Monday, August 30, 2010


Tamara the gypsy,
My birth father's grandmother,
is dark and round and looks Russian Indian Eastern European Eskimo
in the photo.
She must be the one I have been longing to meet.
She has been speaking to me for years through cabbages and onions
in the root cellar.
I always make her homemade yogurt and rustic loaves of sourdough.
I chop her beets for soup, bloodying the board magenta
while dreaming of sauerkraut, sausage, and mustard.

Morning Coffee

The morning cup of coffee has an exhilaration about it which the cheering influence of the afternoon or evening cup of tea cannot be expected to reproduce.
-Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

Half-Rack at the Rendezvouz

by William Notter

She had a truck, red hair,
and freckled knees and took me all the way
to Memphis after work for barbecue.
We moaned and grunted over plates of ribs
and sweet iced tea, even in a room of strangers,
gnawing the hickory char, the slow
smoked meat peeling off the bones,
and finally the bones. We slurped
grease and dry-rub spice from our fingers,
then finished with blackberry cobbler
that stained her lips and tongue.

All the trees were throwing fireworks
of blossom, the air was thick
with pollen and the brand-new smell of leaves.
We drove back roads in the watermelon dusk,
then tangled around each other, delirious
as honeybees working wisteria.
I could blame it all on cinnamon hair,
or the sap rising, the overflow of spring,
but it was those ribs that started everything.

-William Notter, Holding Everything Down

Saturday, August 28, 2010


We were out of apples and I wanted one. I remembered the big apple tree across the street from the library, on the grounds of the former Marquette Credit Union Building. I had to pick up my library books anyway. So I went with Lily to the apple tree. All of the apples had been scooped off the ground and the good ones were out of my reach. I picked up a stick and tried to knock one down. Then I saw the maintenance man unloading bags of wood chips in the building next door. I could see into the garage. There were barrels full of rakes and shovels. I asked him if I could borrow a rake to reach an apple on the tree. He handed me a real iron rake, not the flimsy leaf-raking kind, and I was able to reach three gigantic juicy red apples, and a few little ones for Lily. I returned the rake, thanked the man, and nibbled my way home. Lily and I were in heaven! I love living in a city where the apples grow on trees!


by Mark Strand

A man leaves for the next town to pick up a cake.
On the way, he gets lost in a dense woods
and the cake is never picked up. Years later,
The man appears on a beach, staring at the sea.
"I'm standing on this beach," he thinks, "And I am lost
in thought." He does not move. The heaving sea
turns black, its waves curl and crash. "Soon
I will leave," he continues. "Soon I will go
to a nearby town to pick up a cake. I will walk
in a brown and endless woods, and far away
the heaving sea will turn to black, and the waves -
I can see them now - will curl and crash."

-Mark Strand

Implications for Modern Life

by Matthea Harvey

The ham flowers have veins and are rimmed in rind, each petal a little meat sunset. I deny all connection with the ham flowers, the barge floating by loaded with lard, the white flagstones like platelets in the blood-red road. I’ll put the calves in coats so the ravens can’t gore them, bandage up the cut gate and when the wind rustles its muscles, I’ll gather the seeds and burn them. But then I see a horse lying on the side of the road and think You are sleeping, you are sleeping, I will make you be sleeping. But if I didn’t make the ham flowers, how can I make him get up? I made the ham flowers. Get up, dear animal. Here is you pasture flecked with pink, your oily river, your bleeding barn. Decide what to look at and how. If you lower your lashes, the blood looks like mud. If you stay, I will find you fresh hay.

-Matthea Harvey, Modern Life

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Café Paradiso

by Charles Simic

My chicken soup thickened with pounded young almonds
My blend of winter greens.
Dearest tagliatelle with mushrooms, fennel, anchovies,
Tomatoes and vermouth sauce.
Beloved monkfish braised with onions, capers
And green olives.
Give me your tongue tasting of white beans and garlic,
Sexy little assortment of formaggi and frutta!
I want to drown with you in red wine like a pear,
Then sleep in a macédoine of wild berries with cream.

-Charles Simic, Walking the Black Cat

Monday, August 23, 2010

Roasted Pignoli Nuts

Roasted pignoli nuts taste like bacon!

Glass Blowing

Learn glass blowing with master artist in glass NEAL DROBNIS for October Weekend Workshops at his Scituate Rhode Island Studio.

Rousseau's Paradox

by Marion Cunningham, The Supper Book

Jean-Jaques Rousseau observed that civilized man has become more and more separated from the world of home and family, orchards and farms, and all our deep human links with life. He believed that sophistication, modernization, and urban life tend to corrupt the ideal integrity of the rural, simple, and traditional.

"In every city dweller there is a displaced yearning for the rustic farm land, the taste of the homegrown, all the natural foods. The paradox is that we do want authentic country flavors and integrity, but we do not seek the discomforts of the simple life, so we rediscover regionalism vicariously amid modern convenience and luxury."

It is somehow both alarming and consoling to know that Rousseau wrote these words over two hundred years ago.

