A week’s vacation in West Palm—a week that concluded with blue skies, beach, pool food, fruity rum drinks—began with an unexpectedly fine lunch made by my dear, hard-working, fun-loving, enormously generous mum. We’d risen early, left gloomy Cleveland Heights in time to drop the dog off at Metrobarks, arrived at PBI, rented a stupid little Chevy that caused nothing but arguments until it became funny, and arrived at Mom’s by lunchtime.  She had glasses of cold white wine and the above meal waiting for us. It was such a lovely spread, Donna was immediately moved to take it out onto the sunny balcony for a couple quick snapshots with the Lumix. It’s a perfect example of how to put together a quick meal to share, most things done ahead, some bought, some made, all prepared Read On »

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Have had butter on my mind for the past two weeks (I often have butter on my mind, but it’s been acute recently), and when my thoughts turned to Indian food the combination resulted in the desire to make ghee.  Ghee, the Indian version of clarified butter, is traditionally made with cultured butter that’s cooked till it’s lightly browned.  In the mood to experiment I thought I’d try doing it myself.  I wanted to know what it really tasted like.  And I wanted to know what genuine buttermilk tasted like. As we are a cowless family, I bought a pint of organic cream and used some of my yogurt culture.  The cream thickened and took on a gentle acidity in a day.  I then hammered it in the food processor, dumped it into a cloth-lined Read On »

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Over the weekend I was working on a recipe based on the traditional low country dish, shrimp and grits.  I’d found excellent grits from this company at my grocery store, I tapped my friend and former instructor Eve Felder for her recollections of growing up in Charleston, and I made shrimp and grits for Donna, a late dinner after seeing the amazing Jeff Bridges performance in Crazy Heart. I’d made extra grits so in cleaning up after dinner, I poured the leftovers into a springform pan and refrigerated them.  By morning they were solid and sliceable. Donna happened to be setting up to shoot wine braised short ribs and semolina egg noodles.  I happened to be hungry.  I also happened to have some duck sausage and chicken sausage (from Charcuterie) on hand, a gift for Read On »

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I posted yesterday on twitter that I began cooking because I was hungry but continued to cook because I loved to eat, and it got me thinking.  There are so many different reasons to cook, as a number of twitters pointed out.  Self-defense was a good one!  And with the state of our processed food, one that every cook can claim!  Can I encourage other bloggers to post about why you cook?  Spell it out.  Writing it down forces you to know what you think.  When I was nine, I cooked because I was hungry and making things was fun.  Today, age 46 and devoted to family, I cook because: —I want my family to have great food all the time that’s tasty and good for their body and brains. —I cook because it relaxes Read On »

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James and I made popovers Sunday morning and sprinkled them with vanilla sugar, and this sugar made the popovers appealing in a surprisingly effective way.  Like fleur de sel on caramel.  It brought the flavors and textures together without overtly calling attention to itself.  When I’d posted a while ago in a recipe to discard the vanilla bean, I got what amounted to a scolding from Shuna, who found it appalling that one could so easily waste an opportunity for the pleasures of vanilla sugar.  She was right to scold. I had never really taken the time to appreciate the wonderful aromatic flavor of sugar but now I always will.  It deserves a place in the spice rack.  That it is born of economy makes it all the more enjoyable. If you’ve just made some Read On »

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