cookiepalooza-2018

Cookiepalooza 2018

Jump straight to the Cookiepalooza 2018 recipe links.

cookiepalooza-2018

I will start by admitting that I love the idea of making cookies. I like the aftermath of making cookies, despite the temptation factor. (By the way, November and December are the essential months to get your 10,000 steps in by hook or crook or….whatever. Because: cookies.) 

But I don’t really enjoy making cookies. They seem like they’ll be so simple. Cream some butter and sugar, throw in an egg, add the dry ingredients. Voila! Cookies!

Except…..cookies. You gotta then actually form the damn things. 

Look, I don’t even attempt to come up with baking recipes. Cooking is one thing; it’s intuitive and in some ways, the less precise you are, the better. Baking is an altogether different bête.

That’s why people are generally one or the other: great bakers or great cooks. Yes, of course annoying pastry wunderkinds exist. But that super detail-oriented, tedium-friendly approach necessary for perfect swirls of icing and caring about things like crumb size….well, it ain’t me.

(Weird but true: Mom was one of the least detail-oriented people I ever knew, yet a dandy baker. I shall never understand this.)

Anyway, when it comes to baking, I slavishly follow recipes. Every year, all the magazines go crazy with page after page of cookie goodness, and every year, I’m all, whoa, cookiepalooza!! This week, I decided to make the first two recipes each from Bon Appetit’s and Cooking Light’s respective December issues. Cooking Light’s, by the way, features this complete bummer of a cover. 

And they still keep pestering me to re-up my subscription. So strange. 

Anyway, here’s the report, with links. Notice that if you go to the links, their cookies are TONS more beautiful than mine. Explanations below. Grades are my opinion of the recipe, but as one professor used to say, grades are completely subjective. Please pop on over to the originals and give them a whack on your own.

Cookiepalooza 2018: Snickerdoodles with cornflakes and toffee

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I completed this Bon Appetit recipe first. The resulting cookies are good, though not quite delectable enough that I’d make them again. Probably I should have used Skör bars like they suggested, but screw that, because I don’t even know where you get those. Also, you were supposed to sprinkle them with something called disco dust, and I refuse to spend 4 bucks on something called disco dust. I would rather just go the the disco already. Anyway, there’s not much to report with these. They’re fine, and I probably did something wrong, because they really seemed like a great idea. Crush the cornflakes more and you may have better luck. Also, when you jump to the link you’ll see that theirs are WAY prettier. Sigh.

Grade: B

Cookiepalooza 2018: Two-toned Chocolate Shortbread

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Ok, these were called “Zebra-Striped” in the original recipe. Guess who didn’t read the recipe carefully? Yep. I dumped all the dry ingredients in one bowl in one giant cookie assembly line of dry ingredients, then went to make them and swore loudly and with great despair. Because the originals are GORGEOUS. Seriously, click that link and check them out. Mine: not hideous, but not so special.

Rather than toss the whole thing—a thought I did entertain for a minute—I scooped out as much of the cocoa powder and about half the flour. Fortunately, they don’t have baking powder or anything. I ended up with these kind of two-toned chocolate critters. And by heck, they rock. I didn’t roll them in exciting sugar because, again, hell with that. I imagine you’re getting the picture: When selecting a talent, I did not go to the front of the baking line. Nor the bedazzler line. I was too busy running around to a half dozen other lines like an insane person, thus emerging as the hodge-podge that is moi. And which my friends assure me is Super Delightful. 

Anyway, even with the mishap, these turned out quite wonderful, super buttery, and really, how much chocolate is too much? Will this ever be answered? No. It will not. Also, getting these guys into that cool swirly thing is surprisingly easy.

Grade: A

Cookiepalooza 2018: Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprints

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Look, these totally worried me. (Original recipe over at this Cooking Light link.) For one thing, I made them in my big-ass mixer which weighs, I swear, one thousand pounds. I kinda hate that thing. It is SO hard to control the mixing. You just kinda have to hope for the best and stop and start it and scrape and do it again and again and I’m exhausted just at the memory. 

