Saturday, December 8, 2007

French Chicken in a Pot

I've made a version of this with scallions, ginger, and soy sauce, which was Chinese Chicken in a Pot, but whatever its passport, this is a fine way to treat a chicken. You brown the bird in a nice big Dutch oven, add some aromatics (celery, onion, bay, carrot, if you want to Frenchify it) then put it, covered with a lid over foil, in a very slow oven (250 degrees!) until done. Normally I wouldn't sacrifice crispy chicken skin for anything, but it is hard to argue with meat this tender, or juice so succulent when reduced and seasoned with lemon juice and served, with the chicken and its vegetables, over rice. Yum. Is it needless to say that the idea came to me via "Cook's Illustrated"?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Little Learning Socks

If you're not a sock knitter you won't appreciate the news that Cat Bordhi's book, New Pathways for Sock Knitters, is finally out. I must tell you, however, that it is the book I have most looked forward to getting in years. Cat Bordhi is a genius: an endlessly inventive knitter, a wonderful teacher, and a terrific writer. New Pathways is all about reinventing the fundamentals of sock knitting, and I am dying to knit about half the projects in it. It has you start, however, by knitting two kinds of "little learning socks" which teach a few of the techniques used throughout the book. Normally I would never follow directions and actually knit them, but when it comes to Bordhi, I don't second-guess. The only problem is, what in the world will I do with two adorable pairs of baby-sized socks?

Saturday, December 1, 2007


Here's a picture just to prove I can actually finish what I start. The second toe is still a bit odd, but less so than the first. I wish the color were truer in the photo.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Crawfish Cakes

with brown rice and beet-cabbage-fennel salad. I know that salad doesn't sound good, but oh, mama; is it ever.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Single Sock Syndrome Pt. II

My knitting ADD is worsening. Did I sit down and knit the mate to the green sock still languishing in my sewing room? I did not; instead I went Koigu crazy and knit the rosy confection at left. I am most pleased with it; very pretty, relatively quick, and quite frugal with yarn at only sixty stitches around and a lace pattern that is mostly air. The pattern is "Hedera" by Cookie A. on, and I knit it on size 1 Addi Turbos (not so easy with my swollen pregnancy fingers). Used my new favorite eye-of-partridge heel flap, and accidentally invented a strange new toe.

Roast Chicken

This was a dinner to remember. I started with leftover cornbread (made by my spouse from Frank Stitt's recipe, and very excellent it was) which suggested stuffing: an apple, two leeks, and some sage later, it was. In it went into a nice chicken, which roasted beautifully and juicily, and which we enjoyed with fried brussels sprouts and cranberry sauce. For dessert, gingerbread. I wish dinner were like this every night.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Pear Pie

A success, as all my pies are these days, except that I don't think pear is really my pie fruit: I miss the tanginess of apples.

Palette Cleansing Sweater

Voila, the cure for too many socks. This sweater (the "Placed Cable Aran" from Interweave Knits Fall 2007) took no time at all to knit, despite my making major errors (that had to be ripped and re-knit) at nearly every point: this is the wonder of large-gauge knitting. I knit this on Addi Turbo #10's (!) at 4.25 stitches to the inch, with Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted in Cranberry. Had I to do it again I'd knit at a tighter gauge than called for, since the yarn grew a bit in blocking. Nevertheless, I like the finished product. I'd show it to you on me, except you'd laugh too hard to be able to see it through your tears.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Deep-Dish Blueberry-Cranberry Internet Pie

No really—that's the name of the recipe in The Pie and Pastry Bible. Supposedly it is the first pie recipe to appear on the internet, though how you'd verify that, I don't know. In any case, who cares? This is a great pie, with all the tartness and juiciness that mean "pie" to me. I used my new wonder-crust which, by the way, you can find at under "Foolproof Pie Crust." It's worth the trip.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Apple Pie

Hole E. Cow. This is the pie of my dreams, the confirmation that I have what it takes to make a truly great pie. It turns out that what it takes are the right recipes; "Cook's Illustrated"'s for pie crust, Rose Levy Berenbaum's for the filling. The pie crust that was so successful for the Shaker Lemon Pie continued to amaze when made with half whole-wheat flour for the apple pie. Seriously--you just can't mess this crust up, and it has all those elusive (to me) qualities of crispness, lightness, and flakiness, that I'd more or less given up on. As for the filling, it is wonderful: clear apple flavor and perfect gelling. I ate a quarter of the pie all by myself before the rest of the family had even properly served themselves.


dinners. I really must keep up, because we've been having some good ones: breaded pork chops with lemon juice and braised Giant Mystery greens; broiled skirt steak with garden turnips; yet more sauteed shitakes, peppers, and varieties of greens.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Shaker Lemon Pie

Friends, I bear tidings of great joy: I am no longer pie crust's bitch. My latest recipe, promising as they all do perfect results via some secret ingredient, actually worked! Of course it's in "Cook's Illustrated." The secret ingredient? Vodka, of all things. But the crust is everything they promised: easy to make, easy to work with, hard to mess up and absolutely perfect out of the oven. As you see (or maybe not, as my photography seems to be steadily deteriorating) it sure looks pretty, and as you can't see, it tastes just as good as it looks. The other news is Shaker Lemon Pie. We just harvested a crop of Meyer lemons from our rooftop tree, and I wanted to feature them in something. Shaker Lemon Pie involves using two whole lemons, including all the peel and pith: perfect. And, it turns out, utterly delicious. For the recipe I consulted both Ken Haedrich's Pie, and Rose Levy Berenbaum's Pie and Pastry Bible. I ended up going with the latter, as it seemed simpler and purer, though they were substantially the same: macerate two lemons, sliced paper-thin, in two cups of sugar overnight. Add four beaten eggs, and voila—there's your filling. Improbably tasty.

Single Sock Syndrome

Behold, the downfall of the sock knitter. You finish a sock, and, in this case, you love it! The prettiest you've ever made; fits like a dream, glossy, high-twist yarn (of a much lovelier color than the photos show), wonderful details like a round toe and "eye of partridge" heel flap. Perfect! But—then you have to start all over and knit its twin. Bummer. It will happen sooner or later, but for the moment I'm working on a palette-cleansing sweater. Stay tuned.

Parmesan Omelette

with Fall Medley of roasted sweet potatoes, shitake mushrooms, and some gigantic, leafy green vegetable in the cabbage family. Very good.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Fraternal Twins

Not all things born at the same time are identical. The genetic code is pretty similar, granted: both knit with Lang Jawoll on Addi Turbo #1's, using Charlene Schruch's "oriel" for the leg and instep, and both knit from the toe up. However, the one on the top has a "simple toe" while the one on the bottom has a "round toe," and the the heel of the top sock is knit with reinforcing thread held in, while the one on the bottom is plain wool (and fits better). Not obvious differences to the outside eye, perhaps, but clear a mile away to their mother.

