when October disappeared in a flash


Just in case the four of you who still check in here from time to time are wondering, we’re doing fine, slowly settling in and adjusting to our new home in NoVa. This has not been the smoothest of transitions for a variety of reasons, but after two months here, I think I’m finally getting to the point where I wake up in the morning and I don’t feel like I’m living someone else’s life.

My new role has kept me extremely busy – and even though I was warned, I had no idea just how busy I was going to be. More days than not, I see the kids for 10-15 minutes in the morning before I head out the door, and then if I see them at all when I get home in the evening, it’s for just a few minutes before their bedtime. As you can imagine, that’s been hard on us all. But our kids are nothing if not resilient, and we’ve been trying to fill our weekends with as much fun and together-time as we can muster.


As you can also imagine, our dinners have been, of necessity, as simple as possible. Mike has taken on the lion’s share of the cooking, and we’ve been the lucky recipients of a few edible care packages from my mom. But I’ve had a few chances to knock around in our new kitchen, and one recent dinner that elicited a lot of comments on social media was my tried-and-true sheet pan nachos. So for those of you who asked, here’s how I make them.


These are super easy and endlessly adaptable, and you can even prep most of the components ahead of time. I start by lining my pan with parchment (foil also works but isn’t quite as sturdy), and drizzling on just a tiny bit of olive oil. Then for each pan I’m preparing, I spread 1 can of refried black or pinto beans in the center, leaving maybe a 1.5 inch border around the edge (I’ve found one sheet pan serves 4 adults generously). I put a layer of chips around the edge, then scatter a cup or two of grated cheese all over (cheddar, Jack, pepper jack, mozzarella, or any combo works well). That goes into a preheated 350 degree oven just until the cheese starts to bubble.

While the tray is in the oven, I get the remaining layers together (amounts are per pan): a can (or 1.5 cups cooked from dry) black or pinto beans, drained; another 1-2 cups grated cheese; seasoned ground or shredded beef or shredded or chopped chicken (I cook mine with a mix of cumin and garlic and chili powders or paste, plus a little tomato – like so). Or skip the meat entirely and pile on some zucchini or corn or mushrooms. For the nachos pictured here, I had a container of peperonata to use up, so I put that on too – but plain roasted peppers and onions also work well.


All of that gets layered on to the beans/cheese, with some additional chips squished in (I sort of stand them on edge to they don’t get too soggy). Then it all goes back into the oven for about 10 minutes to warm through. I finish it under the broiler (did I mention our new oven has a broiler on top? We are SO EXCITED about this), pulling the tray out when the cheese is golden brown.

Then just before serving, add your cold toppings. I like to shred red cabbage and toss it with salt and a little fresh lime juice to scatter over the top, but shredded lettuce works just as well. Sliced or chopped avocado is great, as are diced fresh tomatoes, black olives, pickled or fresh red onions, scallions, pickled or fresh jalapeños, sour cream or Mexican crema or Greek yogurt, and of course your favorite salsa/hot sauce. And I always serve the nachos with extra bowls of chips on the side.


Oh, and if you happen to have leftovers, the “put an egg on it” rule totally applies. It’s nice to know that some things never change.


A little shameless spouse-promotion
: while we were in the midst of this major life upheaval, my dearest wrapped up work on his second book! Whiskey: A Spirited Story with 75 Classic and Original Cocktails is set for release in May of next year, and is currently available for pre-order. As if that weren’t enough excitement, that same day the revised and updated paperback edition of Shrubs hits stores, with a foreword by Imbibe executive editor, Paul Clarke. Both books feature lovely cover art by Vancouver photographer, blogger, and woman-about-town Kristy Gardner. Never a dull moment Chez Dietschblossom!


one small thing


I’ve been feeling a range of big emotions for the last week – anger, sadness, fear, disgust, despair, and a sense of utter powerlessness. What is going on in Ferguson, MO is ugly and horrific, and the more I read, the more I wish I could do something, anything, to help make things better, to support those who are fighting for justice. I was at a loss until this morning, when a friend on Facebook posted a link to the St. Louis Area Food Bank.

