Baked Dishes in Winter

So its winter in upstate New York. After all the bustle of the holidays and the work it takes to de-Christmasfiy one's house (I still have some wrapping paper spread out on the floor in some far flung corners), its nice to spend some time indoors and reconnect with old friends and long lost acquaintances. On Friday, I threw a Book Exchange Party. Its like a book club with less commitment or a regular party with extra topics of conversation. I thought it turned out great, and it was super interesting to see what people brought. The downside (or upside?) is that we are now the proud owners of everything people were given over the years, King Jesus being the biggest prize.

I also spent a lot of time in the kitchen today. I was talking to my mom about how the New York Times dialect quiz knew I was from Detroit, and you just can't deny what you are or where you are from. I made some spanokopita from America's Test Kitchen's book Cooking for Two, which you might not think sounds Midwestern, but which I always remember being served at all the Coney Island Restaurants around Metro Detroit. According to wikipedia, this is because of all the Greek immigrants in that area who run those type of restaurants.

What I liked about this recipe was the prominent lemon flavor. I don't remember ever having a spinach pie with such a bright, tangy flavor to it.

I bought a whole slew of leeks at the Troy Farmer's Market this weekend. They smell great. They are so bright green. Its enough to make you hope for spring.

I also got this great new cookbook for Christmas called The New Midwestern Table. I made something from it for dinner called a "hotdish" which has chicken, wild rice, vegetables, and Ritz crackers ground up on top. Casseroles are big in the Midwest for all types of occasions - new babies, people dying, sports potlucks. The description in the book talked about a kid coming home from freezing hockey practice to this steamy dish coming out of the oven, and that seemed appealing. This is a really interesting cookbook with all kinds of recipes like Upper Peninsula Pasties, lots of whitefish dishes, and Scandinavian stuffed pancakes. It also has a really thin crust pizza dough with no yeast in it I want to try. The "hotdish":

So its nice to spend some time in the kitchen in the middle of winter, steam wafting off of buttery vegetables and hearty old favorites coming out of the oven. Its a new year, and I'm trying to watch Melrose Place from the 90s in its entirety. I'm about half way there. Its important to have goals in life.


  1. Love this post! My friend Sue is from the UP and she was making pasties last weekend. It's such a tradition in their family. Her father used to work in the mines and his wife always packed them in his lunch. Your spinach pie is beautiful and that hot dish looks great!!!

    1. thanks! according to the pasties recipe, they were the perfect size for slipping inside the front pockets of the miners' overalls. Can't wait to make them!


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