Wednesday, February 28, 2007
You know what you should do? You should check out style.com, where you can find pictures of the complete ready-to-wear collections now being shown in Paris. If you want my advice, you won't miss Comme des Garcons, and Viktor & Rolf, among many others. (Vivienne Westwood is still showing everyone what it means to be good at and deeply thrilled by one's job.) If you get interested, go into the archives of past shows and find the most recent Dior couture show—as my mother put it, it features clothes made by someone who was not thinking at all about how much fabric costs per yard (she meant this in a good way). Dior usually leaves me cold, but this show, a fantasia of origami-inspired details and scrumptious color, knocked me flat.
Broiled, with brown rice and sauteed red cabbage. Judy Rodgers, in The Zuni Cafe Cookbook, advocates salting all meat well ahead of time. She recommends sprinkling meat, poultry, and even fish, days before you'll use it, and letting it marinate in the resultant briny effusion. May I say that in my experience the lady is right. Even a couple of hours with a dusting of kosher salt transforms meat for me, in both its flavor (which becomes rich and complex and not particularly salty, though does obviate the need for added table salt) and its texture (which I find hard to describe).
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Seriously—these are amazing. My sister introduced me to them, and I cannot believe how well they work. Vegetables in my refrigerator are now housed in nothing else, and it is almost alarming how well they keep. I'd swear they were a little *more* fresh for having spent time in one of these bags.
Monday, February 26, 2007
This was the free sample included in my recent order, and man, is it tasty. After all the white tea I've been drinking it has a walloping flavor; a tiny bit of smoke? Or not quite smoke—but something for which smoke is the nearest equivalent I can come up with. Rich and yummy.
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Thursday, February 22, 2007
My guide to food. I love this opinionated book. Written by the woman who runs the New York City green market, it is a well-researched manifesto advocating for, in essence, a traditionally balanced diet including lots of animal fats. I'm in heaven! It also introduced me to coconut oil, a staple in my kitchen as any reader of this blog has no doubt noticed. I know, I know—we were all told coconut oil has a billion calories and will kill you quick. But that is the hugely processed kind used in commercial cooking; I'm talking about the good stuff. Not only delicious and wonderful to cook with, but insanely good for you as well. Buy a tub today!
When I recently recommenced work with the pointy sticks (after a ten year hiatus, having knit myself into repetitive motion injury the last time I did it) I swore: no sweaters. For one thing, I wanted small projects that didn't tie me down forever. For another, I was sick of knitting endlessly, only to end up with an ill-fitting sweater. But then—I started knitting again. And it's so incredibly addictive, and really, when it gets down to it, it's all about the sweater. Not to mention that my local yarn shop carries drool-worthy yarn, and my knitting books (rapidly increasing in number) assure me it's possible to knit to fit. In short, I've been suckered in again. As usual, the photo does a disservice to the color of the actual yarn, a Japanese wool-silk blend.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
My second novel by Scarlett Thomas. I find Thomas engrossing; novels are for her ways to think out loud about ideas, though she is also quite interested in people. This one focuses on Alice Butler, the disaffected employee of PopCo, the third largest toy company in the world. What quantum theory was to The End of Mr. Y cryptography is to PopCo, and both have plots too strange and meandering to describe. I think the quality that appeals to me most in Thomas' writing is (this will sound strange) her self-forgiveness. She is thirty-five and on her seventh novel, a track record that makes sense given the suffusing quality of play and permissiveness in her work. I don't mean that she's a bad or a sloppy writer, and I'm sure she works like a demon. I just mean that one can feel the absence of a censoring angel sitting on her shoulder; somewhere along the way she gave herself permission to write and write and write (though for all I know she may have to fight every day to retain that permission) and it makes her books a pleasure to spend time in.
Monday, February 19, 2007
A day on these have mellowed and enriched; the spices are still potent, but blended, and there is a strong, buttery vanilla bass note that makes the whole thing saturate the palate about twenty seconds after the first bite. A few minutes after finishing the third one I experienced a reasonably strong fermented-sugar aftertaste, so maybe a little less sugar next time. Incidentally: am I the only one who had that sugar aftertaste phenomenon go berserk during pregnancy? I couldn't stand to eat anything sweet because the after-fermentation kicked in immediately and at nuclear strength.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Made by our friends the Chwes, one of whom is an authentic Korean. Delicious—bulgogi (thinly-sliced marinated beef) cooked at the table, then rolled with rice and hot sauce in big lettuce leaves. Also lots of little goodies on the side: seaweed salad, kimchi, pickled turnips. I made an absolute pig of myself.
This recipe is from Maida Heatter's Cookies, a great cookbook. The name "rocks" refers to appearance, not texture, by the way (and Heatter's Pumpkin Rocks can't be beat). These are wonderful; spicy and flavorful, with lots of nuts and raisins. The recipe calls for butter and dark corn syrup, for which I substituted coconut oil and Steen's cane syrup; it also calls for shredded coconut and dates, neither of which I keep on hand. Truly the spice in these cookies is prodigious; full teaspoons of cloves, allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg. I had vague ideas that that much clove in one recipe would kill you—but it turns out to be delightful.
