The Time Has Come

I created The Kitchen Illiterate over six years ago, when I decided that I should probably learn to cook some foods that didn’t come out of boxes. It has been a wonderful adventure: I discovered a whole world that didn’t exist to me before this. I learned so much and developed a passion for good food and a comfort in taking up my place in front of the stove.

Over those six years, the world of food blogging has grown into something substantial and mature. When I started, there were a handful of people taking pictures in their kitchens and sharing their experiences, both successful and, ahem, less so. Now, the internet is full of so much breathtaking work: incredible photography, innovative cooking, witty and insightful writing. I take great pleasure in living in a time when ordinary people can showcase their amazing skills on the web, and can share what we create easily and inexpensively.

For those of you who have followed my growth as a cook, enjoyed my recipes, and given me encouragement and support, thank you so much for being part of this with me. I’ve realized recently that this space is one that I no longer feel that I need, but it, and you, have been so important to my culinary education (not to mention my growth as a writer and photographer). Lately, I’ve found that cooking has been woven into the fabric of my daily life so deeply that I no longer feel the impulse or need to share it. While I still have so much to learn, my desire to record it all has waned, and so I think it’s time for me to say good bye to The Kitchen Illiterate.

The site will not disappear, so if you’ve got recipes bookmarked, don’t worry! You’ll still be able to access them. But I won’t be updating here anymore.

Of course, I am still writing, and occasionally even about food. If you’d like to keep up with my crafting, cooking, and general homebody-ing ways, you can find me at Thank you so much for reading, sharing, and being part of this experience with me.

22. April 2013 by laura k
Categories: housekeeping | 2 comments

2012, The End of the Year

Well, I have to admit, this project really went out with a whimper. I have accepted that I am not good at projects that require me to do something every day for X period of time. I am too forgetful for that. Still, I had fun documenting the year, and even more fun looking back. Here’s the wrap up of the end of 2012:

Denver Zoo Lights
Dec 21 – We went to Denver for the holidays to see Sean’s family. Our first night in town we went to the Denver Zoo to see the Zoo Lights. It was beautiful, but I have clearly forgotten how to dress for actual cold weather since I left Boston. My feet nearly froze off. I made everyone leave early because I could hardly walk. Doh.

It's Not Real
Dec 21 – This guy startled all of us. He is not real, but he sure is lifelike.

Old School Dorits
Dec 22 – I saw this totally old school package of Doritos at a Denver supermarket, and I thought it was rad. Note, I did not BUY the old school Doritos. But I swooned a little inside, because I love all things nostalgic.

Beer Cheese Soup
Dec 24 – Our beer cheese soup never had such a nice home. Christmas Eve at Steph and Eddie’s was so lovely.

The rest of my holidays went by in a whirl, without a single picture taken. Ok, without a single picture taken that I can post on a website while still maintaining a loving relationship with Sean. We shared Christmas with his family, and New Years Eve with mine. We had a surprise visit from our dear friends, Crystal and Micah, and yes, we dove into wedding planning. It was fun, exhausting, indulgent, lazy, and, um, did I mention indulgent? I am still recovering.

I added 336 photos to the A Photo A Day in 2012 set. I know, that’s not really a photo a day. But it is pretty neat to have last year captured. Want to see all the pictures? They are all on Flickr, in my photo a day in 2012 set.

This year, I hope to continue to capture some of our best moments, but I am sure am glad to have the pressure off.

04. January 2013 by laura k
Categories: photography | Comments Off on 2012, The End of the Year

2012, Weeks I don’t even know

It’s too telling that I managed to keep up with this project (more or less) until the last month of 2012. My picture taking has dropped of dramatically in December. I’ve learned, or perhaps just confirmed for myself, that these kind of projects, wherein I have to try to remember to do something every single day, just aren’t for me. I’m a forgetful person. But even though I didn’t completely succeed at this project, I did end up taking a lot more pictures than I otherwise would have, and I’m glad I attempted it.

Here are some pictures from the last two weeks.

Gettin' a tree
Dec 9 – We got a tree! Sean makes awesome faces.

