crushing cuties into potion…

January 6, 2013 § 3 Comments

They were left on the counter, having somehow escaped the holiday feasting madness…five little cuties…all alone…one of them was rather hard, it’s juice having gone somewhere, seeping through its skin maybe, I dunno. But it was rock hard and refused the juicing I was about to give the other four…because there’s magic in that juice…and writers can always use a little magic.
(photo by DCL)

DSC_0542Planning to jump into Laurie Colwin’s HOME COOKING this evening. Just a little taste of it. Have other books to finish but…just for a little taste.

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Easy holiday edible…

December 30, 2012 § 7 Comments

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Short prep time, long enjoyment time…take a bag o’ organic cranberries from Whole Foods, stir into 4 Cs boiling water to which  1/2 C sugar has been added and reduce after a minute’s boil to cook for  8-10 minutes… or just follow your intuition. While northeast coasters may be more savvy about cranberry sauce, all will enjoy the value, compliment and use thereof regarding the charismatic cranberry.

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They’re great spooned alongside holiday roasts, they’re pretty on the table and the cran sauce also makes an excellent sandwich condiment!

 Note: The uncooked crans look great on a tray surrounding any larger food presentation (sorry, no picture – just trust me…we spread them around on the white turkey platter…looks yum….)

fruit, Fall and fine food writing…

September 21, 2011 § 9 Comments

What IS it about berries and cream…
Or, berries sprinkled with raw sugar…
Or, a quick thick dip  in some chocolate fudge sauce…

ah, but the berries are on the wane, making room for the apple, that icon of health, Johnny A-seed and Fall.
 I made a mile high pie on Sunday and forgot to shoot it (with my camera, I mean, of course!)

As for best apple pie recipe, you have to know what pieces to steal from which cookbook,but do include something from the JOY OF COOKING (the vanilla!).
Also, you have to have a Grandmother somewhere in your family history who put pies on the table every weekend, never getting all dramatic or show-offy about it, never blinking, never missing. Upon praise, she lifted an eyebrow and gave a bit of a smile and went on about her business.  And we never got her apple pie recipe in writing, either.

So, I try to get mine to be at least the color of hers (thanks to cinnamon and a little shoosh of nutmeg) and focus on the crust as well as on apples that have FLAVOR! Sure you can make a pie with apples from the root cellar that have been sitting there forever, but treat yourself and get really good ones, really juicy sweet-tart apples,  no more than a week old from the orchard.

Yup, if I had me a horse, I’d ride out there (where?) and pick all day ’til even the horse said” that’s enough.”

Here’s to apple pie time!
Which has me thinking it’s a good time to read one of Laurie Colwin’s essay/cookbooks again – give ’em a try if you haven’t – yum!
     HOME COOKING: A WRITER IN THE KITCHEN
     MORE HOME COOKING:  A WRITER RETURNS TO THE KITCHEN
These are wonderful. For so many reasons. Fulfill  your reading (and eating ) appetites.
And …. these would make grand gifts for the holidays…seriously.
Read them. Enjoy. Tralala.

what’s cookin’?

December 30, 2010 § 14 Comments

(I meant to photograph the onion casserole but had it  popped in the oven before I could find my camera. Anyway, this was the cook’s playground this afternoon, with a SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS book open to the onion page and the Martha’s Dec issue also open to some impossible recipe. I believe it was Bella Rum who warned me about Martha’s complicado recipes and she was correct!!!!)

The kitchen smelled like armpits.
It couldn’t be helped.
It was the onions that I had to slice, thinly.
The recipe called for 16 of ’em (2 red, 2 white and 12 green ones).
And two kinds of cheese, a ton of each, bleu and havarti.
And dry white wine.
Pepper.
And precious butter.

Bake for an hour.
About half way into bake time, mmmm, the scent started to turn  around and there was the onions and butter and the wine, all showing off their best aromas.

And then there was the pea soup, just coming to burble in its pot, into which a very small amount of onions and a lovely two handsful of tiny chopped bits of carrots and yes, my precious butter, and the hambone from the Xmas honey ham had been ceremoniously dumped. Lid plopped on top. Lovely.

Now this was a kitchen.
And people started drifting in, to see what was going on.
Give a girl a vacation and look what she’ll do.

(FYI: the onion casserole came out lovely, with everyone digging in for a taste and swearing they’d wait ’til formal dinnertime to have more with their burgers. And they did. Meanwhile, the soup went along slowly, thickening and sweetening. It will be lovely tomorrow with cornbread.)

BOOK RECOMMENDATION:
Haven’t got one in particular. Still plowing through nearly a dozen New Yorker magazines to catch up. And while it has nothing to do whatsoever with cooking, I am enjoying, to the point of laughing out loud, Bill Bryson’s A WALK IN THE WOODS. It’s my first Bryson. Yeah, I’m a Bryson virgin and just tickled to pieces with his writing. Especially since it’s about my beloved East Coast moutains. And I’m inspired to tackle something challenging, inspired by Bryson. Hmmmm….off  I go to ponder my personal challenge. Seems to go with the New Year.

