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The technique of barbecue is actually very simple, but it takes years and years to master. There's an intuition that you only gain through the repetition of practice. Aaron [Franklin] told me that he trains all his employees the same way, but when he cuts into a brisket, he can tell you exactly who did the smoking.


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The subject line is from "The Church in the Wildwood," a hymn Ann Green apparently used to sing whenever she went back to Mississippi. Made a cheese ball with pickled peppers for her service (because, by the time I got around to figuring out what to pull together on a school night, it was too late to get started on benne wafers, and I have in fact lived long enough to recognize that), and brought sweet potato crackers to go with it.

Lawd, this week.

Transplanted the geranium from Desire to my front yard a week ago. Three days later, every leaf but the smallest one looked infected. Can't tell if that corner is fungally cursed -- last year's results were wildly, weirdly mixed -- or if said geranium just doesn't like Tennessee clay, even though I aerated the hole and mixed in some compost and tried not to get its feet too wet. The French hollyhock a few feet away survived the winter and now looks glorious. Perhaps it's yet another chapter in the universe's attempt to school me in not trying so damn hard that I get in my own way. (Which, not incidentally, is what a waltz partner told me at the Orange Peel a couple of months ago.)

Lawd, this week.

Anyway, I binned all the leaves except for that sweet little leaf at the tip of one stalk, and we'll see if what emerges -- if anything -- looks better. My car reeks of pine chips because I've been too busy to unload eight cubic feet of mulch from it. I would probably do best to compost the mallow seedlings in my sunroom because I waited too long to transplant those, but it's nice to know that the dozens more in the pet food tub are likely still viable.

I am sipping Hild Elbling Sekt and snacking on Milano salami at this hour, because a gal's gottta unwind. Some good dancing tonight. I was tempted to road-trip to Blue Moon later today, especially since there is a waltz workshop on the schedule, and because Jed-who-drives-up-from-Huntsville is a favorite partner, but there is too damn much to do right here at my kitchen counter (so much that I'm going to have to skip a choir thing already on my calendar). Maybe next year...

A singing thing that did happen this week: singing backing vocals on a video, at Jeff Coffin's studio, and chatting with him about his upcoming trips to Tuva and Myanmar. And he's the second person I talked to in person in Nashville this week about Tuvan singers. I do like my life.

My Garden & Gun subscription has kicked in (read, frequent flyer miles from an airline I don't fly that frequently on), and Roy Blount Jr.'s column has beautifully paired opening and closing sentences. The opening sentence: "I'm walking up Dauphine Street in New Orlenas when a man turns the corner carrying a tuba and walking an enormous hairy dog, simultaneously."

A message I sent to a friend in Asheville yesterday: "PUT THE PHONE DOWN and go ogle art at Blue Spiral or eat a marshmallow at French Broad Chocolates or pet the crocheted coats on the cats near Laughing Seed Café."

Wall Street, Asheville

This entry was originally posted at http://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/142045.html.
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The subject line is from Carrie Fisher's Twitter bio. I learned of her death when I saw "Remembering Carrie Fisher" on a TV at Liuzza's, and one of the sadder things I saw later in the week was a sheaf of WizardWorld Comic Con flyers curled behind a machine or rack in a French Quarter coffee shop. The con is going on even as I type (January 6 to 8), but without Fisher, who had been listed on the top line of guests:

WizardWorld Comic Con flyer

I also saw two murals -- one on a wall with "RIP" prominent on wall, and the other on the door of the Krewe of Chewbacchus HQ. Friday morning, we spotted kegs being delivered for the second line parade to be led by the Leijorettes ("most ... are roller derby players").

Leijorettes HQ

A post I bookmarked while mentally drafting this one: TJ's goals for this year.

Speaking of fighting fascists, here's what Penzeys Spices has to say:


The stories of cooks, at least the way we see them, super-humanize. If it looks like you, or someone you know, are going to be standing in the way of the new administration, we need your story, and a recipe or two, and this time we can't wait until July. No doubt public school teachers will once again be on the front lines of the right's anger echo chamber, but we're thinking this time it won't be just teachers, and this is why we are asking for your help. This year, the list will be long, and we would like to get a leg up on any direction it could head. Clearly this time around the targets are the environment, immigration, gender equality, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, income inequality, and pretty much anyone who is in any way a minority in any shape or form.

