The Otium

Seasonal scratch cooking in the heart of the Mountain West

Holiday S’Mores – Gingerbread Grahams, Cranberry Marshmallows, & Red Wine + Maple Poached Cherry Cordials

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Happy New Year!  In the spirit of healthy resolutions, I’ll post an indulgent, sweet recipe, but it will be a recipe that you won’t want to make for another 12 months, at which time your resolution will be long broken.

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At Thanksgiving, my mother-in-law confessed that she had tried a s’more for the first time in her life this past summer.  After getting over my initial surprise, I got to wondering why we associate s’mores almost exclusively with summer.  Sure, summer lakeside camping goes with evening campfires, which lends itself perfectly to toasted marshmallows, and naturally, to s’mores. (more…)

Cranberry & Ginger Ale Panna Cotta

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The S.O. and I spent Thanksgiving back in Michigan with his family.  It was a wonderful trip — how we miss the Mitten State!  But I knew Thanksgiving day food prep was going to be a challenge.  Since the S.O. and I were in a hotel, there wasn’t much we could do to help with food prep ahead of time.  The in-laws’ oven was the only oven we had, and it was working overtime to bake bread, several casseroles, and the turkey.  So I knew that a pie would just complicate matters — plus, my father-in-law and I are the only pie-eaters of the bunch. (more…)

Stilton & Beurre Noisette Dutch Baby with Winter Squash and Sage Whipped Cream

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Fall has come and gone so much faster than I wanted.  There are a dozen stagnant items on my to-do list that have been glaring at me since September.  They’re a constant, looming reminder of how quickly time has gotten away from me these past few months.  Work has been beyond hectic.  But with grades submitted today and a job offer for my first graduated grad student, I am beginning to feel like I’m getting back in control of my to-do list…

…even if only temporarily.  This winter break could not have come at a better time, as I am bracing for an awful January and February.  I’ll have four weeks of travel and a week of jury duty in the first six weeks of the new year, on top of four major proposal deadlines in that same span.

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But for now, I’m breathing deep and unwinding.  I’m drinking lots of wine while binge-watching The Good Wife.  I’m getting a 90 minute massage tomorrow morning.  I’m going to cook up a storm this Christmas.  And in the meantime, I also want to share this recipe with you. (more…)

Delicata Squash & Cardamom Sticky Buns

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I don’t remember any of the Christmas gifts I received during my childhood.  Rather, my most vivid memories of Christmas morning was waking up to the sweet, buttery smell of freshly-baked cinnamon rolls or sticky buns.  My mom would let my sister and me each open one present before she made us eat breakfast — but to me, breakfast was the real present, as I will never forget how those sticky, gooey rolls tasted.  My childhood winter holidays — Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve — were all punctuated with this same memory of rich cinnamony or caramelly rolls for breakfast.  So to this day, I still associate the heartwarming love and comfort of a quiet winter holiday with sticky breakfast rolls. (more…)

Blueberry & Coconut Mochi Waffles

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It’s been a long time since I’ve lived in Hawaii — 14 years and 2 months, to be specific — and the longer I’m away, the more I feel disconnected from the lifestyle.  But what keeps me feeling at least marginally tied to the islands is my parents and their obligation to continue to send care packages. (more…)