Just like my mom used to make

I keep the legacy of my mother's kitchen alive in many ways. I remember the thoughtfulness of her cooking, I've internalized her dedication to well-rounded meals, I celebrate her devotion to chocolate, and I aspire to her generosity and poise as a host. For a variety of reasons, I do not, however, reprise many of the dishes she made when I was growing up.

The other evening, however, I fried okra-- breading it simply with cornmeal and a hint of salt and browning it until the sides of the slices were wonderfully crunchy while the inside of each piece was still soft, moist, and flavorful. As I drained the little treats on a paper towel and salted them, I realized with pride that I'd accomplished fried okra just like my mom used to make.


repORTage 2

I made more cherry raita than necessary for this meal (which some of you may remember):

Turns out, the raita made for a lovely salad dressing the following evening. Seen here with arugula, hazlenuts, and homemade feta-dotted croutons:

Leftovers are so lovely in the summer-- less work is less energy is less heat. Whew!

Lolzie Mercie!: An Open Letter to Bradford

Bradford sent me a terrific package of things, and-- because we've encountered trouble with shipping before-- he asked me to let him know when it arrived.

Yesterday, I texted him:
I has package. -LOL-Erkz

He responded:
Why LOL, Miz Miss?

I wasn't laughing in response to the package but rather intended to cast myself recklessly into the lolcraze, which I adore.

It all began, as I understand it, with lol cats. Were it not for Kenneth and Bradford, I would never know about such internet phenomena as lol cats, gofugyourself.com, etc., etc. Needless to say, I'm endlessly grateful. Kenneth recently introduced me to lol cats.

My current favorites, oh how I love them:

Kenneth, while interested in lol cats, introduced them to me as background for bigger delights:

lol gay
(from their pride parade feature)

and lolhan

(this last one, of course, refers to a lol-cat-related phenomenon which I discovered all by my self)


Pretty, at least

Growing up, I imagined that vichyssoise was the height of elegance, of culinary sophistication and otherness. Since I began to cook, I've made the dish repeatedly and in numerous ways-- so thick it qualified as a puree rather than a soup and, more recently, sieved into something much thinner, more refreshing. Never, though, has vichyssoise lived up to the intensity I projected on it as a youth. It never wows me. Perhaps I should focus more on the leek, figuring the potatoes strictly as a thickener? Perhaps nothing lives up to the wild, vivid notions of a truly youthful brain? My most recent attempt was refreshing-- a good way to initiate a summer meal-- and its flavor intensified after resting in the fridge a couple of days. It never thrilled me, but-- garnished with fried sage leaves-- it was pretty, at least.


repORTage 1

Here's the first post in an at-least two-part and perhaps ongoing series entitled repORTage, in which I document my exploration of left-overs and their hopefully exciting potential.

A few years back, I asked Kenneth to get Cooking with Joy from the public library. Now, I can't fathom why I did so... Nevertheless, I copied a handful of recipes into a Word file-- mind you, her Splenda-sweetened dessert recipes were not among those I transcribed. One of Joy's creations which I return to somewhat regularly is shrimp with garlic and feta, a quick, easy, and intensely flavorful entrée. Joy, in all her trim and trimming glory, orders the dish to be served with brown rice. I, on the other hand, served it with fried zucchini pancakes:

Actually, the pancakes were my main objective in planning this dinner, and I thought the shrimp with feta would make for a nice complement and a filling meal. In my tweaking of Joy's recipe, the shrimp are baked under a quick tomato and garlic sautée, so you don't see them so well above.

I made enough zucchini batter for the following night-- not exactly orts, I know, but a form of left-overs just the same. On night two, we had the zucchini pancakes with a cherry raita, yellow-wax beans, and deviled eggs. I've read a number of recipes for zucchini pancakes that include fresh currants, and I've had zucchini pancakes with a cranberry sauce on at least one occasion, so I thought the sharp, fresh cherries would work nicely.

I'm pleased with how different the zucchini patties look in the respective menus.


Breakfast for Dinner...

...doesn't have to look breakfasty.

However, there's nothing wrong with breakfasty. I served this omelet and quick blender tomato sauce with crusty sour-dough bread and a salad full of pea greens.


Rabbit Reducts

Love my tiny lemon.

Love my huge carrot.

The tiny lemon is, as some readers likely know, old old news, but I couldn't resist reprising it today as an introduction to yesterday's lunch with its surprisingly enormous carrot.

