Tag Archives: cookbooks

Vision

It’s easy to have it in my mind, for any crazy, sane or simple outside the box idea. In my eye, not so easy. I have to time antibiotic medication so I can get things done then be at home for a few hours while my right eye becomes too blurry for me to drive and for it to come back before even walking the dog. You should see the condition of sidewalks and streets here, if I were to make a recipe for Disaster, these would be the main ingredients.

It doesn’t help that my husband is across the country all week, every week. The pain and granules coming out of the eye are lessening, as I believe is the swelling.

Yes, I’ve been fitted for glasses before but no-one has ever messed with my eyes until now. I’m glad my doc is a good one and hope next week I’ll find out I don’t have cancer.

The day after surgery I walked over to my barber across the street, with whom I had cancelled an appointment when this whole eye thing came up. My hair was way too long and straggly. He took off tons of hair and gave me a bob I’m learning how to work. I’ve scrunchies, beautiful clip bows and even a Ferragamo headband (30 years ago it was the only thing I could afford at the Duty Free in Milan).

Bert the Barber and I have a rule. My hair needs to be pulled back and secured when I cook at home. We do not like hair in our food. I’m also a stickler for cross-contamination but only my butchers need to know about that. Oh, perhaps I’ll do a piece on cooking rules. I’ve already got pantry ingredients/recipes and utensils and essential cookbooks. On site. Yes, packaged, ready to go, and free. This is not a monetized site.

Oh, I made a succulent pot roast last night over pappardelle noodles. My husband loved it. He leaves before seven tomorrow so I’m making him oatmeal in milk topped with a dollop of Greek yogurt and berries. That’ll keep him full on the drive and the plane. Special recipe to anyone who actually gets to Volume 2 of Essential Pantry and tries a recipe. Cheers! Dee

 

 

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Menus

Why are menus so difficult? When I was freezing cold sitting under an arctic weight comforter many years ago with a coat and gloves in my small bedroom, separate thermostat up to 55 degrees for my presence (the others were at 45) I spread out cookbooks and melded tastes and textures and flavors for the perfect meal.

For a couple of years I was a professional “orphan” at Christmas. I was always the 7th to their six, even third to their two. For the past 13 years Thanksgiving is always at my husband’s grandmother’s, whom we both call Nanny. It is a feast of epic proportions and one to be very thankful for one’s participation.

We’ve been by ourselves on Christmas, sometimes being in a new town but we’re back. I love to welcome those with no parents, family halfway around the world, newcomers to town. In no way are they “orphans” but I do love to cook dinner for a few brave souls, usually neighbors, and try to make a menu for them.

These days one must ask allergies and dislikes and one dinner was kicked out immediately. As I age and get more experienced with menus and cooking I must also gauge cooking space in the oven and on the stove.

For those of you who’ve read me for a few years you may remember the capon debacle. Whole Foods, while I love it, will not carry capon. My mother used to make it for every special occasion except Thanksgiving and Christmas and with four kids and a husband, it was pretty much a monthly occasion and her butcher was easily prepared for it.

A few weeks ago I interviewed the head of http://www.roastgoose.com, Jim Schiltz, head of Shiltz Farms. They took on Wapsie Farms’ capon business. Jim, I have to tell you that I will do a goose in the future but right now we’re moving across country in a month and there is much to do and it does not include studying cooking or carving a goose or innovating many leftovers.

I will order a large capon for dinner for six. Make mashed potatoes and probably roasted carrots, steamed green beans. Appetizer undecided. Dessert would have to be cold and kept outside, covered because of no frig space or oven space to make a pie. Or I could make mincemeat tarts in advance. Capon would be stuffed under the skin with butter, s&p and herbs. Stuffed with sausage & apples and toasted wheat bread.

It’s a good feeling so far. I’m now sitting at the computer in 68 degrees next to several cold floor-to-ceiling windows (less than 1/2 degree per year). It reminds me of the old days. For three years we placed all our stuff in storage except for a couple dozen tech books for my husband’s work. I did without cookbooks. If there was anything new I needed ideas for, I looked it up online.

Now my cookbooks are back (at least for now) and to think of something, like Julia Child’s Uncle Hans’ City Scrapple and knowing just where to look it up is a comfort to me. There will never be a total replacement for books, at least while I’m on this earth.

Happy menu planning! My mother went through turkey for years before doing the traditional English feast of prime rib, Yorkshire pudding et al. To each his/her own. Enjoy the holidays. Cheers! Dee

Speaking of Piglet

Save the deli. I lent the book to a waiter who left town and never got it back. This one I’ll send back to David Sax and ask him to sign it for me and make me promise to never lend it out again.

The waiter’s chef had placed a pastrami sandwich on my plate that even mustard would not remedy. I spent my childhood going to Jewish delis in Montreal and NYC, and this was awful so I lent him the book.

