Eat Me. Drink Me.

Why We Eat. Why We Drink. Why We Write.

Eat Me. Drink Me. Has a New Home!

by lyzpfister

Find more recipes at

It’s time. My dear e-friends, family and other fellows, Eat Me. Drink Me. finally has its own home. Keep reading about life, love, food and all the trivial in-betweens at:

There’s already a new post up already for your perusing pleasure.

See you there!



Comfort Food & Christmas Coming Up: Jansson’s Frestelse

by lyzpfister

Jansson's Frestelse recipe

Is it just me, or does it feel like holiday food necessitates buckets of heavy whipping cream and gobs of butter? Not just me? Alright, fine, let’s proceed.

At my other job, I’m already knee-deep in Christmas things. We like to stay a couple weeks ahead of the curve, and I spend my days translating articles about the best Christmas gifts, pretty sugar-cookie scented bubble baths and artfully wrapped cosmetics. The end result being that all I’ve wanted to do for the last few weeks is bake gingersnaps and indulge in a few “harmless,” late-night, online shopping sprees.


pre-cut potatoes

Jansson's Frestelse

So when my other job said, photograph some Christmas foods for us, I said, absolutely and instantly ran to the grocery store to purchase buckets of heavy whipping cream and butter. Obviously.

Jansson’s Frestelse is a traditional Swedish Christmas casserole in which starchy potatoes play an understated backdrop to buckets of heavy whipping cream, butter, lightly caramelized onions and salty anchovies. When it’s all baked together in an oven, it becomes a rich medley of hot, bubbling cream beneath a crackling bread crumb crust. Holiday food at its finest.

swedish anchovies & potatoes

It was about the time I was halfway through the dish of Jansson’s Frestelse (also known as Jansson’s Temptation for good reason), that I realized I had just single-handedly consumed one 250g carton of heavy whipping cream.

This brought me to the conclusion that holidays are meant to be shared with others not simply because they are about family and friends and togetherness, but because we should never have to eat so much butter by ourselves. (Or at least a holiday dinner allows us to do a better job of managing our feelings of guilt at having eaten so much butter by displacing them onto the rest of the assembled company.)

onions, anchovies, potatoes

Jansson's Frestelse

Anyway, I’m sure the extra lipid layer will come in handy here in Berlin as the Christmas markets start popping up around the city and all the boot-shaped mugs of Glühwein in the world won’t keep me warm…

Jansson's Frestelse

Jansson’s Frestelse (Jansson’s Tempation)

5-6 medium potatoes, thinly sliced
2 medium onions, sliced
15 Swedish anchovy fillets (usually from a tin, in oil)
3 tbsp butter
1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
Salt & pepper to taste
1 tsp sugar
½ cup bread crumbs

Sauté onions in 1 tbsp butter with a pinch of salt and pepper and 1 tsp sugar until translucent and lightly browned. Set aside. Butter a glass baking dish (approx.. 8 ½ x 11 inches). Layer 1/3 of the potatoes in the dish and top with ½ of the onions and ½ of the anchovies. Repeat the layer, then cover with the remaining 1/3 of potatoes. Dot remaining butter over the top of the potatoes and pour cream over potatoes. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 400ºF for 30 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle with bread crumbs, and return to oven for another 20-30 minutes until potatoes are tender and the bread crumbs have browned and the cream is burbling.

If on a Winter’s Night…

by lyzpfister

lentil stew

I haven’t taken my hat off for days. I’m beginning to wonder if I still have hair, and if I do, whether or not it matters. I’m supposed to be working. Instead, I’m chipping the nail polish from my fingers, staring outside at the falling leaves, debating whether or not to buy a monthly metro pass. (At the end of the story, I will end up buying one. I will not regret it.)