The dough emerged crumbly. I pressed it together so I could get a thumbprint. You know what? These taste really aces. You fill the center with 2 parts melted chocolate chips to 1 part melted tahini, and let me just tell you the recipe tells you to make twice as much as you need. Which is great, because: homemade Nutella, but it’s not Nutella. 

cookiepalooza-2018

Interestingly, Bon Appetit also has a cookie with a tahini/chocolate mix, so it’s an idea that’s making the rounds. Or they’re working with the same group of recipe creators who are all, ok, how can I make this just different enough? The BA version is more like the Linzer cookies below, but with the tahini spread peeking through the window. Meanwhile, they also have a thumbpring cookie, but they put a pecan in theirs. I think candy is more fun.

One last thing: I decided to grind the candy canes in my little spice grinder and ended up with this sort of peppermint dust. While the busted candy canes look prettier, I like that there are no tooth-chipping surprises this way. 

Grade: A

Cookiepalooza 2018: Linzer Cookies

Ok, these were the simplest to make. Like the shortbread cookies above, the originals win cookie beauty pageants. Click this link and see what I’m talking about. But these were also the biggest pain in the ass to make. Lots of rolling. Then baking. Then cutting those little holes out after rolling out the top cookies, and I don’t have a one-inch cutter because: I didn’t check. I mean, doesn’t everyone have one of those? No. Everyone does not. I used a 1/2 teaspoon and a knife and you can see these are not pristine. The asymmetry, however, is intentional. It gives the cookies “a more modern look” according to Cooking Light. Dude, I so want to be modern. 

cookiepalooza-2018

I also ran out of jam, but I had….my trusty leftover fake Nutella! Hooray!

These are pretty swell, though I do have to know them down to a B+ primarily because I like super gooey cookies, and of course that’s not going to work in this case. Oh, I also forgot to sprinkle them with powdered sugar, because that makes a mess and to hell with that. 

Anyway, the recipe yields a lovely lemony sugar cookie that really isn’t anything like classic Linzer dough, which has ground almonds, not almond flour, and a sieved hard-boiled egg yolk mixed in for some reason. All that said, I pigged down a few. My son said these were his favorites.

Grade: A-

Cookiepalooza! 2018: Recipe Links

There you have them. Here are the links all in one place. And if you do pop over, explore the approximately 9 billion other cookie recipes as well. And you know, try at least one. This time of year, everybody loves a cookie. Even my carb-phobic husband. Ha! Gotcha, husband.

Snickerdoodle Party Cookies from Bon Apetit

Zebra-Striped Shortbread Cookies from Bon Apetit

Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprints from Cooking Light

Almond-Currant Linzer Cookies from Cooking Light

Also, the following sites are particularly wonderful on the cookie front. Over at Half Baked Harvest, Tieghan routinely blows minds. Lindsay at Pinch of Yum delights continuously (and check out her button-cute new baby, Solvi). Finally, Chocolate Covered Katie comes up with all sorts of original ways to be vegan and delicious.

Sweet Potato Crust Quiche

Jump to the Sweet Potato Crust Quiche step by step or Sweet Potato Crust Quiche recipe.

sweet potato crust quiche

Ok, regular petits et grands choux (I just called you small and large cabbages…in French! I’m all about the culture) must acknowledge I love me some quiche. And while I completely dig a buttery, beautifully flaky crust, that crusts digs me, enough to permanently deposit itself on my thighs. So I’m all over the alternative crust bandwagon. The original recipe that inspired my version appears in the December 2018 Cooking Light magazine. 

One of the things that excited me most was the chance to use a hen of the woods mushroom that found its way into my kitchen. I think my daughter picked it up. This super-crazy mushroom occupies center stage on the cutting board. 

sweet potato crust quiche

Nuts, yes? But so delish. The aroma wafting through the air screamed classic, earthy mushroom goodness. (So often, store-bought mushrooms bring more texture than flavor to a meal.) You just cut all the little floaty things off the top, then dice the the bottom small. The recipe actually calls for 4 cups, so I added a package of store-bought mushrooms, chopped up. 

Sweet Potato Crust Quiche: How To

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, slice the peeled sweet potato thin. I used 2 smallish-to-medium ones here. Line a pie plate with them, then bake at 400º.

Cook times, by the way, represent my biggest departure from the original. The original said to bake the slices for 15 minutes. Mine were nowhere near done, so I gave them another 15. THEN I could gently press them against the sides and bottom of the sprayed pie plate.