Lamb Chops

with brown rice, and sauteed shitake mushrooms and purple peppers. Gingerbread for dessert. Just about everything went wrong with the gingerbread: cane syrup instead of Lyle's Golden, overbaked, baking soda instead of baking powder, and the whole thing sank in the middle. I'm here to tell you it's pretty great anyway.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Ginger-Kale Soup

You know how it is: you're staring at the giant bunch of kale in your fridge thinking, yes, I am pro kale, but what to do with it? Soup is the answer. Sautee an onion with sausage of whatever kind you like, add some garlic and fresh ginger (minced), then add a 28 oz. can of tomatoes, a quart of stock, a can of red beans, and all the cut up kale you can fit. Simmer this for half an hour and it will be terrific; let it age over a few days and it will be sublime.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Chicken-Apple Sausage

with brown rice and a salad of chiogga beets, cabbage, and fennel. Does the salad not sound magnificent? You'll have to take my word that it was.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Happy Halloween

What'd we have for dinner? Well, the family scrounged for itself after I snarfed sausage-olive rolls and pigs-in-blankets at a pumpkin-carving party. The results (of the carving, not the eating), may be seen at left; all design credit goes to my own little pumpkin.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Good Heavens

I'm behind in my dinner posts. Last night was scrumilicious, with another wild mushroom omelette. The night before was lamb chops with roasted beets. I was raised to revile beets, but have discovered in my adulthood that they're terrific, especially when dressed with vinegar. I apologize to my mother, and swear that I continue to draw the line at sweet pickles.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Breakfast Update

It turns out that however good dessert was, it itself was as nothing compared to gingerbread soaked in quince-poaching liquid the morning after, for breakfast. I had two helping just to make sure.

In re: the photo. Don't worry—I didn't actually can these. I have yet to get involved with canning.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Crab Cakes

with turnips, brown rice, and salad. Delicious as it was, however, dinner was as nothing compared to dessert: "Damp Gingerbread" from Laurie Colwin's "More Home Cooking," and poached quinces from Alice Waters' "Chez Panisse Fruit." This was a dessert with stature--I know because I ate myself silly. A side note: I find that in any spicy, moist confection (carrot cake, pumpkin cake, gingerbread, etc.) whole wheat flour is basically indistinguishable from all-purpose, and so I substitute it.

Spinach and Feta Sausage

with brown rice and sauteed mei quing. The cabbage was dressed with lemon juice from a not-quite-ripe Meyer lemon from our own tree.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Chicken Pot Pie

(not made by me) with steamed runner beans and sauteed turnips. The turnips are a beautiful variety our CSA sent us; they look like watermelons when you cut them in half. Unfortunately, they taste like regular old turnips, so we'll be returning to our beloved white variety once they mature in the garden.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Michael Clayton

I imagine the genesis of the movie was something like this: an enormously talented group of movie people are given the following challenge. Take only the most minimal set of convetional thriller plot devices, strung together so as to result in a just-tenable level of plausibility, and then *make the heck out of that movie.* Go nuts—use wonderful actors at their absolute best, give it a terrific script, make it gorgeous to look at, etc. Voila! "Michael Clayton." Clooney is all that he is said to be in the title performance. How good is he? I watched a two-hour movie in which he appears in nearly every frame, and I never once thought about how dreamy he is. I! never thought about George Clooney's dreaminess! He's great. So is everyone else, particularly Tilda Swinton in a tense perfomance that shows without telling the unique pressures of being female in a corporate environment--clothes, hair, and makeup play an understated but vital and dual role as both armor and Achilles heel.

One more thing I will say is this: if you have ever wondered just how efficiently and cleanly you could be killed in your own home, this movie will show you. Most impressive.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Chicken, Apple, and Fennel Sausage

with quinoa and baked squash. (Patty-pan? Cutie Pie? Cupcake? Some silly name that squash had.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


in egg-and-flour batter, with brown rice, green beans, and salad. Grapefruit for dessert. Lately all I need to know about fruit is the following: is it citrus? is it juicy? If so, then yes, please, I'll have tons.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Broiled Steak

with brown rice and some seriously bitter greens. My spouse balked, but I munched on; there's not a vegetable too bitter for my taste these days (except maybe regular turnips).

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Pork Chops

with lemon butter, roasted delicata squash (not over-rosted, for once), and sauteed greens. Yum.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Paris Fashion Week Pt. II

The grown-up in me would love to report that the show that blew me away was Lanvin. And it's not that I don't see that it is stunning, and that one would be the cynosure of all eyes in the room in just about any one of the dresses. It's that it's not precisely the grown-up in me that responds to fashion most of the time. This time it was Marc Jacobs, on whom I am forever just about to give up, who thrilled me at Louis Vuitton with a collection of layers in bright colors inspired, he says, by Spongebob Squarepants. The first three photos are all LV, and I'd wear them and the rest of his collection any day. The fourth photo, featuring a little blush-colored swing jacket that I'd wear every day of my life, is John Galliano, whose show made me as happy as his shows always do.

As usual, the color in the photos is not true, but will snap to life if you click on them to enlarge.

Saturday, October 6, 2007


with oyster and shitake mushrooms sauteed in butter, garlic, and parsely, with some parmesan cheese. Oh lord—this was one of those meals when it all came together perfectly; I could have eaten the whole thing over again. We had roasted red peppers on the side, and carrot cake (made by me, in a Bundt pan) for dessert. It couldn't have been better.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Paris Fashion Week Pt. II

Dries Van Noten, all is forgiven. Sure, you broke my heart last season with a collection based on workout gear and high-heel white sneakers, but that's all in the past, poof, gone, forgotten. Keep showing me collections like this one and we'll never fight again. As for you, Stella McCartney, I still have no idea what all the fuss is about, and Messieur LaCroix: ignore the critics. I'll wear anything you make, any time, any season. As usual, a puzzled but enthusiastic shout-out to the Japanese: Junya, Tao, Rei (especially you Rei, you braniac minx), you are my peeps, birth to earth.

PS—For some reason Blogger is washing out the color on the Dries photo; click on it to see the clothes in their actual intensity.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Grilled Salmon

with brown rice, steamed runner beans, and a salad of turnip shoots from the garden. This meal was quite tasty, but also majorly pretty to look at.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Flank Steak

marinated in soy sauce, olive oil, garlic, and lemon zest, and broiled. With brown rice, roasted red peppers, and sauteed Napa cabbage. I was going to nix the cabbage out of laziness, but then I nibbled a leaf and all my bitter-green pleasure receptors lit up at once and I had to go for it. And of course it's no work at all to sautee greens once you've washed them.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Veal Scallopini

I know, I know. But that's what we had, and they were delicious. With quinoa and sauteed greens.

Monday, October 1, 2007


In fact we've had three really excellent meals in a row: 1) thin pork cutlets dreged in flour, sauteed in butter, and finished with lemon and parsley, with brown rice and salad mix. 2) crab cakes, roasted delicata squash, and quinoa. 3) crab and lobster cakes with deep fried brussels sprouts—sprouts from our very own garden! They were tiny, about the size of red grapes, and bloomed like wee roses in the hot oil. Scrummy.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Open-Work Rib Socks

Should you ever want to knit socks, and only want to buy one book on the subject, and are inclined to take my advice, you'll buy Charlene Schurch's "Sensational Knitted Socks." It has directions for every technique you'll ever need, complete sizing for babies to old men, lots of stitch patterns, and complete instructions for four, five, or two circular needles (all valid options for knitting in the round). These are an open-work rib stitch, knit on two circs., with heel flap and wedge toe. The yarn is Cascade Fixation, an elasticized cotton that tries and fails to be more pleasant to work with than your average cotton.

Lamb Chops

with brown rice and green beans. Sometimes I put myself to sleep with my own dinner menus, but lately convenience has trumped inventiveness in a big way.


