Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Summertime..... and the living is easy




It doesn't get much better than an ice cream cone on a hot summer day. As Wallace Stevens once said "The only emperor is the emperor of ice cream."

Monday, June 26, 2006

Taking Root





Sunday afternoon provided the rare opportunity and treat to visit several organic farms outside of Richmond in New Kent County. The main attraction for me was having the chance to visit Amy's Garden and see exactly where our farm share dollars are going and where all of our delicious produce comes from. I get a delivery every Monday, and it always seems to be an immaculate vegetation- now I can visualize where it all grows. Rye (my 9 month old) and I made the rounds of a few farms, an impromptu one-day-only farmer's market that included fresh pastas from Richmond's West End ( go figure) and some of the most beatiful sunflowers around. We even saw a demonstration of border collies at work herding sheep. One of the highlights was picking some turnips right out of the ground. Amy said that most people bitch about the turnips- I can't get enough of them- they are as sweet as an apple. I was dubbed Turnip Man.

Monday, June 12, 2006

No Chicken Nuggets in My House !

That's a refrain that I used to chant before we had kids. This is me checking our collective food pulse.

Eat to Live or Live to Eat- how will the kids turn out ? It seems like it must be more nurture than nature.

My two year old is generally a good eater, although he's gotten quite a bit pickier in past two or three months. He started eating solid food at about 7 months and would eat anything I put in front of him for a while. I tried to expose him to lots of things so that he is comfortable with a variety of flavors and textures. These are some of the more interesting delicacies on his life list thus far:

Liver and onions
sausages
steamed oysters
scungilli
squid
arugala
bok choy
tofu (last night for the first time)
snap peas
melons of all kinds
eggplant

He absolutely loves fruit of any kind, candy (dandy to him), and probably leans more sweet than savory (mom's influence)

We were at a friiend's tonight and the witching hour came and he had Kraft Mac and Cheese for the first time. For some reason I have been protecting him from eating mac cheese and chicken nuggets because of a deep-seated fear that he'll become addicted somehow like so many kids, But then I thought, he's only 2 and he won't be eating it every night, and besides all that, I snuck a bite when he wasn't looking and had forgotten how good it was !

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Lexus and the Olive Tree





This may sound like a fairly obvious statement... "so much about cooking is the process." Granted, hands down, ingredients trump process, but in many endeavors, bad process can destroy the best ingredients, I tend to be more on the experimental throw it all together side of cooking- I have some kitchen experience and pretty good intuition, so I am usually ok with process. I want to share one recipe that I make where I am superstitious about how I make it.

My grandmother originally taught me and my mother reinforced the process for making hummus, a staple in an arab kitchen, more common than peanut butter growing up. The process my mother taught me always struck me as the merging of two worlds- the traditional one that my father grew up in during the 40's in Palestine and then the 50's and 60's in Beirut, and the more modern one that Williams Sonoma has ushered in over the past 20 years.

The most important step for me, and the one that takes me back in time, is the mashing of garlic cloves with sea salt in an old wooden mortar and pestle. And then rinsing it with freshly squuezed lemons into the bowl of my cuisinart, where this sour garlicky soup is ground smooth with chickpeas, tahini (sesame paste), olive oil, and my personal touch,ground cumin. The results are almost perfect every time- a little different each batch depending on the proportions I use, the intensity of the garlic and lemon, and the position of the moon. I have to smile to myself every time I witness two generations and technologies mixed together in a dish of chickpea spread.