I think the best cure for this separation is home cooking. Looking for and buying raw ingredients, handling and preparing them in your familiar kitchen, and then eating at your own kitchen table will daily restore a feeling of connection with the natural world.

-Marion Cunningham, The Supper Book

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Charles Simic

The Garden of Eden needs weeding
And the soda machines don't work.

-Charles Simic
from the poem The Emperor, Walking the Black Cat

Indoor Thumb

I am no gardener. As much as I like the idea of growing fruits and vegetables myself I can't be outside under the broiling sun. I'd rather do anything but that. Perhaps I could try gardening at night, under the full moon. Frankly I'd still rather be inside baking breads. I prefer the oven to the sun any day. For my readers. . . I'd gladly trade my sourdough whole wheat loaves or home made yogurt for fresh vegetables and farm-fresh eggs any day.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Last night I had a craving for meatloaf. I was embarrassed, thinking "Who makes meatloaf in August?" I pulled out my favorite cookbook, Marion Cunningham's Supper Book, and read her meatloaf recipe. At the last minute I discovered we were out of carrots and celery so I substituted red potatoes, and the meatloaf came out great. We never have breadcrumbs because we eat all of our bread! So I substituted rolled oats in place of breadcrumbs. I also didn't use garlic, instead I used about a teaspoon or so of Adobo seasoning.

adapted from Marion Cunningham's Supper Book
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion
5-6 medium sized potatoes
1 pound ground beef (chuck or round)
1/2 pound pork
1 teaspoon or so of Adobo seasoning
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
a dash of salt
fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
(or 2 tablespoons of your favorite hot sauce - we use Cholula)
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
2/3 cup water or beer or a little of both

Preheat oven to 350
Grate the potatoes, chop the onion. Heat oil in a large skillet and fry the onion and potatoes. When everything starts to stick add the water and/or beer. Saute for about ten minutes until soft. Don't be afraid to incorporate the blackened crust that forms from the potatoes sticking to the bottom of the skillet. It's delicious! In a large bowl put the meat and all the other ingredients. When the potatoes and onions cool off a bit, put them in with the other ingredients in the big bowl. Mix everything together with your hands and gently pat into a mound on a 11x17 baking dish. (If pressed together too firmly the meatloaf won't remain moist and tender). Bake for 45 minutes to an hour.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Pot Roast

by Mark Strand

I gaze upon the roast,
that is sliced and laid out
on my plate
and over it
I spoon the juices
of carrot and onion.
And for once I do not regret
The passage of time.

I sit by a window
that looks
on the soot-stained brick of buildings
and do not care that I see
no living thing - not a bird,
not a branch in bloom,
not a soul moving
in the rooms
behind the dark panes.
These days when there is little
to love or to praise
one could do worse
than yield
to the power of food.
So I bend

to inhale
the steam that rises
from my plate, and I think
of the first time
I tasted a roast
like this.
It was years ago
in Seabright,
Nova Scotia;
my mother leaned
over my dish and filled it
and when I finished
filled it again.
I remember the gravy,
its odor of garlic and celery,
and sopping it up
with pieces of bread.

And now
I taste it again.
The meat of memory.
The meat of no change.
I raise my fork in praise,
and I eat.

-Mark Strand, from Selected Poems

Sunday, August 15, 2010

When Meals Were More Like Carpentry

I woke up completely awake at five AM to a brightening cobalt sky raked with clouds. I had been dreaming that I was walking in New York City through the dark slums of the lower East Side, arms locked with a friend. "My heritage," I had said, walking slowly, imagining my ancestors living here.

I punch the robotic start button on my rescued coffee machine. It still smells like cigarettes from the previous owner but the coffee tastes great. I drink it halved with milk. I set up cornbread batter for baking.

The design of our coffee machines and cars and can openers reflects what haunts our minds - speed, European sophistication, Martians and robots, military tanks. "Watch out for the machines," my grandmother would say as we ran out to play in the city street.

She'd also say "Put the tools on the table" as she prepared supper. Those were the days when making a meal was more like carpentry than pushing elevator buttons. Breads, cakes, apple pies all were planned out and built like small cottages, and Grandma drank her tea clear though a sugar cube.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Roald Dahl

Do you know what breakfast cereal is made of? It's made of all those little curly wooden shavings you find in pencil sharpeners!
-Roald Dahl

So, please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install, a lovely bookcase on the wall.
- Roald Dahl

Rugelah, 5 A.M.

by Sondra Gash

The house is dark and breathing
deep under the covers.
I tiptoe to the kitchen,
lift bowls from the shelf,
mix cream cheese and butter.
Flour dusts my fingers
as I roll dough into a circle,
spread blackberry jam
with the back of a spoon
the way Mama taught me.
I work quickly, leaning over,
sprinkling nuts and raisins
on top, my hands
shaping ovals, folding,
crimping edges.

Lights sifts through the windows
And I think of Mama, coming
home after so many months,
how we baked before dawn,
I, barefoot, she in nightgown
and slippers. Now I slide
the tray into the oven
and glide through the quiet
to wait for the raising.

-Sondra Gash, Silk Elegy