This pattern is called "Jaywalker," and has been sweeping the nation. Seriously; there's a Flickr group devoted to it, and last time I checked it was up to 4,000 different pairs! I can see what the fuss is about, as the stitch pattern is simple, but visually very effective, and produces a nice, clingy, bias fabric. The guage is ridiculously tiny, but they knit very fast. These are made with Koigu, on Addi Turbo circs. #1.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Lobster Cakes

(made at a terrific deli) with quinoa and white turnips. It's turnip season again! I'll have to get a shot of our verdant garden plot, lush with tiny turnip greens.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


These were actually completed way back in May, before the Great Sickness made knitting impossible, then immediately shipped off as a birthday present for a beloved aunt. The pattern is called "Monkey" and is another of those that is absolutely all over the knitting blogosphere. The yarn is Koigu, a hand-painted yarn famed for its softness and resilience; it was in fact a total delight to work with.

London Fashion Week

Happening now, available for viewing at I'm told this is very much the underdog of the NYC/London/Milan/Paris Fashion Week(s) quartet. So far, for my money, the shows worth having a look at are Duro Olowu and Erdem; the latter of which features wonderful prints that I wish I could see in real life. Everyone talks about Christopher Kane, the wunderkind who, last year, came up with neon, skintight, Versace-esque mini dresses in stretch lace accented with plastic saftey-latch belts; they were kind of great, though I'm not sure why they lit everone on fire to the extent that they did. His current collection is all chiffon and ragged denim; the reviewers are agog, I am a bit mystified.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


with brown rice and spinach. Like everything else made with spices, the pumpkin pie was twice as good the day after. (True also, I find, of anything made with chocolate.)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Happy Fall!

The high yesterday was only around 80, and that's good enough for me. To some people fall means leaves and football; to me, it means winter squash. I love the stuff; few things excite me more than the sight of a big pile of different kinds at the market. One of my favorite things to do with it is make pie, which is less work than it seems like it would be, and good for a week's worth of breakfast and dessert. I follow the recipe in The Joy of Cooking, and use an ultra-simple butter crust (one stick of butter, 1.5C of flour, one T ice water). Before I die I'd like to be good at pie crust, but for now my solution is not to worry about it too much. This particular pie was good, but I made two crucial errors: 1) I forgot to put a pinch of salt in the filling, so the whole thing tastes a wee bit flat to me. 2) I roasted an actual pumpkin. The pumpkin was so little and cute that I overlooked a key rule of winter squash: any of them is better than pumpkin. Butternut, for example, makes a terrific pie. That said, it wasn't until I'd had thirds that I was able to adequately refine my criticisms. For actual dinner we had salmon, brown rice, and spinach.

Whole Wheat Pasta

with butter, anchovy paste, garlic, and parsley. Also arugula salad and tomatoes. The anchovies were snuck past my spouse who never would have eaten them knowingly, but loved the dish.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Wowed by Wu

Who is this Jason Wu, who looks to be about twenty, who makes the pretty pretty dresses, any one of which I would delightedly wear?

Balls of Fury

At last! And really, it was very funny. It was made by Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon of "Reno 911," and had a lot of that show's virtues: performers who know what they're doing, genuine wit in the writing, and a weird way of actually making their idiotic characters sympathetic. Thomas Lennon is a white-hot bolt of energy as the deranged East German ping-ponger who challenges our hero, former child champion Randy Daytona. The latter is played by Dan Fogler, whom I would normally call the poor man's Jack Black, except that he's actually fantastic and, the IMDB informs me, a Tony award-winner. Christopher Walken swans about in kimonos and Gary Oldman's "Dracula" hair without so much as a wink at his ridiculous get-up, dropping his lines in that weirdly langorous New Yawk honk of his. I loved him. I liked the whole thing, but this much I know is true: no one in the world liked this movie better than my spouse. Did he chortle at every testicle-injury joke? Yes he did. It is a fact that on the ride home he started to worry that the movie wasn't well-enough publicized, and to wonder how he might launch a word-of-mouth campaign.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Grilled Salmon

with brown rice, roasted cauliflower, and tomatoes.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Spinach and Feta Sausage

with brown rice, field mix salad, tomatoes, and red peppers.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

America's Previous Top Model

So...I watch America's Next Top Model. I have thought about stopping, as the seasons pass and it gets progressively harder to take Tyra's self-righteousness and the fact that they are no longer even trying to find model-like girls but going straight for the head cases, but I haven't. I still watch. And today it paid off! For the first time ever, I spotted an ANTM winner (Danielle, season..six?) in an actual, honest-to-goodness fashion show. Go here and click on the black woman in the long yellow dress; it's her! Seriously, the only onther time I've seen one of the winners of that show do anything remotely fashion-related was the time I saw Yoanna (season 2) modelling a hat in a Hanna Andersson catalog.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Fashion Week

So far, I would wear just about everything I saw by Narciso Rodriguez and Vera Wang. I thought there was also a lot to be said for Rachel Comey.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Embossed Leaves Socks

This is one of those patterns that everyone who knits socks has been making. It's very pretty (click on the photo to enlarge if you want a better view of the texture) and not too hard. These particular ones were knit using Seawool, a blend of wool and a silk-like fiber made from seaweed. This fiber is said to release nutrients as you wear it! I am a sucker for yarn with ambition. Unfortunately, the only color that isn't true in the picture is the rich, glossy purple of the socks in real life. (Though that too looks better when you enlarge the picture.) Addi turbo circs. (#2), pattern in Interweave Knits' "Favorite Socks."

Photo shoot styled by E.O. Wittman.

Friday, September 7, 2007


Oh man. You know how my life could be one hundred percent more soulful? If I were fifteen years younger, and seriously strapped for cash, and a musician, and dressed always in warm layers. Maybe if I smoked, too, but probably hanging out with people who smoke a lot would do just as well. That's what I gather, anyway, from "Once," a lovely, lovely, romantic movie that manages to be both dreamy and realistic at the same time. We saw it last night (*again* the spouse's choice; I clearly need to leave movie selection up to him from now on) and it just broke my heart. It was a salutary corrective to the high-buff sheen of last week's "Nanny Diaries." I stand by what I said about melting at the sight of expensive clothes, but good heavens--"Once" is a pretty powerful reminder of how frighteningly (and exhileratingly) unadorned and unpolished love and attraction are.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Grilled Salmon

with brown rice and "salad mix" salad. Salad mix is the humble name for, in my opinion, the greatest reason there is to belong to our local CSA: spicy, crunchy, delicious melange of lettuces, Asian cabbages, and unnamed green goodies. I could eat it all day long.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Fried Chicken

brown rice, and summer squash. In case anyone wonders, la petite princesse has the same thing every night: tofu, cheddar cheese, and fruit of some kind. Often she also has a bowl of cereal as a snack, and she invariably insists on dessert (usually a popsicle).

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Happy NY Fashion Week!

It starts today--are you as excited as I am? Marc Jacobs is fresh out of rehab; will his collection garner its usual ecstatic reviews? Will the Rodarte girls show a single pair of pants in their whole collection? Over in Paris: is Olivier Theyskens capable of making an evening dress that costs less than $25,000? Will his bosses at Nina Ricci be more tolerant of his price point than were his Rochas masters? Youth wants to know!

Italian Sausage

with brown rice, fried okra, and fresh tomatoes.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Twisted Flower Sock

Normally I would wait to post this until I had knit the mate, but I'm so pleased to have finished something that I'm going ahead. This "Twisted Flower Sock" is the design of Cookie A., a San Francisco-based knitwear designer specializing in socks. She's all about crazy complicated texture, as am I; I felt that this would be a good total-immersion pattern to get me back in knitting shape. And so it proved! Though, like most knitting, it looks more difficult than it really is. For the nerds: size 2 Addi turbo circs; Louet Gems in lilac.

Flank Steak

with brown rice and roasted cauliflower.

