Eating

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photo by Christopher Hirsheimer (remaining photos by gluttonforlife)

11.20.14 Yes, I Can, Bacon Jam & a Giveaway

Cathy Barrow is a "can do" sort of person. I first crossed paths with her online in the early days of Food52, where she has lately been featured sharing recipes from her recently published cookbook, Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry: Recipes and Techniques for Year-Round Preserving. She's been a landscape designer, a retailer, a marketing consultant and the founder of Charcutepalooza—and I'm positive she's brought to each role the enthusiasm, creativity and competence that characterizes her every move. But I think she's going to be wearing this current hat—should I say toque?—from here on out, because if ever anyone had a calling for the kitchen, it's Cathy. We're all really lucky that she decided to create this preserving bible, because it's loaded with ancient ways and modern techniques for putting food up, plus wonderful ideas for using what's in your stocked pantry. Her recipes don't shy away from plenty of salt, fat and sugar, but she'll also teach you to can your own stock, make pickles of all kinds and even get started making cheese at home. Speaking of salt, fat and sugar, I made her bacon jam. Yes, I said "bacon jam."
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photos by gluttonforlife

11.14.14 November Hot Links & Thanksgiving Recipes

Nothing says Thanksgiving quite like a sheet pan full of scarlet cranberries, richly spiced and roasted to caramelized perfection. Unless perhaps it's that tidal wave of panic that starts to consume you when you realize hordes of relatives will be descending on your home with all their neuroses and dysfunctions fully primed. I'd be curious to know how many of you are cooking the feast this year and how many will be dining elsewhere. Leave a comment below and let me know, and you just may get a jar of my favorite St. John chutney in time to slather on your slice of (hideously dried-out) turkey breast. For now, I've compiled some tried-&-true recipes to get you started thinking about a menu. As I think you know, I am a steadfast advocate of planning ahead. It decreases stress exponentially and helps you budget your time and energy so you're not utterly depleted when the day is over (or just beginning).
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photos by gluttonforlife

10.29.14 Kindred Kitchens & a Cookbook Giveaway

I cook a lot and I own a vast number of cookbooks but, paradoxically, I don't cook from them very often. Mostly, they serve as inspiration for new ingredients, new techniques, new flavor combinations. There are exceptions, of course. Anything to do with baking and I need a recipe. Everything I know about Southeast Asian cuisine, I learned from Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet, and I have cooked my way through Suzanne Goin's entirely wonderful Sunday Suppers at Lucques. Come fall, Braise by Daniel Boulud is always at hand, as is Tadashi Ono's invaluable Japanese Hot Pots. Nourishing Traditions is a touchstone. These favorites are now dog-eared and annotated, their pages stained with drips and spatters. But it's not so often that a new cookbook becomes part of my weekly repertoire, much less captures my heart. And yet, less than a month after it arrived in the mail, Amy Chaplin's At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen: Celebrating the Art of Eating Well has managed to do both. Read on for the juicy details and a chance to win your very own copy.


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photos by gluttonforlife

10.21.14 Invasion of the Kernel Snatchers

This is an overdue post I had promised to write sometime in August, I think, back when our local farmer friend found this rare treat/calamitous pest in his cornfield. I know this corn fungus as huitlacoche, the name (Nahuatl in origin) it goes by in Mexico, where it's considered a delicacy. In the States, it's called "corn smut," and destroyed for being a pathogenic blight on the harvest. Although Ustilago maydis can infect any part of the plant, it tends to enter the ovaries. It then replaces the normal kernels with large, distorted tumors or "galls." Doesn't sound very appetizing, right? But, like many fungi (think truffles), huitlacoche has a savory, sweet, earthy flavor that defies description. In Mexico, it's often eaten in cheesy quesadillas, with creamy scrambled eggs or in a kind of succotash with onions and spicy serrano peppers. I've come up with my own take on it that's delicious whether or not you can get your hands on any huitlacoche. It's available canned but I'm sure so much is lost in the processing. Go fresh or go home.
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photos by george billard

10.14.14 Catskills Getaway

This past weekend we took off into the Catskills to celebrate our anniversary (lucky seven!), visit friends and explore some new territory. The fall colors were at their peak. Birds, bugs and bees filled the skies, harvesting whatever remains before bunkering down or heading off to warmer climes. The air was crisp, the skies turquoise and the colors of the leaves more nuanced than a Missoni sweater. Fields of milkweed exploded in a profusion of downy, winged seeds. I find few things as uplifting as piling into the car and hitting the road when the destination means new experiences, old pals, wild beauty and delicious meals. And so it was.
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photos by george billard

