Saturday, June 29, 2013

Strawberry Jam

Dear Turkey,

Yesterday my mom and I made strawberry jam. She told me that she remembers helping her mom make it when she was little. Her mom used to turn the pectin packet upside down in order to get every last bit of pectin out. The packet looked the same then as the one that I used yesterday (in fact, it was invented in 1912). So, my mom used to help her mom make jam, and now she helps me. She has not been promoted.

But she did pick the berries:

And chop them:

And put them in the pot. We followed the recipe on the pectin package (but we added lemon because local strawberries tend to have a high water content, causing runny jam without additional acid):

And processed the jars:

We made four batches, for 34 jars (mostly half-pints). So what did I do? I was the Consulting and Advising wing of the outfit. Okay, Mom, I guess you can be promoted.

Does anybody want one? Okay, send me a guest post. 

I moss you,

Friday, June 28, 2013


Dear Turkey,

As you know, my first word (besides "Mama" and "Dada" -- I recently found out this important detail) was "ball." Well, someone in my house started saying "ball." Except he says it like, "Ba-aah-ahh-lll!" And he says it loud. 

He sometimes thinks that something is a ball and then gets mad when I eat it.



"Ball" -- actually these are the classic cookies with Bailey's substituted for vanilla -- good plan.

Pasta with tiny green "balls." As you know, I am the (self-proclaimed) pasta master. 

This pasta was inspired by my latest guest post-er. She made amazing pasta for lunch the day that we baked bread. For my sauce, I melted some (okay, a lot of) butter and threw in some diced onion and minced garlic (yes, from a jar). Instead of cooking the onion to oblivion like I usually would, I just let it soften a little. I added some sundried tomatoes in their oil and a bunch of white wine and lemon juice. Then I threw in the pasta and the little green "balls," which were fresh, not frozen. Top with parm. 

I moss you,

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Another Guest Post!

Dear Turkey,

See, I told you that I have friends other than you. This post is from...let's see here...Italian Food Expert...Mom Of Teenager...Old Friend Who Is Not Old. Sounds like an acronym would be appropriate here: IF E MOT OF WINO. So, here is the debut of IF E MOT OF WINO:

Today I received a hands on bread lesson from my friend. I was also fortunate enough to receive love and attention from her adorable Baby. The smell of homemade bread wafting through the house, a baby's pure delightful laughter and a good friend~ these are what matter in life.

I've always enjoyed cooking when it wasn't "on demand." Coming from a restaurant background hasn't hurt either. But, I have never been confident with dough. I have tried to make my share of bread, pizza crust and rolls. Sometimes they were just good enough. Other times, they were in the garbage instead of on the table. I confess this with shame for throwing  food away. Today was a new dough beginning.

While the teenager amused Baby Love, my friend taught me how to improvise two delicious loaves. One was a short rise in the sun, the other a long rise, baked well after we parted. I took notes and kneaded the second loaf. I am a big fan of  hands on individualized instruction from such a competent, creative dough master.

The first loaf was more whole wheat like, with an olive oil and sea salt crust. The texture was homey, the flavor was delicious. BUT the second loaf won FIRST PRIZE. We kneaded  the second loaf more, let it rise much longer, used a few types of more delicate flour,then added freshly chopped oregano, sage and mint. 

Look, here it is before baking. The crust sparkles and glistens with a sea salt and olive oil rub. I made a small signature fold on one side:

Here it is after baking:

I ate it plain. I ate it with cheddar cheese. I toasted it and and ate it with grape jelly. I ate the salt that fell off. I ate the bread crumbs and thought how lovely they would taste in meatballs. I ate the parchment paper it was baked on, (only a small piece by accident) and thought about carta di musica (Sardinia's native bread). I thought if it got stale for lack of eating (fat chance) how it would make a tasty panzanella (tomato salad with bread and olive oil and vinegar). I think of frying it for breakfast with a cutout for an egg in the middle.

I think of my friend, her laughing baby, and how the best is yet to come.

Keep up the good work, IF E MOT OF WINO,

Monday, June 24, 2013

My Birthday

Dear Audience,

Yesterday was my birthday. Just like every other day, it was all about food. But, I didn't have to clean up.

For breakfast, I had the perfect food:

Just kidding, I actually had berries and yogurt, but I did have the perfect food for a snack. And, yes, Mom, I know that breastmilk is the perfect food. 

For lunch I had beans and rice cooked the way that I like them, with lots of honey, jalepeno juice, cumin, lemon, garlic, and oil. 

For dinner I had two cast-iron pizzas. My lovely assistants first cooked the dough for a couple of minutes in a very-well-salted-and-oiled cast-iron-pan. Then we put on the toppings: 

Above: roasted garlic tomato sauce, sundried tomatoes, chevre, caramelized shallots, and arugula and basil. Below: mozzarella, broiled leeks, the same sauce, the same greens. Actually, we put on everything but the cheese and greens and baked them for a few minutes at 425 degrees. Then we added the cheese and baked them for a few more minutes, finishing them under the broiler. Then we put the greens on top after removing them from the oven. 

My mom made gazpacho from the original Moosewood cookbook (thanks to the random provider of this link from 2008).

Dessert -- meringues that my mom made with chopped up strawberries and homemade whipped cream. 

