A Glee binge was just what I needed.

I spent an unreasonable amount of time last weekend sobbing on the couch.

I watched Glee as a casual fan, catching it here and there and basically losing interest when it got super weird in Season 5.

But the news of Naya Rivera’s death last week sent me on a downward spiral bingeing every episode of Santana Lopez’s coming out story. I was already in my thirties at the time, but I recognized how significant Santana’s storyline was for people half my age—my coming out timeline was peppered with pioneering roles by Ellen DeGeneres, Alyson Hannigan and Karyn Dwyer.

Lesbian Latina characters did not exist on prime-time, network television until Naya Rivera played one. It was 2010. Glee always leaned hard into humor—and Santana’s quips are some of the best—but Rivera was honest and nuanced with a role originally intended to be nothing more than the mean, slutty cheerleader in the back of the choir room. She seemed to know how big of a deal it was to get it right. She knew how much it mattered.

Honestly, I hadn’t thought about Glee or Santana Lopez or Naya Rivera since the show ended in 2015. I didn’t think about it all that much when it was on the air. But for some reason, I felt compelled to cry on the couch for hours, fast-forwarding to get to the sad parts, grieving three actors who lives ended tragically and at a young age. If I had to fashion a guess why, I think watching fictional teenagers with their whole lives ahead of them understand themselves and the world through Adele mash-ups and Fleetwood Mac hits somehow gave me a concrete (if not super productive) way to process all the trauma in the world right now.

Mourning Naya Rivera felt uncomplicated and allowed me to shut out the world for a little while. Somewhere in America, there’s a teenage girl sitting in her room wondering if she’s gay. She’s just as consumed by it and confused as I was a couple decades ago. I had the luxury of coming out in a world that wasn’t on Facebook. I don’t have to grapple with my identity while simultaneously grieving the loss of 140,000 Americans, and counting, as unidentified militia provoke riots and the President bumbles on about Goya beans and confederate statues.

What we’re going through would be ridiculous if it wasn’t so heartbreaking.

Naya helped me. Maybe she helps you, too.


In uncertain times, I turn to food preservation—and a pandemic soup recipe you might like

I found this post in my draft folder, dated September, 2017. Just the headline, “In uncertain times, I turn to food preservation,” with no text. I was probably setting up some post about a thing I’d canned.

Apparently I thought 2017 was “uncertain times.”

That’s cute.

It’s true, though, that I look to my kitchen as a coping mechanism. After nine weeks of sheltering in place—and with the stress of lost employment and the trauma of a global pandemic—I’ve spent more time there than ever. I feel really lucky that I like to cook; undoubtedly, preparing three meals a day is placing more stress on many families, not less.

One of the things that’s given me the most joy during this time is finding ways to produce less waste. I’ve dehydrated orange peels to supplement a tin of black tea; saved bones and vegetable scraps for gallons of chicken broth, turkey broth, ham broth and beef broth; frozen and canned chilis, soups and salsas and restarted a compost regimen which had fallen by the wayside.

Yesterday I made cream of broccoli and potato soup and thought I’d post it as a flexible base to make “cream of whatever you’ve got” soup. Please enjoy.

Continue reading In uncertain times, I turn to food preservation—and a pandemic soup recipe you might like

I made a recipe from the back of a box of powdered milk and it wasn’t terrible

I’m moving.

It’s not like I’ve never moved before; I’ve probably done it more than the average Midwesterner. But having lived in the same city for 18.5 years, and having spent all but one of those years in the same neighborhood, it’s a bit daunting to imagine being in a new place. (And in case you’re wondering, I’m still going to be in Chicago half time, for now.)

It’s also an opportunity.

Continue reading I made a recipe from the back of a box of powdered milk and it wasn’t terrible

IMBIBE: Aquafaba sours have all the frothy fun, without the salmonella

There are a few things you should know about whiskey sours:

First, sweet and sour mix is gross. It’s not very hard to create a sour cocktail from scratch and give up the big bottle of electric green stuff. All you really need is a lemon and some sugar, or if you don’t want to make a simple syrup yourself, you can buy it pre-made at the grocery store or the liquor store.

Second, a Boston sour is a whiskey sour with an egg white, which makes for a delicious froth that rises to the top of this digestif.

OK, so the chances of salmonella from a frothy raw egg white in your drink are lower than the chances of a hangover from having one too many of these, but raw ingredients can admittedly be a turnoff.

Continue reading IMBIBE: Aquafaba sours have all the frothy fun, without the salmonella

Canapolooza 2016

One might call it a Labor Day tradition: a gathering of many hands, a pitcher of sangria, and an unreasonably large quantity of tomatoes in a Rogers Park kitchen for the annual Canapolooza. In case you missed it, this is what happened:

Continue reading Canapolooza 2016

This one time, I got ready to get married

A lot of people have asked:

“So, Lauren, do you feel different now that you got married?!?”

“Meh. Not really.”

I mean, that’s how it’s supposed to be right? The person you profess to spend forever with (in public, no less) should theoretically be the same person you knew the day before you did that.

But if I’m being really honest, there’s a tinge of contentment and joy that is, in certain moments, wonderfully overwhelming. It doesn’t hurt, I suppose, that our wedding was totally kick ass. Unfortunately, that means you’re going to be living through it on this blog for as long as I feel like it. Fortunately, I have really talented friends and some great documentation.

So… sorry not sorry. Continue reading This one time, I got ready to get married

An Amtrak Adventure: Chicago to Austin by train

Since my visit to Union Station in Kansas City, I’ve had a hankering for a long train ride, and when I found out that Amtrak could get me to Austin for the Dance/USA conference for less than the cost of a plane ticket I decided to go for it.

You’re probably either really jealous or think I’m really ridiculous.

At one point in history, the train was THE way to get there, wherever there is, and aside from the extra leg room, for me, it’s a blast to get a taste of what life was like before planes became an accessible way to travel. Our country is littered with magnificent buildings posing as train stations, and despite my home city’s inability to use Union Station efficiently, departing for a long ride from there transports you to a classier time before neck pillows and body scanners. Continue reading An Amtrak Adventure: Chicago to Austin by train