On the kind of clear-skied, warm summer evening when people without sleepless, feverish babies to tend to were drinking beers outside and grilling on rooftop decks, we stayed in last night and, for once, did not feel the eensiest bit jealous. We were eating ribs for dinner and we hadn’t even needed to leave our apartment to get them.
July, 2010 Archive
I have to apologize in advance: this is a cookbook reject. I know! “A reject?!” you’re probably thinking. “Now why would I want your rejects?” Because this is a delicious reject; it failed because I decided to go in another direction, such a different direction that about the only thing the other one has in common is the word “buckle” and I’m probably renaming it anyway. Gosh, I sure like to make things difficult, though that’s not really news.
[Er, croutons not pictured.] Here’s the thing: If you told me you were serving succotash with or for dinner, I’d inwardly groan. People, I’ve had all sorts of succotash — a summery stew of corn and lima beans, often with tomatoes, yet still so bland that no added butter or cream saves it for me, and when adding butter and cream don’t save something for me, you know something is terribly wrong — and can’t think of one that I wanted to run home and make for myself. It might be because it’s usually in the off-season, when the above come frozen and no, it’s just not the same. It might also be because I once had a roommate that would open cans of succotash, not drain it, heat it in the microwave and eat it straight and guys, it’s been many, many years and still, my stomach turns. Don’t ever live with me. I’m a jerk.
This is the ugliest, best thing I have ever made with three ingredients and the happy ending to three weeks of obsessing. And here you probably just thought it looked like an accident, didn’t you?
The Food Network had the audacity (I am joking, a little) to air an episode of Barefoot Contessa in which she makes a “scalloped” dish with bread cubes, garlic, basil, Parmesan and the brightest most summer-bursting-forth, musta-tasted-like-the-heavens-above, thanks-for-rubbing-it-in-guys tomatoes over the winter, when there was absolutely nothing I could do to bring this dish into my kitchen. It wasn’t fair. It felt outright mean. For people as berserk about summer tomatoes as I am — people who avoid them in the off seasons, when they’re tomatoes in name only — being reminded of that which is as impossibly far off as the notion that there are days in the summer that are so hot, we actually long for the kind of weather that requires Gore-Tex and hot cocoa. It’s basically crazy talk.
I am having the worst luck with peaches this summer. Without fail, every week I am lured in by the most fragrant peaches I’ve ever sniffed at the market, and without fail, the day after they come home with me, they’re mush. Sweet, peachy mush. To eat one requires hovering over a sink, and then a mop and a shirt change anyway and no, sadly, I am not speaking of the baby’s messes. These are not bad problems to have; “Woe is me! My peaches are too juicy!” doesn’t exactly make a room nod in sympathy but the week I made the mistake of letting the peaches go a whole 48 hours uneaten the only thing left to with the misshapen lot was to bake them.
I didn’t mean to bury the lede on you all, but that mango slaw was a side dish. I know! What has the smitten kitchen come to? I made, like, a meal, with a side dish and a main course, all while someone yanked on my flip-flops. I barely know what came over me. I do know that my timing was terrible, because I made this last Tuesday. “Wow, Deb, that’s great! Fascinating. Really.” No, Tuesday. In New York City. It was 102 degrees, the hottest day since August 2001 and I decided, at once, that I had to make a very specific dinner that would require me to turn the oven up very high for a sizable amount of time. I think that sleep deprivation has scrambled what’s left of my brain because I’d like to think I wasn’t this dimwitted 10 months ago. (Don’t tell me otherwise.)