Sunday, December 15, 2013

Portuguese Kale Soup

I don't always plan what I am going to cook. Sometimes the ingredients on hand tell me what they want to become as I go along. A week ago I bought two glorious bunches of kale and yesterday I thought I'd better use them now. So I rinsed and chopped them and put them in my stock pot with 6-8 chopped onions and about a gallon of water. I still didn't know what I was going to make, so I let it sit unheated. Then I decided to cook a one pound bag of dry garbanzo beans and since I hadn't planned ahead I decided to simmer them with a one inch piece of kombu (dried Japanese seaweed) and a bloop of olive oil. The seaweed tenderizes the beans which is a good thing to do when they have not been presoaked. I let this simmer in my slow cooker for about three hours. Later I heated up the stock pot and simmered the onions and kale, and when they cooked down I added the cooked garbanzo beans along with their glorious broth. I ran to my butcher and got a rope of kielbasa sausage and sliced it into coins and added it to the pot. Within minutes I had a magnificent soup. I ladled out a few bowls for my husband and me. We sprinkled on kosher salt and black pepper. It was delicious. I can see why this soup is called Portuguese penicillin. It is hearty, soothing, and light all at the same time. I will make this again, on purpose!

PS This soup can be made with other kinds of sausages like linguiça and with other kinds of beans like white beans, or with potatoes.

Have fun, enjoy, relax and experiment.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Recipes Evolve

It's fun how when a recipe is shared each person puts their own twist on it. I told my friend Teddi about making granola with molasses instead of honey and she tried it and loved it. She bakes hers at 275 rather than 300-350, and now I am doing that. The same thing happened when I told her my method of cold slow no knead bread. She bakes bread this way too but bakes hers in a cast iron Dutch oven, and now I am doing that. A good teacher is also a good student.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Stuck Bread Trick

Today I baked my sourdough in my little red heart shaped enamel iron pot and it rose really high but then it got stuck! I left it alone for fifteen minutes like I do with my Bundt cakes. Then I scored the rim and it came out.

The secret to removing bread stuck in pot:
Let it cool for 15 minutes in cold room away from mischievous cat.
The bread will shrink!
Then take a very thin knife and go round the rim of the bread.
It will come out.
Soak pan.

Rumford Baking Powder Biscuits

It is the gray season in Rhode Island, one of my favorites. Bare trees and gray sky and damp air, is perfect weather for baking!

Rumford is a RI town where the baking powder factory used to be. Then it became artist studios.

This recipe was adapted by me, from recipe on the can. You can make the whole thing using a bowl and spoon and your hands.

2 cups whole wheat flour I substituted 1/4 c for 1/4 c old fashioned rolled oats
3 teaspoons Rumford aluminum-free baking powder
1 rounded teaspoon of kosher salt, less if using white flour
6 tablespoons shortening (3 T Smart Margarine 3 T Crisco shortening)
3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Mix dry ingredients: whole wheat flour + oats, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl.
Cut in shortening until mixture resemble coarse meal.
Add buttermilk to make a soft dough.
Turn dough out on a floured surface and knead gently for 30 seconds.
Roll out to 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thickness.
Use a biscuit cutter to cut out into rounds.
Place on ungreased cast iron pan.
Bake approximately 15 minutes or until light golden.
Place in cloth-lined basket. Serve with tea jam or soup.

Supernormal Stimuli

A supernormal stimulus or superstimulus is an exaggerated version of a stimulus to which there is an existing response tendency, or any stimulus that elicits a response more strongly than the stimulus for which it evolved.

For example, when it comes to eggs, a bird can be made to prefer the artificial versions to their own, and humans can be similarly exploited by junk food. The idea is that the elicited behaviours evolved for the "normal" stimuli of the ancestor's natural environment, but the behaviours are now hijacked by the supernormal stimulus.

Supernormal Stimuli

Deirdre Barrett author of a new book on behavioral evolution explains how primal urges overrun their original purpose

Put a mirror on the side of a beta fighting fish's aquarium and the gaudy iridescent male will beat himself against the glass, attacking a perceived intruder. A hen lays eggs day after day as a farmer removes them for human breakfasts -- 3,000 in a lifetime without one chick hatching, but she never gives up trying. The healthiest, largest male chickadees have the highest crests on their heads and they are sought after as mates. When researchers outfit runt males with little pointed caps, much like the human dunce cap, females line up to mate with them, forsaking the naturally fitter, hatless males.