While the crust bakes, you sauté the mushrooms.

sweet potato crust quiche

Also, mix eggs with milk (I used cashew) and grated mozzarella with thinly sliced chard. You could also gently sauté the chard leaves with the mushrooms. I like a lot of greens, more than the recipe called for, so I ended up with a green top rather than that nice yellow egg mixture to bind everything together. That said, I did like that the chard kept a little texture—not much, but I’m not big on mushy anything, and particularly greens. I also threw in some Parmesan not called for in the original, because I love cheese and think it makes a quiche more luscious.

 Now, you have all your layers. 

Add the sautéed mushrooms as the first layer. I’d added finely chopped chard stem to the sauté mix, btw; that’s what the little red things are. Also, be sure to salt and pepper everything.

The egg mix goes on top of that.

Then you bake it for about 20-35 minutes, til the eggs are set.

The finished product looks overly dark. Frankly, the pesto called for in the original, which I added, is a mistake. I thought it might be; pesto and sweet potatoes? Weird. But otherwise, this worked out to be a lovely brunch. Most interesting take-away here: the sweet potato crust. You can fill this with pretty much anything. In fact, I’ll experiment with a southern-inspired version later this week, and if it works, I’ll post. Meanwhile, enjoy this comfy, healthy, paleo/gluten-free/vegetarian take on quiche goodness.

sweet-potato-crust-quiche

Sweet Potato Crust Quiche: The Recipe

flight-attendant-appreciation

Flight Attendant Appreciation Day

Flight Attendant Appreciation Day is long overdue, in my book. In fact, I’ve decided to basically declare it every day I fly. Allow me to attempt to persuade you to do the same.

First, a step back. I grew up in an era where being a stewardess was about the coolest thing you could be, next to “movie star” and “ballerina.” Alas, even before I reached my full 5’10”, I suspected I would be too tall. Stewardesses needed to be “between 5’2″ but no more than 5’9″, weight 105 to 135 in proportion to height.” But golly, it seemed glamorous.

flight-attendant-appreciation
For this and many more fabulous photos and lore, visit this link.

The draconian weight standards have been abandoned, although there appears to be a height cap at 6’1″ just so attendants of any gender can make it down the aisle. (I’ve scraped my own noggin on the ceiling of a smaller commuter jet more than once, given that with shoes I’m over 6 feet.) But getting rid of the weigh-ins didn’t exactly make being a flight attendant any easier.

Consider the schedule: rough and erratic, with lots of holidays spent en route to….somewhere. The pay: not great by any standards. 

Now add on the fact that flight attendants, unlike pilots, have to deal with more than their share of registered assholes. Pilots get more respect from their employers, and basically live in the cockpit, which is of course where we want them. FAs, on the other hand, have to field  questions from people who never listen. They deflect anger over things they cannot possibly control, like weather, equipment issues, other people’s crying babies, and the ground crew not providing enough sandwiches. And they clean up the nasty in-flight bio-mess as it occurs. I fly a lot. And most people act pretty chill. But man, one hissy fit clouds up the sunniest skies. It’s no wonder this happened.

Flight Attendant Appreciation Day: How to Be a Model Passenger

Despite the rather glorious entertainment value, I beg you not to inspire someone to exit via the emergency slide, lofting a bottle of champagne in each hand. Smile at your flight attendant. Lift your face from your phone for the 2 freaking minutes it takes to go through the safety demonstration. Because no matter how many times you’ve heard it, you haven’t heard it as many times as the flight attendants, and they’re still engaged.

If nothing else, apply a little bit of common sense and thoughtfulness. Give good feedback online. Be prepared, particularly when you’re bringing kids with you. This post from a flight attendant offers an inside view from that side of the aisle. (The comments provide overwhelming ugliness, btw; one even says the writer should stop lamenting his “cast” in life. First, it’s caste, idiot. Second, the caste system is considered to be a hideous remnant of a time in which certain people were, simply because of the accident of birth, destined to lives of unmitigated drudgery and pain while others scooted around in their high caste privilege. Third, isn’t the guiding principle of every belief system on earth “don’t be a dick”?)

