My three-day cookathon & first chocolate babka

I’m notorious for my aversion to hot weather. I’ve stayed home in my central air conditioning all day this summer about as much as I stayed in during our recent icy winter. Fortunately I am not easily bored, I can always find something to do, and am also making up for all the years I never got to read as much as I’d have liked to.

So, when I recently spent 2 hot and humid days and then 1 very rainy day inside (yes, 3 days in a row), I filled the time with plenty of home cooking (and a little writing and a lot of reading). Here’s what I made, with links to recipes and photos below:

Canal House marinated zucchini (2nd time I’ve made this winner), oven-baked pork chops with mustard sauce, lemon roasted potatoes (just baked with olive oil and a quartered small lemon), Eggplant Farro Salad (another 2-time winner), baked plum tomatoes topped with bread crumbs (inspired by this article, thank you Pat Tanner and Rachel Weston), and a batch of salad dressing – no photo of that, I just shake it up in a pretty corked jar that once held balsamic vinegar. This batch was made with mustard, garlic, s & p, and lemon olive oil I needed to use up (usually I use plain EVOO). I used 2 kinds of vinegar, red wine and balsamic. (Straight balsamic is a bit too sweet for me.)

And nary a dessert in the bunch. But that’s because a friend had just given me a chocolate babka that she bought and found – I kid you not – “too chocolaty.” We’d been curious about the chocolate babka we’ve seen at Bon Appetit, so she finally broke down and tried it. (Looking at photos and ratings online, I suspect these come from Green’s in New York, which is often the source of babkas – chocolate or cinnamon – you buy in good stores.)

Now, I did not grow up with babka, so had no pre-conceived notion of what it was supposed to be, but I suspect my friend did, and this just wasn’t it for her. Understandable, but I loved it, at least I did once I toasted a fat slice and buttered it lightly. Oh heaven. It sort of fanned out and became delicate enough that it was easiest to eat with a fork. I do think it would be too dry for me to enjoy on its own, but that’s because it really is a type of bread. It’s made with yeasted dough, so should not be confused with cake. So, in my mind, I thought bread = toasting, and that was perfection. And, with that, Happy Rosh Hashanah to you!

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