These animal behaviors look funny to us . . . or sad. The reflexive instincts of dumb animals. But then there's a jolt of recognition: just how different are our endless wars, our modern health woes, our melodramatic romantic and sexual lives? In my new book, Supernormal Stimuli: How Primal Urges Overran Their Evolutionary Purpose. I describe how human instincts -- for food, sex, or territorial protection -- developed for life on the savannah 10,000 years ago, not today's world of densely populated cities, technological innovations, and pollution. Evolution, quite simply, has been unable to keep pace with the rapid changes of modern life. We now have access to a glut of larger-than-life temptations, from candy to pornography to atomic bombs, which cater to outmoded but persistent instinctive drives with dangerous results. In the 1930s Dutch Nobel laureate Niko Tinbergen found that birds that lay small, pale blue eggs speckled with grey preferred to sit on giant, bright blue plaster dummies with black polka dots. A male silver washed fritillary butterfly was more sexually aroused by a butterfly-sized rotating cylinder with horizontal brown stripes than it is by a real, live female of its own kind. Mother birds preferred to try feeding a fake baby bird beak held on a stick by Tinbergen's students if the dummy beak was wider and redder than a real chick's. Male stickleback fish ignored a real male to fight a dummy if its underside was brighter red than any natural fish. Tinbergen coined the term "supernormal stimuli" to describe these imitations, which appeal to primitive instincts and, oddly, exert a stronger attraction than real things. Animals encounter supernormal stimuli mostly when experimenters build them. We humans can produce our own: super sugary drinks, French fries, huge-eyed stuffed animals, diatribes about menacing enemies. Instincts arose to draw our attention to rare necessities but now they lead us to harmful behaviors that compromise our health, safety, and sanity. Though sociobiologists and evolutionary psychologists have incorporated many of Tinbergen's ideas and those of other animal ethologsts such as Konrad Lorenz, they have not used the concept of supernormal stimuli. I believe that this is the single most valuable contribution of ethology for helping us understand many issues of modern civilization. Supernormal stimuli are driving forces in many of today's most pressing problems, including obesity, our addiction to television and video games, and the past century's extraordinarily violent wars. Manmade imitations have wreaked havoc on how we nurture our children, what food we put into our bodies, how we make love and war, and even our understanding of ourselves. If we become aware of supernormal stimuli, this does more than simply alert us to danger. There's a clear alternative once we recognize how these behavioral triggers operate. Humans have one stupendous advantage over Tinbergen's birds -- a giant brain. This gives us the unique ability to exercise self-control, override instincts that lead us astray, and extricate ourselves from civilization's gaudy traps. Supernormal Stimuli: How Primal Urges Overran Their Evolutionary Purpose.
Deirdre Barrett is an evolutionary psychologist at Harvard Medical School's Behavioral Medicine Program. She is the author of several books, including Waistland, The Committee of Sleep, and Trauma and Dreams. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Eat a Little Meat

To ward off depression. . . Article

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Pie of Armande

This recipe is from Francine and Lucie sisters from Quebec. The pie is amazing. Francine is my sweet neighbor and friend. The addition of apples adds a unique and delicious mystery.

2 lbs ground beef
2lbs ground pork
2lbs ground veal
3 medium onions
3 cloves of garlic
1 1/2 tbsp salt
1 1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground allspice
5 potatoes (approximately)
pie crusts

Roast onions and garlic in butter. Add the meat, stirring often. When everything is browned add the spices. Cook for 30 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
Cook the potatoes and add to the meat. Pour into pie crusts, cover everything with another pie crust. Bake 15 minutes at 425F.
Makes about 4 meat pies.

Optional additions:
Add 5 grated apples when cooking meat. (Lucie)
Glaze with a beaten egg before putting in the oven. (Francine)

La Tourtiere d'Armande

Cette recette est de Francine et Lucie sœurs du Québec. La tarte est incroyable. Francine est ma douce voisin et ami. L'addition de pommes, ajoute un mystère unique et délicieux.

2 lbs boeuf hache
2lbs porc hache
2lbs veau hache
3 oignons moyens
3 gousses d'ail
1 1/2 c.a table de sel
1 1/2 c.a the de poivre
1/4 c.a the de clou de girofle moulu
1/4 c.a the allspice moulu
5 patates (environ)
croutes a tarte

Rotir un peu les oignons et l'ail dans du beurre. Ajouter les viandes et rotir en brassant souvent. Quand tout est bruni ajouter les epices. Cuire pendant 30 minutes a feu moyen en brassant de temps en temps.
Faire cuire les patates et ajouter a la viande. Verser dans les croutes a tarte, recouvrir le tout d'une autre croute a tarte. Faire cuire 15 minutes a 425F.
Fait environ 4 tourtieres.

Ajouts optionnels:
Ajouter les pommes râpées 5 lors de la cuisson de la viande. (Lucie)
Glacer avec un oeuf battu avant de mettre au four. (Francine)

Thursday, December 5, 2013


I've decided granola is really a baked oat salad. The dressing is oil and molasses vanilla and salt.

