Saturday, October 31, 2009

I Do Not Understand

I do not understand cake mixes.
Like sex with a blow up doll
all the fun is taken out.
For me, the fun part is taking out
my big brown earthenware bowl from the cupboard,
scooping the powdery flour, salt, and baking powders,
and leveling each scoop with a knife.

The scent of the vanilla wobbling on the teaspoon,
like an eye with the reflected light its pupil.

As a kid I used to hypnotize myself at lunchtime.
I'd move my head in circles over the oil globes floating
in my chicken soup,
a dozen eyes orbiting in unison, watching me,
kitchen moonlight overhead.

Mixing up the cake batter with my hand-held mixer
vibrating like a sex toy,
then lovingly licking the bars of the beaters
one at a time
while standing over the sink.

I have never understood ham sold in a can either.

-Emily Lisker

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Some 300 chefs were involved in preparing Saturday's massive ceramic plate of hummus in a huge tent set up in downtown Beirut. The white-uniformed chefs used 2,976 pounds (1,350 kilograms) of mashed chickpeas, 106 gallons (400 liters) of lemon juice and 57 pounds (26 kilograms) of salt to make the dish, weighing 4,532 pounds (2,056 kilograms).

And I thought I made hummus in huge quantities. Imagine calculating a portion for two from this recipe? I'd like to see the machinery used in making this. Did they use a sterilized back hoe from the highway department for mashing and mixing chic peas? I sure hope so!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Greg Brown Song

Slow Food

People want that slow food
Two minutes and they grouch
But give me ham baked all day long
And help me to the couch
Help me to the sofa
Put the quiet music on
I will lie and think about that ham
Long after it is gone.

I want some slo-o-o-o-ow food.

I don't want no food with cute names
No neon on a sign
A man can't live on advertising slogans
And conceptual design
Let somebody else go surf and turf
Someone else go carry out
Me, I want my food to know itself
Before it knows my mouth.

I want some slo-o-o-o-ow food
With all the love cooked in.

Why don't we start it in the mornin'
Leave us plenty of time for lovin'
Weekend homemade hot fresh bread
Make the whole house smell like an oven
And let it all just simmer
Cook in the good juices and the greases
Then we'll sit down at the table, baby
And slowly tear it into pieces.

I want some slo-o-o-o-ow food

-Greg Brown

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Live It

I read today about the breakthrough:
A doctor prescribes the six cookie diet.
He insists on six cookies!
His own cookies of course, baked in his white coat laboratory,
chock full of amino acids and proteins that only he can sell.

America wants to eat cookies and grow thinner.

How about no die-its.
How about living well?
Live it!

Play with your children,
do not plop them in front of a screen
in the name of Einstein.

Make food together,
Break bread together.
Eye contact,
I contact


We are in a new time.
Our First Lady hula hoops 142 revolutions
on the White House lawn
and all the planets notice.

-Emily Lisker

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Grits In Songs

If I don't love you, baby,
Grits ain't groceries,
Eggs ain't poultry,
And Mona Lisa was a man.

-Little Milton

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Coffee Milk

I love to drink hot or cold coffee with equal parts skim milk. The skim milk sweetens the coffee but doesn't mask the flavorful coffee oils.

Warm Jam

I never realized it until today, cold jam out of the fridge is not as tasty as room temperature jam. So today I warmed my Joblot sour cherry jam and enjoyed it on an open face peanut butter sandwich on my home made sourdough whole wheat bread! I recommend it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sunflower Seeds

We buy raw shelled sunflower seeds in a ten pound box from J.A.R. Bakers Supply in Lincoln RI. We store them in the fridge and the freezer. I love sunflower seeds with raisins as a travel snack, or sprinkled on cooked oatmeal (with the raisins cooked in). Sunflower seeds have a rich crunch and they taste earthy. They are jammed with vitamins and minerals and good-for-you oils.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Song to Grits

Song to Grits
When my mind's unsettled,
When I don't feel spruce,
When my nerves get frazzled,
When my flesh gets loose -

What knits
Me back together's grits.

Grits with gravy,
Grits with cheese.
Grits with bacon,
Grits with peas.
Grits with minimum
Of two over-medium eggs mixed in 'em: um!

Grits, grits, it's
Grits, I sing -

Grits fits
In with anything.

Rich and poor, black and white,
Lutheran and Campbellite,
Jews and Southern Jesuits
All acknowledge buttered grits.