If you, or someone you know, is on the front lines of one of these issues and have a good recipe or two to share, please contact us at editor@penzeys.com, and tell us a little about your background and your concerns. And please, don't think your experience needs to be dramatic, or that you need to have some sort of job title to participate. It's the every day decency of cooks that carries the day, not fame or celebrity.

And because you may well be first up on the block, if you are one of those pre-existing condition-havers that have had a brief period of almost normal life because of the Affordable Care Act, please get in touch with us right away. The people need to understand your experience. Once again, please contact us at editor@penzeys.com with a brief description of your story, and one of our gifted and friendly writers will get in touch. Please. We all need your experience.


Speaking of cooking, last night I scooped the Meyer lemon sorbet into smaller containers, and tonight I may proceed with this recipe for grapefruit-lemon marmalade. First, though, there is cleaning to do, but before that, lunch (a bowlful of leftovers, plus coffee dregs perked up with cardamom [from Penzeys], ginger, cinnamon, and coriander, with hot water and almond milk refilling the mug).

What are you cooking or dreaming about this weekend, loves?

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The Christmas Day service at First UU ("It's the Most Jewiful Time of the Year") included a dramatic reading of Lemony Snicket's The Latke that Couldn't Stop Screaming, led by the sabbatical minister with audience participation (congregants waving their arms and going "aaaaah!" on cue); a Dr Who reference (Rabbi Rami: I was hoping to watch the special tonight but my wife is insisting that we go out for Chinese); an extended Star Trek benediction in both Hebrew and English; and substantive theological points to consider, with the rabbi comparing closed systems (salvation-based) and open ones (hope-based). The quote I repeated to several other people later in the day : Johanan ben Zakkai's "If you are planting a tree and you hear that Messiah has come, first finish planting the tree."

Also: The thrill of hearing a professional soprano several pews behind me warbling through "Silver Bells" and other standards. The pleasure of petting my friend Victoria's therapy dog through the first half of the service. The hugging of friends and acquaintances and the talking about plans for dancing, performing, volunteering...

For champagne tea with my honorary mama, I baked potato wafers. The BYM and I heard someone very, very good playing the piano in the assisted living lobby when we arrived, and it was indeed her son, who'd brought along sheet music for several super-silly, wildly virtuosic seasonal pieces.

I was not feeling well enough to join the late-night crowd at Lipstick Lounge, but I did stay up to sort out a few things and to say a few more blessings...

second night

And, speaking of blessings, my thanks to all who responded to my Feast of Stephen appeal. I am full of gratitude. See you in 2017.

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Today's mailman asked about the dog, having not seen her for a while. He said she was one of the few who didn't bark at him. I might be snuffling as I type. Read more... )
Finally: I started this entry some hours ago. Night has fallen, so let there be light.

first night

This entry was originally posted at http://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/138474.html.
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Seen at Target today:

'tis almost the season

Discussed at brunch today: the owner of Penzeys Spices speaking his mind about what happened on November 8. The comments section at Daily Kos is, for a change, one that does not require donning a hazmat suit to peruse.

For those of you who plan to place an order with Penzeys, there are coupon codes you may find useful.

Another way to speak with your dollars: contact your bank if it's one of the 17 funding the DAPL. Or, send supplies (including banners/sheets and spray paint): http://sacredstonecamp.org/supply-list/.

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It took time to harvest the Christmas (aka Prairie Fire) peppers, some of which were hidden behind and below many leaves:

pepper at the heart of a bush

Read more... )

This entry was originally posted at http://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/136423.html.
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Cathy Erway's The Food of Taiwan: Recipes from the Beautiful Island has been giving me the feels, as the hipsters might say. Among the dishes I've never heard of, there are dishes I've seen only my parents serve, and names recognizable to me in transliteration. Yet another book to revisit after Big Raft of Deliverables are delivered.

In the meantime, I have cooked up a pan of pitimi, aka millet, and mixed it with some chopped red onion, and ladled the lazy woman's tagine from yesterday over it, along with some leftover yellow bell pepper and butternut squash and roasted orange slices. I will tackle the bowls of hot red peppers after my stomach registers that it has indeed been filled and I can don plastic gloves without said stomach's noises drowning out the kitchen fan.

