Recipe: Rustic Onion Soup
All things end. But I don’t have to like it.
That’s what I wrote the day it became clear that my Cousin Helen’s cancer was both terminal, and progressing quickly. She was just short of eighty; she lived with humor, grace, passion, and an undercurrent of strength.
My best friend called me last week to say her Dad is dying. I’m never ready for this news, always brought short by the inadequacy of words.
I took to the kitchen for my own comfort. This soup is one to make on dark, cold days – be that the external or internal forecast. It’s not fast, but you can cry as you slice the massive amount of onions, and then, as they roast in the oven for two hours, you’ll start to pull it together as their earthy aroma permeates the house.
From My Bookshelves is an occasional book review series – featuring my cookbook collection. A few years ago, I pared my burgeoning cookbook shelves back to just the essentials. It had to happen. No one likes a hoarder. If I recommend a book, it’s because I’ve cooked from it and love it – not because someone’s given me a free copy. Occasionally, I may review other types of food writing too.
Recipe: Bitter Greens with Spiced Almonds
Want to be a hero among your friends? Always volunteer to bring the salad. Much of the time, green salads are an afterthought – but they can be so much more. Salad opens the palate at the beginning of a meal, or provides a refreshing respite at the end.
My go-to salad evolved from a recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks.
My friend Lisa gave me Matthew Kenney’s Mediterranean Cooking for Christmas back in 1997, the year it was published. The book focuses on the flavors of the Mediterranean rim – in addition to recipes from Spain and Italy, the countries represented here include Morocco, Egypt and Turkey. Kenney states in the introduction that his recipes aren’t necessarily traditional in technique, or even ingredients. His goal is to bring traditional Mediterranean rim flavor profiles to American home cooks. And how did he succeed, at least in my kitchen.
Recipe: Pineapple Chicken with Kale and Barley
It’s cold this morning. Today was my first dog walk wearing a heavy coat and gloves. And how nice it was to return to a warm, dry house, electricity, plumbing, and privacy; all the comforts of middle class infrastructure.
Just a few of the things that many of those hit hardest by Sandy last week are still doing without. When Barbara at Creative Culinary and Jenn at Jenn Cuisine sent out a call last week for the food blogging community to step up for Sandy’s victims, donate to the Red Cross, and to blog about comfort food, I knew I had to be a part of it. Join us – read the posts, follow the hashtag #FBS4Sandy on twitter, and most importantly of all, please give to the Red Cross. Last night a nor’easter rolled into the tri-state area. It wasn’t as severe as originally predicted, thankfully, but imagine facing a winter storm a week after your home and life washed away. Or even just without power.
Recipe: Bread Pudding with Salted Butterscotch Sauce
I ate bread pudding for dinner last night.
My mother didn’t serve Yorkshire pudding [with roast beef]…My mother served potato pancakes instead. I serve Yorkshire pudding and potato pancakes. Why not, you only live once.”
– From ‘Serial Monogamy’
One of my favorite writers died this week. Nora Ephron may be better known as the queen of romantic comedy, but she was much more. She was a real writer, concerned with craft, timing and the art of storytelling.
Recipe: Vintage Crab Cocktail
I lived on the East Coast for seven years, but I never really fell for lobster or lobster rolls. They’re good, particularly in Maine, along the coast, but they just never made me swoon. It’s not just a West Coast bias – I still dream of the fried clams on Cape Cod, for instance.
But when it comes to crustaceans, I am a Dungeness crab-girl. It’s a treat I will forever associate with trips to the beach as a kid, and the taste of the summer. The Washington coast Dungeness season typically runs from December through September.
Recipe: Spicy Carrot Pudding
I’m a child of the ’70s. If Bugs Bunny says it, believe it.*
Carrots are the first thing I ever grew from seed. My parents were big landscape gardeners, but not much into food gardening. My mother planted cucumbers on the south side of our house one year, and the vines actually climbed up the house and under the siding – anything goes for heat-loving plants in the Pacific Northwest. Some years she grew corn, and almost always pumpkins and tomatoes – but it was too haphazard to be called a garden.
I love flatbread. I adore the taste, the crispness with just the right amount of give – but really, flatbreads; naan, parathas, pooris, even pita bread – are a means to an end. They give me the freedom to eat with my fingers. The smallest bit of bread makes any dish manageable with just a thumb and two fingers.
For some Westerners it’s a skill that has to be acquired. Not for me. I jumped right in on my first trip to India – to the astonishment of my Indian family. Eating with your hands gives you a new way to appreciate the texture of food and for me, turns every bite into a conscious act. If I could get away with it, I’d ditch the silverware at every meal.