Category Archives: Influencers

Cineversary

Isn’t that the word for the anniversary of a cinema?

Plimoth Cinema started up ten years ago….

2007 was an autumn of really bleak pictures.

We opened with

LaVie an rose poster

which is about the life of Edith Piaf. It’s sad story. The music  was wonderful, but mournful. Many of the movies of 2007 were pretty bleak.

There will be blood 2007

Well, you get the picture…

This was a short term project. We were just going to run movies two nights a week for a couple of weeks.

I volunteered to make the popcorn. As long as we used REAL butter, no substitutes.

Of course.

And although the subject matter of the films was down, down, downer…

Attendance kept going up, up, UP.

So much so that the short run ran longer, and before December was out, we were coming back not as a limited run, but a full out program.

Thus out of small beginnings…..

Besides the usual popcorn and candies, we also offered hot dogs and Indian Pudding at the Concession stand.

If I were to make Indian Pudding flavored popcorn….ginger, cinnamon, a little molasses and butter…..? I digress.

To Ed and Charlotte Russell , to Anne Phelan and Kathleen Curtin – thank you

 

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Scarborough Fair

Art Garfunkel was at Memorial Hall in Plymouth, and I was , too. And about 1,500 others, including Jacob, Erin, Kristi, Jeanne, Chris and Heidi, to name a few.

Art sang (natch)

He shared the credit with his musicians  :

Tab Laven 

and

Dave Mackay

He told stories and dropped a few names (Paul Simon. and also Mike Nichols, Jack Nicholson, Paul Simon, Ann Margret, Paul Simon….)

He talked about his family – his kids, his wife, his parents.

He said the Enrico Caruso’s arias from The Pearl Fishers was a huge influence on him.

and he sang……

Set List:

April Come She Will

The Boxer

Perfect Moment

A Heart in New York

All I Know

Scarborough Fair

The Side of a Hill

Homeward Bound

Intermission

Real Emotional Girl (Randy Newman)

For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her

Sound of Silence

Kathy’s Song

Bridge Over Troubled Water

Encore

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

(set list from Concert Comminicator)

 And now, humming, I shall continue my day.

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Filed under Influencers, The 1960"s, The 1970's

Goldenrods

Goldenrods

as in Goldenrod Eggs….

Martha Stewart Living April 2017 featured a story about Goldenrods…. not the weeds, the  eggs

msl-April2017cover-225x300

goldenrod eggs Betty Crocker

This is the photo from the Betty Crocker version.

Reading the article I had a Remembrance of Things Past moment, except it was for something that I had never eaten….it was something I’d read about.

It was a book I read when I was nine. Or ten. Definitely before 11.

I think it was called

“Two in Patches”.

Patches was the name of the car. More properly, a roadster. I’m pretty sure it was written in the 1930’s.

roadster

a 1930’s roadster

There was a brother – who was old enough to drive – and a little sister. She was close to my age – 9 or 10 or 11.  They had to drive cross country to get their parents who had been working in the steamy, vine-tangled jungles of Peru. Or hottest Brazil. One of those exotic, faraway places. They had a grown-up, who might have been Grandpa, that they picked up somewhere. They ended up in California, and there was a happily ever after reunion. It would probably be a good companion piece for The Grapes of Wrath.

There were hobos, and not all of them were friendly.

Sometimes they had to beg for work to earn food or gas money. I believe “beg” was their word for it. They gave people rides in exchange for food or gas.

Beret-e1457039149493

This is pretty close to what I remembering  what the girl might have looked like.

It was not a picture book, but there were line drawings.

ANYHOW….

…..at one point they are really hungry and they break into a hen-house. They get caught, and the cagey old farmer invites them in, and the girl cooks up a big old batch of……

EGGS GOLDENROD

So I looked up a recipe,  Thank you Betty Crocker

and merrily went on with my life. It seemed rather like egg sauce on toast, and I can’t say that I craved it or even thought about it again until I opened up Martha Stuart Living.