Frances, the janitor in Lathrop Hall, loves to tease me about my lunches, which typically consist of a whole-wheat pita, carrots (or, in the above instance, a carrot), red-pepper hummus, and Brown Cow maple yogurt. I believe that Frances teases me in part because she only ever sees the pita and the carrot(s): I eat in my office, but beforehand I take the carrot(s) and pita to the kitchen, for to wash the former and toast the latter. It always appears that I'm eating a very light lunch. Of course, Frances teases me primarily because we're friends and we like to laugh together. She calls me Rabbit. Yesterday, after I pulled this doozie out of my 2# bag of organic Bunny Love carrots, I couldn't wait to brandish it and threaten Frances, telling her I'd whack her with my huge carrot if she made fun of my rabbit food. She laughed and asked if I grew the carrot in my own garden. She doesn't know me quite well enough to realize that, had I a proper garden, I would harvest only tiny carrots, tiny enough to fit in a tiny knapsack, tinier still, tiny as a tiny lemon's tiny tiny seed.


Owl's Eyes (Huernia striata)

An initial post on our trip to Chicago, which included a tour of the Garfield Park Conservatory.


Independence Day Picnic

I'm not sure I can stomach seeing myself at the top of my blog, so I'm starting with dessert.

We celebrated the Fourth of July with a trip to American Players Theatre in Spring Green where we saw a riveting performance of The Merchant of Venice. For the picnic dinner before hand, I made goat cheese flans w/ li'l toasts, cold spring pea soup (though it's hardly spring), herbed shrimp salad, and chocolate spice quickies, so called because they bake for a mere seven minutes.

The weather was glorious during dinner, but it began to sprinkle during the last scene. APT is outside, so the weather is key, not necessarily to my enjoyment of the event (we once had a grand time when a show was rained out), but to how much of the play one gets to see. We all breathed a collective sigh of relief after the curtain call... but as we made our way down the quarter-mile trail to the parking lot, the sky dumped buckets of rain on a mostly unprepared group of playgoers. I worried that someone might have a disastrous fall in the mud, but apart from that, the soaking was very summery and fun-- festive even. As tonight's dinner companion suggested, the rain washed away any troubling humors raised by a wonderfully complicated play.


Lemon Zinger

Emily Luchetti is a genius. As evidence, I cite her recipe for lemon ice-cream sandwiches made with ginger snaps.

The cookies by themselves don't snap-- they're a little soft. HOWEVER, the recipe intends them for use in the sandwich. Once frozen, the cookies have a slight crunch but are still flexible enough to stick to the ice cream, rather than cracking into a mess. The white pepper in the dough ensures that the cookies remain wonderfully spicy in the face of 1) freezing and 2) delicious lemon ice cream. Fie on the pissy middle-aged marms that diss A Passion for Ice Cream in their amazon.com reviews: "Then she includes recipies for cookies, cakes, etc., which have nothing to do with my ice cream maker." If Marmy McMarm had tried a recipe or two, he might have realized that these cookies, cakes, etc. in fact have very much to do with ice cream and its makers. This is my new favorite treat, and-- look, Mom-- no chocolate!?!


Cold Shrimp Bouillabaisse

I purchased Daniel Boulud's Café Boulud Cookbook because one quarter of the book-- the section entitled "Le Potager"-- is devoted to vegetarian specialties, therefore ensuring that I wouldn't end up with another cookbook, one half of which is devoted to meaty things that I'm sure are fabulous but which I won't prepare. Of course, I began my investigation of the recipes not with a vegetarian entrée but with a dessert-- coffee cardamom pots du crème, which is potent, rich, and delicious. I then proceeded with this Cold Shrimp Bouillabaisse

which I thought might fit nicely into the menu of a dinner party set on our back porch during the warmer part of the summer. The recipe isn't simple, but the richness of the broth is well worth it. And, I can make it a day in advance so that, if all goes as planned and I don't decide to add things to the menu last minute, I can initiate the evening fresh and well-pressed, rather than looking like a wilted leaf of baby spinach. I will eventually get around to "Le Potager," but right now I'm creating a list of seafood lovers with whom I might share this fun, fancy new dish.



Thank goodness Clara turned me on to the Willy Street Co-op's eggless egg salad. As a vegaquarian, I've long been dedicated to vegetarian food that doesn't smack of meat substitutes or hippy-dippy dowdiness. Thus, I long steered clear of the co-op's eggless egg salad. But, thanks to Clara (who some time ago declared a passion for the stuff), I now know about this delicious dill-spiked, tofu-based salad which makes a perfect summer sandwich. It's my favorite weekend lunch fare-- perfect for Sunday bike rides or lunch on the wee pier at Cherokee Marsh. Incidentally, I'm also a fan of a Willy Street deli dish called Jeff's Vegan "Cheesy" Bowties and the bakery's Nothing Muffins (which are wheat-, dairy-, and sugar-free). I think Jeff's pasta may be an acquired taste but one well worth acquiring. The muffins-- made with maple syrup and plump raisins-- are the moistest, most delicious bran muffins I've ever tasted. I somehow managed to discover these two treats myself, in spite of my vegetarian prejudices.