At least she's wearing a hairnet

I'll be honest with you guys. After Burns Night and Lunar New Year, my supply of theme-enthusiasm was pretty much tapped by the end of last week. I know it usually seems like I have a distressing compulsion bottomless well of inspiration, but faced with a Groundhog Day/Super Bowl combo, all I managed to do was make a bunch of food that was…brown. Well, more beige really. Welcome to my Beige Foods party. It could be really appropriate, I don't know, I've never seen a groundhog up close.

Spicy fried chickpeas.

Healthy homemade cheddar crisps. Come to think of it, I'm not sure I've ever seen a football up close either.

Easy stovetop macaroni, peas, bacon, and cheese.

The good news is, all of the above wildly-thematic recipes are from Library Cookbook #2: In The Kitchen With A Good Appetite by Melissa Clark. Now, I realize I never properly wrapped up Library Cookbook #1, because disorganization is apparently built-in to this year's project, so here we go: Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi is a lovely book full of vegetables. The pictures are appealing, the recipes I tried were largely successful, and I liked having a book of vegetarian items written by a non-vegetarian because there were a lot of good meat-pairing suggestions. Like I mentioned before, pretty much all of the included recipes seem to be available through his column over on The Guardian, so it's easy to experiment and see if you like his style. I did!

You know who else I like? Melissa Clark. I have no idea how it took me so long to find her, but I have been reading In The Kitchen With A Good Appetite page by page, like a novel. Or rather, not like a novel, because I am reading it quickly and with enthusiasm. She's so entertaining and informative and somehow comforting! I wonder why I'm the only one who has ever heard of--oh, what's that, she is super popular and writes for The New York Times dining section? Ah. That makes sense.

Fine, so I haven't unearthed some undiscovered gem of a writer, I have just managed to stumble across a well-known and well-regarded one, but stumble I did. And now I know the very, very best and easiest way to cook fish after many years of using non-best, non-easiest methods. STEAM. I'm telling you. FISH PLUS STEAM EQUALS GOOD DINNER.

Steamed wild salmon with mustard greens.

I try not to overstate things around here, but that is probably the least difficult, most effective cooking technique ever developed in the history of humans or animals.

Unfortunately, some things do still require quite a bit of work, kitchen clean-up being a prominent example. Good thing I have a highly contagious yet enthusiastic helper!

All clean!