Archive for January, 2008


WND – Lamb Stew & a small soap box

January 31, 2008

Lamb Stew with Lemon & Figs
Yogurt Mint Sauce


The reason I could never be vegan:


Maybe I spent too much time in France as a child, but the thought of life without cheese is unfathomable. I live in fear of becoming lactose intolerant.

Reasons I could never be vegetarian:

Foie gras, bacon, fried chicken, hamburgers, lamb chops . . . .

Plus, I really hate tofu. Everyone says this is because I’ve never had good tofu, but at this point I’m going to go out on a limb and say I probably have. I’ve had it deep fried, marinated, grilled, sautéd, and cooked in sauce. I’ve eaten it in Indian food, Thai food, Chinese food and lasagna. And you know what? It still always tastes like tofu, which is to say like not much of anything but with texture issues. I’m sort of okay with silken tofu being substituted for cream cheese or plain yogurt in dips and smoothies, although absent a really compelling medical or religious reason I sort of fail to see the point. Read the rest of this entry ?


WND – Basil & Gruyere Crusted Chicken

January 24, 2008


I once read a fantasy novel that, via various plot machinations, involved a 9th century woman from the Russian Steppes becoming the daughter-in-law of a 20th century Russian immigrant to Canada. The male protagonist was understandably somewhat concerned as to how these two women in his life would get along, but was immediately reassured when he came upon them in the kitchen.

“What surprised him was her instinctive grasp of what Mother needed her to do. She seemed to understand loading and unloading the dishwasher immediately, even though no one had explained to her what the dishwasher was or what it did. She seemed to know what tool Mother wanted and, most amazingly of all, where it was in the kitchen.

[ . . . . ] Katerina apparently recognized the tool when she saw it, because her hands already knew how to use it. Not only that, but she had got such a feel for the kitchen already that she knew where in the kitchen Mother would have put such a tool”

Enchantment, Orson Scott Card –

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WND – Scalloped Potatoes & Kitchen Toys

January 17, 2008


I sometimes find myself watching late night infomercials with a kind of bemused fascination. Who are these people who can’t drain pasta without getting it all over the kitchen? Why do they have so much difficulty shelling an egg? How many people do you know who routinely feel the need to cut up old shoes with a kitchen knife? And would they really go from cutting a tin can to slicing a tomato without pausing? And frankly, the thing that makes omelets for you looks far more complicated than even the most temperamental frying pan.

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WND – Turkey Tetrazzini

January 10, 2008

I like reading cookbooks, particularly old cookbooks. Not because I’m particularly interested in making the recipes – I can flatly guarantee that there is no circumstance in which I am going to want to make anything in aspic – but because they’re little slices of social history.

The American Frugal Housewife from 1833 warns her readers that, “Economical people will seldom use preserves, except for sickness. They are unhealthy, expensive and useless to those who are well.” The Charlotte Cookbook from 1969 gives menu suggestions for everything from a Bridge Luncheon to a Debutante Supper Party which include such recipes as Florida Garden Salad with Whipped Cream Dressing, and Sherry Pie. Even the Joy of Cooking, which I tend to think of as a relentlessly practical source of information, is full of weird little pieces of advice if you actually sit down and read the chapter introductions.

I like them partly because they’re just bizarre – who knew you could do that many things with jello, or that you might want to – and partly because I was a history major. Women’s history isn’t written in treaties or filed in national archives, it’s found in cookbooks and letters and guides on how to be a good housewife. Old cookbooks are a walk through how much life has changed even in just the last 50 years. Now we have shows on the Food Network about how to combine two working parents and kids with multiple after school activities with a home cooked meal every night. 40 years ago cookbooks were explaining the subtle differences between hors d’oeuvres and appetizers and how to plan an economical luncheon menu (use leftovers from your dinner the night before).
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WND – New Year’s Sushi

January 3, 2008

There are certain types of food that I really wish I liked because when people eat them they look like they’re having such an amazing time. Oysters fall into this category. People who eat oysters look like they’re really enjoying themselves, but I can’t quite get past the fact that they’re alive when you eat them. I have this horrible vision of them sliding down my throat screaming in silent oyster agony as they plunge to their doom. Possibly I’m over empathizing with my food but nonetheless, absent being very polite, oysters aren’t something that I willingly eat.

For years sushi was another thing that I wished I liked but that I had a hard time actually enjoying. Then I discovered the bastardized American version of sushi that involves vegetables and cooked shrimp and no raw fish. I reluctantly admit that the reason I have a hard time with sushi is because I’m squeamish about the raw fish. I feel bad about only liking the sanitized Western version of sushi, but not bad enough to eat raw fish. In fairness, I’m also squeamish about steak tartare and beef carpaccio. You cook that steak tartare and call it meatloaf and I’m a big fan, but raw it does nothing for me.

For my roommate’s birthday this year I gave her sushi accoutrements – a rolling mat, a cookbook, and serving plates. So for New Year’s this year we had a sushi making party. I provided rice and fillings and then left everyone to make their own meals. I also borrowed a deep fryer from friends who asked for and received one for their wedding, and we made tempura and fried wontons.nori et al

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