Slow-Cooked Vegetable Dinner + “An Everlasting Meal”

It's Tuesday afternoon, and Tim and I are taking our CSA box back to the car, a heavy bushel filled with watermelon, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, cucumbers and yellow squash. Our usual routine has been to unload this share at home, turning some into dinner with a simple salad or something roasted, storing the rest of it away on the counter or the fridge to be cooked and eaten as the week goes on. But today, instead of setting things aside, I'm cooking it---all of it---one thing after another, often in the same liquids or roasting juices of the previous pan. With two months left on our CSA, I've been reading Tamar Adler's book, "An Everlasting Meal," and, as most home cooks who've read it would tell you, the way I use vegetables---actually the way I use almost everything in my kitchen---will never be the same. I first heard of Tamar Adler, and her book, in May, through an email from my friend Kendra. In the midst of what she called a "life-changing book," Kendra was … [Read more...]

Special: from the Archives

In the spirit of finishing, I welcome you to a first ever at Food Loves Writing: a five-part recap of recipes and other things that could have been whole posts in themselves but, for one reason or another didn't make the cut and almost didn't make it to you, but, today, at their good fortune, are getting a second chance. These are the didn't-make-its and misfits of the kitchen, the ones set aside for later or forgotten about as soon as they were photographed, so now, like the vegetables in my fridge I'm always thinking about, they are being pulled out, in order to not be wasted. Here goes. 1) First there were the green beans, boiled until cooked but still crisp, and covered in a homemade basil dressing. The dressing was bleh, at best, but the blessed beans were still edible, as green beans usually are, and I can't remember now, but I think a few days later they were washed off to become green beans cooked with butter or something brainless like that. The lesson here is that … [Read more...]

the first one

I am going through a photo slump lately, the kind where I hate the places I usually use and hate the new places I try, so all of my photos are turning out just O.K., and I'm afraid to even submit them to Foodgawker or Tastespotting because a little more rejection is just not what I need right now; nonetheless, there's nothing wrong with my eating, as you can probably guess, so let's focus on that. I've joined a CSA. This is a fairly big deal. You probably already know what one is, but I didn't---not until June, when one of my favorite bloggers mentioned a shipment from hers, and I said something about being jealous, and she said, Doesn't Chicago have Community Supported Agriculture? And I said, Well, I guess we do. Here's how it works: you pay a flat upfront fee (mine was a reduced $180 because of a rough growing season in Chicago), like you're buying a share in the farm, and, in exchange, the farmers give you regular shipments of fresh produce. Actually I think it was fate … [Read more...]

when perspectives change

[donotprint] If you had met me ten years ago, I would have told you I hated roller coasters, expressways, family vacations to Wisconsin and, with passion, every kind of dog, big or small. I didn't like the texture of tomatoes until I grew my own, just two years ago. I didn't like hot weather. And I didn't like several people I knew, mainly because I'd labeled them weird, or fake, or rude, or something else. Things change. In every example named above, when my perspectives changed, so did my opinion: An October weekend with some college friends taught me strapping myself into Batman and letting it turn me upside down wouldn't make me vomit---what's more, it would be fun; A year spent studying in Florida, hundreds of miles from my family and friends, would cure me of my fear of expressways, if only because they were the means to the white sandy beaches; Four years away from my family made me appreciate them, and their vacations, more; we got a tiny white peekapoo, who, by the … [Read more...]

this is for you

If you live anywhere near the Midwest and have had to drive to work every day this week; if you shoveled your driveway Tuesday, then Wednesday, and felt your nose hairs crystallize while you got into your car Thursday; if you (heaven, help you) were on Metra Wednesday morning, in the midst of the gun scare that turned out to be just a misunderstanding; this is for you. [By the way, if you also, I don’t know, had to go out and buy the biggest, cheapest puffy parka you could find, one with a crazy fur collar and an extra layer of lining underneath, just so you could survive through the rest of your Chicago winter: well, send me an e-mail, would you? I’d like to know I’m not alone.] Maybe it’s the fact that so many of the storms this year have hit during my commutes to and from work, maybe it’s the fact that I am always, no matter where I am, cold, down to my toes. Whatever the case, I have to tell you something: it’s high time for some comfort food. [I'm glad to know I'm not … [Read more...]

French Fries You Should Eat

Well, as promised, I'm still high on fall. I've been sipping hot apple ciders all week and cuddling in my blankets, the windows open, at night. Pretty soon, I'm hitting an apple orchard with two of my friends and co-workers, and I'm already dreaming of the apple cider doughnuts and pumpkins I will buy. How about you? Are you taking in the season where you are? Are your leaves turning colors? If you live anywhere like Chicagoland, you've probably been seeing a lot of gourds and squashes around. I think they're so pretty, with their autumnal color palette and reminder of harvest. It's enough to make me want a pumpkin patch of my own (along with an herb garden, green pepper plants, more tomatoes...). Here's what you can do with one of those pretty butternut squashes: If you like sweet potatoes and you like french fries, boy, pay attention. No, I'm not talking about sweet potato fries (though I love those). In fact, I'm suggesting squash fries. Butternut Squash Fries. The … [Read more...]