So, thank you for a trip back in time. Now I need to make some bread to have the toast to make the eggs….

A version roughly contemporary with my remembered childhood volume:

Goldenrod Eggs

Make a thin white sauce by melting

1 Tbls of butter then adding

1 Tbls flour. Add

1 cup milk

½ tsp salt and

Fg pepper. Stir until thick and smooth. Chop the white of

3 hard cooked eggs and add to white sauce. Cut

4 slices of toast in halves lengthwise.

Arrange on a platter and pour sauce over them. Force yolks through a strainer or potato ricer, letting them fall upon the sauce making a mound of yellow. Garnish with parsley and toast points. This may be served on individual dishes.

Serves four.

Wakefield, Ruth Graves. Ruth Wakefield’s Toll House Tried and True Recipes. M. Barrows and Co.: New York. 1937. p. 61.

Ruth Wakefield Tried and True

Evidently, Fanny Farmer published the first Eggs Goldenrod recipe back in 1896. This is based on other peoples say-so. I’ll be on the look-out.

Eggs à la Goldenrod.

3 hard boiled eggs.

1 tablespoon butter.

1 tablespoon flour.

1 cup milk.

1/2 teaspoon salt.

1/8 teaspoon pepper.

5 slices toast.

Parsley.

Make a thin white sauce with butter, flour, milk, and seasonings. Separate yolks from whites of eggs. Chop whites finely, and add them to the sauce. Cut four slices of toast in halves lengthwise. Arrange on platter, and pour over the sauce. Force the yolks through a potato ricer or strainer, sprinkling over the top. Garnish with parsley and remaining toast, cut in points.

bost127

Boston Cooking School 1896

 

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Filed under Books, Influencers, Recipe, Supper, The 1960"s, Wicked Wayback

Bon Boeuf Bourguignon!

February 11, 1963,

the day the very FIRST episode of

The French Chef

airs.

The first recipe: Boeuf Bourguignon .

Which by most accounts is a lost episode,the tapes having been taped over…who knew?

Boeuf Bourguignon was reprieved in 1969.Both YouTube and Amazon streaming have likely candidates…….they claim 1963…….

 

 

Boeuf Bourguignon

This link will take you to Amazon streaming where you can watch the episode for $1.99.

There was later a companion cookbook

french-chef-cb

and there are also DVD’s

french-chef-tv-dvd

julia-child-rose

Julia Child Rose

Season One of The French Chef:

Season 1 Episode Subject
S01 (1963) E01 Boeuf Bourguignon (February 11, 1963)
S01 E02 French Onion Soup
S01 E03 Casserole Roast Chicken
S01 E04 The French Omelette
S01 E05 Scallops
S01 E06 Quiche Lorraine
S01 E07 Fruit Tarts
S01 E08 Chicken Breasts and Rice
S01 E09 Vegetables à la Française
S01 E10 Veal Scallops
S01 E11 French Salads- Mayonnaise
S01 E12 Chicken Livers à la Française
S01 E13 Roast Duck à l’Orange
S01 E14 Chocolate Mousse and Caramel Custard
S01 E15 Pâtés
S01 E16 Aspics
S01 E17 Bouillabaise
S01 E18 Lobster à l’Américaine
S01 E19 French Crêpes
S01 E20 French Crêpes II – Suzette
S01 E21 Steaks and Hamburgers
S01 E22 The Potato Show
S01 E23 Soufflé on a Platter
S01 E24 Dinner in a Pot
S01 E25 Pâte à Choux

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Filed under Influencers, The 1960"s, TV shows

Window Sill Garden

I bought a rosemary plant at the farmers market last month; considering my luck with growing rosemary (NONE) I also bought some really beautiful stems. She said put them in water and they’d root.I bought more then I needed….the price was right.

I used what I wanted, put the stems in a jar with water….Now they have beautiful roots and smell great every time I brush by them. Not quite ready to bloom, but anything that grows in the dead of winter is encouraging.

