Eating

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photos by gluttonforlife

5.13.15 Take Heart

There's something deeply incongruous about lying in bed under the thick pall of a terribly scratchy throat, throbbing head and low-grade fever, while outside spring breezes tickle the chins of freshly bloomed yellow poppies and robins flit about the lawn, thrusting their red breasts before them. Flu, you are not my fair-weather friend. And apparently, neither are the great wafts of green pollen drifting through our screens. After swallowing a few tablespoons of last year's elderberry syrup and spritzing my cracked gullet with Portland Apothecary's Redroot & Licorice remedy, I am drinking vats of beet-ginger juice and throwing garlic into whatever I eat. In like a lion, out like a cranky bitch. Ah well.

 

On the bright side, I am back to posting after more than two weeks away, during which time I have indulged in spring things like wild watercress, ramp salt, green garlic and fistfuls of fresh asparagus, which I enjoyed for breakfast and lunch yesterday. We are moving into the season of crisp greens and lovely lettuces, and soon there will be peas and rhubarb and baby radishes and all manner of perky morsels to tempt our weary, winter-worn appetites.


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4.28.15 Mother's Little Helper

There are now so many established days of commemoration that between Siblings Day (April 10th), World Mosquito Day (August 20th) and National Cat Day (October 29th) it can be difficult to rouse sufficient enthusiasm for all these notable occasions. But few among us would dare to dismiss the second Sunday in May as just another manufactured celebration. For on that date every year, we pay tribute to the sainted creature who ushered us into this world. Why not honor her with a day off from cooking? Though in this world of working moms and takeout it may seem anachronistic to imagine her being tied to the stove, there’s no one of either sex who doesn’t enjoy sitting down to a delicious meal—especially when it's been lovingly prepared by someone else. And what better dish to offer on Mother’s Day than one that has been accused of being overly effeminate? I’m referring, of course, to quiche and I've got the perfect recipe you can whip up for dear old Mom on May 10th.


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4.21.15 Live Long & Prosper

Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es. [Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.] That famous quote is from legendary epicure Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin's 1826 tome, Physiologie du Gout, ou Méditations de Gastronomie Transcendante. In the nearly two centuries since its publication, what we have learned only confirms this seemingly reductive statement. The rise of industrialized and fast foods—and the attendant increase in cardiovascular illness, obesity and diabetes—has brought renewed focus to the pervasive impact of nutrition on health. This is not news to anyone who reads this blog. Three of the basic tenets that are the backbone of my work here are directly related: Eat adventurously, for health and pleasure. Stay close to nature and explore its ability to nourish and heal. Expand your mind and your palate, not your waistline. So it was with great interest that I read Dr. Mitchell Gaynor's just-released book, The Gene Therapy Plan: Taking Control of Your Genetic Destiny with Diet and Lifestyle. Christiane Northrup describes it as "a godsend that could save your life." 


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4.14.15 Salad Days

I cut my thumb last week. Quite badly, actually. With a mandoline. Of course. Not the fancy French mandoline that I retired 20 years ago after I sliced into all of my right fingertips. (Legendary pain.) A new lightweight, handheld variety that was a gift. My friend raved about its user-friendly qualities. So, for the second time in 20 years, I tried a mandoline. This time, for no reason that is clear to me, I didn't employ the little hand guard that comes with it. I'll be super careful, I said to myself. Talk about being green in judgment. Just three slices of radish later, and part of my thumb lay on the cutting board. The rest was all blood. There were no stitches involved because there was nothing to stitch together; it was a clean slice. And that radish salad? Never mind. Try this one instead. Just when you thought you were done with kale salads, it will make you think again.

 

And I've also got the three randomly chosen winners of the Bergdorf Goodman Cookbook (my bandaged thumb looked so chic as I signed books at the launch party): CHRISTINE, LICIA and IAN! I'll email you to get your info. Congrats and I hope you have fun with this little book.


