Category Archives: winter

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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Union

Gretchen Rubin , the habits, happiness guru suggested  creating a one word theme for the year ahead.

gretchen-profile

I almost never think in one word. LOTS of words, easy. One? not quite my inclination.

I appreciate the focus, but was at a loss.

I pondered while I washed up the dishes in the kitchen sink. Some of my best ponder is at the sink, hands in sudsy water.

Not one word.

White Christmas, complete with Bing’s whistling – did he really do that that or was it added in? – That went through my head. Not one word.

white_chrismas_film

Pondered a little more, tidied up, read a little and went to bed.

Woke up in the dim, dark hours and wrote ONE WORD on my notepad. No lights, no glasses. Wrote it in the dark. One word.

In the morning, I checked out the word.

ONION

What did I mean by that?

 

That the year ahead would be in layers, smell bad and make me cry?????

That I need to cook more?

That I’ve been spending too much time in the kitchen?

That my Stir-The-Onions-Syndrome was going to pay off OR bring me down???????

Onions, suddenly everywhere……

onion-pi

Right. Onion pi.

 

After wrestling with the one word resolution, it occurred to me that this wrestling match was not over. I was literally in a headlock. Or literately.

My bedtime reading had been Rebecca Rupp’s How Carrots Won the Trojan War  – and the chapter that I read the night I woke with my word?

carrots-won-rupp

“Chapter Twelve. In Which ONIONS Offend Don Quixote …”

Well, how ‘bout that?

Clearer, but not better.

Reread the chapter…..and there was this:

“The crackly skin (officially known as the tunic) protects the scales from drying out. Because the bulb is a single entity rather than a conglomeration of separate cloves as in garlic, it was referred to by the Romans as unio, meaning united. From unio came the medieval French oignon, the Anglo-Saxon onyon, and the modern onion.” p. 197.

 

Maybe the word was

UNION

That made a whole lot more sense.

Cooking is all about unions – of flavors, of techniques, of foodstuffs, of people, of the past and the present, about time and place and memory and novelty, about fashion and availability, here and there and now and then….

Even if the meal is one orange

orangeplate-jens-mohrskoklosters_slott_

Still life Oranges Jens Mohr 1640

That orange includes the tree

oudry_orange_treeJean-Baptiste Oudry, The Orange Tree, 1740

And those who planted the orange trees, and harvested the fruit, and shipped it to you, and stocked it in the shop and took your money….and even if you have a tree in your garden, the orange still include those who saved the seeds and got them to wherever you are and taught you to eat them.

We’re never in food alone.

The State of the Union has been on my mind, too. Which reminded me that the states are all additions to the union.

Indigenous people, many nations, for several thousand years……

 

Europeans arrive. Spanish first in the 16th century, and in the 17th century the English at Virginia and Plymouth….and also the French and Dutch …..but another 150 years after that  Nation. Although we were called United States of America in the Declaration of Independence, we first needed Independence and the each of those states had to be ratified into the union ….

united-states-america

So the first state – Delaware – didn’t become ratified until December 7 1787. That’s just a short 230 years ago. So, starting in December, I’ll be posting about the foods in each of the fifty states. The Plates of the Union, as it were.

The story of food is about time and place and people. And people over time over place and other people. There’s always an outside influence.And you are what you eat….

But there are other unions on my mind…..

uam-logo

Unions, such as UAW Local 2320. Yep, that’s new for 2017. We voted on November 4th. The challenges, etc and all the other legal paperwork  continued through November, but on December 2nd, 2016 the Election count for the union was ratified. There will be lots more news about this  as the winter continues.

But for right now, there’s soup to start….or maybe it’s a stew….

 

 

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Red Light Green Light

There are TWELVE days of Christmas – all of you ever so eager to put those lights UP in November, don’t be in such a hurry to take them down – keep ‘em around at least until the 6th of January, the Feast of the Epiphany. That’s the day the Three Wise Guys, um, I mean Wise Men, finally get to the party. And let’s face it – January could use some low key good times, not to mention a little more light.

As for the red light….

Beets.

beetroot

Can’t beat them, so just enjoy them.

