Sunday, May 31, 2009

Take Stock

Today our friend Tony Makalinaw roasted a whole 90 pound pig outside on our street for a fireman's party. He used hardwood charcoal and a home made rotating rotisserie that he welded, engineered and constructed himself. He calls his rig the oinkmaster! Tony started cooking at 7AM and finished roasting the pig at around 3PM. Bill and Lily and I walked over and watched the process and sampled the goods! The meat was amazing and had different taste depending on what part of the pig it was from. At the end of the day Tony offered us the whole pig carcass and we carried it home in a gigantic heavy bag. Now I am boiling it all up in two vats on my stove! We are the bottom feeders and proud of it! This will be amazing soup-stock and will get put in containers and frozen, feeding us throughout the year.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Apple Rhubarb

Today I spotted gorgeous magenta rhubarb stalks at Fernandez Market. We bought some and sliced them and cooked them with a few cored and chopped apples, (with skins left on) simmering them for 20 minutes in a bit of water in the in the Dutch oven. I added honey and it was delicious with leftover pumpkin ice cream.

Coffee Coolata

I took some of the leftover pumpkin and vanilla ice cream flavors we made and put it in a glass of leftover cold coffee the next morning! I made a coffee coolata for breakfast!

Lemongrass Ice Cream

Margaret Higginson's Lemongrass Ice Cream
Bring 2 1/2 cups milk to a boil with 3 stalks of lemongrass, cut up. Take it off the heat and leave to steep while you get on with other things (I think I left it in there for about an hour). Strain, to remove the lemongrass. Mix 6 egg yolks with half a cup of sugar. Meanwhile, warm the milk up again. Temper the egg yolks with the warm milk, then stir everything together. Let cook over low temperature (don't let it boil, and stir frequently) until it coats the back of a spoon and you can run your finger through it without it running together (does that make sense?). Off the heat, add a splash of vanilla. Let cool in the fridge for a day, then freeze!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Pumpkin Ice Cream

Last night we made pumpkin ice cream! It's my favorite ice cream!
Here's the recipe:
1 egg
1/4 cup honey (or 1/2 cup of sugar)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ginger
dash of ground cloves
1/2 cup of milk
3/4 cup of cream
1/2 to 3/4 cup of canned pumpkin
Beat egg and honey together using whisk or electric mixer. Add pumpkin, spices, and milk. Fold in cream.

Vanilla Ice Cream

Yesterday we made vanilla ice cream and ate fresh blueberries with it.
2 eggs
2/3 cup of sugar
13/4 cups of milk
2 cups of cream
2 teaspoons of vanilla
Beat eggs and sugar with whisk or electric mixer, until thick. Add milk, cream, and vanilla. Mix well. Makes a quart!

Sunday, May 24, 2009


The peppermint is growing like crazy in my garden. I keep going outside and snipping hand fulls with scissors and harvesting it to make pots of mint tea. I drink it hot with honey. It's delicious with a few bittersweet chocolates.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Home Made

I have this theory that if you make it yourself with love, then it's good for you! No matter what it is. So I am going to make chocolate chip ice cream and an apple pie!

Sausage Stuffing Machine

Yesterday we visited our butcher Jamie Sullivan and he showed us how he makes sausages using his 200 year old hand-cranked sausage stuffing machine. He mixed up ground chicken, roasted red peppers and fresh basil leaves and pressed it through a yard-long piece of casing from an actual hog's small intestine. He filled the casings in seconds and then twisted it into 6" links all in a few minutes! I was impressed! He has invited us to bring him a recipe and make our own.

Grilled Beets

Last night we fired up our Weber grill using hardwood charcoal. I ran in the house and sliced a bunch of beets into thin discs with the skins left on. We threw them on the grill for 5 minutes and then flipped them, brushing their dry sides with a mixture of olive oil, soy sauce, and balsamic vinegar, and then grilled them for another four minutes. Fabulously sweet and crunchy! Then I sliced big white onions the size of grapefruits into discs and grilled them too! I threw green beans into a skillet of water, doused them with the same olive oil, soy sauce, and vinegar mixture, and put that on the grill to steam. I filled another cast-iron pot with black beans I had cooked the day before, and brought them up to boil, uncovered, on the grill. We threw on some sliced sourdough bread slices and toasted them. Then we shaped two pounds of chuck into 7 beef patties and grilled them. Everything was so good we ate the leftovers for breakfast and lunch this morning!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Simple Supper

Last night I made a simple supper; collard greens steamed with olive oil, garlic, soy sauce, cheap port, red pepper flakes, and salt, eaten with steamed sliced Yukon gold potatoes. Delicious!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Pumpkin Doughnuts

I made pumpkin doughnuts today! Here's the recipe.