Cup of Tea?

December 28, 2010 § 6 Comments

It’s brilliant outside. Sun on snow. Snow melting in some places and blowing off the branches in others.
It’s brilliant inside. No schedule. No must-dos.  Just thank you notes, which I look forward to doing as I also ponder making something luscious to eat. I do not ponder food during work weeks. This is bliss.

And making tea.  I’m making a pot of peppermint but will totally honor individual requests…because you’re invited.

Into sugarland … and back again … somewhat unscathed

February 2, 2010 § 13 Comments

at Buena Vista Cuban restaurant, Miami

Me: Dessert?
HM: Yes, sure.
Me:  OK, wanna share? 

I don’t really like  want to share food. I’m not one of those who, when at a restaurant, is all excited about trying what’s on other people’s plates and offering up mine.  I order what I like.  And then build a sort of wall around it. But for HM, love of my life…(and for my waistline!) I’m trying to “kick” sugar. Not easy. Even writing about it doesn’t help. It  makes it worse. I am lusting for some of the chocolate-covered pretzels in the kitchen right now as I type.

The waitress brings us one flan, as we requested. I am grateful for the way it’s plated. I have something to look at, to exclaim over, to praise, before digging in – gently, gently!

HM: Go ahead, you go first.
Me: You sure? (He nods.) Thanks. 

Proceed slowly. Suddenly I stop the fork action and get out my camera to take a picture. HM raises an eyebrow. 

OK, now, for a taste.I take a small forkful. In truth, I could have pulled the plate closer, built my “traditional” don’t-touch-it wall and been done, fork rattling on empty  plate in less than three or four completely non-conversational minutes. But I take only enough of a bit of the flan to engage only two prongs of the four-pronged fork. Just a whisper of the flan. Not even enough to fall off the fork!

HM: Well?
Me: Mmmmmm
HM: Oh, that’s your highest praise, that smiling “mmmm.”Have it all. Enjoy it!
Me: (waving my fork) No! No! Don’t leave it to me. Please! Come on, taste!
HM: Are you sure? I can order something else, maybe just a coffee.
Me: waving a fully loaded fork in front of him, hypnotizing him, smiling: Taste it. Come on, love, it’s bliss on a fork.

(Did you ever notice that when you could have only a tiny little bit, how rich and delightful that tiny bit is? omg.)
He leans in to take the offered “dolce.”

HM: Oh, yeah. Surprisingly good. He leans back in his chair.

We are tango-ing with our appetites. We both could polish off this flashy flan easily if the other turned his/her head away for even a half second. Yup, we know that. But we’re enjoying this little dance, tasting it bit by bit like some kind of professional tasters or judges in a contest. I am impressed by our reserve. It’s a new kind of enjoyment for us both.

Me: Whaddya’ think? A 10?
HM: Yeah, I’d give it a 10.
Me: Good thing we can’t get to this bistro on a regular basis.
HM: You’ve never made flan, have you? You could try it. Bet you could do  a really fine flan!

(Ah, I recognize that train of thought…he’s throwing down the culinary gauntlet. Will I rise to the occasion and promise to make a flan as soon as we get home?
Me: I shrug. We’ll see.
HM: Playing it cool, eh? This from the woman who can eat ice cream so quickly that the spoon melts…let’s see what you make first when we get home – dinner or a flan dessert. Two weeks later…
I haven’t made any flan yet. Why? Because I’ll have to lick the bowl, if there is one during the making of it, and  I’ll have to taste  the final flan when it’s done, the “cook’s taste,” you know. And then have it again when I offer it to the family for dessert, erring, calorically and in terms of “sweet stuff” all over the place.

Ah, the trials of a person searching to sack her sugar love.

When writers get up early …

March 14, 2009 § 2 Comments

Ironing is rivaled by cutting up crudites on my housekeeping hit parade.  Sometimes, there’s nothing better than cutting up huge sweet carrots and slicing through snappy celery, creating stacks of snack.  Looks like HM picked up hummus. Yum. Yum-mus.

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I can’t buy the ready-cuts at the store. That would mean missing out on the Zen of food prep. Besides, I have always avoided those pound bags of baby carrots, those mini ready-to-eats; something about them just isn’t natural, not in such multi-bag plenitude, all ready to go.

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So while the sun is shining and the birds are swinging on the feeder and Huck and Bear are gazing through the glass doors, letting the birds be without any barking frenzy, I can stand and wash and slice and toss into snap-lid containers the riches from some garden somewhere out there, then stick them on the top shelf of the fridge because a few hours from now,  Snarl and his gang, who are home on Spring break, will plunder the kitchen, find the veggies (they are not meat eaters, at least not now) and set them on the table with dip and hummus and just keep talking and planning and eating and making their plans and living their lives with a timeout at the kitchen table.

And when they’re done with all that, I’ll be ready with the next round of “home” cooking. The baking … !

Sunday Scribblings … #145 Organic …

January 10, 2009 § 6 Comments

If you read an old definition of ‘organic’ it seems to have very little to do with how we use the word today. What is your take on ‘organic?’