Last summer I used fresh tomatoes in salads and uncooked sauce for pasta. Once I found one recipe for uncooked tomato sauce, it seems as if there were thousands.

Or at least several.

Lidia!

lidia_bastianich_2014

Lidia Bastianich

Marian Morash!

vgcb

 

Total stranger from somewhere else!!

Newspapers and magazines…..

So when I got a new Italian cookbook (much of the Italian being American chefs in Italian restaurants…and the Italian cooking was restaurant cooking too.)

italian_intermezzo

 

AND

It came with music. To cook and dine with Italian music. The music was the deal-breaker.

As I was listening to Ciribiribin

– not to be confused with Chili Bean

 

I found yet another variation on the uncooked tomato sauce, but this one had a twist.

The variation called for beets.

RED LIGHT

That were cooked. For 1 1/2 hours.

Which is very different from uncooked. Or tomatoes.

So I really don’t know how this qualifies as a variation and not a whole new recipes.

BUT

I had beets….

GREEN LIGHT

So I scrubbed them, tossed them with a little olive oil and roasted them in a 350 oven for 90 or so minutes until they were tender.

I took them out of the oven and put some water on for the pasta…..

Alton Brown has embraced the cold water method for cooking pasta….

abeverydaycook

 

Cold water pasta is another post.

Anyhow,

While the pasta cooked

farfalle_pasta

Farfalle – butterflies!

I peeled the beets and cut them into a dice. Tossed with some olive oil wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Also some minced parsley and a little rosemary.

Added with the now cooked pasta and some ricotta, a 1/2 cup or so of the pasta water. Stir, taste, adjust, EAT.

It was pink…..and it was good.

It was NOTHING like the uncooked tomato sauce.

But it was delicious.

It was also good re-heated the next day.

 

 

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Filed under Books, Dinner, Italian, Recipe, winter

New Year!

rabbit-and-rooster-17thc

David  de Conick – detail : rabbits and roosters

used-things

Buon Capodanno!

 

rabbit-platter-ital-17thc540x360

17th century Italian platter

 

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PORKY TOAST

I had a chance to go to Dorchester. Work related.

For this, the most ancestral of homes, the place the Patriarch was raised and identified as being from. Not matter how many years we lived in Pembroke, he would  still say he was from Dorchester.

Besides, the place is in the midst of another resurgence. Places get that every 80 years or so.  It’s a deep breath away from being – dare I say it? – Hipster. Or whatever will follow hipster, because in 2 years it will no longer hip to be hipster, so whatever we call what follows.

Work The Commonwealth Museum.

And then to lunch.

Local 149, South Boston

On the menu was deep fried mac and cheese….

Yes, please

Then

Lots of deliciousness….

Excuse me, waiter

What is Porky Toast?

 

Pulled pork AND Toast??? Could this be like the Reese’s Cup  – two great tastes that taste great together?

toast toaster

Wall of Toast – toast is pretty awesome on it’s own

porky-toastlocal149

I didn’t even notice the eggs until the plate was sitting in front of me.photo from Local 149 instagram

How to re-create this at home?????

Sister Trish added slow cooker pulled pork to the Christmas Feasting at her house last year…..

which makes it the perfect time to introduce the clan to Porky Toast.

And I just like saying the words:

Porky Toast

I supplied Sis with a Butt. There was Butt discussion.

I got Pirate Spread to sub in/ totally improve on the herb cream cheese.

pirate-spread

Pirate Spread: A spicy, sweet spread made with Salty Sea Feta, sundried tomatoes, rosemary, cayenne pepper and olive oil. Its boldness makes it a perfect match for grilled meats, veggie pizza or oven fries.

Then I got some onion rolls, split them and toasted them

AND

I got to spend Christmas Day saying, “Porky Toast”

 

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Filed under Christmas, Holiday, winter

It’s Christmas Time in the Kitchen

Christmas time in the kitchen is all about the

cookies

 

The words of Silver Bells just beg to be re-written for our own versions of the holiday.

silver-bell-cookies-pillsbury

Silver Bells cut out cookies from Pillsbury

Even Vogue magazine is about cookies this month…..