The plant?

It’s not dead ….yet.

I have a nice terra cotta pot…time to try chives?

Van Gogh, you inspire me!

van-gogh-flowerpot-with-chives-january-february-1887-oil-on-canvas-31-9-x-22-cm-van-gogh-museum-amsterdam

Van Gogh, Flowerpot with Chives, January-February 1887. Oil on canvas, 31.9 x 22 cm. Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.

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Filed under Influencers, winter

Soup kitchen

detail from Johann Georg Sturm’s 1796 Deutschlands Flora in Abbildungen

Soooooo….

When you realize that you have six pounds of parsnips, and the odd roast turkey carcass and the freezer needs defrosting (because the freezer is old enough to be NOT frost-free) and the weather is also not frost-free….time to make some soup.

You work in a kitchen, sometimes you make soup.

Soup Kitchen.

I’ve had some great soup gurus – early on Anna Thomas…

anna-thomas-2016

Anna Thomas

love-soup

I started with the soup basics in Vegetarian Epicure…This is only soups.

There are also the ethnic soups that are shades of my childhood, what we ate and what we talked about…

soups-of-italy

I’ve mentioned this before..still a page turner

Barbara Kafka has a soup book called, “Soup : A Way of Life”.

soup-babara-kafta

Not to be confused with

kafkas-soup

But I digress….

 

But most of the time I make soup by assembling the likely ingredients – in some cases the Most Likely ingredients – and then think about how they go together, and what needs to be added to make them one soup and not a bunch of leftovers.The soupness helps to bring things together, but the right accent can make things great.

There’s also the internet …..

Most of the parsnip soup recipes called for milk or cream, and there are allergy issues with dairy AND it would mean a trip to the store….and  wants to go to the store for ONE THING? And who comes back from the store with one thing?????.

But the internet had quite a few vegan veggie soups, many of which included cashews, which bring up nut issues   ….but also, I had NO cashews and then I would have to go to the store for one thing….back to that.

Then there were a raft  of soup recipes where the roots were roasted and pureed.

Roasting, easy-peasy.

Pureeing….there’s no blender in the kitchen, but boiling the roasted roots in broth makes mashing a really possibility.

Parsnips are peeled and cut. The better part of a head of garlic, peeled. All the veggies tossed with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Put in a hot oven til fork tender, 350° oven about an hour, fork very tender.

Cool and save.

Soup Day morning, add 5 quarts broth made from the turkey carcass and a big sprig of rosemary. Bring to a boil.

Simmer for an hour, mash the parsnips to thicken it up. Taste and adjust seasonings.  Bring to a bowl.

Makes 15 servings.

parsnips-1

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Filed under Eating, Influencers, Soup, winter

D.E.A.R. Beverly Cleary

DEAR banner

Drop Everything And Read DAY and Beverly Cleary is 100 years old today..

so drop everything and read some Beverly Cleary! Like Henry Huggins

Henry_Huggins

 

or

bc luckiest girl

or

bc books

There are lots and lots to choose from – she’s been writing for decades!

and she even wrote a little about herself

 

bcyamhill

and

bc my own 2feet

Happy Birthday, Bev!

bc statue

 

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Filed under Birthday, Books, Influencers

A Tale of Two Recipes, cont

Recipe the Second:

‘It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; “

I can’t think of A Tale of Two Cities without hearing Ronald Colman ….

roland colman

And now for a far better thing. Not that Broccoli Sauce’d Sicilano was bad…..

When I went to my friendly neighborhood super market and saw these little squashes, cute as bugs ears, live and in living color – and 50 cents a piece – I had to get me 2.  I swear I had seen SOMETHING about them in the last week or so, so I starting poking around……

Chayote_BNC

Chayote – it’s a kind of summer squash

 

But could I find anything that even had that word  in it, that word I’m still not sure how to  pronounce. The cashier called them coyote squashes….hey, she knew they were squashes….

