Eat Me. Drink Me.

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

Category: Vegetables

There Was No Food in the Inn

by lyzpfister

My brother is my roommate. This is both lovely and… interesting at the same time. Especially when he says things like, “I just want to see how soon it is before you get really annoyed at me” after saying something really annoying.

The problem with living with your siblings is, they really know how to annoy you. They’ve got practice.

We’ve been living together for all of four days now, and so far so good, despite a few squabbles over how we split the grocery bill. He says, “But I’ve spent twice as much as you.” I say, “But you eat twice as much. Fatty.” And then I cook us dinner.

Tonight, after coming home from work, I realize that there isn’t any food left in the fridge. Of course, by no food left in the fridge, what I mean is, there’s an assortment of strange and half-eaten things. Two peppers, a bit of cream from the tortellini with mushroom and cream sauce I made for dinner last night, an old jar of pesto, some tomato sauce, five forlorn little olives, one fourth of a dried up chili pod.

But my brother is looking at me expectantly. And I’ve promised to cook. So I shrug, and bring the various and unrelated food items out of the fridge until I have a plan. Stuffed peppers. Ish.

Ben is working on his mash-ups – and I can’t help but think that the total ADD selection of music we’re listening to is something like the way I’m cooking. Haphazardly.

It’s coming together I think, though, as I taste the rice I’ve mixed with heavy whipping cream and tomato puree, sautéed onions, garlic, and olives.

This is what I love about cooking. This something from nothing.

I ladle rice into peppers and top them with generous slices of cheese. I change into yoga pants. I make some comments on songs.

“I think the shells are done,” my brother says.

“When you say shells, do you mean peppers?” I say.

He says, “I mean pepper shells.”

We sit down to eat. Pour another glass of the hefeweissen from the case we carried all the way down the block and up five flights of stairs. Ok, that he carried down the block and up five flights of stairs.

I say, “These peppers are delicious. I’m awesome.”

He says, “These peppers would be better if you had filled them with something else. Like candy.”

Not Candy-Filled Peppers

Cook two portions of rice – or one and a half, you probably won’t be able to fit all the rice into the peppers anyway. While the rice is cooking, halve two peppers and remove the seeds and pith. Set aside. In a skillet, sauté 1 finely chopped yellow onion and 1 clove garlic until translucent. Add chopped fresh chili, olives, and a handful of chopped basil. But who am I kidding here – you could really add whatever you want. It’s probably more interesting than what I had in my fridge anyway. When the rice has finished cooking, add it to your onion mixture. Add some heavy cream, some tomato sauce, some pesto. Again, this isn’t really a recipe, but rather a gentle suggestion. Just pour some leftover liquid substances into the rice and see what happens. Stir your rice + fridge leftovers mixture well, then ladle into pepper halves. Top with sliced cheese – I used firm goat and aged gouda – and bake in a 400F oven for as long as it takes to finish washing the cooking dishes, listen to your brother’s mash-ups, and drink a glass of hefeweissen. So about 20 minutes. Do not fill with candy. It won’t taste good.

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Welcome Back Berlin Fritters

by lyzpfister

I rode my little Hercules down Bergmannstr., and as I did, it started to rain, skinny drops that snuck under my scarf. But even with the rain, all I felt was joy to be reunited with my bike, my little Hercules. I forgot that I need to find another job, need to meet more people, am still so new somewhere. I pedaled through the rain, a route that is familiar to me now and realized, I have stopped comparing Berlin to Brooklyn. Because coming back, even after having been in New York, in my own beloved Brooklyn, feels like coming home.

Sweet Potato and Fennel Fritters

(for 2)

Coarsely grate 1 sweet potato, 2 carrots, and ½ fennel bulb. Add 1 finely chopped onion and garlic clove. Season with nutmeg, Jamaican jerk seasoning (optional), salt, and pepper. Add 2 eggs (3 if mixture is still too dry) and enough flour so that you can form patties with your hands that don’t fall apart. At least ¼ cup – but I didn’t really measure, so I don’t really know. Sorry. Generously cover the bottom of a skillet with vegetable oil and heat over high until hot (water sprinkled on the oil will sizzle). Slide fritters into hot oil and fry on each side until light brown, about 2 minutes per side. Dry on paper towels. Top with butter and aged gouda. Or you could top with crème fraiche and parsley, which is what I really wanted to do, but couldn’t, since I didn’t have the foresight to pick up those things from the grocery store, nor did I want to walk down and then up 5 flights of stairs for a trifle.

