The Fixer

It doesn’t matter what time of day. My digestif after scrambled eggs at breakfast. A satisfying and necessary fulfiller after lunch. A smooth finisher after dinner. A soothing pre-bed, night time snack. And of course, that something-something between meals.

There it is.

Mint-Chocolate Chip Gelato.

I’m in line at the check-out counter at Palmer’s Market, gripping four (4) cylindrical containers of Talenti Gelato, two pints in each hand. The ice crystals cool the palm of my hand, and I wonder how long it took to ship this gelato from some quaint dairy farm in Southern Italy. A farm that’s been in the same family for hundreds of years. Farm-fresh from cow to these hard plastic cylinders to the freezer at Palmer’s Market, with all of the hand made manufacturing processes in-between. (Gelato, gelato, I find myself repeating gelato and liking it, especially the finish. My lips form an “o” like “o” isn’t this “o” so wonderful).

I move up in line, gently setting the gelatos down on the conveyor. They slide forward.

[Read more…]

Slice (of life)

ben-orange

Slice“, Benito Martin (Photographer, Sydney Australia)

Did I eat all that? It’s time for New Year’s Resolutions.


Source: (via Newthom)

Saturday Morning Market

I am awash with a deep abiding love
For shiny purple eggplants,
Real and rounded in such womanly ways.
I am beside myself with wonder
At the many shapes and hues
Of crook-necked squash and new potatoes,
Earthy red and ochre tan,
Goldfinch yellow and deep summer green.
I am grateful to tears
For fresh beet greens and rhubarb,
Green peppers and Swiss chard,
And for the first vine-ripe tomatoes
That are so perfect you go ahead
And eat one like an apple,
Leaning forward
Without looking
To see if anyone is watching.
I am blessing the names
Of the farmers and bread bakers,
Sunburnt and beautiful,
Freckled and friendly,
Who make change
And comfortable conversation.

This is real abundance
Of the senses and spirit,
A true kind of church,
With its arms open wide
To the eaters and eaten,
The growers and grown,
To all who come looking
For what is common and earthly,
Luminous and lasting,
And to be dumbstruck with wonder
By what we carry back home
In an ordinary basket.

~ Carrie Newcomer, “Saturday Morning Market” in The Beautiful Not Yet: Poems, Essays and Lyrics 


Notes:

 

a happy time when you can escape this world, you know, and lose yourself in food

DAVIES: (Laughter) OK. We’re speaking with Anthony Bourdain. He has a new cookbook called “Appetites.” This is an interesting cookbook to look at and to read. You write in it there’s nothing remotely innovative in the recipes. You’re lifting them from imperfect memories of childhood favorites. Why this kind of book?

BOURDAIN: Well, I wanted it to be useful, approachable, reflective of the life I’ve lived over the past eight or nine years as a father, as opposed to a professional trying to dazzle with, you know, pretty pictures and food that’s different than everybody else’s. No, I wanted to make a beautiful cookbook, creative-looking one spoken in honest, straightforward, casual terms that gives the reader reasonable expectations, that encourages them to organize themselves in the way that I’ve found to be useful as a professional.

But as far as the recipes, you know, when I cook at home, it’s with a 9-year-old girl in mind. I mean, she’s who I need to please. And if she’s not happy, I’m not happy. The whole house revolves around her and her friends, so it’s reflective of that. It’s also reflective of, I think, age and all those years in the restaurant business.

Most chefs I know after work do not want to go out to dinner and be forced to think about what they’re eating in a critical or analytical way. They want to experience food as they did as children, in an emotional way, the pure pleasure of that bowl of spicy noodles or even a – you know, a bowl of soup that their mom gave them on a rainy day when they’d been bullied in school. I mean, that’s a happy time when you can escape this world, you know, and lose yourself in food. So these are recipes that hopefully – where I try to evoke those kinds of feelings and emotions.

~ Anthony Bourdain, from an interview in 2016 titled  On ‘Appetites,’ Washing Dishes And The Food He Still Won’t Eat (NPR.org, “Fresh Air“, October 20, 2017)

Bourdain’s cookbook can be found here: Appetites: A Cookbook


Notes:

Miracle. All of it. (60 Sec)

 


Notes:

  • Image Credit: via Paper Ghosts
  • Inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
  • Related Posts: Miracle. All of it.

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat

salt-fat-acid-heat-samin-nosrat-cooking-1.jpg

“Somehow my mom always knew exactly what would taste best when we emerged. Persian cucumbers topped with sheep’s milk feta cheese rolled together in lavash bread. We chased the sandwiches with handfuls of ice cold grapes or wedges of watermelon to quench our thirst. That snack, eaten while my curls dripped with seawater and salt crust formed on my skin, always tasted so good. Without a doubt, the pleasures of the beach added to the magic of the experience.”

