Sunday, November 30, 2014

Baked Potato

I love to simmer things all day and overnight because waking up to the scent of tomato sauce or apple sauce is lovely. Here's a few more ideas for using your slow cooker.Article

Apple Butter

I emptied the fridge drawer of all of the orphaned apples and simmered them (whole) in the slow cooker overnight and then I ran them through the mill in the morning. Apple butter!

Spinach + Arugula

I am not kidding when I say having spinach and arugula makes me feel lucky. They are so good I eat them like popcorn, without any dressing.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Crazy Delicious

My brother-in-law made this, it was excellent. We added spinach too.
Vegetables Wellington at Serious Eats

The Happy Omnivore

I am a happy omnivore.
An omnivore is an animal that can derive its energy and nutrients from a diet consisting of a variety of food sources that may include plants, animals, algae, fungi and bacteria.

An omnivore is a kind of animal that eats either other animals or plants. Some omnivores will hunt and eat their food, like carnivores, eating herbivores and other omnivores. Some others are scavengers and will eat dead matter. Many will eat eggs from other animals.

Omnivores eat plants, but not all kinds of plants. Unlike herbivores, omnivores can't digest some of the substances in grains or other plants that do not produce fruit. They can eat fruits and vegetables, though. Some of the insect omnivores in this simulation are pollinators, which are very important to the life cycle of some kinds of plants.

Breakfast: Red Onions and Green olives

Arugula, spinach, red onions, green onions, avocado, and leftover stuffing dumped on top. My kind of holiday breakfast!

Almonds Figs Ginger Cranberries

Raw almonds, kalamata figs, candied ginger, dried cranberries.... a delicious dessert eaten in your hand.

36th Year Anniversary

Today is my thirty-six year anniversary of running away from my parents' Larchmont NY home the Sunday night of Thanksgiving weekend 1978. That night I called my friend Jessica Brown who was home from Brown University visiting her parents, and asked her if there was room in the car. I knew she and some others were heading back to Rhode Island that night. I packed my little red backpack with a stack of books (one of which was the poems of Arthur Rimbeau) a few clothes and my toothbrush. Jessica lived on Hope Street in a huge apartment which was the second and third floor of a former rooming house. She shared it with six other Brown University students. I baked bread and washed dishes for the house while looking for jobs and my own apartment. We ate supper every night as a group. I remember having laughing fits during the nightly post-supper tea. I met a bunch of smart wonderful people, some of whom are still close friends. Rhode Island became my home.

Anne Lamott: Give and Give and Give

You are going to have to give and give and give, or there’s no reason for you to be writing. You have to give from the deepest part of yourself, and you are going to have to go on giving, and the giving is going to have to be its own reward. There is no cosmic importance to your getting something published, but there is in learning to be a giver.

And I felt like my heart had been so thoroughly and irreparably broken that there could be no real joy again. . . . Everyone wanted me to get help and rejoin life, pick up the pieces and move on, and I tried to, I wanted to, but I just had to lie in the mud with my arms wrapped around myself, eyes closed, grieving, until I didn’t have to anymore.

— Anne Lamott

Giving up Hope

Forgiveness is giving up all hope of having had a better past.
- Anne Lamott

Bagels and Lox and Smoked Whitefish on Christmas Morning

This was a tradition in our family.

Best in the Universe: Spinach Pie

Have you ever had Jeanette's Bakery spin pies? Must go on Mondays before 11 AM because they sell out fast.
Located on Branch Avenue in Providence. This is real deal. They use black olives garlic and the best taste in the universe. Get extras.

The Day After: Okra in Stir Fry

Last night I made a stir fry for six hungry eaters. I used okra along with the pea pods, green beans. We made Japanese short grain brown rice.

In the wok I used candied ginger, scallions, water chestnuts, soy sauce, rooster sauce, olive oil, lots of chopped fresh garlic.

I love to mix and match ethnic foods. There's always something to learn.

For an appetizer we had my sourdough millet oat bread....with goat cheese.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Craving Healthy Food

Swimming centers me and I start to dream about kale with olives whole wheat bread red onions and home made yogurt cheese.

Honey and Peanut Butter Granola Balls

2 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons all natural peanut butter
2 cups home made granola
2 to 4 tablespoons milk, or as needed


In a large bowl, mix together the honey and peanut butter. Using a spatula, stir in the granola. Add enough milk to just moisten--you want it to stick together. Form into balls. Chill until ready to serve.

