Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Summer Reading for Foodies

I've been doing more reading than cooking these days, but that doesn't mean I haven't been keeping my eye on all things food-related. I'm finding Bill Buford's Heat to be a revealing (and sooo gritty) look at life behind the kitchen window at Mario Batali's Babbo. The New York Times Magazine featured an interview with Humble Pie author Anne Dimock. Dimock's book was published in November, but it's high pie season now and thus a perfect time to catch up with this delightful author.

In non-culinary news, I came across a really nice (and fairly recent) review of my first book here. And, thanks to an enticing review in the Times, I picked up Literacy and Longing in L.A., a fun read that's quick, smart, and chock full of fun references from the classics.

Friday, June 23, 2006

(EOO) Equal Opportunity Offender

From time to time I spot flagrant mispellings and punctuation errors in public places about town, an offense which rattles my writerly sensibilities to no end. Thanks to a digital camera that slips easily into tiny summer purses, I've taken to documenting these transgressions as I encounter them. The latest egregious offense comes from a restroom on the Coastal Explorer, a day cruise vessel in Seward, Alaska. In other words, here's a little bathroom humor to launch your weekend.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Cold Comfort

My article "Cool Cakes," a paean to the sleek and sophisticated ice cream cakes from Cafe Glace, appeared yesterday on Belly Du Jour. If you're looking for an uber-cool summer treat, you can have one delivered frozen to your door! I was so excited to have discovered Cafe Glace, a true gem, as I hadn't seen it mentioned anywhere yet. But about about two weeks before my article's scheduled publication Cafe Glace appeared in Daily Candy! Quelle horreur! I got scooped!

In food news today, the New York Times gives a shout-out to prosecco, one of my favorite summer bubblies.

Happy Summer Solstice!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Peanut Butter Jammies

A leisurely weekend at Lake Michigan gave me a little time to put our jam to work in the kitchen in the form of these delicious Peanut Butter Jammies, courtesy of this month's Cooking Light. (And I got to share them with my good friends Becca and Mud!) The more common name for these sweet little things is jam thumbprints, but I didn't need to use my thumbprint at all, thanks to this a little tip I picked up in Cuisine at Home a few months ago. Whatever your feelings are about the rubbery synthetic corks that are appearing in wine bottles these days, they make a perfect indentation for the jam. I love this cookie recipe because it only has five ingredients! If you want some jammies for yourself, here it is:

1/3 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. creamy peanut butter
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
6 T. strawberry jam

1)Beat the first four ingredients with an electric mixer and shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Place one inch apart on baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Press thumb into center of each cookie, (or use synthetic wine cork) leaving an indentation.
2)Cover and chill three hours.
3)Bake cookies at 375 for 10 minutes or until golden. (You make have to make the indentation again, and with hot cookies it helps to have a wine cork on hand.)
4)Cool cookies completely and spoon 1/2 t. jam into center of each cookie.

If you are going to be traveling with your jammies, I recommend filling them on location.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Berry Aftermath

Well, two days after the luscious-strawberry-picking euphoria has worn off, I'm faced with the reality that my companion and me have twenty pounds of strawberries on our hands. Ten pounds have been converted into jam, yes, but what to do with the remaining ten pounds of loose berries is another matter. Sure, I've sprinkled them on my frosted mini-wheats and eaten little bowls of berries as healthy snacks, but I realized last night that I needed to swing into action. Strawberries have a short shelf life, and so something needed to be done. I descended into the black hole that is our basement and brought the ice cream maker upstairs. Ice-cream making is not something that can be done capriciously, as the inner canister in standard ice cream makers needs to be frozen overnight beforehand. A little planning ahead, and voila! We had homemade strawberry ice cream tonight after dinner--little dishes of sweet and creamy goodness. I used this ice cream recipe from last summer's Bon Appetit magazine, which was meant to be used as filling for some triple-chocolate cookie and strawberry ice cream sandwiches. I certainly would have undertaken that whole project if I had had more time! Now, I've got to think of something else for tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Sweet Jammy Heaven

Our strawberry picking venture yesterday was a smashing success. We beat the late-morning hordes at the strawberry fields by day, and transformed 30 pounds of strawberries into jam by night. My companion and I arrived home from Brian and Rebecca's last night at 11 p.m., proudly (if wearily) carrying our freshly-made jars of strawberry jam. It was great to craft the sweet concoction with veterans, and with three out of the four jam-makers being engineers, we worked out a system that was pretty darn efficient. The whole evening is now a berry-colored blur of hulling, mashing, heating, stirring, ladling, tasting, sampling and jar-ing...what a marvelous way to kick off summer!

My companion also opted to make two scrumptious strawberry pies. Let me tell you...I certainly have married the right guy.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Brownies and Strawberries

My article on the fabulous Columbus-based Sugardaddys recently appeared on Belly Du Jour. And Sugardaddys even featured my words of praise on their home page not long after the article appeared!

Our friends Brian and Rebecca tell us that the strawberry crop is ripe now at Circle S Farm near Grove City, so we'll be headed down there early tomorrow morning to pick our own strawberries. Even better--afterward they're going to show us how to make freezer jam! And my companion is going to make a strawberry pie! I'll be sure to file a report soon--no doubt making homemade strawberry jam in the company of three engineers will be an exact science, and knowing Brian and Rebecca, the end result will be delicious.

Friday, June 09, 2006

More Photos

Blogger was giving me all kinds of trouble yesterday, so rather than fight with it I opted to wait until today to post some more food photos from my trip. Here are some fun images from Seattle's Pike Place Market, one of my favorite places on earth for fun food finds! While in Seattle I also went for a morning run in my old 'hood, the Green Lake neighborhood, which is now home to Zoka Coffee Roaster and Tea Co. (with coffee roasted on the premises and free wi-fi for customers, it's heaven) and Mighty-O Donuts, a little shop that sells organic, vegan donuts in fun flavors like lemon poppy, French toast, chocolate raspberr, and good ol' glazed. Yum!
I couldn't have imagined a better way to start the day.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

I'm Back!

I just returned from a marvelous 15-day sojourn to Portland, Seattle, Victoria BC and Anchorage. While this was not a food-related reporting trip, I did manage to capture a few tantalizing culinary postcard shots during my travels. I thought I'd share a few below, including a snapshot of the original Starbucks logo from the very first store in Seattle. My, how that angel has changed!