Some days it rains and in the coffee shops the crowds grow a low murmur. Outside, the smell of damp leaves and everywhere, I swear, I smell a roasting turkey. I’m reading a book of short stories by Italo Calvino and at the same time a Harper’s magazine from May I’ve been working on for months. In the news, it’s a blur of politics and hurricanes and I wonder what I’d be doing in New York if I were still there. I think of my McKibbin apartment, where I didn’t close up the three-inch hole in the window with duct tape until winter.

sliced Hungarian peppers

garlic for lentil stew

What I most look forward to are afternoons wrapped up in a blanket and my love, a movie laughing in the background and sleep in my limbs.

Don’t tell anyone, but I like these days. The damp, the leaves, the candles lined up on the windowsill. The snuggled in slippers, the garish green hat.

the beginnings of lentil stew

When I cook on nights like these, I cook for comfort. I want the seeping smell of garlic and spice. I want to feel the thin skin of a tomato crack beneath my knife and hear the familiar sound of a peeler’s swish against a carrot. And when I eat my stew, I want it to mean the day is done. The shutters can be let down and soon, soon, I can go to bed.

curried lentil stew

Easy Winter Lentil Stew

2 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion
1 large carrot
2 small Hungarian peppers (or 1 red bell pepper)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp berbere
Salt & pepper
2 large cloves garlic
1/2-3/4 cups chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned)
1/2 cup quick-cook lentils
1 cup beef stock
Basmati rice (opt.)

Finely chop onion, carrot, and peppers. Heat olive oil in a skillet and sauté onion until translucent, then add carrot and peppers. Season with salt, black pepper, cumin, and berbere and cook until vegetables have just softened. Add lentils to the skillet and stir to coat with spices, then add tomatoes, coarsely chopped garlic, and beef stock. Give everything a good stir and turn heat to medium low. Cover with a lid and allow to simmer until lentils have cooked through, about 20-30 minutes. Stir occasionally, and if it starts looking dry, add more water. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Serve with basmati rice.


by lyzpfister


I’ve never really cared about Halloween. Until I moved to Germany, that is. Here, I seem to love all those American things I didn’t really have much interest in before. Carving pumpkins, dressing in ridiculous costumes, making pumpkin pie.

To be fair, pumpkin pie is something that I’ve always loved. To play devil’s advocate for myself, my mother always made pumpkin pie from fresh pumpkin. Which is, I don’t think, very American.

Pumpkin pie made with real pumpkin is not like typical pumpkin pie. It’s custardy, with an almost vegetal undertone and a sweet, earthy hit of cinnamon. None of this creamy, creepy rust-colored goo, real pumpkin pie is bright orange and textured with scraps of shaved pumpkin.

Naturally, the only course of action available to me was to organize a pumpkin carving soiree.

scooping out pumpkins

ready for pumpkin pie

So last Friday, my roommates and I chilled some wine, pulled the extensions out on the table, and bought two big, beautiful pumpkins. (OK, they were from the bottom of the barrel… all the good ones were already gone – but we loved them nonetheless.)

Being the only veteran pumpkin carver, I oversaw the operation, but to tell the truth, I don’t think I actually scraped a single bit of pumpkin flesh from the shell or cut out a single eye. Not that it mattered – for me, it was enough to know that it was being done.

carving a jack-o-lantern

I spent the evening making edible things from our pumpkins. Roasting seeds with olive oil and salt to an addicting crisp, turning scooped-out handfuls of pumpkin into spicy curried pumpkin-coconut soup – and making pie.

roasted pumpkin seeds

Can I tell you how lovely it is to sit around a table by candlelight, hands greased with pumpkin guts, sipping white wine from juice glasses and laughing with friends? What it is to eat together?


pumpkin party

curried pumpkin soup

I’ve been living in Berlin for a little over a year now. Last year at this time, I was sitting at a kitchen table alone, just about to spill a drink into my laptop and break it. Not that life was bad. It was just a new thing.

Carving pumpkins this Halloween, eating with friends – I can’t help but look back on this past year and think about how blessed I am to be here and to have met the people I have. How beautiful it is to be this heartbreakingly happy.