4 1/2 cups of flour (I use whole wheat)
4 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
3/4 cup of sugar
a dash of cinnamon
1 small can of pumpkin
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/4 cup apple cider to moisten the batter

Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients separately in another bowl. Then combine them and mix by hand or with a mixer. Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured cutting board. Flatten to 3/4 of an inch. Cut with a doughnut cutter or cleaned empty tuna fish can. Make a hole in each one! Use scraps to roll more until all used up. Fill a pot or skillet with three inches of corn oil, and heat it to 370 degrees. If needed, use a candy thermometer to check the temperature. Fry three at a time! Drain them on paper towels and sprinkle them with confectioners sugar.

I used my electric Presto crock pot with the deep fryer basket (It uses a thermostat to maintain the temperature). I loaded three doughnuts into the basket at a time and cooked them until they were golden. My whole wheat batch took 5 minutes to fry each round of three doughnuts, turning them once. The cooking time may be more or less depending on your ingredients. They're delicious, especially with hot coffee.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Tonight we walked by our butcher's shop just before closing and I bought a pound of stew beef! I put it in a bowl with cheap port, soy sauce, sesame oil, a sliced lime, blobs of peanut butter, hunks of ginger root, smashed cloves of garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, and a bloop of molasses. I'm marinating it overnight. It makes me feel productive to marinate or incubate things while I'm asleep. I keep telling my husband he should teach me how to make beer so I can be the Ale Wife!

Garlic and Sapphires

Ruth Reichl's book Garlic and Sapphires is great fun!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I just made a vat of vegetable curry with every vegetable I had; eggplant, red + green bell peppers, jalepeno peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms, onions, celery, ginger root, green olives sliced, lots of freshly chopped garlic, leftover vegetable stock and whey, and a few sliced chicken breasts thrown in. It all started with making a pot of short grain brown rice. Now I'm thinking of making pumpkin cardamom donuts. Spring is sensory overload to me. A joy to cook, feed, eat, and be alive!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Lunch With a Star

I was so nervous and excited that I couldn't sleep for four days leading up to my lunch with Marion Cunningham and Judith Jones. I had illustrated a cookbook for them, 150 black-and-white illustrations on short notice for "Cooking With Children." Judith had suggested I come to NYC to meet Marion when she visited from California. The day I was to take the bus to NYC in early April 1996, it had been raining so hard that cars I could see from the highway in CT were 3/4 underwater. I was worried that I wouldn't make it in time. My bus left at 7:15 AM from Providence due to arrive in NYC 11:15. But the roads were jammed with traffic because of the floods.

When I finally made it to the city, I took a subway uptown. I stepped into Knopf's Cookbook Publishing offices at 12:30 on the dot. Whew! Judith was behind her large wooden dining-room-table-like desk covered with piles of papers and books, and Marion was seated opposite her. They were obviously great friends. Marion was beautiful with her silver hair pulled back and kind blue eyes. I liked her immediately. I was still terrified, feeling naked, haunted, and sleep deprived. I wondered, where was my appetite? Can I make intelligent conversation with these matriarchs of the cookbook world? The more I admired them the more foolish I felt.

I've never had luck eating during business lunches in NYC. My stomach always flies up above me, and hovers about 2,000 feet in the air and lands days later when I'm back home and have calmed down to my regular life. I ordered iced tea. Judith suggested "Oh, do have something a bit more daring." Iced tea was fine, with lemon and sugar, and my stomach promptly filled with air bubbles and cramps. I watched as they ordered platters of food, one of everything, on three tiered platters. We all shared. They discussed every bite. I said virtually nothing, hoping they wouldn't notice.

