June, 2007 Archive

Thursday, June 28, 2007

everyday yellow dal

black-eyed peas

I spent the summer in Israel when I was 15 years old, and while I know I did all of the expected stuff–day trips, stays at hostels and kibbutz, the big cities and the desert–one of the things that stands out most clearly in my memory is something sort of random–the way the Israeli kids dressed on hot days: black jeans and often long-sleeved shirts. I’d look at them, so covered, so dark, and want to scream. “Don’t you know how HOT it is here? I’m melting in my Tevas and tank top and you’re there wrapped as tight as you can in WINTER clothes.” Clearly this penchant for melodrama isn’t a recent phenomenon.

yellow split peas

I feel the same way on days like we’ve had this week, when the air is so oppressively thick and stagnant (seriously, I think the breath I left on our front step last night greeted me there this morning) and I see people, probably dressed for important jobs in aggressively air-conditioned offices in these woolen suit layers and shoes with covered toes and sleeves (fine, I’m talking about Alex) and I want to melt for them at the thought of having to walk more than a block in such a getup. My Eastern European genes are inconsolable in this swelter, thus if you need us we’ll be over in the corner, hugging it out with the a/c this weather stops being such a brat.

Continued after the jump »

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

strawberry chiffon shortcake

strawberry chiffon shortcake

Though this should surprise precisely no one, when I was a kid my best friend and I went through a phase where we became obsessed with baking cakes. Though the cake creations ranged in flavor and size, they never lacked for two components: buttercream frosting by the bucket and Dunkin Hines “yellow” cake by the layer. (My mother politely requests that I point out that we did the baking at my friend’s house, and not mine, as my mother would never, ever permit the use of such things as baking mixes. She doesn’t kid.)

caaarefully folding

I’m not exactly proud of the cake mix part either, but you see, these cakes really had nothing to do with eating and everything to do with construction. Fascinated by cakes with endless layers, one time we cut the layers so thin, we were able to make the Layer Cake of Our Dreams, six flats of cake each filled with a different shade of frosting (red, orange, yellow, green and blue) and covered in purple icing. It was the kind of starts-and-hearts-and-glitter-and-omg fantabulous I think you really need to be a pre-adolescent girl to appreciate, and the taste, well, what did we care. It was purple!

Continued after the jump »

Friday, June 22, 2007



Alex and I want to thank all of you from the bottom of our grill-obsessed and barbeque-longing gullets for helping us win first-place in Culinate’s GrillMe contest. Yes, you heard it right: We’re going to Napa! And we can’t wait.

I haven’t been to Napa since 1997, and even then it was just for one day. To get to go again, stay for two nights and take in twelve hours of grilling tutelage from published pros is beyond our wildest hopes, and is seriously going to be the best vacation. People, you’re spoiling us rotten.

Next task: Um, buying a grill. Or begging the use of yours.

never happened

And now, a wee break from grilling, or at least until mid-August, to get back to this nacro and nens thing I have been not-so-subtly hinting about. Not only did Alex get me an avalanche of awesome from the Martha Stewart Crafts store for my birthday last week, he teamed up with my parents (crowdsourcing being all the rage, anyhow) to get me something I’ve been coveting obsessively for years–years!–and that is a real, live, Sigma 50mm F2.8 EX DG macro lens.

macro love

Do you see that? The tiny filaments coming off the flowers on my oxalis plant? The inner-weavings of my straw bag? The texture of the freaking seeds lightly embedded in the farmers market strawberries? Oh, man. I am such a detail junkie and with this lens, you can see everything. So if pictures from here on out make you jump back a little more, or give you a little more vertigo from the whole in-your-face thing, well, I’m not really sorry. I did it on purpose.

And seriously, those grill marks against the Napa skyline are going to be fierce. So thank you again and again.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

lemon risotto

that 70s salad

I hate clutter. You might think that this means that I live a Type A sort of white glove test-passing existence, but anyone who knows me can vouch wholeheartedly that I do not. Because I’m lazy. But every so often (er, 28 days or so) I go on a cleaning bender and purge and sweep to my heart’s content. My inboxes get Bit Literate, absurdly insignificant things get vacuumed (dusty ledge around the walls of the apartment, your days are numbered) and things cluttered in this ever-expanding document called “to blog” get purged, well, onto your screens.

I’ve gotten especially behind this month, so I hope you don’t mind that I dump five ideas onto you and then move onto what I really want to talk about, this new awesome thing that rhymes with nacro and nens. Sad but true, this entry is the equivalent of bartering two more bites of broccoli at the dinner table to ensure that you can get a scoop of Breyers Neapolitan for dessert, but like the brown, white and pink-striped stuff always was, I’ll try to make it completely worth it in the end.

dizzying array of cucumbers

Continued after the jump »

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

dilled potato and pickled cucumber salad

greenmarket fingerlings

Everyone’s got a favorite potato salad, and this is ours.

I know most are aggressively forgettable, with so much slick and eerie uniformity in their texture that it almost seems that their creators knew people were never going to eat it anyway, so why bother? But if you do–bother, that is–you’re in for a whole other world of crunch, texture, tang, complexity and even, dare I say, flavor. I’ve made them with a slip of horseradish, with chopped hard-boiled eggs, celery and cornichon, I’ve tossed them in a mustard vinaigrette with red peppers, capers and olives, yet I haven’t done any of those things since I came across this one.

i think we know by now

Continued after the jump »