Granted, it’s not just carving pumpkins with other people – or making pie for them – that makes me so happy, but it’s a part of it.

the view from my desk

pumpkin pie recipe

Pumpkin Pie

2 cups flour
2/3 cups vegetable oil
1/3 cup milk
pinch of salt

2 cups raw pumpkin, scraped from inside of the pumpkin
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg (opt.)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tbsp melted butter

For the crust: Blend flour and salt. Add vegetable oil and milk and whisk ingredients together. When the dough starts to come together, use your hands and quickly knead it into a ball. You may have to add more vegetable oil for the dough to stick together. Conversely, if the dough is too wet, add more flour.

Press dough into a 9-inch pie dish. You may have extra dough – set it aside for another use (or a mini-pie!). Place your pie crust to the side.

Pre-heat oven to 400 F.

Place raw pumpkin in a medium pot and add 1 inch of water. Turn heat to medium-low and steam pumpkin until cooked through (about 10 minutes). (If you haven’t just carved a Jack-o-Lantern and don’t happen to have shaved raw pumpkin, you can roast pumpkin cubes in the oven and, when cooked through, mash them with a fork to get the right consistency.) Drain any juice from the cooked pumpkin – you should have approximately 1 1/4 cups of cooked pumpkin. Don’t worry if it’s not exact – pumpkin pie isn’t a science.

To your cooked, drained pumpkin, add milk, sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg (optional), beaten eggs and melted butter. Stir all ingredients together until well-blended.

Place pie in the oven and bake until set. Depending on your oven, this should take about an hour.

pumpkin pie

Soup Time/Winter Time

by lyzpfister

lentil soup with lemon-parsley oil

Let’s not get technical. I know it’s fall. But unless you too are living in Berlin – waking up every morning moaning about having to leave the comfort of your covers, wearing your winter coat inside, and wishing the heater went up just a few more notches – and want to argue with me, it’s winter.

It’s winter and I’m cold and all I want is a giant, warm bowl of soup. (And a new pair of glasses, pumpkin muffins, and a pedicure – but these are totally unrelated things.)

The great thing about soup is that it’s a totally addressable need. It requires very little energy to make – and make masses of. In mere minutes of work, you have a pot contentedly bubbling filling your living space with the warm aroma of – what is the aroma of soup? It might be a feeling, like saying, “I feel like soup smells.”

lentil soup with lemon-parsley oil

chopped yellow onions

I made my first soup of the season the other night. A lentil stew sweetened with carrot and sweet potato and brightened with a touch of curry and berbere. I might have gone a little overboard with the lentils. By the time I’d added everything to the soup, it filled the pot. I will be eating lentil soup for years, I thought.

What I forgot is that it’s winter, and that in winter, everyone is craving soup. That night, a few friends met at my apartment before heading to a party, and when I checked the soup pot the next morning, everything was gone.

ready for soup

Berbere from Kalustyan's in NY

Lentil & Sweet Potato Soup with Lemon-Parsley Drizzle
(serves: a lot)

1 tbsp olive oil
10 bacon strips
2 yellow onions, finely chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled & diced
2 carrots, peeled & sliced
cracked black pepper
1 tsp berbere spice
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
pinch of chili powder
1 tsp curry powder
1 package quick-cook lentils (guesstimating, I’d say about 2 cups)
2 vegetable bouillon cubes

For the drizzle:
½ cup olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup loosely chopped parsley

Heat olive oil in a large pot. Add bacon (I used cured pork belly, which sounds fancy, but in Germany is the kind of thing you get at the discount grocery store for a euro fifty) and fry until crisping. Add yellow onions and sauté until translucent. Add sweet potato and carrots and cook until just tender. While the carrots and sweet potato are softening, add salt, cracked black pepper, berbere spice, cumin, turmeric, chili powder and curry powder.

sauteeing onions and pork belly for lentil soup

When your vegetables have softened, add quick-cook lentils and make sure to coat them with oil and spice before adding vegetable bouillon cubes and water to cover everything in the pot by about 1 inch. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low and cover pot with a lid.