Recipe courtesy Gale Gand and Nancy Russman

Thanksgiving Joke

We are snowed in with the greens from the farmer's market but they were so good we ate them all! What to do tomorrow?

Turnips +Kale are my Friends

I bought three purple turnips and arugula, and green beans at the Farmers Market on my walk. I just sliced the turnips thinly and left their beautiful skins on and sauteed them in my 12 inch cast iron skillet with olive oil and Adobo. Then I chopped fresh kale and added it in and steamed it all by adding some water and covering it. Then when bright green I added kosher salt, soy sauce and W sauce and rooster hot sauce. Delish!

Woodie Guthrie

Left wing, right wing, chicken wing.
― Woody Guthrie

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Pill-Box Hat

Make your own from an old

Biscotti di Vino - Wine Biscotti

These are my favorite cookie because they are not too sweet, and perfect with a cup of hot English or tea. Sadly I get migraines from drinking wine but I love to cook with it!

I first found this recipe in my favorite cookbook We Called it Macaroni by Nancy Verde Barr, published by Alfred Knopf. The recipe has also appeared in Gourmet magazine.

In a large bowl combine the 4 cups of the flour, the sugar, the salt, and the baking powder and make a well in the center. Pour in the oil and the wine, combine the mixture, incorporating the flour mixture gradually, until it forms a soft dough, and knead in enough of the remaining 1/2 cup flour to keep the dough from sticking. Divide the dough into 40 pieces, roll each piece into a 5-inch rope, curl the ends and form them into hearts. Bake the hearts slightly apart on baking sheets in preheated 350F oven for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 300F and bake the biscuits for 15 to 20 minutes or until they are golden. Let the biscuits cool on racks and store them in airtight containers. Makes 40 biscotti.

The flavor blooms and develops over the week.

I make these with cheap port, Marsala, or any strong, sweet red wine left at our house.

I like to use corn oil in the recipe, and whole wheat flour. I shape the cookies into hearts or pretzel shapes.

Sometimes rather than shape the dough into ropes I flatten the dough with my rolling pin and, since the dough is very crumbly, I also press down on the dough with my hands. Then I use a small scalloped-shaped cookie cutter to shape the cookies. I transfer them to cast iron skillets and bake them. The heavy iron pans serve as baking stones, regulating the heat.

4½ cups flour
¾ cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt (more if using whole wheat flour)
1 tablespoon double-acting baking powder
1 cup corn oil
1 cup full-bodied red wine or port or Marsala wine

Yogurt Makers

My mother (and several generations of her family) have made homemade yogurt using the technique you mentioned. Indian cooking generally requires a lot of yogurt and she has made large batches at least every 3-4 weeks (4-5 large quart sized containers) for as long as I can remember. The neatest part of this experience is that she keeps a little of the yogurt from the previous batch and uses it as a starter for her next batch, thereby never ever running out of it. After boiling the milk and pouring them into the containers (with a little starter in each), she places them in the oven to keep warm overnight. The next morning, the containers are placed in the fridge for use.
I have yet to find store brought yogurt that even comes close in taste to what my mother makes every month.
- Sheil Makan

My grandmother who lived in Europe did the same thing, she used the culture from previous batch. However, I learned that milk in US is different, I assume they put many enzymes and other fillers that will make different type of yoghurt. What I do is I boil the milk I get from the store, it seems to work better, then I cool it till I feel with my pinkie it is the right temperature, I put the culture, cover it with a blanket and it is ready for tomorrow. If you leave it longer it will make it sour. This is my grandma's recipe.
- Natalie Smith

love to take the thick yogurt and make Lebanese Labneh. mix in a teaspoon of kosher salt to a pound of yogurt. Put a cheesecloth in a colander and sit on the counter, covered, to drain overnight. comes out somewhere close to cream cheese, but more tart and fresh tasting. Mix in a little lemon zest and olive oil. oregano and chopped kalamata olives if you like. serve with pita. YUM!
- Verum Nocet


Monday, November 24, 2014

We Must Have a Pie


“We must have a pie,” David Mamet wrote in “Boston Marriage,” his 1999 play about Victorian women struggling not to talk like Mamet characters. “Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.”