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This week, y'all. (In)substantial pomp and circumstance on larger stages notwithstanding (the BYM: "Dude, you have got to watch Bill Clinton with the balloons. I want balloons!" Hee), there were deadlines and revelations galore.

Read more... )

peppers
this morning's harvest, which I'll be taking to a cousin and an aunt

This entry was originally posted at http://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/135293.html.
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This morning's bathtub reading was supplied by the first 56 pages of the August issue of GQ, which includes Michael Paterniti's ode to Yotam Ottolenghi. This passage in particular caught my eye:


The immediate impression of the trio [Ottolenghi, NOPI head chef Ramael Scully, and recipe developer Esme Howarth] made was of friendliness -- how well suited to one another they were, and how soft-spoken and solicitous Ottolenghi was.

"Would you like some tea and cookies?" he asked, and without waiting for an answer he went rummaging to retrieve some. I'd been served so much Ottolenghi food by others, and now Ottolenghi himself was serving me cookies. This seemed to be the opposite of Gordon Ramsay. This was the opposite of the matador chefs and their brash opining. In fact, if you could say anything about Yotam Ottolenghi, you might say he contained multitudes: a sweet temperament and fierce intensity, iron discipline and wild creativity.


In checking on whether the piece was online, I found a speech by Paterniti on storytelling, which includes this anecdote:



I have an unofficial contest going with some writer friends, to see who can ask the stupidest question EVER without meaning to, and I think I recently won. I was interviewing the chef Yotam Ottolenghi in London, and at the risk of never being asked to go on assignment again, I'm going to quote my question, verbatim:

So I'm just--butternut! Butternut squash, broccoli polenta, pearled lemon, that idea of, and sometimes this happens at the ridiculous high-end restaurant, the prawn did this, eat the whole flower, or whatever, just get that marrow, or whatever it is, up here, on the plate, all foamy, and this is what you’re doing without having to turn it into some sort of ridiculous cooky thing in these restaurants, like, maybe you could tell me: Why are we doing this!?


Seriously, how can you answer a question like this? And you know you're in trouble when the response is, as it was in Ottolenghi's case, a very long silence, a polite but quizzical expression usually reserved for the platypus tank at the zoo, and then, with pity: I think I know what you're trying to say...


As someone who dines on her foot on a regular basis and actively contemplates vows of silence every third day, I found this awfully reassuring.

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It is, according to the NashSevereWx chart, beyond "I need gills to breathe" hot in my here town right now (77 F dewpoint even with the sun down). I have been resisting the urge to go nap for hours in the bathtub or planetarium with great difficulty. But I have also discovered that an empty plastic Coke bottle (emblazoned with "What I like about you") can intone the A below middle C (give or take a half-step or two -- my piano is not A=440) when I whoosh it back and forth on my way back from some of the zinnias.

Read more... )

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[Subject line from Mary Chapin Carpenter's "Jubilee"]

I took the cookies to work, labeling the bin "oatmeal-flax cookies" so as to warn for allergies. The container was empty by the end of the day, and two colleagues told me that the biscuits tasted good for something that looked so healthy. ;)

The lemon tart is really, really good.

The dawg is delighted with the steak drippings and potato salad dregs from tonight's supper.

The rogue rosebush produced three blooms this round. A relief to know my ill-fated attempts to propagate it (by taking cuttings that then didn't take) didn't kill it.

IMG_9807

This entry was originally posted at http://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/130635.html.
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You know when you like something so much that it makes you not just nod your head in satisfaction, but shake your head in disbelief? That's what happens when I find that perfectly sweet pea. So many things conspired to make that pea -- the weather, the soil, the farmer -- and there you are on the receiving end. It makes me happy and grateful.


-- April Bloomfield

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I had my doubts about there being any decent bread at our neighborhood markets this weekend, so I gave Mark Bittman's no-knead recipe a go. The results got a thumbs-up from the BYM, and the slices I cut for myself tasted pretty good with cocoa-hazelnut spread.

At the start of Sunday morning, after sitting overnight:
Bittman no-knead bread, 1


At the start of Sunday afternoon, before baking:
Bittman no-knead bread, 2

Baked!
Bittman no-knead bread, 3

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That's what went into the version of wild rice and mushrooms (recipe by Shellie Holmes, adapted by Ligaya Mishan) I cooked tonight. I used half the mushrooms and butter specified and added onions.

