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Still life with eggs.

still life with eggs

still life with eggs

still life with eggs

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Also known as Passover baking.

Over the past week, twenty-four eggs have passed through my hands. One made it into breakfast. The remaining twenty-three were mixed into five batches of mini chocolate cakes and three of macaroons. Those macaroons will have to wait a few days but they’ll show up here soon enough.

I thought it would be fun to talk a little bit about my kitchen. There’s a blog called a stove with a house around it - it’s been dormant for a while, but the name stays with me, and I think of my place as a kitchen with an apartment around it. One peek and I was ready to sign the lease. My apartment in Boston had a big kitchen (you can see me cooking in it here), much more than I needed as a single chick living on my own. But now that I’m back in New York, living in an apartment a third of the size of my old one, my kitchen can best be described as, well, efficient. In real estate lingo that would mean small. But in my lingo, it means small but (and!) it works really well for me.

The kitchen itself is a galley, but by far the most luxurious one I’ve ever had. With a large, even slightly over-sized, gas stove, I can fit a full sheet pan in the oven with room to spare (think twenty macaroons per pan!). Then there’s … get this … a garbage disposal. And a dishwasher.

Turn around, and you’ll bump into a narrow counter and a French door refrigerator with an ice cube maker that I spent six weeks trying to turn on. Turns out, when a fridge isn’t connected to a water supply, when there is no water supply it can be connected to, it can’t make ice. No matter how many times you press the reset button.

To the right of the fridge is a doorway. And to the left of the fridge is a doorway. What it lacks in counter space, the kitchen makes up for in open space.

When I first moved in, I was concerned about the counter situation. I dragged over a waist-high wire shelving unit for storing pots and pans and other things that I always need in easy reach, but it’s not sturdy or deep enough to chop on.

I use my pantry for dishes and appliances and baking sheets because it’s too awkwardly-shaped to stockpile cans and other staples. I use my cabinets for those staples. I store my plastic wrap, foil, parchment paper and the like in a trash bin under my sink – everything stands up and the rolls stay put. I only have three drawers, so I keep my two sets of silverware in the same one, with milk utensils facing upside up and meat ones upside down.

It took me until this week to get the hang of my kitchen and to appreciate its efficiency. All those eggs up there put my kitchen to the test and I’m pleased to say that she (he?) made it through with flying colors. One counter was the mixing station. The other, the cutting. In between photo shoots, the table served as a scooping station. And then a cooling station. With the small space, I was forced to clean up while I worked. And because it was small, it didn’t take long to clean.

A few hours ago, I left the dishwasher running and now I’m in New Jersey with family.

To those of you celebrating Passover, enjoy your seders tonight. And to everyone, happy Spring.

xo

 

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I’ve been called a lot of names, but “a Christmas miracle” is a new one for me.

And yet, there it was last week on my computer screen when I told my cousin Judy that I’d be able to drive out to Pennsylvania for her twenty-fourth annual Christmas Eve party. With geographic distance and a rapidly growing clan came the need for holiday celebrations that once fit around a (very long) table to separate into two. I hadn’t seen Judy’s side of the family in years, and when I walked through the door, a cheer erupted, followed  by hugs and kisses all around and a running squeal from my little cousin Clover.

The family was gathered around the kitchen counter, and someone quickly offered a stool and pushed a glass of wine into my hand. There was a round-robin of catching up until the cries of the kids could no longer be ignored and we all dove under the tree to dig out our gifts. On the pine needle-strewn floor, I found a bag with my name filled with a kaleidoscope of kitchen tools. Over cake, Clover and I assembled glow-in-the-dark necklaces. 

Bedtimes drew near and the crowd thinned out. As we approached midnight, just a few of us remained. Over the last drops of wine, we packed food into containers and neatly fit them into the refrigerator like a 3D Tetris game. And then the real catching up began. There were stories about my father as a kid, about lives reinvented, about family members I’d never had the opportunity to meet. Apparently my great-grandmother Lillian used to watch TV with a blanket around her legs because she didn’t want the anchorman to look up her skirt. Classic. Just classic.