Friday, August 31, 2007

The Nanny Diaries

I avoided this book assiduously when it came out, though I couldn't say exactly why; no doubt some deep, unexamined prejudice against chicklit. No, actually, probably a deep, unexamined envy of young twenty-somethings writing quick novels and getting filthy rich. In any case, no reason that did me any credit. But last night my spouse and I saw the movie (at my spouse's urging! I was agitating for "Balls of Fury") and I really, really liked it. Amidst all the hoopla over how sexy Scarlett Johansson is (and no argument from me on that) I forget how much I like her as an actress. And Laura Linney is terrific in a part that could easily have been a sort of live-action Cruella de Ville. The movie was directed by the team that did "American Splendor" so it is very stylishly and beautifully put together; also, Paul Giamatti is great as the unbelievably creepy asshole father. If I am honest, however, I must say that for me one of the movie's greatest pleasures was the clothes. Oh my god the clothes! I wanted, desperately, to own every dress Johansson or Linney put on--I nearly fainted at the lipstick red Dior Linney wears for her anniversary. It's true that the clothes are also the nexus of the movie's irritating corporate synergy; ScarJo the character notes that Linney is wearing Louis Vuitton shoes, while ScarJo the real person smiles out of every magazine on the stands as the new face of...Louis Vuitton. And who is that making a cameo as a TriBeCa fashionista? Why, it's Georgina Chapman, extremely hot designer and, totally coincidentally, girlfriend of Harvey Weinstein whose company backs Chapman and produced the movie. And on and on. Still though, I forgave all at the sight of Alicia Keys' Duro Olowu dress, or the bejewelled cream Prada (I think) Linney wears to a party. And the kid is very cute.

A side note: why was I able to see a movie about rich women neglecting their children? Because my own Precious was at home, being watched by someone paid to take her to gymnastics, feed her dinner, and put her to bed. I left the theater feeling like the worst. mom. in the world.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Pork Chops

brown rice, green beans. All made by the spouse, all delicious.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Broiled Chicken Thighs

with brown rice and green beans. I had big plans to put tarragon under the chicken skin before broiling it, but when it came down to it it was just so much easier not to. I did manage to brine the chicken for about half an hour, though, which always makes it much tastier.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

What Not to Eat

What you shouldn't do while pregnant and still only newly past the worst of your nausea is go to an Italian restaurant and eat, basically, a pile of melted cheese and meat. Ask me how I know.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Split Pea Soup

from a can, with quinoa. Also some carrots. Another spouse-less meal.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Specifically, whole-wheat scungilli (I still can't tolerate white pasta—it converts immediately to sugar and begins to ferment on my tongue) with a sauce made of tomatoes and leftover sausage, tossed with parmesan and fresh arugula. A classic meal of necessity (no way was I driving to the store in 105 degree heat) that turned out scrumptious.

Chicken and Apple Sausage

with roasted cauliflower (drool) and brown rice.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

This n That

When the spouse is away dinner is pretty haphazard; a little tofu here, a sandwich there, popsicles for all.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Pork Loin

braised in milk, with summer squash and rice and quinoa.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Lamb Chops

broiled, with green beans and quinoa.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Careful Use of Compliments: An Isabel Dalhousie Novel

Good heavens, am I ever behind on this blog. Let me begin to make amends by talking about my latest Alexander McCall Smith book, The Careful Use of Compliments. This is the fourth novel in his Isabel Dalhousie series. Isabel is a single, independently wealthy scholar and editor of ethical phiosophy living in Edinburgh. Like the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series, which takes place in Botswana, the novels are as much about places as they are about the people who live in them, so the manners, history, and mores of Scotland and Ediburgh are constantly under observaiton. When the series started the subtitle was "An Isabel Dalhousie Mystery," but McCall wisely acknowledged early on that the "mysteries" Isabel confronts are very mild affairs, and only the barest pretexts for the real action: Isabel's thoughts on the world. Isabel is always thinking, mostly about her ties and obligations to other people, real and imagined. Lots actually happens in the books, but it's kind of easy to miss because so much more happens as Isabel thinks about stuff. McCall seems to prefer female protagonists, and while he gives them full relationships with men, he is really interested in the interchanges between women: Isabel bounces of her niece Cat and her housekeeper Grace; Mma Ramotswe (No. 1 LDA) spends most of her time sparring with her employee Mma Makutsi. It would be hard to overstate how much I like these books. I forgive them any and all novelistic faults because it is just such a pleasure to spend time with McCall and his insatiable curiosity about and empathy for the lives of others.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Uge's Chicken and Rice

One of my oldest friends is Colombian and used to make me this dish from her childhood. In brief: brown a bunch of chicken (I remove the skin) in a Dutch oven, then remove it. In the vacated pot sautee a chopped up onion and a chopped up green pepper; put the chicken back in, along with a can of tomatoes, half a cup of white wine, salt to taste, and a half cup of slivered almonds. Cover and simmer for about an hour and a half, until the chicken falls from the bone, and serve over rice. Soooo scrummy.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Pork Chops

with apple juice/mustard glaze, corn on the cob, green beans. The niftiest meat info I ever read (in the Zuni Cafe Cookbook) was that salting raw meat (or chicken or fish) ahead of time (as far ahead as you want) improves its flavor and texture significantly. Totally true! People are afraid it will dry the meat out, but it does the opposite; something in the chemical reaction makes meat retain moisture much better while it cooks, and the flavor, if the salt is applied more than a few hours before, is magically improved without tasting salty. (Not that I mind salty meat, not at all.) Neat!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


with broccoli, cauliflower, and bacon; brown rice; summer vegetable melange (zucchini, tomatoes, and eggplant). I couldn't even look at that last--vegetables are still very tricky for me.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


grilled on a grill pan, with broccoli and brown rice. I thought the steak (a rib-eye, my steak soulmate) was delicious, but my spouse thought his tasted funny, so I guess the dinner was a success or a disappointment depending on which of us you ask.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Tom Ka Gai

or Thai chicken soup (with mac and cheese, which makes no sense, I know). In the spring I planted some Thai lemon grass on a whim, just to see what it would do. What it did was flourish, growing to about five feet tall. As I have watched it burgeon lo these many sick-to-my-stomach months, I had one thought: tom ka gai. Along with pad thai, this is my favorite thing about Thai food, and I have wanted to try it myself forever. And then, a while ago, Cook's Illustrated arrived with an article about it! The universe was obviously in favor of my making this soup, and last night, I did. Spec-tacular. Couldn't have been better. Lemon grass turns out to smell extraordinary--like fresh, cool lemons and ginger, and to be fun to harvest. Thai fish sauce, on the other hand, is something less of a joy. But together they make a soup for the ages. (If you are having trouble making out the photo, and if you care, you can double-click it to enlarge.)

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Lamb Chops

broiled, with roasted orange cauliflower (very pretty) and brown rice.