So then I turned to the ‘grow veg/eat veg’, the straight and narrow garden to table books that I have unpacked. Several identified them, but didn’t mention how to use them…..and they have aliases….

Deborah Madison Vegetable Literacy, which I’m thoroughly enjoying and will need to read several times, there’s so much between these covers. No chaypote.

veg literacy

Dominca Marchetti The Glorious Vegetables of Italy, which has a dozen dishes I want to do, as well as small batch of giardiniera (five pints being as small a batch that 1 cauliflower can make) lots of summer squashes and zucchinis, no chaypote.

veg of Italy

Herbivoracious by Michael Natkin not a garden to table, but amazing vegetarian food and lots of great asides …..and the book falls open to the Sicilian Spaghetti with Pan-roasted Cauliflower – and where I sub out the pine nuts I’m not too terribly fond of, so why should I pay THAT sort of money for them, with almonds……shades of saucy broccoli….which may have even been the dish he served up at the book signing. My bus ticket is marking the page, so it was on May 6th 2012, in Somerville. His website is Herbivoracious ,too.

herbivoracious

And then I flipped through The Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon.

CD pasion veg

This book is over 1000 pages, a workout in every reading. I love this cover. Shades of Carmen Miranda!

A little back story: Bean By Bean was where I first met Ms Dragonwagon. But not this revised, 21st century edition, no, not at all. It was a slim booklet, like you’d get from some sort of community group edition. Back in the early ‘80’s vegetarian cooking stuff was still very much a small press/artsy/folksy/hippy-ified/ handmade/crafted sort of thing. I read the whole book standing up in a kitchen, oblivious to the gathering going around me. I don’t remember exactly where or what event, because there was a whole book about beans, and the beans were good. The beans were varied. The beans were interesting. The beans were amazing!

The cover was torn off, so I never saw it till I found it on the internet, much more recently.

CDBean bokk1only

The little pamphlet like book on the left is the first BBB that I met up with – without the colorful front cover.The one on he right is the new, revised edition.

The recipes were all beans and were all vegetarian. Since I knew if you give an Italian woman a pound of beans, she can feed a horde 30 different courses….I naturally had to wonder,

“What was ‘Dragonwagon’ before Ellis Island changed it when they came from Italy?”

Yes, I immediately and completely Italianized Crescent Dragonwagon.

I carried this assumption around for a really long time. Hey – there was no internet in the olden days! When The Passionate Vegetarian came out early 21st century, the cover image only reinforced my belief. Look at her – she’d fit right in an Italian crowd. My people do things with flair. And she was certainly my people…ironically, the very heft and size of The Passionate Vegetation kept me from it for a while.Not forever, but still…

arcimboldo friut basket

Another Italian, another fruit basket worn as a hat…..

Fast forward to 6 or 7 years ago.

I join Facebook.

I join to keep in touch with people who I’d worked with. I re-connected with some people I had seen or heard from in years. Then I discover Groups  – places with topics for like-minded people to gather….groups that talk about food and cooking….and in one of these Groups was

Crescent Dragonwagon

She also had her own pages, and she can tell you her own story – like about her name….. (Here’s a hint – she’s not the least bit Italian) This is her website about her, her writing,and workshops . Because she was commenting on some of the same pages I was reading, and I was even daring to offer some sort of comment from time to time, there were some occasions we were part of a ….conversation.

Now, if you want to continue to converse with certain people on Facebook, you have you request to ‘Friend’ them. You can also un-friend people, which isn’t as drastic as it sounds, and you can downright block people, if they turn out to be a troll (an apt image if ever there was one), and you can also set your privacy settings which helps you control where your stuff goes when it leaves you. In short, though – don’t say anything on the internet you wouldn’t want on the 6 o’clock News, film at 11.

So, I send a Friend request to Crescent Dragonwagon.

