2.03.2016

HOME-GROUND GRITS // elspeth


I wonder, sometimes, how boring it sounds to be eating locally in February. Uh, yeah, we love kale! But then I make meals like this: pan-fried pork chops from the half pig we bought with grits I made from the dent corn that came with our grain and bean CSA, and Swiss chard my mom brought down from a farm near their house. It was a meal that satisfied in every way—it supported our neighbors and good farming practices and our own health and all the things we believe in—and it was also incredibly delicious. 



It also allowed for some learning. I'd never processed the dent corn we get with our CSA into grits before—I'd always just kept grinding until everything, or almost everything, was fine enough to be called cornmeal. But it turns out that's actually not ideal, and saving some of the bigger, tougher parts for grits is incredibly easy. 

We used this tutorial, but basically the first time you put the whole dried corn kernels into the grain grinder (we use this Kitchen Aid attachment), you use a very coarse setting. What comes out is essentially cracked corn. You then grind it a little finer, and two types of material come out: a fairly fine flour that looks like cornmeal, and bigger, harder pieces. You use a sifter to sift the cornmeal from the coarse pieces—apparently there are grades of sifters, like 1/16 and 1/32, and what you want is 1/32—and I have no idea where ours falls on this scale. It's your basic, every day kitchen sifter/strainer, something along these lines. But the instructions Alex found said corn generally yields fifty percent cornmeal and fifty percent grits, so once it started to look like that's what we had, I just used our regular old sifter and sifted it. I put the cornmeal through the grinder one more time on a super fine setting and set it aside in a jar for cornbread or biscuits or whatever baking project comes up next. 

The next morning we made our first batch of grits. I've always liked grits—they used to make them all the time at the cafeteria at Middlebury, along with a stomach sinking concoction called "Cheesy Eggs." I remember sitting in GIS class many a morning wishing I hadn't eating quite so many cheesy grits and cheesy eggs, and maybe that's why I've never gone so far as to buy some grits and cook them at home. But making them from scratch ! well. It may be a new Sunday routine. 

They do take a while—you add four and a half cups of water to a cup of raw grains, and like rice, grits are cooked with a lid. They also take some attention—you have to stir them fairly often with a wooden spoon and a whisk to keep them both from clumping and from sticking to the bottom of the pot. They're not a Monday morning kind of thing.

But when you have the time and you get the finished product, they're totally worth it. Both girls spooned down two bowls, and I ate a fair amount off the wooden spoon before any even made it onto my plate. The grits were creamy, almost Cream-of-Wheaty, but with a savory, cheese-laced flavor that I like much better. And they were excellent under a scoop of sautéed Swiss chard and mushrooms, and even better with a pan-fried pork chop on top. 

CHEESY GRITS

I've never had grits that weren't cheesy, though I'm assuming there are other ways. For now I see no reason to mess with a good thing: slow-cooked corn, melty cheese, a pinch of salt, and a little butter to smooth it all together. These are delicious on their own, but even better with something from the pork family (bacon? pork chops? pulled shoulder?) and some sautéed veggies or an egg. 

1 cup uncooked grits
4 ounces grated Cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon butter
salt to taste

Whisk the grits into four and a half cups water in a medium pot. Bring everything to a simmer, turn the heat down, and cover the pot. Cook, stirring and whisking often, until cooked through—depending on the freshness and coarseness of your grits, this should take between 25-45 minutes. When the grits are soft and have a texture similar to Cream of Wheat, stir in the cheese and the butter until you have a smooth, creamy mixture. Season with salt to taste and serve hot. 

1.22.2016

WINTER GREENS & CHICKPEA SOUP // elspeth


The other afternoon I was reading through Jerusalem, looking for dinner, when I saw the picture of those three soups down there. Yum! I thought. That one in the upper righthand corner looks delicious. I conferred with Alex, and he agreed. I then proceeded not to read the captions that went with the photos, but to decide which recipe went with which photo based on intuition alone. Alex got a migraine, the kids got cranky and went to bed, and I ended up eating the soup in the bottom right corner, the gross looking one that is bright green, alone. You might think I would have noticed a small color issue with my ingredients, but, you know, eh! Orange, green, they're all the same.


