Sometimes I also write my meal plan up with colorful markers and post it on the fridge so Andrew knows what’s coming.

I always plan for at least one takeout or date night because I am only human, but even with those easier nights planned for, I have never successfully made it through all my meal plan meals. Sometimes it’s due to working late. Sometimes I haven’t had time to do all the grocery shopping. Sometimes I or Andrew just crave something that is not on the plan, and life is too short to be militant about it.

Every two weeks I get a CSA box from Hitchcock Restaurant Group. It has all the ingredients for a complete meal for 4 people, including a protein, some prepared items from the restaurant like hot sauces and dressings, some sort of starch, and of course produce. It was started to help support the restaurant staff and suppliers during the pandemic, and it is something that I really look forward to. This obviously takes care of one meal for the week, and the veggies can be worked into other planned meals.

When it comes to “cooking from my pantry” though, I have a less than stellar track record. I’ve definitely had to throw away some boxes of stock and enchilada sauce recently that were the results of early pandemic panic buying. This is mostly because my “pantry” is actually far away from my kitchen so it can be an out of sight, out of mind situation. I started a spreadsheet at one point to try to keep track of what I actually have, but I haven’t really been motivated to build it out. I am better at cooking from my freezer, especially since we recently got a chest freezer and  I can see what the hell I actually have. Recently, I discovered some duck legs in there that I’d kind of forgotten about and turned two of them into a tasty one-pan roast duck dish with potatoes. I did duck confit with the other three (don’t ask me why I had five duck legs…ha). I also used some duck fat from the pantry for the confit, which made me feel pretty accomplished. 

So, despite the unexpected curveballs everyday life throws at me, here’s how the meal plan panned out:

Day 1:

Duck confit happened to be the first meal of my plan, which was definitely ambitious. I served it with potatoes cooked in duck fat and a french butter lettuce salad. Delish!

Day 2:

Day two is CSA meal day (Credit Hitchcock Restaurant Group for the recipe as well as the CSA goodies). The CSA included some manila clams and all the ingredients for a little clambake. “Clambake” is a bit of a misnomer as it is not baked in an oven. It is more of a moules frites situation, but with clams and fingerling potatoes. Sauté some leek and garlic with chili flake, then half a bottle of decent white wine goes in (the rest is chef’s treat, of course) along with the clams and the fingerlings that were previously steamed. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally so the clams open, release their juices and mingle with the wine. When the alcohol flavor has dissipated, taste for seasoning, “mount” with a good dollop of butter and stir so it is incorporated. Squeeze some lemon; toss in a handful of roughly chopped parsley, and have crusty bread for dipping.

Day 3:

I had a bag of Rancho Gordo Cranberry Beans and read that they could be substituted for pinto beans in Frijoles Charros. I sauteed onion and serrano chilis with some chunky bacon that my Mom’s boyfriend Steve had smoked, homemade chicken stock, and fire-roasted canned tomatoes, along with the pre-soaked beans. All that goodness bubbled away in a dutch oven for about an hour. Then I served it with a dollop of sour cream and cheesy, pickled jalapeno nachos on the side.

Day 4:

I was feeling like something a little different midway through my meal plan so I went vegetarian with this saucy tofu number over noodles. I also can’t say no to a dish that includes pickles. The “meat” of the dish was extra firm tofu, wringed out in a clean dish towel to get rid of as much liquid as possible and tossed in salt and pepper and cornstarch before frying in oil. When cooked, it really did have the consistency of ground meat! Add to that finely diced mushrooms and an unctuous sauce made of tahini, soy sauce, black vinegar, and chili crisp and you really do get an umami bomb of a “gravy” that clings to the ramen noodles. The whole dish is topped with a quick pickled cucumber and more chili crisp. This will definitely be on regular rotation. Note: The noodles are green because they are hippie Jasmine rice noodles from PCC.

Day 5:

Day 5 was supposed to be Mission-style Burritos using some of the leftover beans from Day 3, but I forgot I had pre-ordered Moto Pizza a while back, so burritos would have to wait. If you are in West Seattle and have not tried Moto, I highly recommend it. They opened in 2020 and, at first, you had to order months in advance, but now they release order slots (they are takeout only) on a monthly basis. So follow them on socials to find out when the next month opens. The pizza is detroit-style and made with a 100 year-old sourdough starter called Betty. I’d say it is the platonic ideal of pizza.