OK, I’m a wanna-be sometimes Jew, for pastrami, smoked meat, and latkes, I’ve gone out for a latke breakfast twice in the past month, probably a sin for a lapsed Catholic married to a lapsed Protestant for over a decade. Matzoh balls and chicken soup. No wonder its called penicillin.

Challah turned into bread pudding. Montreal smoked meat on rye with a beer. Ah, that’s life. Since the waiter took my book forever I just ordered another, a used copy. Save The Deli by David Sax will now be part of my reference collection of cookbooks, of which there are a few select tomes by none other than Julia Child, James Beard, Simca Beck, Edna Lewis, Barbara Kafka, just check my cookbook series and see….. Dee

Texas

and the South, of course. Of late I’ve availed myself of other than my treasured cookbooks, gone back to at least my husband’s old favorites and become in a cooking rut.

I love to learn new-to-me recipes from people like Trisha Yearwood and Ree Drummond as they seem to really cook and have a passion for new and old family recipes. My husband is born & bred Texas, a farm boy who loves his meat and potatoes.

He was sick last weekend and recuperating after a long week so I’d like to make him a surprise. Yesterday I tried Trisha’s biscuits and though I’m a trained cook they didn’t turn out so well. They taste great but I had to use buttermilk powder and that may not have worked. The flour and veg shortening came together well but I had to add extra milk. They kind of looked like hockey pucks.

Immediately after they cooled I placed them in a sealed bag in the freezer. What I plan to do for breakfast is a toasted (unfrozen) biscuit with a sausage patty and egg, with cream gravy.

Thanks to this morning’s show with Ree I know making white gravy is as easy as falling off a horse – I know because been there, done that. And I make bechamel a few times a year, but hopefully “Pickles” is finally gone now after decades and throwing me across a creek then tossing me into a sandbox and running home, sending a dinner party to see if I was OK while only my pride was struck, and I never rode again.

A lifelong animal lover who worked over 20 years in shelters and spay/neuter clinics horses sense my fear. I did get over it this past year in part, petting the largest horse I’ve ever met, a Percheron. Percherons were sent into war because they were so large and intimidating. Next is getting me to ride a horse. Perhaps this year.

Hopefully my husband won’t read this today because we have to get two things today, a utensil (under $5) that I’ve wanted for years, and raw frozen dog food. OK, then I’m going for groceries alone.

For dinner, I’m taking him back to TX with my first-ever chicken fried steak, my garlic mashed potatoes, and perhaps an arugula salad with grated black beet on top with a vinaigrette to be named later. Ree, let me hit a home run on this one.

A tip for cooks everywhere. You’ll probably see staff in the produce department. Ask them questions. Get to know your butchers (I can’t get to know my fishmongers because my husband is deathly allergic to anything that swims so I can’t even cook fish at home). If there is a cheese department get to know them and your shopping will be easy. You’ll only have to go into the inner aisles for things like olive oil, rice, soy sauce, jam, flour and sugar.

For those who celebrate Easter, and every reader, enjoy this day. Dee

 

No, Ma’am

My husband is a Southern gentleman. The title words are suitable for another post. Coming Soon to Blogs Near You.

He was raised with cows, dairy cows. The first time I flew in from California to the farm I got up at 6:00 a.m. to go to the bathroom, turned on the light and there were nine pairs of huge eyes staring at me. They thought I was Jim’s father, waking up to feed the bulls in the near pasture. Scared me to death! All those eyes. Very creepy.

Now they have a cattle ranch and we’ve been together over ten years. First date he opened his car door, took my hand and has never let go. If I let him, he’d still be opening the door for me everywhere. But, truth be told, he opens doors nonetheless, figuratively if not literally.

I’m so glad that he doesn’t have a four-hour layover today and will be home three hours earlier than expected. Shhhh don’t tell the dog, she won’t understand. Ten-plus years and I’m excited that my husband will be home early. Imagine that.

Oh, and there’s nothing in the frig! Perhaps I’ll consult my pantry list, but I’ve shopped there too. My cookbook compendium may provide more fodder.

What the heck, I’ll put on real clothes and we’ll go out to dinner. It’s only money. Cheers, Dee

Cookbooks

When I first started this blog I researched two series, cookbooks and my essential pantry. I even made it easy to purchase out-of-print books by just clicking (my husband did that for me).

I was afraid to just write something. Now, every few months I get a hit on cookbooks or pantry and know it’s someone who’s writing a cookbook and using my research without asking. No, I’m not going to take those sites down because you may want to use them one day.

When I see that published cookbook with a list of recommended texts that is identical to mine, then I’ll worry about it and know that you know I published it years ago.

It has been a joy to write to and for you. I am not a gifted cook, writer, blogger or tech person. I tend to go off base but “cooking” with Dee could mean anything from politics to family traditions.

It has become more dangerous to print recipes because something I come up with may be in another’s cookbook I’ve never read. Mario Batali sued a Texas owner of Babbo, which means “grandfather,”  for many years, for using a name he recently came up with. I heard the owner changed the name to Mario’s.