 

Spitzen

by lyzpfister

My great uncle had always been old. From the time I was young, he’d been the same Hansvetter – I remember him in a newsboy cap, a cigarette in his hand, his feet covered in slippers. He loved to watch the planes take off from Stuttgart airport. He lived nearby and kept his TV programmed to a bluescreen listing of departures and arrivals so he’d know which planes were heading where as he watched them fly into the sky. When I’d visit, he’d ask when I was leaving, what plane I’d be on and tell me he’d track me as I took off.

A few distinct memories recur when I think of my great uncle. Every time we came by he’d ask, in a slow, loud Schwäbisch drawl if we understood what he was saying. It can’t be reproduced in print, but it’s something like that joke about Americans speaking loud, slow English in foreign countries as if it turns their words into something other than loud, slow English. For Hansvetter, it was a question of whether we could understand his dialect. And no matter how many times we said, yes, this crazy south German dialect (incomprehensible to even many northern Germans) makes complete sense to us, he’d always shake his head astounded and say, “Well, you just speak such good German.” Well, yes, we’ve been speaking it our whole lives.

I drove to the South this weekend for Hansvetter’s funeral. On my way there, I thought of how our language and our dialect works to shape our selves. Such a large part of why I’m in Germany is to understand myself as well in this language as I do in English. Yes, Hansvetter, I grew up speaking German, but in a way, you’re right – it’s a foreign language to me still. And yet it’s personal. A whole half of my family is German, a whole half of me exists in another language.

We drove to the cemetery, passing a giant trailer full of cabbages, and then another, and another. These were the largest cabbages I’d ever seen, round and full at the bottom and then spiraling up into a peak. Spitzkraut, it’s called, or Filderkraut, after the area in which it’s grown. But I prefer Spitzkraut. It reminds me of what Hansvetter used to call my youngest brother: Spitzbub, an impish boy. My middle brother had even said, when we’d telephoned earlier in the week, “It’s weird not to have someone calling Michael Spitzbub.” – as if Hansvetter had a monopoly on the term.

We stopped at a stand whose placard, written in the Schwäbisch dialect read:

Wer im Herbscht

Sei Spitzkraut kauft,

der hot em Wender

Sauerkraut

The rough translation would be, “Buying Spitzkraut in the fall means winter saurkraut for all.” We bought a Spitzkraut and stuck it in the car before we went to the funeral. It might sound macabre, to take such joy in finding out about a type of cabbage I’d never seen before, right before going to a funeral. But I think Hansvetter would have appreciated my delight in the Schwäbisch saying on the sign, in a traditional Schwäbisch food. His grandfather, after all, had been a cabbage cutter.

It was like having a dialogue with Hansvetter – we talked about words and dialects, about how what we speak makes us belong to a place. I forgave him for always asking if we could understand. Then, it seemed a bit insulting, but I suppose that for him, my brothers and I were wonders – we lived in America, spoke English, and yet could understand a dialect most Germans from the North can’t comprehend.

My relationship to language is not an easy one – I am constantly reminded in Germany of how much I fit in and how apart I still am. But in memory of Hansvetter (whose comments always managed to bring up all my conflicted, complicated, defensive feelings about language), I made something simple. I took my Spitzkraut (thinking of Hansvetter calling Michael Spitzbub, how Spitz means point, pointy, top, the tip, peaked, how cabbage and children can be given the same prefix) and made a Krautsalat – just finely grated cabbage, vinegar, salt, pepper, oil, honey, and lemon. And that was enough.

Cheese Sauce for Everything

by lyzpfister

There is a battle royale being waged for my waistline.  I live on a sixth floor walk up, so every day I walk up and down, up and down, until I think I’d cry if I see just one more step in my life.  But I’ve gotten pretty good at it by now, all the up and downing, so I think I must be getting in shape.  And then I come home and I make things like potatoes with cheese sauce, thereby undoing all the good work I’ve done.