For the tuna steaks, I used a Bobby Flay recipe as a starting point for the marinade/sauce, simplifying it to what I had in terms of ingredients and energy: about two cups of red wine, a tablespoon of ancho powder, salt, pepper, allspice, honey, and garlic. I also ladled some of the sauce over the steamed broccoli.

100 untimed books prompt 49: closer

prompt 49 - closer

On page 25, there is a list of common salamanders. There's a poem or three lurking within the names: Smallmouth. Tiger. Hellbenders. Mudpuppies. Dusky...

This entry was originally posted at http://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/124794.html.
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I may expand on this entry later; right now I mainly want to record where I went and what I ate before too many of the details escape my memory. (Earlier this week, I was trying to remember a restaurant the BYM had liked, which he likewise had forgotten about, and finally retrieved its name by scrolling through his blog.)

[*** indicates my favorites]

Friday 11/6:
El Toro Taqueria - kimchi/steak taco, beans and rice, horchata

breakfasts at Pointe Plaza Hotel through 11/12: coffee, chocolate donuts, hardboiled eggs. Sometimes some other pastries or a bagel. Wall Street Journals.

Saturday 11/7:
*** Cafe Mogador (Williamsburg): lamb tagine, hot cider, Lagavulin 16, cappuccino
Pacific Standard: a pint (maybe Deep River?) + a banh mi hot dog

Sunday 11/8:
Cafe Mogador: Middle Eastern Eggs breakfast (two over-easy eggs, hummus, tabouli, arabic salad, zahatar pita, harissa), coffee

(***wedding: Finback Double Sess beer [ginger, szechuan peppercorns, and chamomile, and I thought cardamom?], cava, and lots of mostly vegetarian deliciousness [my tablemates seemed especially taken with the polenta with wild mushrooms]. And pecan pie with coffee.)

Monday 11/9:
Tea and banh meatball sliders at Body by Brooklyn
Madiba - Safari platter (biltong, droewors, nuts, dried fruit), chicken livers peri-peri, boerewors roll, roti, seafood bunny chow, pint of beer on tap

Tuesday 11/10:
Pretzel and hot dog from a street cart (he was out of knishes)
Bowl of butternut squash soup and glass of Gremillet champagne, MoMA Terrace 5 Cafe
Le Rivage - prix fixe: seafood bisque, trout amandine, cream puffs

Wednesday 11/11:
Penny House Cafe - cappuccino
Inaka - yellowtail scallion roll, avocado shiitake roll, miso soup, salad (above average), sake
Sugarburg - pint of something on tap, yellow squash po-boy (included feta cheese and pickled onions) with fries

Thursday 11/12:
Kogane Ramen - takoyaki (octopus balls), tonkotsu ramen
*** cheeses (including blue!), olives, and red wine chez friends
*** Speedy Romeo - grilled octopus with romesco sauce, the Saint Louie pizza (Provel, Italian sausage, pickled chiles, pepperoni), and the Kind Brother pizza (wild mushrooms, smoked mozz, farm egg, sage); Single Cut 19-33 Queens lager
*** Jack the Horse Tavern - tarte tatin (apple cake and pear-ginger parfait) and shot of Caol Ila (peaty), plus a taste of Craigellachie (Speyside; smooth)

Friday 11/13:
Almondine Bakery - chocolate mousse with tiny crunchy chocolate balls. Intricate papercuts on the walls.
Shake Shack - burger, fries, Brooklyn Brewery East IPA (which is actually canned in Utica)
*** Cornelia Street Cafe - glass of tempranillo and cone of calamari rings. Fried to perfection.
*** Jack's Wife Freda - in their words, "South African Israeli Jewish Grandmother Cuisine." Our cousin remembered this place when trying to figure out where to go after the show at CSC. Matzoh ball soup, lamb tartare, arugula salad (with pickled onions), and shot of Pig Nose whisky for myself. Tasted the others' entrees (fish; lamb; peri-peri chicken) and shared in the first carafe of côtes du rhone, as well as the desserts (chocolate mouse and malva cake).

This entry was originally posted at http://bronze-ribbons.dreamwidth.org/395696.html. I see comments at DW, IJ, and LJ (when notifications are working, anyway), but not on feeds.
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Upper Rubber Boot's prompt 24 for 100 Untimed Books is "sweets."