ORGANIC THEN …
The Whole Earth Catalog, the first one with its black cover and a picture of the planet earth on it.

The muslim tops I used to wear

A friend’s house she built herself. It was one room. She had a woodstove and a  huuuuge bunk. She had windowsand raw wood shelves.  She peed outdoors. She got up early, season regardless, and made tea and had bread which she baked (yuck, it was awful) and then she walked to work from the top of the mountain to the bakery at the bottom.

Tea. Bags and boxes of tea. All kinds. We took time to brew it and discuss philosophy and where we would travel next as we sat there, feet up on the old coffee table and the cups in our hands, warming them.

A food store in Cooperstown.  It was  a co-op. Half the stuff didn’t seem to apply to our lifestyle but we liked the way it smelled and we bought  whole wheat flour there. Whole wheat flour wasn’t going to be in the typical grocery stores for another five years.

Peanut butter. So stiff you could barely spread it. It tasted real.

Even music was organic:  Taj Mahal, Earl and Scruggs, Pete Seeger, Buffy Ste Marie, John Mayall, Jethro Tull …

ORGANIC NOW …
Snarl’s wallet ( made of comic book paper – it’s literally a piece of art)

My sea glass earrings

Our kitchen, recently redecorated using low VOC paint, it has mostly organic food stuffed into the fridge and pantry

Our dogs’ lifestyle.

Furniture, flooring, bedding and clothing. There’s an organic umbrella covering many things and yeah, it gets mixed in with “green” and “natural” and it’s all good.

Christmas trees and handmade wreaths.

Cleaning solutions, like Method (TM)  products.

The garden ( the soil, the no-pesticide evolution).

Organic. It used to be a word that took the listener down a different path.
Now it’s easily internalized and understood to the point where it has lost, perhaps, its inherent meaning.

Taking organic at its “natural living” definition, it also applies  to print and media and  …. blogs.

Blogs are organic by their very nature – straight from mouth/brain to paper/keyboard – no editor, no proof reader.  Organic writing, like organic anything, implies a great deal of responsibility and care regarding the final product.

Organic? Hmmm.. now there’s something old that’s new.

FYI…

July 22, 2008 § 3 Comments

It ain’t all peaches and cream. Did I say we laugh as we bump into one another in the kitchen? Not if the other guy is holding a paintbrush. Went to work yesterday with a slash of white paint on my arm that I didn’t notice until Meeting #1. By meeting #3, I was glued to my chair, carefully “unshowing” my white-on-tan-body art.

And cooking in there is getting hellacious. Most stuff has been swept from the counters and hidden (as though the cupboard and pantry doors will keep out the insidious dust from sanding the walls and the wood trim!) But you better wipe everything off before cooking in it, drinking from it or putting food on it. This is enough to dissuade the most savvy cook and I’m not even close to being a savvy cook. In the magazine stories, the family is always going out to eat during renovation. Let’s get serious here, people!

Snarl cleans up as he goes which is remarkable really. But the kitchen table, (no, I didn’t picture that in the last blog, did I?) is a fright, loaded with buckets of paint, the sander, the Xacto knife (TM), the screwdriver, pictures that were once hung up, putty knives, spackle, etc etc etc. Ah, my beloved table that we lugged all over Brooklyn, NYC, NJ, NC, FL and here!  And it, too, will be under construction when the paint is finally drying on the walls – the table gets stripped, sanded and refinished.

I see it. I see what people have warned me about. The ripple effect. We began with the walls. We’ll just “refresh” them – remove the wallpaper and paint the walls. It will be nice. uh huh. Yeah. Now we’re talking new sink, refinished cabinets and have already ordered new patio doors.

Sigh. I am NOT cooking tonight. I have been eyeing the foyer floor, though. Now that we have a sander, I could sand that floor and refinish it…ok, no.

Is it politically correct to ask ‘what are you reading?’ in the workplace?

April 24, 2008 § Leave a comment

When I walked by the copy machine yesterday, a co-worker had a book splayed open and face down. Hey, what are you reading? I asked.

It’s about cooking with herbs, she answered. She and her son were working on some recipes together. He’s a chef. She needed a copy of a gourmet dish.

What are you reading? she asked me and I told her. She didn’t say “of course.” She just smiled.

Another co-worker was busy at a worktable nearby. We turned to ask if she kept a book in her purse or in her car? Yes. She was reading “Traveling in Countries of Anarchy.”

We chatted a few minutes, then went on about our business, having enjoyed a moment of book bonding.

I couldn’t resist asking three others what was on their reading plate: one had a prayer journal – did that count? Absolutely.  One came to my office and showed me her book; it looked like a war romance, something she picked up at the library, she explained. Judging by its cover, it looked like a page turner; we all love such books. And the third emailed to say she was working on a handsewn craft and spending all her time trying to finish the product which is to be a gift. Being on a creative plane always always “counts.” It’s a gorgeous project.

The coolest thing: everyone was willing to share their ‘reads.’ 

It’s good to talk about these things, to have a glimpse of real life amidst the corporate walls.

What are they reading (or making) where you work?

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