You are currently browsing the monthly archive for August 2011.

Today, adventures on the frontiers of homemade ice cream: black pepper, basil and pine nut, onion-balsamic.  NPR Kitchen Window story here.

My favorite was the black pepper, which was subtle and strange and distinctly its own species.  I liked the basil and pine nut for its herbal impact, while the onion-balsamic was just plain wacky.

If you have a funky ice cream you adore, do share!  I’d love to hear about it.

It doesn’t happen all that often, but every once in a while a review comes out brutally honest.  This book has some of the most inspired summer recipes I’ve seen, but–sad to say–they are not as well executed as they could have been.

Review of The Kitchen Garden Cookbook in Wednesday’s Boston Globe.

I came up with a new way to eradicate squash beetle eggs yesterday.  My friend Mark Lattanzi says that’s blog-worthy, and I do everything he says, so here goes:

I truly loathe the squash beetle, which rains on my pumpkin parade every year without fail.  I hate the way they suck the life right out of your Cucurbitae vines, leaving a withered, rotting mess.  I hate the way they attack plump squash en masse and turn them into zombie-gourds.  I hate the way they scrabble about when you try to catch them.  I hate the way they hide in your mulch.

This year, I thought I had ’em licked, because I heard they hate the smell of radish greens.  So I planted radishes next to every squash, melon, and gourd in my garden and until this week, I didn’t see even one.  But then, yesterday, I lifted up a fat zucchini leaf and there they were, those incongruously beautiful little copper eggs lined up in neat rows like jewelry.  Ugh!

Some of the leaves had multiple clutches, so I severed those completely and tossed them, far far away from the garden.  But a few healthy leaves had just a few eggs, which tended to scatter when I tried to scrape them off.  That’s when I hit upon it–tape!  I got some off-brand 2-inch clear packing tape from inside the house, lined up the tape edge against the affected rib of the leaf, and pressed.  It took a couple of tries since my tape wasn’t the stickiest, but pretty soon every last egg came off.  Then I folded over the tape.  Goodbye squash bug eggs!

The trick worked even better with newly hatched squash bug nymphs–tiny, creepy, and usually the devil to dispose of.  But with their eensy little legs, they stuck right to the tape first try.  It was like cleaning cat hair off a sweater! but slightly more disgusting.  You can also catch a grown squash bug with tape–it’s easier than trying to nab the speedy little creep with your fingers, and his big shield-shaped back has lots of surface area for sticking to tape.  Aren’t you sorry you’ve got an exoskeleton, buster!

Maybe it ain’t humane, but it’s fast, easy, and 100% organic.  I’m sure I’m not the first to avail myself of tape, but I’m still glad I thought of it.

Cookbook review hot from the oven in this morning’s Boston Globe–Emily Luchetti’s Fearless Baker.

If you don’t know Luchetti–pastry chef, author, and born teacher–this book is a great way to make her acquaintance.  Every one of the recipes I tried worked without a hitch, which is saying a lot for any cookbook, but especially a baking one.

I have a July 4th tradition, if you can go so far as to call it that.  Just the once each year, I make fried chicken, using the great buttermilk-brine formulation from Cooks Illustrated’s The New Best Recipe.

But this year, I wasn’t at home on July 4th, and I wasn’t going to set out on the hair-raising adventure that is fried chicken from an unfamiliar kitchen.  I almost decided to forgo it altogether.

But over the long days of summer, I found myself thinking about fried chicken a whole lot.  And when it came right down to it, waiting a whole ‘nother year for that crunchy, oily bacchanal just seemed out of the question.  So maybe it was 34 days after the holiday, but there was no delaying the matter any longer.

So out came the giant plastic pitcher for marinating the chicken.  Out came the 3 heads of garlic and the bay leaves and the salt and the mallet (for crushing the garlic into the salt).  Out came the big yellow enameled cast-iron pan and the three trays for breading.  Out came a gallon of peanut oil.

In the 90-degree heat, outside on a propane burner, I fried 30 pieces of chicken and hustled them into an oven to finish (the oven part’s not in the recipe, but I’ve learned the hard way you can’t do without it) before throwing my own sweaty, begrimed self in the shower.   Good friends brought beer and sides, and the twelve of us set upon those gilded, crusty parts like there was no tomorrow.

But as it turned out, there was a tomorrow.  We had a handful of leftovers, which I thought very seriously of hiding (though I didn’t, in the end).    I thought about them, with a view to lunch, from the moment I woke up this morning.

Now, needless to say, the leftovers too are gone, and I am walking off their aftereffects at the treadmill desk even as we speak.  I think I can last another year before I get fried chicken again.  ‘Cause after all, it’s not even a whole year.  It’s only 330 days–not that anyone’s counting.

In this week’s Boston Globe, I have a review of Marie Simmons’ Fresh and Fast Vegetarian.  I was happy to have the chance to test the book more thoroughly after it caught my eye at the beginning of the summer.  If nothing else, the book has introduced tamari-glazed walnuts into my repertoire–they’ve become a personal favorite.

A Kitchen Window story at NPR today on the what, where, when, and how of grilling shellfish.  As to the why…is there really any need to ask?

Now cooking

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