Friday, February 16, 2007
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
This stuff is extremely old news in the knitting world—but it's new to me! I'm a texture-oriented knitter rather than a color-oriented one, mainly because keeping track of all the colored yarns seems so daunting. But here are stripes, and cool ones, with no hassle at all! You can find the particular yarn I'm using (Opal in the Hundertwassers Werk colorway #637A) here.
A word about this delectable dish. I first encountered the idea in an article in Cook's Illustrated. The author asked, "why does anyone boil cauliflower?" Good question! She suggested instead a fairly elaborate roasting procedure, involving a particular method of cutting, a small amount of olive oil, and a three-stage roasting process (involving foil). I tried it several times, and indeed she is right: roasting makes cauliflower irresistable. However, after some more experimentation, I offer this alternative method: separate the cauliflower into its constituent florets and toss them with lots of olive oil and kosher salt. Dump them in a nice heavy roasting pan and pop them into a 400 degree oven for about an hour (stir once half way through, if you think about it). The cauliflower will emerge sizzling, with a mahogany patina where it touched the pan, and so good I dare you not to finish it right then and there. I myself ate an entire head last night.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Monday, February 12, 2007
by Allegra Goodman. How annoying is Allegra Goodman? She's in her mid-thirties, with three (or four?) children, a PhD from Stanford and a job at Harvard, along with three (or four?) best-selling, critically lauded novels. Never mind--this is a fantastic book (I'm half way through). It follows the personal entanglements and fevered politicking that ensue when a small research lab gets remarkable results in a cancer study. One appealing thing about the novel is its probing look at the complications that come along with prodigious gifts (a subject on which Goodman surely speaks with authority). The novel is funny and smart and empathetic and totally convincing.
Now this is an odd book. A first person present-tense narrator (not my favorite voice for a narrator, but relevant to the plot, as it turns out) discovers a cursed book. The plot is in fact too strange to be summarized, but a pleasure to watch develop. Scarlett Thomas (the author) has been reading in quantum theory and literary theory, and both play prominent but un-pedantic roles in the story. So what if certain charcters are developed only to disappear; I devoured this novel and ordered all of her others.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Friday, February 9, 2007
Same old recipe, but this time I used one cup of light brown sugar instead of the cup of dark brown and half-cup of white the recipe calls for. They are delicious, and quite different from the others in flavor and texture. They are less sweet, of course, and also more salty. The spice flavors are less pronounced too, though I don't know if that's the sugar or simply that I ate them on the same day as making them--the spice may develop over time. The texture is much lighter and crisper; no candy-like chew to the crunch. As always, I substituted coconut oil for the butter. Successful cookies.
Thursday, February 8, 2007
Wednesday, February 7, 2007
Monday, February 5, 2007
B'Day. I love it; particularly "Get Me Bodied," "Suga Mama," and "Irreplaceable." Does it go without saying that there was a time when I would have died rather than confess to myself that I liked a new Beyonce album? There was such a time—but that's all over now.
Sunday, February 4, 2007
Ta-da! My first-ever pair of hand-knitted socks. I am pleased; it wasn't as hard as I'd feared, and it is quite satisfying to knit a shaped object. The picture is not at all accurate with respect to color, but does show that they fit (whew). I noticed as I knit (on two circular needles, rather than the traditional set of four) that I couldn't keep the stiches where the needles met from stretching out, creating long vertical wakes in the pattern. This distressed me hugely; none of the socks in the book looked like this. A quick internet search revealed that this is a common problem and that those wakes are called "ladders." I found a few tips to correct them, and they began to look a bit better. So, problem kind of solved. But I also took myself in hand, reminded myself that any kinetic art is learned by doing over time, and that this was my first attempt as opposed to the book author's nth attempt. I decided to forgive myself. Problem solved.
Saturday, February 3, 2007
Temple of Heaven Gunpowder. My weekend tea. One uses so few of these tiny little nodules per cup that my quarter-ounce has lasted a long time. The description claims a "flowery" undertone, but my palate insists on vanilla. Although really, when it gets down to it, I drink it for the name, not the flavor.
Friday, February 2, 2007
Thursday, February 1, 2007
I mentioned making oatmeal cookies in an earlier post. These are my favorites to eat, but hitherto I have hesitated to make them because the recipe called for smooshing them down before baking, one by one, with a glass. I hate that step. So then, a few days ago, looking at two big trays of unbaked cookies, it came to me: I could smoosh them with my fingers! No sticky glass-bottom, no icky sugar- or flour-crust left on top as I tried to prevent the glass from sticking! Problem solved.
I made these from a recipe in my beloved Cook's Illustrated magazine. They involve browned butter, an ingredient that has been on my mind ever since reading an essay (in last year's Gourmet Christmas cookie issue) about cookies made with it. I made Gourmet's cookies, but found them too rich, and way too much trouble (since they involve hand-shaping each cookie. I make drop cookies or I don't make any at all.) The ones I made yesterday called, in fact, for rolling each cookie-dough ball in sugar, but I didn't. I did do everything else the recipe said, and ended up not with the nicely risen, crackle-top little beauties the magazine pictures, but rather with pancake-flat, thin, crunchy disks. Never mind—they are *delicious.*