Samin Nosrat grew up understanding how good food is all about balance, and that’s the gist of her new cookbook. It’s titled “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering The Elements Of Good Cooking.”

(SALT) Nosrat frees her readers to use their own senses instead of measuring cups. She says we should salt things until they taste like the sea, which is a beautiful thing, but it also sounds like just a lot of salt.  NOSRAT: “Just use more than you’re comfortable with, I think, is a good rule for most people. Especially when you’re boiling things in salted water, most foods don’t spend that much time in that water…So the idea is to make the environment salty enough so that the food can absorb enough salt and become seasoned from within. A lot of times, you end up using less salt total if you get the salt right from within because then the thing isn’t over-seasoned on the outside and bland in the center.”

(FAT) “I think fat has this remarkable capability to offer us all these different and very interesting and delicious and sort of mouthwatering textures in our food. And it’s just about learning how to get those textures out of the fat that you’re already using.”

(ACID) “For me, it’s all about getting that nice tangy balance in a meal or in a bite or in a dish. And you can get that through a lot of things, citrus and vinegar and wine which are maybe the three most obvious and sort of well-known sources of acid…Almost every condiment we add to our food is acidic, which is why when you get – I don’t know – a bean and cheese burrito, you’re always like hungry for salsa and sour cream and guacamole to put on there because those things will just perk it up, you know, and add flavor.”

(HEAT) “And so the thing about heat I realized, it sort of boils down to when you’re cooking a food, your goal – no matter what the food is – is to get your desired result on the outside and on the inside. And so your dream is to get that perfect grilled cheese, where the outside is crisp and brown and buttery and delicious, and the inside is melty and perfect.”

Chef Calls ‘Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat’ The 4 Elements Of Good Cooking, excerpts from an interview with Samin Nosrat. 

Find the bestseller on Amazon here: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking

We all eat in pursuit of memories.

Amy-thielen

We all eat in pursuit of memories. The finely diced chives on my tongue are also the moments I snipped them from the grass in late spring as a child and put them in morning omelettes with my dad. A dry unsweet cookie is the sound of my great-aunt’s gravelly voice cautioning against the perilous use of sugar. Eating a bowl of ice cream is the slow methodical churn of my grandmother’s ice-cream maker that set the tempo for a Sunday afternoon.

Such sensory evocations, and the emotional tug they exert in one’s everyday life, are never far from the mind of Amy Thielen in “Give a Girl a Knife.” The memoir charts the beautiful winding path that led the author from rural Minnesota to high-stakes Michelin-starred restaurants in New York—in search of what she thought was culinary sophistication—and then back to Minnesota, and a cabin in the woods built by her artist husband. Along the way the author learned to cook Austrian, Chinese, French and even her native Minnesotan dishes.

~ Georgia Pellegrini, from Her Place at the Heartland Table in a book review of Amy Thielen‘s new book: “Give a Girl a Knife: A Memoir


Photo: Amy Thielen.com

No question looms larger

No question looms larger on a daily basis for many of us than

“What’s for lunch?”

and, when that has been resolved,

“What’s for dinner?”

~ Jim Harrison, A Really Big Lunch: Meditations on Food and Life from the Roving Gourmand

 


Photo: Easy Indian Masala Burgers @ yumi-food. (Masala Burger @ Trader Joe’s is a blend of seven different vegetables – potatoes, carrots, green beans, bell peppers, onions, corn and green peppers – with authentic Indian spices like coriander, cumin, red chili powder and turmeric.)

This is why I refused to die

Toward the end of the evening, Dominick ceremoniously brought out his glorious special dessert, which he makes every year for the party, a mound of croquembouche: pastry cream–stuffed profiteroles piled high into a cone-like mound and linked with crunchy strands of caramel. My mother was the only other person I knew who ever made them (every Halloween, while most kids got Snickers and jelly beans from the neighbors, my mom made croquembouche, and that’s what she passed out to the small ghosts and princesses and aliens who knocked on her apartment door). As Dominick approached with the tray, my mom took one of the doughy balls very carefully with her left hand—her right hand and most of her right side were basically still useless at this point—and bit into it. I remember the look on her face as the taste resonated, and I watched her lick a dab of the custard that had settled on her upper lip. Our eyes met and, although she didn’t utter a word, I knew what she was saying to me: This is why I refused to die.

~ Peter Gethers, My Mother’s Kitchen: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and the Meaning of Life 


Photo: Mary Mary Culinary with Croquembouche (Caramel glazed pate a choux filled with passion fruit curd and vanilla pastry cream)

Dinner (Together)

Q: In your memoir The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen, you talk about the importance of having dinner as a family, having everyone together to discuss the issues of the day.