Schools in Ferguson are still closed, which means that kids who qualify for free lunch may not be getting it. Ferguson is also considered a food desert. One small thing we can do from our computers is to help feed people. I’m donating now. Can you? http://stlfoodbank.org/

a little big news

shrubs teaser

If you were around last Friday, you may have heard my husband‘s big announcement; and if you haven’t, well, I feel it is my duty to share some wonderful news with you.

While I’ve been spending the last few months not-so-much-cooking, and not-so-much-eating, and mostly putting all my energy into incubating Sprog 2.0, Mike has been pouring his heart and soul and considerable talents into a pretty major project of his own: a book. SHRUBS: AN OLD-FASHIONED DRINK FOR MODERN TIMES, is set for release in July of 2014. If you don’t yet know what a shrub is, well, my Dietsch is the guy to explain it to you.

shrubs cover 500sq

My own involvement with this project goes a little beyond taste tester and head cheerleader, as well: I shot the cover (!), and will be providing additional photos for the book (!!), which is exciting and surreal and more than a little nerve-wracking, since our deadline falls right around the time the new baby is due, but hey, an opportunity like this is a once in a lifetime thing. It’s a thrill to have some tiny part in helping Mike’s lifelong dream become a reality.

Big, big congrats, sweetie – I am so proud of you, and hopefully this is just the beginning.

I’m an Olive Adventurer!


I don’t usually post about brand partnerships here, but I have a longstanding love for olives, and when I was asked earlier this year by the folks at Lindsay Olives to contribute a couple of my original recipes to their Olive Adventurer series, I was happy to oblige. (I’m in excellent company, as you can see!)

You can get my recipes for Braised Escarole with White Beans and Olives, and Spaghettini alla Caponata (pictured above) over at LindsayOlives.com. Enjoy!

pico de gallo

feeding a family

tomatoes at market

It seems like just yesterday that we were bleary-eyed parents of a newborn, struggling to figure out how to keep this tiny little dependent creature fed and clean and happy, while taking care of ourselves, too. We didn’t have family nearby, and we had a very limited amount of freezer space, so we ate a lot of sandwiches from the deli down the street, and a lot of what I call “stuff on toast” – sardines and avocado, ricotta and jam, pretty much anything we could prepare quickly and eat one-handed.

peppers, pickled

We’ll be in that situation again soon, this time with a hungry toddler to feed as well, and you’d better believe Mike and I are already talking strategy, testing out new one-dish meals, and planning a rotation of things we can have around to keep us all nourished and happy. Some local friends of ours, whose son is one of Julian’s buddies, are in the same boat, having just welcomed a new baby girl to the world. Some of the other neighborhood moms had the wonderful idea to organize a sort of “meal train”, with everyone signing up for a night and taking over a meal to the family, and of course we were happy to contribute.

pico de gallo

My original thought was to send over a roast chicken dinner, which is great hot or cold and is so versatile – but with temperatures on our selected day still in the 90s, something a bit fresher and brighter seemed more appropriate. And since our friends said they were pretty much game for anything, I thought a taco dinner would be fun.

whole lotta brisket

I picked up a 5 lb. slab of brisket and braised it low and slow in the oven for the better part of a day in a mix of mild chiles, smoky spices, and a splash of coffee, then I carved the super-tender meat into shreds and chunks. I reduced the braising liquid by about half on the stovetop, returning the meat to the sauce and finishing it with a good hit of fresh lime juice.


I made a big pot of Borrachos with some Cayuga Farm pinto beans and home-pickled jalapenos, and a big pot of Mexican rice as well. We had a ton of juicy, ping pong ball-sized tomatoes from the farmers’ market that made a terrific pico de gallo, and a wee head of red cabbage that I shredded for a cilantro and lime-spiked slaw.

care package

I packaged everything up and packed it into a tote with some soft tortillas, fresh lime wedges, and some beer for the grown-ups.

brisket tacos

I set aside a little of everything for us, too. Quality control is important.


Mike and Julian took our care package over early the next day, and Mike reports the food (and beer) were very much appreciated. I’m just happy we could make one of those early, bleary-eyed days with a new baby a little easier for our friends.


getting started

You guys just blow me away. Thank you so much for your kind words, your links and tweets and retweets. I had no idea that last post would hit home for so many of you. I think my heart grew three sizes this past week. Truly, thank you.