After the meal, Judith hailed a cab for us. We all ducked in and sat in the back seat. I was in the middle! As soon as we sat down we noticed the ceiling of the cab had a million trinkets attached to the loose gray cloth lining. We all oohed and ahhed and laughed and pointed. It was an unguarded moment for me, and the best moment of the whole visit!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Vat of Sauce

I'm making a vat of tomato sauce in the huge pot my pal Andy gave me. It's oval and cast iron with a cobalt blue enamel exterior. He showed up one day with it, placed it on the porch, rang the doorbell, and tried to run. We caught him and had a little porch visit! I think of him each time I use it, which is every few days! For my pasta sauce I sauteed in olive oil a big onion the size of a grapefruit; 5 ribs of celery, chopped, with the celery-top leaves; one eggplant, diced; a can of black olives, chopped; fresh garlic chopped in kosher salt to absorb the vital juices; a bouquet of fresh parsley, chopped; a cup or so of the cheapest port wine; chopped mushrooms; and a green pepper, chopped. Then I added a gigantic can (the size restaurants use) of Isabella diced tomatoes, 4 bay leaves, and dried oregano and basil. I threw in one seeded chopped jalapeno pepper too! It has been simmering away uncovered. I have already "tested" a few bowls full! It will be delicious on sourdough bread toasted (as a bruschetta) and on pasta. We love to grate Asiago cheese on top. It's locally made in Providence! Mangia!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Pickle Sandwiches

I got a 5 pound bucket of Bronx made half sour pickles last week from Fernandez produce and they are nearly gone. I fear they will laugh at me when I go in for another bucket this week! I love simple pickle sandwiches with mayo on my bread, toasted!

Craving Burgers

Sometimes I make a burger because nothing else will do. I get my butchers fresh ground chuck and shape a small thin patty and grill it in my ridged cast iron pan. Then I turn on all of the fans in the kitchen to vent the smoke! I eat it on my toasted sourdough bread, slathered with mustard, and sliced half sour pickles, ketchup, red raw onions and anything else that will fit!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Home Made Yogurt

Use a double boiler to heat milk or rig up a big pot with a steamer tray in it. Fill clean glass canning jars with milk and place on the tray and immerse in a few inches of water. Heat the whole thing until the milk is up to 180 Fahrenheit. I use a candy thermometer to check the temperature. You can find them for a few bucks at most kitchen stores. Then I cool the milk to 110 degrees. It takes ten minutes to cool down if you immerse the jars in cold water. Then I add a teaspoon of starter (plain live active yogurt) to each jar. Close the lid, shake a bit, and then put in a warm place to incubate for 4-6 hours. I place the jars above my oven and cover with a tea cozy. In the winter I put it on the metal covering on my boiler. Some folks use an insulated picnic cooler with a few jars of hot water. I have a friend who incubates her milk in a thermos. I never stop being amazed by growing my own culture! Save a little bit for the next round. By the way, heating the milk is necessary because it enables the enzymes in the milk to be more receptive to the yogurt culture. Cooling to 110 is so you don't kill off the culture. Have fun! Enjoy! In India women culture their milk every night before bed to enjoy fresh yogurt for breakfast in the morning.

Yogurt Cream Cheese

The way I worship cows in my urban life is by visiting the nearby Wright's Dairy Farm which is only three miles away! I buy milk at the farm and walk home carrying the milk in my back pack. I make a few quarts into yogurt. Sometimes I strain a pint of the fresh yogurt through a coffee filter (cone style) overnight in the fridge and the next day it's yogurt cheese! I add chopped onion grass, red onions, or raisins. The plain yogurt whey is a delicious to drink by itself.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Rachel's Roasted Ratatouille

My pal Rachel Nguyen is a fabulous writer, drummer and cook. She said her latest kitchen joy is making roasted ratatouille. Here's her recipe.
It's so lazy:

Chop the veggies. I use eggplant, zucchini, red pepper, onions, mushrooms and tomatoes, all diced to about 3/4 of an inch. Toss with a little olive oil and dump the whole pile into a roasting pan. Sprinkle thyme, salt, pepper, oregano. Roast at bitchin' high heat (450) for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until everything starts to carmelize. Stir. Roast another half hour at 350, just to get everything really gooey and concentrated.

Serve with chopped kalamata olives and crumbled feta. SO incredibly delicious.