She wrote back and said the word friend was one she didn’t take lightly, and could I tell her something about myself that we might have in common (she phrased it much, much better). This is the only time anyone on Facebook has responded this way.

I was thrilled. Where to begin????

So I told her about my Aunt Eileen, who gave me my first cookbook and said,

“Every recipe is a story. And not all of them have happy endings.”

(Good Housekeeping).

I was particularly thrilled because she was working on revising – and by revising she pretty much re-worked it from stem to stern – Bean by Bean

cd bean by bean

Sooooo, as I was looking for chayote…..which in the index said, “Chayote. See Mirlitons”, which in turn brings me to the Squash Family which brought me to Pasta with Pumpkin. A pasta recipe on the same page as Pasta with Hearty Greens and Beans, which is rather a way of winter life for me….and because I had taken some of the roasted pumpkin out of the freezer to make a pumpkin panzanella but what I really wanted as a hot dish, which meant I would have to invent savory pumpkin bread pudding….OR I could just make the Pumpkin with Pasta, have my hot meal and be done with it.

But

WAIT

Read the recipe, the whole recipe and nothing but this recipe right NOW.

I have the actual ingredients, except my punkin is already cooked, so just needs to be heated through…..

And so

Punkin’ Pasta

7 oz fettucine or linguine (half a box)

1 # roasted deep orange pumpkin/squash (no peels, no seeds – I don’t really need to add that, do I?) PS – I love my freezer gold!

1 Tablespoon olive oil, plus more for serving

3 cloves garlic, pressed

Salt and pepper

Parmesan cheese

  1. Cook the noodles. Save about a cup of pasta water before you drain.
  2. Put the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the pumpkin and the garlic, stir madly about, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Breakup any of the larger pumpkin chunks – the smaller ones with break down mostly on there on to make the sauce.
  3. Combine the cooked noodles with the hot pumpkin. Adjust season. Add some of the pasta water to loosen, if that’s what you like (I find there’s such a moisture variation with different gourds, that a little extra water is always good to have on hand.)
  4. Serve hot with Parmesan cheese on top.

2 servings.

Note: These are generous servings. I’ve been eating a big bowl and had enough for a whole ‘nother meal, and still had the orphan portion that was just right for a 3 egg frittata.

Adapted from  Pasta with Pumpkin in Crecent Dragonwagon’s Passionate Vegetarian. Workman Publishing: New York. 2002. p.858.

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Filed under Books, Influencers, Recipe, squash, winter

Laurie Colwin

One of the joys – and distractions – of unpacking my books is finding the ones I had forgotten about, forgotten as “What the heck IS this and when and why did it end up with me?” and forgotten as in, “Well, Hellooo again Old Friend it’s been tooooo long. Let’s catch up”

The vagabonds have been packed up and sent to more appropriate homes, some to friends, some to work, some to Savers. But the Old Friends…some have proved to be the sort of friends that are about a time and place that is no more, that you do lose over time, so after a little visit, when it apparent we have nothing left to say to each other, they, too, will leave with no forwarding address, all on amiable terms and scarce a backward glance.

But the true Old Friends, the friends that are friends from the very first moment, the kindred spirits, the friends that you pick up right where you left off last, like it’s only been an hour even when it’s been forever and a day since you’ve seen each other and then, caught up, you keep going into your tomorrows….on these friends I spend a little more time and attention.

Laurie Colwin is one of those friends.

lauriecolwinNYT

She had a column in Gourmet, which I used to read fairly regularly. Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen, which includes some of her Gourmet writing, came out in 1988. I received my copy in 1991 as a housewarming present from a friend who also read her column and knew Laurie was a kindred spirit.

Laurie had a second volume of essays, More Home Cooking: A Writer Returns to the Kitchen that came out in 1993, shortly after she died unexpectedly of a heart attack at age 48.  My copy is dated 2001. I think I got it on markdown from the amazing and now gone Jessica’s Biscuit. Both volumes are dog-eared and splattered.

laurie-colwin

In re-reading I realize how she articulated so many vague kitchen related topics for me, from “Why I Love Cookbooks” to “Bread Baking without Agony” as well as Red Peppers, Chocolate, Tomatoes and Coffee. It was in her coffee essay that I first learned of Bach’s Coffee Cantata.

