Wednesday, May 30, 2012


I dreamed I had to swipe my grocery credit card on a front loader to make a purchase.

Paul Russell

My mother subscribed, more or less, to the notion that cooking was something you did to kill germs - a chore to be undertaken conscientiously, but with little enthusiasm. I remember dry meatloaf and gray pot roasts, and endlessly chewy pork chops.
-Paul Russell, Delicacy

Spinach Joy

The groundhog at the community garden has eaten my peas, squash and broccoli plants but he didn't touch the spinach. I was able to harvest a whole bowl of it and we enjoyed it for supper last night.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Potato Salad

This recipe is a 33 year old favorite. It was in a little yellow cookbook that came with my first Presto pressure cooker. I still have my beloved cooker and I still make this potato salad a few times a year. It is good hot, cold, and luke-warm. Double the recipe - you'll want leftovers. This is always a hit at summer picnics too.

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/2 teaspoon celery seed (optional)
1/4 cup vinegar (I like red wine vinegar)
1/2 cup water
1 large onion, chopped
6 large potatoes diced (red potatoes or Yukon gold are my favorites)
Add a few ribs of chopped celery and raisins if you have them handy.

Add ingredients to cooker, mix well, close cover and cook 5 minutes with pressure regulator rocking gently. Cool cooker at once. If you don't have a pressure cooker I'm sure you can bake this in a Dutch oven or cook it on the stove top in a heavy lidded pot. Save the leftover flavorful seasoned potato stock for adding to cooked beans or using as soup stock.

Refreshing Summer Smoothie

Place a ripe banana, 6-8 ice cubes, 2 cups of orange juice and about 1/2 cup of plain yogurt into a blender. Buzz and enjoy.


Woonsocket is nearly bankrupt. I suggest that we make 10 tons of cookie dough using our public works tools - cement mixers and front-end loaders - and have the WORLD'S BIGGEST FUND RAISER bake sale.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


by Charles Simic
Take a little backache
Melt some snow from the year of your birth
Add the lump in your throat
And the fear of the dark

Instead of oil a pinch of chill
But let it be northern
Instead of parsley
Swear loudly into it

Then stir it with the night
Until its fins and penny-nails
Are blended.
* * *
On what shall we cook it?

On something like a cough
On the morning star about to fade
On the whisker of a black cat
On an oval locket with a picture of Jesus
On the nipple of a sleeping woman

Let's cook it until we raise
That heavy autumnal cloud
From its bowels
Even if it takes a hundred years.
* * *
What do you think it will taste like?

Like barbed wire, like burglar's tools
Like a word you'd rather forget
The way the book tastes to the goaty
Who is chewing and spitting its pages
Also like the ear of a girl you are about to undress
Also like the rim of a smile

In the twentieth century
We arouse the sun's curiosity
By whistling for the soup
To be served.
* * *
What in the world shall we eat it with?

With a shoe that left last night
To baptize itself in the rain
With two eyes that quarrel in the same head
With a finger which is the divining-rod
Searching for its clearest streak
With a hat in which the thoughts
Grind each other into black pepper

We'll dive into the soup
With a grain of salt between our teeth
And won't come up
Until we learn its song.
* * *
And this is what we'll have on the side:

Lust on halfshells with lemon wedges
Mushrooms stuffed with death and almonds
The bread of memory, a black bread
Blood sausages of yes and no

A hiccup in aspic with paprika
Cold wind fried in onions
A roast of darkest thoughts
Young burp with fish ears
Green apples glazed with envy

We'll wash it all down
With the ale brewed from the foam
Gathered at the mouths
Of our old pursuers:
The mad, god-sent bloodhounds.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Potatoes and Pups Procrastination

When I am procrastinating I look at mug shots of homeless dogs and read recipes for potato salad.

Grandma’s Triple Top-Secret Potato Salad – Revealed!

Home Made Yogurt

There's one tablespoon of plain yogurt left so I am heating up some milk in a double boiler to 180 F. I cool it down to 110 F and add that tablespoon of plain live active yogurt as a starter. This heating and cooling process makes the milk protein "receptive" to the starter. I pour the inoculated milk into a glass canning jar and place it in a picnic cooler with a jar of hot water for sustained warmth. I stuff in a kitchen towel for extra insulation. The cultured milk will grow undisturbed over the next six to eight hours.

Please note: I use a candy thermometer for reading exact temperatures. Some milk processing plants use a fast flash pasteurization process that makes the milk unreceptive, and culturing the milk is impossible. Test your local milk supply by trying a 1/2 cup batch at first. I use Wright's Dairy Farm Milk in North Smithfield RI and it works every time.


