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.

Wild Boar Sausage

with brown rice and rapini.

Lentil Soup

with brown rice. My go-to meal when I'm the only one I have to feed. Here's what I do: every three weeks or so I sautee some carrots, celery, and onions, then dump in a couple of pounds of lentils, toss in a veal bone and a bay leaf, and let the whole thing simmer until I need the stovetop for something else. This usually amounts to between five and seven hours of cooking. Then I freeze it in lots of little one-and-a-half cup servings so that I may cackle with pleasure at my leguminous horde every time I open the freezer.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Grilled Lamb Chops

made outdoors, by my master-griller spouse, along with fried potatoes and roof lettuce salad.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Shell Tank

I've started work on the Shell Tank from Nora Gaughan's Knitting Nature. Her designs are all based on patterns of symmetry and repetition in natural forms: hexagons, pentagons, spirals, phyllotaxis, fractals, and waves. The shell tank has a long vertical cabled panel in the ascending spiral pattern of a shell; that's the bottom few inches at left. The cable pattern is really ingenious; it requires close attention, but is worth it in the miraculous (to me) effects. I'm working with wonderful, springy elasticized cotton (Rowan Calmer) which is gradually making me forget the trauma of the Pink Yarn.

Chorizo and Spinach Fritatta

with brown rice and roasted cauliflower.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


That's not what we had for dinner (we had leftovers) but it's what you and I need to talk about today. Remember how I wasn't so thrilled with the brownies I made on Sunday? Well, a day on they transformed themselves, and I am pretty thrilled. I always forget the rule of baked chocolate: it improves exponentially with age.

Nigel Slater's Brownies: "As dense and fudgy as Glastonbury Festival mud."

golden caster sugar [I used plain old white]—300g
chcolate (70% cocoa solids)—250g
eggs—3 large, plus one yolk
cocoa powder—60g
baking powder—1/2 teaspoon

Preheat oven to 355; line a square pan (23cm) with parchment.

Cream the butter and sugar. Melt 200g of the chocolate in a double boiler; roughly chop the remaining 50g. Let the melted chocolate cool while you beat the eggs into the butter and sugar. Stir in the melted chocolate and chocolate pieces; fold in the sifted flour, cocoa, and baking powder. Pour into the pan and smooth; bake for 35 minutes. A tester will come out of the center wet but not sticky with raw batter.

Place the pan on a cooling rack and surround it with barbed wire and alarms to fend off marauding children, spouses, etc., and serve at least a day later.

PS—What's that you say? You're bummed out by all the metric units? Get over it! If you bake at all you should be baking by weight rather than volume anyway. Invest the $30 in a nice digital kitchen scale; you'll thank me later.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Onion Soup

Dinner with (vegetarian) friends: NYT onion soup, spinach gratin from Richard Olney, brownies from Nigel Slater. Everything was good. The brownies are of the sludgy, slumpy school of brownie thought. Excellent if that's your thing, though I think in the end I'm more the cakey brownie kind.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Pink Ruffled Top

The finished object. It came out muy cute, and fits well (it looks cropped in this picture, but actually isn't). Does the recipient, who looks edibly adorable in it, who picked out the yarn, who begged for it to be finished, like it? No she does not. Good thing I'm a forgiving sort.

Knitting nerds: Addi natura bamboo 24" circulars #5, cotton chenille yarn (hell on the hands), pattern ("Monica") on The most pleasing part of the construction is a three-needle joining of the ruffle to the body; clever and very pretty up close.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Easter Eggs

The color in real life is more vibrant, so much so I find it hard to look away. I haven't dyed eggs in years, but these are reminding me why it's twenty minutes well spent. I may stock up on PAAS and dye all my eggs, all year long.

24 Karat Cookies

These are pretty good: filled with grated carrots, walnuts, and raisins, sweetened with honey. It's not often that I say this, but they may not be quite sweet enough. If I make them again I'll up the raisin content, as well as the flour, and make them bigger. In any case, thank heavens my cookie mojo didn't fail me twice. The recipe is from Maida Heatter.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Grilled Turbot,

spinach cooked with butter and nutmeg, and roasted red potatoes.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Nut-Tree Walnut Jumbles

Disaster, unmitigated. These look horrible, have a horrible texture, and taste, if not horrible, not great either. Frankly, I don't often have cooking disasters, and I can't remember ever having one centered on cookies, but this, friends, is a wash. I'm throwing them out and starting over. I won't even tell you where I got the recipe.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Fried chicken

with roasted red peppers, sauteed shredded brussels sprouts, and brown basmati rice. Mmmm—I love the smell of basmati rice.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Potato Frittata

with roasted red peppers and fried brussels sprouts. We haven't talked about fried brussels sprouts yet; they are an excellent way to eat this otherwise potentially tricky vegetable. The recipe is simple: heat a couple of inches of oil (I use peanut, olive is fine, and so is anything else) until it's really hot, then dump in a bunch of brussels sprouts from whom you have trimmed the tails. Let them fry (the oil should be hot enough so that they immediately start to sputter and pop when you put them in) until they are mahogany brown, then drain on paper towels and eat with salt. Oh man—you can't believe how good they are. You and your dinner companions will be reduced to subterfuge and violence as you angle for the largest share of cirspy outer leaves. The only down side is all that frying oil left over; I have dedicated a big plastic container into which I put the oil once it's cool, and use to fry again. The splatter factor is also considerable, so two splatter screens on the top of the frying pot are a good idea.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Cold Comfort Farm