Apples and cookie butter: the best
Dec 10 – I broke down and bought some cookie butter, and it was either the best or worst decision ever. It is SO good. I’m addicted to it, especially spread on apple slices.

Sewing studio
Dec 11 – Sean was in Boston, and I turned our apartment into a sewing studio for three days.

Sucker for packaging
Dec 11 – I am a total sucker for packaging.

Dec 13 – I’m collecting patterns, and preparing to do a lot of garment sewing in 2013. I want to replace at least half of my wardrobe with handmade items.

New fabric
Dec 13 – These gorgeous fabric remnants are from Britex. They will become blouses, if I can figure out how to cut enough fabric from them.

Dec 13 – I made a lot of Christmas presents this year.

Up-cycled sweater
Dec 13 – I also re-fashioned this sweater. I’ve had this cardigan since I was in college, but there were massive holes around the cuffs. I kept it, figuring I had to do something with it because it is so soft. And last week, I figured out what to do with it! I cut off the sleeves to a 3/4 length, and sewing bias tape around the raw edges. It’s imperfect, but it did bring new life back to a favorite sweater. Yay!

Apron fabric
Dec 13 – Some fabric I used for other gifts.

Fairmont Hotel Tree
Dec 13 – The Christmas tree at the Fairmont Hotel. Forgive the weird angle. It was a really big tree.

1/2 yard swatches
Dec 16 – I picked up these gorgeous half-yard swatches in Healdsburg last weekend. I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to do with them yet. Placemats? Napkins? I especially love the retro looking little squares.

Dec 17 – Oh, and Sean and I got engaged last weekend! Yes, I am good at burying the lede. We’re getting married! We are both super excited. Wahooo!

We’re heading to Denver today to spend Christmas with Sean’s family, and my family is coming to Oakland to celebrate New Year’s Eve. It should be a fun and festive holiday season, and hopefully I’ll remember to take enough pictures that the end of the year won’t be lost from my 2012 photo round up.

Thanks to everyone who kept following me and my photographic adventures this year. I know the blog has been pretty silent. There have been a lot of changes going on in my world, and I’m unsure how to keep sharing things here, but somehow, I don’t think this space will ever disappear completely.

Happy holidays!

20. December 2012 by laura k
Categories: photography | 2 comments

2012, Week Forty-Nine and Fifty

I got a little behind. Whoa, December, stop going by so fast!

During week forty-nine, I cooked a lot. I made a lot of things. And I finished my novel!

Salmon, Lentils
Nov 26 – Salmon and lentils. So good.

Shrimp and Grits
Nov 27 – Shrimp and grits. Also good! And the first time I’ve had grits. Yum.

Curry Steak
Nov 28 – Steak, with curry paste.

Nov 29 – I picked up a new hobby. I am a crafting machine. It might be a little out of control.

I finished my novel!
Nov 30 – I finished my novel for NaNoWriMo! That was pretty exciting, and I celebrated with some bubbly. Now it’s time for revisions.

I really didn’t pictures last week. It’s kind of sad: as the year winds down, so does my enthusiasm for this project. Alas. But here is what I DID manage to capture:

Dec 2 – Tulips!

Stuffed Squash
Dec 4 – I made stuffed squash with a mushroom walnut stuffing. When fall comes around, I just want to stuff food into other food. What is that all about?

Fall Classic Cocktail
Dec 5 – I have been all about this cocktail lately: bourbon, Calvados, apple cider, a bit of lemon, and thyme simple syrup. I’m not usually a cocktail drinker, but I love this one.

And as a special bonus, Sean took this picture of me serving up some pot roast:

Pot Roast

I hope you’re all having a wonderful, non-stressful December!

10. December 2012 by laura k
Categories: photography | Comments Off on 2012, Week Forty-Nine and Fifty

2012, Week Forty-Eight

I really fell down on the photo-a-day job last week. We went down to San Diego for Thanksgiving, and I was so enraptured by my nieces, and so busy cooking Thanksgiving dinner, and then so wiped out from our Thanksgiving festivities (23 guests!), I really didn’t pick up the camera. Not even the cell phone camera.