It may well be true. For much of the nation, this is the season of deep winter blues, lake-effect depression, the sad pull of midwinter dismay. There is either too much snow or not nearly enough. The furnace clicks on regardless. Night comes fast.

Introduce an apple pie into the equation, though, and watch what happens — as a result not just of the pie itself, but also of the process of making it. Apple pie is a weekend project to slow the baker’s heart rate and restore belief in happiness. The scent of fruit softening, kissed by cinnamon, of buttery crust, of sugar caramelizing — these can combine into a fragrance of redemption for the cook and everyone else. The taste delivers bliss.

Of all the great pie bakers in New York City, the current champion is probably a young woman named Kierin Baldwin, who runs the pastry department at the Dutch, an American restaurant in SoHo. Baldwin serves properly fancy-dan desserts on her menu — a winter sundae with cranberry-pomegranate sorbet, cinnamon ice cream, maple caramel and brioche currently leads that list. These desserts are quite good.

But for the cognoscenti who think of themselves as Dutchmen and try to eat in the restaurant monthly at least, Baldwin’s chief business is pie. Her crusts neither shatter nor wilt but taste of flake and butter and salt; they encase fillings that are thick without being starchy and intense without being gooey. These are pies to offer the comfort of a family-movie third act. They are intensely delicious.

And for a home cook hoping to step up the pie game, Baldwin is a godsend. “I can get pretty geeky about baking pie,” she said in an interview. “But it’s a mind-set. It’s not difficult.”

Advice from a master, then: Start with a dough made from flour, cold butter and shortening, and scramble an egg yolk into the ice water that will bring it all together. Most pastry recipes advise strongly against “overworking” the dough, lest the crust turn tough. Baldwin tacks left. “You need to work the dough a little so that it will hold its shape,” she said. “You don’t want it so delicate that it won’t hold up to the filling.” The yolk helps a great deal in this regard, even in its tiny measure. So does a good, strong measure of fat.

Baldwin blind-bakes her bottom crusts before she fills the pies, cooking them beneath parchment paper and a layer of Goya beans she bought at the supermarket to use as pie weights. She doesn’t like the texture that otherwise forms below the fruit, she says.

You may well agree. But my experiments suggest a more-than-credible result without the blind baking — and in less time. For the weekend baker struggling only to amaze friends and family, time spent cooking is a crucial distinction. It’s not a kayak we’re building here. It’s pie for dinner. Tonight.

Nevertheless, all should heed Baldwin’s exhortation to precook the apples for the filling. It concentrates their flavor. “Apple pies that have crunchy, raw apples in them are a pet peeve of mine,” she said. Peel and core the fruit, cut it into slices, then macerate them in a plume of sugar. Cook these soft with a splash of acid (like lemon juice or cider vinegar) and a hint of cinnamon and allspice, then add some starch to thicken the whole. Allow the mixture to cool completely before using it in the pie.

(More advice, on apple varieties: “My preference is for straight honeycrisp, or pink ladies,” Baldwin said. “They have nice natural acidity and they don’t break down.” True statement!)

Now assemble the confection: crust below, cool filling above, more crust laid on top of this, the package crimped together artfully with the tines of a fork. Paint the top with an egg wash, cut steam vents and dust with sugar. Slide the result into a hot oven, on top of a hot baking sheet. This can catch any overflow of fruit and sugar, should the seal burst when the fruit gets to bubbling and the crust goes gold in the heat.

Which is when it’s done. Let cool for a couple of hours, ideally somewhere you can smell it. Serves eight, though you can cut it in four, as Yogi Berra famously required. “I don’t think I can eat eight,” he said.

Laura McHugh’s Grandma’s Stuffing


My grandma passed away just after I graduated from college, and I’ve now lived half of my life without her. That doesn’t seem possible, as she is with me each day in a hundred small ways, and especially in the kitchen: her dented measuring cup; the rolling pin with the broken handle.

Every Thanksgiving we make Grandma’s stuffing, and we do our best to get it right. She never wrote down her recipe, so we work from memory. It is a group effort. My sisters and I hover around the stove like a team of surgeons about to perform a risky operation. Our brothers stand back, requesting status updates and begging us not to screw up. We remind each other to be generous with the sage, to mix in the egg with bare hands. We fret over turkey drippings. We always think we won’t have enough bread and we always end up with too much.