I know, I'm late to the party on this one. Thank heavens for my neighborhood friend who, every now and then, simply presses into my hands a book she thinks I need to read. She is never wrong, and has never been righter than she was with this smart, funny, sharp, outrageously contemporary 1934 novel about a young woman with a good head on her shoulders who straightens out the hopeless set of literary sterotypes that surround her. Any literary critic should pay particualr attention to Mr. Mybug's impassioned argument that Branwell Bronte wrote Wuthering Heights; it is a caution to us all. For added fun, check out the edition with the cover illustrated by Roz Chast.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Pink Yarn

Sooo...What have we here? Five inches or so of plain stockinette, 50 stitches across. The yarn is a cotton-candy pink cotton chenille; not something I ever would have picked, but in this case the intended recipient of the garment did the picking. The thing you can't see in the photo is how often this poor ball of chenille has already been knit up and ripped out. I couldn't get anything right; the choice of pattern, the stitch, the guage—it's a wonder the yarn has any fuzz left on it. But I *think* I am well and truly on my way this time.

Roof Lettuce

We've been growing lettuce on our roof for a few months, but it has just started to really take off. Tonight was our first harvest, and it was delicious. Also delicious: risotto made from the left over pig liquid, along with left over rapini and a bit of the actual pig. In general I much prefer left over anything to food on its first appearance as dinner, and, in my humble o, there is pretty much no finer system of left over processing than risotto.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Pork Butt

This cut of meat seems to have taken over my life. I thought I was done with it after the Boston Butt fest a couple of weeks ago, but then I read this little article about it in Esquire, of all places. (Why does my house have a subscription to Esquire? My life is filled with mystery.) In it, Mario Batali claims that the lowly pork butt, cheapest of cuts, is also the greatest. He recommends rubbing it with garlic, rosemary, and fennel seeds, and then sticking it in a 250 degree oven for eight hours. That is exactly what I did, and it is what you should do too. One ends up with a succulent roast, falling off the bone (oh yeah—the meat should be bone-in), simmering in a deep pool of—what shall we call it?—pig liquid. Truly a great meal, scandalously easy to make. When I do it again I will use more garlic and rosemary, and perhaps add some salt to the rub. Better yet, I'll salt the meat and let it sit for a few days in the fridge before rubbing it. In any case, this is a great way to eat meat. We had it with asparagus and corn on the cob.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Chorizo and Red Pepper Fritatta

with roasted red peppers, rapini, and brown rice on the side.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Broiled Lamb Chops

with roasted cauliflower and fried potaoes.

Opal Socks

Opal Socks
Originally uploaded by tinyloop.

The color is wonky in the photo, as always, but you get the idea. I made these without a pattern, to see how my sock architecture absorption was going, and everything worked out fine. For the knitting nerds: I used 64g of Opal sock yarn in the Hundertwasser colorway, on two circular #1 Addi Turbos.


Alexandra Ballet Top
Originally uploaded by tinyloop.

Done. Please ignore the clashing dress and pretend that the cable work is more visible than it in fact is in the photo. In the end, all of the ripping out was worth it; this was a quick knit, and it's good to have it right. I am much encouraged! The sweater fits, I didn't injure myself in the making, and am left hungry for more. Good thing; I have at least two more projects I'm dying to start. All the pleasure of knitting came back to me, along with a new interest in knitting construction generally. Also, I am no longer in denial about guage: it is the key to all knitting happiness, I now realize. Also, ten years ago, when I last knit, the internet was not what it is today, which is an unbelievable knitting resource. Really, the accessability to a worldwide communtiy of knitters, many of whom are making the same garment at the same time, is invaluable.

