Sunday, June 29, 2008


my neighbor Aaron gave me handfuls of plums today. what to make, what to make...thinking of jams. i also know another plum tree to forage in the community garden so the plum-product will depend on how many plums i am able to harvest.

today i made grapefruit-mint sleepy.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

fruit list

sooo much:

white peaches
yellow peaches
pluots, 2 varieties
golden raspberries
red raspberries
fresh chamomile
fresh lavender
red currants
purple basil
lemon verbena
golden marjoram

Monday, June 23, 2008

it's going to be a long summer

it's going to be a long summer.

i'm working a five-days-in-a-row schedule. with saturdays off! and nights! which is to say, strange.

it's cool today but it's been hot and the garden has been wilty. the tomatoes flowers are ready to burst into lil tomatoes. the lettuce is loving the cool and is starting to grow.

i've spent an hour on each of the last two days trying to get the damn taylor at work to, like, work. i'll spin a base, ten try to rinse out the machine and it won't turn back on. there's no manual, of course. i took it apart 4 or 5 times. rinsed and cleaned every part of it. made sure the inside wasn't icy, or cold. some time later, say about an hour, the taylor will decide to work again. i'm not sure if there's some little thing i'm not doing right (which wouldn't make a lot of sense, but still could be) or if there is something broken with it.

i had a bonfire until 2 the other morning with the upstairs neighbors and the boys from the band, and c. crispy-toasted marshmallows, beers, and the dogs running around underfoot. too little sleep after a long hot day. it's going to be a long summer.

the kitchen was so hot. cooler, now. the freezer broke, was down for a day, and is fixed. more things are changing on the menu and we almost ran out of peaches today. i'm not sure when specifically the menu is changing which leads me to wonder what to make/not make tomorrow. but i should eat. and get things done. the garden is watered. the sunset's fogged in.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

conversations with cooks

The conversations we have with one another can be strange, surface-seeming at first. To play the game usually you have to find out where someone has worked, who they've worked with, and if you know people in that city it becomes the game of who-and-what you know. I spent some time last week in Boston having lunch at a server friend's new restaurant, and when his chef and sous chef came out to chat us up, we fell into cook talk. Where you've worked. How hard you've worked. Getting out of the hotels. It's a shorthand banter. I asked the sous chef where they got their fish from, and he started complaining about the deliveries being inconsistent. Same Thing With Our Egg Guy, I commiserated. He Can't Commit To A Number Of Cases. You shrug; what do you do? What can you do? I asked him about farm raised or wild, we discussed salmon.

When regular people find out I'm a cook, the questions tend to fall along a couple lines. They go for the how-did-you-get-into-THAT? tact, especially if they know I'm a writer with a masters degree. Or the cool-where-do-you-work (oh-i've-never-heard-of-it)? Then there's the what's-your-specialty? question. It gets interesting when people ask you what you make, because a lot of the time when I answer them directly (brown butter sponge cake, coffee pastry cream, cardamom ice cream) I am fairly certain they have no idea what the process involves. I can try to talk about what it's like to roll truffles between your hot hands while trying not to get cocoa powder everywhere to melt the chocolate. Or what it feels like to stand next to a hot stove in the unexpected heat wave drinking water all day long yet always needing more. Or what it feels like to shape fifteen loaves of bread quickly, so some brunch cook can have the space next to you, and then later to take them out of the oven with the pizza paddle and pile them up strategically so they don't fall. But I'm never really sure what information gets translated. I think part of the appeal of food television cooking shows is that it always looks easy...or at least manageable. Do you need the visuals to understand cooking? Or if I describe the process of making anglaise for ice cream base what do you take away from it? Are desserts less approachable than savory food? How does food media and food writing affect the conversations cooks have with one another and with others?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

all fogged in

The plants are still alive. The nasturtiums decided to poke their head out of the ground today in response to my massive watering last night. The herbs are the only things not responding to the garden, which leaves us with a future harvest of:

lettuce, two kinds
cherry tomatoes
other assorted tomatoes of which I am not certain
crookneck yellow squash
cucumbers, maybe

There's also blackberries and a mysterious fruit tree in the backyard. Hmph. Ahhh, research reveals it to be a quince tree.

I made a delicious apricot compote tonight to eat over ice cream, though it'd go really well with biscuits and whipped cream as a shortcake. But there are limits to the amount of cooking I'm in the mood for right now, and I also made dinner.