To be fair, the recipe did start me off on an orange note. We were firmly in ruddy-colored territory: mixing cumin and cayenne and cinnamon and a bunch of other earth-toned spices and tossing them with diced carrots and cooked chickpeas. But it turned out that was just the topping; the soup itself called for onions and spinach and watercress, most of which I had none of. 



I did not let this deter me. Instead I used cilantro and parsley and kale, and things turned out just fine. In fact, they turned out better than fine, and much better than I thought they were going to. I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. I had no one to eat with, and after an hour of cooking and washing dishes, instead of sitting down to a cheery orange chickpea stew, I was staring at a thick bowl of steaming green puree. I spooned on some roasted chickpeas and carrots, as instructed, and a dollop of Greek yogurt, and resigned myself to a Bad Dinner.

But then! Something magic happened. I should have known—this was, after all, an Ottolenghi recipe—but I doubted. I won't again. Alex took it for lunch the next morning, and even reheated after sloshing around for hours in a glass container, it was deemed Excellent. Especially with that dollop of yogurt, and especially served with a little brown rice. So here you have it friends:

WINTER GREENS & CHICKPEA SOUP WITH RAS EL HANOUT

I'm not sure what to do here about the original ingredients versus what I used, so I'll offer both. If you're wondering, as I was, about ras el hanout—it turns out to be a spice mix. I didn't have any on hand but it comes together easily if you have even a fairly basic spice pantry. I used this recipe from Epicurious.


2 medium carrots
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 and 1/2 tablespoons ras el hanout
1 and 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 and 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
2 and 1/2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
7 ounces watercress (I subbed a mix of parsley and cilantro)
3 and 1/2 ounces spinach (I subbed kale)
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
salt
Greek yogurt or plain kefir, to serve

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Mix the carrots with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the ras el hanout, and a big pinch of salt. Toss well on a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes. Add half the chickpeas, stir well, and continue roasting for another 10 minutes, or until the carrots are just tender.

Meanwhile, make the soup. Warm up the remaining olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and add the onion and ginger. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until the onion is completely soft. Add the remaining chickpeas, the stock, the greens, the sugar, and 3/4 teaspoon salt, stir well, and bring to a boil. Cook until the greens wilt (obviously, kale takes a bit longer than watercress, but somewhere between 2 and 10 minutes should do).

Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth. Taste for salt. To serve, ladle the green soup into bowls and top with the hot carrots and chickpeas and a dollop of Greek yogurt.

1.14.2016

FOR 2016 // elspeth

My grandmother passed away the day after Christmas. She was nearly 98, went on her own terms, and by all measures had a pretty good run of it. She knit that sweater down there, which is 5-year-old size, and a matching one, which is 2-year-old size, for me and my sister when we were kids. Just before the holiday my aunt passed them on for my girls, and somehow as I've watched them troll around the house, they've managed to sum up everything great about my grandmother and the things she's left on earth.


For starters, of course, there's her family, which was 45 members strong at her service Saturday. There was a private burial and then a lot of nice singing and praying in the chapel, all of which was to a tee as she dictated. This was followed by a nice reception, which was not exactly as she'd wished, since her instructions were that my mom and uncle serve only ice water. For those of us still in the land of the living at lunchtime on a Saturday, this seemed a bit harsh, so we had chicken salad sandwiches and a fruit platter and some cheese and crackers and punch instead. Hopefully she'll forgive us the extravagance.