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all photos courtesy of Harper Collins

4.3.15 The Bergdorf Goodman Cookbook, a Perfect Celebratory Dessert & a Giveaway

Last year, I had the pleasure of penning a little cookbook for Bergdorf Goodman. I was approached in my capacity as a freelance writer, but the offer had a special symmetry, given that I was the copy director in the store's advertising department more than 20 years ago. It was a wonderful immersion into the world of high fashion, the very epicenter of all that was chic at that time. (Some people even referred to the store as "church.") Perhaps my favorite achievement was creating a tagline that appeared for several years on all of BG's communications: The only city in the world. The only store in the city. It really seemed to sum it all up. Which is why I was surprised and delighted to discover, when I received my advance copy, that a version of this appears on the cookbook's back cover: One City. One Store. One Restaurant. Plus ça change, and all that...


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3.17.15 Dosa Do

Yes, it's another pancake. I'm on a (gluten-free) roll. The dosa is not dissimilar to the blini in that it's also made from a batter that sits around and gets bubbly, but it's got no yeast. Its gentle loft and tang come from a process of natural fermentation. If you live in the city, you might never think about making your own dosas. You're much more likely to head to little India—or to that award-winning dosa cart in Washington Square—and simply indulge your craving without much ado. But those of us out in the sticks have to get creative. We've got to psych ourselves up to scale these culinary walls. Ignorance and inexperience cannot stand in our way. Gotta scratch that dosa itch.


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3.11.15 Blini Meenie Miney Mo

Many great Russian writers, including Chekhov, Pushkin and Gogol, have dedicated plenty of ink to blini. These sturdy yet tender pancakes—originally made from oats but now also from wheat, rye, buckwheat and barley—were made for the pagan festival Maslenitsa, a celebration of the sun that heralded the coming of spring. The blini, round and golden like little suns, were eaten by the dozen in hopes of ensuring a rich harvest. Today, they are made for occasions both celebratory and pedestrian, topped with (or rolled around) a great many fillings, from mushrooms, potatoes and fish to fruit, cheese and honey. Blini are incredibly versatile, as welcome at the breakfast table as they are at the most sophisticated cocktail party. I think it's time to add them to your repertoire.


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3.6.15 March Hot Links

The guy who plows our driveway is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Every time it snows, he comes by and makes a huge mountain at the end of our front walk. I guess it hasn't occurred to him that we actually leave the house. At any rate, after the recent snowfall, there was a wall nearly four feet high and almost as wide. It was so wet and heavy that heaving every shovelful was a considered effort. Such a sisyphean task is what passes for a good workout here in the boondocks. And someone in my yoga class told me to spray the shovel with Pam to prevent the snow from sticking. Who am I and how did I get here?


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3.3.15 Running Hot & Cold

Sand between my toes is but a distant memory. The crunch of snow underfoot is what greeted me after my short vacation in Antigua. But I'm not complaining: I was lucky to get away and even luckier to return to my tiny cottage in the woods, my geriatric kitty, my cozy kitchen and everything I hold most dear and famliar. All the little routines—my meditation, watching birds in the yard while drinking my morning cup of tea, cooking dinner—these incremental steps in the journey of life bring me the most happiness. (Mary Oliver says it so much better.) I have some photos to illustrate the transition from island paradise to winter wonderland, and a few ideas for cold-weather cooking, and I've cobbled them together here into a long, image-studded meandering that ends in a recipe for duck confit that is so easy and so delicious you just have to make it.


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2.12.15 I Am Love

Don't go out for dinner on Valentine's Day. Unless you're on your own and just want to be defiant and sit at the bar somewhere twirling some delicious noodles on your fork and sucking down an excellent glass of red. Everybody in the world will be cinched into little black dresses, drinking overpriced bottles of Champagne, crowded into candlelit two-tops and contemplating fussy tasting menus. If you want to celebrate with your beloved, do it at home. That's where the true romance happens anyway, right? If you pour your heart into your cooking, you can really taste the love.


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