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Posts posted by ninetofive

  1. Yay for New Englanders!  I'm a John Winthrop descendant, though, no not quite as established as you. :wink:

    Megan, we're probably cousins. Chances are, if you descended from Winthrop, you descend from a couple other pilgrims, too -- their children and grandchildren ended up marrying one another.

    I love the family history stuff. Some of my gr-gr-gr grandparents led very interesting lives.

    But that's another story ....

  2. Thanks for the salt information!

    I have to laugh at your freezer photo.  Ours looks much the same, right down to the basket, the little round blue-lidded Ziploc containers, and the Barnes & Noble (!how's that for coincidence?!)  bag holding packages of frozen stuff.  I should say that ours DID look much the same until last weekend.  My other half objects to opaque shopping bags, even if they do come from B&N, even if they have all the same thing in each bag.  He still can't tell what's in an opaque bag.  I repackaged those things. 

    I love the cute little boy face sneaking into the pic!

    Haa! How coincidental is that???

    I've really got to get down there and move things about -- I notice in the pic we have some frost building up on the side. My goal is to have that thing emptied out by April so we can give it a good thaw.

  3. ninetofive,

    I have a rather silly question - why did you add vodka to the ice cream?

    Were you just fooling? :blink:

    It was probably to prevent it from freezing rock hard.

    Cathrynapple is right. Especially when you have bits of fruit in the ice cream, a small amount of alcohol keeps those bits from freezing. It protects your teeth!

    There was only a tablespoon of vodka in roughly a quart of ice cream. I cook with a lot of wine and alcohol. Not that I let my son do shots, but if he asks to taste something -- wine, beer, a bit of infused vodka -- I'll let him take a taste. When he has, he's absolutely disgusted. He does, however, love dishes like boeuf bourguignon, which has a deep, rich winey flavor. My three brothers and I were raised in a home where it was okay to have a glass of wine with dinner when we were teenagers. That may be atypical for American families, I don't know. For me, I never felt alcohol was "forbidden," thus I never saw the appeal of sneaking out to drink with my friends. Nor did my brothers.

    Ok, i'm rambling. Sorry.

  4. Guten tag!

    This morning we had a parent/teacher conference at school. Oliver was very excited to come with us because they have a "discovery day" program where they bring out the toys while the parents meet with teachers. Oliver is entering his Jurassic phase -- my stepmother thinks boys go through a truck/car phase, then enter the dinosaur phase, and follow with a sports card phase. Hmmm. I'm betting O skips the sports cards and goes right to a Playstation 3. :hmmm:


    We got an excellent report. His teachers reminded me of a funny story that happened last summer w/ O, and since it's food related, I'll share. We were talking about how O always has an angle. The lead teacher noticed O always ate his two cookies first before turning to his sandwich, veggies, and fruit. One day she says, "You should eat your sandwich first, then eat your cookies." He thought about it for a couple seconds then says, "This is a SANDWICH cookie, so that makes it okay to eat first."

    After the conference we all went out for breakfast. We love diner food and got good reports about Comets, a diner-type establishment in a strip mall in Tyngsboro:




    I got the breakfast burrito, hubby ordered a ham/sausage/mushroom/colby cheese omelet, and O got a Belgian waffle with ham.




    Here's where we're really careful about our food. I eat with a lot of people who go, "Oh, this is a treat, so I'm going to pig out." Although we adore big fatty breakfasts, we say instead, "We're only going to eat a small portion of this and bring the rest home for another meal (or two!)." And we eat very, very slowly, so by the end of our portion, we're full, but not FULL.




    My husband can still wear his clothes from college, so he can eat more than I can in a given meal. (I beg him not to wear his college jeans in public though -- they look like something Jon Bon Jovi wore back in the 80s. ETA: no, they look exactly like Marty McFly's jeans. Anyone remember that name?) I'll probably eat the rest of the burrito tomorrow, and to be honest, skip the homefries. Maybe hubby will eat my portion.

  5. ninetofive, and Pam R:  Whose smoke(d) salt do you use?  I've been using the Danish Smoke Salt from Salt Traders.  If there's a good, more universal source, I might try it.

    Smithy, I have two kinds. The one I use on my salads is Bellamessa smoked sea salt flakes. I like this salt because you can rub it between your fingers to break up the crystals over a dish. I think I got this at our local Hannaford, a chain supermarket in the northeast, mostly NE.

    The other salt is McCormick smoked flavor sea salt. It comes in a little grinder, and I got it either at Stop & Shop or Hannaford. I don't use it often.

    I pulled out all my salts from the pantry and took a picture:


    I use that Redmond Sea Salt (in the bag over on the left) for my general cooking, versus the Morton iodized salt (that was in my husband's cupboard -- I might only use that stuff to put in hot water for a gargle). I also use the kosher salt a lot -- we probably go through a couple boxes each year. I like to use the Celtic gray salt for baking. I made some flavored salts as well: in the silver lidded jar over on the right is a rosemary salt I've used to season chicken and sprinkle on salads.

  6. Tonight was one of those nights when I didn't have anything planned for dinner. Thus, I treked down to the basement and opened up our chest freezer:


    This is a fairly large freezer, and as you can see, packed to the gills. On top I have several quarts of beef, veal, and chicken stock frozen into 1.5 cup containers, homemade veggie burgers, and red snapper from TJs that'll I use some weekend night for a quick dinner. The green bag holds frozen fruit for my husband's smoothies. Can you see cranberries peeking out from the ice cream cannister? I buy a couple bags during the winter so I have some handy in the summer. I do a lot of recipe development for magazines, so I'm always doing Thanksgiving recipes/testing midsummer. Try finding fresh cranberries in July!