At any rate, watching her move on has me thinking more than ever about our time here, and how we want to spend it. There are so many wonderful things to do in a day, and so few days until our time is up. Some goals are things we want to share, and other times they're things we want to sit with privately. Right now I'm in a private sitting kind of place. But for 2016, I can say this: I want to eat more popcorn, locally grown. I want to become an exemplary lunch-packer, with the goal of seeing every member of my household in exemplary health. I want to do my part to make our little corner of the world a better place. I want to buy less and reuse, reduce, recycle, swap, and collaborate more. I want to build some cold frames and have a good year in the garden and spend plenty of summer mornings with my girls, flying off the rope swing at Dyer Pond. I want to accomplish some Big Work Goals and some Big Personal Goals, and I want to eat more local seafood.   


If all that comes to pass, it will be a very big year indeed. We'll see. In the meantime, I hope 2016 is treating you well, and I'll be back soon with some proper pictures and a recipe. 

12.21.2015

WHO MAKES THEM BEST // elspeth

I made a soup today. I thought it was going to be brilliant, fantastic. It had all the right stuff—garlic and shallots and cumin and coriander and enough cilantro to stuff a mattress. It had carrots and split peas and a little bit of spinach, and when you were done you were supposed to serve it with za'atar smothered bread. Yum! But it also called for 15 cups of water, and I questioned the measurement, and then went ahead with it, and the results were, well, meh. I should have known.


Tomorrow, though, I will be doing the biggest grocery shop EVER, and when I get home I will be making a big pot of Portuguese kale soup. They've been making linguica in house at the restaurant in Provincetown, and I've got a bunch of kale and potatoes from the farmers' market and tomatoes put up in the freezer and kidney beans left over from our grain & bean CSA. I'm going to make a double batch, so that when all the travelers arrive weary Wednesday we'll have something to get us through the Angie's baking and the sticky bun charades and the prep that will accompany Alex's questionable-yet-awesome plan to spit-roast two legs of lamb over a tray of potatoes inside of our kitchen oven. (Thank you, Darina Allen!)

Oh! and then we have to get ready for Christmas dinner, which will involve glazing the smoked ham we just got with our half a pig from Seawind Meadows, halving heaps of Brussels sprouts, and roasting, emptying, butter-adding, re-stuffing, cheesing, and re-baking a whole bunch of big ole potatoes, in honor of my grandmother who makes them best. GAAAH and then there are oysters to shuck and biscuits to bake and Manhattans to drink and maybe we should just make a pitcher?

Which is all to say: HAPPY MERRY, from us all. Hope it's good out there.



P.S. Apologies for the recent lack of food-related photos. Happy solstice and all, but I'm looking forward to the return of light during the cooking hour.

P.P.S. Also, in the New Year, can we talk about the January issue of Bon Appétit? It is filled with so much good stuff, so many excellent ideas, that I'm not even sure where to start. (Although I'm leaning toward clams in this coconut stock.) I'll see you soon, friends.

12.14.2015

LAMB SHANKS // elspeth


The other day, out on a walk, Alex remarked that it felt like spring. It was late afternoon, and the temperature was still in the high fifties, and when he said it, for a moment my whole perspective changed. I was caught up suddenly in that excitement that comes when the weather turns, when a long sleeve shirt and a hat but no mittens feels like freedom and you can see summer on the way. I held onto it for a minute and then it left as soon as it had arrived. Something stayed on, though—an awareness and an appreciation of the way we are now—folding in, quieting down, savoring home. 

Home is a nice place to be right now. The Christmas tree is up and covered with ornaments and cranberries and lights down to about three feet, just above Nora's reach. At fifteen months, she is difficult to take anywhere property or quiet are held sacred, which once I am out I realize is just about anywhere indoors. But in the sanctity of our living room and Sally's company, every day brings a parade of new words and joint ballet performances and babydoll tending that requires less and less parental tending. And on the days when they are both in "school", I am actually getting things done at a desk, albeit slowly. 


In the meantime, we have been eating some fairly terrific things. We made the eggnog, and last Monday when we were feeling down and out for no good reason two friends came over and we drained a fairly serious amount from the pot and passed it around until good cheer was restored. We had beef stew at a friend's house with lots of other friends, and several arugula-pomegranate-avocado salads with greens from our garden that have had just enough cold and warm to keep them going. We've been feeding our vinegar mother red wine fairly regularly for a few months, and I've been pleased to discover that it makes a killer salad dressing. We subsisted on leftover turkey for no small amount of time, a situation I am already slightly nostalgic for as it made every meal both delicious and easy. And last but not least, Saturday night we made not just lobster but also braised lamb shanks. 

