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.