bonnie slotnick.

there is a cookbook bookstore in the west village: 163 west 10th st.

it's teeny and lovely and full of smart and weird and dated and funny books. new and classic. it's owned by a woman named bonnie slotnick; the store is open 6 days a week, but her day-off changes, so it is best to call ahead.

among other treasures, i purchased a pamphlet with 10 cake recipes to please your husband, all made with spry. i guess that if i were to actually make one (the drawings of the cakes look tasty), i would have to use crisco. oh my.

anyhow. go. it's exceptional.

food memoir.

i read a lot about food, food politics, agricultural policy, food history. shocking, i am sure.

this week, i read shark's fin and sichuan pepper by fuschia dunlop. (and, by this week, i mean, 3 days.) i tend not to review all of these books and articles and essays. i want to tell you, though, that this book was so special. dunlop begins in the sichuan province, in chengdu. luckily, there is a map in the front of the book; i had to repeatedly reference it. the food there is spicy, oil, crunchy, full of items americans tend to look down upon: intestines, bugs, eyeballs, and the like.

it was a magical read. i was ready to eat all of it. an omnivore was lurking inside of me. i felt crazy and i could not stop reading through the positive qualities of msg, of mao tse-tung's favorite dishes, of the stories of kitchens and street food. dunlop also is the first foreigner to attend the region's top cooking school. she eventually travels to hunan and ends the memoir with an unfortunate discussion on the perils of chinese food products today.

but, i am ready to eat something outside my comfort zone.
well, maybe.


holy moly.

there is black butte porter at pacific standard on 4th avenue in park slope! obviously, i do not write about every beer i drink; that would be insanity.

this is my favorite beer. ever. so tasty. like chocolate and coffee and beer all in one. the deschutes brewery of bend, oregon does not sell their beers too far from home, and i am unsure how the bar owners were able to export it to brooklyn, but i am so very happy they did.

we had two. and they are more potent than i remembered. oh my.


michelle michelle michelle

i almost forgot. michelle (not the pregnant one, who is close to no longer being pregnant) made ice cream sandwiches. she let the ice cream get a little soft first. and then, she scooped some onto a cookie and put another cookie on top. we then put them back into the freezer for a bit.

oh my. so good. perfect.
1. chocolate cookies with chocolate ice cream
2. chocolate cookies with vanilla ice cream
3. oatmeal cookies with vanilla ice cream
4. oatmeal cookies with chocolate ice cream

yes. messy.

michelle's pretty super.

charcoal, not propane.

in texas, bbq means bbq. there is a particular smokey flavor and sauce on the meat, which is beef. in other parts of the country, bbq can simply mean the "outdoor event with a grill." i have never truly barbequed anything. i do not have a propane grill; i don't really know how to make the charcoal one operate (but have friends that do); i am a vegetarian.

luckily, when i sent out an email last week to suggest a memorial day bbq, everyone knew what i meant. this is not texas.

kim's birthday was the week before, and she, too, had an outdoor event, with a grill. and we had lots of leftover buns, chips, and vegetarian meat products. i decided that i would have a bbq and we would use up the food in the fridge. of course, i was going to make more food to make that happen. but, oh, i was wrong. even though there were more people than i thought there would be, i have a ton of picnic food in the fridge. i am living on potato salad.
so, potato salad a la tina. (i know it's not photogenic, that potato salad.)
this makes quite a bit. i am unsure on servings.
1. boil cut potatoes (4-5 pounds) until they are cooked but not mushy. strain the water from them and let them cool.
2. in a large bowl, mix potatoes with cut celery (3 stalks, maybe), 3 chopped hard-boiled eggs, 1 tablespoon each of sugar, oil, and vinegar. also: celery seed. maybe 1.5 tablespoons. i did not measure. this is a family recipe, damn it.
3. add a little salt. (my family is not so into salt. so it's up to you.)
4. add mayonnaise and mix. (we really like mayonnaise. so, probably about 1/3 cup. maybe more.)