There was a broccoli sauce for pasta recipe in some magazine last month, quick and easy way to get more veg in your diet, where you cooked the broccoli while the pasta was cooking, puréed the broccoli with some olive oil and maybe some lemon juice and perhaps some hot pepper at least that’s the way I’d do it…..did do it…..

At this point in the recipe I realize I used to do this. Quite a bit. Like maybe weekly. For years. Not just with broccoli, but spinach and kale and then butternut squash. Any chopped frozen veg. One box. While the macaroni is cooking, microwave one box frozen (preferably chopped) veg. In a pan heat some oil with garlic or shallot or onions or celery, also chopped. Add the cooked veg and stir around. Add some chopped parsley or basil or mint or not. Drain the macaroni and save some of the water to thin the sauce if needed. Put the macaroni back in the pot. Add some lemon or orange or chopped vinegar peppers to the pan veg to zing things up. Add this pan sauce to the macaroni; use the water to thin and spread around. Top with cheese, hot pepper flakes or the jarred hot chopped peppers. Or not. Or chopped olives. Whatever.

antonios chopped hots

One of my pantry staples

I can’t vouch for what the magazine recipe actually said, because they made it look more complicated, like they just INVENTED green sauce. And where did I get it from oh, so many years ago??????

Right. Laurie Colwin.

“Now to broccoli. How some people hate it! However, it turns into a sleek, rich pasta sauce. First you steam it. Then you sauté it in dark green olive oil with two cloves of garlic until the garlic is soft. Then you toss it all in the blender with pepper, a pinch of salt, the juice of half a lemon, more olive oil and serve it on penne or ziti or fusilli with lots of grated cheese, and no one will suspect of what is being served.”

 

Laurie Colwin. Home Cooking. Alfred A. Knopf. NY. 1988. p. 60.

Bingbingbingbingbing.

Since it was raining and close to 40 when I went to bed last night, and there was no snow in the forecast (I’m not entirely sure there was rain in the forecast, come to think of it) I assumed there would probably be ice on the streets in the morning. Sure enough, I woke to the sound of a car not quite getting traction at the stop sign at the slight incline just outside my kitchen. When I looked out the window, it looked like SNOW. While I was making the coffee, yep, it was certainly snow snowing. More snow. Fairly thick flurries through the second cup of coffee. Enough to add snow removal to the list of things to do today.

Which is as good as an excuse as any to make brownies later.

If I make them tonight I can bring some in to work tomorrow and not be forced to eat the whole pan by myself.

Unless I let them cool and wrap them individually and put them in the freezer and take them out to eat them one by one. My Aunt Anne could do that, a diabetic with a sweet tooth. But I know they only take 10 or 15 minutes to be chewable (not the same point as edible) and that with a microwave, you can have a hot brownie in under a minute…..

I realized yesterday that my freezer has no shelf. When it was totally empty, I couldn’t quite figure out why it was so BIG, and kept telling myself it’s because it’s empty. But now that there’s 10 pounds of squash and a few other frozen veg and some nuts and Cuban coffee….I went to put an ice cube tray in and THAT’S when I realized – no shelf.

Back to brownies.

Laurie Colwin on brownies:

“There are as many brownie recipes as there are flowers in the meadow. Some are fancy, some are plain. Some have nuts, which I consider a bad idea, because children seem to hate them and end up picking them out and getting brownie crumbs all over everything. I also have several friends with fatal nut allergies, and so I leave the nuts out. I have been served brownies with chocolate chips and brownies with raisins, but what most people want is plain old brownies. Some people like their brownies on the cakey side and some feel they should be more like fudge. I myself like brownies that are what I called ‘slumped’ and the English call ‘squidgy’ which means slightly undercooked and not quite runny in the center.”

