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Roxane's 20 Minute Vegan Sushi Bowls | Umami GirlA few weeks ago I promised you my dear friend Roxane’s recipe for 20 minute vegan sushi bowls. On our summer trip to Canada, we were lucky enough to be served these beautiful bowls by the fabulous chef herself. Roxane adapted the recipe from Jamie Oliver, slashing the cooking time in half so that it truly can serve as an alternative to takeout on busy nights. You may be thinking of school nights, and that makes sense. I’m thinking of the time when we narrowly skirted a reenactment of Night at the Museum at Calgary’s TELUS Spark science center and didn’t have a lot of time to get dinner ready afterward. (By the way, Roxane recommends keeping a jar of the dressing in the fridge to make meal prep even faster. She doesn’t have any advice for keeping your hyper-nerdy behavior in check, and that’s one of the reasons why I love her.)

Roxane's 20 Minute Vegan Sushi Bowls | Umami Girl
This weekend I’ll be celebrating birthdays, crossing my fingers for soccer game rainouts, christening my new (and first ever!) waffle iron, indulging in some bulk recycling (helloooo, things adults get excited about!) and testing my resolve. Stay tuned to find out whether I actually follow through on my threat to THROW AWAY EVERYTHING that the rest of the family leaves strewn around the house.

Have a great weekend. See you soon.

Carolyn xx

{Get the recipe for Roxane’s 20 Minute Vegan Sushi Bowls}

Homemade Twix Cookies with Googly Eyes | Umami GirlYou guys. These cookies. Aren’t they cute? Looking at them makes me giggle, which is easier now that they’re all gone and I’m no longer stealing away to the home office to eat them without the kids noticing. That was getting messy. Because here’s the thing: they’re SURPRISINGLY delicious. If you grew up liking Twix, you’ll love these homemade Twix cookies made with vaguely grown-up buttery shortbread cookies, creamy caramel and milk chocolate.

Plus, they adhere to my cardinal rule that food decorating needs to be easy and make a decently big impact compared to the effort you put in. What’s not to like? Trick (or treat) question: it’s ALL to like. Unless you have braces and can’t do caramel. Then we might need to talk.

Homemade Twix Cookies with Googly Eyes | Umami GirlYou all know that I’m not a huge processed foods fan or even the type to crave sweets all that much. Give me cheese over sugar any day. They don’t call me Umami Girl for nothing. (Nope, they call me that because it’s the name I chose for myself eight years ago and now intermittently and vaguely regret.) But something about these cookies — maybe the combination of nostalgia and simple, easy to love flavors — made me more than happy to invoke the mama tax and eat my share of the leftovers after we’d packaged up the bulk of these little faces for our school’s Harvest Fest last weekend.

Homemade Twix Cookies with Googly Eyes | Umami Girl It could also be those sweet, pleading eyes, right? It’s my EMPATHY that made me eat them, you see?

Homemade Twix Cookies with Googly Eyes | Umami Girl Ooookay, I think I’d better go before this gets as awkward as some of my real-life interactions. Not much to report from that department for the past few weeks (that I know of, anyway), but at an end-of-summer event I definitely walked away from an older gentleman knowing it would be best if we never spoke again.

Introvert Bee Cartoon

It’s fine.

Talk to you soon.

Carolyn xx

{Get the Homemade Twix Cookies recipe.}

Quick Indian Spinach and Chickpea Curry | Umami Girl‘Tis the season for 20-minute dinners. Sometimes that means raiding the pantry for a crowd-pleasing 5 Minute Taco Bowl. (Five minutes makes you a total overachiever in the 20 minute dinner game, by the way.) Sometimes it means swinging by the Whole Foods prepared foods aisle for a dinner of I Want Sushi, You Want Indian, She’s Having Mac and Cheese, But Mom Can I Get Soup. The tagline for that aisle should be, “The Food’s Prepared So You Don’t Have to Be.” And sometimes maybe you’ve had a chance to breathe for a minute or take a sip of wine, and you want something warm and comforting and nourishing that still takes hardly any time or effort. That’s where I was one evening last week, and we had this quick Indian spinach and chickpea curry. 

