I (Adam) like horror movies, but there is one in particular I will never watch again. No matter what you say, or how you try to convince me, I promise you that the words “They’re Heeeere” will never pass through my ear canals again, nor will the sight of a static-filled television screen be in in the presence of my violated pupils. I couldn’t sleep for a month after watching Poltergeist, and now anytime there is a thunder storm, I can’t experience it without counting the seconds between lightning strikes and remembering that terrorizing scene. Granted, I was eight when I saw it in the theater for the first time, but that film has scarred me for the rest of my life. Ryan saw it as an adult and claims that it is a horror/comedy, so he can go ahead, watch it, and laugh as much as he wants—so long as I am out of the house, because there is absolutely nothing funny about a creepy clown hiding under your bed and attacking you when you’re all alone in your room in the middle of the night. “Comedy” isn’t the first word that comes to mind when I think of that. Every Halloween we like to make fun treats and watch scary movies… just not that one. Since the holiday falls on a Monday this year, people will be celebrating all weekend long, and we came up with a simple and delicious snack for the festivities: pumpkin cranberry crisps that are easy to make and so addicting, they are frightening!
We love throwing dinner parties. Sometimes we’ll prepare an entire evening based around a particular place in the world. Ryan grew up eating Cuban food, and we have often chosen that theme since we have so many wonderful family recipes. A typical dinner party menu would include black beans and rice, our 20-clove garlicky yuca, a side of crispy tostones, a pitcher of sangria, and the silkiest flan for dessert—a simple classic recipe that Ryan’s abuelita and mother would make when he was growing up. One night a few years ago, we were fortunate to be invited to a dinner party where our friend Sarosh cooked a feast of delicious Pakistani dishes from her childhood. Everything she prepared was so incredibly flavorful that we asked for a few of the recipes and have been enjoying them ever since. These cooler fall breezes inspired us to make this traditional spicy daal the other night and we realized that it had to be shared with the world. So with the permission of our dear friend, we invite you to try this authentic masoor daal, a simple South Asian delicacy here to welcome September with its spicy, warm, and comforting flavors and beautifully appropriate fall color.
I (Adam) remember the day we brought home the new 1977 Cadillac Seville. With a stylish light tan exterior and a dark brown top, it had more space for the family, the beige leather seats were soft and comfortable, it boasted automatic locks and windows, it was our first car with air conditioning, and best of all it had a fancy 8-track cassette deck. I still clearly remember the music collection that my parents kept in that car: there was a bright blue Barry Manilow Live cassette that I would obsessively sing along with until I lost my voice or until my parents couldn’t take it anymore and asked me to stop. My mom worked in real estate, and this was the new luxury car for showing clients around town, an impressive replacement for the dark blue ’65 Volkswagen bug that she had been driving since her 16th birthday. Despite its classy appearance, the Cadillac ended up having lots of problems over the years. When I was fourteen, it caught fire one night as we were driving home through Topanga Canyon. The engine started to make an awful sound, and when I looked out the window, flames were shooting out from the sides of the car. We immediately pulled over, and ran as far away as we could. There we stood, helpless, on the side of the road in the middle of the dark canyon, waiting for the car to explode.
This recipe was destined to be shared with the world. In 2010, while Adam’s band was touring the West Coast, they stumbled upon a Puerto Rican restaurant called Sol Food just twenty miles north of San Francisco. None of the guys had ever tried this type of cuisine before, but everyone instantly fell in love. The outside of the restaurant was painted a vibrant green and the interiors were decorated with colorful vintage doors and lush tropical plants. Adam ordered a flat pressed vegetarian sandwich with avocado, roasted red peppers, sautéed onions, organic greens, sliced tomato, Jack cheese and a tasty cilantro-lime mayo, and it was one of the best sandwiches he had ever tasted. On every table in the restaurant there was a mysterious bottle of red sauce with no label, and as the guys looked around, they could see other customers generously pouring it over everything: sandwiches, black beans and rice, and yuca. Well, they started by adding a few tentative drops to their dishes, but by the end of the meal they were all practically drinking it straight from the bottle. It was spicy, tangy, and deeply flavorful: filled with bright chiles and just the slightest hint of sweetness, it was unlike anything Adam had ever tasted, and he had to find out more about it.
Four years ago, we had the pleasure of visiting Japan for the first time. Adam’s band was performing at the Fuji Rock Festival, high in the mountains three hours north of Tokyo. After the last show, the rest of the group went home while the two of us ventured around the country for ten days, falling completely in love with the Japanese people and their inspiring culture. We took bullet trains to Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, Miyajima, and Hiroshima, traveling across the countryside, spending a few days in each city, visiting pristine gardens and ancient Buddhist temples, while learning where to find the best vegetarian meals and how to properly ask for them. Throughout the day, we often found ourselves saying, “watashi wa bejitarian desu,” hoping they would understand that we were politely communicating, “I am vegetarian.” We snacked on inari (sweet tofu pockets filled with sushi rice), we lived off onigiri with umeboshi (white rice triangles wrapped in seaweed with a sour plum center), we found unique tiny restaurants on hidden side streets serving bowls of hot udon noodles, ramen, and miso soup, we tried a savory pancake called okonomiyaki, sampled multiple flavors of sweet mochi candies, and discovered a delicious noodle dish called zaru soba. This light and refreshing entree quickly became our go-to meal in Japan, and since it is served cold, it makes a perfect summertime dinner that is easy to prepare and fun to eat!