The lobster is nothing that needs describing (steamed, cracked, devoured with butter), but the lamb shanks are worth a recipe. I'd made a similar dish once before—something from Darina Allen, I think—but I'd forgotten how magic the meat is, stewed down with tomatoes and broth until it melts on your plate. This time I used the version from the Joy of Cooking, laced with middle eastern and Mediterranean spices and bursting with flavor. Casey was here, our sitter from the summer, and she'd never had lamb and was slightly skeptical. But this won her over, and Nora, and even Sally, who refused to eat it for a solid ten minutes ("Bread and jam, Mama"—some days I think I'm raising Francis) before finally digging in and declaring it "good." So here you are: a stew for staying in, for early evenings at home, for both health and merriment. 

BRAISED LAMB SHANKS

Every year or two, we buy a lamb from Border Bay Junction Farm in Barnstable. The meat is excellent, and the shanks almost always go first—they are simple, flavorful, and incredibly satisfying.

2 large lamb shanks
sea salt
black pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger, divided
1 and 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, halved and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
pinch of cinnamon
2 cups lamb or chicken stock or water
1 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup tomato puree
2 cups diced carrots
2 cups diced, peeled butternut squash

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Season the lamb generously with salt and pepper and rub with 1/2 teaspoon of the ground ginger and 1/2 teaspoon of the paprika. Heat up the olive oil in a large heavy bottomed pot over high heat. Add the shanks and cook until browned, about five minutes, turning halfway through. Remove the lamb shanks from the pan and set aside.

Turn the heat down to medium and add the onions and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are tender. Add the spices: the mint, 1 teaspoon paprika, and the coriander, cumin, and cinnamon. Stir well to coat and add the stock or water, the white wine, and the tomato puree. Increase the heat and bring to a boil. Return the lamb shanks to the pan, cover, and bake until the meat is almost falling off the bone. This should take 1 to 1 and 1/2 hours. Now stir in the carrots and squash, cover again, and bake until the veggies are tender, roughly another 20-30 minutes. Pull the lamb from the bones (if the shanks are ready, this should be very easy to accomplish with just a fork), cut it up, and return it to the stew. Serve hot.

12.07.2015

CARROT SOUP // elspeth


I hope my sister and I were as good to my mom as my girls are to me. On Friday Nora and I got a terrible virus. We spent the day throwing up and in and out of bed, trying to sleep and trying to breathe and trying generally not to bring any more misery to each other. Alex went to work and Sally spent the day with a friend, and by the time they both got home, we were done. Alex took Nora and I crawled into bed with wet hair and clean pajamas. I was just about to pull up the covers when Sally came in. 

"I love you Mama," she said quietly. "I'm worried about you, and I hope you feel better tomorrow." She took my hand, and just sat on the side of the bed for a few minutes, saying nothing. Then she gave it a squeeze, and kissed me good night.



It is one of the most unexpected parts of parenting for me, these occasional role reversals. It gives me confidence that maybe we're doing an ok job, that maybe these girls of ours will grow up to be the caring, kind, responsible adults we hope for and try to create every day. 

It is also a good reminder to be kind and patient to each other. To take up the little tasks, and to let the little grievances slide. 

The soup you see up there is carrot, incredibly beautiful and incredibly simple. Alex made it last night while I was upstairs with the girls, trying to bring them a little relief with a hot bath and tippy plastic boats. We usually do things the other way around, me in the kitchen and him upstairs, but it was nice to make a switch. It made me appreciate the meal in a way I can't when I cook it: to feel simply grateful, without the work. 


