Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Summer Eats

Wow. I am not sure how so many weeks have passed without a post.

I have been developing lots of recipes and pursuing some tech writing, too, rewarding my inner geek.

But in the meantime, here are some of the other things I've been up to in photo form...

I cooked some peaches in using a sous vide cooker:


I made empanadas using a hot water pastry recipe of my own devising:


I painted at Jobson's Cove:


I ate at Marcus:


I ate Jill's incredible blueberry tart...and resisted the desire to eat a second piece (before everyone else had their first piece! How very rude of me!):


Got out on the water:


Found a lovely scene to paint at Jill's:


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

And then there were two sisters.


In the last four years, I lost the two below, and as I sit here today, I am marking five weeks since I very suddenly lost my other brother, Rick, the eldest of the four of us. He was well one day, and then he was not. Tonight, We will enjoy a simple but nice meal. We will raise a glass to the wonderful memories we share. We will be sad and we will be happy. We will cherish those who are with us and those who are far. We will be sure the gods have gotten it wrong somehow, but we will know this is the reality, however unfair. Most of all, we will miss these people. 

Baking Bread In Memory: David and Tea and Rick


What I wrote a year ago today:

I've lost these two in the past three years. Miss them both. Three years ago today, David died. So I  bake on May 20. Today, I might be on overload, making bread AND pizza. But it makes me happy and makes think of David. The spiral form (in the photo below) is one he used...the essay is one I wrote and read at his memorial service in September, 2011.

Before you go on and read below, do this--it is taken from something I wrote on May 31, 2011:


So today, please go open a bottle of wine you may have been saving for a special day. Pitch the sliced bread and either bake a loaf or go get REAL bread, good bread. Drizzle out a bit of really good olive oil, and savor it all with family and friends. Because today? Today is a special day.



Remembering David

My little brother David died very suddenly this past May. He was 47.

David was a real intellectual. He had big ideas and frankly, I am sure I didn't always even understand what he was talking about, and we often butted heads over ideas and issues. But we did share one passion: cooking. Any heated debates were quickly forgotten at the dinner table when we--quite literally--broke bread. We would thoughtfully taste, chew and discuss the merits of the loaf at hand, no matter what we'd been arguing about during the day. 

David was a bread baker better than any of us, his recipes spreadsheets (formulas, really, weighing in humidity, type of wheat, etc.) that I didn't really understand. In fact, we found his spread sheets on bread and those are pages I will treasure always. Even if I can't bake from them.
Early in the year, in February, I got an email from David asking for savory chocolate recipes. He was on his way to a Slow Food dinner in Redlands, California, where he lived, and the theme was chocolate. He was determined to do something different. 

I had just written a short online piece about where to find great chocolate recipes and one website had stuck with me, a site with a lot of savory dishes. After we traded a few ideas talking about possibilities, he tweaked a recipe, making corn cakes topped with his own version of Mexican mole-style chicken and some cheese. 

His report back captures David's personality for those of us who knew him and still makes us chuckle, especially reading of his scorn for American cheese "food":
Topped a tablespoon of cornbread batter with a bigger spoon of the chicken mix.  Topped that with a modest amount of mozzarella cheese since I had some handy already shredded -- bad move; should have used the local Monterey jack I bought for the purpose, which is very tasty, or had I thought of it, better still would be supermarket-humble Havarti (which is a great American cheese, IMO, if inexpensive and widely available...at least it's cheese compared to prevalent and therefore so-called American "pasteurized-process cheese food").  15 minutes in the oven and they were done.

He signed off "mangia, mangia."

Three months after those emails, I found myself in his house, my first time in Redlands, but he wasn't there. His death was heartbreakingly sudden and being there was unspeakably sad and difficult.


We spent a week at his house, cleaning it out, preparing details of the memorial we would hold, sometimes finding laughter in our memories, admiring his garden full of wildflowers, touching pots and pans he touched, always aching for his presence.

One day I peered into the freezer and found a batch of little corn cakes, wrapped in foil and plastic, perhaps a little freezer burned. I knew exactly what they were. I pulled them out, heated them up and had a couple for lunch one day, remembering the process, remembering David, and happy to taste, one last time, one of his creations.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Goetz's Caramel Creams..my taste o Nostalgia..

so, I remember getting th se creamy-centered caramels for Halloween DECADES ago...here is something about this combo I live because of the textural shift of caramel and melty cream..it is the same now as it was then. I love the story..family-owned for 120 years.

I don't always find them when I am candy shopping, so I am pretty pleased to be enjoying quite a sampling from Goetze's in celebration of that 120th year anniversary. I like a little dose of nostalgia now and then...


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Comfort Food: pierogi pizza

I am in Pittsburgh. Home of Fabulous. Home of Steelers. Home of Comfort Food.

I have reason to be seeking comfort food. I have decided the king of all comfort food is pierogi pizza. Behold...

Monday, March 30, 2015

What to Do With All That Orange Peel


Remember how I said I like wintertime oranges...every time I peel one, I want to save the rind for orangette. Yummy, sweet, tart-with-just-a-hint-of-bitterness orangette, a.k.a candied orange peel.

I taught a few girls a class on knife skills last week (and promptly cut my finger for the first time in EONS not 24 hours later, but that is another story for another time. My fingernail took more of the damage than I did, but STILL. Embarrassing...I digress.), and one of the things I showed them how to do is to "supreme" an orange, cutting the sections away from the membrane of the fruit. That left me with a bowl full of orange rinds and led me to a short little lecture on how I don't like to waste things in the kitchen...So I took all that orange goodness home and within an hour's time of cooking (with another few hours of drying), I had these little orange gems of GOOD.

