Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Homemade Life and Creamed Cabbage

Sometimes I forget myself and eat first before I take the photo. That's the case here. My family loved this dish...but I'm getting ahead of myself.

It's no surprise to any regular readers here that I love food books. Cookbooks, of course, but also books by people who love food the way I do.

I just posted about my current obsessions with On Rue Tatin here. I got that one for Christmas. I read MTAoFC (That's Mastering the Art of French Cooking by none other than Julia. Child, that is.), Volumes 1 AND 2...I read The Julie/Julia Project (the blog and the book...). The Language of Baklava by Diana Abu-Jaber, which I blogged about here.

For my birthday (November 22; mark your calendars), I asked for and received (from Mom) A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg, a.k.a Orangette (see also my current obsession with orangette here).

A Homemade Life is really a lovely book. It's not just a blog to book book. Wizenberg really rewrote it for its book self. (I had the pleasure of speaking with her editor, Sydny Miner, and she talked about the lovely writing and the fact that Wizenberg really understood what it took when Miner asked her to give the book a beginning, a middle and an end.)

There is a recipe at the end of each chapter, and, of course, I'd like to try each. I recently tried the creamed cabbage. Don't wrinkle your nose up, here! Cut a head of cabbage into 8 wedges. Saute wedges on each side (in butter, of course) until they have a lovely golden brown color. Splash in some cream, cover and simmer, turning once, until cream has almost evaporated.

Oh. My. Goodness. If you want to see a teenager eat CABBAGE, make this. And she asked for it the next night, too. There is this rich, sweet flavor with  none of the bitterness some people get from cabbage, and a silky texture that was just ...divine. Can I call cabbage divine?

No, perhaps it wasn't the healthiest of veggies. But it was so little cream that it really probably wasn't that bad, either.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Not Just a Stack of Pots and Pans...

No, this is a chandelier at Amelie's French Bakery in Charlotte.

I want to go to there. (Yes, I get to say that since I love 30 Rock.) Because in addition to this great chandelier, they make gah-rate pastries. Great everything, I think.

Then I want this chandelier in my next kitchen.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Whole Chickens, On Rue Tatin and That Should Have Been ME!

And as far as the title goes, not quite in that order.

My husband decided to torment me this year with not one, but TWO, count 'em, TWO books about living in France. I devoured the first one, in a manner of speaking--I'll Never be French (No matter what I do..) by Mark Greenside, a writer. I should be doing this.

Then on to the second: On Rue Tatin by Suzanne Loomis. I REALLY should be doing this and wonder how it is that I have not. I'm adventurous, a writer, a cook/chef (NAME DROP: I cooked at Union Square Cafe in NYC, and I once cooked with Bobby Flay, which impresses my kids NO END, no matter how often I explain it was just when he visited Philadelphia and cooked at Jack's Firehouse for The Book and The Cook)...and I would SO drop everything and move to France. Or Italy. Or Spain.

I want a run-down stone house to fix up. A project. I want to shop every day where the butchers know my name and point me in the right direction of the nicest cut or the fishmonger knows which fish was in the sea just hours ago.

I want to buy bread that goes stale if you don't eat it. I want to live in a village where i walk to do my shopping. And I want to do it all in another language. (Oh, if you have this position available, don't hesitate to write me at barb[at]barbfreda[dot]com. Joking. Well, kind of.)

Which leads me to tonight's meal. The braised chicken in On Rue Tatin--Brown a cut up chicken in olive oil, remove chicken, add onions to the pan; return chicken to the pan, top with mustard and white wine mixture, then cook 50 minutes at 475--25 minutes on one side, then flip the pieces and 25 minutes on the other. (Do buy the book; you'll get the complete recipe there.)

I found organic whole chickens at Costco today..Coleman, I think--yes, Coleman. I broke one down, and let's just say this:

  • My knives are dull. Shamefully so.
  • I haven't broken down a whole chicken in years--my skills are rusty...
  • It was so worth it.

