zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
Caramel is the delicious toffee-like substance that the cook produces when sugar is heated to a brown color but not burned. The result is what [Marie Antoine] Carême called "monkey's blood."
zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
when you know you'll have more fish to fry:

filtering frying oil
zirconium: photo of Greek style coffee, Larnaca, October 2011 (coffee in Cyprus)
Lui, peering at the stew: Why is it hairy?

Moi: I think it's the anchovies.
zirconium: photo of pumpkin on wire chair (pumpkin on chair)
The subject line's from Kate Barnes's "Epona" (a patron deity of horses). The poem opens with this:

Waking up this morning, I found myself
still in a dream of washing a white mare
in the washing machine.

If only. I woke up this morning from a dream where I spent most of an afternoon indexing a manuscript -- in a bleak little pen somewhere on the Keeneland grounds, with my dying mother in a corner and surrounded by tennis matches and other families holding field day festivities.

It doesn't take a psychology degree to figure out where the various elements came from. But hey, subconscious, how about a white mare or washing machine next time? Or maybe colorful cargo-bike panniers? (I was reading a sample chapter of Luna Jaffe's Wild Money just before bedtime.)

I was going to moan about yesterday being mishap-laden (walking into a tree; having to throw out a panful of roasted veg) but I see that I did that a year ago, almost to the day. Note to future self: mark this week as a danger zone on the calendar.

Being stubborn as well as klutzy, I got two submissions out. And I was pleasantly surprised to see one of my poems newly published and shortlisted over at unFold. And, I'm in fine company -- the list so far also includes Dorothee Lang (who published Story Book-Ends two Aprils ago) and Nathalie Boisard-Beudin (whose photo+tunes journal is heaps of fun...)

Also from two years ago: I had some leftover red wine. I had a party to attend. So:

Two years ago
zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
The subject line is from Thoreau's "Conscience Is Instinct Bred in the House." It is an insufferable poem (which is I admit in line with my general opinion of Thoreau) but that line had me giggling.

A snippet from elsewhere: "The poet is not a bag of sugar!" - Wolf Biermann, "The Poet's After-Dinner Speech"

It was a mishap-punctuated week. No lasting harm (AFAIK) was done, though, and my brain apparently likes to pounce on resemblances everywhere:

sweet potato drippings

The sweet potato drippings in my oven formed the head of a flopped-on-the-floor puppy...

marbled cast iron pan

leftover pan juices reminded me of the water and paint suspensions used for marbling paper...

beet salad

...and good things happened as well. A friend from college was in town, so I put together a few snacks, including this salad (roasted beets and pickled lemon). It looked good and tasted great with the sparkling rosé she brought over. (We went to Lockeland Table for dinner; I'm noshing on leftover octopi pizza for breakfast, though it just dawned on me that I had better do something about all the garlic that's now on my breath, since I'm singing this morning. Oops...)
zirconium: photo of cupcake from Sweet 16th, Nashville (crackacino cupcake)
There are at least three recipes for salt-preserved lemons in my house. A week or so ago, I finally got around to two of them. One was a spicy Israeli riff that won't be ready until June; the other a simple Greek version with a fridge life of two months.

I fished two pieces of lemon out of the Greek jar yesterday. Mmmm.

Last summer, I went to a dinner where the appetizers included pickles from Pickle Me This, a new Nashville business. That business is moving to Brooklyn in May. Brooklyn is in for a treat.

Yesterday, Alimentum published a set of poems about great restaurants. The set includes my pieces about Sweet 16th (the icon on the DW version of this post is of their crackacino cupcake) and Novecento. Bon appetit!
zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
Listening to: the USA Today stream of clips from Anais Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer's "Child Ballads" album (link via my friend Katy). Between that and the severe weather making the sky so very grey, I'm inclined to spend the afternoon working on fairy-tale riffs (but tax prep is calling, calling).

Reading: the Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook. Pages 374-75 provide pleasingly detailed advice on buying fresh shrimp:

When buying shrimp with heads, note that they spoil quicker and that the heads constitute about 35 percent of the shrimp's weight. So if a recipe calls for 2 pounds of headless shrimp, shells on, buy almost 2 3/4 pounds whole shrimp with shells to compensate.

Keep in mind that a shrimp's shell and legs make up about 12 percent of its weight, so if you're using peeled shrimp in a recipe that calls for 2 pounds headless shrimp, shells on, you'll require only 88 percent of that weight, or about 1 3/4 pounds.

Today's lunchtime reading was a couple of sections of yesterday's New York Times. I was struck by two mentions of historians brought to tears, both within Dan Barry's article about the Jackie Clarke collection in Ireland. In the first, Barry speculates on prize artifacts that would have changed Sinead McCoole's initially low expectations of the collection:

Was it the fabric flower, called a cockade, that Wolfe Tone -- Wolfe Tone! -- wore affixed to his hat when he was captured while leading a failed rebellion against the English in 1798? When Ms. McCoole showed the cockade to a scholar friend steeped in that era, the scholar began to weep.

