Monday, August 15, 2011
We spent the last week in what I call the vacation trifecta: among beaches, wineries and farm stands. The vacation was supposed to be a reward for getting my book finished by August 1st. Instead, I all but tried to cancel the vacation when I realized I wouldn’t be done. Despite all of my practice over the last few months, I’m not very good at not finishing things. I don’t like going to bed with dishes in the sink, I’d rather stay up until midnight getting something done than have to start the morning with an old item on my to-do list and I did not want to go on vacation until I finished my project. Oh no. I did not. I might have even dreaded it.
Thank goodness we went anyway as we had fantastic vacation, I dare say the best one we’ve had since adding another member to our family. As it turns out, when the baby sleeps (in a bed! in a strange place! like a champ! who is this child and what did he do with Jacob?) on vacation, everyone gets one and it also turns out, when you’re really on vacation, any and all promises you made to yourself to get some work done go out the window. Thank heavens for that too. Other signs of a good vacation: I didn’t take many photos. I ignored the stack of recipes I’d bookmarked for Ideal Summer House Cooking (yawn). We went to a different winery every afternoon. I fell asleep with saltwater in my hair on at least three different occasions. I discovered that when my son sings the alphabet, for the P, and the P only, he closes his eyes, reaches his arms wide, tips his head back and belts out a giant “PEEEEAA!” I splurged on local feta and started making crunchy summery salads every night tossed with it and whatever could be diced raw. We had countless ears of corn and at least one lunch of tomato-corn omelets (have you done this yet? Because I’m obsessed with them). There was a birthday breakfast for my husband of skillet baked French toast. There was an accidental recipe of what I’m now calling sugar steaks, and making intentionally. Two batches of dry-rub ribs (a twist on Molly’s rub, McGee’s technique) in the oven, because it’s so, so easy that way. And my future fall obsession came to me early at our daily jaunts to the North Fork Table & Inn Food Truck: chicken posole. It was amazing; I promise to try to recreate it soon.
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Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Back when I started dreaming up a cookbook I would one day write, all I knew is what I didn’t want: I did not want to work every weekday, weekend and evening on it, I did not want to set an insanely close deadline and then have to hastily throw together a book I wasn’t pleased with and above all else I did not want the time I had to devote to this web space to become squeezed, although I understood that there would probably be a harried point right near the end that all three rules could be suspended for a good cause. And indeed, they have been. I hope to deliver my manuscript in August and it’s pretty all-consuming right now — in a good way, because I’m finally starting to see the whole thing coming together. So, if things are a bit slow between now and then, do understand that I cannot wait until late summer when my attentions can be what they were before my son was 4 months old, and instead of doing normal New Mom things like catching up on sleep or rounding up preschool applications (ha!), I decided that at my earliest convenience, I would write a book instead.
Nevertheless, not a day goes by when I do not cook and this past weekend, it was my favorite kind: the lazy kind, mostly whims. On Friday, well, Friday was a crazy day and I’ll tell you about that real soon. It involved a cake I’m auditioning for the cookbook and a late summer dish I’ll tell you about even sooner. Also: photographers. It was a little scary, but it ended with some Vermontucky Lemonades, so I didn’t mind. On Sunday, I caved to the blueberries and peaches and decided to make two pies, but left one with my in-laws and delivered another to friends at their new house and can’t tell you how they came out because I wasn’t there when anyone cut into them. But warm pie fresh from the oven? I’m going to assume nobody complained. On Monday, I made a slaw and baked America one of those goofy berry-topped birthday cakes before heading out to watch the sun set behind Manhattan and catch the faintest glimpse of the
New York Fireworks West Side of Manhattan and New Jersey Fireworks with friends.
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Wednesday, October 13, 2010
I’ve been doing a spectacular amount of hemming and hawing over this post. There’s the, “Is it too late to talk about eggplants and tomatoes?” question, as it is well into October and eggplants are so… late summery. But there are still a ton of eggplants and tomatoes at the markets, likely due to this warm fall we’ve been having. Although they may not be the perky specimen that first appeared in August, they are absolutely perfect for soup. Then there’s the “Ugh, SOUP” issue wherein I have to admit that I find soup kind of dull. Sure, I’ve got a slew of soup recipes in the archives that I find interesting, but still, the vast majority of soups out there to be either too salty, too watery, cream bombs (I’d rather save my heavy cream to top pie, thank you very much) or to taste like limp, boiled vegetables. And finally, there’s the fact that this soup is excellent the way it is but with endless potential for tweaking, and who wants a slightly unfinished recipe? But then, thank goodness, I said this to myself: “Zzzzz!” and also “pbbbblt!” Because if I put myself to sleep with all of this hand-wringing, I can only imagine how few of you will make it past paragraph one.
So here’s how this soup began: My mother gushed a couple weeks ago about an eggplant soup from, of all places, a casino in Atlantic City. Eggplant soup! At a casino! Worth talking about! Who knew? And so I dug through my recipe bookmarks and found one from an old Bon Appetit that sounded just right, with a few steps that would save it from many of the aforementioned soup evils. By roasting the eggplant, tomatoes, garlic and onion first, you’d deepen their flavors before throwing them in a stock bath. And although the original recipe called for a whole cup of cream, the head notes suggest you can skip it entirely, although I had no desire to do a silly thing like that. In my experience, it only takes a modicum of cream to make a soup taste especially lush, and that cream can go a long way towards anchoring the flavors that otherwise get a little lost in the … slosh of it all. Too much cream, and the flavors are held at a distance while you drown in richness, and I’d much rather save that for Things That Involve Cheese Or Chocolate.
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Tuesday, September 14, 2010
We are dragging this summer out. Maybe it’s because as far as I am concerned, it didn’t really start until August, when the bulk of the heat wave was behind us and we willingly ventured outside of our air-conditioned caves again, and when we finally took a little family vacation. Maybe it’s because if it is still summer, the baby is still a baby and not a one year-old toddler as he will be after this weekend. But it is most likely because we headed down the Garden State Parkway to Exit 0 last weekend for a belated 5 year anniversary mini-vacation without said baby and somehow, well into September, still got sun, sand and freckles. Summer in September? I’ll take it.
Despite the fact that the calendar may suggest fall clothes and butternut squash, the markets are still flooded with tomatoes. But, honestly, it wasn’t a sense of practicality that led me to this recipe. I mean sure, I had almonds, I also had precisely six plum tomatoes that needed to get eaten and I even had the slim margin of time needed to throw this together before starting the surprisingly exhausting dinner-bath-bed cycle for the boo. But that’s still not why I made it.
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