Flank Steak

broiled, with brown rice and broccoli. And brownies for dessert! What's better than a brownie? Nothing, that's what.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Fried Chicken

roasted red potatoes, salad. Hard to beat.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Thai Chicken Sausage

with roasted red potatoes (oh crispy salty outsides! oh creamy sweet insides!) and fried okra. A word about the latter: it was outrageously good. My spouse makes it, as simply as possible: lots of fresh, cut-up okra, fried in olive oil until browned and crispy. I ate like a horse, all but stealing it from his plate. I did not come to okra with this enthusiasm; when I got married and in so doing agreed to become Southern by association I was prepared to make certain accomodations, but thought I drew the line at okra. Slimy, weird, and seedy, its charm eluded me. But in a rare moment I decided that what my husband loved I ought least to try, so I made an effort okra-wise. Like all movements of spiritual generosity, this one benefited me far more than the person I was trying to please--I now defend my husband's okra against all comers, though I don't go so far as to actually share any of mine.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Again, not actually what we had for dinner, but I was too sick last night to make dinner worth discussing. Perhaps you'd like to hear my thoughts on oatmeal? They are these: McCann's Steel-Cut Oats are the perfect breakfast, but unfortunately take way too long to make. Thus I make do with the regular flattened kind. More importantly: sweetened oatmeal is an abomination. The proper way to eat oatmel in the morning is with plenty of salt and parmesan cheese. If you must have sugared oatmeal, have it in cookie form, where it belongs.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Meat Loaf

Meat loaf! Why did that come to me? I hated it as a child, and haven't eaten much of it as an adult, but suddenly yesterday it seemed like the way to go. It was good; a bunch of meat seasoned with tomato paste, mustard, onion, salt, and mushy bread crumbs. I have a feeling that its true potential will be unlocked this afternoon, when I have it again in sandwich form. We had it with fried potatoes.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Lamb Chops

broiled, with brown rice, roasted red peppers, and carrots. I gave my spouse the bigger chop in a nod to feminine delicacy, then hovered over him until he forked over half of it and I devoured every fatty delicious bite.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Flank Steak

in soy sauce, broiled. Had it with yellow and red peppers, and some really vile corn on the cob.

Friday, July 20, 2007


Ok, not what we had for dinner, but what I had for my pre-dinner meal (not, obviously, to be confused with lunch). So far I've found that the only way to mess up tabouli is to get the bulgur too wet; water dilutes the flavor of the whole thing. Hence, I use bulgur and boiling water in a 2:1 ratio and let the vegetable juices do the rest. Today's version included bulgur, tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, parsley, salt, and lemon juice (the veggies processed in the Cuisinart) along with some French lentils, cooked until tender. Yummers, and apparently the only form in which I can currently handle vegetables.

Broiled Chicken

An oldie but goody from my childhood; chicken thighs broiled for about ten minutes a side (maybe less). The secret ingredient? Lawry's Salt. Did everyone grow up with Lawry's, a chemically compounded seasoned salt, or is it just a southern CA thing? Yum. We had it with quinoa and steamed little tiny zucchini. Actually, I still can't really look a vegetable in the face, so the spouse ate the zucchini, but making it at all was a little triumph for me.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Pork Loin Braised in Milk

Friends, things are looking up. To celebrate being able to tolerate the thought of cooking, I made pork loin braised in milk, from Marcella Hazan's Classic Italian Cooking (vol. 1). This is one of those miraculous recipes that is so much better than it sounds, and ridiculously easy into the bargain. In a nutshell: brown a 2 lb. pork loin in butter and oil, then add 2.5 C milk, one teaspoon of salt, and a few twists of a pepper mill. Simmer the whole business, in a partially covered pot, for about an hour and a half. At the end you'll be left with tender, juicy meat surrounded by brown clusters of...Marcella calls them "sauce," but cheesy, oily, salty nuggets of wonder comes closer. I served it with a sort of improvised tabouli--this is an absurd pairing, but continues a certain tradition: last time I came emerged from morning sickness I celebrated by making provencal stuffed peppers and Indian sauteed cauliflower. It seems my meal-planning muscles atrophy quickly.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Various Books

Re-reading has always been a thing of mine, and never more so than when I'm under the weather. I recently took a (fourth?) trip through Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty, which seems to me as perfect as a novel can well be. I also watched the BBC miniseries based on it, with predictably mixed feelings. On the one hand, I didn't understand or agree with a number of their choices in the adaptation; on the other, there were a few key places where their representation showed me ways I'd been misreading the novel. For LoB heads: the lead actor is very cute, just right for the part, and Leo is fantastic, but they got Wani Ouradi all wrong, from beginning to end.

I also trotted through The Fourth Bear, the second in Jasper Fforde's Nursery Crime series. I got into Fforde years ago because of his wild and strange and funny and literary Thursday Next series, beginning with The Eyre Affair. The Nursery Crime novels are newer, and the first of them, The Big Over-Easy, was so awful I almost didn't bother with The Fourth Bear. But I'm so glad I did! Fforde seems to have gotten his mojo back, and I couldn't have enjoyed myself more.

Finally, I'm reading the latest No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency novel, The Good Husband of Zebra Drive. This series is one of four (!) that Alexander McCall Smith writes simultaneously, and I am deeply addicted to them all. If you're curious to know what the outer limits of human productivity look like, check out his vita some time.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Here is what I was thinking about when I woke up this morning: a grilled cheese sandwich, made with rye bread, American cheese, tomatoes, pickles, and onion. A quick trip to the store mid-morning armed me appropriately, and when I bit into the dripping mess at lunchtime it was even better than I had dreamed. Let me tell you, something is *up* when I'm making runs to the store for processed cheese.

You'd think, with this kind of thing on my mind and plate, that I wasn't feeling so sick, wouldn't you? Alas. Pregnancy is sort of miraculous in combining cravings with nausea.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


I know, no one's reading this any more. But for my own satisfaction I'll note that I recently roasted a chicken (with tarragon, no less!) for Father's Day. I followed the directions in Nigel Slater's Appetite. I do love Slater, who in addition to cooking delicious things photographs his own books (most appetizingly) and writes in a brisk, sensible, encouraging tone that makes everything seem do-able.

I have also been re-reading Barbara Pym's entire canon, as I do pretty much every year. If you haven't encountered her slim, witty, brilliantly observed novels of English village life pre and post-WWII, you are missing a huge treat. She is absolutley the best.

Still too nauseated to knit.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Temporary Suspension

Not of the whole blog, just the "What'd We Have For Dinner?" feature. I'm aware that I might as well suspend the whole thing, since that feature is the warm beating heart of the entire enterprise, but I'll still keep alive the hope that I might read another book, or knit something, or solve some problem, and want to post about it.

It's just that what I'm making for dinner these days couldn't possibly interest anyone, and even if it did, I'm more often than not unable to stand even thinking about what I ate for dinner by the next morning. So, you can just take as given that what we had for dinner was: thrown together, bland, and largely vegetable-free. You can also assume that I didn't enjoy making or eating it particularly. Bummer!

But do stay tuned; if history is any guide, I'll be back in action in the kitchen some time in August.

Saturday, June 2, 2007


Thank god. Did you know there's anti-nausea medication? I don't know how I managed to go for the excruciating length of my last pregnancy without knowing that, but not this time, baby. Saved my life last night; fingers crossed it will continue to make the first trimester livable.

Friday, June 1, 2007


Steak and potatoes, but I really don't wanna talk about it.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Baked Potatoes and Fried Eggs

Guess who thought a really, really bland dinner sounded good last night?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Ersatz Middle Eastern Rice

Finding myself with a leftover lamb chop and not much else for dinner last night, I improvised. I sauteed an onion, some fennel, and some carrots, threw in the chopped up lamb chop and two cups of brown rice, added raisins and sliced almonds, then plopped the whole shebang in the rice maker with a few cups of water. Several hours later, dinner was served. Spouse raved about it.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Skirt Steak

grilled, with french fries and salad. My spouse counts among his many gifts the knack for making perfect fries; every time he makes them I wonder why I don't insist on them more often. Especially now, when I don't know, day to day or hour to hour, what my body is going to allow me to eat. I'm gathering my fries (and everything else I like to eat) while yet I may.