Amsterdam City Workers

You may see these guys hanging around here, chatting, making jokes. But I can assure you, every man you see here carries a little backpack with their own misery in it.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Sensory Surrealists

E: I feared I might cook all day if my studio was at home. Its true, to good effect. Luckily I work too. Something is always simmering, marinating, brewing, fermenting, incubating. I'd have a roost of chickens if I could, and messenger pigeons. Pigeons were originally called Rock Doves. I'd send these birds out carrying poems and I'd have a Jersey cow and goat, for making cheese, right here in the city.

P: I cook in my studio while drying papers in front of the oven. Sometimes the art smells of chicken or a roast.

E: True story -- rabbit skin glue as canvas primer smells like sleeping puppies.

P: I never smelled sleeping puppies. . . now rabbit, it’s go.

Simmering Tomato Sauce

Last night I slept
While my tomato sauce simmered.
Even my dreams were scented.

Strides for Saudi Women

“We are promoting recruitment of Saudi women because they have a low level of attrition, a better attention to detail, a willingness to perform and a productivity about twice that of Saudi men,” said a grocery store manager with branches throughout the kingdom.

While her mother and aunts never worked, she said, all of her sisters now do. “It’s nice to get out and work and get paid,” she said.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Martín Espada


This was the first Thanksgiving with my wife's family,
sitting at the stained pine table in the dining room.
The wood stove coughed during her mother's prayer:
Amen and the gravy boat bobbing over fresh linen.
Her father stared into the mashed potatoes
and saw a white battleship floating in the gravy.
Still staring at the mashed potatoes, he began a soliloquy
about the new Navy missiles fired across miles of ocean,
how they could jump into the smokestack of a battleship.
"Now in Korea," he said, "I was a gunner and the people there
ate kimch'i and it really stinks." Mother complained that no one
was eating the creamed onions. "Eat, Daddy." The creamed onions
look like eyeballs, I thought, and then said, "I wish I had missiles
like that." Daddy laughed a 1950s horror-movie mad-scientist laugh,
and told me he didn't have a missile, but he had his own cannon.
"Daddy, eat the candied yams," Mother hissed, as if he were
a liquored CIA spy telling secrets about military hardware
to some Puerto Rican janitor he met in a bar. "I'm a toolmaker.
I made the cannon myself," he announced, and left the table.
"Daddy's family has been here in the Connecticut Valley since 1680,"
Mother said. "There were Indians here once, but they left."
When I started dating her daughter, Mother called me a half-Black,
But now she spooned candied yams on my plate. I nibbled
at the candied yams. I remembered my own Thanksgivings
in the Bronx, turkey with arroz y habichuelas and plátanos,
and countless cousins swaying to bugalú on the record player
or roaring at my grandmother's Spanish punch lines in the kitchen,
the glowing of her cigarette like a firefly lost in the city. For years
I thought everyone ate rice and beans with turkey at Thanksgiving.
Daddy returned to the table with a cannon, steering the black
steel barrel. "Does that cannon go boom?" I asked. "I fire it
in the backyard at the tombstones," he said. "That cemetery bought
up all our farmland during the Depression. Now we only have
the house." He stared and said nothing, then glanced up suddenly,
like a ghost had tickled his ear. "Want to see me fire it?" he grinned.
"Daddy, fire the cannon after dessert," Mother said. "If I fire
the cannon, I have to take out the cannonballs first," he told me.
He tilted the cannon downward, and cannonballs dropped
from the barrel, thudding on the floor and rolling across
the brown braided rug. Grandmother praised the turkey's thighs,
said she would bring leftovers home to feed her Congo Gray parrot.
I walked with Daddy to the backyard, past the bullet holes
in the door and his pickup truck with the Confederate license plate.
He swiveled the cannon around to face the tombstones
on the other side of the backyard fence. "This way, if I hit anybody,
they're already dead," he declared. He stuffed half a charge
of gunpowder into the cannon, and lit the fuse. From the dining room,
Mother yelled, "Daddy, no!" Then the battlefield rumbled
under my feet. My head thundered. Smoke drifted over
the tombstones. Daddy laughed. And I thought: When the first
drunken Pilgrim dragged out the cannon at the first Thanksgiving-
that's when the Indians left.

- Martín Espada


Turkey Soup Improvisation

I took my turkey soup stock and skimmed the fat off it after it had cooled and congealed in the fridge. I sauteed a bunch of onions, I chopped carrots, and added it all to the turkey stock pot. Then I added leftover tomato sauce, and leftover roasted squash. I heated it up and added leftover whole wheat ziti, it is fabulous!