Quickly, before I go, I wanted to share two nice pieces on love: We Need Never Economize Love, from mother and simplicity advocate Kyrie Meads. And an article on love, fear, and the environmental movement from the Globe Magazine that I read last night in bed, and that had me thinking long after I turned out the light. 

HEIDI'S CARROT SOUP

My mom sent me this recipe, from Heidi Swanson's blog 101cookbooks.com. Alex tweaked it in a few very tiny ways, and it's simple, lovely, and an absolutely stunning color. It's quite thick as written, and nice with a piece of toast and some of the accompaniments below sprinkled on top.

2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon red curry paste
2 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch chunks
1 14-ounce can full fat coconut milk
1 and 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
1 and 1/2 cups water, or to cover
1 lemon or lime
optional: chopped cilantro, toasted walnuts, olive oil

In a large pot over medium-high heat melt the butter. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until translucent, a few minutes. Add the curry paste and the carrots and cook for another 5-10 minutes, stirring often. This will help develop the flavor. Add the coconut milk, salt, and water and simmer until the carrots are tender, another 10-15 minutes. Puree with a stick blender until velvety. Taste and add more water and salt as needed. Serve topped with chopped cilantro, toasted walnuts, and a drizzle of olive oil. Sourdough toast makes a nice accompaniment.

11.24.2015

SWISS CHARD LASAGNA // elspeth

Hi there. I hope things aren't too hectic at your house, getting ready to cook for five or ten or thirty. Ironically, Thanksgiving week is probably the week we do the least cooking here; we don't host, and the cousins that do host are so organized that they pack everyone home with a mountain of leftovers in tupperware. We spend the days afterward enjoying the glory that is The Mashed Potato-Cranberry Sauce-Gravy-Turkey sandwich. I'm looking forward to it.


In the meantime, though, in the lead up, we've been cooking more the past few days than we have in months. We took a trip to transition from the busy season to the off season, a trip that involved an absolutely worth it but bankrupting amount of eating out, and when we got back I found myself with an overwhelming desire to cook and eat in my own kitchen. I spent the better part of Sunday afternoon making sandwich bread and yogurt and Alice Water's excellent spinach lasagna, and finally a loaf of lemon poppyseed bread. Saturday we tried my friend Sarah's seared halibut with coriander and carrots, only with local haddock instead. Friday I made a bean soup from Nina Planck's excellent Real Food Cookbook, a very plain bean soup I didn't entirely expect to like, but that everyone in our house deemed excellent. Tonight if all goes according to plan we'll be having a seafood stew from Jerusalem. It feels good.

In other highlights, this weekend marks the official start of eggnog season. We'll be kicking it off with a nine-dozen-egg batch of Colonel Miles Cary's eggnog.

The Pilgrims starts tonight on PBS, and National Geographic's take, Saints & Strangers, encores Thanksgiving night.

From the New York Times: choose to be thankful; it will make you happy.

With Black Friday on the horizon, food for thought.

The Orleans Winter Farmers Market starts up December 5th and will run every first and third Saturday of the month through April at the middle school from nine to noon.

SWISS CHARD & MUSHROOM LASGANA

A big part of eating locally is being flexible when it comes to ingredients; the market didn't have spinach, but it did have Swiss chard. Here's a riff on Alice Water's original spinach lasagna from The Art of Simple Food. I've found so long as you keep the basic proportions the same, you can use just about any veggie.

1 box lasagna noodles, or an equivalent amount of fresh pasta
2 cups tomato sauce
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups milk
olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound mushrooms
1 large bunch Swiss chard
1 cup ricotta cheese
salt to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1-2 balls fresh mozzarella, sliced

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.

Meanwhile, start the béchamel. Melt the butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until thick, then cook another minute or two, whisking often, until just slightly golden. Add a small splash of milk; whisk until the sauce thickens and is free of lumps. Continue adding the milk, splash by splash, until the whole two cups have been absorbed into a smooth sauce. Turn the heat down to low, season with salt and pepper, and simmer, stirring often, until you're ready to put the lasagna together. Do not let the sauce cool or it will harden and thicken.

