Beaver dam 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

2.16.11 Home Run: Vintage Stoneware

Our bathroom remodel finally got started yesterday, almost a year to the day after we first began thinking (and writing) about it. Sadly, due to various factors (the size of the bathroom, the size of our doorways) we had to give up the idea of a soaking tub. But we are replacing literally everything—all the tile and fixtures, even the walls. More about all that later. We are so fortunate that a dear friend has loaned us his gorgeous, spacious and light-filled weekend place, just a quick drive from our cottage. A relocated Frenchman, his home is filled with beautiful antiques, including hefty, hemstitched linen sheets and amazing stoneware pottery. I covet these rustic dishes, and have made a mental note to scour ebay and local thrift stores for the American version of them. Incredibly strong and durable, stoneware has long been used for cooking and was the predominant houseware of 19th century North America.
Patina 21 790 xxx
old stoneware acquires a beautiful patina

Tagged — gratin
Cardoon3 790 xxx
photo by george billard

5.4.10 Discover Cardoons

This cardoon looks a lot like celery after some very hard living, but it’s actually from the artichoke family—Cynara cardunculus. You may recognize its linguistic similarity to Cynar, the Italian artichoke-based bitter aperitivo also produced by Campari. The plant is a perennial with silvery-green leaves and edible stalks that can grow up to 7’ tall. It has some sharp, almost razor-like edges that you don’t really want to brush up against. When the plant flowers, the blossom looks like a large purple thistle. Though it’s often regarded as a nuisance weed in North America, other more civilized cultures have long regarded it as good eating. When the Italians grow it, they bend the young stalks down to the ground and bury them in the earth. This blanches the stalks, reducing bitterness and making them so tender they’re even served raw with bagna cauda or a similar achovy-based sauce. Cardoons are also delicious fried or made in classic Roman style, blanketed with a buttery bechamel sauce, as in my recipe below.
Tagged — gratin