lentil soup

Now go away. Do something else. Read a book. Cuddle with a puppy. Try on all of your sweaters. Check on your soup every now and then, and if it starts to get too thick, add another cup of water. Taste to adjust seasonings. For sure you’ll need more salt and pepper. This soup doesn’t take long to be “ready.” The lentils cook in about 15 minutes – but you want to let the flavors meld as long as you can, say 2 hours. Whenever you decide you’re ready to eat, use an immersion blender to puree your soup and add water to adjust thickness, if necessary.

a pot of bubbling lentil soup

I served my soup with this delicious lemon-parsley sauce which I had at a dinner party the other night. Whisk together olive oil and lemon and loosely chopped parsley. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

lentil soup with olive oil drizzle

Biscuits & Blogging

by lyzpfister

sweet corn biscuits

When Ellie and I get together, we talk. About lots of things. Like work and men and crazy people we know. We do things like make cocktails and Instagram photos of them, then drink them and make another round, which we do not Instagram. But really, when we get together, what we do is bake.

The baking, of course, might just be an excuse for the gossiping and the cocktails, but then again, it might be because there’s something really rewarding about sitting around chatting and drinking and ending up with yeasty donuts covered in pink gloss, or red velvet cupcakes topped with an icing that involves very. specific. instructions. and slightly strange ingredients.

Because of all the baking and the eating, I think Ellie has made more appearances in this blog than anyone else. There was Thanksgiving (we’re already getting ready to order the turkey for this year…), the plätzchen-baking extravaganza, an ancient Easter, and of course that time we decided to eat in the dark. And probably because of all the appearances she’s made here, she’s spent a lot of time listening to me talk about the blog – why I’m even still writing it and where I’d like for it to go. Or maybe that’s because of the cocktails.

sweet corn biscuits

We talk about the big plans I have. I want to redesign the site so that it’s easier to navigate. I want an index of recipes and photos. I want to write a book…

And then sometimes I want to pretend that there’s not a place where I have been, more – or less – regularly, recording my edible thoughts for over three years. What a long time to throw words into the sometimes uncommunicative interwebs. There are times when I don’t know why I’m still writing it, but there you go – I’m still writing it.

sweet corn biscuits

Maybe that’s the beautiful thing about food writing. The foods we cook and eat, much like the stories we tell – another day at work, another awful date, another crazy piece of gossip – repeat themselves. And yet each time we tell a story, every time we cook a dish, it’s something new because life has configured itself differently around us.

Just look at the way Ellie’s appearances thread through this blog, which in a way is also a chronicle of my life. You could say, it’s always the same – you cook, you eat, you cocktail – and yes, there’s an element of repetition there. But it’s not stagnant repetition – it builds a history, one which tells the story of a friendship through a sequence of meals.

So, though sometimes I wonder why I’m still writing – it’d almost be like asking why Ellie and I are friends. At one point, you might be able to say, it’s because we can talk for hours – or that she knows how to make me breathe when I’m having a mini panic attack. But you reach a point where friendship is no longer a list of whys, just a knowledge that you are.

In a certain sense, this blog is like a friend (in a totally non-lonely-I-swear-I-have-breathing-friends-too sort of way). We’ve been through a lot together, and sometimes we tell the same story over again. But whatever. We’re changing, we’re growing, we are.

sweet corn biscuits

Sweet Corn & Pepper Biscuits

Adapted from Joy the Baker

There might not be an obvious connection between these biscuits and blogging and friendship. And actually, when I started writing this post, it was going to be a different thing. You see, Ellie and I made these biscuits together – and they were super great, so I thought – well, I’ll write about them and at the same time, write about blogging, because this recipe is from Joy the Baker’s blog – which is a blog I admire and enjoy even though it often puts me in a reflective mood about blogging. (When will hundreds of people comment on my posts? When will I be invited to cook with slightly famous food people? When will I get to go on a book tour?) And then I started writing – and it ended up being a totally different thing, a story about friendship with a little bit about blogging thrown in. Somehow, the biscuits got totally lost. But they are a part of this story too – they’re the reason I wrote it. And they’re pretty good biscuits. So here you go:

