June 2013

Scottish proverb —
They speak of my drinking, but never think of my thirst.
Piña quemada1 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

6.28.13 Burnt Offering

I promised you a recipe for kimchi this week but I'm saving that for another time and offering you this cocktail recipe instead. Because you need it for the weekend! In fact, I'm going to see if I can come up with a new cocktail recipe for you every Friday. Not a drinker? Since most of my cocktails are based on seasonal fruits, vegetables and herbs, you can make them virgin with just a few tweaks here and there. With or without booze, they are a great way to celebrate the season's bounty, and a signal to kick back and relax, alone or with friends. 

Refreshing rains have moved through here again, bashing the delicate ferns and denuding the last downy petals from the peonies. The enormous jasmine bush that leans over the neighbor's fence has bloomed, filling the air with a sultry sweet fragrance that wafts through our cottage and makes me swoon. There is no hissing of summer lawns here, just the chirps, caws and warbles of our avian choir.
André Gide —
To read a writer is for me not merely to get an idea of what he says, but to go off with him and travel in his company.
Salad in bowl 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

6.25.13 A Good Pounding

Eight years ago, I went to visit a good friend who was living in Singapore and we traveled together to Thailand and Laos. We ogled temples, wandered through markets, rode in boats and rickshaws and on an elephant, and ate like nobody's business. At the Conrad in Bangkok, there was a mind-boggling breakfast buffet that lured us on a tour of global gluttony first thing in the morning—from delicate Chinese dim sum and Japanese tofu to Italian gelato in brioche and Indonesian waffles to buttery French croissants and cream-laden Bircher muesli (masquerading as a healthy option), not to mention every fruit imaginable and some heretofore unknown. It was the sort of start to the day that automatically predicted a nap in our future. But we also stayed in some modest little places, including along the river in Luang Prabang, where said boat trip led us into a lush forest with a waterfall and turquoise swimming hole that was a playground for local kids. Nearby, a couple of women pounded green papaya in big stone mortars to make a traditional Laotian salad, tam som, which they sold in small plastic to-go bags.
William Carlos Williams —
In summer, the song sings itself.
Strawberries 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

6.21.13 June Hot Links

Today is the summer solstice and I can almost feel the earth tilting toward the sun. It is a time to be outside, to lift our faces to the sky, to bask in the longest light of the year. And, while we're at it, to always, always wear protection—melanoma is on the rise and the FDA has recently released new guidelines for wearing sunscreen. Most important is to choose "broad spectrum" coverage that protects against both UVA and UVB rays; to apply it every day, even if you're not going outside (UVA rays penetrate glass); and to reapply it every 80 minutes. Not so poetic perhaps, but then neither is cancer.

This month has whizzed by in a blur of work, but I have a renewed focus on dedicating time to my well-being. This has meant doing more yoga, riding my bike, hiking and even playing around with my hula hoop (highly recommended). I've also spent time in the garden, where weeding and picking pests off the plants give me a strangely wonderful satisfaction. Everything has exploded because of the rain and I love all the birds that come to visit this time of year.
Frank Scully —
Why not go out on a limb? Isn't that where the fruit is?
Water chestnut 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

6.18.13 Sweet Corm

I guess the photo tips you off that isn't a typo. And the gardeners out there are probably familiar with a corm. Also known as a bulbotuber, it's a short, swollen underground plant stem that's like a bulb, though when cut in half it appears solid rather than layered. That's what a water chestnut is—the corm of a grass-like sedge that grows in marshes, underwater in the mud. Eleocharis dulcis is native to China and cultivated in flooded paddy fields all over Asia, as well as in warmer stateside climates like California and Florida. You've undoubtedly eaten them at your local Chinese restaurant, maybe even opened a can of them to add to your stir-fries. I've always enjoyed their satisfyingly juicy crunch and slightly bland, sweet flavor, not unlike jícama. But only recently did I try fresh water chestnuts and the scales fell from my eyes. 

Laurie Colwin —
Grilling is like sunbathing. Everyone knows it is bad for you but no one ever stops doing it.
Chicken 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

6.14.13 Fire Up the Grill

Ain't nothin' going' on but the rain. I don't know what's happening in your neck of the woods but over here it's sopping wet. I'm talking monsoon. (A taste of things to come? Climate change may ultimately convert the Northeast into something like a rain forest.) The first promise of a break in the deluge had me pining for the grill. Nothing says summer like firing up the barbecue, and this beautiful Thai-style grilled chicken from the pages of Hot Sour Salty Sweet is a great way to usher in the season. The flavors are bold and bright, and the dish comes together with minimal effort. If chicken's not your thing, you might try this with firm tofu. A little sticky rice, some crunchy slaw and a spicy-sweet dipping sauce take this meal over the top. And if it's still raining? I ended up making mine under the broiler and so can you.