Readers, I give you....orangette.

Peel oranges, removing all flesh, but leaving white pith. Cut orange peels into 1/4-inch wide strips.

Place rinds in saucepan. Cover with cold water and bring to boil. Drain. Repeat this two more times.

Leave drained rinds in saucepan. Add 4 cups sugar, 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to simmer and cook 45 minutes. 

Use slotted spoon to remove rinds, letting syrup drain back into saucepan, and place rinds into sugar. 

Toss until coated, then place rinds onto cooling rack for 4 to 5 hours. Store in sugar in airtight container in refrigerator (especially if you live in a humid climate...)

If you really want to gild the lily, dip half of each candied peel into melted dark chocolate. Let excess chocolate drain back into melted chocolate and place dipped peel onto wax or parchment paper. Cool until chocolate is hardened.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

10 Delicious Things to Eat (Or Drink) for Less Than $10

Simple Pleasures: Shortbread

Two days ago, I walked into an office and spied a bowl filled with wintergreen Lifesaver mints, each in its own little wrapper. The scent hit me before I finished signing in at the visitor's book. I snagged one and went off on my merry way to see an art show. I snagged another on my way out...take two, they're small, I said to myself. I had not had a wintergreen lifesaver in ages. I remembered ducking into dark closets to chew these candies, mouths wide open, so whatever friend ducked into that closet with me could see the sparks. "Your turn now!" I don't know why that happens, and I don't care. I like that it happens. And I love me some wintergreen Lifesavers. Which got me thinking...what other of life's little food pleasures can be had for less than $10.

Here's my list...give me yours...

1. Wintergreen Lifesavers--see intro!

2. Shortbread. You can sometimes buy just little packages of two fingers of Walker's Pure Butter Shortbread. This is perfect dessert--I call shortbread butter and sugar held together by juuuuust enough flour.

3. A glass of red wine on a cool evening, a glass of good white on a hot summer's evening. I would rather have one glass of wine a day than all the sweets in the world. Just one. It is about savoring, good company, relaxing and ever such a little bit of a buzz. I like a glass of wine.

4. Good coffee in the morning. I prefer my own espresso with hot milk, my own little cafe au lait home--so much that I've been know to pack the espresso machine (an old, very basic Krups model) for vacations. Good coffee, whether at home or out, is kind of like the glass of wine. Time to relax, savor, make conversation, enjoy.

5. One plain croissant, baked dark, not overproofed and all fluffy. I like plain, what can I say. Like shortbread, this is just pure goodness. Sometimes I like a little marmalade on that croissant, too...but not often...

6. Good, true bread (I sense a trend), like the bread at Tartine in San Francisco. So know, I have not actually VISITED Tartine, but I've worked on the bread at home from the book, and I knew Chad when he was a youngster doing his culinary school rotation in Philadelphia, Pa. I would happily spend every cent of that $10 on a loaf of this bread.

7. Mamoun's Falafel in NYC (and in Connecticut...)--This is one of those things I crave. More than 20 years have passed since I lived a short walk from Mamoun's, but when I get to Manhattan, I still try to get to there.

8. Plain, old-fashioned doughnuts. I bet cro-nuts are awesome. Really, I do. But I don't like to wait in lines for food. There is this one Shoprite supermarket in Stanford, Connecticut. It's on Route 1. The best. plain. old-fashioned. doughnut. anywhere. Not the puffy glazed doughnuts, but the ones that get fried to a golden color, then dipped in a glaze. I almost always eat a doughnut when I visit my sister in Connecticut...and I pretty much do NOT eat doughnuts any other time

9. Okay, you can't get these anymore, but if you are reading maybe you can give me a good substitute. Best's Kosher Hotdogs. I do NOT know why these are not made any more..bought out, sold, whatever. But why?! So if you are wondering why someone who cooks for a living loves hot dogs, it is that I love a GOOD hot dog. And man, Best's were...the best. I haven't eaten a hot dog in years, but if you showed up with a Best's, I would invite you to sit down and we'd enjoy that hot dog.

10. Wintertime oranges. I had to do something healthy! I have to say when I get an orange in January, February and March, and it is so perfect, so juicy...just so orangey...well, I count that as a good few minutes spent savoring. It could be that I have had a few incredible oranges in the past week, so I am craving them anyway. But man, when an orange is good, it's great.

What ten innerness

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Citrus Overload

I grab the small ball of sunshine, a clementine, then I grab another. Take two, they're small. The peel is lumpy, dimpled. I know it is like a too-big coat, space left between the outer layer and the inner core, the sweet, juicy fruit that needs this oversized protection.

But that is why I love clementines, too. All that space means that ill-fitting cloak is easy to rip off, and I want little effort standing between me and my citrus wedges.

I peel both clementines in a few seconds, the sounds of the peel ripping similar to tearing paper. As I peel, I make sure to crush some of the skin, sending little jets of citrus oil into the air, a tangy, slightly bitter and sweet smell, all at the same time. It is a bright scent that belongs only to these fruits and comes during the darkest of winter months as a little reward.

I break the globes of fruit into individual sections, all laid out in front of me now. I pop one section at a time into my mouth, not chewing at first, but mashing the fruit, getting at the juice first, then chewing to enjoy the sweet and slightly tart flavors.

Winter can be a very very good time.