Day 6:

This day  was meant to be Chicken Piccata and Lemon Feta Orzo, but that had to be moved to next week’s meal plan because I am being extra and reusing the beans from the Frijoles Charros for those Mission-style Burritos. “Mission-style” means no rice, so I loaded them up with leftover beans and top sirloin cooked in bacon fat along with, pico, salsa verde, cheese, and sour cream. Then I rolled everything up and fried it in more bacon fat before wrapping up in foil. So good, and I had enough ingredients to make two extra and freeze them!

Day 7:

Date night was takeout from our local big-plate Mexican joint, Viva Mexico, complete with extra large margaritas. Andrew says that trough and bucket are the proper units for this kind of food, and I agree.

A Culinary Resolution: An Update

In an effort to cook more out of the cookbooks I own, I decided that for 2021, I would cook out of cookbooks I own, but have not used much (if at all). Generally, I would make an effort to regularly cook dishes from these cookbooks, snap some pics and try to learn a few new things. For the first cookbook, being indecisive, I decided to let the internet make the selection for me. I asked my friends on Facebook to vote for three options: Chez Panisse, Moosewood Cooks at Home, and Together. Moosewood Cooks at Home won by a hair.

Moosewood is the lauded vegetarian restaurant collective in Ithaca New York. Their most famous cookbook is simply titled Moosewood. I have cooked out of it before and loved the recipes so much that I bought their other two cookbooks, one focusing on world cuisine and the other easy home cooking recipes. I was looking forward to trying it out.

Flipping through the recipes, they looked a tad on the simplistic side but, in my experience, it is often the most humble dish that truly satisfies. I had some silken tofu in the fridge that needed using, so my first recipe was a Tofu Basil dressing. One of the suggested uses for it was as a dressing for new potatoes. I used red potatoes, diced them and boiled them un-peeled, and added the dressing when they were still a little warm. I think I didn’t cook the potatoes enough and I should have peeled them. The end result was potatoes covered in a thick, white, viscous substance reminiscent of…

So, 0 for 1. Soldiering on. The next two recipes I tried were cuban black beans and mango salsa. The beans wanted for flavor and were more sweet than savory as there was fresh squeezed OJ. I added some Tabasco to them which greatly improved the flavor. The mango salsa was also good and I served Jasmine rice, seasoned with lime juice and parsley and cooked with a little more liquid than usual so that the rice was slightly sticky and could be molded as you sometimes see in Caribbean restaurants. 

Overall, I was pretty unimpressed with Moosewood Cooks At Home so the best thing that came out of Month 1 was that I gave that cookbook to Goodwill (and now have room for another cookbook!).

February’s cookbook was the January runner up, Chez Panisse. The first recipe I made was scallops with prosciutto and Mayer lemon relish. First I made the relish, which was just finely diced meyer lemons, shallot, parsley, chive,  lemon juice and oil.  It seems odd to eat something that is primarily diced up raw lemons but meyers are so sweet, that it was not sour but piquant and refreshing. I let the relish hang out while I made the scallops. Scallops are notoriously easy to overcook and whenever I make them, I think of the season of Top Chef where several contestants failed when cooking scallops, earning the show, briefly, the name Top Scallop. The trick with scallops is to cook them in a hot pan, briefly on both sides so they caramelize on the outside but remain creamy on the inside. It’s easy, if you don’t have a very hot pan, to leave them on too long, waiting for that maillard reaction to take place and ending up with rubbery scallops. The cookbook suggested heating the pan up, putting the scallops in and cooking in a 425 degree oven for 5 mins. I did this but flipped the scallops right at the end so both sides were browned.

I served the scallops with prosciutto slices and the relish. The saltiness of the prosciutto complemented the creaminess of the scallops and the relish really set off all the flavors. Delish!

The second dish I made out of Chez Panisse was a Rustic Pizza with anchovies. I have since made this pizza twice. When we got our gas stove put in, we started making pizzas pretty regularly. Dough from Trader Joe’s made this an easy weeknight endeavor. We take turns making a traditional combo pizza with sausage, mushrooms, olives, and peppers for Andrew and my kind of pizza which usually includes, kalamata olives, anchovies or pepperoncinis – sometimes all three!