Jacques Pépin: For me, the kitchen is the center of the house. When a kid comes back from school, you sit down in that kitchen and you do your homework. You hear the voice of your mother, your father, you hear the clink of pots and pans, you see the ingredients, the smells. All of that will stay with you the rest of your life. You know, that becomes very important. For a child just home from school, the kitchen is a great place to be.

~ Don’t miss full interview @ GQ.com: Jacques Pépin  (April 11, 2017)


Sources: Quote – Thank you Harvey @ The Happy Curmudgeon. Photo: L.A. Times

A Really Big Lunch

Jim was hungry, thirsty, joyously friendly, and characteristically overeager for the first course to come out of the kitchen. Jim’s appetite was legendary, and nothing makes a cook quite so happy as someone who exists entirely to eat—and when not eating, to talk about eating, to hunt and fish for things to eat, or to spend time after eating talking about what we just ate. […]

Jim and I shared many qualities: an unending appetite, inhaling life to the full chorizo, finding hilarious and playful nuance in every breath and every moment, but I always was and remain the student. Jim was sharper, more in tune with the distant cry of the loon over the lake while fishing on a lazy Tuesday morning, more sensitive to the moonlight over Washington Square Park on a dusk walk toward the Babbo apartment, where he sometimes stayed. Jim lived art not as a method to distill his thoughts but as a categorical way of understanding life, a quest to quench an insatiable thirst for all it put before him. And to share that understanding with any and every person he met. […]

Jim once wrote of a character, “He’s literally taking bites out of the sun, moon, and earth,” which is what he himself spent a lifetime doing. Damn, he was my hero.

~ Mario Batali, from “Inhaling Life” (The New Yorker, March 18, 2017). This text was drawn from the introduction to “A Really Big Lunch: Meditations on Food and Life from the Roving Gourmand,” by Jim Harrison, which is out on March 24th.

Breakfast

child-hunger-food-eat

“A child scrapes the leftovers from his meager lunch at a refugee camp in Kutupalong, Bangladesh. More than a million Rohingyas, originally from Myanmar, are living without basic amenities in government camps like Kutupalong.”


Source: Sushavan Sandy, Nurphoto, Zuma Press, February 21, 2017, wsj.com

Holy Cheese (15, yes, 15!)

cheese-chart-jpg

We’re a member of the 1%!  15 different types of cheese in our refrigerator, which led to a “conversation” about what the cheese is going on here…


Source: NY Times Magazine

Breakfast

migrant-serbia

A migrant eats during a snowfall in Belgrade, Serbia.

 


Source: wsj.com – Marko Djurica, Reuters, January 9, 2017

T.G.I.F.: It’s been a long week (Out with the X-Mas tree)

Berlin,christmas tree, zoo

Elephants feast on discarded Christmas trees at Berlin’s zoo.

Recycling. Au Naturel. Who knew?


(Source: wsj.com by Sean Gallup, Getty Images)

When Is It OK to Eat Chocolate? (About all the bloody time)

truffle-chocolate

Excerpts from Ellen Byron and Tanya Rivero discussing “When Is It OK to Eat Chocolate?” (along with DK’s reality check):

  • Really, it is OK to eat chocolate if it’s the fancy stuff. That’s what we’re telling ourselves. (DK: Not sure I’m telling myself exactly this…I am repeating, “it’s ok, DK, it’s ok, go ahead. It’s ok to eat 4 pieces in one sitting.)
  • Nearly half of chocolate eaters say they look for premium ingredients…they say that’s their health-permissibility factor. (DK: More health research that will be overturned in 10 years. Margarine over butter anyone?)
  • There’s no point in going to a gym and then downing a huge bar of cheap milk chocolate. There’s every point in going to a gym and then downing a small portion of a nice, deep chocolate. (DK: Come on. There’s every point in downing a huge bar of any kind of chocolate and then ‘thinking’ about going to the gym.)
  • Offering portion control also helps chocolate eaters feel good… (DK: Who feels good with portion control? Who? Introduce me to that human.)
  • Lindt’s Excellence bars, which are wrapped in foil and white cardboard, are designed for a “ritualistic” experience. “Consumers take care to rip the foil gently, then break a square off, then roll the foil back up…It’s meant to withstand that type of consumption where you might eat one square or two squares a day. (DK: Ritualistic? Yes, like Human Sacrifice. One or two squares a day? Laughable.)
  • New $7 chocolate bars from Godiva have indented squares that fit a thumb so eaters can snap off one bite at a time. ‘People love to have a bar of chocolate tucked away in their brief case, backpack or purse. (DK: Who can keep chocolate tucked away for more than three minutes anywhere, and especially in a brief case or purse? Who? As to indented squares to enable portion control? Ha! That’s just for better gripping a $7 Godiva morsel so it doesn’t hit the ground while you are shoveling…)
  • The relatively small amount of sugar in a piece of premium chocolate from Godiva doesn’t worry consumers the way other sweets might. “Having a small bit of chocolate isn’t the thing that’s going to kill you.” (DK: Totally right. Expensive Godiva Chocolate is totally exempt from the ills of sugar addiction – absolutely!)
  • Ms. Choma avoids buying large bars for her daily chocolate treat, fearing she’ll eat too much in one sitting. Instead (she) keeps individually wrapped chocolate truffles in her pantry. “It’s just the right size, so you don’t feel guilty,” she says. She’s mindful of antioxidants and other health benefits of chocolate, but mostly focuses on how much she likes the taste. “That’s my brain benefit,” she says. (DK: There’s a lot to digest here. But let’s just jump on the close.  Antioxidants? Goobledygook.  Brain benefit? Ho! Really?!?)
  • “We see people looking for little rewards all the time.” (DK: And we deserve it!)