Baby Surprise Jacket

This famous pattern, Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Surprise Jacket, was first published in 1968 and is still going strong. I can see why; you knit the whole thing in one piece and end up with a blob (see top photo) that magically, with one fold and two seams, becomes the neatest little jacket you ever saw. I used leftover sock yarn; because the pattern is knit in one piece the yarn changes turn into symmetrical stripes no matter where you put them. Neat-O. E Zimmerman comments: "the baby may well be unmoved by your offering, but your friends will be amazed."

More baby knits may be in the imminent future.


Sunday, May 20, 2007

To My Readers

I'm out of town for the week; regularly scheduled enthusing will resume Monday, May 28th. Look for new knitting pictures, coming soon!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Macaroni and Cheese

with sauteed Chinese cabbage. Drool. I made the mac and cheese according to the method John Thorne describes in Simple Cooking, an old favorite of mine. It's not exactly revolutionary (eggs, milk, cheese, some flavorings) but the essay in which he describes it is very beautiful

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Leftover Pot Roast

and roasted vegetables: potatoes, broccoli, kohlrabi, carrots. The broccoli turned into little carbonized tree-forms, deep mahogany brown, utterly delicious. We also had some sugar snap peas, but it's already too late in the season for them: inedibly tough pods, starchy (though not un-tasty) peas.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Lamb Chops

The turnips are past their prime, but it's hard to mourn too much when the carrots are coming so deliciously into their own. I roasted these with new potatoes in palm oil with salt and thyme. I made tons, thinking, "leftovers." Ha! I ate and ate and ate; in the face of their caramelized, crispy, oily, salty goodness my satiety instincts had no chance at all.

Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

Actually, what we had for dinner was noodles and pesto, but dessert was where it was at last night. About six years ago I bought one of those table-top ice cream makers, for like $60, figuring I'd probably never use it, but heck, it was cheap, why not. And I turn out to love it! Making the ice cream itself takes about fifteen minutes, and churning it takes about twenty; a minimal time investment for a really fun and delicious product. Last night's strawberry was excellent, despite the fact that I made all kinds of mistakes in putting it together.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Solar Oven Pot Roast

I'm never making pot roast again any other way. I forgot to mention that one principle of solar cooking is to (almost) never add any liquid; it's thermally inefficient to raise the temperature of water along with the food, and also unecessary, since solar heat is gentle and steady, with no danger of drying up whatever you're cooking. Hence, pot roast: put a piece of beef shoulder in the pot, add cut up vegetables and herbs (I used turnips, carrots, onions, and thyme), stick it in the solar oven and leave it alone for many hours. Since the resultant dish (tender meat, simmering in its own gravy) is undiluted by water or stock, the abundant juices are intensely flavorful, as are the vegetables. Really: pour it over brown rice and you'll never look back.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Day Present

The presents are the two stained-glass windows, retrofitted to display teacups! I am a teacup collector, but hitherto have just crowded them into a cupboard. No longer! My spouse and our pumpkin conspired on this excellent gift, and I couldn't love it more.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Goose Eggs II

Here they are, with a quarter for scale. They made a generous omelette (with ricotta and leftover ribs), which we had with fresh peas in butter and tarragon. The omelette was delicious, the peas nasty (totally starchy).

Goose Eggs!

Awesome enough that our local farmer's market has started up again, and that our egg lady is there, but add to that GOOSE eggs for sale, and you've got the recipe for my supreme delight. The chicken egg is for scale.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Solar Oven Spareribs

My solar oven may well be the mother of all enthusiasms. I got it last spring, after reading about them in the NYT magazine. As you see in the first picture, it is essentially a sealed black box with reflector--very simple. You put food in a pot, put the pot in the oven, put the oven in the sun, and let'er rip. In direct continuous sun I get to about 350; in itermittent sun, maybe 250. You can cook *anything* in them: I've baked cakes, roasted vegetables, and made soup; last night my mom made pot roast in hers. Because you cook without water flavors get concentrated and textures silky--except for cakes, which come out (magically) golden brown.

The Solar Oven Society sells the ovens in this country, then donates them to impoverished and sun-drenched countries where wood smoke for cooking fires contributes to cancer, and women's days are eaten up gathering fuel. Cool, huh? Anyone in a sunny climate should check it out. The only downside is that once you start using one it can be slightly panic-inducing to think back on all the hours of sunshine in your life, wasted, *not cooking anything.*

PS You see here spareribs; rubbed with salt and pepper, doused with sauce, and left alone for about four hours. Could have taken longer or shorter; that's just when I happened to be home.

Our Hidden Enemy

The Great Trapper set out last night to catch the second raccoon he'd observed in the yard, and look what he got instead! Long ago I was weak and tenderhearted and insisted that he not trap the possum that lived underneath the shed at his old house, and so we lived with it for months, watching it eat our cat's food. Finally, the spouse convinced me that the possum to whom I was so attached was the only likely source of a flea infestation that was making me (and only me, insects don't bite my spouse) crazy. He was right, and the possum was shipped off to a new kudzu patch, as was this one. Problem(s) solved.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Vanquished Foe

For weeks the amiable spouse has woken up chipper, only to go out in the garden, utter a dark "doggone it," and come back in, mood ruined by a varmint having once again dug up all his plants. I laughed, but this was serious business. As our nocturnal visitor found out last night! He's across the river now, foraging (I hope) in greener and more hospitable pastures. Problem solved.

Terrine des Remnants

The challenge: use up *all* the leftovers. Hence, a casserole of chicken, brown rice, quinoa, chard, onion, parsley, ricotta, egg, and lemon zest. I even cooked the chard in leftover chicken fat!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Fried Chicken

with brown jasmine rice (so-so; I'm switching back to brown basmati), arugula salad, and fresh sugar snap peas.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007


of arugula and field greens, with tuna and lupini beans (from a jar; very salty, very good). Also broiled toast with herb-garlic butter and parmesan cheese. Upon hearing that we were having salad and toast for dinner the spouse's eyes grew wide with panic; he left the table full and happy, though.

Monday, May 7, 2007


of greens (arugula and turnip) and leftover Thai chicken sausage. With quinoa and turnips.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Ostrich Filet

with salsa of mango, scallions, and cilantro, with leftover quinoa/brown rice, and tomatoes (hydroponically grown, not by us).

Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Emperor's Children

What a wonderful novel, and how slow I've been to appreciate it rightly. I'm on my second reading of this celebrated novel by Claire Messud. It follows the intertwined fortunes of a group of Manhattanites, most of them in their early thirties, as they try to build lives just after the dot com boom and just before 9/11. The first time I read it I was stymied (I now see) by two factors. a) I had a hard time taking seriously a novel about 30-somethings in Manhattan. I have no excuse for this prejudice, but it definitley put me on the defensive from the get-go. b) I had just finished reading something I loved and was in no mood to fall in love with anyone else.

What a loss to me! This book could not be smarter about its characters, or subtler in its prose. Messud is frighteningly observant; no detail of a character's surroundings, habits, thoughts, etc., remains unexpressive in her treatment—she has these people down pat. And yet, she has endless compassion for each of them. She notes faults and flaws and self-deceptions without any contempt or stacking of the dice.

And her sentences! Some of them go on forever, and are in other ways pretty damn Jamesian, but never leave me with that horrible "omigod I hate arty novels" feeling. They are like the novel itself: twisty, complicated, funny, and just right.