After a long day of translating, I walk up my six flights of stairs and into the apartment I’m calling home.  It’s easy to step inside and hang a quick right to the kitchen, turn on the stove, and throw some olive oil in a pot, since everything I cook seems to start that way.  I turn on the light, there’s only one small light in the kitchen and the large, orange shade around it keeps the ambiance dim.  Which is alright, I guess, since it gives my neighbors in the building across the way less of a reason to look in my window. Although I know their lives well, by now, so I’m sure they know mine too.  And yet it feels a little Hitchcock to do too much looking – besides, living in New York cured me of all my voyeurism anyway.

The kitchen is a small space, not even the most economical. The stove is wedged between the broken washing machine and the shower and across the countertops are splayed half-full boxes of tea bags, postcards, a potted plant, stacks of books, cutting boards, empty cardboard packages, jars of honey and nutella, small stacks of coins, receipts, ticket stubs, and a plastic placemat with a picture of a palm tree.  But it’s a comfortable kitchen.  And I like it here.

I slice potatoes with one of the kitchen’s two knives – a bread knife and a paring knife.  I won’t lie and say I don’t miss my chef’s knife – I do – but these are sharp and haven’t left me cold just yet. I chop onions and sauté them in the olive oil.  I think this is usually also how my recipes proceed.

The potatoes sizzle as they hit the oil and by now there is the wonderful smell of cooking onions which fills up the small kitchen.  I add chopped red pepper and garlic, a few pieces of basil torn from the dying basil plant on the windowsill, salt, pepper.

But my great experiment of the night is this: cheese sauce.  My dear Sylvia, she’d cooked me dinner, done my laundry, told me stories, and sent me home hands full of chocolates and cheese.

I’d never made a cheese sauce, but I figured that all good things in one pot on low heat would turn out alright.  Butter and Luzerner rahmkäse melting into cream. If I’d thought of it then, I would have added just a splash of the Bayreuther organic hefeweissen I was drinking.  Even without, the sauce was decadent, drizzled over my Eintopf of potatoes, pepper, and onion.  I whipped up a quick salad of tomatoes, avocado, onion with rice wine vinegar, and olive oil and after I had eaten dinner, realized I’d have to run a few more errands up and down and up and down those stairs to atone for the cheese sauce sin.  But it was so good.

Summer in the City

by lyzpfister

Oh yes, summer is here, at least unofficially.  At least, I’m sweating enough to call it summer.  With every snatch of breeze that thinks about coming inside, I lean closer to the open window.  At least, until the mosquitoes eat my face.  Oh yes, it’s summer.  Time for salads and goat cheese, basil, mint, and buckets of water with ice cubes and lime.  Or even better, fancy little cocktails with wild tea vodka, strawberries, mint, lemons, simple syrup, and soda water.

It feels like summer vacation every time we sit outside in the backyard.  Two tiki torches light up the freshly raked dirt where someday soon there’ll be grass.  There’s now a little string of Christmas lights up and always candles burning after dark.  Just enough light to eat by at night.  Perfect light when your dinner is strawberry-rhubarb pie and cocktails.

There’s been rhubarb at the market these last few weeks and the strawberries have finally started smelling like strawberries.  I had been wanting to make a German-style rhubarb tart, but the dough is yeast-based, and being me, I had failed to read the instructions more than ten minutes before my pie friends were about to come over.  And as I always come, back to my favorite crust recipe: 1 cup flour, 1/3 cup vegetable oil, a splash of milk, a pinch of salt.  So easy and foolproof.  Effortless like the summer night.

We sat in the backyard, talking as the pie baked and easing out of our stoic poises as the temperature dropped to something comfortable.

Oh, the gooey mess.  Four people, one pie, and a few scoops of ice cream.  Demolished.

And much the same my summer days go by.  I go to work, I come home, I cook a little, sit in the sun a little, try to do yoga when I can, try to stay hydrated so I don’t die.

Yesterday for dinner, Anette and I assembled another of our fabulous conspirator meals.  As she tossed together a Greek-style salad: lettuce, arugula, tomato, cucumber, feta, red onion, and olive tapenade with dressing as simple as olive oil, lemon, salt, and pepper, I grated sweet potato and mixed it with egg, breadcrumbs, chopped onion, rosemary, thyme, and oregano.  I added a few teaspoons of semolina to make my mixture stick together, then formed little patties and fried them.  We sat outside and declared it a perfect summer dinner.  Greek salad and sweet potato fritters dunked in a sauce of sour cream, mint, and garlic.

