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Posts Tagged ‘Cooking’

My first, and possibly last Seder was last year in VA. Yesterday the Bride threw a fabulous feast for 14, after working the night shift the night before, and I am honored to pass the torch on to her! She makes a mean matzoh ball soup, and her charoses was to die for: Chag Sameach! Next year in Nashville with Great Grandma Ada and Cousin Anita if you’re willing and able!

My contribution was a brisket, which is actually the same cut of beef as my St Patrick’s Day specialty, corned beef. I knew the Jews and Irish could align in mysterious ways! Of course, I Googled Ina Garten’s recipe and loved the idea of adding leeks. Leeks are my Celtic heritage, I must admit I put them in everything. https://barefootcontessa.com/recipes/brisket-with-onions-and-leeks

Today we met the kiddos at Cheekwood for an Easter Egg Hunt. There were food trucks, including my favorite Grilled Cheeserie, music and lots of arts and crafts. It started out cold, almost 50 degrees, but the sun was shining and the children were willing. It made me think of my friend Polli’s Easter Egg hunts in her Rumson yard. Since we didn’t go to church Easter morning (being Jewish), we helped hide all the candy. Back then, we tossed chocolate bunnies and jelly beans around like nobody’s business.

Our reward was champagne on her porch while the children searched for treats in Polli’s beautiful garden. She taught me how to arrange flowers for weddings and not to let the Rocker miss the school bus. I miss your wisdom dear friend! Today, in Nashville, the treasure was plastic eggs with plastic toys. The times they are a changin!

Back on my porch, I read my Cville friend’s food/lifestyle blog “Things I’m Afraid to Tell You” https://www.katheats.com

Being vulnerable takes courage. She is around the Bride’s age and has a son from her first marriage. She just re-married this past year and told her readers that she’d had a miscarriage last month.

Some of you may know that I had 3 misses in one year between the Bride and the Rocker. I know what it feels like to mourn the possibility of a child. To curl into yourself and reject anyone’s help. To harbor fear and anger in equal measure, and to feel like the ground you walk on has betrayed you.

You stop driving over bridges.

I’m sending Koop my heartfelt love. Her blog has grown over the years to inspire young women to not just eat real food, but to go after their authentic selves. This time of year is all about rebirth. We clean out the bread, we prepare to tell the story of Exodus, and we talk about Jesus who sacrificed his life to bring Christians everywhere the promise of salvation.

May this sacred time find you surrounded by family. Having Easter and Passover fall under the same full moon is a miracle! The Bride will be working tomorrow, maybe I should deliver a ham to the Groom?

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I’m sorry to say, that while perusing Twitter I lacked the energy and inclination to watch SyFy’s new show Sharknado. It was all over my Twitter feed, but instead I linked to @KosherSoul’s Washington Post article in the first person singular. The man’s name is Michael Twitty, and I somehow found him when he wrote an article about Paula Deen. He is a Southern culinary historian and food blogger http://afroculinaria.com with a remarkably astute point of view!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/first-person-michael-w-twitty-36-culinary-historian-and-food-blogger-from-rockville/2013/07/10/a9ac8d08-d91f-11e2-9df4-895344c13c30_story.html

“No one had to tell me about “organic” or “sustainable,” because that was the tradition that was passed down to me. My authenticity is not based on food trends; my authenticity is based on what August Wilson once called the self-sustaining ground of the slave quarter.”

His intention is to bring an awareness to our white Euro-centric society of our gastronomic roots in Africa. Most food cooked on plantations in the Antebellum South was not done by French chefs – even though Mr Jefferson did have a French chef give his slave/cook Edith Fossett  instructions: “1862 He (Jefferson) had a French cook in Washington named Julien, and he took Eda and Fanny there to learn French cookery. He always preferred French cookery. Eda and Fanny were afterwards his cooks at Monticello.” So you can see how French cooking did influence Virginia and Louisiana chefs in the future.

But mostly today’s Southern cuisine is the result of black enslaved women, who created wholesome, real food;  locally grown and harvested. They raised the cows, chickens and pigs that were slaughtered without drugs. They grew the vegetables and fruit without pesticides.

So I began to think of my own culinary history, born in PA coal country and nurtured in rural NJ. How is it that I managed to raise 2 children who became healthy, real food-types despite my own upbringing? My foster mother Nell cooked by can, usually Campbells. She was of that new-fangled, post-war generation that was sold a bill of goods. Look, we created a frozen TV dinner for you to just “heat and serve” to your family! Marketing was focused on making the happy 50s housewife’s life simple and easy. Where do you think that canned green bean special swimming in soup came from on Thanksgiving?

But Nell was first generation Yugoslavian, and she talked about her father keeping barrels of sauerkraut in their basement. Sometimes she would fry pork chops, but for special occasions, she would make “halupkes.” These are the most delicious little pillows of ground pork and rice, rolled in a cabbage leaf and simmered in sauerkraut. I adored this Slavic stuffed cabbage, with a passion. Even today, comfort food usually involves pork. But lucky for me, the Flapper loved to cook.