Speaking of giving thanks, and Thanksgiving, ours, aside from a bit of a plumbing emergency, was pretty fantastic. We had beautiful weather, a delicious meal, and we have just about finished the last of our leftovers. I made gumbo and sandwiches, and a dish I called the “hot mess” casserole. It was homely as heck, but delicious.


I got to watch my kid eat pumpkin pie for the first time. Which was pretty awesome.

it's here!

And a little something fun arrived in the mail.

we made a cookbook. again.

You guys. We made a cookbook. Again! Big congrats to all my fellow cooks and the whole food52 team. I’m so honored to be part of your community.

And to all of you reading, I hope your Thanksgiving holiday was as full of smiles as ours was.

the bird, out of the oven

Our 2012 Thanksgiving Feast (with links to recipes, where applicable):

Tuscan Chicken Liver Paté
Russ Parsons’ Dry-Brined Turkey (a.k.a. The Judy Bird), with a cider-spiked turkey gravy
Mrs. Wheelbarrow‘s incomparable Challah, Mushroom, and Celery Stuffing
mashed fingerlings
my Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Warm Cider Vinaigrette
roasted sweet potato rounds with fried sage
Canal House’s Cranberry-Port Gelée (holy cow, was this good – and we’re not big fans of the sauce, usually)
Meta Given’s Pumpkin Pie
Le Cinsault par Familongue

after the storm


Like many New Yorkers, I’ve been engrossed in the media coverage following Hurricane Sandy. My heart has sunk more each day, as each new piece of news brings a fuller picture of the damage and destruction left behind. The area was hit with a nor’easter right after the storm, and though last weekend brought a brief respite from the cold, temperatures have continued to drop, and more rain is expected today. For those still in the thick of piecing their lives back together, it must feel completely overwhelming.

Two weeks after the storm, co-workers are still trickling back in to my midtown office, sharing their stories and the stories of those close to them who were affected. The office itself was closed for nearly a week, sustaining damage after a corner-office window blew out, taking down ceiling tiles and spewing glass, water, and debris all around. Some friends and co-workers were without power or heat or both for a week or more, some of them with pets or small children. Others find themselves harboring friends or family who have lost everything. It’s heartbreaking and sobering.

Personally, we were lucky – we had wind and rain, but we never lost power, only briefly lost our cable internet, and the biggest challenges we faced were a few days of screwy commutes, trying to avoid downed trees and tree limbs in the neighborhood, and keeping Julian from going completely stir-crazy while we were homebound in the days immediately after the storm. We have absolutely nothing to complain about and so very much to be grateful for.

So many have lost so much, and the road to recovery looks to be a long one. Thanksgiving is a little over a week away, and thereafter, the days and weeks will blur as we move through the December holidays. My heart breaks to think of those New Yorkers whose holidays will never be the same, and I sincerely hope that they won’t be forgotten in the weeks and months ahead.

There are already some terrific wrap-ups of who is doing what toward the relief effort and how you can help, but I’d like to throw a few more links out there:

First, I’ve been incredibly inspired by what people in all corners of our dear city have done in these last two weeks, how they’ve organized and mobilized and have Gotten Shit Done while FEMA and the Red Cross have been, from many reports, largely MIA. Ben Heemskerk of The Castello Plan in our neighborhood has been particularly active in commandeering the troops around here and sending caravans of buses loaded with food and supplies out to communities in need.

And as you well know, we here at LND are big softies when it comes to the fuzzy creatures of the world. I was heartsick to read about the devastation many stray/feral cat colonies experienced in storm-damaged waterfront communities. The folks from North Brooklyn Cats, Neighborhood Cats, and the SI Feral Initiative, Inc. continue to do heroic work to care for these animals, often at great personal expense.

Finally, there is the Occupy movement. Their swift and focused response has taken my breath away, and I think their use of Amazon’s gift registry is simply brilliant.

If you’re still looking for a way to help, maybe you could send these folks, and those they’re working so hard to help, a little love.

[We’ll be back to the food here soon, I hope, with an update on our first 12 Months | 12 Dishes project… I’ve just had a hard time summoning up the enthusiasm to write about cooking with everything that’s going on in our beloved New York. We sincerely hope you and yours are safe, warm, dry, and well.]