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Saturday, May 29, 2004

Cherry Ripe

My Montmerency cherries don't usually ripen till after my birthday, but I think there are enough for a tart. Good thing I started getting reacquainted with pie dough.

Peaches are in too, again, about a month ahead of schedule.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

When you stop looking for something ...

it's everywhere.

About a month ago, I was looking in all my usual shopping haunts for pound cake. Mind you, I could find Sara Lee, which is okay pound cake (indeed, the pound cake of my childhood), but I wanted fresh bakery pound cake. And I couldn't find it.

I peeved a bit in this blog about fancy-ass Gourmet Ghetto bakeries being too good for old-fashioned pound cake and then got bakin'. It happened to coincide with the third "Is My Blog Burning? Cake Walk Edition" so that worked out.

On Saturday when I ducked into that same Andronico's, there were dozens of pound cakes lined up on the bakery counter: plain, lemon, marble, and chocolate. And Trader Joe's had it in the bakery section on Sunday. I bet Berkeley Bowl had some too, but I rarely cruise the baked goods section (self preservation). Wouldn't ya know it?

(I missed IMBB #4. I made the pie, but nothing with rice. I had my heart set on asparagus/pea/spring green risotto but had no time to go to the Bowl for green, or to cook all the chicken backs into stock for it. Waaah.)

Monday, May 24, 2004


rhubarb pie.

Took a leaf from the latest Fine Cooking, with an article about pies from the obsessed-but-we-love-her Rose Levy Berenbaum.

Did not use Rose's recipe for the crust but used her trick of putting the fat and flour in the freezer for a while.

The crust was pretty good but I had to wash my hands twice to warm them. Next time I really do assemble the food processor and use it instead.

The pie is mighty tasty.

Saturday, May 15, 2004


I have pulled through the fabric stash, and acquired more, with the object of finally making some receiving blankets.

Here's what I have on deck:

All-over banana print (mostly yellow of course)
Small limes, with leaves and blossoms on white (I wanted lemons, they didn't have)
Strawberries (and fraises des bois) and blossoms on light tan (found some flannel to match that - perfect baby-spit color)
and the piece de resistance, a jolly Hoffman print of watermelon, yellow and blush pear, purple plums, red and green grapes, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries (& leaves and blossoms), redcurrants, apricots, peaches, green and red apples (whole and sliced), Meyer lemons (whole and sliced), kiwi, and cherries on a black background.

The urge to cook instead of sew is strong.

Miscellanea from the kitchen

A few things from my recent food adventures:

- While I very much enjoy snap peas and asparagus, I have determined that the Soybean Succotash Stuff in my lunch means I'm far less likely to have the late-afternoon nibbles.

- The lower-carb pita from the Berkeley Bowl is actually pretty good for store pita.

- The "Joe's Lows" corn-and-flax seed tortilla chips from Trader Joe's are really quite tasty. (I'm not low-carbing, so I have Standards.)

- I found that I far prefer whipped cream, not clotted cream, on my strawberry shortcake, but that clotted cream on one of the Cheese Board's brioche (must check their cookbook!) topped up with Fatapple's ollalieberry-raspberry jam is totally ace.

- Andronico's on North Shattuck (not mine in the po'-folks neighborhood) has roasted tomatoes in the deli bar.

- In the interest of testing out Dinner Fast options, I got a rotisserie chicken from the Bowl last time. Since I ended up getting three meals out of a 2 lb chicken, it wasn't a bad value for $5.99, cooked. The cat enjoyed the little back bits that get frozen instead when I get a fresh chicken (because I cut out the back and freeze it for stock).

- I'm still looking for smaller (but not "mini" loaf pans) - must comb the King Arthur Flour Catalog.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

In the Kitchen with Grandma

The local fishwrap, which I like to make fun of for its fluffiness, does actually have pretty good food reporting. (As is fitting and proper in one of America's Culinary Capitals.)

The latest project is what they call "Rent a Grandma", where a young person of the Fast Food/Take-Out generation who did NOT grow up in their own grandmother's kitchen is paired with an Ethnically Suitable grandmother-type (bubby, yaya, abuelita ...) for a day of lessons in how to shop for and prepare the Food of Their People.

I think this is a great idea, because cooking, especially scratch cooking, seems increasingly to be thought of as a specialist skill in the age of take-out and frozen. I learned some of the basics (how brown is "browned", how to pick good produce) from my mother but I see that sort of knowledge passing away.

I'm fortunate in that the food my grandmothers served me is readily available and I can buy what I don't feel like making (or, in the case of paternal grandmother's pie crust, am not skilled enough yet to reproduce). But I still jones for those Parker House Rolls sometimes, especially at Thanksgiving. (Didn't get that recipe, but will try the Fannie Farmer one when I attempt them. I did note that they had a lot of butter in them. Knowing my grandmother and her prediliction for butterfat, I am not surprised.

It's a nice thing too - my mother was quite pleased when I expressed an interest in learning to make gravy, something she does very well that has fallen out of fashion in all but fancy French restaurants.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Spring Rolls for Spring

I had a chicken breast left over and had been seeing a recipe about spring rolls with fake-chicken, carrot, and other things in the Vegetarian Times at the acupuncturist's office. So I decided to make spring rolls. I had some rice wrappers from the Berkeley Bowl.

I diced the chicken, along with half a cuke, half a pepper, a grated carrot, some cilantro, and a good glug of rice vinegar.

All the recipes I have seen talk about getting the hang of the rice wrappers. It's true! First I soaked them in warm water too long so they were too pliable and tearing. (I ate those) Then I didn't get the hang of rolling them - fill, fold the sides over, THEN roll. I ate those mistakes too.

I finally got to the point where I could roll them ok (all the filling was tucked in) but frying them turned into a GREAT BIG MESS. I have seen some recipes where the rice wrappers are fried but I wonder if eggroll wrappers might be better for this. Hmmmm. It was pretty delicate; I wonder if doubling up might help for frying.

But at least I think I have the idea down for non-fried rice-wrapper rolls. A little more practice and I should be pretty good at those.

Speaking of delicious rolled things, the Bowl has Lumpia in the freezer section. Yeah!