Friday, January 22, 2010

What I Really Needed Was Another Commitment

Why oh why do I start things? Like midnight grouting, and wallpaper stripping, and making Glace de Viande from scratch (redundant since it is the ONLY way to make it , i.e. from scratch) on the same day company is coming to dinner...and starting another blog. I mean, really, I hardly have time to keep The Curious Reader going, and now TCR is cooking and blogging about it as well. I will go, or perhaps already have gone, completely mad.

So, the Hannukah dinner went well. I used a cookbook snatched at the Big Book Sale for guidance, not being Jewish myself. But Joan Nathan is, and in her lovely book, The Jewish Holiday Table, she gives instructions on how to do a brisket. It was not so much a recipe as a method. With her at my elbow, I placed the brisket in one of those lovely enamel cast iron cooking vessels (not the French-made one, but a perfectly fine American substitute), and shoved it into the oven at 200 degrees for 9 hours. Yes! You heard me correctly. What could be easier? The latke recipe I borrowed from my friend Tinky (you can visit her at In Our Grandmother's Kitchen via the link at The Curious Reader) as well as the Harvest Salad. Tink told me that anything with oil in it was appropriate. Celebrating a holiday or festival not mine own has become yet another interest of late. In preparing for Hannukah, I re-read the story of Judith and Holofernes. Now there was a fellow who lost his head over a pretty girl if ever there was one.

For Winter Solstice (in honor of Stefanie and Bookman of So Many Books - also linked at TCR) I made a fabulous vegan dish I found on the internet. A Red Lentil Curry Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Greens, accompanied with freshly made bruschetta topped with tomatoes, olive oil and basil (an odd ingredient for winter, but delish nevertheless), followed by a dessert of figs. I had always known that at winter solstice is the shortest day of the year. But I did not realize that birth, death, and re-birth are also associated with the holiday, and that the slow lengthening of the days following the solstice gave ancient people hope that the sun was returning to warm the earth. That thought is very comforting to me.

Next up? Why, Robert Burns birthday, of course! The icon of Scotland will celebrate another birthday on January 25; I will be drinking a little Scotch. There will be no Haggis, but perhaps Chicken with Apples and Whisky sauce, accompanied with homemade Oatmeal Bread? Any twirling tartans who happen to be in the neighborhood are welcome.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

This Should Be Fun

The dilema - as if I need another challege. How do I blend my love of reading, my love of cooking and my love of collecting books (not to mention my love of my Nantucket Gray kitchen - well - it will be love as soon as I can afford a new stainless steel stove) into one cohesive whole? The idea hit me in a Newton's Apple moment - I think it was a Fuji. Once a week (I would promise myself more often, but who am I kidding) I will dust off one of those many cookbooks I have collected over the decades and make a dish to photograph, taste and review. The idea of working one's way through an entire treatise, a la Julie & Julia, has already been done, and doesn't really interest me. But just think of it - I have books on fish, and casseroles, on vegetables and poultry. I have Italian, and Jewish, and Slovenian. I have Chinese, Irish, and Indian. Books about cooking in Greece and Spain. Then there is festival cooking, like Christmas, and Hannukah, Thanksgiving and Halloween. So, I start this Saturday, December 12. By sheer good fortune, it will be Hannukah. Not being Jewish, I hope to do it justice.

Come join me at my table.