Photo: Joann Hofer from XchocolArt in Carmel, Indiana with Blueberry Truffle Christmas Gift Organic Chocolate made with Blueberries, cream and luscious chocolate. (Source: Etsy.com)

Walking. Cross-Costco.

cream-puffs

We’re on a Costco run.

I’m generally not invited on Costco runs due to some Priors, some unfortunate displays of lack of self-control, some poor judgment, followed by regrets: “It won’t happen again.”

But rations were way down, there was some heavy mule work required, and so, here I am, with my adult chaperone.

The front of the store is stacked from floor to ceiling with 65″ HDTVs, deeply discounted laptops and seasonal deals on cell phones. Gadget man’s entire body is trembling, but is pulled forward with a scolding: “You don’t need any more. Come on!”

It’s 10:30 am and I’m working here on an empty stomach. The nose catches a whiff of chocolate and separately, of cheese. Sampling Stations! 

“I’ll catch up with you later.” I can feel the stink eye on my back, but first things first. I turn and head across the store, the stimulated nostrils acting as the GPS. [Read more…]

It’s been a long day

spaghetti-pasta-cheese-dinner

If one day you become sick of words, as happens to us all, and you grow tired of hearing them, of saying them; if whichever you choose seems worn out, dull, disabled; if you feel nauseated when you hear ‘horrible’ or ‘divine’ for some everyday occurrence – you’ll not be cured, obviously, by alphabet soup.

You must do the following: cook a plate of al dente spaghetti dressed with the simplest seasoning – garlic, oil and chili. Over the pasta toss in this mixture, grate a layer of Parmesan cheese. To the right of the deep plate full of the spaghetti thus prepared, place an open book. To the left, place an open book. In front of it a full glass of red wine. Any other company is not recommended. Turn the pages of each book at random, but they must both be poetry. Only good poets cure us of an overindulgence in words. Only simple essential food cures us of gluttony.”

Héctor Abad Faciolince, from Recipes for Sad Women


Notes:

little tummy roll that has helpfully crept over the bottom of the iPad, so that it might help you type?

Anne Lamott, from a Facebook post on November 25, 2012:

Quickly, and probably with lots of typos: I am beginning to think that this body of mine is the one I will have the entire time I am on this side of eternity.

I didn’t agree to this. I have tried for approximately fifty years to get it to be an ever so slightly different body: maybe the tiniest bit more like Cindy Crawford’s, and–if this is not too much to ask–Michelle Obama’s arms. I mean, is this so much to ask? But I had to ask myself, while eating my second piece of key lime pie in Miami last Sunday, and then again, while sampling my second piece of Crete brûlée in Akron, if this is going to happen.

For the record, I do not usually eat like I do in hotels while I am on book tour. But I have a terrble sweet tooth and I am just not going to be spending much more of this and precious life at the gym, than I already do, which is at best, three times a week, in a terrible shirking bad attitude bitter frame of mind. I go for three one-hour hikes a week. I’m not a Lunges kind of girl.
And even if I were, I’m shrinking. I’m not quite Dr. Ruth yet, but I used to be 5’7, and now am–well, not.

But the psalmist says I am wonderfully and fearfully made. Now, upon hearing that, two days after Thanksgiving, don’t you automatically think that “fearfully” refers to your thighs, your upper arms, the little tummy roll that has helpfully crept over the bottom of the iPad, so that it might help you type? [Read more…]

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