Flight Attendant Appreciation Day: The Extra Sky Mile

I recently asked a flight attendant how she felt about people who drop off chocolates, something my mom routinely did when she flew. I’ve thought of it but always felt it was a bit weird. How do you time the drop off? Is it weird to give food in this day and age? And kind of bribe-y? “I don’t eat the chocolates,” said the FA, “but some people do.” She told me the nicest things she’d received were small containers of hand sanitizer or wipes, Starbucks gift cards (for one coffee), or just single dollar bills so they can tip drivers.

Caveat: this concept of tangibly thanking people for doing a hard job gets some ugly heat (just google it). “Why give someone a present for DOING THEIR JOB???” shout the commenters. Yo, shouters. Ever spoken to a flight attendant? or worked in the service industry? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

I tip baristas, who are just doing their job, for the same reason. They work hard while I’m out spending too much money on coffee.

This post from CN Traveler argues my way. Huzzah!

In other words, if you want to go the extra mile, do it.

Flight Attendant Appreciation Day: The Swag

I stopped off at Big Lots and picked up the following: mentos, small lotions, lip balm, single facial masks, little packets of matcha tea. Everything was in an individually sealed packet so the FAs wouldn’t have to worry about the motives of this random smiling tall woman bearing gifts.

flight-attendant-appreciation

I divvied the swag up between a couple of ziplocs. It seemed a little excessive to be awarding swag on my first short flight, and this was also my first flight attendant appreciation day rodeo. So I figured I’d save the extras for upcoming trips, and try the concept for my SLC to DTW journey.

Total cost to me: about 6 bucks a bag—one hell of a lot less than I spend on crap at the airport, which I didn’t spend because I was prepared. (I took my own advice and brought my own damn food this time.)

Above all, just be kind. You’re flying! It’s a miracle. You’re going someplace fun, or your company is paying for you to not sit in your office. Or a plane and its crew are getting you somewhere you really need to be, safely and in relative comfort.

I’ll report back on how my initial foray goes over. And I warn you: if you leave me nasty trolling comments, no one will see them but me, and I’ll just think you’re a dick. Thoughtful comments are, of course, always welcome.


palm-springs

Palm Springs: Mid Mod Mad

I came to Palm Springs to visit a friend, and not because I am midmod mad. I know a lot of people who are, and I like the midmod ascetic quite a bit. But unlike my sister Becky, who tosses about phrases like “Sputnik lamp” and “kidney table” like so many bougainvillea petals, I enjoy midmod—that’s mid-century modern, for those of you who haven’t ever seen the truly glorious Atomic Ranch magazine. I just don’t freak out at the possibility of seeing clean lines upon clean lines, decorated with spiky plants.

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The domestic architecture is stunning, with house after house a variation on the themes of straight lines and color pops…

palm-springs

My friend lives in the same neighborhood as the house Sammy Davis Junior had built for himself. It’s an easy walk from the Racquet Ball Club, one Mr. Davis could stumble down when drunk off his butt. (That, btw, is not gossip but an actual directive from Mr. Davis to his builders.)

Then there’s the downtown, which time warps me back to the California of my youth. My pal drove me by Suzanne Somers’ home (big gates, boxy) and once bumped into Barry Manilow emerging from the back of a grocery store. There are stars in the sidewalks of the main street Palm Canyon Drive, people like Monty Hall, Rock Hudson, Tab Hunter, and a woman whose name I forget but who was “Hostess to the Stars!” There’s a  statue of Sonny Bono that I thought was of Pat Boone, causing my friend to howl with mirth. But…really? That doesn’t look anything like Cher’s ex, does it?

There are crazy, swoopy Jetsons-type buildings, like this bank.

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Palm trees with hula skirts….

When you keep your eyes open, you find little visual amuses bouche all over the place, like this steel fence thing….

palm-springs

…and LOTS of kitsch.

Typically, when I’m someplace new, I walk around and just try to observe and pick up any particular vibe. But, as my friend told me, Palm Springs is shopping, eating in restaurants, midmod architecture, and gay bars. And that’s all good, but none of those things are so much my thing. Now my friend had told me about the Palm Springs museum, but I just wasn’t feeling a museum, because I really wasn’t feeling Palm Springs. It just seemed so….I dunno, people don’t really stride anywhere with purpose. They’re kinda like shoppy versions of people around the slot machines in Nevada casinos.

