October 2014

Marcel Proust —
Illness is the most heeded of doctors: to goodness and wisdom we only make promises; pain we obey.
Cover 790 xxx
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.

Dorothy Parker —
The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.
Room 790 xxx
iPhotos by gluttonforlife

10.27.14 Mood Indigo

This weekend I attended a workshop to learn how to dye with indigo. It was put together by L'Ecole des Beaux Arts, an arist supply and housewares store founded by Brooklyn artist Sara Moffat, and held in a lovely, airy space upstairs at Isa restaurant on Wythe Avenue in Williamsburg. For a couple of years now, I have been very focused on the idea of learning to dye with natural dyes, and have gone so far as to acquire several books on the subject, and even grow a few relevant plants in my garden, but I never seemed to be able to find the time to launch myself into an actual project. So, when I found out about this opportunity (on Instagram!), I signed up right away. In just a couple of hours, I was able to learn a bit about this beautiful pigment, explore some shibori/tie-dye techniques and come away with a couple of transformed pieces of clothing.

Being in Brooklyn on a Saturday, also meant I was able to visit Marlow & Daughters, a favorite market; have oysters and salad sitting alone at the bar at Marlow & Sons; and visit Brooklyn chocolatier Mast Brothers, where I was dismayed to learn they are no longer selling their enormous chocolate tablet, but did inhale the unbelievably intense smell of cacao beans being roasted right there. In addition to their elegant factory (tours are available), they have also opened a new Brew Bar, where you can indulge in hot- or cold-brewed chocolate.
Thomas Carlyle —
Nature alone is antique, and the oldest art a mushroom.
Huitlacoche 790 xxx
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.
John Steinbeck —
A sad soul can kill you quicker than a germ.
Milkweed 790 xxx
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.
from "Fall Song" by Mary Oliver —
Another year gone, leaving everywhere its rich spiced residues...
Marsh 790 xxx
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).