Sign in

iOS engineer, writer, and general glossophile. she/her.
Photo by Arnel Hasanovic on Unsplash

In the days of lore and legend that precede my employment, Medium operated under the decentralized organizational philosophy of holocracy. Though leadership has long since shifted to a more hierarchical structure, vestiges of holocracy lurk in unexpected places.

One such remnant is iOS tactical, a (bi)weekly gathering of iOS engineers (for more details, jump to “What’s in a tactical?”). Despite its arcane origins, tactical is by no means obsolete: it remains instrumental to building and maintaining a high-quality app, codebase, and developer experience. …

i moved into a one-bedroom apartment because i wanted to have a kitchen all to myself. i craved a space in which i could dilly-dally during my cheffy endeavors without guilt gnawing at the margins of my mind. i was proud of how much i’d upleveled my food game during the pandemic’s life-on-pause, pleased by all the cookbook learnings i’d twigged together into a nest of best principles. in all my preening, i failed to recognize that i seldom set out solo on my most ambitious undertakings; i’d usually play chef for, if not alongside, my loved ones.

living alone…

ah, summer in san francisco, sun-starved and stultifying. the chill returned last night after a day-long respite that didn’t quite warm my bones. though born and bred in the midwest, home of the Actual Cold, i’ve been bucked off my high horse by the biting ocean winds and am no longer ashamed to turn on the heat at temperatures above freezing. seven stages deep into grieving my lost weather hardiness, today’s surprise thermostat malfunction sank my spirits like a betrayal.

how best to cozy up when central heating ceases to be an option? cooking, of course! my brain beelined to…

in one lifetime i’ve marked the passage of time in three markedly different ways: tunnel-visioned to the cadence of the academic year; suspended in a trance by the bay area’s monthly sameness; and, now, rousing to the cyclical weather patterns of the city i inhabit. it took one (1) whole pandemic to shake me out of the northern california neverland. yikes? yay?

i have recipe writer joshua mcfadden to thank for awakening my senses to seasonal change. though his cult classic cookbook six seasons: a new way with vegetables flubs in its uncalled-for feminization of food, it showed me each…

i recently wrote about realizing that my pando-fueled efficiency kick isn’t as rosy as i’d reckoned. my best efforts to streamline everything cropped up in my cooking: i’ve shied away from serendipity and sought out simplicity and the same old. i off-roaded my livelihood straight into a lackluster rut.

so it goes! creative ruts happen. while i’m loath to just stand by as the tendrils of self-optimization suffocate one of my favorite forms of self-expression, i recognize that this rut is no different from others in which i’ve languished: i can’t force my way out.

i’m living in a particularly…

some takes on pandemic takeout

the pandemic changed how i dine out. forgive me for such a trite opener: it’s concise and true. as my increasingly vaccinated milieu threatens to burst my (physical, social, emotional) quarantine bubble, my overstimulated mind has turned to restaurants as The Thing To Talk About with friends i haven’t seen in months and don’t quite remember how to interact with.

conversation starters include:

  • what’s the first restaurant you’d like to return to for outdoor/indoor dining?
  • which gustatory experiences have you missed most? (don’t worry, i’d never pull out “gustatory” on a friend.)
  • are you over the weekly expenditures mandated by…

on food, memory, and ghost stories (kind of)

i’ve been feeling quite fond of my cache of nut butters lately, both pantry-placed and memory-moored.

i’m not usually one to remember dreams, but a few weeks ago i woke up with a simple fall breakfast at the forefront of my mind. my boyfriend and i were about to embark on an early morning bike ride — one of many we’ve taken around the city — and hadn’t yet fallen into our breakfast speed-run of stove-simmered oats when we just needed to get out the door.

we ambled over to a shabby café not because it was Yelp-starred, but because…

dinner on the anniversary of shelter-in-place day one

to purchase unripe plantains is to make an investment in my future. wrap them up in a paper bag, squirrel them away in a kitchen corner, and wait... a few days? a week? two? who knows! but the anticipation of their black-speckled ripeness foretells a favorable meal.

today, one of my plantains reached (what i consider to be) its zenith of flavor. i spent idle moments throughout the day planning a plantain-centered dinner with only ingredients that i had at home.

one of my favorite recipes that i tried in february was hawa hassan and julia turshen’s take on kenyan…

a surprisingly good and filling post-run breakfast (vegan)

yesterday, i blended frozen açai packets (plastic discarded) with a cloyingly overripe banana and left some rolled oats and dark chocolate granola to soak in that mixture overnight in the fridge. after a hearty foam roll (optional), i beelined to the kitchen where i topped my jar of açai-ified oats and granola with crumbled cashews, banana slices, two dollops of (kinda mediocre) tahini, and the salty/seedy leftovers of my coarse-grained attempt at nik sharma’s gunpowder nut masala. i mixed all ingredients together to eat and would describe the overall taste as bittersweet with a hint of umami and salt — a delectable combination — and texture as appropriately chonky.

it feels apt to christen this new blog with a post about its namesake dish.

my go-to workday lunch for the past year has been salad and toast. though it sounds boring, i’ve grown more and more fond of this simple meal over the months. i like it for a few key reasons:

  • it requires little to no advance planning. (caveat: this is not intended to be a relatable statement!) i purchase kale, spinach, chard, arugula, or some other leaf at least once a week. i either buy english muffins or make bread — a crusty boule, my dad’s midwestern…

Alaina Kafkes

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store