I am, without a better way to put it, swimming in nuts.* Appalled by the price of nuts everywhere around here but insisting that it wasn’t going to keep me from baking with them, I asked my mother out in the ‘burbs — a place where people are less confident they can get away with swindling $9.99 for 1.25 cups of pecans — to see if she could do better. She came back with fifteen pounds for about $30 from Costco, five of walnuts, five of pecan and five of almonds. It is, in a word, awesome.
December, 2008 Archive
I have this thing about… no wait, that’s not fair. I have a lot of “things” — like the one about not liking warm, oozy chocolate desserts, sugar rimmed drinks or those waxy cubes of cheese you always see at corporate catering events — but for today, let us just pretend that I have one, and that one is about passed hors d’œuvres and amuse bouches that are too cumbersome to be easily eaten, standing up at a party.
It’s not even January 1st yet and I’m already feeling the tug of healthier eating… or perhaps, more likely, a rejection of the butter and braise bender I’ve been on since Thanksgiving. Wait long enough to step up to the healthier plate and I think your body will do it for you; in my days off, I have only craved three things: greens, carrots and oranges. Okay, four if you count French toast from LeGrainne Cafe. But in my defense, they serve it with toasted almonds and a slice of orange and that’s healthy right? Right? [A pin drops.]
This is dark and sticky and chewy and heavy and spicy and a zillion other adjectives that end in y that are so overused, they border on hackneyed, but you know what? It is not this cake’s fault. It can’t help being awesome, and fragrant (our living room smells like Christmas), attention-grabbing (nobody puts it in the corner) and totally respecting of your busy schedule (because it tastes even better on days two and three than it did out of the oven).
[Braised Beef Short Ribs with Potato Purée, Swiss Chard and Horseradish Cream]
The first time I made short ribs, I freaked out. Lifting their lid after a multi-hour braise just as our guests arrived for dinner, I discovered a mess. “The bones fell out! Help! Did I ruin them?” I cried just as my mother walked into the kitchen, and because she’d never made short ribs before said “I don’t know, maybe?” But then Alex’s mother swooped in and said “That’s a good thing!”
My grandmother was a pretty fly lady, though I am not sure anyone called her “fly” in her lifetime. She loved anything glamorous and I’m pretty sure she saw the point of doing a whole lot in moderation. She’d send my sister and I (beware, frightening New Jersey-in-the-80s references ahead) glittery and puff-painted jaw clips and manes from the flea markets in Florida, she never discouraged the splattered and acid-washed jeans and neon slouch socks I wish someone would have formed an intervention over (shudder) and I specifically remember her finding me a pair of silver moccasins that in my mind couldn’t have been any cooler.