Whisk 2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 tbsp baking powder, 1 ½ tbsp. sugar, and a pinch of salt together in a medium bowl. Add 3 tbsp cold, unsalted butter and 3 tbsp vegetable shortening, and with your fingers, crumble the fat together with the dry ingredients. Don’t worry if your butter balls are different sizes, though none should be larger than a pea. Add 1 cup corn kernels and 3 finely chopped, charred chili peppers and stir.

Pour ¾ cup cold buttermilk into your flour mixture and quickly blend the wet and dry ingredients. Let me warn you – it’s not a very pretty dough. Regardless, dump it onto a lightly floured work surface and knead about ten times, until you’ve brought it together into a disk. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate 1 hour. (You can also refrigerate it overnight… but you know I didn’t read the instructions in advance enough to plan that.

sweet corn biscuits

sweet corn biscuits

Pre-heat oven with a rack placed in the upper third to 375ºF. On a lightly floured surface, roll out biscuit dough until it’s ¾-1 inch thick. If you’re fancy, you can use biscuit cutters. If you’re not, you can use the open end of a drinking glass and press it into the dough to cut out rounds.

Place biscuits about 2 inches apart on a greased (or parchment papered) cookie sheet. Reshape and re-roll excess dough, then cut out some more biscuits. Repeat until the dough is gone.

Brush the tops of your biscuits with a bit of heavy cream and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Bake for 15-17 minutes until biscuits are cooked through and golden brown on top. These guys are best served warm. We topped ours with cheeses, avocado slices, smoked salmon, cucumbers, and tomatoes… and of course melted butter.

sweet corn biscuits

In the Beginning, There Was Butter

by lyzpfister

bagna cauda

“You start with nine sticks of butter,” my aunt says, giving me the recipe for a dish which, at the end of its life, will contain fourteen sticks. Her voice is a Florida twang, an accent no one else in my family seems to have picked up as strongly, though when I am with her, I find my own vowels stretching out. I becomes Ah, as though I’ve been stuck into a Twilight Zone dentist’s office and every personal statement is a chance to glance at my sweet tea-ravaged cavities.

“This is the easy way, but the real way is, you’re going to want to chop up about three things of garlic – at least.” Except it sounds like, Yer gunna wunna

My aunt is referring not to cloves of garlic, but to heads, because this is the famed family recipe for banyacotta, which is the phonetic spelling for a dish which is actually a famed Italian recipe called bagna cauda. The recipe is basically the same. But I think my family uses more butter.

minced garlic and anchovies

Banyacotta is a familial rite of passage. Lovers, fiancés, new spouses, children – you’re not a part of the family until you’ve eaten banyacotta. This is mostly due to the fact that for a full two days after eating it, you trail the scent of garlic behind you thicker than Pepe le Pew on an amour trail. It is imperative, for this reason, that everyone in the family partake, so that we don’t notice our stench, naïvely wandering through the world in our own little garlic reek.

For a long time, I had no idea that banyacotta was not just something that had been handed down in my family from generation to generation. All of the friends I told about the dish – it’s a dip of butter, garlic, and anchovies and you eat it on cabbage – were disgusted (but then again, that isn’t quite the favorite foods lists of an eight year old). No one else had even heard of the concoction.

cabbage for dipping

One day, while I was perusing a food magazine, I found a recipe for bagna cauda. The recipe called for butter, anchovies, and garlic… and I thought… this sounds a lot like banyacotta… And when I sounded it out in Italian I realized, oh my God. This is banyacotta. My family just can’t spell.

