Sunday, August 28, 2011

Storm Supper

This afternoon the trees were down everywhere, from the hurricane. Even the dairy farm was deserted. The corrugated metal roof of their utility barn was ripped open and flapping in the wind. Down the road the Super Stop and Shop supermarket had lost power hours ago. Their lights were dim, there was no milk, fish, meat, vegetables or frozen items on the shelves. Very weird. We bought a big bag of pretzels and then went to the beer store and bought a pint bottle of Beck's beer.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Raisin-Sized Bites

I have baked my Bundt cake each week for the whole summer, using bananas or carrots. It is a terrific breakfast or snack with iced or hot coffee. When I am out of raisins, I snip prunes with scissors into raisin-sized bites. Nobody notices!

Julia's Home Made Cottage Cheese

For cottage cheese, I buy Hood buttermilk 1/2 % fat cartons, I use 4-6 of them. The lazy version is to place them upright in a big pot with water. Open cartons to see what is going on. Place on very low heat and start watching the coagulation process. The water should never start boiling. The trick is not to let it over-coagulate or under-coagulate, not easy and comes with practice, so buy less buttermilk in the first few times. I normally sit and watch TV with timer in my hands and go see what's up every 10-12 min. It is ready when you clearly see appearance of the clear liquid on top of each carton. The white mass collects mostly at the lower part of the carton with a "crater" of clear liquid in the middle. Sorry, I cannot describe it better. Depending on how old is the buttermilk and the heat, it can take
40-55 min total.

After I see it is done, I turn it off and leave to cool down till morning. In the morning, I take a really big strainer, line it with double layer of cheese cloth and pour the coagulated buttermilk. The clear liquid goes through and the cottage cheese remains. You may have to let your first portion drain, then keep adding the mix. Once it is all there, I place the strainer over the pot to let it drain till the evening (put it in the fridge if it fits) or next day. The cottage cheese is ready, just take it out of the cheese cloth into a plastic container. It should be very soft, but keeps the shape if placed on a flat plate.

Julia's Borscht

I do not have written recipes. I cook borsch similar to the way my grandma and my mom did it, with my modern modifications to cut on time and work. So here is what I do:

I use the following ingredients:

2 cans of beets, cut or sliced
1 can of green peas
3-4 potatoes
A package of shredded carrots (About two cups I think)
A package of shredded cabbage (sometimes I use only half of it when I do not want too much cabbage)
0.5-1 lbs of beef cut in small 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 of onion, chopped
Salt - by taste
Sugar - two packets
Lemon juice - 1-2 table spoons

In a big pot, I boil beef for about 30-40 min. Normally I get it to boil, boil for a few minutes, then discard the liquid and wash the beef (and the pot) real well. Then use new water to start over. This way you get rid of most of the nasty cholesterol.

After the beef is ready, I add potatoes, cabbage and carrots and boil another 20 min until cooked. In the meantime, I fry onion in olive oil. Then I add a can of green peas and beets (if I bought sliced beets, I cut then in smaller pieces), get to boil and turn the heat off. At this point, I add the fried onion, salt, sugar and lemon juice. Done!

If you really want to follow the correct recipe, buy real beets, peel and boil the WHOLE beets together with beef, starting in the second water. My grandma's recipe: always cook whole beets, then after they are fully cooked pull out of the soup and shred. This is to retain the bright red color. This works for the simple beet soup as well: this is a much easier summer version that is normally done with just beets and potatoes, nothing else, but with sugar/lemon juice eat the end. You eat it cold, right from the fridge, adding sour cream and scallions. I do not bother with this and use canned beets, shame on me :-)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

On My Way to the Library

On my way to the library everyone was out milling about in parking lots. Some people were wearing scrubs, holding clipboards. There were fire trucks and police and blocked off roads. I asked some people sitting outside on the benches at Kennedy Manor what was happening. They said there was an earthquake and now they're checking the buildings. The mood was festive because it was a beautiful afternoon and everyone was chatting. Most people knew they would probably have the rest of the day off.

At the community garden I picked my fresh basil and flat leaf Italian parsley. A big black lady came in with her daughter and a little white poodle. I held onto Lily so the dogs wouldn't start wrestling. She had a basket of okra. I love okra, I said and ate it when I lived in North Carolina but nobody seems to know about it around here. The woman said she finds it for sale at Price Right. She said she was born in South Carolina. She gave me all of her freshly picked okra. They look like shooting stars, to me. I said. I told her that what I thought was going to be cucumbers has turned out to be little watermelons the size of party balloons, growing in my plot.

I came home and made a partial pesto out of the pile of basil using olive oil and salt and garlic because I didn't have walnuts and cheese. Then I sliced the okra into disks and sauteed them in olive oil and onions and mushrooms and pea pods. Then I added some leftover water from steaming carrots (for my carrot cake) and I added corn that I cut off the cob. I sprinkled it all with soy sauce. It was a spectacular supper.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Monday, August 22, 2011

Fast Ears

I love corn on the cob. Today I peeled the husk off an ear I had in the fridge and I rinsed it and then popped it in the microwave for 4 minutes and voila!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Speedy Weenie

George Devol Inventor of the "Speedy Weeny" dies at 99.