Last night (12/4) I made another addition I thinned the soup with stock leftover from cooking chick peas. Now it is divine.

Perpetual Tomato Sauce

In Precious Blood cemetery near my home I pass graves marked 'Perpetual Care.' I told my husband this morning, "This kitchen has perpetual tomato sauce." Tomato sauce as procrastination is something I learned from my mother. When in doubt make tomato sauce. My sauce is different than hers. My secret is lots of chopped black olives and celery. I buy the the inexpensive cans and I use extra virgin olive oil which is a bargain at Job Lot and I use fresh garlic and home-grown basil, oregano, and parsley. It simmers all day. Sometimes I make garbanzo beans and they are like mini meatballs. Other times I ladle sauce on slices of my bread toasted and I sprinkle Pecorino Romano cheese on top or I add slices of Pepper Jack for a fast and lazy spicy pizza.

Dinner for Breakfast

A great kids book could be Dinner for Breakfast and Breakfast for Dinner like The Backwards Day, a cool book from the 60's.

In my world, Chinese broccoli and water chestnuts or lasagna, spaghetti, eggplant Parmesan, French meat pie make a great breakfast, and fried eggs, vegetable cheese omelet, or pumpkin whole wheat buttermilk sourdough pancakes make a great supper.

Soup, salad, half sandwich, or leftover supper food make a great lunch.

In this house we worship the bean, particularly the chick pea, and we worship all cruciferous vegetables.

Apples, applesauce, home made yogurt and home made molasses-granola are my favorite snacks. And we could not live happily without coffee and tea.

Habits Formed in the Womb

Where you start, is where you end up.
I can thank my mother for her propensity for real food. She had a love of fresh vegetables, fruits, yogurt, fish, meats, breads, soup and all things savory. I don't think I ever saw my mother eat a sweet, use butter or take a drink in my life. Medications could send her to Mars and drunkenness came without anything at all. I inherited all of these qualities, and I have learned that it is a blessing in disguise.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Cool Hot Flash Necklace


Psychologist Jeremy Dean

Making Habits, Breaking Habits: Why We Do Things, Why We Don’t, and How to Make Any Change Stick, by psychologist Jeremy Dean, illuminates an important common misconception about how willpower shapes our habits and behaviors:

People naturally vary in the amount of self-control they have, so some will find it more difficult than others to break a habit. But everyone’s self-control is a limited resource; it’s like muscle strength: the more we use it, the less remains in the tank, until we replenish it with rest. In one study of self-control, participants first had to resist the temptation to eat chocolate (they had a radish instead); then they were given a frustrating task to do. The test was to see how long they would persist. Radish-eaters only persisted on the task for about 8 minutes, while those who had gorged on chocolate kept going for 19 minutes. The mere act of exerting willpower saps the strength for future attempts. These sorts of findings have been repeated again and again using different circumstances.

We face these sorts of willpower-depleting events all day long. When someone jostles you in the street and you resist the urge to shout at them, or when you feel exhausted at work but push on with your email: these all take their toll. The worse the day, the more the willpower muscle is exerted, the more we rely on autopilot, which means increased performance of habits. It’s crucial to respect the fact that self-control is a limited resource and you are likely to overestimate its strength. Recognizing when your levels of self-control are low means you can make specific plans for those times.


Duke Ellington's Diet

by Maria Popova

What the celebrated composer’s relationship with food reveals about the inner conflicts we share.

This is a culture where our relationship with food, though sometimes a canvas for creativity, has mutated from a source of sustenance to a grand arena for our moral struggles with willpower, a tyranny of habits we seek to rewire, a currency of status in the world’s hierarchy of haves and have-nots. At its most tragic, it can rip the psyche apart under the conflicting, unrelenting impulses for indulgence and control. While for most of us, these daily dramas play out in private, for public figures they offer source material for that sad excuse for journalism we find at the newsstand and the supermarket checkout aisle. And yet something about it — about those shared demons of our ambivalent relationship with food as a metaphor and voodoo doll for our inner contradictions and oscillations between self-loathing and self-pleasuring, between quenching and control — holds immutable allure for even those furthest removed from tabloid culture.

Perhaps it is the confluence of these curious cultural phenomena that makes for one of the most interesting parts of Terry Teachout’s fantastic new biography, Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington — Ellington’s relationship with food. In many ways, it presents an amplified version of the inner struggles we face daily — amplified to the point of caricature, which is what makes it both so powerful and so unsettling, in the same way we tend to be uneasy around or profoundly dislike those who exhibit exaggerated versions of our own worst traits.

Ellington, who was exceedingly concerned with how he looked on stage, went to great lengths to reconcile and conceal his conflicted appetites for pleasure and for appearance. He wore show-stopping ensembles when he performed — but with a twist. . .