For any knitting geeks in the audience: I made this with 24" circ. Bryspun #11; 5 skeins of Noro Iro made *exactly* one sweater and one swatch; the pattern is the Alexandra Ballet Top from Stefanie Japel's Fitted Knits, and I found a bunch of errata in the pattern.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Grilled Amberjack

and asparagus, along with quinoa. Yum.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Outdoor Grill

Steak and asparagus. I'm not much for asparagus, but man--it is something else when grilled. Also had brown rice.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Roast Chicken

with baked sweet potatoes and kale; the following night, an omelette with the leftover sweet potato and ricotta cheese.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Goat Curry

at long last. This was a real winner. I sauteed an onion, added the meat and 2T of curry powder, and simmered that in water for about half an hour. Then I added carrots, celery, and potato (why? because those are the only vegetables I ever think to add to anything) and raisins, and simmered some more. As I served it up over brown rice I thought, "maybe potatoes weren't the best choice," but all was well and it was delicious. The meat itself was tasty, milder than lamb, but distinctly un-beefy or porky. Goats everywhere, beware: I know what to do with you now.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

No Goat

The day got away from me, so it was an unispired cooking night. With luck, tonight's the night.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Mounting Desire

Nina Killham's first novel, How to Cook a Tart, was a total pleasure. Part mystery novel, part satire of our culture's obsession with food, it moved right along, had lots of good ideas for recipes, and featured a protagonist, Jasmine, about whom one cared. Fun! I read it maybe three times. So when I remembered that she had a second novel out, I was thrilled; how could it go wrong?

Oy. Let's just say that even I can't be enthusiastic about "Mounting Desire," a total muddle of a (maybe?) satire on our cultural obsession with sex, featuring a parody (I think?) of a virginal male romance novelist and his quest for true love. This novel doesn't know which end is up. There are few pangs as sharp as the thwarted urge to be thoroughly entertained by a book.

But "How to Cook a Tart" is still great.

Are you ready to wear

what they want you to wear in Paris? In case you were wondering, Olivier Theyskens is still working his magic, though it's at Nina Ricci now, not Rochas (and where did Lars Nilsson go? Why doesn't anyone appreciate him? Bill Blass, Nina Ricci—the man has a pretty stellar list of jobs from which he was fired), Miuccia Prada continues to push the frontiers of ugly as only she can at Miu Miu, and Sophia Kokosalaki (sp?) is making some beautiful dresses for Vionnet. In general: Paris shows, please stop putting black clothes on black runways; I can't see anything at all in the pictures.

Here's the thing. When you're through apprectiating Abner Elbaz, and thinking to yourself, "it's going to take a lot to get me to care about Chloe," it's time to head to John Galliano and have the time of your freaking life. Yes John—I am ready to wear that.


bought, with red peppers, mushrooms, and black olives. On Saturday we went out and I pigged out on scallops. Tonight: goat stew! The meat is simmering away in the fridge under a dusting of kosher salt right now, and will become curry for dinner. Goat! Props to the local poet who steered me toward it; full report tomorrow.


This is my first foray into Oolong teas. It didn't overwhlem me on first tasting, but since so much is in the brewing I can never be sure I've given the tea a fair shake until I've used it for a while. This one just didn't seem flavorful enough; maybe I didn't use enough tea? let it steep long enough? Or maybe I just haven't yet read a description of it that tells me in enough vivid detail what my experience of it is supposed to be like.

Two steps forward,

one step back. More frogging. I swear the error was in the pattern, but haven't heard back from the designer yet. If I could, I would make the sound Marge Simpson makes when she's discontented.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Grilled Rock Fish

with fried potatoes and roasted red peppers. Why did I not post about Wednesday and Thursday's dinners? Because I was too ashamed of their monotony to put them in writing. Suffice it to say you've read them here before, and recently.

Ribbit Ribbit

More frogging. Having taken the whole sweater apart and re-knit it through the first section of cabling (with the correct instructions this time) I discovered that I had yet again messed up the cables (my error). Ugh. So I ripped out five rows, rather than the whole thing, and I must say that ripping out rows and picking up live stitches again was much less scary than I had feared. So now I'm back at the beginning of the cables, and as god is my witness, this time I'm getting them right.

Peanut Butter Cookies

Oh how I love them. I use the first recipe in the "peanut butter cookie" section of the King Arthur Flour Cookie Book, substituting (can you guess?) coconut oil for shortening and butter. I also omit the brown sugar the recipe calls for, since I like them lighter and less sweet. These are great cookies.

Thursday, March 1, 2007


Or "frogging," as the knitting blogs seem to call it, was the order of the day for me yesterday. Having blasted through two fifths of the Koigu sweater I talked about in an earlier post I found that the pattern I was using had a major error in the cabling instructions—and, as a result, I had major problems in my sweater's cables. At first, naturally, I decided just to keep on knitting and live with the errors. Then...I don't know. It just ate at me. The yarn is expensive, and since I'm knitting on huge needles it's a pretty fast knit, and I thought, well, what the heck. It's only knitting. So I unravelled the whole thing and started over. It actually felt pretty liberating, and took some of the mystery out of knitting. At its core a sweater is only a more or less intricatley looped long, continuous coil of yarn: having coiled it up once, I can do it again. The sweater is only a physical trace of a mental impulse. I do not serve the sweater! My life is not measured by the speed of its completion! Problem solved.

Also, it's not in fact a Koigu sweater, it's a Noro sweater. I confused my yarn names. You can see a little swatch of it above.