You are currently browsing the monthly archive for August 2012.

It’s the first day of school, which means the first day back to work for me after a long August break.  My writing muscles are stiff and cramped from disuse! and all my words have scattered like a flock of chickens…but I do have two stories publishing today.

"sweet cream and sugar cones" "susan chang" "bi-rite creamery" reviewReview of Sweet Cream & Sugar Cones in the Boston Globe:  It was Celia Sack of Omnivore Books in San Francisco who prompted me to get that first, memorable salted caramel ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery.  Little did I know that I’d be reviewing the Bi-Rite Creamery cookbook just a few months later and making the treat for myself.  There’s only a few weeks left in ice cream season, so run don’t walk to the store for some heavy cream and eggs.  You may no longer be eating egg yolks, but if you are, these luscious recipes are one way to make the most of them.

Zucchini You Actually Can’t Resist (NPR Kitchen Window):  It was shaping up to be a great year for zucchini–I finally got a handle on the squash bugs (dusting with diatomaceous earth and scraping off all the eggs).   But we actually only enjoyed about 3 weeks of zucchinaceous bliss before the vine borers got our plants.  The last of our beautiful crop were photographed and eaten for this story.  If you’re sort of meh about zucchini, do give these recipes a go.  They may just change your mind.

Meanwhile, the summer has offered up many shining moments:  Our volunteer peach tree by the front steps finally bore beautiful blushing fruit.  The whole family got its fill of fresh and salt beaches in Michigan, Cape Cod, and local ponds.  Husby finished the permanent chicken coop.  Despite one near-death experience when Spalty ate something she shouldn’t have, we still have 8 beautiful hens (who should start to lay in a month or so!).  We had our best crop of tomatoes ever, having finally learned to get them properly lifted off the ground with cattle panel.  And by alternating swimming 1/3 mile and running 2 miles several times a week, I finally managed to get rid of those last pesky 5 pounds (the ones I still privately blamed on the last pregnancy–6 years ago!).

I finally organized our “junk” cabinet and our pantry, and sewed the curtains for the upstairs bedroom–2 years overdue.  I clamped all the S-hooks for my utensils with channel-lock pliers so they don’t go flying every time I reach for a spatula (it’s the little things that count).  There’s meat in the freezer and a garden full of vegetables, and I can finally find all our dry goods.  The air is growing crisp.  Welcome fall! never been happier to see you.

Yes, there is something more to be said about preparing leafy greens.

Click here to read today’s review of Wild About Greens in the Boston Globe.

This was one of those cases where my job was harder than usual, and the effort to be fair more taxing than usual.  When I first got this book, I was terribly excited–I’ve found the gloriously diverse palate of the Middle East more and more inspiring over the years.  And what a terrific, overdue idea! to have an exclusively vegetarian cookbook.  The recipes looked new and interesting, the photography lovely, the author knowledgeable.

In my eagerness to get cracking, I tried a couple of recipes right away.  But I found the instructions a little on the vague side.  I pressed ahead with my best guesses, the way we do as cooks, draining the soggy bulgur, guessing what “a little” oil might mean.  And the results were still…meh.  I thought, Well, it could be me, or it could be the recipes.  Either way, I decided not to put it forward for review.

A week later, my editor asked me if I’d seen it, and would I review it?  I shared my misgivings with her, but she was as taken with the book as I had been at first, and we decided to go ahead with it.  As it turned out, the rest of the recipes were much like the first–wonderful ideas, poor execution.

I wish I’d been able to give this book a happier reception.  The publisher did a beautiful job with it, and I know there’s delicious food inside those recipes somewhere.  But I am afraid it will take a more meticulous hand to bring it out.

Click here to read today’s review of The New Middle Eastern Vegetarian.

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