August 2015

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow —
The world loves a spice of wickedness.
Mix 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

8.18.15 Lucky Seven

We read a lot these days about cooking simply—"ingredient-driven cooking" is a phrase that flummoxed me when I first heard it. What cooking isn't driven by ingredients? Since when are the ingredients not supposed to shine? But I think I was just being purposely obtuse because, of course, there are entire schools of cooking that are all about technique. Just learn to make this perfect sauce and the quality and provenance of your pork loin won't matter. That sort of thing. So, really, my cooking is entirely driven by the ingredients. But that doesn't mean I don't like to build layers of flavor in the dishes I make. One of my favorite ways is with finishing. I have an arsenal of powders, oils, salts and other garnishes and condiments that act as perfect punctuation marks, underscoring a particular note or adding an element of surprise. Although Maldon salt in all its crunchy salinity often suffices, sometimes I reach for something more complex, like this version of shichimi togarashi.

Fran Lebowitz —
Large, naked raw carrots are acceptable as food only to those who lie in hutches eagerly awaiting Easter.
Serve 790 xxx
photos by george billard

8.13.15 In Person

In one month, I will celebrate six years of living full-time in Sullivan County. We bought our tiny cottage as a weekend place in December 2005 and I never could have envisioned the life we would make for ourselves in this area. My visits to the city are now mostly out of necessity and the only thing I really miss are my friends. (Talking on the telephone seems to be a thing of the past and for those of us who grew up during a time when marathon phone chats were a regular bonding activity, texting just doesn't cut it.) Five minutes from our little hamlet of Eldred is Barryville, a town on the Delaware River that is host to our farmers market every Saturday. This year, for the first time, the market is offering hands-on demos from local chefs and purveyors, and I was lucky enough to be invited to participate. 

Sylvia Plath —
August rain: the best of the summer gone, and the new fall not yet born. The odd uneven time.
Ratatouille1 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

8.11.15 I Smell a Ratatouille

You may not know this about me (though it is mentioned here), but ratatouille is one of my very favorite words. I love to trill the r and the whole concatenation of sounds just feels so marvelous tripping off the tongue. (And the movie was pretty fabulous, as well.) The dish itself has never held quite the same appeal, mostly because I shun bell peppers. But when candy-sweet cherry tomatoes, firm zucchini, lush basil and fresh garlic are flowing from the garden, and gorgeous Japanese eggplants are piled high at the farmers market, this humble Provençal vegetable stew definitely comes to mind. Here's my twist on a beloved classic.

Henry David Thoreau —
We need the tonic of wildness.
Drupes1 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

8.3.15 Cool-Ade

There's a very particular satisfaction to be had from eating wild things. The connection to nature, the bold (if largely misguided) sense of self-sufficiency and the discovery of new flavors all add up to a deeply enriching experience. If you've never ventured into the fields and forests in search of a delicious morsel—wild blackberries! fiddleheads! oyster mushrooms!—you're missing something very primal. Fear can hold us back, but stop for a moment to ponder that. We come from nature and it is only there that we are truly in our element. Let knowledge dispel ingorance and find your way back to the wilderness. I will lure you off the beaten path with a couple of easily identified wild treats.