Regardless, this is tradition, and my aunt still makes her banyacotta (sorry, the spelling stays…) in my Great Aunt Dorothy’s electric skillet. At one point, the Davis clan used to add cream – which is also a part of the original Italian recipe – but somewhere along the lines, the cream was lost, and what now remains is a giant pile of melted butter, six cans of salty anchovies, and four heads of minced garlic simmered into a rich, salty mess.

bagna cauda

white bread plates

When the banyacotta is done, my family huddles around the pot. We each grab a cabbage leaf and dunk it in. Some prefer the garlic-infused butter from the top which just slightly wilts the cabbage – others scrape the bottom for anchovy-laden scoops studded with garlic. For plates we use slices of white bread, and after we’ve eaten as much cabbage leaves as we can, we eat the bread, soaked through with butter.

bagna cauda

Don’t tell anyone, but this is what I really came back to America for. Butter, garlic, salt – and a reminder that I’m part of the family.


This makes a lot of banyacotta – and let’s hope it does, or else that’s a lot of butter shoveled through your arteries at once. My aunt freezes any leftover banyacotta and slices off pats to melt on top of a hot-off-the-grill steak. I add fresh parsley and capers and toss it with cooked pasta for a quick dinner (provided I’m not going anywhere later that night…)

14 sticks unsalted butter (give or take)
6 cans anchovies
4 heads finely chopped garlic
2 heads of cabbage leaves (Napa or bok choy), whole but removed from core
1 loaf of thinly sliced artisan white bread

In an electric skillet set to 200°, melt 9 sticks of butter. Keep a close watch on the temperature to make sure your butter doesn’t start browning. As soon as it starts to bubble, turn the heat lower. When the foam has started to clear from the top of the butter, add your chopped garlic. Take care that your garlic doesn’t burn. If you’ve burned the garlic, the banyacotta is ruined, as is the world. Throw it out and start over. Better yet, don’t burn your garlic.

Add anchovies whole, scattering evenly around the skillet. They’ll break down on their own. Increase the temperature to a low simmer – but if the bubbles get too high, turn it down. There’s a good chance that at this point, you’ll need to add more butter to the skillet. If your mixture looks a little chunky, add 3 more sticks of butter. Either way, you can do no wrong. If I learned one thing from my aunt, it’s that you can never have enough butter.

After you’ve added the anchovies, be sure to let the whole mix simmer for about 10 minutes (the whole process should take about 15-20 minutes). Don’t let the butter bubble too much – but don’t let the temperature get so low that it doesn’t bubble at all. Give it a slow and thorough stir every now and then.

ideal butter bubbling

When you’re ready to eat, dip cabbage leaves into the banyacotta and eat over slices of white bread. Be sure to finish your plate. Literally. Your plate is white bread. Keep the banyacotta simmering on about as low as you can go for another couple hours while you go have real dinner (something like… caramelized ham, corn puddin’, tomato puddin’, mac & cheese, and pot roast… or something), then come back and have some more for dessert.

corn and tomato puddin' count as vegetables in my family

Before you freeze the rest, melt the remaining sticks of butter into the skillet to even out the proportions and better prep you for a heart attack.

What I Learned in Brooklyn

by lyzpfister

tacos with roast chicken and habanero salsa

They may not be authentic or conventional. But as long as they’re made with 100% corn tortillas (preferably pressed in the back of a tortilla factory in Brooklyn), they’re real.

When my friend Akiko asked what I wanted her to bring me from America, the only thing I could think of was real tortillas. Not big, floppy flour mats, but small, imperfectly round discs with traces of char.