After February, this resolution went the way of most resolutions and fizzled out. However, I consider it a win because it inspired me to cook more out of my cookbooks in general. I rediscovered my Alison Roman Dining In cookbook as well as Marcella Hazan and am seriously eyeing some of my “cooking project” cookbooks and planning a whole weekend of culinary exploration.

Post-script: If you too are wanting to use your cookbooks more often, I highly recommend the website Eat Your Books. For free, you can “upload” five cookbooks. By upload, I mean add the titles from their extensive database. When you have done this, you can search by ingredient. It’s like a digital index for your paper cookbooks. They don’t show the recipes of course but often, it says which page the recipes falls on. The website does not have great UX but it works for what it is. After uploading five, you need to pay to be able to upload as many as you want. At $30/year though, that it is totally worth it for me.

A Culinary Goal for 2021

Each new year, January brings with it an inner struggle for me. I appreciate the New Year – fresh start mentality, but I also shudder at the thought of lofty resolutions abandoned and the feeling of failure this engenders. I read about a book called The Power of Ritual which, among other things, discusses the power of everyday practices to increase our wellbeing. Perhaps 2021 will be the year I focus on rituals to improve my life, rather than big goals or resolutions. To that end, cooking and eating can certainly be defined as rituals, so I will start there as I strive to make 2021 better than 2020. How hard can this be, really? The bar is set so low.

Something that I have been wanting to do for a long time is cook out of my cookbooks more. I feel I am often stymied by choice when I sit down to meal-plan on Thursday or Friday. I receive the New York Times Cooking newsletter. I have an ATK subscription. I follow Food 52 and The Kitchn. So. Much. Content. Then I look at my bookshelves and see dozens of cookbooks that I have barely opened or cooked only one recipe out of. Something has got to give! I have tried to stick to cookbooks (rather than finding recipes online) but I come up against two roadblocks again and again.

Roadblock #1: Which cookbook do I choose? What do I feel like cooking? I don’t know what I feel like cooking, which is why I am asking this question. And round and round it goes.

Roadblock #2: I am meal-planning and I need to use up the ingredients I have. I can’t just pull up an index of all the recipes in all my cookbooks and easily find a couple recipes to use up those pork chops in the freezer and the carrots in the crisper that are threatening to go flaccid. That is what the internet is…and I am trying not to do that…

So, how can I slightly alter my cooking ritual to address these roadblocks?

I’m going to focus on one cookbook per month. I’ll cook a selection of recipes primarily from that cookbook. This will take the selection paralysis out of the equation, and encourage me to really dig into a cookbook which I may otherwise just dip into for specific things. I could even discover some new favorites! While I am focusing on that cookbook, I’ll allow myself to use the internet and my own repertoire of favorites, or even other cookbooks to supplement. I’ll sit down on Thursday with that cookbook in front of me and pick 1-2 recipes to make from it (let’s not get too crazy to start). I will strive to select recipes for which I already have 50% of the ingredients. This might be difficult, but it’s something to strive for to keep the grocery bill low, and cut down on food waste. Then at the end of each month, I will write about my experience here on the blog and share my favorite recipe from the month.

Below are some ground rules to keep me honest and sane.

  1. One cookbook focus per month.
  2. 1-2 recipes per week at first, more if it is going well.
  3. 50% of the chosen recipe’s ingredients should be ones I already have on hand.
  4. Don’t make the same thing twice in the month.

For January, I have narrowed down my selection to  3 options. One is a cookbook with recipes from immigrant women who work in a community kitchen in London. Another is a Moosewood cookbook from the iconic restaurant collective in Ithaca New York, which focuses on easy, quick comfort food recipes. Lastly is a cookbook from the famed French-inspired Californian restaurant Chez Panisse. With two of the cookbooks being from famous restaurants, and  all written by women, I am pretty sure I can’t go wrong. I have posted on social media to ask my friends to choose for me and I will make my selection tomorrow.

From the Left: Together: Our Community Cookbook, Moosewood Cooks at Home, and Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook

Here’s to cooking more in 2021, discovering new favorites, and banishing my cookbook hoarder guilt for good!