All winter I said, “Oh how I wish it was warm.  I promise not to complain once this summer if only the weather gets warm.”  And I haven’t complained.  Just said, very declaratively, “It’s hoooooot.”  And I won’t complain.  So summer, summer, bring it on.  I’ve chosen my weapons.  They are: lemons, yogurt, mint.

Rhubarb Pie

Mix 1 cup flour, 1/3 cup vegetable oil, a splash of milk, and a pinch of salt together in a large bowl and roll into a smooth ball.  Add more flour if the mixture feels too wet.  Detailed pie crust instructions can be found here.  Press dough into a pie dish.  Wash and cut rhubarb into 1 inch chunks, and quarter strawberries.  To the fruit, add: 1 ½ cups sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 tbsp flour, juice of ½ lemon.  Toss well to coat.  Pour into pie dish and bake in a 375° oven for 1 hour or until crust is browned and fruit is soft.  Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Doomsday Dinner

by lyzpfister

I figured I’d go out with a bang.  Something simple and celebratory that said, “Good food is a good life” and “I’m really tired from work” at the same time.  It was time to dig through the pantry for cans unopened, vegetables unused, ideas unexplored.  I found harissa.  I thought: cinnamon, sweet potato, collards.

I played Adele very loud at the inconvenience of my neighbors.  I sang along even louder.  I thought, I have yoga-d, I have showered, and now I am cooking in the warm light of my kitchen.  This is as ready as I’ll ever be to meet the hereafter. Assuming the hereafter is upon us in the next twenty minutes.

I remembered that when I was doing yoga, the rooster crowing at five in the afternoon was a sign.  A frantic and unheeded sign.  But now, with the sweet potatoes softening in a bed of onion, garlic, cumin, harissa, and cinnamon, I remembered also that the rooster starts to crow at three in the morning and crows, like sick clockwork, seven times in a row every nineteen minutes apart, until late in the afternoon.  And by the end of the day his crows are like death throes, implausibly persisting croaks.  And before, I had felt the rain to be ominous, wet foretaste of horror.  Now, it brought a cool evening breeze through the window and a calming patter.  I remembered that I like rain.

I snapped open a bottle of Weihenstephaner, my right now favorite wheat beer.  The apocalypse postponed itself, I think to give me time to really taste crisp wheat and honey, blue sky, the remembrance of bananas.  I remembered that I don’t like bananas.

Two tortillas grilled on the gas stove’s open flame.  Collards just simmering into a spicy tomato-laced harissa sauce.  Crumbled feta.  Everything wrapped in the tortilla.

I ate and drank and waited.  And as rain calmed away into cool spring night I forgot to wait and simply sat, listening to the sound of children playing somewhere on the sidewalk and lovers whispering carelessly over a bottle of wine, birds twittering, the rooster crowing his death groans.  And as I forgot the fear of fire rain splitting the sky in half and earthquakes and floods, I remembered what I had always known, that the only frightening thing about death is the time we waste in worrying about it.

A Good Last Meal

Heat olive oil in a skillet.  Soften one yellow onion, chopped, and two large cloves of garlic, minced, in the oil.  Add ¼ of a medium-sized sweet potato, cut into cubes and sauté until sweet potato is almost soft.  Season with 1 tsp cumin and salt.  Add 1 tbsp or so harissa paste and enough water to cover the base of the skillet.  Cook until sweet potato is soft.  Add 1 tbsp tomato something, be it salsa, paste, or sauce and a splash of rice wine vinegar.  Simmer briefly.  Add a bunch of collard greens, washed, trimmed, and ripped into chunks.  Cover the skillet with a lid and simmer until collards are soft.  Stir frequently, adding water or olive oil when sauce begins to stick.  Season to taste with salt.  Heat two corn tortillas over gas burner (or in a skillet if you have an electric stove).  Top with collard-potato mix and crumbled feta cheese.

Living Well on Yoga Stretches and a $5 Bill

by lyzpfister

“Well,” I said, “I can sit and watch you eat.”

He looked at me as if to say, Really, Lyz?  Don’t be dumb.

So I said, “Or… we can make pasta?”