Quick Indian Spinach and Chickpea Curry | Umami GirlTo be fair, as is usually the case when I borrow flavors and techniques from various countries, I think it’s a little bold to call this dish “Indian” without any qualifiers. It incorporates lots of the spices found in Indian cuisine — ginger and turmeric, garam masala, brown mustard seeds — but I wouldn’t exactly tie it to a particular region. I’d call it Indian-ish curry-ish, but that’s hard to spell, so.

Quick Indian Spinach and Chickpea Curry | Umami GirlLet’s just eat it and not ask too many questions, shall we? I think you’ll be glad. 

Happy Monday. See you soon.

Carolyn xx


{Get the Quick Indian Spinach and Chickpea Curry recipe.}

{My perfect spaghetti al pomodoro has been one of my top-five meals since 1977, a.k.a. since I started cutting teeth. It’s about time I shared it, don’t you think?}My Perfect Spaghetti al Pomodoro | Umami Girl

Last week I listened to a podcast that reminded me about the “curse of knowledge,” which means essentially that once you know something, it’s nearly impossible to imagine not knowing it. This results in all kinds of vague advice and terrible teaching that the teacher thinks is perfectly good because she’s like, “Well I understood what I meant!” I try to think about this idea pretty much every time I develop a recipe. Do people know you have to peel garlic, or not to fill a blender too high with hot soup? Me being me, I’m sure this line of thinking translates less into consistently useful content for you guys and more into a general sense of malaise for me.

Isn’t that fun? I’m fun.

But I’m thinking of the curse of knowledge now because I realized last week that it’s resulted in my omitting this entire recipe from the blog for a full eight years. My perfect spaghetti al pomodoro (or spaghetti with simple tomato sauce) has been one of my top five favorite meals since I cut teeth. It should have been one of the first recipes I shared with you. And yet. I guess some part of me assumed you knew. With a curse like that, I might as well have a lightning-shaped scar on my forehead, if you know what I mean. (I’m not entirely sure *I* know what I mean, so please feel free to let me know.)

Anyway, here it is. My perfect spaghetti al pomodoro. I hope you’ll cook it enough to make up for lost time. 

I’ve included the method for finishing this dish the proper way, and it’s really worth it if you can find a few extra minutes. But I’ve also included two separate methods for dumbing down the ending, each of which is still perfect in its own way.

Cin cin, or “ding!” as we used to say, growing up Gratzer, when we clinked glasses at the dinner table. Enjoy your spaghetti. See you soon.

Carolyn xx 

P.S. As with all the “my perfect” recipes on the blog (and you can type that phrase into the search bar to find the rest), I don’t mean to be a royal arse shouting MINE is better than YOURS. I just mean, man, this is one of those recipes where we’ve nailed it. It’s perfect for our taste buds, and we don’t tinker with it. You, of course, are free to tinker as you please.

{Get the recipe for My Perfect Spaghetti al Pomodoro.}

Wagamama-style Chili Salt Edamame | Umami GirlWhen we lived in London, I noticed right away that one of the things Brits do better than Americans is convenience food. Supermarkets, grab-and-go food shops and simple sit-down restaurant chains in London tend to offer much fresher, more interesting food made from real ingredients. Wagamama is a great example in the sit-down category. (I know they exist in the US now too, but they originate in England and are ubiquitous there.) Two years and 3,500 miles later, I still crave Wagamama’s chili salt edamame from time to time. They’re so good and, luckily, so easy to make at home that I often put a bowl on the counter for after-school snacks or pre-dinner noshing.

As seems to be a theme here recently, I hesitate to even call this a recipe, what with its microwave cookery and slim ingredient list. All the same, it’s just the kind of quick, satisfying, good-for-you food many of us need at this time of year. You can easily adjust the spice and salt levels to please your palate and your crowd.

Okay, let’s knock this Monday outta the park. See you soon.

Carolyn xx

{Get the Chili Salt Edamame Recipe.}


Hi there, I'm Carolyn, and I'm delighted you're here. I'm a NYC-area food, travel, yoga, coffee, wine, running, music making and book obsessive with a great family and a love for sharing it all with you. Grab a drink and come on in. Learn more.


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