I haven't done this in ages probably because everything comes packaged just so, deboned, deskinned, plastic-wrapped. But this is really so wonderful. It was engaging food, is that fair to say? The wings and backbone I tossed into a stock pot, added celery, onion and carrots and made into a beautiful stock. I cooked the liver and heart for a treat for the dog.

And I made Braised Chicken. It's cooking now. We'll have it with roasted red potatoes and a tossed salad and (more) wine. What a fabulous dinner for a rainy winter day in Charlotte.

As for the books, I'm almost done with Suzanne's book. Could I ever have talked my husband into leaving the States and the safety (heh. that's relative) of his office job? Not likely. But he DID get me these books. Two of them. Maybe he's dropping a big hint. Maybe I should go house hunting. In France. Or Italy. Or Spain...In the meantime, go read the books.

Nice. Very nice.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Things to say to a friend

1. Shalimar will always make me think of you, even if you haven't worn it for 20 years.
2. You trusted me so much you let me learn to drive stick shift in your car.
3. I remember when we first met.
4. You helped me bridge the gap between my mother and me. You tempered me. You reminded me she is a very, very good person.
5. I never felt judged by you. Ever.
6. I was hoping we'd end up in the same town in our old age and still have as much fun as we did years ago.
7. I love to dance with my friends because I learned to love to dance at your parties.
8. You've always been on the other end of the phone as though we'd spoken yesterday, even if we hadn't spoken for months.
9. I feel as though I could always make you laugh. I don't think I could always make other people laugh as easily.
10. I wish I could make it better.
11. I have missed you as I've moved around the country. I don't think that will compare to how I will miss you in the years to come.
12. I know there are so many more things to tell you that I will remember  in the days to come. Somehow, I hope you'll know those things.


Sunday, January 10, 2010


Sardines. I have no really explanation, no excuses, although I will blame both Clare L-H. and Alton Brown. Clare declared she really liked sardines. "Fresh?," I asked. Turns out she likes fresh, she likes canned. She likes sardines.

But I was still doubtful. I forgot about it. In fact, I couldn't imagine ever opening a can of sardines.

Then Alton--have you SEEN him? He lost a lot of weight--50 pounds, if I recall correctly--and he talked about how he did it on a recent Good Eats. I loved that he set about doing it by making a list of things he MUST eat, not things he mustn't eat. He finished with a list of things to not eat often. Thank you, Alton, for doing this the right way.

I digress.

Alton went on at length about the European brisling. I was half listening, thinking: never heard of it. And I like to think I've heard a lot about food...Of course, the big reveal is that the brisling IS a sardine.  He goes on to introduce Sherried Sardine Toasts with "brisling sardines in olive oil."

Well. A 50 pound weight loss is pretty impressive. Have I told you I'm training for the swim leg of a triathlon in July. Oh, well I'm STARTING training for the swim leg of the triathlon. And truth be told, I could stand a slim down. And if I'm going to slim down, I'd like to take Alton's approach about things I must eat, not things I mustn't eat.

Which led me to the shelves of canned sardines, where I pretty much never suspected I'd find myself. And no cheap sardines for me. I looked for ones that said Brisling on the label...and I looked for ones canned in Canada. I got two cans, one in olive oil and one "Mediterranean" with some tomato and black olives.

And I loved them both.

I am newly obsessed. I ate one can by piling it on a couple of slices of great bread I had at home. The other can, the olive oil sardines? Topped a bit of spaghetti with the entire can and had at it.

This week? I'll be eating a lot more sardines (150 calories for THE WHOLE CAN).

Check Alton's Sherried Sardine Toast recipe. And let me know what you do with YOUR sardines.

See you on the skinny line at the finish line of the SWIM IN THE HUDSON.

Ps. I part of the triathlon team because I am raising money for Amyloidosis Research in memory of Paul Hawthorne, who I  blogged about here. I am shameless in asking for money for this, so if you'd like to donate, go to the amyloidosis research site and follow these instructions:

1. select  "This donation is made in dedication to an individual."
2. Check "In Honor Of"
3. in the "Dedication Name" field, type "Barb Freda/Paul's Posse."