I’m not a taco Nazi, and I think there are many ways to build a beautiful taco. Often, I don’t even think it’s necessary to include traditional taco ingredients. In Germany this is hard to do anyway, since The Great Cilantro Hunt is a time-consuming task and limes are not, as they were in Brooklyn, ten for $1. But we make do with what we have – and though the tacos I made a few weeks ago on burrito wraps were good, these tacos, with the Brooklyn tortillas Akiko brought me, were great.


brooklyn-berlin tacos: roast chicken, habanero salsa, red cabbage slaw

roast chicken with garlic and herbs de provence

Roast Chicken

Before I decided to make tacos, I actually started to make roast chicken with vegetables and herbs de Province. Right after I got the whole pan ready, I thought, but I have these habaneros and I have these tortillas – and herbs de Province or not, I decided to make tacos. Though it might not sound like a great combination, this chicken was so moist and delicately seasoned that it didn’t compete at all with the spice and vinegar of the taco toppings. Now that I think of it, though, the lemons I used instead of limes (no limes at the grocery store today… thanks, Germany) might have been a nice bridge between the two flavors.

Preheat oven to 500°F (260°C) – my oven is an old model and therefore not the strongest; if you’re working with top-notch appliances, you can roast on a lower temperature. Place 1 whole chicken in a shallow baking dish. Rub with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Stuff the inside cavity with 2 carrots and 2 onions, cut into 2 inch chunks. Scatter remaining carrots and onions outside the pan (you might want to cut up some extra – these turned caramelly sweet after roasting and I wish I’d had more…). Make 6-8 slits in your chicken with the tip of a knife and stuff with garlic cloves. Season chicken liberally with herbs de Province and maybe another round of olive oil. Place in oven and roast for approx. 45 minutes or until skin has crisped up and chicken is cooked through but not dry.

roast chicken with garlic and herbs de provence

red cabbage & green pepper slaw

red cabbage and pepper slaw

Red Cabbage & Pepper Slaw

In a bowl, combine ¼ cup thinly sliced red cabbage, 1 small green pepper, 1 green onion, and 1 small tomato (all chopped). Add ¼ cup rice wine vinegar, ¼ cup olive oil, and 1 tsp sugar. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir. Make this while your chicken is roasting so that the flavors can blend together.

habanero salsa

Habanero Salsa

Finely chop 1 habanero (you might want to cover your hands with plastic wrap or be prepared to burn for the rest of the day) and 1 small onion. Onions in Germany can be very small, so if you’re in the US, you might want to only use ½ an onion. Your habanero to onion ration should be around 1:2. Add the juice of 1 lemon and plenty of salt. Stir and allow flavors to meld.

I also added sour cream and feta cheese to my tacos. But most important, corn tortillas, re-heated in a skillet – or even better straight over the flame if you have a gas stove.

from Tortilleria Los Hermanos in Brooklyn

Anger Cooking/Comfort Eating

by lyzpfister

Don’t even ask me how my day was. Don’t do it.

My roommates asked – and twenty minutes of ranting later they said, “Well, look how… peeled those potatoes are.

And it’s true. They were quite thoroughly peeled and then quite thoroughly chopped. And the onion made me cry. And the eggplant never saw it coming. And I beat the yogurt and lemon juice until it never knew it had been two separate things.

I threw the pan in the oven and sat down. We talked about not me. I took a breath.

My vegetables took an hour to roast (in the way things never really go exactly like you had in mind), but my roommates and I sat in the kitchen. We talked it out. And the aroma of roasting vegetables crept into the kitchen. Soothing.

I heaped the vegetables onto my plate because being angry makes you hungry and sat down to eat, even though I wasn’t even very angry anymore. Just a little bit exhausted.

It took one bit to realize I’d confused the paprika for chili. My mouth burned. A just on the cusp of too much burning, there with the sweetness of onions and rich eggplant, the homey, comforting potatoes. Like the residue of my anger, not overwhelming, not too much for me to bear – just present, just persistent.

Things I’ve Never Done

by lyzpfister

spaghetti carbonara

I don’t think of myself as a particularly brave person. I don’t have stories about skydiving in New Zealand or bungee-jumping off bridges. I’ve never lived in a third-world village or gone on a solo trip through some really high mountains in a country whose language I do not speak.

I was having dinner with a friend a while ago, and he asked me, “What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?”

I said, “I… don’t know.”

And I honestly couldn’t think of anything, with the exception of a few stupid stunts I’d pulled in college. And those were stories which, though funny then, would make me seem like that person now. So – no.

