Sunday Brunch in York, Maine

Cooking classes: demo or hands-on? Even though I learn by doing it myself, in a group cooking class I prefer demo. This one was perfect for the day and my mood. This mid-January gathering for a group of friends who don’t see each other much during the winter provided a way to chat on the 75-minute drive to and fro, a good meal, and learning a bit about cooking from an experienced chef. Stonewall Kitchens Cooking School was the destination.

“Breakfast for Brunch or Dinner” with Christine Rudalevige presented a menu of sausage, egg and broccoli frittata with roasted fingerling potatoes; chicken curry with yogurt sauce served with whole wheat coconut waffles; and candied bacon served with cinnamon and spice breakfast puffs.

 

 

Christine was engaging, funny, and knowledgeable, with an easy rapport with the attendees. The whole thing was well-paced with enough air between courses. The physical space was inviting—sunny and comfortable—with easy access to a bunch of kitchen gadgets and tools that you didn’t know you needed.

Probably my favorite course was the candied bacon and cinnamon “donut.” What can I say? And I learned a few things: Harold McGee has a fairly recent book out, Keys to Good Cooking; making rosemary simple syrup is easy and delicious; you can clean a stubbornly dirty cast iron pan with kosher salt; use half canola or corn oil with half olive oil for cooking at high heat; fontina is a good melting cheese; cut peeled fresh ginger into “coins” and then smack with a knife to avoid the “threads” you can get when grating ginger.

Bon appetit indeed.

Why Do Stars Think It’s O.K. To Sell Soda? – NYTimes.com

Just saw this opinion piece in today’s NYTimes. I am a huge Bittman fan, and I know that he will say things to provoke thought and discussion, something he is able do from his high-profile perch.

When I first heard of Beyoncé’s deal with Pepsi, I agreed with Bittman that she has a responsibility to her fans to refuse certain types of promotional involvement. But as I thought about it further, I came to think that Beyonce has no such responsibility as a celebrity.

As I put it in my comment on the article, “Why should we expect high-wattage celebrities to do what our government won’t? Pepsi has an obligation to make money for its investors, and Beyoncé has an empire to run. While I wish she had said no to this deal, she had every right to say yes. Regulation of food marketing is the only thing that will make a difference, but the political will is just not there.”

Why Do Stars Think It’s O.K. To Sell Soda? – NYTimes.com.

Cultivating Patience

Anyone who knows me probably wouldn’t list patience as a defining quality of me. Neither would I. Patience is, for sure, something I value and marvel at. A good storyteller or joke-teller (not that different, right?) who can measure out each piece in digestible chunks; a singer who is a master of phrasing and pacing; a writer who knows what’s going to happen but is not going to let you know. A recent nonpareil example of this skill is contained in Hilary Mantel’s books, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. Mantel lets out the thread of the story so finely and with such subtlety that you can forget that the events she writes about are in the historical record. We know what will become of Thomas Cromwell, but the story we’re being told so absorbs our attention and excites our senses that the outcome is not the point.

Cookie cutter stars! Martha, Martha, Martha!
Cookie cutter stars! Martha, Martha, Martha!

Another use of patience is in sports. I admire baseball players who have plate discipline, who can just wait for their cookie instead of leaping for some unknown treat. It’s not easy. In rowing, my main sport, I have fought my impatient nature for as long as I’ve rowed. While things have improved somewhat, I still “rush my slide” and apply stroke power before my oars are fully immersed. I just want to get it done, dammit! Not smart. Since I’m rowing against type (not much athletic ability, not the typical rower’s body), good technique would go a long way toward the finish line. Which brings me back to baking.

Cultivating patience, then: the next apple pie will flow in the making because I will not rush to roll out the dough; the slow-rise sourdough will look halfway decent because I will pay attention to the day’s moisture; and the time to write two to three blog posts per week will materialize.

Chocolate mousse pie a la Smitten Kitchen, without whipped cream topping. Still.
Chocolate mousse pie a la Smitten Kitchen, without whipped cream topping. Still.

 

So Happy New Year to everyone! Will be back soon.

 

Nutzola! Sweet ‘n’ Salty 2012

I’ve been making granola for Christmas gifts since about 1992—wow, that is 20 years! Since I can’t be sure of the first year, maybe I will make 2013 the 20th anniversary of Nutzola! and come up with a new blend.

Nutzola! Sweet ‘n’ Salty on its way to the oven

I still make the original–what I call Nutzola! Classic—for the greater part of my gift list, but Nutzola! Sweet ‘n’ Salty, a mere two years in production, has become my favorite. Does the world need another granola? Yes and no. Yes, because it is endlessly variable and always good; no, because . . . hmmm . . . cannot think of a reason.

Sweet ‘n’ Salty just out of the oven