The other immediately reminded me of how difficult it can be to define and observe the scope of academic projects (...and, really, projects in any sphere, but as you might guess, scope comes up a lot in academic publishing):

Often, as Ms. McCoole set out to begin another wearying day of academic mining, one of the fish shop's employees, Smokey Gorman, would give her a cryptic greeting: "And you haven’t even gotten to the roof yet." For a while she thought this meant that Mr. Gorman might have spent too much time in the smokehouse, but Mrs. Clarke eventually told her that Mr. Gorman was referring to some "modern stuff" that he once helped Jackie Clarke carry to a storeroom built onto the roof.

One day, with the end of her papered tunnel in sight, Ms. McCoole went to that room on the roof, where loads of bundles were wrapped in relatively recent copies of the local newspaper. Inconsequential modern stuff, she thought. But when she opened a bundle or two, she found rare political pamphlets and newspapers dating to the 17th and 18th centuries.

"Instead of being euphoric, I cried for two days," Ms. McCoole said. “I cried and I cried and I cried. It was just more things to do. I knew the job hadn't ended."

But when she recovered Ms. McCoole realized that she was immersed in something very rare and wonderful, a feeling now validated by other scholars.
zirconium: my hands, sewing a chemo cap liner (care caps hands)
The subject line's from Leslie C. Chang's "Animism," which is the poem that resonated with me the most in Things That No Longer Delight Me, in part because seeing "Ahquen" reminded me of the myriad Taiwanese names for "aunt" and "uncle" I sort-of learned as a kid. It portrays a woman scratching the name of a dying man onto the back of turtles:

Now, like smoke, thread
trails from a needle stuck in the candle-end
you recycled as a pincushion, nothing wasted.

I am out of rice, so I am baking cornbread. I plan to heat up black beans and andouille sausages in a bit.

I bought a can of Chinese preserved clams a while back, I think by mistake (it's the same size and color as the tins of Chinese pickled cucumbers I'm addicted to). I do like clams, so I was looking forward to trying them anyway -- but they are the most unappetizing-looking thing I've sampled in some time (think gray-green bits of rubber with fat antennae), and they don't taste enough like something worth adding to scrambled eggs or soup or salad.

My friend Lora wrote about plants and dirt earlier today. I about laughed myself sick over the part about driving around after a wedding shower, and the last paragraph is a sounder guide to living than most of the theology I've come across this week.

I am bargaining with myself over the container roses that are reportedly on sale at Kroger this week. I'm thinking if I walk to the nearest store (which is just far enough away for me to feel like blowing it off, especially with a deadline on my neck), I could treat myself...

[Since starting this entry, the BYM's come home and I've finished cooking the bread, the beans, and the sausages. Time to wrap this up, fill my plate, and get back to work.]

[I haven't forgotten about posting more about Charleston. Turns out even that was too ambitious for this fortnight. But I have a list. I'll get to it eventually.]
zirconium: mirliton = grinning squash from NOLA (mirliton)
The subject line's from Nikki Giovanni's "I am Jazz," which is in Bicycles: Love Poems, which I am reading tonight because my e-book loan expires in a couple of days.

I am cooking: "Company Carrots" (recipe from Charleston Receipts Repeats), a riff on parmesan black pepper coleslaw (because both parmesan and cabbage were on sale at the supermarket), and pork chops.

I am listening to TFS's "Blackest Crow," via Nathalie. Sxip Shirley: "The girls started singing 'The Blackest Crow' and it was like a mute volume hit the party. The party went SILENT and people listened to the women sing and it felt like that...LISTENING TO THE WOMEN SING."

Back to the stove, back to the knife, back to the pen and the paring life... ;-)


Mar. 4th, 2013 07:26 am
zirconium: mirliton = grinning squash from NOLA (mirliton)
orange soufflé
We had too many oranges and eggs in the house, so last night I tried to make an orange soufflé. Alas, it was seriously undercooked underneath the crust. (It's edible enough for breakfast, but that wasn't the idea.) Things to try next time:

(1) Adjust the recipe. I didn't realize it was for a 2-quart dish (mine is 1.5 qt.) until I'd already put the batter in the oven.
(2) Be less cautious about blending the egg whites with the base.
(3) Plan on leaving the soufflé in the oven for 40 minutes instead of 25 (but start testing at 30).

