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Actually, it’s not called “Mom’s Secret Stash” – that’s just what I call it. The story has a more NPR-appropriate title: “Try a Do-It-Yourself Mothers’ Day” . The idea here is that sometimes the best person to come up with a delicious treat for Mom on her special day is…Mom. I’m not saying you shouldn’t accept, enjoy, and appreciate the pancakes in bed, the crayon cards, the champagne at brunch – if you are so lucky as to get those. I’m just pointing out that there’s no harm in doing a little bit of the spoiling yourself.
By the way, some of your loved ones will want to get you a cookbook for Mother’s Day. So as to avoid getting stuck with some random grilling book you hate, direct them to CookShelf, the cookbook-rating app, now available for iPhone/iPad or Android devices. On it, you can read about many of the recipes and cookbooks featured in this story, including this incredible matzo candy from Susan Feniger’s Street Food.
“I trace my finger down the ingredients list. Shallots, check. Tomatoes, check. Cinnamon stick, check. And then there it is: Preserved lemon. “Drat!” I think. “Foiled again!”
That’s how this story started – I finally made up my mind to get a clue about preserved lemons, and never again find myself caught without a stash on hand. If you’ve already got preserved lemons on hand, congratulations! Let’s get cooking. And if you haven’t? Well, there couldn’t be a better time to start.
“I developed a strategy, which was to select the smallest piece I could and swallow it whole, as if it were a particularly large multivitamin, and I a Burmese python.”
That’s how I dealt with Brussels sprouts when I was a young person. If this story sounds familiar, it’s no surprise. Brussels sprouts are among the most energetically reviled members in a generally unpopular family, the Brassicaceae.
Yet now they’re one of my favorites. Many of us have seen the (greenish, cabbagey) light in recent years. I like to think it’s because the recipes have gotten better. A few of the best can be found in my story today.
No, it’s not summer any more. But one summer souvenir that will be coming right along with me into the fall and winter is the summer roll. Or, more specifically, the re-invented sandwich wrapped in rice paper.
After being unaccountably bashful about rice paper for years, I finally took the plunge and discovered what a boon it is for those of us who fall somewhere in between wanting to take the bread off the sandwich and just giving up and having a salad.
Plus, they’re way easy to pack in a lunchbox.
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.
Review 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.
I’ve been wanting to do a story on seaweed for ages. It’s such an odd bird, seaweed: ubiquitous by the seaside but never eaten fresh there (at least by beachgoing visitors); infinitely dehydratable and transportable; nutritious and–under the right circumstances–delicious. Yet for some reason we don’t seem to have a culture of eating seaweed in the United States. All our best recipes come from somewhere else (mostly Japan).
Included in this story is a recipe that many have clamored for, including myself: sesame nori crisps (pictured above). They are addictive beyond belief, so be prepared to make big batches.
Read the Kitchen Window story here.
Is there a more perfect summer food than fruit salad? Three cool, brilliant, vivid mélanges that take us miles away from the ”fruit cup” of decades past (remember the scary dyed cherry! the thick syrup!). Best of all, you don’t need to turn on the stove even once, except maybe for toasting some coconut.
When I tested these recipes, it was sticky, steamy weather. I ate fruit salad every day for every meal…and I did not tire of it. And, I hope, neither will you!
Read the Kitchen Window story here.
A little rumination about my absolute favorite bitter green. The best part about writing the story was discovering this outrageously good shrimp, escarole, and potato salad from Jacques Pépin. I could have eaten it for a week.
But the recipes for escarole & bean soup and escarole & butternut pasta are great too.
I haven’t had a chance to post it till now, but this story ran last Wednesday on NPR’s Kitchen Window.
It’s mostly about the strength hidden in the deceptive clarity of a beef stock, and only partly about my mania for pho.
Easy, aromatic, soul-sustaining–there’s a reason fish stews are popular all around the globe.