I woke up the next morning in a red and green haze. I hadn’t heard Santa overnight, but I had no problem blaming him for the few  forkfuls of cake that disappeared before I got the coffee brewing. Judy, her husband Michael, and I shared a lazy morning and then I showered (in a tinsel-bedazzled bathroom) and got back in my car to drive home.

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lately

Hello, hello!

Yesterday was the shortest day of the year, and today was the warmest it’s been in months. I was driving about this afternoon, popping over to Crown Heights for a little barbecue and a few pretzels, and as I headed home in traffic and the sky darkened into night just a few minutes later than it did yesterday, I shot a few photos.

Here’s to longer days. And more sunshine. 

Manhattan Bridge N train

Apparently, the North Pole is somewhere on the Upper East Side. Where? Not sure.

North Pole

There’s a green market outside my apartment every Friday. You can never have enough apples.

apples

Or cranberry applesauce
cranberry applesauce

And then there’s Cuban artist Alexandre Arrachea‘s No Limits exhibit – The Sherry Netherland in Union Square

Union Square

I’m having fun being back in New York.

ps – Did you notice that it’s snowing on my blog? It starts every year on December first and continues until I’m not sure when. Love it.

pps – Want to make your chocolate chip cookies exactly the way you want them? Here’s a start. To make my own recipe even better (crispy crispy crispy), I should try 100% white sugar, melt the butter, use only baking soda, just barely mix all the ingredients together, and let the dough rest overnight before baking.

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what I’ve got

In the middle of long chains of emails titled “Thanksgiving menu,” my aunt Leslie started a new subject: “Holidays”

She wrote, “I was thinking…just a suggestion…that in lieu of gifts for any of these occasions*, we consider making contributions to worthy causes.”

My uncle Michael responded: “My first response is not serious — only if contributions don’t have to be wrapped and they can be designated as last year’s gifts**. Seriously, you have made an excellent suggestion which I would support!”

My aunt Linda added, “The money we are fortunate enough to be able to spend on a wonderful family dinner is plenty. Too many people can’t even afford a turkey.”

And then my mother, “In violent agreement. Many good causes for our donations.”

So, while I’m finishing up tomorrow’s stuffing, I wanted to share a few of the causes that my family cares about and supports.

Michael, Linda, and their son Ben volunteer with the Community Food Bank of NJ.

Every year, we buy Thanksgiving pies through Sharsheret‘s Pies for Prevention Event, organized by my friend Adeena and her sister. I wrote about the organization’s work to raise awareness about ovarian cancer and support research.

The ML4 Foundation raises money to research treatments for Mucolipidosis Type IV, a genetic disease that afflicts Eden, my friend’s daughter. This video explains more.

The Wounded Warrior Project honors and empowers wounded service members. My grandfather was in the air force.

My sister helped design and build the Lower East Side Girls Club whose goal is to raise the next generation of ethical, environmental, and entrepreneurial leaders. Also, they have the second largest planetarium in New York City, after the Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Natural History.

cornbread apple stuffing

In a day or two, there will be better stuffing photos and the recipe. Today, I’m happy with what I’ve got. And that’s pretty good.

* Today is my cousin Zach’s 21st birthday. Happy birthday, kiddo!

** I don’t think I’ve ever received a present from my family on my actual birthday. The day after? Maybe. Months later? Probably. The day before the next birthday? Yup. And we don’t believe in gift wrapping.

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howdy

I just got back from a few days in Austin and want to share a few photos of this live-music-playing, cowboy-boot-wearing, two-stepping, hot-hot-hot food mecca.

Have a great week, y’all!

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Happy Place

Maria

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fiddle BW base

mura twinkle

Bloody Marys

Jo’s Cafe
242 West Second Street
Austin, TX 78701
512.469.9003
And other locations

Maria’s Taco Xpess
529 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704
512.444.0261

The Continental Club
1315 South Congress
Austin TX 78704
512.441.2441

Austin Food Trailers - all over

La Condesa
400A West 2nd Street
Austin, TX 78701
512.499.0300

Allen’s Boots - yup, I bought cowboy boots!
1522 South Congress Avenue
Austin, TX 78704
512.447.1413

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good things

Hey there. It’s been a while.  All’s good, just hectic since I started my new job.