When it comes out of the oven, I take a test bite, hoping that it will transport me back to my grandma’s tiny kitchen in Keokuk, Iowa, where she let us tear the bread and crack the eggs. When the stuffing turns out right, there is nothing better. We serve it with reverence, like communion wafers. We rejoice as though we have done something miraculous. We eat the scraps left on our children’s plates—they don’t quite grasp its importance. When it is right, it is more than stuffing; it is a certain kind of magic, like Grandma is still with us at the table.

Recipe: Grandma’s Stuffing

1 loaf of dried or toasted white bread

1 small onion, chopped

1 stalk of celery, chopped

2 eggs

Turkey drippings

Dried sage

Salt and pepper

Tear the bread into pieces and place in a baking dish (kids love to help with this part!). Sprinkle a generous amount of sage over the bread. Cook onion and celery until tender. In a mixing bowl,combine cooked onion and celery with two beaten eggs, more sage, and a little salt and pepper. Add this to the bread and mix with your hands. Pour turkey drippings over the stuffing, adding enough to make the bread moist, but not soggy. Feel free to sprinkle on some more sage, because Grandma was right, you can never have too much. Bake approximately 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

Sundays at the Table

My grandparents Nat and Sophie would drive up from Brighton Beach Brooklyn every Sunday and we would spend the day at the table eating bagels lox whitefish, bialys, smoked salmon 'nova' with cream cheese.

The Bathtub Detective

He's the bathtub detective because most of what he needs to see is out the window, in view from standing on the rim of his tub.

Winter Farmers Market

Our beloved City has a winter Farmers Market open Tuesdays on Clinton Street between 3-6PM 450 Clinton Street Downtown, not far from the public library. Local farmers bring fresh produce.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Jon Frankel: Poet, Novelist, Food-Writer

Visit Jon's Blog: The Last Bender

Little Free Library

When a 36-year-old bibliophile in Daegu, South Korea, sat down at his computer and googled the word “library,” he didn’t expect to find anything particularly noteworthy. But as DooSun You scrolled through the results, an appealingly anti-tech concept popped up.

The Internet led him to Little Free Libraries—hand-built boxes where neighbors can trade novels, memoirs, comics, and cookbooks, and connect with each other in the process.

The little libraries immediately appealed to DooSun. “Reading books is one of the most valuable things in my life. I think a book is equal to a treasure,” he says. “I hoped to share that feeling with my neighbors—that’s the reason I wanted a Little Free Library.”

“We have a natural sense of wanting to be connected, but there are so many things that push us apart,” Bol says. “I think Little Free Libraries open the door to conversations we want to have with each other.” Article

Sin Eater

A sin-eater is a person who, through a ritual meal, takes on the sins of a household, often because of a recent death, thus absolving the soul and allowing that person to rest in peace. In anthropology and the study of folklore, sin-eating is classified as apotropaic ritual[1] and a form of religious magic.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thriller: Eyes on the Car