Add the lasagna noodles to the boiling water and cook according to package instructions. Warm up a splash of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic, and cook for about thirty seconds, or until fragrant. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until they give up their juices. Stir in the Swiss chard, season with salt to taste, cover the pan, and cook for another 5-8 minutes, until wilted. Turn off the heat and set the pan aside.

Mix the ricotta with 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt to taste. Stir half of the Parmesan into the béchamel. Drain the pasta and immediately run under cold water to help prevent sticking.

Now assemble the lasagna. Grease a 9 by 13 inch casserole dish. Cover the bottom with a layer of noodles. Next use about 1/3 of the ricotta and tomato sauce to make the next layer, followed by a layer of noodles and a layer of the mushroom and spinach mixture and the béchamel. Continue layering, finishing with a layer of noodles topped with tomato sauce, sliced mozzarella, and a sprinkle of the remaining Parmesan.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden on top and bubbly throughout. Let the lasagna rest for at least 5 and preferable 20-30 minutes. Serve warm.

11.05.2015

PERSIMMONS // the local food report


Last January, I gave a talk to the Village Garden Club of Dennis. In the midst of a snowstorm, we talked about landscaping with edible plants. I asked if anyone knew of any unusual food plants growing on the Cape, and at the end of the talk a woman named Susan sought me out. “There is a persimmon tree near my house,” she said.

Persimmons, if you’ve never run into them, are weird fruits. There are different varieties, and one is native to the southeastern United States, but I’ve never seen a tree this far north. I first saw a persimmon trees on my honeymoon in Italy. It was November, the leaves had fallen from the trees, and the fruits poked out from the ends of the bare branches like tiny orange jack-o-lanterns. We'd walked up from our little cottage in the olive grove to the town you see up there, and there were persimmon trees in almost every tidy yard. 


I learned that persimmons are a deep ruddy orange, and about the size of a large apple. The skin has the feel of a tomato, and the flesh inside an unripe one is terrible—astringent and bitter. But a ripe one is a different story altogether: soft and sweet and incredibly juicy.

I told Susan I’d like to find the tree. A week later, I got an email.

Dear Elspeth, she wrote. I needed to check the address of the house in Brewster. It is 1215 Route 6a, a white antique Cape.

I found a phone number for the art gallery next door. The owners said the people who had planted the tree had moved away, and that the current owners didn’t know much about it. They said there had originally been two persimmon trees, but one was killed in a winter storm. They wondered if the other one would make it. I promised to come visit in the spring.

Spring came and went, and summer got busy. Fall arrived, with another note from Susan: I’ve been checking out the persimmon tree as I drive by, she told me. It looks a little stressed, but I’m seeing flashes of orange.

The next Saturday, I drove up Cape. Susan met me at the tree.

She told me she recognized the persimmon from memory when I asked about unusual fruits. She said it reminded her of something in her childhood in New Jersey.

"So I went back to my mom and my aunt, and they said yes indeed my great aunt, great great aunt Neily, Cornelia Lambertson had persimmon trees. They would talk about them being very bitter if you picked them before the first frost, and that’s when they needed to be picked. And they would just stop on their way home from school, and go into the orchard there and pick the persimmons and eat them. They liked 'em."

Not everybody does. When I mentioned to my editor Viki that I was tracking down a persimmon tree, she screwed up her face. But the people who love persimmons are devoted to them. One cookbook author goes so far as to say that if you’ve never sunk a spoon into a soft, oozing persimmon, you are truly missing one of life’s greatest pleasures.

I tried to track down the original homeowners who had planted the Brewster persimmon tree. Susan told me they were from India, and that they'd put in the garden when they started an acupuncture practice and moved into town. Like the gallery owners, Susan said the woman and her husband sold the house a few years ago and moved to Florida, and I found a listing for them in Gainsville. But when I called the number, another woman answered, and said the couple had moved away. She didn’t have a forwarding address, and I haven’t been able to locate them.


