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Thursday, May 27, 2004

Tempest Pancakes

for Grace

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 T baking powder
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla sugar
3 T melted butter
2 beaten eggs
1 1/3 cups milk

Mix dry ingrediants together. Mix wet ingrediants together. Stir wet into dry. Let sit for 15 minutes. Cook on hot griddle. Serve with butter, syrup, and, um, plenty of napkins.
Pizza protection
Italy sets strict pizza guidelines.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Sorry. I totally didn't mean to post that.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Did someone say, “Saag paneer”? Yes. Months ago.

My apologies. I ought not go on about the difficulty in asking my friend Natalie to give me her recipe, debating whether to reveal the blog (and consequently my blog and Stresch’s blog), eventually deciding to ask and tell her about them if it came up. She didn’t ask, but she also didn’t get me the recipe. She’s pregnant and hating food and just got back from Paris where there’s nothing to eat if you’re a vegetarian-leaning mom-to-be in your first trimester and ready to barf on the next waiter who offers you quiche. I really needed her recipe, since she’s the only person I know who has spent significant time in India and actually cooks Indian food.

This version is Nita Mehta’s Palak-Paneer. We ate it just the other night and loved it.

150 gms paneer, cut into 1” cubes and deep fried
½ kg spinach with small leaves
2 onions
1” piece ginger
5-6 flakes garlic
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 green chilies, chopped
2-3 T ghee (butter is adequate but inauthentic)
salt to taste
2 moti illaichi (brown cardamom), skinned and crushed

Wash and chop the spinach. Steam until cooked through but still bright green. Rinse with cold water and drain, then grind into a smooth paste. Grind the onions, garlic, and ginger together. Heat the ghee in a pan and add the onion paste, cooking until golden brown. Add the spinach and cook for 5-7 minutes over low heat. Add salt, illaichi, and paneer and stir well.

Optional: Just before serving, drizzle a hot mixture of 1 T ghee and 1 t red chili powder over the top and mix well.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Spoons
Here's a question for everyone from portia.

...with what does one oil/care for one's nice wooden spoons? namlet gave me a beautiful set of boxwood spoons with a gorgeous finish, but of course as I use them they become less smooth...can I oil and rub them, kind of like seasoning a pan?

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

I went morel hunting with my FIL this weekend. It was so much fun. We actually found quite a few. I'm the uber-foodie. I pick my own wild mushrooms. I probably lose points for not getting them entirely clean. They were a little gritty. Oops.
All-One Kitchen Gear Review!

Probably I'm like the last sentient being in the world to have picked up on this, but I'm feeling all Heloise-meets-Dr. Bronner this afternoon and thus will spout off regardless: I think everyone should have a tupperware tub full of wooden clothespins within easy reach when working in the kitchen.

Poorly designed ziplock frozen food bags spilling lima beans into the ice cube tray? That bag of shredded jack cheese drying out in the fridge? Your brown sugar has been appropriated by the contractors rebuilding your neighbor's chimney?

Take some clothespins! Clip those bags shut! OK!

That's pretty obvious, you say. Clipping stuff with a ... clip thingie. Big whoop. But wait!

You're using a wooden spoon to stir up a mixing-bowl full of jalapeno cornbread batter when the phone rings. It's Hollywood! They want to turn your blog ("Random Thoughts 'n' Stuff ;)") into a Major Motion Picture!

Clip a clothespin to the wooden spoon, near the top of the handle; this will prevent the spoon from slipping into the bowl! And you can gesture animatedly with your free hand while on the phone!

Conversely: Place clothespin on counter. Use it as a spoon rest.

To which you say perhaps: "Pffft."

OK! Your young child stands on a chair at the counter and complains that you are not letting her wash the dishes. With one hand take a clothespin and tell her it is an alligator. Make the clothespin open and shut in the manner of a crocodilian snout and gnash your teeth for sound effects.

The magic of a child's imagination! She's amused for 90 seconds!

What, no kids? Don't fence me in, buddy? I've got a life of the mind to get on with?

Look Foucault, using clothespins in the kitchen repriveleges tangible domestic "texts" across genres to destabilize normative post-industrial social roles. When the laundry and the kitchen cross-fertilize then can we in turn truly feel trammeled?

OK!

Friday, May 14, 2004

I've recently finished a crazy week of which the highlights were ending a seven and a half year relationship (complete with kitchen remodel) and finding a new place to live.

Some of the lowlights include *looking* for a place to live. While there are many things that go into the "right" home, the kitchen and the food are two big components. Since I was primarily looking to at shared housing situations, how my housemate(s) feel about food, cooking, and dining were also pretty crucial.