Laurie Colwin. More Home Cooking, HarperCollins, 1993, 95, 2000. p. 75.

I wholeheartedly agree with her brownie assessment. If you want cakey brownies, you really want cake, so just make cake and move on.

Brownies…..brownies are the place between fudge and cake.

Since in my youth, the center was the part of the brownie  went to the bake sale or the covered dish supper or whatever function the brownies were really for…. we usually had to share the edges or the brownie bones, which may be why I think of them as good coffee dunkers and really feel like I’ve won a blue ribbon when I get the squidgy part.

BROWNIES-NYT KH

New York Times version of Katharine Hepburn Brownies

The recipe Laurie gives is Katharine Hepburn’s Brownies, which she got from a friend who got it from a magazine. I remember that magazine article. I clipped the same recipe. I have made those brownies.

Katharine Hepburn  was the cover girl of August 1975 issue of The Ladies’ Home Journal.

152817Beside the brownie recipe, the thing that stood out was that she had no door on her bathroom. She said she lived alone so that it wasn’t necessary, and she wasn’t about to look if someone else was there. Growing up in a house were the only one minute of privacy you ever got in a day was when you closed the bathroom door behind you, I just couldn’t imagine it. Now that I live by myself, I can see it….sorta. Old habits and comfort zones die hard.

In fact, I had pretty much made brownies with no nuts for years, but Katharine Hepburn persuaded me otherwise. It became my brownies with walnuts go-to recipe. Yes. I have more than one brownie recipe, because they really are like the flowers in the meadow…or more like the trees in the forest, changing with the season and some have nuts.

On the internet there is both a baker’s chocolate and a cocoa versions of this recipe. From a  letter that appeared in the New York Times (July 6, 2003) after Katharine Hepburn’s death, it seems that she made them both ways, depending on what she had on hand.

Both good.

KATHARINE HEPBURN’S BROWNIES

1 stick (8 Tbl) butter

2 squares unsweetened chocolate (or ½ cup baking cocoa)

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

½ teaspoon vanilla

¼ cup AP flour

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped walnuts

  1. Melt butter and chocolate together and take saucepan off the heat (or melt butter and add cocoa )

  2. Stir in 1 cup sugar, add 2 eggs and ½ teaspoon vanilla and beat well.

  3. Stir in ¼ cup AP flour, ¼ teaspoon salt and 1 cup chopped walnuts.

  4. Bake brownies in a buttered and floured 8” square pan at 325 for 40 minutes. Cool completely and cut into squares.

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Filed under 1990's, Books, Influencers

Coffee Cake

Cardamon Coffee Cake. Sour Cream Cardamom Coffee Cake.

I first had this cake maybe thirty years ago, and I remember it as if it were yesterday….and the memory still makes my mouth water.

It was a cold, crisp day in the fall…a day much like today.

Pat and Troy, two excellent bakers, were at work standing with a cake dish that had the most amazing cake smell coming from it.

I immediately became so focused on the CAKE that I can’t remember who made that particular cake, but it did inspire the other to make a second cake a few weeks later, so I had this cake twice in a month, lucky lucky lucky me…

Back to that first CAKE.

This image is from the Bakepedia website - there will be a link in a minute.

This image is from the Bakepedia website – there will be a link in a minute.

Don’t be deceived by appearances, it’s not just the look – which is that of a very nice coffee cake – but the aroma,

Oh, The AROMA!

And thus I smelled cardamom (or evidently, as  the English call it cardamon , which must be why I am going back and forth between the two spellings) for the very first time. 

Troy and Pat were discussing pre-ground cardamon versus buying the pod and grinding your own, as well as the expense….for the money, buy the pods and grind your own, it doesn’t take that much time or effort and it is 100 times better at much less then 100 times the cost.

spice-islands-ground-cardamom-2-oz-pack-of-3_1566247

Ground cardamom – sure , it’s good….but you can do better!