Whole Wheat Pasta

in a shape that Alane tells me is called "cellentani," with pesto, and a salad. Sometimes the basics are impossible to improve upon.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Thai Chicken Sausage

with quinoa, sauteed arugula and garlic, and fresh sugar snap peas.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Pork chops

pan-fried, with sauteed turnip greens and apples; also turnips (cooked in palm oil!) and brown rice. The palm oil is nice; bland flavor, heats well, turns everything bright yellow (hello beta carotene).

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Shell Tank

Diligent readers of this blog will remember the six inches or so of this sweater I posted months ago. Voila! the finished object. I am pleased. It owes its excellent fit entirely to Anna, whose blog can be found to your right under "Anna's Flying Needles." In a move typical of knit-blogger generosity, she wrote out complete directions, down to the stitch, for re-sizing the pattern (which had as its smallest size a size that was too big). A shout out to Anna, herewith. For interested parties: I used Addi turbos in 6 and 8, and four balls of Rowan Calmer, in Drift. The pattern is by Nora Gaughan, in Knitting Nature.

Tuna Casserole

The cooking gods are fickle. Last week I shopped and planned for a mediocre oyster stew; tonight I threw together everything I had on hand for a casserole, and it was sublime. Husband agreed, this one was much more than the sum of its parts, which are as follows:

1/2 lb. whole wheat pasta (I don't know the name of the shape; imagine slender penne twisted into cork screws) boiled and drained
1 C ricotta cheese, 1 egg, zest of 1 lemon, 1 T kosher salt, all mixed up
2 heads of chopped mei quing cabbage, sauteed with scallions
1 can tuna, drained (packed in oil. It's almost impossible to find tuna in oil these days, but I think it's much better.)
Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) for the top.

I mixed everything up, sprinkled the panko, and popped it in the oven until it was browned. Oh my goodness, you won't believe how good it was.

Life is fine when "what I have on hand" includes snapping fresh mei quing.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Lamb Chops

with brown rice and garden turnips.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Variation on a Theme

Same egg noodles, same egg, pesto instead of bagna cauda. Truly, this was great. Was it the plethora of fats, animal and vegetable? Whatever it was, it worked.

I had a pesto epiphany last year. I'd spent my adulthood thinking I could only make pesto when I had enough basil to make tons of it; as a result, I rarely made it. Then it struck me: I could make enough only for one meal if I felt like it! I could even pick a few leaves, make an ersatz pesto with some nuts, cheese, and garlic and call it a relish! This may be obvious to others, but was a revelation to me, and has given pesto a whole new role in my cooking.

It occurs to me that I haven't yet mentioned my fetishistic relationship to eggs. I love them. Duck eggs, quail eggs, goose eggs--I'd eat them all if I could. Since all I can get are chicken eggs, I focus on getting extremely good ones. For the last few months we've been getting them, several dozen at a time, from the children of some friends of ours--they raise chickens on their parents' horse ranch, and those eggs, sometimes laid while one watches, can't be beat.


Nice wild King salmon, for only about, oooh, a squillion dollars a pound. *So* delicious. We had it with brown rice and roasted butternut squash, kohlrabi, and garlic. Butternut squash: the vegetable of kings. You know how you look at one of them, and it seems so big and resistant and you think, "screw it, I'm steaming broccoli tonight"? It is so worth just cutting the sucker up into little pieces, dousing them with olive oil and salt, and sticking them into a 400 degree oven for about an hour, or until it's all browned on the bottom. Eat the leftovers cold the next day, or put them in an omelette with ricotta cheese. It's the dish that just won't quit being outrageously good.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


with swiss chard, red onion, and ricotta cheese. A real winner.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Oyster Curry

Sometimes the mojo isn't there. Last week, when I read the recipe in the NYT magazine for oyster curry, prefaced by the author's note that substituting butter for coconut oil was ok, I thought: there is no one in town more ready for this recipe than I. Then events transpired and it wasn't until tonight that I actually made it, with all the authentic coconut in my formidable arsenal, and it was...ok. Nothing special. Nothing I'd make again any time soon. I'm sure the recipe is not to blame; I just can't seem to get anything right in the kitchen recently. We had it with rice and sauteed roof lettuce.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Fried Chicken

(this was on Wednesday) with brown rice and roof lettuce. A word on what I mean by "fried chicken": I take chicken thighs (from chickens humanely raised, if nonetheless callously killed), brine them for half an hour in a quart of water with a cup of kosher salt dissolved in it, and pat them dry. Then I put them, skin-down, in a pan of very hot fat and leave them until they have a brown, glassily-crisp crust; then I turn them and cook until they're done. This is, obviously, not fancy and wouldn't qualify among the true chicken-fryers of the world, but man, is it good. Need I say that I usually use coconut oil to do the frying? Actually, I need, because as of Wednesday, I have a new fat! I'll update you as I explore the world of organic virgin expeller-pressed (or something) palm oil.

In the interest of full disclosure I will also tell you that I usually fry about six pieces of chicken; we eat maybe four of them for dinner, and then I eat the skin from whatever remains before I put the leftovers in Tupperware. Those last pieces of skin, eaten when I'm already full, tasting of pure calories, are heaven.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Lamb Chops

broiled, with brown rice, and greens sauteed with garlic.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


of potatoes, pork butt, turnip greens, chives, and thyme. Accompanied by garden turnips, and very tasty.

Mottled Green Socks

Done. Great bamboo/cotton yarn. I experimented with doing everything sort of quick and dirty, including a three-needle bind-off for the toes instead of true grafting. Seems to have worked out fine.

Queen Snapper

(whatever that is), grilled, with a salsa of parsley, dill, and lemon zest, along with brown rice and home-grown turnips. Delicious and very pretty.

Friday, April 13, 2007

House Finches

This is the second year that a pair of house finches has raised its brood in a nest above our front porch light; you can see Mom in the photo, though you can't quite see the clutch of hungry beaks just below her. Last summer she raised at least two batches of little ones.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Egg Noodles

The full title is "Egg Papardelle with Bagna Cauda, Wilted Radicchio, and an Olive Oil-Fried Egg," and some of you will no doubt recognize it from this past Sunday's NYT magazine. In fact I made it from the cookbook from which the magazine took it, Nancy Silverton's A Twist of the Wrist. Did you ever eat at Campanile, in LA, when Silverton was still owner and chef? I did. As a result, the minute I read she had a new book out on 30-minute meals made from pantry ingredients, I zoomed Amazon-ward and made it mine. Silverton and I have slightly different ideas about what constitutes easy weekday cooking (lemon zest is pretty much where I usually draw the line) but we are as one on what constitutes a delicious meal. I could have eaten three bowls of this delectable dish, in which the lemon zest is totally worth the effort. To give Silverton her due, I glanced at the clock as I served the meal up and it came in at 40 minutes, not at all bad for something this screamingly good.

I followed her recipe exactly, but for using cheapo egg noodles, and substituting mustard greens (from our local CSA delivery) for the radicchio.

Green Darjeeling

Very nice. More stongly flavored than the Chinese teas I've been drinking, but lovely. The instructions say to brew it with boiling water (rather than the steaming water one usually uses for green tea) but that's crazy talk. I did it and, naturally, ended up with a bitter cup. Stick to steaming and everything is fine. Check it out here.