Thank goodness for Sean. He took a few of these shots.

Nov 18 – Before we went down south, I went to the Patchwork Craft Fair and Jack London Square Farmers’ Market on Sunday. I had a super delicious crepe, and bought some crafty gifts. I even rode my bike. An excellent Sunday was had.

Monday and Tuesday apparently did not happen. I don’t know where those days went.

Baby Julia
Nov 21 – But by Wednesday, we were in San Diego, and I was gazing at this little one.

Baby Julia
Nov 22 – Seriously, isn’t she cute?

Thanksgiving Table
Nov 22 – Sean managed to get some excellent pictures of the Thanksgiving festivities.

Eli and her My Little Pony
Nov 23 – Friday night we had a quiet dinner at my brother’s house. His little one, Eli, sat and watched My Little Ponies while the adults congregated in the living room. Sean took this one, too.

Hopefully this isn’t a sign that my photo taking habit will be slowly disappearing over the sure-to-be-hectic next five weeks. I’ll try to finish out 2012 strong!

27. November 2012 by laura k
Categories: photography | Comments Off on 2012, Week Forty-Eight

2012, Week Forty-Six

And the year just keeps moving forward.

Cornbread with Squash and Chorizo
Nov 11 – I made an experimental dinner Sunday night: cornbread with squash and chorizo baked into it. It was yummy!

Ultimate Winter Couscous
Nov 12 – Last week was a cooking week, and I was obsessed with recipes from Ottolenghi’s Plenty. This is the Ultimate Winter Couscous and it was kind of amazing. So full of flavor and texture!

Soba Noodles with Eggplant and Mango
Nov 13 – Ottolenghi meal number two: Soba Noodles with Eggplant and Mango. So, so good. If you don’t already have this cookbook, you should rush to the bookstore now.

Bike in the office
Nov 14 – I finally got my bike fixed up (just in time for the rainy season) and I rode to work last week. My bike is a little big to fit comfortably in my cubicle.

Chili with Garlic Sauce
Nov 15 – Thursday night I made chili to bring over to a friend who is out of commission for awhile. Sean and I are both obsessed with this garlic sauce I picked up at Whole Foods. It’s very lemony and garlicky, and we are putting it on almost everything.

Friday Morning in Oakland
Nov 16 – I am loving this grey, rainy weather. And I love walking past this building every morning on my way to work.

Morning light
Nov 17 – The light in our apartment Saturday morning was kind of gloomy and moody. I love it!

We are heading to San Diego tomorrow for Thanksgiving, and I cannot wait. Expect lots of pictures of my baby girls next week. :-)

19. November 2012 by laura k
Categories: photography | Comments Off on 2012, Week Forty-Six

What We’ve Been Eating

I haven’t been blogging much lately, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been cooking. When I first decided to teach myself to cook, and started writing this blog six years ago, I shared every meal, because every one felt like a tiny revelation. I learned so much every night at dinner time. Now I have a solid set of techniques and favorite recipes in my apron pocket. I find that I don’t have as much to say about dinner, because these days it’s often something tried and true, with maybe one or two slight twists. I still love to cook, but I don’t feel the same thrill of learning something new (well, not all of the time, though there are still nights when I’ll pick an intense-looking recipe with some unknown-to-me ingredient or technique).

So what does the kitchen look like, now that I’ve settled into more of a predictable rhythm? What recipes are part of the Kitchen Illiterate repertoire these days?

Lentil and greens soup
I still love soup, especially now that the evenings are cooler. Soup is incredibly versatile, which makes it a no-brainer for a weeknight when there are things I’d rather do than cook dinner. I loved this lentil and swiss chard version, with carrots and turnips.

Chicken Pizza
Pizza is another favorite. You can see I’m a fan of flexible meals. You can put anything on a pizza. This one was particularly lovely, with some leftover cooked chicken and sauteed spinach. Yum.

Braised Chicken and Green Beans
Chicken has become a staple. This braised chicken, with couscous and green beans, was really bright tasting and tender. I believe the recipe was from Bon Appetit.