Mr. Devol said that new technology should be simple and practical.

We should take refuge in the fact that very crude systems can accomplish an awful lot, he once said. Elegant capabilities are nice, but often unnecessary.

-New York Times

Speedy Weenie

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Hard Pressed Coffee

Recently I tried to make cold press coffee to see what all the fuss was about and I was astounded at how dreadful it was. There was no taste! Perhaps I did it wrong. Nonetheless this quote came to mind.

If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee.
-Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


My local source for baking supplies has only 25 pound boxes of almonds. I need to find four people to share a box!

Backyard Tourist

Yesterday I went to Purgatory Chasm in Sutton MA for the fist time. I felt like I was inside an Ansel Adams photograph. I was awed by the gorgeous rock formations and loved the cool air that collected in the valley. There were lots of young kids in brightly colored clothing having fun clambering around with their parents. A number of courageous chipmunks were scurrying along the rocks everywhere, as if greeting us with "Welcome to Massachusetts." Then we went to Whittier Farm and saw the view from the hilltop. We pet the two ponies out back and bought some fresh tomatoes and corn and a bottle of root beer.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

William Shakespeare

A man loves the meat in his youth that he cannot endure in his age.

-William Shakespeare

Greens Goats and Soap

Pedal Pusher

I'd like to be pedaling one of these around the state all year. I could bring my dog. I could decorate it!

Tara Weaver

There have been times I’ve been so paranoid about entertaining I didn’t just clean the house before people came over—I painted it (wish I were kidding). I spent years wanting everything to be perfect. Which of course it never is. Life is messy, perhaps mine more than most, and letting anyone in the door brings that vulnerability to the surface.

-Tara Weaver,

Monday, August 8, 2011

Cheeseburgers in Summer

Sirloin Pepper Jack Cheeseburgers on sourdough whole wheat toast with red onions, ketchup, mustard, sliced authentic Jewish pickles, and a few potato chips and an ice cold root beer on the side. It's never too late to have a happy childhood.

Home Made Chocolate Sauce on Vanilla Ice Cream

Yesterday I melted some bittersweet chocolate with half a stick of butter in my double boiler adding vanilla extract and a pinch of sugar and a few teaspoons of salt. The result was divine. I bought a pint of vanilla ice cream and we ate our sundaes in the little glass ice cream dishes I found abandoned years ago.

Vanilla Extract

I found out Job Lot has to hide the large bottles of vanilla extract so kids won't buy it and get drunk on it. So next time you're looking for vanilla extract at Job Lot and want 6 oz for the price of 1 oz, hunt around!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Red Onions

This has been the summer of red onions on everything, even my morning toast.

Bread and Bicycles

If I were king I'd have a communal beehive oven to bake bread for free, and provide bicycles for everyone.
The Dutch Way: Bicycles and Fresh Bread
By Russell Shorto NYT

Eric Schlosser

The history of the twentieth century was dominated by the struggle against totalitarian systems of state power. The twenty-first will no doubt be marked by a struggle to curtail excessive corporate power.

—Eric Schlosser, Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

Dryer Sheets

I have no idea if this article is accurate but I hope so because I hate not being able to open my windows due to the scent of dryer sheets. As an asthmatic I suffer the effects of these laundering perfumes. Here's another article.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Do it Yourself Dog Toys

We have an endless supply of orphan socks and a dog who loves them. I found great dog toy ideas on this site.

Spicy Breakfast

Red onion sliced thin, on whole wheat sourdough toast with slices of Pepper Jack cheese, Gulden's mustard, and a dab of pesto. Followed by coffee and raspberry fudge.

Simple Pesto

I've been making a simpler version of pesto. I harvest the fresh basil leaves and stuff them in my old Waring blender. Then I add olive oil, freshly peeled and cored garlic, salt and a chunk of hard Romano cheese cubed and buzz it all until creamy. I use this as a spread on bread or on a slab of fish before I broil it. It keeps well in a jar in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Italo Calvino

Life is nothing but trading smells.

—Italo Calvino

Fantasy is like jam. . . . You have to spread it on a solid piece of bread. If not, it remains a shapeless thing . . . out of which you can’t make anything.

—Italo Calvino

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Chimi Truck Vocabulary

•chimi — chimichurri, a sandwich of seasoned beef or chicken (or both) on a toasted roll

•pernil — a pork chimi

•frituras — or fritters, are morsels of salty, deep fried meats

•longaniza — pork sausage similar to a chorizo

•pastelitos — baked pastries filled with meat and/or cheese that are similar to empanadas

•pinchos — literally “thorn” or “spike” it’s grilled meat (chicken or beef) on a stick, like a kebob

•yuquitas — “yuca balls,” which are cassava roots filled with cheese, rolled in bread crumbs and deep fried

•chicharron — fried pork rinds

•tostones — fried plantains, a perfect complement to frituras.

•papas fritas — French fries

Thirsty? “Bebida” means drink and “jugo” is juice.

-from The Providence Journal: Fast food the Latino way thrives on Providence’s Broad Street

Basil Harvest

Planting basil in the community garden has been a boon. Each day I snip a few leaves off my plants and eat them with my sandwiches. The more I harvest the more the plant grows. As it should be.