And that’s how we ended up taking the train back to Bushwick, stopping at Associated to pick up spinach and beer, and carting our yoga’d out bodies into my apartment, where the temperature was miraculously above 50 degrees.

I’d been thinking about this pasta all day.  I’d had a sweet potato for lunch and wanted to do something more interesting with it than just heat it up with butter and brown sugar.  So I posted my dilemma on twitter, and just moments later received a lovely suggestion to make ravioli.  I had a pasta roller I hadn’t used yet and a self-imposed rule to spend no more than $5 on food and now, a friend with which to eat: oh yes, the stars had aligned.

Sweet Potato and Spinach Ravioli

For pasta:
2 cups flour
3 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp olive oil

For filling:
1 yellow onion
1 large clove garlic
1 bunch of spinach
½ roasted sweet potato
¾ cups ricotta cheese
fresh grated nutmeg to taste
salt and pepper to taste

On a clean, dry surface, make a volcano-like mound of flour.  In the crater, crack three eggs; add salt and olive oil.  With a fork, scramble the eggs and blend with the flour.  If the dough is dry, add a few drops of water until you find yourself kneading a smooth, elastic ball of dough.  (Conversely, if the dough is too sticky, add more flour.)  Knead the dough for about ten minutes.  Let the dough rest while you prepare your filling.

Finely chop onion and garlic and sauté in a healthy amount of olive oil until the onions are translucent.  Add washed spinach.  When the spinach is completely tender, scrape the mixture into a food processor and blend until smooth; add sweet potato and ricotta and puree again.  Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

With a pasta machine, rip off chunks of dough and feed it through the machine, starting at the largest setting and folding the dough in half before dropping the setting each run-through.

If you don’t have a pasta machine, you’ll need to roll out your pasta dough by hand.  Separate the dough into four equal pieces.  Lightly flour a large, clean surface and roll out the dough in a circular pattern with a rolling pin.  The finished dough should be extremely thin – you should be able to see your hand through it.

To make the ravioli, cut the pasta strips into squares and drop about a teaspoonful of filling in the center.  Brush the edges of the pasta with a beaten egg and then tightly squeeze the edges shut.  Boil the ravioli in salted water for four minutes, or until done.  Fresh pasta cooks much faster than dried pasta, so make sure to keep an eye on it.  A watched pot might never boil, but unwatched pasta turns to mush.

This ravioli is deliciously sweet and savory, and pairs well with most tomato or white sauces.  Either way, the sauce should be simple, because there’s so much flavor in the ravioli themselves.  I made a basic white sauce deepened with tomato paste: Melt two tablespoons butter in a skillet on low heat; when the butter is melted, add a little bit of milk, making sure not to scald it.  Add a few tablespoons of flour and whisk constantly.  Add a teaspoon of tomato paste and a healthy pinch each of salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Continue to whisk, slowly adding milk until the sauce reaches a silky consistency.  Finish ravioli with sauce and freshly grated parmesan.

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.

Comfort Food and Pumpkin Things

by lyzpfister

I haven’t written about comfort food in a while.  Although this is probably entirely untrue, since I was once accused of describing all foods as comfort foods, after which point I decided that food, for me, is comfort.

I wasn’t even going to make dinner tonight and just settle for the baguette with brie and a cappuccino that I snacked on a while ago while writing an article.  But I got some bad news today, and bad news always makes me crave tomatoes.  And, oh, the news is so tedious and repetitive (let’s just say it involves creepy crawlies…) that I don’t want to talk about it.  But I do want to talk about this brilliant little tomato and pumpkin pasta.

We’ve been having a lot of fun with pumpkins here on Starr St.  I bought a misshapen monstrosity at the grocery store the other night and scooped out all the flesh and Anette carved a very Matisse-esque design in the shell which lasted one whole candle-lit evening before the morning evinced a crumpled pumpkin looking like nothing so much as the old woman without teeth who sits on the stoop down the street.  I made a pumpkin curry and pumpkin pie and roasted pumpkin seeds, and I still have enough pumpkin to last through the winter.  One pumpkin is a lot of pumpkin.

So tonight, I made a pasta sauce with pumpkin, whole peeled tomatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper.  Served over angel hair pasta and topped with chunks of black peppercorn-encrusted creamy parmesan cheese.

Things are looking up already.