I know I should be putting up tomatoes right now…but sadly when I hit the farmer’s market yesterday I was on my bike and I didn’t have confidence I could get the gorgeous, ripe heirlooms I saw home without major squashage. In hunting for more durable produce, I came across a stand with a whole assortment of colorful hot peppers; I bought enough to fill two quart jars (a quarter peck) and, inspired by Mother Goose, I pickled them! And photographed them with the Manhattan skyline.
This is going to be a word-heavy post, so I’m going to give you the money-shot right up front. BAM! I finally made bresaola!
Well, February happened. I had a cake recipe lined up after my last post…and then work exploded. I finally got some weekend time, though, and I’ve used it to see some friends, see some art, and, of course, to get some cooking done.
During the past weeks of craziness – and accompanying meals of ordered-in sushi – I’ve really missed my own home cooking. So, with my time this week I decided to hunt down something easy, tasty, and feasible for one person. The result: fast, delicious pork chops with beer-mustard sauce and gherkins.
Food can be central to a novel – to interactions, to evocations of scenery. Some writers, however, focus their attention on other details. Amongst them, Jeffrey Eugenides, author of Middlesex (one of my favorite books), and of my book club’s January pick: The Marriage Plot. I volunteered to hostess and cook for our meeting this month, and I was having trouble coming up with a thematic dish. If we’d been doing dress-up, Eugenides’ discussion of 1980s Betsey Johnson would have been a perfect stepping-off spot. For food, though, I wound up resorting to location, and taking inspiration from two major settings: New England and Calcutta. I found a recipe for indian pudding with apples in Rain, Hail, and Baked Beans – a 1958 “New England Seasonal Cook Book.” To this classic, I added spices inspired by a Bengali apple chutney recipe; I made an Indian indian pudding.
I’m starting this new year out with an old recipe. Well, to be clear, this recipe is old to me, since I made it for my pie party in October, but new to the world, since it’s an original concoction. Again, though, that’s not quite accurate – it’s actually a brand new combination of two very traditional recipes: raised pork pie and scrapple. I tossed a few apples into the mix…and came up with scrapple-apple pie.
So, I am officially on a baking kick. Cookbook Archaeology is not on its way to becoming baking blog…but there will be a lot of flour flying in the next months. Baking fits well in my life right now; I make delicious things Sunday and bring them into work Monday. And sweets spread cheer on what is usually the most daunting day of the week. Apparently I’m also on a James Beard kick, because this delicious cheer – a persimmon quick bread – is from his 1973 Beard on Bread.
There’s a reason the James Beard Awards have the namesake they do. These chocolate chip cookies are ample proof. I’ve been filling out my collection of vintage classics to complement the oddball books I hoard – I now have Julia, Craig, and James sitting on my shelves alongside volumes like The Gay Nineties Cookbook.