53 posts categorized "Food and Drink"

Bread as an edible plate

Bread as an edible plate: pizza on the boardwalk at the Olympic Flame Restaurant / Wildwood, NJ / June 2008

Their homely fare dispatch’d, the hungry band
Invade their trenchers next, and soon devour,
To mend the scanty meal, their cakes of flour.
Ascanius this observ’d, and smiling said:
“See, we devour the plates on which we fed.”

~ from the poem the Aeneid by Virgil

You are the bread beneath

You are also the “in croûte” around my potatoes; Another recipe for hard times: Pommes de terre Boulangères in croûte (“Baker's Wife” Potatoes in a Pastry Crust) — looks fancy but is filled with potatoes and onions; this was fun to make as it uses puff pastry and smelled fragrant and exotic while baking / June 2009

“We had just received a platter of kebob barg, made of strips of beef tenderloin; koobideh, of spiced ground beef; and another composed of the tiny, yogurt-marinated joints of Cornish game hen. One sister tipped the platter to gather the meat juices, and explained that to declare adoration for someone, one can say, in Farsi, 'You are the bread beneath my kabob.' After cleaning my plate with some of the still warm flatbread, I got a visceral grasp of its meaning.”

~ Sara Dickerman writing in the NYTimes about a Persian restaurant in LA

... thinking of the elections being held in Iran today and hoping that the Iranian women can gain more freedoms ...

Hard Luck Pound Cake

The Hard Luck Pound Cake / New Jersey / June 2009

Last week I went to see the doctor. On the way I heard the radio talking about how if Woody Guthrie were around he wouldn't be writing songs about “the economy” but rather how “times are hard” or these are “hard times.” My doctor asked about business and I said, oh, a bit slow — it's the economy I guess (in my head I thought “hard times”). He said that with the exception of one man (who sold some sort of internet-connection widget), all his patients talked about business being off, losing their jobs, losing their health insurance, etc. Driving home I got it in my head that I needed to make a pound cake (partially attributed, I am sure, to the weakness that comes after getting my blood drawn). I found a recipe for a swirled pound cake —the dark and light mixed together, kind of like life — and made a few “hard times” adjustments. The recipe called for 1 cup of butter; I substituted canola oil for half of the butter (butter is expensive and has more health-problem fat). The recipe called for 2 cups of white sugar; I substituted dark brown sugar for half of the sugar (dark brown sugar seems like the poorer relation to white sugar). The recipe called for 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract; all I had was a drop (I protest buying vanilla extract because it costs so much and I can never taste it in what I bake). The recipe called for a cup of milk and I had none; I substituted a cup of Paulo's Half-and-Half (it was in the refrigerator and is a little hidden richness to add comfort). The cake was wonderful — hard luck doesn't feel so bad with a good piece of cake. (Full recipe after the jump.)

Continue reading "Hard Luck Pound Cake" »

Curly-leaved kale

This week's wonderful bounty / New Jersey / Jan. 2009

I joined an organic co-op a few months ago and get a 15-pound box of fresh organic produce every two weeks. It has been fun cooking with things I've never bought before and tasting really fresh fruits and vegetables — I've tasted the sweetest carrots and celery and now I crave good produce more than I crave Tastykakes. A few things I've learned:
  • How to peel a kiwi: cut the ends off and then slide a spoon between the fruit and the skin to separate them.
  • Kale is wonderful — nutritious (high in anti-oxidants and also anti-inflammatory) and tasty and it has those beautiful curly leaves. I made a thick sausage-potato-kale soup. My mother told me that when my great-grandmother was older that she ate kale and potatoes all the time (she lived into her '90s).
  • I've never liked sweet potatoes very much, but if you grate the sweet potatoes and saute them with chopped onion you have a colorful and addictive dish.
  • Acorn squash, apples, and brown sugar baked together is another delicious combination (boil the squash first to make it easier to get the skin off).
(My apologies to the daikon that wilted in the refrigerator before I got to taste it.)

Bake on a nice day only


Make sure to follow the recipe -- especially the directions about baking on a nice day only / Dec. 2008

Today is baking day
It is a nice day
Measure, sift, beat
Pour, form, bake
Smell, savor
Two traditional recipes
A Baltimore Hot Milk Coconut cake
Croatian Almond Crescent cookies
Today is baking day
It is a nice day

Bread of spices

This year Older Bro created delicious gingerbread animals (horse/donkey in foreground; rooster in background); previous creations included a sturdy house and the amazing gingerbread train. Gingerbread is often translated into French as pain d'épices (literally bread of spices) / Dec. 2008

We had our traditional viewing of the movie It's A Wonderful Life. It seemed particularly timely this year. When there is a run on the bank (just saying those words makes me think back a few months to the specter of failing banks), George Bailey tells one of the men that the Bailey Building & Loan didn't foreclose on his house when he couldn't make the payments. The scene where Uncle Billy loses the bank's deposits to Mr. Potter because he's so excited about his nephew (Potter actually steals the money; he knows it's Uncle Billy's but he doesn't return it) is always too painful to watch and I have to leave the room. This year was especially bad — I feel like I've had my retirement savings stolen by Mr. Potter and his modern-day cronies. As Paulo said, it's all Potters running the world — are there no more George Baileys?

Fufluns' legacy of fun


Fufluns was an Etruscan god of vegetation, vitality, and gaiety — a perfect Thanksgiving deity / New Jersey / Nov. 2008

A common post-Thanksgiving-feast-activity is the breaking of the wishbone. Some say that the Etruscans believed that chickens were fortune-tellers because roosters crowed to announce the start of a new day and hens squawked to announce they were laying an egg. And that the Romans took some of the Etruscan beliefs including one that described the powers of the wishbone to make wishes come true and passed it along to the English who carried it to the New World and Plymouth Rock, transferring its powers to turkeys since they were so plentiful here. At this year's feast the third oldest and the third youngest took part. He grabbed one side of the bone, she grabbed the other side, they each made a wish and pulled to break the bone. Pappy got the bigger half, designating that his wish would come true. But Pappy, being the gentleman that he is, had wished for her wish to come true. I think Fufluns would have approved.

The qualities that keep us human

Taking time to celebrate together / New Jersey / Nov. 2008

“Malaka Nazli hadn't simply been a place, I realized, but a state of mind. It was where you could find an extraordinary, breathtaking level of humanity. What it lacked in privacy, what it failed to provide by way of modern comforts — hot running water, showers, electric stoves, refrigerators, telephones — it more than made up for in mercy and compassion and tenderness and grace, those ethereal qualities that make and keep us human.”

~ Lucette Lagnado in her book The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit

Champagne tea party

A special day with two Champagne toasts, Champagne tea, and Temple of the Gods tea / New Jersey / Nov. 2008

“... Because, finally, it is the soul that must be preserved, if one is to remain a credible leader. All else might be lost; but when the soul dies, the connection to earth, to peoples, to animals, to rivers, to mountain ranges, purple and majestic, also dies. And your smile, ... is that expression of health self-worth, spirit and soul, that kept happy and free and relaxed, can find an answering smile in all of us, lighting our way, and brightening the world.”

~ A letter to Barack Obama from Alice Walker