For a few nights in September I woke up at three AM and decided to go downstairs to my office to work. I would open my screened porch door for air while working standing at my desk. One night I heard a car drive in to the parking lot behind my house. I can easily see the whole lot from my office. The car did not belong to any of the residents. I glanced at the clock. After five minutes the car left. Then another car drove in, parked in the same spot, and stayed for another five minutes. This happened each night. I began to notice this regular traffic pattern at all hours of the day, too. I suspected drug-dealing was going on and my neighbor confirmed it. She even knew who it was, and which apartment he lived in.
I emailed the local police chief and he connected me to a detective. The detective knew about the guy, a small-time dealer. The detective wasn't particularly interested in him, but asked me to stay in touch. One morning I was carrying my husband's coffee and lunch box out to the car at 6:30 AM and I noticed a shiny new black Impala with NY plates in the parking lot. I emailed the detective about it. "Can you get the license plate number?" he asked. I walked across the lot and back with my dog, glancing over at the Impala as I passed it. I emailed him back. "You won't believe this," he wrote back immediately, "I'm sitting here right now waiting for exactly that car!" All of a sudden my hands were shaking so much I could hardly write. "They're leaving now," I wrote back, "Do you want me to obstruct them?" I imagined, oh, taking my trash can to the sidewalk and tipping it over "accidentally" in the driveway, slowing the car's escape while the detective showed up. "NO!" he replied. "Please call me when you have a moment." He gave me his cell phone number.
I took a deep breath and phoned him. I told him that as soon as I had hit "send" on the last email I realized my mistake. "I just got caught up in the drama," I said, laughing. "Don't ever put yourself in harm's way," he warned me. I felt embarrassed. I was the Lucille Ball of amateur crime-fighters. "Don't worry," I tried to reassure him, "They won't suspect me. I'm just the lady with the big black dog who walks everywhere."
"Wow, so they were here at that early hour?" he asked. "The heroin addicts get up very early," he volunteered, thinking aloud. My heart pounded and I started trembling from head to toe. Heroin? I had visions of guys with tourniquets on their arms, veins popping, shooting up in dark alleys like in the movies of my 1970's NY childhood. He continued: "These guys make so much money they rent a car for a month and then turn it in for another. They think that with out-of-state plates they won't be noticed, but they stick out like a sore thumb." His voice was young and kind and I tried to envision his face from the tones. He sounded 20 years younger than me, with straight light brown hair, clean-shaven. "Yeah, those orange NY plates, you can spot them a mile away," I said, feeling like I already knew way too much about drug dealers. My confidence was quickly retreating.
For days I sent regular emails alerting the detective. "The black car is back here." "The black car is still here." "Now there's a white car." My pulse quickened every time I hit the "send" button. I sent him plate numbers if I could see them. I wasn't comfortable crossing the lot with my dog anymore. One day a scary-looking silver Ram wagon with tinted windows parked in what I had begun calling the hot spot. When it started appearing regularly I was terrified. My husband teased me: "You're just scared of the design of the car." I told the detective what my husband thought, but my hunch proved to be correct. The detective confirmed that the silver Ram was the drug-dealer's new rental car.
I was getting jumpy, fearing everything. How do the police do this? I'd walk my dog around the city as always but I couldn't shut off my hunting impulse. I learned to recognize car models and manufacturer's logos, to memorize license plates at a glance. I saw out-of-state plates everywhere, on fancy cars with tinted windows. Were they drug-dealer rentals too? Was I losing my mind? I sent the detective a Smithsonian Magazine article about an art historian who was training police detectives to observe using museum masterpieces. "I'd like this job!" I told him. One time he asked in an email, "You've got the black dog, right?" I didn't reply right away. I had mentioned my dog the first time we spoke on the phone. I was quite visible walking my dog around town, but he was still invisible to me. What do detectives look for anyway? How deeply do they research people? Was he reading my writing, looking at my paintings? I felt like I was in on a seduction. I was getting spooked. "Yeah she’s my dog,” I finally responded. "People see me walking her all over the city. She's practically a local celebrity." All I knew about the detective was that he drove around in an unmarked black Buick. He had told me that he'd be keeping an eye out on the parking lot. I was comforted, though, knowing there would be another set of eyes looking out.
The drug dealing seemed to escalate. I was monitoring the stream of cars and sending license plate numbers to the detective while continuing to brush up on the makes, models and logos of the cars. Now and again the detective would have a specific question: "Did you see the guy who drove the silver Ram?" "No, I saw him in the car as it was parked and then he got out and a woman got in and drove it away." The parking lot was like a shopping mall. Customers were sitting in their cars in the dark, their faces lit by their cell-phones. One night I saw a guy illuminated by his car light licking something from his fingertips. He held what looked like a white envelope. Another night I woke up in the night to pee and in the dark I peeked out the window through the gap above the curtain in the stairwell. I saw the dealer's car out back and raced down to my desk to email the detective. I was so full of adrenaline I couldn't fall back to sleep. "This is hunting, and you love the hunt," my husband said. "Yes, you're right," I admitted. "And you have an audience, the detective," my husband reminded me.
The dealers looked so young, they looked like little boys with their backwards baseball caps and shiny cars. They weren't even wearing winter coats, just decorative T-shirts. I didn't want anyone to get hurt, I wasn't out to get everybody incarcerated. It's bad enough that I already feel responsible for everything on the planet. I had no malice toward the dealers. My feeling was just please don't do this. As I told the Chief and Mayor at a meeting earlier in the year, I am speaking up on behalf of my tenant neighbors who are too afraid to call for help. This cul-de-sac parking lot had become a lawless wasteland because of the landlord's neglect. I wanted to improve the quality of life for everyone in my neighborhood.