Give me two hands, give me my wits,
Give me forty pounds of grits.

Grits at taps, grits at reveille.
I am into grits real heavily.

True grits,
More grits,
Fish, grits and collards.
Life is good where grits are swallered.


-Roy Blount, Jr.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sweet Stock

I made lentil soup and used the broth from the pig-roast stock we made this summer. It came out so good. It was so sweet that it tasted like molasses.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Charles Dickens

Some years ago, a temporary inability to sleep, referable to a distressing impression, caused me to walk about the streets all night, for a series of several nights. The disorder might have taken a long time to conquer, if it had been faintly experimented on in bed; but, it was soon defeated by the brisk treatment of getting up directly after lying down, and going out, and coming home tired at sunrise.
-Charles Dickens

Fabulous Leftovers

Spread one layer of pressure-cooked potato salad into a Pyrex dish, and pour in 6 beaten eggs. Bake and broil until firm.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Smothers, Beard, Gussow, Allen & Trillin

Red meat is not bad for you. Now blue-green meat, that’s bad for you!
-Tommy Smothers

A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch.
-James Beard

As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists.
-Joan Gussow

Condensed milk is wonderful. I don't see how they can get a cow to sit down on those little cans.
-Fred Allen

The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.
-Calvin Trillin

Estonian Proverb

An empty belly is the best cook.
-Estonian Proverb

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

M.F.K. Fisher

There is a communion of more than our bodies when bread is broken and wine drunk. And that is my answer, when people ask me: Why do you write about hunger, and not wars or love?
-M.F.K. Fisher

The first thing I remember tasting and then wanting to taste again is the grayish-pink fuzz my grandmother skimmed from a spitting kettle of strawberry jam. I suppose I was about four.

We spent most of our time in a stream under the cottonwoods, or with Old Mary the cook, watching her make butter in a great churn between her mountainous knees. She slapped it into pats, and put them down into the stream where it ran hurriedly through the darkness of the butter-house.

Oretta Zanini De Vita

The nuns taught the girls that their tortellini dough was thin enough only when they held it up to the window and could see the nearby Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca.

For centuries “pasta was a luxury, you ate it only inside vegetable soup,” Ms. Zanini DeVita said. In the southern Basilicata region it was eaten “once or twice a year: for Easter, Christmas and Carnival.” Flour was for the rich. “The poor wouldn’t even see it in paintings,” she said.

- from the New York Times article "So You Think You Know Pasta" by Rachel Donadio

Friday, October 9, 2009

Healthy Crunchy Candy

Take natural peanut butter, raw sunflower seeds, granola, raisins, salt and a splash of orange juice or honey. Mush together with your fingers in a small bowl and eat like a healthy crumbly candy!


Today I chopped up a bowl full of cucumbers and sprinkled them with raisins. I ate them together with my fingers while I was at my computer! I could really taste the fact that cucumbers are in the melon family. The cucumber tasted like honey dew. Try it!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Potato Poem


Inside one potato
there are mountains and rivers.

-Shinkichi Takahashi translated by Harold P. Wright

Halloween Candy

Halloween! I love candy corn, real black licorice, and miniature peanut butter cups. I think I'll go get some now!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Southern Style Pot Au Feu

Take dried blackeyed peas, cover with water, add bloops of olive oil, and bring to a boil for ten minutes. Then turn off the heat and let the peas sit for an hour. Come back and simmer the beans for 2 hours without salt (because salt will toughen the beans at this stage).

Then, add a 4-6 stalks celery chopped, add a big chopped onion, 2-4 strips of bacon chopped, a bag of fresh spinach, a green jalapeño pepper, chopped, seeds and all, and four cloves of garlic smashed and chopped coarsely. Add salt, and your favorite spices and a splash of wine if you have it. Let it simmer for a bit. Delicious!

Cumin Garlic Crackers

Cumin Garlic Crackers
with permission from NYC attorney Katy Atlas' food + fashion blog called Sugarlaws

1 3/4 cups 100% whole wheat flour
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup canola oil
Olive oil, for brushing the top of the dough
2 tbsp fleur du sel
2 tbsp poppy seeds

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the
ingredients and mix together until the dough comes together and is smooth,
kneading as necessary.

