June 17, 2010

The sun is streaming into the kitchen, mingling with the scent of the chicken stock which has been slowly burbling away all day. It’s the smell I missed most while I was laid up, and I’m so happy to have that warm aroma rolling through the house. It will be risotto, and sauces and maybe a few late-Spring soups.

Brought the first vegetables home from the CSA today. It’s still sparse: lettuces, kale, some herbs, a huge fluffy pile of really pungent arugula. A couple of squashes and a napa cabbage. Not even enough for minestrone, but it’s just the start. It was a good feeling, standing at the farm, feeling as if I was not a customer, but a participant in the planting. And next week my chicken CSA begins. Best chickens I ‘ve had around here. Can’t wait.

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Cooking Again

June 16, 2010

Cooked last night, for the first time in more than two months, and it was such a joy. It wasn’t much – I made an apricot crisp, which took about 5 minutes, all my still-recovering foot could bear. But Fred and Sherry were cooking too, slowly stirring the just-ground polenta. Fred was marinating duck breasts – a Paula Wolfert recipe that is one of my all-time favorites, and constructing Fergus Henderson’s cauliflower, leek and white bean salad, a little symphony in white. Just as the apricots began to fill the kitchen withtheir lovely aroma Fred stirred cream and lime into corn, a recipe from Ad Hoc that tastes mysteriously of ginger. He made Alice’s almost-Caesar too– whole leaves of romaine drenched in anchovies and vinaigrette. No eggs, no croutons and we forgot the cheese at the last minute. I liked it better that way; it was such a ferocious plate of greens.

As we cooked we cranked up the blues until the kitchen was filled with sound and scent. Michael kept pouring more rose´, and soon we were dancing around the room. When Liz and Emily walked in, we put out cheese and nuts and that great local liverwurst while everyone took turns stirring the polenta.

Just as we went outside to eat the sun began to slip away, in a blast of golden red. The frogs began that deep thrumming, and I thought that if I could distill one moment of pure happiness, it might be this one.

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From Portland, with Love

June 11, 2010

The box was sitting at the door when I got back from the farmer’s market today. I slit it open and a cornucopia spilled out: nuts and beans, jams and grains. The note says, “Miss Ruth’s Portland Care Package” – a selection of favorite products from two of my favorite people, Karen Brooks and Teri Gelber.

Half are from Ayer’s Creek farm in Gaston. They include two different kinds – on white, one yellow -of freshly ground polenta. I put them right in the freezer, but I’m itching to cook them.

The jam (black currant) is from Ayer’s Creek too, as are the Purgatorio beans. Karen’s note says that I won’t need to soak them – and that they’ll cook in about half an hour. If that’s true, it’s amazing; the last time I cooked white beans they took forever.

There are also fat hand-roasted hazelnuts from Freddy Guys, so irresistible that I ate half the package on the spot.

And granola from Tracy’s; the proceeds help fund Urban Gleaners, a food-to-homeless table program. Crisp, crunchy, delicately sweet.

Just looking at all this food sitting on my counter made me miss Portland. One great food city.

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