Which brings to mind a different cookbook:

From which I've made these:

praline chocolate cake

bavarian cream

The miniature bottle of cherry liqueur was special ordered by my favorite wine store when I needed it for the praline chocolate cake above. There was plenty of cake left over after the party, so I took a third of it to Amanda and Tyler and the gang.

Last night I was not feeling nearly so ambitious, and ended up at Local Taco. They ran out of the lobster-BLT special that had gotten me out of the house, but there are worse fates than sipping a frozen margarita over a fried avocado taco while watching Dexter Fowler hit a home run for the Cubs. (Didn't see Arrieta steal second, but was plenty amused by the Twittersphere's reaction to that.)

This entry was originally posted at http://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/118537.html.
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The day, it was mixed. On the less fun side of the ledger, there was the flat tire on my bike, a family member meltdown, feeling out of shape, and having to return to the supermarket because I'd left the yeast and mayo in the bagging area. On the upside, I was treated to a lovely breakfast, the new temp crown is behaving so far, I have a bowl of bao-dough rising, and I adapted the Lee Bros. recipe for shrimp supreme into cod creole for tonight's supper.

Upper Rubber Boot's prompt 23 for 100 Untimed Books is "instructions."

My go-to cookbook is Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. It's been revised since I received my comp from Borders, which adds to the grungy oh-la-la of my tattered and splattered first edition:

23 - instructions

And in spite of this book being older than most of my shoes and nephews, there are plenty of dishes I look forward to attempting someday:

from Bittman's HOW TO COOK EVERYTHING

This entry was originally posted at http://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/118408.html.
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The subject line's from Rilke's "Turning Point," from the June 20 entry of A Year In Poetry (ed. Foster and Guthrie). The poem does nothing for me, actually, but years ago the anthology introduced me to C. H. Sisson's "Letter to John Donne," which I felt like reading aloud, to myself last night and into my microphone earlier today:


I am grateful particularly that you were not a saint
But extravagant whether in bed or in your shroud.
You would understand that in the presence of folly
I am not sanctified but angry.



The rest of my day has been more mellow. The Abbygator was delighted that I prepared baby bok choy for brunch, as she enjoys hoovering up the stubs. I followed the instructions at i am a food blog for preparing and baking the tofu, but instead of the honey garlic sauce, I stir-fried the bok choy with garlic, mirin, soy sauce, and scallions, to end up with this:

tofu with bok choy

The crepe myrtles burst into bloom a few days ago. Some of the tomato vines were nosing near my French books for a couple of nights. Many of the other plantings have not panned out, but there is at last a French marigold blossom in sight (grown from seeds harvested last fall):

French marigold

And blooms are emerging from the second generation of Christmas peppers (also from seeds I saved) as well:

Christmas pepper

And I'm hoping the cornflowers in the front yard do the self-seeding thing:

cornflower

This entry was originally posted at http://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/108514.html.
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[The subject line's from Rilke's "Turning Point," from the June 20 entry of A Year In Poetry (ed. Foster and Guthrie). The poem does nothing for me, actually, but years ago the anthology introduced me to C. H. Sisson's "Letter to John Donne," which I felt like reading aloud, to myself last night and into my microphone earlier today:


I am grateful particularly that you were not a saint
But extravagant whether in bed or in your shroud.
You would understand that in the presence of folly
I am not sanctified but angry.



The rest of my day has been more mellow. The Abbygator was delighted that I prepared baby bok choy for brunch, as she enjoys hoovering up the stubs. I followed the instructions at i am a food blog for preparing and baking the tofu, but instead of the honey garlic sauce, I stir-fried the bok choy with garlic, mirin, soy sauce, and scallions, to end up with this:

tofu with bok choy

The crepe myrtles burst into bloom a few days ago. Some of the tomato vines were nosing near my French books for a couple of nights. Many of the other plantings have not panned out, but there is at last a French marigold blossom in sight (grown from seeds harvested last fall):

French marigold

And blooms are emerging from the second generation of Christmas peppers (also from seeds I saved) as well:

Christmas pepper

And I'm hoping the cornflowers in the front yard do the self-seeding thing:

cornflower

This entry was originally posted at http://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/108514.html.

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