Whenever my inbox showed the detective's name I jumped through my skin. It was almost like having a crush. I would hang on every word, read the message over and over. Stay calm, I told myself, breathe. Be safe, do not be seen. So much was unknown to me, but that's what made it verge on sexy. "I am freaking out with jitters," I told the detective, on the phone. "This is why I could never have an affair, too much adrenaline. I need my life to be calm and orderly." "Absolutely," he agreed, and laughed.
In time the scary silver Ram was replaced with a shiny silver sportscar, then later with a plain new red Ford with local plates. Maybe the dealers were beginning to feel exposed. "I think this is the new car," I wrote to the detective. He said, "I think you're right." "They park with authority, in the hotspot. They're sitting in the car with the seats pushed way back so they're hidden." "Important detail," the detective replied. Then I spotted the guys in question going in and out and was able to identify them. "Good job, Can you get the plates?" "I'm too scared to walk across the lot." "No, don't," he said, "I'll drive thru and get them in an hour."
At this point he had a search warrant for the apartment. An undercover cop had successfully bought drugs at the apartment, and now they were just waiting for the right time to execute the warrant. After eight weeks of team work I was still hanging on the front lines looking out from my perch. One Friday the detective asked me, "Can you keep your eyes on the red car for fifteen minutes?" "Yes, I'll set the kitchen timer since my sense of time is wonky under stress," I said. "Good," he replied. The bell rang and I wrote back, "Red car still here," but then the car immediately left. I phoned in a panic. "He just left!" I said, shaking like a leaf, imagining having botched the crew's efforts. "He must have the same timer," I said. The detective laughed. The stake-out was cancelled for the day but we'd be back at it again Monday. "We can be in casual alert over the weekend, making note of the red car's comings and goings. But Monday night, high alert." "Okay," I said. "By the way, I know I don't have to tell you but for your safety and ours, do not tell ANYONE you are working with us." Later I sat down and wrote the names of all the people I had told. Forty-five. I was spooked.
There's a part of me that always wanted to be a detective. Artists, writers, and detectives share lot in common: observe and listen. I told myself that my role in this was to keep paying attention and write down what I see. Just the facts ma’am, I told myself, and leave the interpretation to the experts. I was in a kind of training, I decided, doing my best to be a good and honorable witness to help solve the problem on behalf of my neighborhood. I wanted it to be over, though. "Believe me we do too," the detective said, "but it has to run its course. We need to get the right guys." I told myself it was a good but terrifying exercise for my writing. "My wife has a pen-pal who is a detective!" my husband announced proudly one morning while pouring his coffee into his morning to-go thermos.
Monday came. I was in self-imposed high alert, awake since 4 AM. I had been standing lookout in the empty tub of my cold office bathroom for hours. The detective and I were keeping in touch by email. It was now 6:30 PM. My husband appeared with two plates of hot spaghetti. We ate it standing in the dark, eyes on the red car. I was exhausted. "Go rest," the detective said. "I hate to do this to you, can you come back at 10:30?" "Perfect," I said. At 9:30 my husband woke me up. "The red car is back," he said. I emailed the detective, my heart pounding. "Okay, keep an eye out. Let's see if he stays," he said. The red car was in a different spot because of the ice in the lot. A truck partially blocked my view of the car, and the new spot was very dark. My husband got his binoculars. I could confirm the red car was red and I recognized the shape of the tail light. Then the truck left. Another guy pulled in to the hot spot to buy drugs. When he returned, he put the car in reverse and got stuck in the ice, tires spinning, but his back-up lights illuminated the red car. "It's DEFINITELY red," I told the detective. "A customer lit it up." He laughed. Another sedan drove in, a brown Crown Vic. Maybe this is the detective I thought. But it was a lanky guy in a Peruvian hat carrying a brown paper bag. Another customer.
The detective wanted to communicate now by cell-phone. "I'll have to wake my husband, it's his phone and I don't know how to use it." "He's not going to be too happy about that," the detective said. "Oh no, he'll be fine about it." I got back to my station just as the red car started to leave. I called in a panic: "Red car just left!" I feared the detective's team would move in on nothing. "Oh don't tell me!" he said. He was exhausted too. "Hey, a pickup truck just pulled in," I said. I noticed it was missing a rear light. "I think it's another customer. I'll bet the red car will be back momentarily to make a deal." Suddenly I was alert and wide awake. Sure enough, I called back with good news: "The red car's back! And now the truck is gone." "The truck is gone? You have eyes on the red car?" I could hear police radio in the background. A cop was saying he was staked out on the corner lot at the school. "Okay I have to direct my guys now," he said, hanging up. I went to the bathroom window. Two cars drove into the lot and stopped. One passenger got out carrying something really heavy and ran towards the apartment. I sure hope this is the police, I thought, and not the dealers because this looks dangerous. Then I saw another vehicle pull into the driveway and park, blocking the only exit. Okay, whew, it's the cops. Then I saw the detectives come out into the lot with a police dog to search the red car. It was late, after eleven. I finally went to bed.
The next morning I had a new message. "Call me when you have a chance." The detective told me the story over the phone. They got their guys, exactly what they wanted. The apartment was a classic crack house. "You won't believe the paperwork we have to do now, it will take all day," he said. I was blown away, exhausted, relieved. Was it really over? The Chief later sent me and the Mayor a follow-up note, and a personal thank-you note. "Community policing at its best," he wrote.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Ice Cold Sunshine!