10.7.14 Fall Back, October Hot Links & Cider Syrup

I wish I had time to write in this space more often. There is so much to share with you that sometimes I am bursting at the seams with little anecdotes and kitchen discoveries and amazing new ideas I have come across. Then I sit down and inevitably feel overwhelmed at the thought of organizing it all into something coherent, meaningful and useful. But I am seizing a few moments today to get lots of it down here with little regard for rhyme or reason. The organizing principle is essentially "things I am thinking about and loving right now." These include some beautiful photos my husband took on a walk in the woods last week; a bunch of links I have been hoarding for you; and a recipe for cider syrup, a thick, sweetly complex elixir made by simply boiling down apple cider. I'm already enjoying mine immensely mixed with Dickel whiskey, apple cider vinegar and cardamom-fennel bitters for a cocktail I call the All Fall Down (after what happens when you drink too many...not that I would know about that).
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photos by gluttonforlife

10.1.14 Cabbage Dispatch

We grew a cabbage this year. It may not sound that impressive, but it is. For years, our attempts at growing cabbages were foiled by one thing or another. Worms. Heat. Destiny. But this year one perfect dusky purple specimen prevailed. We haven't picked it yet. It sits there in its corner next to the collards as silent and perfect as the Buddha. Eating it will feel like a sacrificial act, so it must be prepared with reverence. This roasted version of a classic German dish is one possibility. Its sweet-sour balance is lovely. Stuffed cabbage also comes to mind at this time of year. Fall is in the air, my friends. A squirrel with the energy and determination of a Jack Russel terrier has been running back and forth across the yard all day, ferrying pine cones to his hiding spot. Good thing our cabbage is too big for him.
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photos by gluttonforlife

9.16.14 Winding Down

Summer has such momentum to it. All that sunshine and daylight just winds you up and you go, go, go. Then suddenly the light begins to wane and all around things start to curl inward. Where green once predominated, yellow is now creeping in. The goldenrod has exploded, a few sunflowers still remain and the leaves are tinged with jaundice. We cling to the last vestiges of the season, even as we reach for our sweaters, lay the first fire in the hearth and prepare to hunker down. I want to share with you some photos of the garden I took that show the last blooms. And then I'm going to tell you about a rice salad I invented earlier this summer that was a big hit at a couple of different parties. So cheer up, there are good things ahead!
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photos by gluttonforlife

9.8.14 All Juiced Up

It's been a strange season in the garden. Unusually cool temperatures have resulted in a glut of cucumbers, thriving greens and herbs, and not a single summer squash. A year without an onslaught of zucchini just feels unnatural! The tomatoes have been a mixed bag: lots of Green Zebras and Brandywines, other varieties decimated by blight, and many falling off the vine green. I see green tomato-lemon marmalade in my future, not to mention green tomato chutney and plenty of fried green tomatoes. But with what's left of the ripe ones, I envision perhaps one more gazpacho, one last tomato sandwich and definitely some fresh tomato juice. Nothing else comes close to capturing the essence of the season. (Except perhaps a perfect peach. Or buttered corn. Or blackberries.) I make it with my Hurom juicer that has become a staple of my kitchen. It's a slow-masticating design that first crushes food and then presses it to extract maximum yield with minimum oxidation, meaning you get the most nutrition from juice produced this way. The smell and taste of fresh tomato juice is one of the great pleasures of late summer.
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photos by gluttonforlife

9.2.14 Bundle Up

So there went August. As fleeting as a summer romance. And not nearly as steamy. The weather was downright cool, in fact. We even lit a couple of fires! There was little time in the hammock, I'm afraid. No dangling of toes in pools. Can you see the fine lines my hair shirt made in the soft white flesh of my back? Ah, well. Perhaps next year I will live the summer of my dreams. This year, I was writing a book proposal. Dredging up my magnum opus and setting it down on paper. It felt plenty good to sift through all the photographs and recipes and musings and memories I have compiled over the years of this blog. To sample the fruits of my labor until the sticky juices of creativity ran down my chin. Thank you for being my sounding board, my inspiration, my partners in time. I am so excited for this book. Now, to find a publisher.

August was not without its moments, many of them enjoyed in the company of good friends. I cooked up a storm and can't wait to share some of my successes with you. (I also puttered in the garden quite a bit, and some recipes emerged from there that are being featured on Gardenista every Friday, so please stop by for a visit.) What I'd really love is to hear about your summer, to be regaled with tales from the shore, or wherever you were at liberty. I could use a little vicarious vacation. In the meantime, let me tell tempt you with tamales...
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