Thursday, June 14, 2007


Why haven’t I posted for a month and a half?

(A) Now that I’ve reached the ripe age of 30, I’m devoting my time exclusively to important, meaningful, responsible, sober, and grown-up pursuits, such as teaching underprivileged children to read, writing the Great American Novel, training for marathons, and getting ahead in corporate America.

(B) After being distracted by a string of Very Exciting Birthdays in April, I spent much of May traveling and eating in restaurants, often very indulgently (cf. Carbone’s pizza in St. Paul and a whole slew of fried goods in Memphis), so that whenever I was home I obsessively struck to the familiar, safe, tried-and-true, and austerely healthy dishes in my repertoire instead of experimenting with new, exciting, blogworthy recipes.

(C) I’m a lazy loser who can’t get her act together.

Whatever the reason, I’m just bursting with exciting food-related news. First and foremost, three notable birthday gifts:

1. From a group of thoughtful and generous friends, a long-coveted KitchenAid stand mixer! I promptly followed this up with the purchase of some new baking sheets that don’t let everything burn, plus Great Cookies by Carole Walter, which is full of the most delicious and foolproof cookie recipes I’ve ever tried. In the past month, the KitchenAid and I have whipped up (and shared with the aforementioned gift-giving friends) Chock Full o’ Crunchies (cookies with coconut, pecans, and Rice Krispies), Chocolate Sugar Snaps, and my absolute favorite, Chocolate Coconut Devils (chocolate + coconut + almond flavoring = heaven to me). I want to try just about every recipe in this book. I haven’t experimented with making bread using the mixer’s dough hook yet, but I’m already contemplating asking for the pasta-making attachment for Christmas. Homemade ravioli—how awesome would that be?

2. From A’s mom, the miraculously handy Cuisinart SmartStick immersion blender. I love pureed soups, but it’s such a drag to go through the messy rigmarole of pouring hot soup into my cranky old blender and then back into the pot, and then washing the blender and its many tiny parts. Enter the SmartStick. I stick the end into the pot of soup, I press a button, and its sharp little blade whips chunks of vegetables into velvety-smooth liquid right before my eyes. Easy to use, easy to wash, easy to store…SmartStick, where have you been all my life?

3. From my parents, a sweet, sleek little digital camera of my very own; no longer do I have to share A’s elderly, rather temperamental one. Now that it’s so much easier for me to take and upload photos, I’m dying to try adding photos to the site. (When contemplating a new recipe for the first time, I think we all appreciate knowing what the food will look like when it’s finished.) Of course, when I’m hungry and tired after a bout of cooking, I’m focused on eating the food, not whipping out my camera to take pictures of it. So first I have to remember to take pictures of the recipes, then I have to overcome my laziness enough to actually post them. This may or may not ever happen. But the potential is there!

Other food things I’ve been enjoying lately:

1. Presented with a bounty of lemons from a coworker’s backyard tree, P and I canned strawberry-lemon marmalade and then made lemon curd, which is one of the most delicious things I’ve ever tasted. It’s currently sitting in my freezer while I try to figure out a more noble use for it than just devouring it with a spoon. I’m thinking pie or cake—anyone have a good recipe that uses lemon curd?

2. Summer has arrived at the farmers’ market, throwing me into a frenzy of delight every Saturday morning. In the past few weeks I’ve had my first corn on the cob, cherries, watermelon, apricots, peaches, and nectarines of the year. I come home so laden with fruits and vegetables I can barely walk, thinking, “This is what I love about living in California.” Also, I’m obsessed with BLTs, my ideal summer meal. Is once a week too often to make them, do you think?

3. A few weeks ago I visited Memphis for the first time, and it turns out I love Southern food! (I wasn’t entirely certain, having never had what I considered to be the real thing.) People really know how to cook down there, and how to eat. Even though I rather sickeningly overdosed on deep-fried foods and was craving sushi and salads by the end of the four-day weekend, the biscuits alone were worth the trip. I’ve never in my life had biscuits so soft and fluffy…how do they do that? Also notable: fried green tomatoes, sweet potato pie, pecan pie, fried catfish, hushpuppies, and mint juleps. And anywhere where macaroni and cheese is categorized as a vegetable is definitely my kind of place.

I’ve updated the list of recommended food books to include Great Cookies, as well as Nigel Slater’s entrancing The Kitchen Diaries, which is the kind of simple, thoughtful writing about daily cooking and eating that I only wish I could give you. Stay tuned tomorrow for a recipe that happens to involve three of the favorite things listed here: bacon, fresh corn on the cob, and the SmartStick!

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