I dreamed I was napping in a snow bank in Vermont. When I woke it had melted around me just enough to create walls of snow. I couldn't get out. I saw a couple coming towards me. They were carrying sodas with straws, and they were arguing. I wanted to hide, fearing they would involve me. I finally escaped into a Quick Mart, and when I came out the snow had been plowed. Near where I had napped there was a dead girl draped in the bare branches of a tree, apparently a casualty of the plowing. Two detectives with black Labradors were in the parking lot investigating.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Heat Panic

I am panicked over the hot weather and bright sun. I wear my black baseball cap and sunglasses when I hang my laundry outside. I have muslin curtains over every window to counter the glare bouncing off of neighborhood rooftops. I have my fan on to blot out the noise while ventilating my toes. I am too introverted for summer.

I am baking five loaves of sourdough. The oven heat rises and dries out the humid air.

I walked Lily to the pond this morning so she could swim and I could watch. On the way home she enjoyed toweling off by flopping down and rubbing her back on a grassy lawn.

The best sunscreen is my house. Nothing gets though the roof.

Muffin Surprise

I decided to take advantage of the 450 degree oven from baking my sourdough, and make corn muffins. When they were nearly done baking I realized I had forgotten to add the cornmeal.

They are delicious anyway. They taste like pancakes in a muffin shape.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Nap

The great thing about a nap is you get another morning.

The Secret

My yellowed yard-sale paperback circa 1972 had a cursive note scrawled across the cover: Very good potato salad page 65. So naturally I had to read that recipe first. I quote:

The secret to a really good potato salad is the preparation of the potatoes:
Boil them before you peel them, chill them before you slice them.
If you follow those simple rules you will always have an outstanding potato salad.

I tried it, and it's true, and the potatoes are sharp-angled cubes versus amorphous blobs.

Baby Spinach

I am the proud mother of baby spinach.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


There's a lavender bush growing in front of the Blackstone Credit Union in Monument Square. I pinch it each time I walk by, crush the leaves under my nose and inhale deeply. More local businesses should offer this sensory bonus. A few years ago I had a friend who bought lavender dish soap. The first time she baked her own bread, she gave me a loaf. The bread had picked up the lavender soap scent and flavor. I didn't have the heart to tell her. Another time she forgot the salt and then it really was super soapy lavender bread. It gave new meaning to washing your mouth out with soap.

Price Rite

Price Rite is a fabulous supermarket for bargain produce; one-third the cost of the regular big supermarkets. My grandparents would be so happy for me. When we go it is like a visit to the United Nations with Indian, African, Hispanic, and Hmong families.

For the Love of Geometry

An imagined table setting: triangular slices of pie on elliptical plates at a round table with striped dinner napkins folded into rectangles and polka-dotted teacups.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Gâteau de Mamy à la Poire

from the Chocolate and Zucchini blog, also available en français.

Pear Cake


Overly brewed black tea and reheated microwave coffee both taste like pencil lead. Why?

Summer Afternoon Caffeine

Iced brewed black tea with 1/3 Goya ginger beer.

Anne Lamott

I think she may have a little baking disorder.
-Anne Lamott

I'm kind of like an awkward-shaped tile for the bathroom, she says, describing her role in the church. Wherever they need a tile, I can fill in.
-Anne Lamott

Saturday, May 19, 2012


I can't quite pull myself to harvest the knotweed. I think part of the reason is that in my neighborhood it grows among parking lots and I imagine that might make it heavy metal knotweed or maybe that's a good excuse for my cowardice. When we first bought our house 18 years ago, Bill asked me what we should plant in the little empty lot. I said asparagus, corn, apple trees, everything edible! Why mow a lawn when you can grow asparagus?

My cranky friend Armand has an amazing garden and when I walk his neighborhood with my dog we often talk about his plants and harvesting and cooking food. He also loves things I love: pressure cookers, making pasta, vats of chicken soup, pizelles and biscotti. Lately he is looking pale and tired and complains of being sick. I hope he's okay. He is surrounded by his family and grandchildren but they don't appreciate the harvesting, baking, foraging, and canning that Armand does. He gives me herbs and I drop off loaves of bread. I hope he'll be okay.

I just went last week to fill four 5 gallon plastic buckets with free fresh manure from the nearby dairy farm. I am slowly feeding my big urban maple tree and she is smiling big green leaves. They are hypnotic. The best memories of my childhood were those of coming home from school and staring at the leaves of trees moving in the breeze for hours, and then descending to paint in my basement studio. I don't have my garden here but a few blocks away, at the community garden, next to the public library. I am easily violated by booming car stereos, drunks, fighting, barking pit bulls. So I find outdoor sanctuary at the community garden or on my long walks.

I am blessed to have created an indoor sanctuary. My antique Westinghouse fan has just enough rattle to drown out the neighborhood noise. My home-made muslin curtains blot out the glare, and my dog and I enjoy our long days.