I’ve heard of what lengths certain experts will go, to keep their recipes from being  altered in any way and published. In my mind, that stifles creativity and even makes me wonder if I can publish my mother’s 40 year-old collection of recipes, updating them, without my edits catching the eye of a litigious publisher.

Thus, my stories have been mainly about my relationship with food and the people who’ve nourished me, physically and emotionally, thoughout my life.

Perhaps it should be more about that. I’ll work on it along with menus for new adventures. Cookbooks should only take one part of the way. The rest is up to you. Cheers, Dee

Thank you, dear reader

I find it interesting that the most read posts are about concord grapes, and capons.  There’s no telling what you will like and what I know to write about.  Thank you for reading and joining my journey through my culinary travails.  I do hope that my successes and failures help you, and that you’ll feel free to correct me when I’m wrong.  Please check the new sections up top for pantry items and cookbooks, as these are how this blog was started.  Cheers, Dee

My Life in France

Mine was very short, most of it taken up in police stations because my wallet and ID were stolen at the Jeu de Paume over 25 years ago. My 17 year-old brother did enjoy the trip as the food was much better than London and we both loved the Louvre as well as the location where my wallet was stolen with all the Impressionist works.

I’m enjoying reading Julia Child’s “My Life in France” and savor it in snippets. It was difficult to get a French cookbook back then, especially one to suit the American kitchen and thus was the beginning of Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

In Italy years ago I wanted a particular Tuscan cookbook and bought the Italian work. Years later my dad found it at the English book store. Ms. Child did not have that option so had to do it herself.

Today my brother is sitting outside in Paris and awaiting his friend’s end of work so they can go out and see things together. He is prohibited from entering the Louvre but I gave him many options. The most interesting to me is just the opposite of what Julia Child faced. She wanted a French cookbook tailored to American home cooks. She wrote a book in English about her travels. Now, I’m telling my brother to go to these sites and see if he can find her favorite cooking store or audit a class at the Cordon Bleu. And to find an English version of Julia Child’s “My Life in France.”

Several posts have been dedicated to people who bring forth an idea and hard work and may wait years for their projects to come to fruition. Whereas Ms. Child had Larousse Gastronomique she had to write her own book, and I’m proud to have those two volumes plus others for many years. That my brother may have to go to Parisian bookstore and beg for an English version of “My Life in France” is testament to what Julia Child did over fifty years ago, because she learned French and we expect everyone to speak English and should try to learn their language if we’re to live there. Bon appetit, kiddo, eat some good food and find out-of-the-way places. Cheers, Dee

Getting Ready for Guests

The guest room is ready and the house is nearly clean. I only have to deal with my accumulated paperwork. I always collect paper and pile until I file. The home is not ours so I can’t really change anything nor do I have room for receipts, bills, tax information, electronics, PSIII accoutrements and the few books we’ve acquired during our stay.

Mostly cookbooks and cooking magazines when I was trying to stop myself from buying cookbooks. I do have two now on my Amazon wish list from a recent NYTimes article. Fiesta With Rick by Rick and Deanne Bayless; and In The Green Kitchen… by Alice Waters.

I can’t place either of them on my cookbook list until I’ve read the books and tried some recipes. Tonight I’m trying yakitori chicken skewers from Food and Wine, and I’ve substituted red pepper for the shitaki mushrooms because my husband doesn’t like them.

I’m also making a new recipe for cold sesame noodles. I love Deborah Madison’s in the Greens cookbook (which I cite in my cookbook recommendations) but that book is in storage 1,500 miles away so I’m going to punt with another try and will let you know how it goes.

I’m testing these for later in the week and may have to try tacos al pastor as well, though our guests arrive Wednesday noon and I need to shop and not play in the kitchen with new recipes. My simple, home-cooked meals should be enough to save the days.

Women worry so much more than men do about having out-of-town guests stay and be comfortable. If my long-term husband was living in a man-cave he might know what kind of beer the guest liked and get him a six-pack, a blanket and grungy pillow and have him sleep on the sofa.

I want to make certain much of breakfast and dinner are taken care of before guests arrive and I’m working on that now, having menus and now re-think them to make them even more tasty and easier to make. Mars and Venus, I know.

Why do women marry people who don’t ever put a new roll of toilet paper on the holder??? Things have changed. We went out for dinner and I just returned, as Jim has to make a quick run to Home Depot for a wrench to change the dog wash station in the 2nd upstairs bathroom to a shower hook-up.

I had a lovely risotto, a special this evening, and thanked our chef and waitress, who turned out to be the big sister of the chef! Maxwell’s is a wonderful pizza place and everything they do is upscale and consistent, like my special risotto and Jim’s Philly Cheese Steak.

It’s been raining but hopefully will stop by Wednesday. Usually they’re good about the forecasts as they know the winds and speed and the storms are already on land by the time they get here.

Take care and have a good week! Tomorrow is grocery shopping and finishing the remainder of my exhaustive list. It’ll happen. Thanks to Reyna for helping out today! Cheers, Dee