I’m not sure why we’ve been so silent the past couple of weeks. I, personally, can testify to a good bit of cooking and eating going on lately (notes to self: sign up for Pilates class; drink more water; consider juice fast), but nothing has fallen into the “ohmigod this is so amazing, I have to let everyone know right now” category. And, you know, whenever I slack off for a bit, I start feeling a lot more pressure to write about something Really Good, something knock your socks off, something that will cause you to leave work early and shop for ingredients on the way home. Which is really just silly because when I think about what I want from food blogs, it’s just a steady source of ideas and inspiration about how to feed my family and friends and some sharing of information and opinions about how to eat right (in the ethical, nutritional and gastronomical senses) in this complicated world.
So, without further ado, and to signal we’re still here, I share some bits of this and that from my recent culinary life.
Three good reads:
The River Cottage Family Cookbook by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Fizz Carr. The latest from the River Cottage industry, full of lovely photographs, eminently cookable recipes and common sense information about staple foods likes milk, eggs and flour. It pushes a gentle pro-carnivore, pro-ethical-treatment-of-animals agenda (as you might expect from the author of The River Cottage Meat Book — warning, not for the squeamish). I was a bit skeptical of the family focus (I love my family, but I get tired of things all aboutThe Family), but the book’s enthusiasm for engaging children in cooking is contagious and its “projects” (making butter and cream cheese or catching wild yeast) look like they’d be fun and educational for all of us.
Loulie’s: Real Kitchens, Real Food. A sort of a blog that I stumbled on while home with a cold and doing some surfing. Nice recipes and nice pointers to interesting articles. I’m looking forward to trying out Sausage and Italian Prune Plums Braised in Wine With Polenta.
One of the reasons the G3 went silent was that we engaged in a cooking retreat “upnorth” at the lakeside home of Anne’s fabulous parents. This was especially good for me and John, as there were seven adults to Nick’s one boisterous three year old self which meant lots of breaks for the parents. The cooking was epic. I want to share one menu culled from the pages of October’s Bon Appetit (a great issue all around — speaking of good reads) that we particularly enjoyed:
Autumn Sunday Supper at the Lake
- Wild mushroom soup with hazelnut gremolata
- Braised Pork Shoulder with Quince (my first ever cooking adventure with quince; despite the fact that this has to be started three days ahead, it’s really quite easy)
- Creamy Polenta
- Farmer’s Market Salad (A visual feast)
- Concord Grape Pie (this last was Anne’s suggestion. I was quite curious about it. It’s great; how often do you get to experience pure concord grape flavor?)
And as counterpoint to that bit of decadence:
Autumn Sunday supper at Second Street
This supper was particularly nice in that aside from the meat, the dressing and the croutons, it was all farm share, all the time.
Winter Squash Soup with Parmesan Croutons
Arugula and baby greens salad with oven roasted tomatoes, shaved radishes, and a bit of leftover grilled sirloin, tossed with a balsamic vinaigrette.
With that in mind, I’ll finish with a thought on having a farm share. I filled out the annual farm survey this weekend, in which our farmers ask for feedback on the selection and quantity of the crops. I found that I just couldn’t check the “too much” box for any of the produce. Did I groan under the weight of kale? Yes. Did I bargain with Shana to take more than her share of the beets? Yes. But still. I’m grateful that the share helps me be in the cycle of the growing season, that it helps me to understand that there are good years and bad years for various crops, that some years there will be no parsnips (sigh) but there will be fava beans (fava beans! Right there in my farm box!). And, you know, now I know a lot more ways to cook kale and beets. Because of that, I like them better than I ever have.
There, that’s a lot of chatter after long silence. You see, all you really have to do is get started.