Divide dough into 3 pieces and roll out each piece into a 12" by 18" sheet,
which should be very thin. Brush the top with olive oil and sprinkle with
poppy seeds and fleur du sel, and then roll lightly once over the toppings
with a rolling pin to set them into the dough (otherwise the salt will fall
off after the crackers are baked).

Place the sheet of dough on a silipat or parchment-lined baking sheet and
bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Allow to cool on a wire rack and then break the
sheet of crackers into pieces. Repeat with the other two thirds of the

Makes about 40 crackers.

Horseradish Bender

Ever since I read that horseradish and vinegar open the lungs I have gone full tilt in my cravings. I am naturally drawn to things that make me take a sharp breath; jumping into ice cold water, sipping hot tea, playing my saxophone, and eating horseradish and pepperoncini with everything!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Savoring the Savory

I still prefer dinner to dessert. My real loves are fresh vegetables, whole grains, and toasted nuts and seeds, but a bit of spice is a fun treat. I even use meat as a spice, like cumin or black pepper. When I was a child my mother would take us out to Cook's for ice cream cones and I would ask if I could order a hamburger instead! Now that I think of it mashed potatoes with garlic and olive oil would be my idea of an ideal dessert, in a garlic cracker cone!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Pot Au Feu

I rarely have a plan when I cook. I just start doing stuff when I am hungry and see where it leads. Today I sauteed two chopped onions in olive oil in my Dutch oven and added a cup of Israeli cous cous. I added the two jars of leftover bean stock I had in the fridge and I chopped up three stalks of celery and added sprinkles of red chili pepper flakes. Then I added salt and my leftover beet, potato, and cabbage salad. I chopped up a few strips of frozen bacon and dropped them into the hot pot. It simmered, bubbling gently for 30 minutes, thick and pink from the beets. I have had three small bowls of it while waiting for my husband to arrive home. It's the best pot au feu I have ever made.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Cucumber Yogurt Soup

I copied this recipe by Martha Rose Shulman from the New York Times because I love to make meals with homemade yogurt and fresh cukes! Enjoy!

Bulgarian Cucumber Soup With Walnuts

Before the weather becomes too chilly for cold soups, try this one. Bulgaria once was well known for the number of centenarians in its population, which some scientists attributed to the daily consumption of Bulgarian yogurt. Now, both the yogurt and eating culture in this mountainous country have changed for the worse, and so have local lifespans.

2 to 4 garlic cloves (to taste), peeled, green shoots removed
Salt to taste
2 cups thick plain yogurt (Greek style, or drained)
2 tablespoons walnut or olive oil, or 1 tablespoon each
2/3 cup (2 ounces) shelled walnuts, finely chopped
1 European cucumber, about 10 inches long, or 3 Persian cucumbers, cut in very small dice
1/2 cup ice-cold water, preferably spring water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper

For the garnish:
Ice cubes (optional)
Finely chopped walnuts
Extra virgin olive oil
Finely chopped fresh dill or mint

1. Place the garlic in a mortar with 1/2 teaspoon salt, and mash to a paste.
2. Place the yogurt in a large bowl. Stir in the oil, garlic and walnuts. Whisk in the water and the lemon juice. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Chill for one hour or longer.
3. Meanwhile, season the cucumbers lightly with salt, and allow to drain in a colander for 15 minutes. Add to the yogurt mixture and stir together.
4. If you wish, place an ice cube in each bowl, and ladle in the soup. Top with chopped walnuts, a drizzle of olive oil if desired, and a sprinkling of dill or mint.
Yield: Serves four.

Advance preparation: You can make this several hours before serving it. Keep the soup base and the cucumbers separately refrigerated. The longer the soup sits, the more pungent it will become.

-Martha Rose Shulman


Recently I made caponata with beets in place of tomatoes! It was great. I also made my pressure-cooker potato salad adding beets + cabbage into the mix. Both dishes were delicious and very colorful.

Israeli Cous Cous

Last night our friend toasted Israeli cous cous in a pot with sliced onions and olive oil, blackening the onions. Then he added chicken broth and simmered until completely cooked. Fabulous! I believe the path to world peace is through shared food + music!

Roasted Cauliflower

Last night our friend took two heads of cauliflower and chopped them into small florets and then chopped up a bunch of fresh garlic. He placed the florets in two oblong Pyrex dishes with the fresh garlic and some olive oil sprinkled over them and roasted it all under the broiler, stirring every ten minutes, until slightly blackened. We enjoyed them sprinkled with salt. It was outstanding!