If you don't have a spice grinder OR a little mortar and pestle, you can use a baggie and a rolling pin (or other weight object) to grind it fresh - no excuses!

If you don’t have a spice grinder OR a little mortar and pestle, you can use a baggie and a rolling pin (or other weighty object) to grind it fresh – no excuses!

Then the conversation went to the vast amount of butter – a POUND – that goes in, as well as the vast amount of sour cream that goes in – a POUND – ….

This is not a cake to make impulsively, or for yourself.

This is a cake for an OCCASION, an  EVENT, a HOLIDAY, a GATHERING, a CROWD.

You will need a big bowl.

But first, you will need a recipe.

So did I.

It took me a while to find the recipes. Every time I got into a bookstore, I couldn’t remember WHICH of the Mollie Katzan

Mollie Katzan, the Moosewood years

Mollie Katzan, the Moosewood years

books it was, and when I got one I made soups and salads, because REALLY how is a dessert vegetarian??????Most desserts don’t have meat in them….and I had cake and cookie and dessert cookbooks to give me all the sugar and spice and everything nice recipes that I could make.

moosewood_large

This is the cookbook with the Sour Cream Cardamon Coffee Cake to Die For Recipe in it

When I finally brought the right cookbook home, and got past the Gypsy Soup – this is SUCH Gypsy Soup weather….

page from the book - I recognized Gypsy Soup at a glance!

page from the book – I recognized Gypsy Soup at a glance!

I bought the cardamon and copious amounts of sour cream and butter and got everything mise-en-place, I went to bed to get up early, make coffee and make the cake. Had to use my trusty Kitchen-Aid, my biggest Budnt pan, which I put on a baking sheet, just in case there was overflow……it’s a LONG bake, but after about 25 minutes….back to

Oh, The AROMA!

It was a downright cold day the day I baked, and I hesitated to take it out of the pan because I didn’t want it to collapse, so I popped the pan, on the baking sheet in the back seat of the car, the one that smelled like baked beans in the hot summer sun, and set off to work. Once more,

Oh, The AROMA!

and when I arrived at work, before I could find a plate big enough to turn the cake out of the pan on, I found myself  surround by curious co-workers, and conversation about cardamon being so important to Finnish Christmas cooking, and the secret ingredient  of really good Chai …..and when the cake came out, a little slumped under the weight of the sour cream and the butter and the sugar and the spice…..and there were pieces of cake and plates and all passed around and then….silence.

A moment of silence.

We don’t get many of those in the workplace, so I wasn’t sure if it was endorsement or disappointment.

NOT disappointment!

More plates, pieces saved for lunch, pieces saved for those not in quite yet…..

I’ve made this cake several times, always the same reception.  But I haven’t made it recently.

But a lunchtime conversation about cardamom with someone named Molly….cardamon flashback

I will be making this coffee cake sooner rather then later…..

Being separated from my cookbooks only makes things more interesting.

What I’ve found on the Internet:

  1. This is an Occasional Cake – crave it occasionally, make it for a special occasion. This is not an everyday  cake.
  2. There are some who would cut back on the butter and/or the sour cream or shrink the volume to fit into an 8×8 pan- IGNORE THEM. They are idiots. They have completely missed the point. If you want low fat make an angelfood cake or eat a piece of fruit.
  3. You will need a big bowl, a big pan and some big time. It’s 90 minutes, at least, in the oven alone.
  4. It will be totally worth it.

And now for the links:

  • Bakepedia – Cardomom Coffee Cake – the first of their Throwback Thursday posts, and Mollie in her own words
  • Enchanted Fig Huge and Beautiful Cardamom Coffee Cake:  Momma Diaries 2
  •  Art of Gluten-free Baking  – Coffee Cake Friday: Cardamom Coffee Cake, Gluten-Free
cardamom in flower

cardamom in flower

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