A Simple List: Celery, Almond, Blue Cheese Salad

Thursday, January 2, 2014

-The first meal of 2014. Some French blue cheese called Fourme d'Ambert and a bit of fresh celery from the Asian farmers' market in downtown Sacramento.-

I like to wrap up the years on this blog by going through resolutions for the coming year and reflecting on ones that we're about to nail up in the coffin. I usually make a list of resolutions and try to hold myself publicly accountable because, well, someone god damn has to.

However, this year was a rather busy year. There was the hunt, purchase, and complete remodel of the house down to the studs and then building it back up. That consisted of a lot of work with a contractor, hosing down asbestos, hammering in floors, painting every surface, and moving (which, I'm pretty sure is God's way of proving that he's not always going to help so much as sit back and laugh). Not to mention the process had a few extra surprises like having to mug my bank account to buy a new furnace and having homeless people break in and jerk off on the wall. 

Then there was the book. Two and half years of pregnancy defined by a constant craving for carbs and dairy followed by a well-publisized birth defined by excellent reviews and a minor bit of critique. After that, Melt's mother and I paraded him up and down the West Coast like the proud parents we are. Admittedly, he's all grown up and while we love him I feel Melt is like a high school grad: it's time for him to move the fuck out of my house and get a job or go to college. 

Not that we won't support him. We still have more events coming in 2014. Woo!

So what's this year?

Well, I'd like to keep it simple to be honest.

Jack knows a few simple tricks. Sit. Down. Take it. Leave it. Come. Drop it. I would love to get him to play dead. So let's add Teach Jack to Play Dead to the list of resolutions.

Stephanie and I are beginning to get ideas ready for the next book. Not that we know what that is. Not that we are even sure it's going to be another cookbook.

There are a lot of ideas and this market is a strange one. There's such a glut of amazing books and where the single subject market used to be pretty safe it's almost impossible to come up with an idea that doesn't have at least three direct competitors. Not just mac and cheese, but marshmallows, homemade sausages, cocktails, Peruvian food, gluten free brunches, so on and so forth.

I think we need to really sit down, analyze the market, see what voids need to be filled and then figure out if we're the ones who should abhor that vacuum enough to do something about it. 

So, Write the Next Proposal is on the list.

-Romance under the paper roses.- 

My marriage was also made legal this year thanks to the Supreme Court declaring that making special laws that discriminate against gays for no other reason except some people find them icky isn't okay. It was a simple ceremony. We went to the County Clerk's office, did the paperwork, and had a saying of vows in a tiny beige room under a garland of plastic flowers. Afterwards we went to lunch with our witnesses.

It was probably the best wedding ever.

I'm quite overjoyed because now it means I'm legally bound to the person I love the most in the world, and that we can protect each other all the better.

Love My Husband Even More.

House-wise we need some fans and attic fans put it so we don't roast to death when it hits the triple-digits in Sacramento. Last year the ceiling literally got hot to the touch.

As for the exterior paint? Lord, our house has literally five different colors due to the previous owner not making a decision. It's like David Bromstad did a line of coke and went bonkers with the earth tone swatches all over the back wall here. 

Don't Burn to Death.

Pretty Up the House Exterior.

What about food?

I don't rely have any big overarching plans for food. I've been too busy.

I'd like to find a bit more time to enjoy it. It feels like I've been more chained to food than being enamored by it. I've had some enlightening meals that have brought me to stunned silence and cooked a few dishes that silently murdered all the outside noise because they tasted so good.

However, when you work as a food writer sometime you can't help but feel a little incensed by food. It drives you to write and edit and test and taste and travel and work so you can get that measly little paycheck. It's a first world problem, like having a broken water heater or Nickleback putting out another album. Yeah, there is worse in the world but look at it this way: you don't want to resent the things you love.

Working with your passion requires not only walking a line, but making sure the line hasn't been repainted when you weren't looking.

I want to be in love with food more.

Rediscover Why I Love Food. Every Day.

And not just love food for how it tastes or because it nourishes the body. Love it for its conviviality, its history, its mythology, its ability to influence agriculture, its hold over politicians, its pious place within religion, its ability to instill love or hate. I love food because its bitter, fruitful, cultured, drunk, self-raising, baked, sweet toothed, in a vegetative state, and all encompassing.

I want to make food that reflects my style, taste, and way of life. No fancy seven layer cakes or home crafted beer. I want crostatas filled with leftover peaches. I want to make pate with the duck livers a friend gave me. I want to make vanilla shortbread cookies sandwiched with homemade kumquat marmalade. I want to grill ribs seasoned with chile pastes loaded with too much red garlic.

I don't want to make fancy blog food, book food, or restaurant food. I just want to make the food that makes me happy and if I can share it with you, well, all the better.

Happy 2014.

Garrett out.

Celery Salad with Blue Cheese and Almonds
Serves 1, can be multiplied with ease.

I love this recipe. It's a riff on a British Christmas classic, but I had no hazelnuts to roast and used raw almonds instead. It's just as delightful. This salad is simple, affordable, flavorful and certainly unique. Wonderful with a bit of white wine or sparkling if you have some.

3 celery stalks given a run with a vegetable peeler to remove the strings
A good handful of almonds (slivered, chopped, or otherwise)
1/4 cup of crumbled blue cheese; use a good one
2 tablespoons of walnut oil
squeeze of lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Thinly slice the celery at a diagonal to get long and slender slivers of celery. Toss with the other ingredients until everything has a light dressing on oil and lemon juice. Serve with a bit of leftover champagne from the night before.


  1. I love this line: "I don't want to make fancy blog food, book food, or restaurant food. I just want to make the food that makes me happy and if I can share it with you, well, all the better." I feel exactly the same way about the coming year. First world problem or not, I've felt disconnected lately with why I love food, and it's part of my plan (hate saying "resolution") to eradicate that this year. Good luck with your resolutions and happy new year!

    1. Thanks, Ruthy. Good luck on strengthening your passion!

  2. Hay. Food that makes people happy. There you go, your next book title!! Although the FDA might want controlled studies. Happy New Year! Good resolutions.

    1. Man, the FDA can't tell me what to do. I'll do what I want!

  3. Oh don't even get me started about cookbooks devoted to marshmallows. :) I resolved this year to care a lot less about what anybody thinks and everyone should watch out for what that means on MY blog. Oh, and I resolved to drink more bourbon. I need a ringer each year.

    Your wedding photo is wonderful! It makes me want to kiss you both! We got married under paper flowers too and still, it was the best wedding ever.


    1. Hehe, we did do a proper wedding with the cake and suits and all. This was just to make things legal after the fact. ;)

      I can get on the bourbon train with you. That sounds awesome. Let me know if you ever travel to Sac as you'll have a place to stay with us. XOXO

  4. You always have me laughing out loud. I love that your first world problems include the unfortunate release of a Nickelback CD!
    Best wishes to you in 2014! :)

    1. Well written truth.
      I'm enjoying your posts.

      Have a good start of 2014

  5. What a wonderful post! Happy New Year!

  6. I just found you - thanks to Food52 funniest writings of 2013 - and I just wanted to say that this post is so fantastically well written, funny and personal. You are wonderful! So, I wanted to say hi.

    And now I'm going to continue to stalk through your backlog for some much needed laughs on this dreary Illinois Thursday...

    1. Thanks for finding me, Liz! Don't go anywhere before 2010. It's all crap. ;)

  7. Happy New Year Garrett! I hope you have another colorful year.


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