Johnny Machete
Remember Johnny Machete? Oh boy, I do. And it really is delicious. Throw off your disdain for the hearty casserole and dig in. You will not regret it.

Tomato Bake
One evening, I sliced up the last of the summer tomatoes and eggplant and zucchini very thinly, and layered them in a baking dish. I drizzled the whole thing with olive oil, and a sprinkling of salt and oregano, and baked it until everything was soft and melted together into one happy summery dish. We ate it simply with a baguette. I love this kind of dinner: no thinking required.

And there have been salads, crunchy green salads with peppers and radishes, cabbage and almonds, apples and avocado, and whatever delicious things I can find in our crisper. Sean makes a mean salad dressing. A salad and a grilled steak make for a perfect dinner sometimes.

My cooking has become an exercise in agility, using a template in my head and filling it in with the ingredients I have on hand. In some respects, my fascination with cooking has gone from a rolling boil to a quiet, steady simmer. I’ve focused my drive to learn and take on new challenges in other areas (I’m a little obsessed with my sewing machine right now). The years I spent teaching myself to cook have paid off, because I’m confident in the kitchen now, and I can whip up a healthy dinner any night of the week without having to think about it too much. I still love to try new recipes from time to time, and I do hope to still take the time to share those with you, but my singular obsession with it has dimmed a little, it must be said.

If you haven’t yet delved into the world of cooking, it is such a completely worthwhile endeavor. Knowing how to make a meal changes things. I eat better and healthier than I ever have in my life, and I would never be able to say that if I hadn’t decided, back in November of 2006, that I wanted to have a food blog.

12. November 2012 by laura k
Categories: favorites, housekeeping, thoughts | Comments Off on What We’ve Been Eating

2012, Week Forty-Five

Metro North

Nov 4 – Our whirlwind weekend in New York came to a close on Sunday, with a Metro North ride from Poughkeepsie to Grand Central. I love trains.

Dead tulips
Nov 5 – When we got home, these once beautiful tulips were a little dead. But I still find them intriguing looking.

Tortilla Soup
Nov 6 – I made tortilla soup. The soup itself isn’t too interesting, but once you add in all the tasty stuff, like avocados and cilantro, it’s surprisingly complex and flavorful.

Arkansas Black Apple
Nov 7 – Saw these gorgeous heirloom apples at the market and I had to try one. They are great: very crunchy and just sweet enough without being cloying.

Research at Noble Cafe
Nov 8 – I am writing A LOT these days: I decided to jump into NaNoWriMo, and I’m actually writing a novel. And I’m also trying to finish writing a book on data management for libraries. And work has gotten pretty busy, too. So, yeah, November’s going to be a little nuts.

Spaghetti and Meatballs
Nov 9 – I took a little break on Friday night to make spaghetti and turkey meatballs. I made enough extra meatballs to freeze, so I can make a quick and easy dinner on a busy weeknight. I love my freezer.

Nov 10 – Were you obsessed with Sassy magazine in high school? I was. And I still am, a little bit. Last week I bought 10 issues of Sassy on eBay and they finally came in the mail Saturday morning. I’ve spent the weekend so far gorging on 1994, when I’m not writing. It’s kind of fabulous.

11. November 2012 by laura k
Categories: photography | Comments Off on 2012, Week Forty-Five

2012, Week Forty-Four

Last Sunday feels like ages ago. This was a busy week. And I already feel like I’m sliding head first into the holiday season. I love it!

Halal-style chicken and rice with garlic sauce
Oct 28 – Last weekend I made Halal-Cart Style Chicken and Rice from a recipe on Serious Eats. It was tasty, but the very best part is the garlic sauce I picked up at Whole Foods to go along with it. I want to put this stuff on everything.

Oct 29 – Sean bought gorgeous tulips for our apartment. They instantly brightened my grumpy mood.

Vegetable Soup
Oct 30 – I love soup season!

Sunrise in Oakland
Oct 31 – Sunrise in Oakland.

Flying to NY
Nov 1 – We had a really quick trip over the weekend to New York, to celebrate Sean’s mom’s birthday. Red eye flight on Thursday night means the rest of the weekend passed in a bit of a blur.