A Baker’s Tour of Europe’s Finest Holiday Cookies

by Oliver Strand

european-cookies-2-large

This is the illustration from Vogue

AND….

New York Times Style magazine has this article:

Baking Sweets From Childhood Tales

littlehouse-xmas-ill-06tmag-13look_sign-t_ca0-master768

This illustration from “Little House on the Prairie” shows all it took to make Christmas perfect for Laura and Mary: two heart-shaped cakes, two tin cups, two peppermint sticks and two pennies — one for each girl. Credit Garth Williams, Little House on the Prairie, from group of four, 1953: Christmas Stockings/Copyright Garth Williams 1953; renewed 1981/Image courtesy Heritage Auctions

from the article In Praise of the Good Enough

And today, 12/12 is Ma Ingalls birthday!

ma-ingalls

Today is Ma Ingalls’ birthday! 177 years ago on this day, Caroline Lake Quiner (later to become Caroline “Ma” Ingalls) was born in the Milwaukee area of Wisconsin, the fifth of seven Quiner children. Some said that baby Caroline was the first non-native American baby to be born in the area.

In this picture, Caroline is seated next to her husband, Charles Ingalls.

Happy Birthday, Ma!

Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society

Cookies I’ve written about:

Italian Cookies

S’Wonderful (S cookies)

Oh, Joy! Chocolate Coconut Macaroons with Almonds

Wine with a Twist (cookies)

Oatmeal Raisin cookies

The Cool Cookies

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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

Rabbit, Xmas rabbit

tizian-madonna_mit_dem_kaninchen

Titian.Mary and Infant Jesus with a rabbit, Paris, Louvre

rabbits_christmas_title

rabbit-xmas-janbrett

puigaudeau_ferdinand_du_-_chinese_schadows_the_rabbit

Ferdinand du Puigaudeau, Chinese Shadows, the Rabbit

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Filed under Books, Holiday, winter

Comfort Food

What makes comfort food COMFORTING is that it’s big, and fast and easy and pulls no punches. And possibly takes you back to childhood, even one that wasn’t quite yours….so when someone from Minnesota mentioned missing Tator Tot Hotdish…..we were skeptics, but the Tater Tots….the tater tots…..so when she brought it in to share (this is a sharing dish), she had to write up the recipe.

tatertots

Tots, taters, potato goodness, potato rounds, potato puffs, tater puffs, Mexi-Fries

Here it is:

 

Minnesota Tator Tot Hotdish

1 lb. ground beef

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cans cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup

14 or 16 oz bag of frozen vegetables (I use peas/corn/carrots/bean mix)

1 lb bag frozen tator tots

2 cups shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 350°

Brown beef and onion together on stove

Mix in the soup and vegetables

Spread mixture into a 9×13 pan

Arrange a layer of tots on top of mixture

Bake at 350° for about 45 minutes, or until tots are golden brown

Sprinkle cheese on top, and bake again until the cheese is melted and the mixture is bubbly

Erin Gillette, 2015

Want more hotdish the Minnesota way? Click here

hotdish

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Hello, Spring!

On this day in 1888 Vincent Van Gogh painted Grass and Butterflies because  SOMETIMES in SOME PLACES,  April is Spring.

vangogh april31888GrassNbutterflies

Oh, Spring, you are a tease.

botticelli-primavera

Botticelli’s Primavera

 

Spring_-_Allegorie_des_Frühlings_-_17th_century

Boy, Spring – you fool!

Spring 17th c

Spring – where are YOU????

sprin 17th c_man_with_stag

This little 17th century Spring time scene sums up how I feel about snow in April – STUPID SPRING. Seriously, if you have a Stag by the back legs – LET GO. Holding on is stupid. VERY VERY INDEED

This is the Spring I’m waiting for…..

Ambrosius Bosschaert's 1606 oil on copper painting Flowers in a Glass

             Ambrosius Bosschaert’s 1606 oil on copper painting Flowers in a Glass

This is what it was like as I was looking out my window this morning, and will probably see more of tomorrow.My friend Mindy lives up and over the street from me, and she got it on film…

Don’t need to wait til tomorrow – it’s just started again…..

 

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