But then…..I walked past the Palm Springs Museum Architecture and Design Center, which is right on the main drag, and thought, well, come on, Bauer. At least check it out. Maybe it’s free. And since it was only 5 bucks (close enough), I took a gander.

Man, what a cool building—which, alas, I didn’t take a good picture of, because I was kind of swoopy architectured out at that point. The docent explained that the building had been a bank, restored to truly dazzling midmod glory. The main exhibit featured reusing materials—saris, in the case of these works by artist Christina Kim.

It’s the detail of the work that takes it beyond a display at Anthropologie.

And naturally, a gift shop.

Well, ok. I’d gotten a little more open to doing a museum, and the admission at the design center gave me 5 bucks off going to the Palm Springs Art Museum proper. It’s massive…

…and a genuine treasure inside. First stop was the downstairs gallery, which featured some pretty swell contemporary work for sale, including this crazy painted tansu, apparently a Japanese version of a credenza.

Titled “The Fox and Persimmon Tansu” and created by artist Georg James, this featured some of the most ridiculously amazing trompe l’oeil I’ve seen. I mean, those aren’t drawers. That’s a painted flat surface.

The gallery is flanked by two separate sculpture gardens. My favorite, the Elrod, could charm the most manic Type A into a puddle of bliss.

The current main floor exhibit, “Unsettled: Art on the New Frontier,” deals with colonialization, displacement of indigenous people, and American mythology as relating to both. This piece, “Erasing the Border,” is represented on the exterior of the museum. By Mexican artist Ana Teresa Fernández, it’s a joy to behold, big and powerful, and accompanied by a film where a woman dressed like the one in the picture paints over a fence.

This massive arrangement of spices in bowls, “Campo de Color” by Bolivian artist Sonia Falcone, beautifully introduces the film beyond it. A docent came over while I was looking at it. “Can you smell the spices?” I inhaled. Faint turmeric, pepper, a little coconut. “It’s never overwhelming,” said the docent, “but it’s there if your nose knows to look for it.”

Leaving those behind, I headed to the second floor and stopped in my tracks.

I’m not a Chihuly fan. I think his stuff is massively kitschy and I just don’t feel all that yellow. But seeing this piece in a midmod setting—be still, my heart.

If all Chihuly pieces were displayed singly and against this type of architecture, I’d be a big old fan. I mean, here it is again with a little more architecture in the shot. I seriously have about 30 pictures from different angles, I was just kind of blown away.

Also a delight to see a work from Azerbaijani artist Faig Ahmed. I’d seen one of his works at ArtPrize in Grand Rapids.

He creates a carpet design, manipulates it in Photoshop so that it looks like it’s melting, then has weavers reproduce the new version.

It’s like a waterfall of color, and such a fresh way to visualize this ancient art form getting poured into the 21st century.

There’s tons more cool stuff in the Museum, and I left with some bounce restored to my step. But it was a slow step. Appreciate Palm Springs at a saunter; it’s not for the power sightseer. Just suck up that bone dry, crisp blue air, feast your eyes on the surreality of it, and realize that sometimes, staying on the surface is the best way to swim. Especially when the surface shimmers like this one.

Cauliflower Fried Rice

Skip directly to the Cauliflower Fried Rice recipe, or for loosey-goosey cooks, the step-by-step.

cauliflower-fried-rice
Cauliflower fried rice accompanies West Lake Fish,
a recipe I need to get up online because it’s really tasty.

I love rice: long grain, short, jasmine, sticky, wild (which isn’t really rice, btw). But I find I’m eating it less and less. Maybe it’s aging; despite my previous admission to loving carbs, I find I’m eating them less.

Now fried rice has long been a comfort food for me, using real leftover rice, and especially if I’m watching something on TV or a movie (and these days, is there a difference??) and somebody busts out the Chinese take-out. But because I eat less rice anyway, the chances of me having a leftover batch to fry up are close to zero. Cauliflower fried rice works as a natural, super-easy substitute.

