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Sometimes reinventing the wheel is fun. Other times, you just want a classic cocktail. These beautiful cousins — the Negroni and the Americano — are two of my favorites, and if you stretch logic a touch, they’re a perfect fit for the 4th of July.

Classic Cocktails Negroni Recipe and Americano Cocktail Recipe | Umami Girl

Not sure why, but nostalgia and a sort of mostly enjoyable, light melancholy seem to be my groove this flag-waving holiday weekend. Could just be that we’ve packed a lot of feels into a short time period, including a sleepaway camp drop-off and the meeting of an entire new family member, my first-ever niece. Could be yesterday’s eight hours of driving and the perennial fact that, even armed with excellent new podcasts and bursts of ridiculous, awkwardly old/awkwardly new pop music, time alone with my thoughts rarely trends toward simplicity.

Classic Cocktails Negroni Recipe and Americano Cocktail Recipe | Umami Girl

Lucky for my brain, we’ve packed in some great experiences, too.

Saturday, friends hosted a barbecue that included not only a memorable lemon-garlic chicken that I hope to replicate here soon, but also — and this may not be where you think I’m heading — some time in their new and truly wonderful Finnish sauna. Apparently there are more saunas than cars in Finland? After a traditional three rounds of cedar-scented heat blasts alternated with plunges in cold water, I can see why you’d want a sauna more than a drive. I’ve warned our friends to look for me loitering on their lawn with expectant eyes come winter. (For locals, you can have a similar experience at the Bear and Birch Russian banya in Freehold, NJ.) (more…)

This is what we consider to be the perfect guacamole recipe. Creamy, tangy, savory and simple. Hope you love it.

My Perfect Guacamole Recipe | Umami Girl

Editor’s note: I first published this recipe in early-ass 2010, just in time for the Super Bowl. I wanted to make a couple of tweaks to the recipe and to update the…shall we say…discouraging photos that used to accompany it. (There were some sliced olives kinda floating in the bowl? I don’t know.) I’ll leave the original text, which just goes to show that guacamole is 100% appropriate in 100% of circumstances. 🙂 And as with all the recipes in the My Perfect series, “perfect” means it’s one of our long-time absolute favorites, and we make it the same way every time.  (more…)

Mexican Street Corn (Elotes) | Umami Girl

Hello from summertime. I christened our new grill (a Weber Genesis — so far so in love) at lunchtime today with cheeseburgers and Mexican street corn; spent plenty of QT on the porch with some of our most special peeps; and have made an official policy of wearing flip flops to borderline inappropriate events.

But don’t worry. Summer or no, everything else is about the same. I used semicolons, for one thing. I read the Sedaris diaries and finished Master of None. I went on a bit of a Freakonomics podcast bender earlier this week. (Two Koch Brothers episodes later, I am still very much not into the Koch Brothers.) I relearned how to use the the word “stochastic” in a colloquial way and still don’t know or really care how to use it technically.

You know, that kind of thing.  (more…)

Cherry Clafoutis Recipe | Umami Girl

Six (six!) years ago I wrote about cherry crisps and clafoutis. There was no clafoutis recipe, and that was the point. Thinking back once in a while, in various stolen moments throughout the ensuing years, I’d remembered the crisp recipe. (It’s good. Maybe make it soon?) But despite the dripping title of the post — Someday, a Clafoutis. — I hadn’t remembered the greater context of the prose. Guess what, you guys? It was all about moments of unfulfilled potential. The things we haven’t done. The people we haven’t become. The questions we haven’t answered.

Well. Last night I made a cherry clafoutis. And it was really good.

One box checked, then.

Cherry Clafoutis Recipe | Umami Girl (more…)

A crispy chicken sandwich made in a flash with my super-flavorful crispy baked chicken tenders and a rad sauce or two. Summer food that’s kid-friendly and secretly craved by the very best adults. Ahem.

Crispy Chicken Sandwich | Umami Girl

Summertime…and the livin’ is…KID-FRIENDLY. Am I right, parents? Sorry, what was that? I can’t hear you over the rising 4th grader’s constant recording of vlogs for her fake YouTube channel. (Don’t judge. Screen time is everything.) 🙂

These crispy chicken sandwiches are kid-friendly, too. Also, though, very very adult-friendly. I’ve HEARD.

The truth is that we’re ridiculously lucky. Our kids are a little older and not a pain in the arse most of the time. They’re good eaters. They keep themselves busy on a semi-regular basis. They do things I can’t, like two back walkovers in a row and being half an inch taller than me and more than half an inch smarter than me.

So. No real complaints. (I’ll get back to you in August, though, maybe.)  (more…)


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.