(Then again, I don't usually inadvertently stock too many eggs, so I don't know when I'm going to feel like trying this again. Stovetop pudding is far simpler, even from scratch, and I live within walking distance of both an excellent bakery and a French bistro.)
zirconium: mirliton = grinning squash from NOLA (mirliton)
Tonight's dinner was stuffed peppers, in consultation with this southernfood.about.comrecipe and the 13th edition of the Fannie Farmer Cookbook. The goal was mainly to use the last of a jar of pasta sauce.

I was attempting to follow the Townsend-Vickery match during much of the prep and cooking, so it was a good thing that the ingredients involved did not require precision. (Ironically, it's also one of the few times I can remember the amount of filling being just right for the shells -- I usually make too much -- with just enough room for the tomato sauce.)

What actually happened:

* Earlier in the afternoon, I'd cooked several cups of barley in the rice cooker.
* I cut the tops off of two green peppers and minced the edible parts of the tops.
* I set a pot of water to boil. I immersed the cleaned-out bells in the water for about two minutes, then covered it and turned the heat down to simmer. Officially, I should have taken them out after five minutes, but what with the tennis, I left them in a while longer.
* Sautéed the minced tops with half a minced onion and half a package of ground beef. (My cast iron pan was well greased, so I didn't add any oil.)
* Poured maybe 1/4 cup of what the BYM calls "that weird Worcestshire sauce" into a bowl. (It's a Taiwanese brand -- Wan Ja Shan -- and tastes weaker than the ones we're used to. I'd meant to splash in only a tablespoon or so, but since it isn't very Worcestshirey, I didn't bother pouring any out.) Mixed it with one large egg.
* Ladled in about half of the beef-veg mixture (putting the rest in the fridge). Mixed in a couple of cups of the barley (putting the rest in the fridge). Spooned it all into the peppers. Put the peppers in the still-greasy cast iron pan and spooned tomato sauce on top.
* Preheated the oven to 325 F (convection) and set the timer for 40 minutes.
* Turned off oven when the timer beeped. Left the peppers in and continued watching tennis. Was just about to put them away when the BYM got home.

The BYM's comments: "Tasty. ...I like barley. ...It's like crunching on little frog eyeballs only not really crunchy." :-)
zirconium: mirliton = grinning squash from NOLA (mirliton)
A lot of this month hasn't gone to plan so far. Neither did this stuffing (which was originally intended to go inside a pair of green peppers), but it still tasted really good:

Friday - shredded week-old challah into crumbs
Saturday and Sunday - ate leftover colcannon and anchovies and other sundries (was both under the weather and under a pile of work)

* grocery run: picked up other ingredients for stuffed peppers, as well as a package of sliced baby portobellos marked "manager's special"
* went over to a friend's house for chili and beer and chocolate

* there's been an half-full can of Yuengling in the fridge I've been meaning to use for something. Around 5:30 p.m., I decide to sauté the mushrooms in it, with some butter and chopped onion. Once the onions were translucent, I started adding in challah crumbs, drizzling some some olive oil and then some hot water for the right consistency. I cover the pan and move my laptop the kitchen, in order to look up a few things...
* ...and around 6:15 p.m., a work e-mail comes in. I start dealing with a few things in the attachment...
* ...which means I'm still picking at the document when the BYM comes home at 7. All right. Stuffing the peppers would push dinner back to 8:30 or so. Time for plan B!
* The stuffing is on the dry side. I add more hot water and turn the burner back on.
* I pan-fry the boneless pork chops I intended to cook yesterday.
* I chop romaine lettuce and a roma tomato, and make vinaigrette in an old jelly jar.
* Dinner is pronounced a success! The dog looks longing at the half-chop left in the pan.

Another recent success was a riff on Elise Bauer's recipe for lemon chicken. I didn't have rosemary, so I left that out, and I didn't bother with the butter. I used only two pounds of chicken, so I adjusted the other ingredients accordingly. I didn't have fresh lemons to zest, but I did have a Mason jar of Meyer-lemon-infused vodka that had reached the take-the-lemons-out phrase, so the lemon juice = the liquid mashed and squeezed out of eight vodka-soaked lemon quarters.

It was terrific. When the BYM called to say he wouldn't be home for dinner, I happily stole the skin off the pieces I'd been saving for him. [/cat-who-ate-the-canary grin]
zirconium: photo of Greek style coffee, Larnaca, October 2011 (coffee in Cyprus)
pine nut cookies


Rain spits on Nashville
as I blur butter into sugar.
So much sweetness
starts out from grease and grit.

- pld
zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (onions)
According to one Markham (The English Housewife, 1683), today is the day to sow "Chicory, Fennel, and Apples of Love." (Advice reprinted in Charles Kightly's Perpetual Almanack of Folklore [Thames and Hudson, 1987].)

It is, however, raining bucketfuls, so I am tending to press releases instead.

Crescent Dragonwagon on the permissions process )


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