The Flapper was married first to an Italian man, then widowed and married to my Father, an Irishman. She married my step-father, who was Jewish, after I moved back into her house. Consequently, she was a proper global chef de cuisine. My pre-teen and teen years were filled with lovely aromas and real food. She baked banana cream pies, deviled eggs and put together a proper meatball and tomato sauce. She could roast, fry and broil just about anything using her Fanny Farmer cookbook. In fact, I think she only opened a can to get at some stewed tomatoes for her famous Depression-era mac and cheese, with bacon!

Nell taught me to cook with love on special occasions, and my MIL Ada taught me how to make a proper seder dinner. But the Flapper taught me to cook with alacrity, with whatever is in season, using the freshest possible ingredients. And this led to the Bride winning her Kindergarten Mother’s Day essay by “writing” about my mac and cheese and how I cook “from scratch,” even when I make PB & J sandwiches! Here are my herb planters on the deck.

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The best thing I learned from the Flapper was always adding some TLC to any dish. What is your culinary history?

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So I was procrastinating and reading the New York Times online the other day, and being a card carrying Francophile, I never pass up a piece on my favorite culture. Combine Les Francais with food, and I’m smitten.  Of course I had to read “There’s the Wrong Way and There’s Jacques Pepin’s Way!” http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/19/dining/jacques-pepin-demonstrates-cooking-techniques.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2

To quote this 75 year old gastronomic genius, “Who want to die in good health?” Yes, I watched “How To” video after video (sharpen a knife, make an omelet), because I was drawn to his French accent and his hands. Pepin feels that the great chef has technique, which through repetition will turn into talent. “Good cooking is controlled creation,” and in everything we become masters at our craft if we continue to do it day in and day out. That could be playing a guitar, or writing, or tennis, or reading x-rays, anything. Even knitting…

When an interviewer said that Gabrielle Hamilton, who wrote “Blood, Bones and Butter,” called Pepin the greatest living chef, it whet my appetite for her book, which is sitting next in line to be read. Her restaurant, Prune, in downtown Manhattan is known for its comfort food prepared to exacting gourmet standards. Her memoir proves she is that rare combination of chef, one who can write well! A review from the aforementioned newspaper says it all:  “It’s a story of hungers specific and vague, conquered and unappeasable, and what it lacks in urgency (and even, on occasion, forthrightness) it makes up for in the shimmer of Hamilton’s best writing.”

Sometimes I’ll shoot an email link to a story downstairs to Bob’s office, which I did with There’s the Wrong Way with Pepin’s speed and skill. I may have wistfully longed for sharp knives that can slice through a tomato just so. And yesterday, after returning from the grocery store, I caught my husband sharpening the last of my knives in the late afternoon sun in my kitchen. And it was almost as good as catching him holding a baby after letting me sleep through a feeding.

Orange Mountains

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The news this morning is grim: Mitt is a flip-flopper on Roe vs Wade; the President’s Jobs Bill has a tough road to climb; the NBA is shut down for 2 weeks; the NYPD has to shell out almost 2 million in overtime to patrol the Occupy Wall Streeters…who are being called an “unruly mob” by certain GOPers. Now for some good news – Mobsters of another type are heading to Canada while their second album, “Dogs,” drops into iPods, Phones, Pads and stores near you! And if those revolutionaries on Wall Street want an anthem, how about this one, Hard Times?

Since it’s Tuesday, I’ve got a savory recipe for all those apples you’ve been picking. I was never much of a pastry chef, but when I saw this simply delicious take on a potato gratin, I had to tweek it to my liking. Pull out your madeleine again, and thinly slice one apple (peeled) and and half of a big sweet potato (unpeeled). Next layer them with little pats of butter and spread on a mixture of (1 carton) Greek yogurt and honey with (half a box) goat’s cheese. When done, sprinkle on some corn flake crumbs and more butter. I actually made this in a small casserole, for the two of us. Bake for 35 minutes at 375 covered, then uncover for 15 minutes.

Finis

If you are in the mood for learning how to make sauerkraut, or can fruit, or maybe make a delicious new sauce for your everyday pasta, my Facebook friend, Steffanie, someone I briefly met at a wedding in MS but came to love like family through her blog, has started something new called Food Porn: for an Audience of Two.” I faithfully followed her adventures on her old blog, “365 Days in Pictures,” and was in a panic as the days wound down. Luckily for all of us, she not only cooks, has a way with words, but is a breathtakingly beautiful photographer. Plus I love the name – http://foodpornfor2.wordpress.com/

Although the two independent music stores in Cville have closed down, I’ll have to stop in at Best Buy and rummage through the CDs today. It’s like the Book vs Kindle – it’s a tarty tactile thing.

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