Monday, November 30, 2009

Bits and pieces

The Lunch Lady wishes you a belated Thanksgiving (via

There's lots to love in this Thanksgiving piece by Maira Kalman. I wish it wasn't so much the same familiar people (Pollan, Waters and her egg on a spoon, Canard, Edible Schoolyard, etc.) but I love how Kalman plays with pictures and words. In my next life (I'm pretty sure I still have like 6), I will create pieces like that.

Good for getting all that tryptophan out of your system: sweating and soaking it out at Spa Castle.

Good for a laugh: reading all of Sam Sifton's Thanksgiving advice, dispensed on the NY Times' Diner's Journal. I find this guy hilarious. One gem: "That sounds harsh, I realize, but Thanksgiving isn’t just punk rock and cranberries."

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving redux

Thanksgiving was nice--small, casual, and full of ruckus (baby meets cat; cat runs away; baby searches relentlessly for terrified cats. Dog meets cat; cat runs away; dog searches relentlessly for terrified cats).

My first course was a tart I have served for two years running now. It's a riff on one I was served at my friend's house a few years ago. It might not be a perfect replica, but I think it comes close. And it's good, darn good. I started with a pie crust from Nick Malgieri's book "How to Bake." Them I sauteed one red onion in olive oil, with a dash of dried thyme, salt and pepper. So you roll the crust out, then make a bed with the onions. Then fan out one apple, sliced into half moons with the skin still on. I used a winesap, nice and sweet and crisp. Then I fill the circle in the middle with a generous crumbling of blue cheese--I used some Bayley Hazen blue, a little too dried out to eat by itself but perfect for baking. Then brush the crust with a little bit of beaten egg, then pop in a 375 degree oven, bake until crust is brown and cheese is melted and bubbling.

I neglected to take a picture of the SLAMMIN' turkey I made. Family pooh poohed last year's heritage bird (too gamey, too strange) so I went with a farm-raised, happy, hormone-less bird from Dickson Farmstand. I slathered it in Rosemary Maple Butter (holla!) per CC's suggestion, and you'll be shocked to hear that it was a VERY good idea. Even better on a leftover sandwich for lunch today.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Hearth, home

It's the night before Thanksgiving and rather than starting my cooking prep, I'm pensive.

I hit the farmers market on my way home from work, braving the rain and the premature darkness and the last-minute shoppers. I was there buying the finishing touches--not food, per se, but eucalyptus and apple cider, to make my house homey and wintery tomorrow when I welcome my family for our turkey feast.

I'm reminded of Thanksgiving three years ago when, on my way to my family's house on Long Island, I stopped at the house of some friends of mine. They welcomed me in out of the cold, showered me in hugs and kisses and plopped me in a choice seat in front of a roaring fire, placed a mug of hot apple cider in one of my hands and a toasted buttered corn muffin in the other. This, I thought, is hospitality. This is home.

I have a big, comfortable apartment, with bits of me all over it, especially in the open kitchen, where I love to cook meals for people. And it feels like home when there are people here, and I turn on the christmas lights and make them a cocktail and fill their bellies, and plop them in front of the proverbial/metaphorical fireplace. I have learned hospitality from pros.

Is it a home, I find myself wondering, when it's just me here? A friend has a framed piece on her kitchen wall, something about how home is where "you" are. Without a you--even with hot cider and eucalyptus and two cats snuggled at your bum--is it home? Can it be?