I love this cold weather. Ice cold sunshine! Sourdough bread is rising, and yogurt is incubating. I went swimming and it felt great. I am drinking a raspberry smoothie from neighborhood frozen raspberries and home cultured yogurt, and orange juice. I forgot to add the bananas. This is weather to make soup.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Grilled Corn Tortillas

Take two corn tortillas and sandwich in a sandwich sized slice of 'Pepper Jack' cheese and grill on a dry cast iron skillet on high heat for a minute. Then flip it over and grill the other side. Enjoy a few of them with your favorite hot sauce. This is a fast food you make at home.

Margaret Atwood

I would never, never own an automatic washer-dryer. Sartre, Samuel Beckett, Kafka, and Ionesco, I was sure, did not have major appliances, and these were the writers I most admired.

I've never understood why people consider youth a time of freedom and joy. It's probably because they have forgotten their own.

- Margaret Atwood

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Slow Toasting Granola

I discovered that I must bake my granola very low and slow in order for the oats to lightly toast. They need to dry out and yet retain the flavor of the vanilla. I bake it in my 12" cast iron skillet rather than baking sheets. I preheat the oven and bake it at 275 for 40 minutes stirring every 15-20 minutes. Then I lower the temps to 200 and bake for another 15 or 20 minutes and then I turn off the oven and leave it in to catch the residual heat.


1 cup corn oil
1 cup regular unsulfured molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 standard cardboard cylinder of old fashioned rolled oats

Heat the oil, molasses, salt, and vanilla in a deep pot until very hot. Stir and then pour in the oats. Take the pot off the heat. Stir to completely coat the oats. Mix as if it were an oat salad. Pour onto baking sheets or skillets and place in preheated 275 degree oven. If you use a few baking sheets and spread the oats thinly they will toast faster. So stay nearby and stir frequently to avoid over toasting.

Gloop Queen

I am becoming quite fond of gloop. Each time we unearth a container of it from the freezer I put it in the crock pot and add water to simmer and then I start adding anything lying around that seems good until the pot is full to the brim because I can't help myself. All of my pots get filled to the brim.

Last night I added a frozen tomato eggplant sauce that I had made back in August, with some freshly chopped green cabbage and some frozen corn niblets. Then I added Adobo seasoning and some more chicken tenders which I fished out and chopped into bite sized pieces after they defrosted in the gloop. It was delicious. The perfect meal in a bowl.

I am thinking I can always make gloop if I have a few essentials on hand for example: canned tomatoes, lentils, rice, onions, celery, garlic, olive oil, Adobo, chicken (or any fish or meat). When our market sells boneless chicken breasts on sale I like to purchase a bunch and freeze them small containers.