and, pasta salad a la tina.
this recipe makes an enormous amount.
1. cook one bag of pasta. (i used a corn-based pasta this time, gluten-free. and it was still good.)
2. chop 4 peeled kirby cucumbers and 2 big tomatoes. (i used beefsteak. i also added a little bit of chopped onion and green bell pepper, but they are just extra.)
3. italian dressing. tina and i like to make the italian good seasons packet that you put in the cruet. i used 3/4 of it. shake over the veggies and pasta.
4. mix in celery seed. 2-3 tablespoons.

i realize that these recipes are inaccurate but mostly, i went by taste. this is the taste of my childhood, damn it. there is no precision.

so, we still have a ton of stuff left. i have had potato salad with my breakfast for 2 days in a row. what?!? it's just like home fries; no thinks that is weird.

yeah, super.

food democracy reported this week that consumers are slacking in terms of safe food preparation: not washing their hands, cleaning their cutting boards, storing their leftovers properly. jerks.

please, kids. wash. this is stupid.

it goes well with the fact that food companies give complicated and unrealistic directions on food preparation. this video is reason enough to make all of your food, and eat nothing prepared and frozen.


as mentioned, more breakfast.

kim made me breakfast on sunday. it was super, like her.

but, on monday, i was cooking for my memorial day bbq and didn't want to fry eggs or make anything that required a lot of space. so, a sandwich. i mean, why not?

avocado, spinach, beefsteak tomato. a little mustard, a little mayonnaise. toasted baugette.

i really should make these for people. maybe when i have a food truck.

more breakfast. and then, more breakfast.

the farmers' market was so good to me this week. i was there before breakfast on saturday and so we had an incredibly fresh meal to start the weekend: toasted organic baguette, spinach salad with strawberries and gouda, carrots and cucumbers with a ranch dip, and, of course, a fried egg. but this time, i know from which farm the eggs came. yes.
there was other treats, too: yukon gold potatoes, thyme, onion. but the strawberries, the best.


farm kids.

i always had to work; there were no internships in college for me.

but, these kids have some pretty cool internships. maybe i should do one next summer?


i really enjoy making hummus. it's easy to make at home; the only real tool needed is a blender. we eat it so fast at my house that those packaged preservatives are just unnecessary.

i am up too early this morning, but i didn't want to go the laundromat at 8am. i brewed some tea and made simple syrup (for iced tea later on). of course, i am drinking coffee (from gorilla, my favorite). i decided to make the lemony hummus from the march 2009 cooking light. cooking light has been a bit of a disappointment this year, but i still have hope that it will redeem itself.

i used the juice of an entire lemon in this recipe. and it's quite good. refreshing. summery.

no pictures; hummus is never very pretty.


free for all.

the news this week was so unfortunately informative.
  1. i am increasingly agitated when i read about food policy and the lack of rules. i am apparently not the only one. see here.
  2. we learned that there is no guarantee of safety. thanks, fda.
  3. and the food is more expensive. this is obscene. really.
why can't america get it together already?


this week, the recipe (there's one every week) in new york magazine was about sheep's milk ricotta, which i blogged about almost a year ago. so awesome. like i knew a secret.

i think i am going to make this recipe one of these days. i will let you know how it turns out.

farmer in the dell.

and one day, i will compose a post just about the farmer john book. an ode, maybe. but not today.

to read.

i am a fan of cookbooks. new ones, yes, but especially old, quirky ones. dated. full of weird recipes that one cannot imagine anyone ever used. i have cookbooks for ice cream, pickling and canning, dedicated to cold dishes, and even corn. it's hard to use many of them on a regular basis. the big, comprehensive ones are best for that purpose.

this year, the james beard cookbook award went to fat: an appreciation of a misunderstood ingredient, by jennifer mclagan. i have perused this book more than once, oddly obsessed, but fully understanding that, as a vegetarian, i will never use the majority of the recipes. i love that there are sections on duck fat, pork fat, marrow.

but i digress.

i just read an article about the popularity of cookbooks and the winners of cookbook awards. the best-sellers are rarely cookbook genius, it claims. i don't necessarily even see why this article exists. we have different cookbooks for different purposes. why a person would only have one is beyond me. and if that were the case, i would choose the joy of cooking. it's so perfect; it has everything you ever wanted, and weird things, too.