During the day I make ten thousand trips up and down the stairs from my studio to my tiny turquoise kitchen, to cook and bake. I always feel better with some kind of incubating going on - sourdough, yogurt, or just plain boiling potatoes. I did that yesterday and I hope to make good use of the leftover potato water in my next bread. We ran out of mayonnaise so perhaps I will make some. I love basil leaf and red onion sandwiches with mayo on my toasted sourdough bread. It's my favorite sandwich of summer. My raw red onion habit is perfect for my solitary days, and my cooking and my dog are my office mates.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Shortcut To Better Health


The Secret to Ending the Obesity Epidemic?

Cook, bake, grow, harvest, and share your own food. Choose wholesome ingredients. Find a physical activity that you enjoy. For me it is dancing around the living room to BRAVE COMBO or bicycling through town to do my chores or walking for miles with my dog. I would feel trapped doing laps in a pool or riding on a stationary bicycle. I require fresh air and real weather and I appreciate the dramas and scenery of the city. It is literally food for thought.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Harvesting basil leaves and onion blossoms for my sandwich!

Stone Soup

I had four jars of vegetable stock in my fridge from steaming swiss chard, cauliflower, and broccoli. I even had a jar of liquid from when I broiled chicken and pork sausages and bacon. I skimmed off the congealed fat and added the flavorful gelatinous liquid to the stock. I added kosher salt and olive oil and it is a fabulous soup.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Improvised Spring Salad

I cooked a pound of chic peas that had soaked overnight. Then at lunch I opened a can of tuna. I added a few cups of the cooked chic peas, a chopped red onion, three ribs of chopped celery, six green olives, a few raisins, olive oil, red wine vinegar, Adobo seasoning, Kosher salt and black pepper. Delicious and refreshing!


I'd like to take up fishing so I can go to a pond at 4 AM.

Fresh Cow Manure

Today I went with a friend and we filled five-gallon buckets with cow manure from Wright's Dairy Farm. Every few years I feed this to my big Maple tree and she smiles.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Broiled Eggplant Slices

Slice eggplant into thin round disks and salt them. After an hour rinse the juices and squeeze out excess water. Then place on a ribbed grill pan and broil them on each side until lightly browned. Brush the slices with olive oil and salt. Sprinkle with balsamic vinegar if you have it.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Crazy for Cruciferous Vegetables

I am crazy for Crazy for cruciferous vegetables. I have planted a bunch and the groundhog has eaten them all!

Ice Cold

Yesterday we went to the public access peninsula at Killingly Pond in Killingly CT. Lily and I swam. It was ICE COLD.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Shape Matters

The shape of pasta the shape of muffins and breads all make a difference in the flavors.

Neighborhood Pollution

This is a huge problem especially in densely populated neighborhoods.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Every few years I go through a thing about curtains. I want light but I want privacy. I live in a densely populated multifamily neighborhood where the houses are literally inches from each other. I have sewn simple cotton muslin curtains and when I take them down to wash them I always dream of other ideas and I move the curtains around. I love good old fashioned horizontal aluminum Venetian blinds but they strike me as being COLD in winter and don't soften a room acoustically.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Community Garden

The community garden is thriving. I am most excited about the herbs because they are so easy to share and preserve. I plan to teach bread making to all of those interested. We can grill the flat bread pizza on hardwood charcoal Weber grills.

Contemplate the Scenery

I love to walk through the city and long-distance swim across ponds so I can contemplate the scenery, but I appreciate those who run. I think with a bit of education we can conquer the obesity epidemic.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Hot Bran Muffins

Adapted from Marion Cunningham's The Breakfast Book.
I like to bake these very hot because the moisture is better retained.

Preheat oven to 425 F. Grease muffin tin or cast iron muffin pan.
Mix wet and dry ingredients separately then combine and pour into greased muffin pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes - until a skewer comes out clean. These are great for breakfast or afternoon tea.

2 1/2 cups bran
1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt - a pinch more if using Kosher salt
2 extra large eggs
1 1/2 cups of buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup dark molasses
1/4 cup honey
1 1/4 cup raisins

I like to make the batter moist. The natural leavening comes from the baking soda interacting with the acidity of the buttermilk.

Friday, May 4, 2012


I do eat lunch for breakfast and dinner for lunch and supper is whatever.

My petite dejeuner - sourdough whole wheat toast with pepper-jack cheese melted on top with horseradish and chopped scallions and garden fresh sage. Eat with oil cured olives and home made coleslaw.


In 4th grade I wanted to be an actress and Broadway show dancer. In fifth grade I wanted to be a cartographer because we had to memorize and draw an outline map of the USA. While studying and drawing, I had trippy transcendental experiences.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Asparagus and Onion Grass

Eating fresh from the garden!

Musical Housework

My pal Yolande told me when she was a girl her mother said Play the piano for me while I clean the house! Her sister got so mad because she had to clean the house with her mother.

My pal Tina told me her mom would blast Reggae music and she and her siblings would all have a party having a lot of fun while cleaning the house.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


The reason why I like crunchy peanut butter is, it's crunchy!