Archive for August, 2008

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I’m in one of those particularly antsy, can’t concentrate on anything, last day before the holiday, three days before moving kind of funks. Until Monday, all of my worldly possessions are scattered across various basements, garages, and vehicles on the Old West Side. Obviously, not much cooking has been happening, which really stinks, given the blessed bounty of the summer market right now. I positively have to keep my hands in my pockets and leave my wallet at home if I know I’ll be within a few blocks of the market; I want a peck of tomatoes and a peck of peppers and ten-freaking-pounds of blueberries.  Yet I must restrain until I’m no longer kitchen-less.

As you may have noticed, not much head-space has been clear for blogging, either. (But I am excited to tell you all about a new cookbook from some local authors, Max and Eli Sussman. Stay tuned!) Since my usual escape, the kitchen, is not available to me at the moment, I’ve had to find another creative outlet: Adobe Illustrator. It’s such a pleasing exercise to put good colors together, make up funny web 2.0-sounding words (of the “flickr” and “tumblr” ilk) , and fashion them into postcards. These cards are a testament to my harried life-in-transition, when I feel less like an eater, and more like, well, an eatr. Enjoy! I’ll be back in the kitchen–and on the blog–soon.

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You’re moving too fast, got to make the summer last now . . .

(To take some liberties with the original lyrics). Summer just really, finally, got here in a big, full-blown hot days and star-filled nights and endless supply of tomatoes sort of way and now it seems like it’s starting to drift away already. You can’t stop time, but you can slow it down if you just pay attention to the right things. Like long meals with friends, the colors of the harvest and living as much life as one can out of doors. So in support of summer sticking around, everyone please slow down, take a few deep breaths, grin stupidly at the sunshine and remember that winter in Michigan is a rather long affair . . . gather some rose-buds, or perhaps some blueberries, while ye may.

Here’s a few of the ways the Gastronomical Three have been holding on to summer around here:

Slow roasting. The embodiment of slowing down to concentrate the essence of summer. Tomatoes, olive oil, a 225 degree oven and a few hours to spare. Some salt and/or sugar and/or garlic are good too, but really not all that necessary. Eat them now or better yet, if you can control yourself, slip them into the freezer. You’ll need them in January.

Making apple-butter from this year’s windfall of apples from the tree in the backyard. It takes a few hours to scrounge up enough apples that have survived the squirrels, the bugs and the fall from the tree, then cut out all the bad spots, then cook them down, then can them. But do you really have anything better to do on a sunny Sunday? Especially if you move the prep kitchen outside? (Nick took this shot; pretty good eye for a just-turned-three-year-old-boy).

And mostly, and most importantly, we’ve been taking some time for long talks and long meals. On Sunday, the three of us got together for conversation and a late summer celebration. Smoked trout pate anda Pims Cup, this summer corn soup which is a triumph of localism (the only ingredients from outside the Ann Arbor area were some salt and pepper), Red, White and Blue French potato salad. (see below) some roasted, diced beets with mint, zucchini pickles, caprese salad (it is summer after all), sliced tomatoes with fennel pollen, and a center piece of fried chicken. A glass or two of rose was involved. We ate rather a staggering amount of food for three fairly small women (although there were also leftovers for the boys who stayed at home and some destined for our lunch boxes). In the spirit of taking it slow, the fried chicken came from Zingerman’s Road House (seventeen dollars to have someone else fry up a whole chicken,do it right and clean up the mess? I’m there). Pretty much everything else was from the market or the farm share and our six hands. We feasted. Then we washed dishes. Then we ate (Anne’s amazing and beautiful rustic plum) tart.

And we ate it slowly, as it, and the summer, deserves.

Red, White and Blue French Potato Salad

This salad was much lighter and more elegant than your standard American mayonnaise-based potato salad. And mostly, it was really pretty. The potatoes cooked for a short enough time that the blue ones held their blue, and the red of radishes added a nice shot of color.

About two pounds of potatoes, a mixture of Australian Fingerlings and All Blue (two pounds translated into about 15 of my CSA potatoes).

1/3 cup olive oil

2 1/2 T champagne vinegar

2 T minced red onion

1 generous t Dijon mustard

1 minced clove of garlic

2 radishes

2 T capers

2 T cornichons

Thinly slice the potatoes. I used the thicker setting on the mandoline. Put them in water and bring to a boil, then cook until tender to knife point (this only took about five minutes for the potatoes I had on hand). Drain, reserving 1/4 cup of cooking water.

Whisk together the reserved cooking water, olive oil, champagne vinegar, red onion, Dijon mustard, and some salt and pepper. Pour over the potatoes, folding gently so the potatoes don’t disintegrate.

Thinly slice the radishes and mix with capers and thinly sliced cornichons. Add these extras with another gentle fold. Most of the recipes I looked at for inspiration suggested serving this style of potato salad immediately, but I refrigeratored it for about 6 hours and then just let it come back to room temperature. It tasted just fine, although I’m interested in also trying it warm.

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Market Inspiration

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling inspired by . . .
peaches on fire
blueblackred berries in tidy rows
dragon’s tongue beans
dragon's tongue
carrots, just dug up

unruly aliums, all tied up . . .
or loose in a basket

What’s inspiring you this weekend?

See you at the market!

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