Soon the snow and ice will be here trapping us inside. Be prepared to warm your belly and share your gloop with a friend or neighbor.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Upton Sinclair

They use everything about the hog except the squeal.
― Upton Sinclair, The Jungle

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

Richard Brautigan

I had a good-talking candle last night in my bedroom. I was very tired but I wanted somebody to be with me, so I lit a candle and listened to its comfortable voice of light until I was asleep.
― Richard Brautigan

Richard Brautigan

When you take your pill
it's like a mine disaster.
I think of all the people
lost inside you.
― Richard Brautigan, The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster

Love Poem

It's so nice
to wake up in the morning
all alone
and not have to tell somebody
you love them
when you don't love them
any more.

― Richard Brautigan

Richard Brautigan

Karma Repair Kit Items 1-4.

1. Get enough food to eat,
and eat it.

2. Find a place to sleep where it is quiet,
and sleep there.

3. Reduce intellectual and emotional noise
until you arrive at the silence of yourself,
and listen to it.

― Richard Brautigan


I have always wanted to write a book that ended with the word 'mayonnaise.'
― Richard Brautigan

Richard Brautigan

Sometimes life is merely a matter of coffee and whatever intimacy a cup of coffee affords.
― Richard Brautigan

Friday, November 14, 2014

Paul Theroux

Cooking requires confident guesswork and improvisation-- experimentation and substitution, dealing with failure and uncertainty in a creative way.
― Paul Theroux, Sir Vidia's Shadow: A Friendship Across Five Continents

Born on a Kitchen Table

"I was born on a kitchen table in Branson Missouri," Sandy said while we were standing on the corner catching the end of the day sunlight.
"Really? Tell me more," I said.
"I grew up on a farm, remember this was in the 40's. My mother gave birth to me on the kitchen table. My father had just plowed the fields behind our house and when he went to pay the doctor twenty dollars the money was gone. It must've slipped out of his pocket. So he went back out and plowed the field again and found the money in the dirt and was able to pay the doctor. I just think of my poor mother. My family still tells this story."


“What’s important is to cook well,” Mr. Moya emphasized, and an empty plate will follow. “If you do it with passion, people will eat.”

That is not to say nothing is ever left behind. Though the French remain resistant to taking leftovers home, a small movement is afoot to change attitudes. It has been encouraged by difficult economic times, rising consciousness about food waste, and an environmentally minded younger generation that is more familiar with takeout culture.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Slow Sourdough

I set my Thursday batch of sourdough to rise this morning at 9AM. It's 8PM and going into the oven now. I imagine it rose super slowly since my house is very cold.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Two Pots of Gloop

It's another rainy day. My gloominess lifted when I started making a pot of gloop.

I rinsed 2 cups of brown rice and a pound of dried lentils and added water to cover. I added 3 cans of crushed tomatoes a leftover rind of Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons of pesto, 3 lbs chicken tenders chopped (on sale special at Jamie Sullivan's Shaw's meats today), 6 carrots chopped, a gigantic bell pepper, 6 ribs of celery, chopped, 5 cloves of garlic chopped, and 3 onions chopped. I added Adobo, salt, freshly ground black pepper, a half a can of beer and olive oil to taste.

The rice had expanded more than I remembered it would so I had to add more water and ended up using a total of three cans of crushed tomatoes. I ended up with two big pots of gloop. It came out good. It's a soothing supper porridge. There are plenty of leftovers for future days. It's a little overwhelming to have so much of the same thing but I can freeze most of it in a bunch of smaller containers - six of them. I can always defrost and add stock to one or two of them making the gloop into a spontaneous soup.

I used to make gloop all the time when I was in my twenties, and a vegetarian. At least now there's some bites of delicious chicken thrown in making it a complete dinner.

With all of this we're prepared for surprise visitors or a snowstorm but I can't help feeling a little bit like Oliver Twist.

It tastes great today. I added a little more water and my favorite Cholula Mexican hot sauce. It was a perfect lunch.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Wind and Bread

The wind is spooky on this damp day. I'm trying to welcome the season of the drafty cold house by wrapping myself in blankets and cuddling with my dog.

I have four sourdough loaves set up for rising. Lately I've given them four hours to rise before baking in my preheated 450 degree oven. First the dough incubates in a big plastic bucket in the fridge for a few nights. This slow cold rise develops the flavor, the yeast, and the gluten.

I never tire of growing my own loaves, a form of indoor farming. The dough is alive! The baking perfumes the house and the eating of the bread nourishes us throughout the week.