My life is lame, I thought. I should pack up my bags and go to Nepal or live with the Massai for a year or go ice fishing with the Inuits. And learn Yupik. Probably I should learn Yupik. Or something.

But is that what it means for me to live an interesting life, a brave life? Is living bravery on a smaller scale still as brave? Is it relative?

People tell me I’m brave for having moved to New York, for then having moved to Berlin, without knowing (in various combinations for each place) whether I’d find a job, an apartment, friends… But I don’t think of these moves as being brave things. They were just things I had to do. So I did them.

If I don’t feel compelled to go skydiving, does that mean it’s cowardice not to go?

I’ve been thinking about these questions as my life in Berlin settles into place. I’m getting comfortable. Comfortable in my routine, in the way I understand myself and who I am here. But I’m happy. And the feeling I felt before I left New York, that anxious, twitching itch like a circus troupe stuck in my gut – I don’t feel that now.


I don’t want to believe that living a brave life is dependent on where you are – and how exotic it sounds. I want to believe that the daily practice of bravery can sometimes be simple and small and that only we can rate its worth.

My version of bravery is this: asking for enough money for my work , standing up for the things I need, allowing myself to fall in love.

spaghetti carbonara

I could add eating raw eggs to the list – though I’m sure my mother would say that this isn’t bravery, jut a bad idea.

I want to talk about spaghetti carbonara, which until recently, was something I’d never done before. Partly because my mother has instilled in me a pure terror of eating raw eggs and partly because the idea of having to quickly transfer hot noodles into raw eggs and mix in some other stuff with just the right rhythm before the eggs curdle and you’re left with nasty pasta egg stuff kind of scared me.

Spaghetti carbonara is simple – it’s pasta, eggs, ham, cheese, and pepper. The only thing that makes it slightly complicated is the technique – the order in which you put it together, the quick wrist flicks that turn raw eggs into silky, rich sauce.

spaghetti carbonara

As I stood at the stove, however, separating egg yolks from white and listening to the sizzle of fatty pancetta cubes crisping up, I wondered what I’d been afraid of. There was nothing to it but a little prep and a little confidence.

Is this bravery? I wondered. Can bravery be so little as to cook something you’ve never cooked before – something which you were afraid of, though in the scale of fears it was a small fear?

Maybe. Maybe not.

But for right now, the circus troupe is still. I don’t want to go swimming with sharks and no, I don’t want to learn Yupik and live with the Inuits. I like my life. I like where I am and what I’m doing. So for now, spaghetti carbonara and other small braveries will have to do.

spaghetti carbonara

Spaghetti Carbonara

(for 2)

Set a pot of salted water to boil. In the meantime, heat ½ cup cubed pancetta in a slip of olive oil on medium-high heat. When the pancetta has crisped up and slightly browned, remove from heat. Drain the drippings from the meat and reserve. Set the pancetta aside and allow to cool slightly. In a bowl, whisk together 3 egg yolks and 1 whole egg. When your water is boiling, add pasta – enough for two people – and cook according to package instructions. Prepare: ½ cup grated pecorino cheese and 1 ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper. When the pasta is al dente, drain, reserving ¼ cup of the cooking water. Add pancetta to eggs, then add pasta and cooking water to egg mixture. Using two forks, toss the pasta to coat. Gradually add pecorino, tossing pasta until everything is one beautifully luxurious melted cheese, egg mess. Add pepper and salt to taste and give it one last, loving toss.

*A side note on semantics: I realize it’s a bit of a bold move to conflate “a brave life” with “an interesting life.” I look at it in this sense: an interesting life is one in which an individual makes brave choices on a daily basis. And yet, when I think of an interesting life, I tend to think of something more glamorous than what I’m doing, and therefore much harder than what I’m doing, and therefore requiring more bravery than what I’m giving. So really, the semantics are personal and wide open for debate. Discuss.

spaghetti carbonara