Grand Central Station
Nov 2 – We were in New York City for about eight hours before we hopped on a train and headed up to Hyde Park. I love Grand Central Station. I love New York City.

A birthday celebration
Nov 3 – Sean’s sister, Stephanie, planned an amazing birthday luncheon for Audrey’s birthday. We went to Gigi’s in Rhinebeck, and the food was spectacular.

It was kind of crazy being in New York right after the hurricane. It was still nearly impossible to get in and out of Manhattan, the subways were running very limited routes, and venturing south of 34th was not an option. But for all that, people were friendly and welcoming. We managed to see the Empire State Building and F.A.O. Schwartz. Central Park was closed but we could still wander along the outskirts, peering in. New York is always one of my favorite places to visit. There’s always something to look at, something to marvel at. I don’t even care if I look like a tourist anymore. Hell, I am a tourist.

The only thing that bummed me out about this trip is that we had such a limited amount of time in New York City. The Hudson River Valley is beautiful, but I didn’t get a chance to visit with friends and family living in Brooklyn. I guess that just gives me more of a reason to go back.

Thanks to Stephanie for throwing an amazing party, and congratulations to Audrey! We love you guys!

05. November 2012 by laura k
Categories: photography | Comments Off on 2012, Week Forty-Four

2012, Week Forty-Three

As Hurricane Sandy prepares to batter the east coast, I find that I’m feeling incredibly grateful that I don’t live there anymore. Sorry to all of you who are battening the hatches and preparing for stormaggedon.

It was a sunny and simple week here in Oakland. There wasn’t a whole lot going on, which means that I really didn’t take that many pictures.

I decided last week that I needed to give myself a break from all of the “shoulds” and “musts” that usually rule my life. Other than the truly required tasks (going to work, taking showers) I didn’t do anything last week that I didn’t really and truly want to do. It was a much needed break, and gave me a little bit of clarity about how I should be spending my time. Truth be told, I can be quite hard on myself about doing all the things I think I should be doing, and trying to do them all perfectly. And if I’m not careful, that can really start feeling like a drag. As we move into holiday season 2012, I am setting my intention now to give myself a break. Nothing needs to be perfect, it just needs to be done with joy and love.

So this is what my week of no obligations looked like:

Pork chops and squash
Oct 21 – Sunday night I made pork tenderloin and sauteed squash for dinner. Yay for fall foods!

My new skirt
Oct 22 – I made a skirt over the weekend and wore it to work on Monday. I’ve had this fabric for years, and knew what I wanted to make with it but just…didn’t do it. But I’ve been on a real sewing kick lately, and I’m glad I finally knocked this out. It didn’t turn out exactly how I imagined, but this is a learning process, and I really like it anyway.

Not a cappuccino
Oct 23 – This is not a cappuccino.

My style
Oct 24 – I’ve been reading lots of books about garment sewing, and one suggestion I liked was to select a few of your favorite articles of clothing and accessories, look at them all, and find a few adjectives that describe them. These are mine, and I was feeling stuck for descriptive terms, so I asked my friends and family on Facebook to give me a few adjectives. That was a super fun for me, and this whole exercise did give me a more concise idea of what my personal style is. What adjectives do you think describe the things in this picture?

Oct 25 – No pictures on Thursday ’cause I forgot. It was a boring day anyway.

Halloween decorations
Oct 26 – I did decide to do some minimal fall/Halloween decorating in our apartment. I made this polka dot garland using some felt and some thread. So easy and festive! And I always love pumpkins.

Oct 27 – Also no pictures on Saturday. ‘Cause I forgot again. We went out for brunch. I took a nap. Sean went to the gym. I watched Dawson’s Creek. It was a pretty quiet non-entity of a day. We did not go to any Halloween parties.

Here’s to not letting your life be ruled by unrealistic expectations. As the holidays approach, join me in pledging to yourself to relax and recognize that none of the things we let ourselves get so stressed out about are the end of the world. Approach the holidays with a light heart and practice letting go of all the things you think you should be doing, in favor of the things you love to do.

29. October 2012 by laura k
Categories: photography | 1 comment

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