I've lived with people who cook meat at home before, and it is something I didn't want to do again. I've never lived with someone who didn't enjoy my cooking, and I don't want to try. There are some areas in which I am flexible, but this is not one of them. I was able to find a great housemate, great house, and so far, the only possible criticism I have of her is that she's "not a chocolate person". Given that she told me this after I handed her a box of jam bars (Deborah Madison's recipe, organic blueberry filling/slivered almonds and oatmeal added to the top layer) and told her "This is not a bribe. It would be sneaky, underhanded and manipulative to try and bribe you, and I'd never do anything like that." She looked in, said yum, and asked if I'd known that she's "not a chocolate person".

She keeps a kosher kitchen, and only cooks dairy and pareve foods in it. This makes me a very happy mostly-vegetarian-- and given that I'm divorcing my annual source of crabmeat, and my semi-annual source of shrimp has died, it will work out fine.

We were talking about shared food, and I mentioned that given that my pantry includes olive oil for cooking, good olive oil for salads, hazelnut oil, toasted walnut oil, canola oil, and rapeseed oil with lemon zest, well, if I had to share the pantry space, my salads would be far less interesting. She was impressed by my only using the expensive olive oil for times I can actually taste it. She's also volunteered some of the organic nastursiums and organic blueberries as salad ingredients.

Yes, there is a gas stove. Good, open-- yet out of dog reach-- pantry shelving. She's going to come visit the house I am moving out of so that we can make good decisions about kitchen implements, utensils and serving pieces. Some of mine will go into storage, but she's all about getting the best combination into our new home.

Not cooking related, but she's delighted to have a dog moving into the house and I'm in love with the redwood trees.
I've recently finished a crazy week of which the highlights were ending a seven and a half year relationship (complete with kitchen remodel) and finding a new place to live.

Some of the lowlights include *looking* for a place to live. While there are many things that go into the "right" home, the kitchen and the food are two big components. Since I was primarily looking to at shared housing situations, how my housemate(s) feel about food, cooking, and dining were also pretty crucial.

I've lived with people who cook meat at home before, and it is something I didn't want to do again. I've never lived with someone who didn't enjoy my cooking, and I don't want to try. There are some areas in which I am flexible, but this is not one of them. I was able to find a great housemate, great house, and so far, the only possible criticism I have of her is that she's "not a chocolate person". Given that she told me this after I handed her a box of jam bars (Deborah Madison's recipe, organic blueberry filling/slivered almonds and oatmeal added to the top layer) and told her "This is not a bribe. It would be sneaky, underhanded and manipulative to try and bribe you, and I'd never do anything like that." She looked in, said yum, and asked if I'd known that she's "not a chocolate person".

She keeps a kosher kitchen, and only cooks dairy and pareve foods in it. This makes me a very happy mostly-vegetarian-- and given that I'm divorcing my annual source of crabmeat, and my semi-annual source of shrimp has died, it will work out fine.

We were talking about shared food, and I mentioned that given that my pantry includes olive oil for cooking, good olive oil for salads, hazelnut oil, toasted walnut oil, canola oil, and rapeseed oil with lemon zest, well, if I had to share the pantry space, my salads would be far less interesting. She was impressed by my only using the expensive olive oil for times I can actually taste it. She's also volunteered some of the organic nastursiums and organic blueberries as salad ingredients.

Yes, there is a gas stove. Good, open-- yet out of dog reach-- pantry shelving. She's going to come visit the house I am moving out of so that we can make good decisions about kitchen implements, utensils and serving pieces. Some of mine will go into storage, but she's all about getting the best combination into our new home.

Not cooking related, but she's delighted to have a dog moving into the house and I'm in love with the redwood trees.

Friday, May 07, 2004

A recipe like Pat Nixon's coat.

Wife B. came home from work Monday with a fever of 103.5, so of course by Tuesday evening I had made the first batch of poached eggs supreme. The recipe card we have on file is dated 6/26/89, which would be within a couple of weeks of her college graduation. My guess is she got her mother to pony up the recipe before setting up house on her own; I learned to make it at some point before we moved in together but when we were serious enough that I would be staying at her apartment when she was sick. I will admit it's a very Betty Crocker ca. 1965 type of dish, but it is also to my mind a very long-term relationship kind of recipe: not too fancy at first glance but when done right it can't be beat.