Ostrich Filets

marinated in soy sauce, grilled on the grill pan, with brown rice and salad of mixed lettuce and arugula. I love me some ostrich.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Three Cups Fragrance

Meh. I can't make anything in particular of this tea. It has (I think) some plum flavor, which you'd think would be good. At any rate, I thought it would, though I certainly shouldn't have, since I have experience to the contrary. Years ago I was in Chinatown in SF with a friend who has actually spent considerable time in Taiwan and China. We passed a tea shop with lots of brewed samples out on a table and I said, spying one, "oooh! Plum tea! Yummy!" My friend said, "don't even try it; you're going to hate it." "Nonsense!" said I, right before gulping it down. Let me tell you, it was vile. It was unbelievably awful. How could a mere tea be that stupefyingly noxious? I don't know, but it was. Three Cups Fragrance is nowhere near that bad, but I've learned my lesson: plum is not a flavor you want in Chinese tea.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Turnip Harvest

Could our first harvest have been more beautiful? We ate every molecule of turnips and greens (as the centerpiece in a dinner of assorted leftovers that was, overall, pretty sublime.)

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Pork Butt III

I don't even know where to start. Pork butt continues to follow me; this morning my spouse announced that he wanted to spend the afternoon watching the Master's on a TV he rigged up in the backyard while slow-cooking a big piece of meat on the grill. My stepson points out that it was the most redneck afternoon ever passed in this household, not that any of us minded that. When the spouse further announced that the meat in question would be pork butt, I was outwardly supportive but inwardly aloof. Two butts in two months later, what did I really have left to learn about this meat?

What didn't I? The intense, crisp, deeply caramelized exterior, hiding the rosy pink halo of a properly smoked piece of meat; the toothsome, juicy lean meat with its untertone of mellow sweetness; the luscious fat, like the most delicate, yet mouth-filling, bacon you've ever tasted. I mean it: this meat was perfect. There is not one way it could have been better, and nothing that could have been simpler in the prepartion. A little salt rub to start, then four hours in a covered outdoor grill along with a wet log to smoke the place up.

We had it with sauteed red cabbage, onions, and apples, brown rice, and corn on the cob.

The picture does the meal no justice, but is the best I have.

Buckwheat Pancakes

I make these every weekend, and believe that I have finally perfected the recipe. It's possible to simply buy a box of Hodgson Mills buckwheat and follow the directions on the box, which will give you a nice pancake. Or you can follow my recipe (honed over many months):

3C buckwheat flour
1tsp baking soda
1tsp baking powder
1tsp salt
4tbsp sugar
2C milk
2 eggs
several tbsp. melted coconut oil (or butter)

Whisk the dry ingredients together, then stir in the wet (which you have whisked together in a separate bowl). Cook in a large non-stick pan. Do you know how to test a pan for pancakes? Preheat the pan, empty (though not near birds, if you have any, since apparently the fumes can kill them. Don't think about what that implies for your own health.) When you think it might be hot enough, sprinkle some water on the pan. Does it evaporate immediately? Too hot. Does it sit there and boil? Not hot enough. Do the drops dance and skip about like lambs in spring? There you go!

Make all the pancakes. When you have eaten all you want, let the rest cool, then freeze them (stacked with pieces of waxed paper in between them) in bags in the freezer. During the week, before work, pop them into the toaster oven for a minute or so, and they will emerge as fresh as the day they were born.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Banana Rocks

Does everyone experience stress about overripe bananas? I watch them decline, day by day, filled with the conviction that I ought to be using them, yet unable to think of a way to do it. I know--banana bread. But my mom raised me on the perfect banana bread, which I've never been able to duplicate, and in any case, the problem is deeper and weirder: I am always convinced, despite a lifetime of evidence to the contrary, that I'm not going to like banana-based baked goods. The fact that I love them, every time, does nothing to diminish this feeling. I was pushed over the edge today by the combination of six (!) ovveripe bananas in my kitchen, and the fact that the only "rock" cookie of Maida Haetter's that I hadn't yet tried was the Banana Rocks. Of course they're wonderful, and promise to be much more so in the days to come.

A side note: I have changed from someone who loathed raisins in cookies to someone who can't do without them; these are loaded. I used whole wheat flour and halved the sugar. Curious about what fat I used? Check any other cookie post.

Kale Soup

Reason enough to join a CSA, just to have some nice, new kale to use in this soup. Simplicity itself: sausage (I used chorizo, andouille works, so does kielbasa, so does anything else), onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, chicken stock, and kale. Brown the sausage and aromatics, add the tomatoes (one big can, chopped) and stock (one of those squishy boxes-full) and let simmer for, I don't know, maybe an hour, then add the kale and simmer for another fifteen minutes or so. Lose the ginger and add a can of red beans and you have my aunt's signature Portuguese soup; add leftover rice to a few cups the next day and you have lunch. We had it with a tian of butternut squash, little turnips, and whole garlic cloves.

Mottled Green Sock

The first of an eventual pair. This was a joy to knit, as I'm working with an elasticized cotton-bamboo blend. On the one hand, it's just an objectively cool (as in temperature), silky-feeling yarn; on the other, I'm crazy about fibers made from unexpected things (my next project: socks from a wool/seaweed blend). The actual knitting is more error-filled and shortcut-laced than would be believed by any respectable knitter, but I've decided that they're socks, so not likely to come under close scrutiny. (It goes without saying that the color is nicer in real life.)

Friday, April 6, 2007

Ate Out

two nights running. Stay tuned for knitting pictures, though.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Little Lamb Chops

broiled, with purple barley, and salad from our first CSA delivery. Spouse described eating the barley as "like chewing on little rubber balls," but he actually meant that in a good way.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Oatmeal Cookies

I make these so often that I now play even faster and looser than usual with the recipe (the Crunchy Oatmeal Cookie in King Arthur). Sometimes I get lucky, and this (improbably, as you'll see) was one such time. I cut the recommended 3/4 C white sugar and 3/4 C brown to a single cup of brown. I substituted whole wheat flour (locally raised and ground by a guy with whom my husband went to college) for regular, added raisins and walnuts, and made the cookies twice as big as I usually do (too lazy to scoop little ones). Let me tell you, the results, nasty and health-food-ish as they may sound, are sublime: a truly great, flavorful, chewy, rich oatmeal cookie.


Sockeye salmon, deep red, broiled, with brown rice, sauteed kale, and sauteed shitake mushrooms. Part of my haul from a trip to Whole Foods (and a very good thing it is that we don't have a WF in town--I'd bankrupt us on whole organic purple barley, etc.)

Saturday, March 31, 2007


It has long been my dream to have a vegetable garden, though, as I learned when I became a homeowner, a key component of that dream was having the garden *without doing the gardening.* And lo! Through sheer accumulated force of willing, my dream has come to pass: vegetables entirely planted and tended by my amiable spouse. Picutured at left: white turnips (in a whole other category from regular turnips; i.e., actually good). At right: brussels sprouts, turnips, carrots, strawberries. Not pictured: a fig tree, a persimmon tree, blueberry and blackberry bushes, pots of herbs. On the roof: lettuce, tomatoes, a potted Meyer lemon tree, and a potted blood orange tree. Pictures of the last two to follow soon.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Scandinavian Blondies

These may in fact be the perfect home-baked dessert: fast and simple to make, ridiculously good to eat. The recipe is from the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion, and I present it here:

2 eggs
1 cup sugar [I use three-quarters]
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon almond extract
4 oz. melted butter [I substitute—sing it with me if you know the words—coconut oil]
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sliced almonds.

Preheat the oven to 325 and lightly grease an 8x8 or 9 inch round pan. Beat the eggs, sugar, and salt until pale, thick, and shiny; beat in the butter and almond extract, then fold in the flour 1/2 cup at a time. Pour into the pan and sprinkle with the almonds. Bake for 35 minutes, and cool before cutting into squares.