I keep wondering wondering why this couple would have planted a persimmon tree so far north. Maybe it reminded her of home, or maybe it was planted for its medicinal uses. The leaves are good for everything from teas to poultices, and the fruit is full of important vitamins and minerals. Or maybe it was simply planted for a love of the flavor, for the experience of sinking into a sumptuous, delicate fruit on a chilly fall day.

I may never know. But for now I’m content with the knowledge that there’s a chance for persimmons here, so far out into the chilly sea.

I don't know anything about cooking with persimmons. But this bresaola-wrapped persimmon with arugula looks wonderful, and persimmon cranberry sauce would be a nice twist on tradition for Thanksgiving!

Also, if you like the idea of trying to plant your own persimmon tree, you can learn more about the different varieties and what they need over here.

10.21.2015

COQ AU VIN // elspeth


My computer is on 4 percent battery right now. So extremely quickly, here's what you need to know.

We bought four roosters from our friend Victoria last spring. We stuck them in the freezer, where they sat out the summer madness. The other day when I went down to put in a box of lamb we just purchased from Border Bay Junction Farm, I remembered them and pulled one out. While it thawed I realized I had no idea how to cook a rooster. Did it need special treatment?

It did ! according to thekitchn.com. It needed to be slow cooked as Coq au Vin! Did I have a recipe? No I did not. But Ina Garten did!

And happily, her recipe was delicious. My only regret is that I did not make biscuits, because they would have been the perfect accompaniment. Two things about the recipe should be noted: if you want to use fresh onions instead of frozen (we did), be sure to add them slightly earlier than Ina asks you to. Also, if you've never cut a chicken into eight pieces you'll need a tutorial. Thomas Keller has a nice one in Ad Hoc at Home. Otherwise we followed Ina's directions to a tee! Happy rooster stewing.

9.27.2015

MORNING GLORY MUFFINS // elspeth

Let me start by saying how much I enjoy coming here. That it feels like an escape in every sense of the word: like alone time, but also like the best kind of friendship, where there are comfortable silences followed by periods of intense discussion. It is hard to get here these days, but in some ways that makes it all the more enjoyable when I'm able.


I didn't get much of note done today. I washed a set of sheets, hung them out in the sun to dry. I vacuumed the house and cleaned out the fridge and put the girls down for a nap by walking them around the neighborhood a few times in the stroller. I folded three loads of laundry. 

But Sally and I had a long conversation about frost heaves, and Nora spent a happy afternoon exploring the grass outside. We made muffins, and talked about what it means to adapt a recipe. We took an idea that didn't fit with our mostly local, no-sugar, no-white flour ingredients, and shaped it into something both healthy and tasty. And while it wasn't inventing a self-driving car, or eradicating diabetes, it was satisfying in the way that so many mundane tasks are. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

MORNING GLORY MUFFINS

The basic idea for this recipe comes from The Apple Lover's Cookbook by Amy Traverso. We've made some pretty heavy adaptations, and the result is a muffin that's packed with fruits and veggies but is also wonderfully satisfying and light. They are best warm, served with big pats of cold salty butter.

A note about the apples: I used a Macoun that I got at the Wellfleet Farmers Market. Anything would work, but I think this was an especially nice variety for muffins, because it's simultaneously tart and sweet and is crisp enough to stand up to a little heat. 

2 and 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups grated carrots
1 large apple, unpeeled, cored, and grated
2/3 cup mashed banana 
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
3/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 eggs
3/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 12-cup muffin tin. Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl and set aside. In a larger bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients. Fold in the dry ingredients until just mixed. Spoon the batter into the prepared tin; you will likely have enough for about 15 muffins. Either bake in two batches, or spoon the remaining batter into a small loaf pan and bake it in there. The muffins will need about 20-25 minutes; bake until just cooked through, taking care not to overcook.

P.S. If you need a good Sunday evening read, try this on motherhood and smartphones. And in case what you need more is a good laugh.

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All text, photographs, and other original material copyright 2008-2010 by Elspeth Hay unless otherwise noted.