Poached Eggs Supreme:

1 T instant minced onion
1 T butter
1 can (10.5 oz) condensed cream of chicken soup
2/3 cup milk
4 eggs
2 english muffins
paprika, dried parsley

1. melt butter in a large skillet, cook the onion in the butter for a minute.
2. pour in the soup and the milk and heat to boiling.
3. slip each egg into the soup mixture and spoon a bit of soup over the eggs.
4. Cover pan and cook on medium heat until eggs are desired doneness (about 5 minutes?)
5. Place one egg on each toasted english muffin half. Spoon sauce over each egg. Sprinkle a little paprika and parsley on each serving.

NOTE: Recipe halves easily if your sweetie is really not very hungry and really just wants a little bit and then wants you to leave her alone so she can go back to sleep, or if you are happily living alone.

It might double if you are in a polyandrous relationship and there was a bug going around the house, I don't know. But if that's the case then you probably have more pressing domestic chores than poaching eight eggs.

I realize the recipe calls for chicken soup. It's like the old formulation about atheists and foxholes: in this house, there are no vegetarians in a sickbed.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Recipes

I have trouble following recipes. Maybe that's why I'm not in love with Cook's Illustrated. All the warnings about using the wrong cornmeal or baking for 30 seconds too long just don't jive with the way I cook. Last night I made Pepper and Cheese Enchiladas from Sunday's at Moosewood. Except I used wheat tortillas instead of corn and did away with the frying them in oil. I omitted the chiles and cut down on the cumin. I left out the cottage cheese and probably increased the amount of cheddar. I'm not sure since I didn't really measure. Just now I'm thinking that a little dried oregano would have worked in the sauce. Anyway, they turned out really well. I would have felt stifled using the recipe as a protocol.

That's fine. Actually, I think that's a good way to cook. Last night, though, I ventured into new territory. I made brownies without a recipe. I've never baked without a recipe. I am both really proud and afraid I've crossed a line between good-cook and old-world grandmother.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Knives

Since you mentioned knife shopping, Frog, I have to give you Mark's (and mine, really) recommendation for the best knife ever. It's the Henckels International Classic 8" Chef's Knife. It is, to my mind, perfect in every way. It's a bit on the heavy side, but I much prefer it to Mark's more expensive and much lighter Japanese-made knife.

Anyway, it's also the best value-for-money. It's made in Spain, rather than Germany, and they seem to be phasing them out, so they can be found for not much money. There is one here for example, for like $35.

Sorry. I promise I'm not a sales person, I just really like this knife and that's a good price.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

The Survey: An Annotated Response

Favorite kitchen appliance: Coffee grinder
Favorite kitchen implement: Henckels 9-inch steel chef’s knife [1]
Three basics my cooking can't live without: Turmeric, onions, red lentils
Things that are worth the extra $$: fair-trade coffee, regional beer [2]
Things that are not worth the extra $$: fancy red wine for everyday use [3]
Things missed most when they are out of season: tomatoes, fresh basil
Things I get really tired of seeing in the grocery store: hipsters [4]
I avoid at all costs: guacamole [5]
My favorite celebrity chef is: Alice Waters [6]
My favorite cooking show is: NA [7]



[1] I own something that’s cold forged or ice hardened or something. How great is that? It sounds like something you might see advertised during an NFL game (you’ll have to check with Frog about that). “The new Dodge Ram / Gillette Razor / Miller Beer: It’s cold forged.” Anyway, this knife makes me a better cook than I really am.

[2] If it hadn’t been snowing today [this was written April 27, but I got confused about how to log onto blogger] I would mention it’s Oberon season. Instead I will say it’s nominally Oberon season. [Now that it's May Day, we've got 50 degrees and rainy: It's like Spring on the freaking steppes around here.]

[3] Instead, we buy this stuff by the case. We have aparently fallen victim to a masterful marketing strategy.

[4] Look, we know you’re vegetarian already, dude. It’s cool.

[5] So back in the day, Tony was dating this woman who worked at an upscale grocery in Oakland and she got to take home the produce that would otherwise have gotten thrown out. We all stumbled back to her place one night after going out for beers and she made us guacamole out of her stash of free overripe avocados. Since then I have looked upon most avocados with the utmost suspicion.

[6] I have always had a thing for earnest, forward-thinking women with Berkeley connections. Reader, I married one.

[7] It’s either cable or that Oberon beer. I returned some empties this afternoon to the neighborhood party store (sometimes it seems our state welfare program boils down to the fact that we get ten cents a bottle on returns) and even with 72 bottles to my credit, I still needed to shell out $3.50 for my six-pack of Oberon. It's not a habit we indulge very often. (Both returning our bottles and drinking Oberon.)

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