A properly baked potato with lots of sea salt and real butter, hold the sour cream.
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What's one recipe you can't wait to cook this fall?
Well, it's not really a recipe, but I always look forward to eating my first hot pot when the weather starts getting cold. Since it's a communal dining experience, it always promises a fun night with good friends and a full belly at the end. My friends Tony and Angela always throw the best hot pots, and all I have to do is show up with some veggies, tofu, fish balls, and/or fried seitan.
Describe your most spectacular kitchen triumph.
Every year my church puts on a Thanksgiving dinner for internationals to introduce them to the American tradition, and last year we managed to roast six 24-pound turkeys and make salad, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, buttered corn, dinner rolls, and two kinds of pies for 150 people! I learned spatchcocking turkeys is truly a lifesaver, although my hands were sore for days after from trying to cut all those backbones out with subpar kitchen shears.
What's your ideal meal this time of year?
Soup! My friend Geoff had this great idea of starting a "Soup Group" last year where every week people would come together, eat soup, and make memories. The people who brought the soup rotated each week so I got to try a ton of different soups from a lot of different cultures!
Music or no music while cooking?
I don't mind music, but I also really enjoy the sounds that come just from cooking: the gurgling of a simmering soup, the sizzling from pan-frying, and even the staticky crackle of a loaf of bread that's just been taken out of the oven.
What cookbooks do you take the most inspiration from?
I love Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream at Home because I love making ice cream, and not only are there a ton of fun, non-traditional flavors in there, but she also includes a good, eggless base so I can experiment with my own flavors. And of course, The Joy of Cooking, because otherwise the name of my blog would just be a boring, literal description and not a play on words.
Favorite fall dessert: Go. Fresh, piping hot, and crispy cider donuts, rolled in cinnamon sugar. They're best if bought from a real apple orchard, paired with a glass of cold apple cider, and eaten with people you love.