I’m a graduate student, voracious reader and writer (once by choice, now by vocation), and talker-to of animals both wild and domestic. I cook and bake to save my sanity and, far too often, to avoid revising papers that I really should be working on. I’m convinced that cooking is underappreciated as a mental wellness practice, and I find sautéeing vegetables or kneading bread more meditative than my yoga relaxation will ever be (my apologies to Steve, my yoga instructor). I read pickling cookbooks cover-to-cover. I spend hours devising increasingly unreasonable ways to raise chickens in my backyard or turn my basement into a salumeria. I can talk for twenty minutes about different ways to make Eggs Benedict. Most of my travels, major life experiences, and memories are attached the meals I ate. I particularly like pickles & preserves, and I’ve recently put my sourdough starter in regular rotation. My favorite foods are eggs, avocados, and brussels sprouts. I’ve recently discovered a burning passion for roasted broccoli that is entirely in opposition to my childhood identity.
about my kitchen
I live in the Midwest at present, in a little house that was built in the 1920s. I love my gas stove, my dusty-green walls, and my three (!) kitchen windows. I don’t love the tiny countertops and attendant lack of cupboard space—I’m constantly looking for ways to find more room. I do almost all of my cooking in cast iron, with the exception of my wok and a few stainless steel pots, and you can rip my restaurant-grade rimmed half-sheet pans out of my cold dead fingers.
about the blog
I cook a wide variety of foods, and the things that strike my fancy in any given week may be influenced by the seasonal produce I find at the farmer’s market, nostalgic memories of childhood favorites (often dressed up in some way), or unapologetic caprice. Most things that I make are relatively simple. I live for one-dish meals and rustic cuisine. I am hard pressed to find a more delicious vegetable preparation than braising or roasting. I will take a hearty stew or a composed salad over an elegant multi-course meal. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but I love baking, so I have a fair selection of desserts. Most meals are either vegetarian or with an easily-removable meat option. In addition, I’ve been growing more and more interested in cocktails over the past couple years, so drink recipes may become more of a featured item than they used to be.
I have a real thing for spices. I buy in bulk. I have an entire drawer of different kinds of dried whole and ground chiles. I routinely have at least three different kinds of cinnamon in my house, and I claim to be able to tell the difference between them. That said, I try to assess what a normal person’s spice drawer might have, and will make a note of when the weird stuff is really necessary, in my opinion, to the dish, and to offer substitutions whenever possible.
about my recipes
My general approach to cooking doesn’t involve measuring or, honestly, following recipes very closely. It’s rare that I actually do exactly what a recipe tells me to, so I often approach my own recipes with the understanding that most of you will do the same. At the same time, I do my best to give you a solid baseline to start from, so that folks who do like to follow a recipe have something to go on—but please, if my recipe calls for 2 pounds of potatoes and you only have 1.5, don’t let that stop you! I can guarantee you that I never do.
Unless otherwise noted, anything spicy has been measured at a medium-mild level of spice. I love spicy food, so most of the things that I make are much spicier than the level I have here, except when I have friends over. Also, most of my desserts are at the low end of sweetness (especially ice creams and sorbets), so if you love super sweet things, you might want to add a bit more sugar.
I’m slowly going through and adding weight measurements for all of my baked goods, and future recipes will have both volume and weight. I highly recommend investing in a decent kitchen scale. At the very least, it can reduce the number of dishes you dirty when you’re baking.
how this website is organized
On my recipes page I keep an updated and cross-indexed list of all the recipes I’ve posted. You can also search at the right of any page, and click on tags/categories (including by season, dietary restriction, course, cuisine, etc.) to find just what you’re looking for. A lot of my vegetable sides can be easily made into a main dish by tossing them with some pasta and/or putting a fried or poached egg on top—the “put a bird on it” tag will take you to my favorite egg accompaniments.
where else can you find me?
I post in-progress recipes, ideas, and general kitchen experiments on Instagram @procrastikitchen (or @iseeitcrimson for food plus pictures of my cats, my other life as an academic, and travel photos). I also tweet @margiehousley and @procrastikitchn—the former is mostly academia, feminism, and cats, and the latter is all food, all the time.