But look: Cauliflower rice can easily taste like b.s. Real rice squashes under your teeth in a pleasant way. Cauliflower rice, particularly if you go too crazy with the food processor, gets mealy. I don’t buy the frozen version, because the freezing process plays havoc with the water content of foods. So something naturally prone to mealiness will only get more so.

The trick for me is to roast the coarse cauliflower rice ahead of time. Then, at the end, simply toss it with some veggies that you’ve sauteed while your “rice” roasts. Voila: Cauliflower rice with very little hands-on time.

Cauliflower Fried Rice: The Step by Step

First, heat your oven to 400º. While it preheats, chop up your cauliflower florets in a food processor. Before processing, cut the florets to be fairly  uniform size. Don’t overprocess so that they become crumbly or actual rice-sized if you want them to have some texture. Toss the “rice” in a bowl with some sesame oil, spread on a parchment covered sheet, and roast for about 20 minutes, until they get some color.

cauliflower-fried-rice

As the “rice” roasts, get your veggies ready: sliced scallions (keep the white and green parts separate), minced ginger and garlic, and julienned or chopped carrots, peppers, and snow peas. (Or other veggies you have in the fridge and want to use up; just be sure to cut fairly uniform shapes.) About 7-10 minutes before the cauliflower is finished roasting, heat your pan, then add oil. Peanut provides classic Chinese flavor, but a taste-free oil like canola or avocado also works nicely. (Don’t use olive.) Add the scallion whites, garlic,  ginger, and the julienned stuff. Add soy sauce and sake, which will bubble up and be all steamy and fragrant.

Right about the time you achieve maximum bright colored, still crisp sauteed veggies, your timer will ring. Dump the roasted rice right into the pan. Add chopped cilantro (the stems are really nice here; no need to separate them from the leaves if you don’t want to) and scallion greens.

You can top with toasted sesame seeds, peanuts, or cashews. Cauliflower fried rice makes a lovely vegan main, or a light, healthy side for the protein of your choice, particularly if you’ve done a classic Chinese-inspired cooking treatment (like this tea-smoked chicken, for instance). Below, note the radish and pea shoot salad on the side: just thinly sliced radish and pea shoots, no dressing, and you’re good to go. Enjoy.

Cauliflower Fried Rice: The Recipe

Airplane Food: How to Prepare with Flair

I just hate it when I’ve had a trip planned for a month but I forget one of the fundamentals of modern travel: Airport food is outrageously priced. Airplane food deserves its reputation. (By the way, I have been lucky enough to fly first class, and while the wine is good and poured way too often, the food can be tasty but can also be not so awesome. I say this in the hopes that it will make you less sad.) So here are a few handy airplane food tips. Because these days, alas, are gone. (Then again….not so alas…)

Found at Travel and Leisure

Airplane Food Tip 1: You’re Kinda Stuck Buying Water

Honestly, you just can’t get around it. It’s criminal. Good water should be available for free. Here in Michigan, please tell that to the fine government who brought you Flint. 


Tap water is ok in some places, terrible in others, and for some crazy reason, amazing in San Francisco. Represent, home state! (I grew up in the Bay Area, for those of you who are confused by that last statement.)

But since plane cabins are so notoriously dry, you need to hydrate. And I personally have to do it before the flight attendant gets to me. Because that doesn’t happen until I’ve done a 30-minute drive to the airport, a 15-30 minute check-in, 45 minutes sitting at the gate, 20-30 minutes waiting for everyone else to get on board, and 20 minutes airborne. I mean, like, add all that up.

So there’s 2 ways around this. The first is to fill your trusty water bottle, drink it on the way to the airport, and then fill it at a drinking fountain. And the other is to resign yourself to spending 4 bucks on a bottle of water once you’re through the TSA checkpoint.

If you have a straight-through flight, you can possibly get by with whatever the flight attendant gives you. (Don’t get airplane ice. Ever. It’s scary.) If you stop at multiple airports, you gotta have a bottle, which you’ll probably have to fill at drinking fountains. I can testify that the ones at the Salt Lake City airport actually deliver really good water. If you have the skinny on any other airports, do share in the comments.

