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Archive for the ‘Cookbooks’ Category

Spring has finally, finally arrived for good. Besides an abundance of blossoms, sunnier days, and friendlier people, long stalks of crimson rhubarb are back in the grocery produce section.

Say the words “rhubarb” and most people think of warm rhubarb and strawberry pie topped with vanilla ice cream. Yum! But Louisa Shafia in her lovely cookbook “Lucid Food: Cooking for an eco-conscious life” offers another tasty use for one of spring’s first vegetables: rhubarb spritzers.

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It’s getting really complicated around here. Our next storm is on the way and conversations at work are beginning to take on new levels of strategic intricacy:

I’m planning on driving in after rush hour and get a snow pass for my car to leave it in the garage over night and then I’ll take the early train home because the snow storm is supposed to hit just as the evening rush hour begins. If I can’t make it in tomorrow on the train then I’ll have to work from home and hope the power doesn’t go out again.

When you work for a news organization that doesn’t recognize “snow days,” surrendering to the weather is not an option. Ever. This is why I keep wading through blizzards wearing my ski goggles on my way to the train. (Strangely, whenever I wear my goggles walking down the sidewalk neighbors out shoveling always say hello to me and tell me what good idea I had to wear my goggles. These are people I don’t know. I’m not making this up. Try it sometime.)

So. Since we have no control over the complicated weather, this calls for simple food. Really, really simple food. Like blue cheese melted on sourdough toast, slabs of thick bacon, drizzled with honey, and sprinkled with cracked pepper. If you want to get fancy, you can brush each side of the sourdough bread with olive oil and broil it for 2 minutes a side in the oven. Or just toast it in your toaster. Whatever you want. Do I need to say more? No, I do not.

I found this recipe in “Harvest to Heat” by Darryl Estrine and Kelly Kochendorfer. It is a wonderful cookbook that tells you where your food came from, how it was grown, and who loved it before it arrived on your plate. Their Blue Cheese Tartine (a fancy French word for open-faced sandwich) is the first recipe and says hello just the way it should. (more…)

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‘Tis the season for lounging about on the grass. There’s nothing like getting down low on a blanket under a leafy canopy, or a starry sky, or an illuminated cityscape and just … being. It’s even better if food is within lazy reach.

Last weekend I did some serious lollygagging. I can justify this because there was some serious high-minded expression of artistic talent going on not too far away. (more…)

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Potato and Chickpea Stew

My friend Nate has what I call a kitchen ministry. He gathers people around his table and showers them with affection and food on almost any night of the week. More than once I have gotten a “dp?” text message (meaning “dinner party”) that has pulled me out of the grooves my routine and into his kitchen just a few blocks away. It’s warm in there. The walls are painted reddish orange. And we always say grace before we eat. People depart transformed.

If there are more people than soup spoons, 15 was the count one night, Nate hands out measuring spoons as substitutes. I gave him a shoebox full of extra silverware for Christmas but I am pretty sure this box sits under his bed. He admits he likes the spontaneous creativity that comes with solving the problem of too many friends and too few spoons.

This stew reminds me of a dp at Nate’s house. A lot is crammed in and it exudes warmth. It’s from Deborah Madison’s “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.” I’ve left out a few fancy things below such as a bread crumb picada thickener and a romesco sauce to add zest. You don’t really need them, and if you think you do, you should just go out and buy the cookbook because it is full of great recipes. (more…)

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“American are the most open-minded eaters in the world, constantly looking for new flavors and experiences. The way we eat has changed constantly throughout history, but now, as we welcome a new generation of cooks, we are thinking about food in a particularly interesting way.”

– Ruth Reichl, “Gourmet Today

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“During the many years that I have taught cooking, I have noticed that of my students, all are enthusiastic, many are quite sophisticated, but more than a few regard cooking as a quirky process that’s hard to grasp. Unnerved, they fail to notice that indeed there are unpredictable things about food, most of the time cooking is guided by common sense and even logic.”

– Deborah Madison, “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

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“Cooking creates a sense of well-being for yourself and the people you love and brings beauty and meaning to everyday life. And all it requires is common sense – the common sense to eat seasonally, to know where your food comes from, to support and buy from local farmers and producers who are good stewards of our natural resources….”

– Alice Waters, “In the Green Kitchen

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