This past week was full of wonderful surprises. A call from a sorely missed friend. Last minute tickets to see Alvin Ailey. An invitation from a chef to her birthday party where I got a sneak peek at her upcoming cookbook (I’ve already pre-ordered a copy). And lots of getting-to-know-you time with a pair of babies and catching-up-with-you time with their mama.

I was on the phone with another friend who, after I bubbled over with excitement telling her about all the good things that had happened to me this week,  reminded me, “Good things are always around you. You just need to be open to them.” So, while I haven’t been able to tote  my camera around much these days, I wanted to share a few good things that I captured with my phone since January.

No recipe today, but don’t worry though, there are some lemon macaroons just around the corner.

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The mug I use in the office for tea with milk.

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Salted pumpkin caramels to fuel me through a day working from home.

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Salted pumpkin caramels, an  hour later. And yes, I’m still in my pjs.

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Biscotti and gelati day at work. There was vanilla, lemon, and peanut butter chocolate chip gelati. Lime and dried cherry cornmeal biscotti. And experimental lemon black pepper cookies.

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Passover in Miami.

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And waffles. Who doesn’t love waffles?

See you back here soon. Happy Monday, everyone.

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on the other side

I’m off to Peru, friends, Peru!

I’ll be gone for a while, so it’s going to be a bit quiet around her until after the new year.

The past few months, I’ve been preparing like I’ve never prepared before. I booked my flights six months in advance. Hotels? Check. Machu Picchu? Check. Altitude medication? Check. Cooking class? Check.

I bought hiking boots two weeks ago and have been breaking them in at the gym. Which is miraculous for two reasons – first, I’ve been wearing hiking boots and second, I’ve been going to the gym.

My bedroom is covered with piles of clothing, organized into sections. There’s the wedding section (congrats, Veronica and Brian!) and the city section (Lima! Cusco! markets!) and the swimming section (pools! beaches!) and the hiking section (one of the seven wonders of the world!).

As I finish packing, I want to wish you a great last few days of 2012 and a fabulous 2013 to come. I’ll catch up with you on the other side.

***

PS I’ve been reading about Peruvian food – turns out there’s a lot more than cebiche with yams and pisco sours. Some call Peruvian cuisine the next big thing. Over a decade ago, the New York Times wrote about the melting pot that is Peruvian food, and years before that, Nobu Matsuhisa brought Japanese food with Peruvian flair to the US. Peru’s recent return to the culinary spotlight may be due to Ferran Adrià’s launching in Barcelona next month his newest venture, Patku, a restaurant dedicated to the fusion of Peruvian and Japanese ingredients and techniques referred to as Nikkei gastronomy.

Famous chefs and fancy restaurants aside, where should I eat in Lima? Cusco? What should I try? Let me know, and I’ll report back soon. 

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November 30

It’s the last day of November, which means it’s the last day of NaBloPoMo. Let’s take a quick look back at the month.

There were twenty-six blog posts. Seven sweets. Three salads. Three soups. Four other assorted vegetables. I bought a pressure cooker and am still trying to figure out how to use it. I got raw kale to finally work for me. I tortured you with the study of words and the study of microbes. I gushed about two inspiring chefs*. I traveled to Philadelphia and thought about The Netherlands and Miami.

Writing every day has been invigorating. More food has come out of my kitchen in the past month that any other month ever. Many nights I couldn’t fall asleep because I was too excited about what I wanted to write the next day. And some days it was a struggle. I let you in. And you, probably for the first time, got a glimpse of how I was feeling.

To top it all off, today I made bread. There’s a little more to that story, but for now, just a picture.

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It’s been quite a month. Thanks for joining me for the ride. See you in December.

* For more on Ottolenghi, check out Jane Kramer‘s article in this week’s New Yorker (December 3, 2012). You can’t access the full article unless you’re a subscriber, but I’d actually argue that this issue — the food issue — is worth the price of the entire subscription. Good reading, folks. Good reading.

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We don’t have much time to chat today because I’ve got a date with an oven and a family to catch up with.

Here are a few articles that I read while waiting in the airport this morning that I thought you might enjoy during your own travels.

Eight Thanksgiving stories by some great food writers.

Elissa Altman on being OK with change on Thanksgiving.