And there was a special guest. You made have heard of him: TURKEY.

Happy Birthday to Me,

Friday, June 21, 2013

Mexican Goes on Vacation, Too

Dear Cafe Corazon,

Props to you for being the first fine establishment in Milwaukee to have the privilege of being reviewed on this blog. I found you online, and I knew immediately that we were a match made in heaven.

For example, your black beans are vegetarian. It says that right on your menu. And they must have honey in them, because they taste just like mine! And you have a nice little blurb about how you use all kinds of local produce and stuff.

Also, we could eat outside, and you brought the food fast -- two major points for you from babyland. Your salsas are hot; you don't assume that your customers are not hardcore.

Photo: I was too busy juggling a baby, chips, and enchiladas to take a picture.
We had tostadas that looked remarkably like the ones pictured above (sans cerveza), and enchiladas. If I come again and it's cold, I will also have one of my favorite hot chocolates. Nice work, people.

We did not stay for postres, since we had to enjoy this for the tenth time. That day. Okay, it was the second time that day. For me.

Hasta la Vista,

Friday, June 14, 2013

Cloth Diapers Go On Vacation

Dear Turkey,

I know that I said that I wasn't going to tell you any more about how I'm such a cool, crunchy mom that I took my cloth diapers on our trip.

Instead, I will share some snapshots of our quality local eating experiences:

Delicious subs

Delicious Custard (but not my favorite...)

Everyone's favorite shopping bag

I moss you,

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Finally -- a Guest Post

Dear Turkey,

Since I am out of town (and I brought cloth diapers with me! -- like you care), one of my dreams has come true: a guest post. This post is by...let's call her...Grad Student...Cupcake...Mom...GradStudentCupcakeMom (why cupcake?).

Chobani Scones
By GradStudentCupcakeMom:

*Preheat oven to 425. 

1 cup chobani yogurt (I used strawberry)
1 cup whole wheat (I used stone ground) flour
1 cup all purpose flour (I used king Arthur)
(you can use all whole wheat flour if you prefer, the scones will just be denser)
a little less than 1/4 cup of sugar (I used sugar in the raw)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
4 TBsp cold butter cut into small cubes
1 cup (or more) fresh strawberries (or any fruit that matches the yogurt choice)
1/2 tsp-1 tsp vanilla to scone recipe!  It depends on how much you love vanilla
*Mix dry ingredients together, add butter (use your fingers or pastry cutter to smush it up and mix it with the rest of the ingredients)
*Add strawberries and yogurt
*Knead dough
*Pat into rectangles (8) and sprinkle sugar on top
*Bake  for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Thanks GradStudentCupcakeMom! Maybe now you have paved the way for other guest


Friday, June 7, 2013

Just Relax

Dear Tofu,

Your compliment for today is: you are good at a lot of things. Your hair is so shiny. Your outlets and light switches are dustless. You are punctual.

Now that I've got your attention, it's time for the constructive criticism section of this piece: you are not good at relaxing.

For example, your backyard looks like this on a bad day:

And that's only a third of the backyard. 

You have some of the world's second best coffee and everyone's new favorite rolls, and some wildflowers that you picked right outside your door.

You did a good job relaxing for ten minutes while enjoying this snack and the view. Then you spent two hours vacuuming underneath all the furniture. I agree, however, that it is relaxing to be able to look under the furniture and only see cleanliness.

You're the best,

Thursday, June 6, 2013

My Giant Lunch

Dear Mom,

Even though you didn't finish your half of our giant lunch yesterday, I've decided not to revoke your mom-hood. You can continue to participate in my anonymous restaurant reviews in your important capacity as The Payer.

Yesterday, we went to my favorite Middle Eastern place. I have fond memories of eating there with you when I was a kid. Like the time that you forgot that there was a pita sandwich on top of your Previa and drove away.

In high school, my friends always wanted to go to the other Middle Eastern place. Because they have bad taste. They like hummus better than baba and spanakopita better than spinach pie. Munjed's has the best, smokiest, baba and the best spinach pie, by far. (But, I agree, their hummus isn't as good as King Davids').

We enjoyed spinach pie, feta & olives, baba, pita:

Grape leaves, tabouli:

And very fresh and crispy falafel:

Anyway, Mom, since you're not nursing me anymore, I guess I forgive you for getting full and taking home leftovers.


Saturday, June 1, 2013

I Am a Famous Book Critic

Dear Bee Wilson,

Thank you so much for letting my library lend me a free kindle edition of your latest book to review. I hope this review will make you almost as famous as I am.

First things first, the cover:

Since I read this on my kindle, I didn't even really see the cover. So, my off-the-cuff first impression is: classy. Due to my OCD, however, I would always be licking my finger and trying to pick those errant salt granules off of the cover. Something to think about if you are trying to market this as a coffee-table book to people with mental disorders.

Here is another criticism about the kindle edition: since I couldn't leaf through the pages, I was SHOCKED and DISMAYED when I got to the end of Chapter 8 and I realized that THE BOOK WAS OVER. My kindle only said 80% done; the rest were just notes (kudos on doing all that research and stuff).

In conclusion, I heart-ed your book. It kind of reminded me of this other trendy history book written by a Brit that I also loved.

"Later" (that's American for "bye"),