but, in case you were wondering, here is my ultimate favorite:
but, i also love:
of course i have mastering the art of french cooking, by julia child. and the art of simple food, by alice waters. and one of the fanny farmer books. and a variety of others.

but usability wins. the fat cookbook might be spectacular, but i still LOVE the ones that i can easily understand, get messy in the kitchen, and use all of the time. and those are probably the reasons why i haven't bought the alinea book yet.

oh, mark.

i spent last week mad at mark bittman. i think he's pretty smart overall. and i really like to read his column.

but, last week, the big article on the cover of the "dining and wine" section of the nytimes section was about freezing food. if you asked my brother, he would say that the only items in my freezer are ice, butter, and homemade ice cream. i don't use a microwave, and rarely use frozen vegetables. it's a little different right now, as i have roommates, but there's still nothing in there that's mine.

mark. mark. mark. why are you suggesting making so much more than you need? and why do you think that we don't understand how to freeze items? and berries? why are we freezing berries? who buys too many berries? and a burrito? what?

i know. i freeze things, too. but why is this article on the cover of the section? there's nothing more exciting and important to teach us? i think most people can figure out that they need to put the potentially-frozen items into a ziploc bag and put them in the freezer. and not to use food that is freezer-burned.


and they're off!

my dad owned a racehorse when i was a kid. my first house was on secretariat lane. i cannot believe it took me so long to throw a party to celebrate the kentucky derby. you know, wear seersucker and fancy hats and drink mint juleps while betting on horses?! so exciting.

and, well, a themed party needs very specific food.

the mint juleps.
i had never had one before last week, much less made one. i don't typically drink a lot of bourbon, which, by definition, must come from kentucky, by the way. but, i knew i could make anything for which there is a recipe. i even watched a video.
  1. make simple syrup ahead of time. boil 1 cup sugar with one cup water until it is a syrup. seal in a jar. refrigerate. it can be kept for a week or so. i also made mint simple syrup by adding some mint extract, but you can throw fresh mint in the jar as well.
  2. take 4-5 mint sprigs and put them in the bottom of a glass. at the kentucky derby, they use silver julep cups.
  3. add one oz. of the simple syrup and muddle it with the mint.
  4. add ice. it should be crushed as fine as possible.
  5. pour 2 oz. of bourbon over the ice. the official bourbon of the derby is woodford reserve, which, of course, we had just for the occasion.
  6. add more mint for garnish.
  7. drink.
these treats are practically cucumber sandwiches, except that they have a fancy spread to make them stand out. after i made this recipe, i put it on organic peasant bread with slices of cucumber, but you could also dip vegetables in it.
  1. peel and seed a large cucumber.
  2. chop a small onion.
  3. process in food processor.
  4. add 1 package of cream cheese and a tablespoon of mayonnaise and a dash of salt and little green food coloring. process. i know the food coloring sounds weird, but all of the recipes i researched called for it.
  5. spread on bread.
derby pie.
i cheated here by buying a pie crust. there are only so many hours in a day! the official derby pie recipe is trademarked, so i used this one. it was pretty good, but i don't really like pecans (which just happens to be the "official state nut" of texas).

in terms of the "official" derby food, that's really it. but i also made miniature pineapple and cherry cheesecakes with vanilla wafers in the bottom. we drank pimms with iced tea and/or lemonade. i created some special mint lemonade for michelle. yes, the pregnant one. she's pretty special so she gets her own cocktail. there was also homemade hummus and fancy cheeses and chips and crackers. and chocolate-covered strawberries (compliments of april and adam). and other fancy pastries (compliments of renato and baked). i can't remember what else.

it was lovely. it might become an annual affair. except that next year, i want to go to the actual event.



may day! may day!

on may 1st, we celebrate the social and economic contributions of the labor movement, pretty much everywhere in the world except america. oh, america, what to do with your disdain of the metric system and labor day in september?

tracy and i were practicing mint juleps for my kentucky derby party this afternoon. but, that is not to say that we forgot the knights of labor, the wobblies, the triangle shirtwaist fire, or the haymarket riot.


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