Michael Chabon on embracing change on Thanksgiving.

Fast Company on the origins of Thanksgiving and the importance of  harvest.

Ruth Reichl on her five favorite food books.

And now, our menu.

Nibbles: edamame, tabouli, hummus, guacamole, baby carrots, pita chip

Spicy butternut squash soup

Spinach and endive salad with toasted slivered almonds, cucumber, and strawberries, with balsamic dressing

Roasted turkey with oranges and onion

Cornbread stuffing with onion, mushroom, and apple

Crispy lemon roasted Brussels sprouts

Roasted sweet potatoes with brown sugar and pineapple

Pumpkin-cranberry bread

Cranberry relish with orange and pineapple

Applesauce (classiccranberry)

A little red, a little white (that my aunt Linda picked up at Sonoma County Grape Camp)

Pumpkin pie

Chocolate chip cookie dough pie

Pumpkin seed and spice biscotti

Fruit

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Let the eating begin!

I’ll be taking off the next few days. See you back here on Monday.

 

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When I started this blog, it was about the recipes. It was a way for me to capture what I was cooking and eating. A way for me to end the search for that recipe that I made that time with the stuff, it was on the right side of page in that cookbook, I think. It replaced the spreadsheet (yup, geek here) that I devised to track the recipes I made and wanted to make, a spreadsheet with pivot tables (yup, doubling down on geek here) to easily pull up a list of all Greek soups with tomato as the main ingredient.

In those early days, my cookbooks filled one shelf, my cooking magazines two. The book section grew to two and pushed out the magazines. In a big purge, I spent dozens of night on the floor in front of my bookshelf with a pile of magazines. I flipped and I ripped, taking only the best recipes and filling a blue folder. Then a red folder. The cookbook shelves soon counted three, but a new shelf was emerging. A shelf of writing about food, not just recipes.

It started with Adam Gopnik’s writings about Paris, which was about the city, which meant it was about the food. Then, somewhat predictably, MFK Fisher. I jumped right in with her 744-page, five-books-in-one tome. I’m still pawing my way through that one. These days there’s Ruth Reichl, a handful of other food memoirs and recipes with stories, and more recently, the type of magazine that I don’t throw away.

I was driving to a meeting today, listening to NPR, and I realized that I don’t just think about food and read about food and write about food. I also think about writing. Today’s Fresh Air was an interview with Tony Kushner, who wrote the screenplay for the recently-released Lincoln movie. The story of the film’s development was interesting enough, but skip ahead to 11:57:

Dave Davies: I read that when you wrote this screenplay, you gathered just the right fountain pens and notebooks. What’s the role of that?

Tony Kushner: I write everything with a fountain pen, I don’t know why. I’ve done it since I was bar mitzvahed. I was given a fountain pen, a Parker fountain pen, and I loved it. And I never liked writing anything with pencils or ballpoints. I just can’t stand it. Fountain pens have very expressive lines. When  you’re upset and you’re writing really hard, it gets thicker and darker. And when you’re tentative, it’s thinner and more spidery… I keep notebooks and write in them. I’m 56 years old and I find it easier to write when I’m first pulling everything together with a pen and paper. The noise of the computer feels like impatience. It’s the sound of impatience to me. And I like having a paper trail of what I’ve crossed out because sometimes I go back and realize I shouldn’t have done that. It’s a more natural way for me to write. I’m sure I’m the last generation that will ever say anything like that.

When I got home, I pulled a small notebook from my purse, a fountain pen from the drawer, and tried to draw a line. The ink had dried up, and right now that pen tip is sitting in a shallow bowl of ever-bluer water, waiting to be filled again.

As I’m typing now, I hear that sound of impatience.

Once the nib is all clean and I’ve refilled the cartridge (brown ink this time?), I’m going to sneak away from my computer every now and again. I’ll go into a different room and maybe put my feet up and write. I’ll make scribbles and draw arrows and squeeze in extra notes perpendicular to the lines using smaller and smaller print until I hit the corner of the page. And then draw another arrow and keep writing.

I’ll hear the scratch of the tip. It will be the sound of writing.

I’m not sure how this will go.

I’ll keep you posted. (Get it, post-ed?)

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