Eat Me. Drink Me.

Why We Eat. Why We Drink. Why We Write.

Month: November, 2010

I Prove Myself Wrong and Bake Delicious Cookies

by lyzpfister

I keep telling people I can’t bake.  This, for the most part is true.  My numerous attempts at banana bread are too dry or too soggy or too awkward.  Regarding a dense and lumpy batch, a friend told me, “It tastes like vegan banana bread,” which I guess could be a compliment.  Or…

But today, while looking for recipes to use for my Thanksgiving dinner, I chanced upon this gem for brutti ma buoni.  The name translates to “ugly but good” and these nubby little cookies are just that.  They taste like something from my childhood, like afternoon walks in the fall and honeyed granola.  And they’re easy enough to make that not even I can screw them up.

Brutti Ma Buoni
Adapted from Food & Wine October 2010

1 ¼ cups almonds
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
pinch of salt
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400.  Toast almonds until browned, about six minutes.  Pulse almonds, sugar, and salt in a food processor until finely chopped.  Pour into a mixing bowl and add egg and vanilla.  Grease baking sheet and spoon tablespoon-sized mounds onto the sheet.  Bake in center of oven for 12 minutes.

Even the Novelists Must Eat

by lyzpfister

I may have mentioned that I’m writing a novel.  I thought I’d challenge myself and participate in the November national write a novel in a month thing.  It’s painstaking.  So far I have seventeen pages of what will undoubtedly be the next great American novel, and each paragraph is a tortuous crawl towards some enlightened end – that has as of yet not been revealed to me.  I decided today that someone’s going to die, definitely.  But maybe not until, like, page ninety.  Which means I only have seventy more pages to fill with something that resembles plot.  Even a goal of three pages a day is killing me.  (And, do the math,  seventeen pages on November 9th equals clearly failing.)

When I write, I writhe.  I sit in my desk chair with my sweatshirt hood pulled over my head and moan.  I write a sentence, I delete it, I change the POV ten times, I do a series of gymnastic exercises in an effort to find a position in which I can write something I actually like.  After every paragraph, I mumble, “Novels are haaaaaard,” and slump further in my chair before I can start another sentence.

I had to laugh today at the grocery store as I bought lunch for myself:  two $1 frozen Celeste personal cheese pizza and a cherry Pepsi.  I was still wearing my yoga pants, hoodie with the hood up, puff vest, and moccasins.  I looked like a total dirty bum, and definitely not like the person who was writing what would (undoubtedly) be the next great American novel.

So I wrote and writhed and ate pizza and finished up seven (!) whole pages.  When I was done, when I’d picked the person who was going to die and felt like there might be a story, I realized I was hungry.  I almost warmed up the second Celeste pizza for dinner – and then I remembered those clunky nubs of sunchokes from the farmer’s market and the parsley, the bacon, the greens, and felt, in good conscience that I couldn’t put a frozen pizza in the microwave two times in one day.  And, as the next great American author (undoubtedly), I had to atone for the poor PR generated at the grocery store earlier in the day.  No seriously, I watched the guy in line behind me judge.

Anyway, I am just so excited about this food.  It’s fresh and easy, and I love how green it is for November.  This is my first time eating sunchokes and I love the center’s nutty, creamy taste complimented by the crunch of the outer edges.  I know it looks a lot like my last meal, but it tastes so remarkably different: smooth and warm and gentle with whipping cream and fried eggs instead of vinegar’s tang.  And it’s so beautiful to look at.  I think I make a better cook than novelist.

And on that note, I’m going to wash the dishes before my roommates come home and kill me and my novel is never finished.

Market Dinner for One
Sunchokes in Cream and Greens with Cheese and Egg:
Fry three slices of bacon; when almost crisp, set aside.  Reserve bacon drippings in skillet.  Scrub and wash a handful of Sunchokes (also known as Jerusalem artichokes), then slice them thinly.  In the meantime, heat bacon drippings with a splash of olive oil.  When warm add chopped shallot and two chopped garden onions or half of a yellow onion; sauté until translucent.  Add sliced sunchokes and sauté until tender, about seven minutes.  Add a splash of heavy whipping cream and chicken stock, salt and pepper to taste, and ½ tablespoon butter and turn heat to low for another five minutes until sauce reduces.  In another skillet, melt ½ tablespoon butter.  Add washed and coarsely chopped greens and chopped bacon.  Sauté for two minutes until limp; move to plate and cover.  Fry an over-easy egg, making sure to leave the yolk runny.  Flip the egg on the greens and top with crumbled goat cheese.  Add sunchokes to plate and garnish with chopped parsley.

Those Onions Always Make Me Cry

by lyzpfister

I had forgotten what real vegetables look like.  I went to the Greenmarket in Union Square yesterday and walked past stalls where vendors, wrapped in balaclavas, parceled out apple slices and goat cheese on popsicle sticks, and every other stand sold hot cider.  Walking through the Greenmarket is an exercise in maintaining your Zen, since everyone hustling in and out of stalls, vying for the biggest carrot.  If you can keep breathing and let the crowd carry you instead of fighting through it, the market is wonderful.

I’ve gotten used to my Associated Supermarket on the corner and I’ve even started thinking, yeah, that’s some nice parsley.  Maybe because compared to the bodegas where bunches of browning bananas and wilted bins of lettuce sit beside bags of chips and bouillon cubes collecting dust, Associated’s water-sprinkled produce glistens.  Then I went to the Greenmarket and remembered what vegetables look like.  And that they smell, even in brumal November.  In the apple tent, giant lobes of jonagolds and pink ladys were musky perfume and there was a bunch of sage at one stall so fragrant I did a double-take just to close my eyes and smell.  I found perfect red radishes, plump shallots and garden onions, goat cheese, greens, multi-hued fingerlings, sunchokes, tangy Kefir yogurt drink, and a spray of verdant flat-leaf parsley.  I carried the parsley in front of my face like a bouquet of flowers just to keep the fresh smell close.

Cooking from the farmer’s market is like adding an extra layer of love to what you make, since someone has loved the rutabaga before it was a rutabaga.  A farmer’s market fruit is loved in a way a supermarket fruit has never known.  When you cook with loved food, there’s less work to do.  Greens wilt themselves into your skillet, tomatoes only ask for a little salt, onions are ferocious and tender.  An Associated vegetable is like an orphaned child, adopted at fifteen and loved by a foster family in a way that is good but where there is still the taste of fifteen years of hurt.  Lettuce can have had a troubled childhood too.

Tonight for dinner, I roasted my fingerlings with onions and shallots, garlic, olive oil, thyme, rosemary, sage, and salt.  Of course I cried cutting the onions.  I always weep when I cut onions and for a few moments it’s embarrassing, when I cook for people, as I double over the counter squeezing tears from my eyes.  But I love onions.  And I don’t mind to cry for them.

I sautéed greens – a variety of mild Japanese mustard greens that I’d never heard of before – with a vinaigrette of red wine vinegar, shallot, Dijon, and bacon drippings and crumbled bacon and goat cheese on top.

My plate was so green and beautiful and from now on I only want to eat real vegetables.  For dessert, a shot of eggnog from Ronnybrook Farm, which made me excited for cold weather and the holidays, for the Christmas tree I’m going to get for the apartment that I’ll decorate with homemade ornaments.  I’ll make cookies and string popcorn garlands and go to the market for refills of cider and eggnog.