Airplane Food Tip #2: Something Savory That Doesn’t Smell Weird

It’s kind of hard to time airplane eating. Sometimes, particularly with a short flight, you don’t need anything. But if you don’t have any food and you DO get hungry, you’re at their mercy, and at some point those 15 dollar boxes with a container of hummus and 4 olives are going to look really good. Even snacks at one of those magazine stores cost a fortune.

For something simple, super tasty, and filling, I love this chickpea trail mix, courtesy of Bon Appetit. (I’ve posted about them before in this travel/xmas round-up from last year.) You could add a handful of arugula to the container and have a sort of salad. Truthfully, you don’t need dressing, but you do need greens. A day at the airport can be pretty grim healthwise.

airplane food
Photo by Alex Lau for Bon Appetit

In fact, a non-dressed salad, where you sort of use the greens to wrap up the more interesting stuff, works nicely on a plane. Not messy—dressing dripping on your swell airplane duds is a drag—and more importantly not stinky.

I beg you: Keep your fellow travelers in mind. I ardently believe that we all become like pregnant women in the close quarters of an airplane, with super-duper hyper-attenuated olfactory powers. Salad dressing that would tempt diners to your table at home can completely stink up your plane row as well as the ones fore and aft. Case in point: A nice man who sat on my row opened up a bag of something redolent of garlic and tomatoes. I seriously feared I would puke. And I LIKE garlic and tomatoes. Just, please. Also, I immediately changed my mind about him being nice. Don’t subject a stranger to strong smells. Your charming Salad Niçoise or California Roll reeks beyond funky aboard Delta 153 (or whoever and wherever you choose to fly).

With all that in mind, grown up lunchables are super easy to pack—think low-key bento box. Make your guacamole or hummus easy on the garlic, throw in a few crackers and raw veggies, add a little fruit.

If you need ideas (and I always do), this post from The Everygirl features links to all sorts of cute little packable lunches. Even better, some of the linked links link to even more links. Take, for example, the source of the pic below, Yumbox, who even sells adorable bento boxes and has tons of ideas for how to fill them.

airplane food
From (as you can see) Yumbox

I need to do this instead of spending 20 for a tasty but…seriously, 20 bucks for a California roll? Am I INSANE? Although, to be honest, I partly ate this because I wanted to sit down at a restaurant, in which case, mission accomplished. And it was tasty. But 20 bucks. Yeesh.

Airplane Food Tip 3: Something Sweet

Those adorable little packages of cookies that are so hellish on the environment (the packaging, not so much the cookies, which just make you feel gross) cost approximately one million dollars at your basic airport kiosk. Ok, I’m embroidering a bit. Or lying. But they are some stupidly expensive amount. Make your own cookie. I’m a biscotti fan myself. I dry them out so they’re crispy but not jawbreakers, something I only know how to do because last time, I did make jawbreakers. (They do become perfect when dipped in coffee.) These are a weird green color because our matcha tea has turmeric in it, but they are still super tasty and I completely followed this recipe from Cooking Light.

airplane food

I also really like these Stevia chocolate bars from Lily’s Sweets. Unlike most things connected to the word Stevia, these don’t taste like b.s. They’re also minimally sweet, which is nice and keeps you from bingeing them. I wait for them to go on sale at Whole Foods, which seems to happen pretty frequently. But even without the sale, they’re not close to the rip-off that is a Kit Kat bar at the airport.

airplane food

Other good choices are those super healthy fig bars, or an apple or grapes wrapped in bubble wrap or, for the exceedingly virtuous, a couple of carrots, which are sweet and crunchy and might be just the nice little delight you crave to put a button on your meal.

Airplane Food Tip 4: Bring a Scarf

For some bizarre reason, your plane neighbor may not have read this post. S/he or they may have brought stinky food. I cannot tell you the number of times discreetly pulling my scarf up over my nose has saved me—not just from my row-mates’ bad food choices, but from the occasional and dreaded airplane or airport fart. Also, on the ghastly, fortunately rare but real occasions when that airplane fart issued forth from moi—well, what better cover than to pull, with slightly less discretion, that scarf up under one’s nose, not trying too hard to disguise the look of horror in one’s still visible eyes? It’s as handy as blaming the dog.

Travel prepared, my friends. And if you can spread the gospel of non-stinky, affordable, infinitely healthier and tastier travel food, consider me thanked.