    Underneath all this stuff are FoodSaver-sealed pork and veggies from our CSA, plus other meats I've picked up in the past couple months. See the pureed butternut squash poking out there? We got a dozen squash on our last pickup. There's a lot of squash in that there freezer.

    To get tonight's dinner, I have to dig around.


    I bought a whole pork shoulder last month from our local butcher and used some of the chilis I'd dried from my garden to create a sauce. (I roughly followed a recipe in Alice Waters' new cookbook.) After some hours of low cooking in a Dutch oven, the shoulder melted into the sauce. There was a huge amount of pulled pork, so I portioned most of it into FoodSaver bags, sealed them and stuck them in the freezer for nights like tonight.


    I :wub: my rice cooker. I cannot for the life of me make good rice on the stovetop.


    Dessert churned while the rice cooked and the pork thawed in the microwave. Once the Foodsaver bag was halfway thawed, I poured it into a pan and cooked over low heat.



    Dinner is served.

    Remember I slept in this a.m.? Time to pay the piper. I drove to the gym, jumped on a treadmill, and sweat out the day's frustrations.

    Then came home to this:


    The strawberry sour cream ice cream I made yesterday and churned before dinner. Yummy. You'll notice: just 3.1 ounces. :rolleyes:

  7. Suggestion...In Julia Child's "The French Chef Cookbook" she discusses the Belgian Endive, and I quote "...shave any discolored bits off the root end, being careful not to loosen the outer leaves"...."you may core a cone-shaped piece out of the root if you wish."

    She also suggests blanching for ten minutes in boiling salted water before proceeding to any recipe, to remove some bitterness, particularly with end-of-season endives.

    Thank you Ted for those suggestions. I'll revisit endives again later this spring using these (and Abra's) suggestions. I don't like to give up on a veggie until I've exhausted the possibilities.

  8. You are the first person I've run across in quite some time who refers to Greater Boston's mass transit agency with (1) more than one letter (2) the initials used to refer to it from 1947 to 1964.  You must be a longtime New Englander -- I didn't learn about the "T's" former identity until I read some local transit history and heard that campaign song made famous by the Kingston Trio.

    Did Charlie get his CharlieCard™ yet?  Or is he still trapped on the Green Line?  :biggrin:

    Yes, indeed I am. In fact, I'm a 13th or 14th generation New Englander on my father's side, descended from four Mayflower passengers -- but fairly new myself to the Boston area. I moved up here from Connecticut in 1996 when I met my husband. And yes, it's MBTA, but I slip with MTA because I used to spend more time in NYC.

    I'm still not wholly comfortable in Boston like I am in New York, San Francisco, or London. I can figure out 50 ways to get from Connecticut to downtown Manhattan, but I panic trying to figure out how to get to Logan 30 miles out. (I try to fly out of Manchester, NH instead.)

    Not food related, but there ya go.

  9. Today's lunch:


    Green leaf lettuce topped with quartered Campari tomatoes, a "bit" of cheese (I'm having a bad day work-wise, so I get extra cheese today), leftover chicken breast from Monday night, and dressed with flaxseed oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh ground pepper, and smoked salt. Another typical lunch around here.

    I was upset about some work stuff this a.m., which meant I didn't eat my breakfast as planned. The minutes I get stressed, I stop eating. It's not good, because now I'll be starving later on and more likely to eat stuff I try only to eat in moderation, like sweets, pasta or cheese.

  10. Diana, I meant to add earlier that I share your early rising habit.  I have to get up at 4:30 a.m. to exercise.  I have an elliptical machine in my basement.  Even though it's in my own home I have to force myself up!  AND, wow on the marathon  running!

    Shelby, I'm not an early-riser by nature. Are you?

    And I do sprint-distance triathlons, not marathons ... a whole other kettle of fish. I like to mix things up with swimming, biking and running. 26 miles of straight running would kill me.

  11. I'm loving your blog, ninetofive!  The shots of New England bring me home and the food looks delicious.  I'm already inspired to make a roast chicken tomorrow night after seeing yours.

    I want to make vanilla pudding too!  Can you give any more details on the one you made above?  Is it a cornstarch-based pudding or no?  The simple recipe I found for stirred vanilla pudding has 2 Tbs cornstarch, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 cups milk, 1 egg, lightly beaten, 1 tsp vanilla (I'd like to use vanilla bean, though) and 1 Tbs butter.

    Looking forward to your dinner tonight; the behind the scenes look at the restaurant and the "omikase" format will be very entertaining.

    Thanks again!

    Thank you, Ludja! I'm glad you're enjoying the blog.

    I followed a recipe in this month's issue of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food (light vanilla pudding). Instead of using 3 cups of reduced fat milk, I used 3 cups skim to steep the vanilla bean, substituted 1/3 cup vanilla sugar for the granulated, and thickened with 2 egg yolks and 1/2 cup cornstarch. It came out thinner than the picture in the mag, but was still very good.

  12. So all the good Indian restaurants are in the 'burbs, eh?  You darn car-people! 

    Haa! That's okay, we car people curse the MTA's crappy commuter lines. For all you out of towners, after you've had the pleasure of blue-knuckling your car into the city with some of the most aggressive drivers on earth, you get to drive around aimlessly down labyrinthine, narrow streets looking for the elusive parking space. When you finally give up and admit defeat, some garage will happily take your $20 for the pleasure of bopping into a market. I don't think I've ever paid more for parking a car than I have in Boston.

  13. What do you think of the "ethnic" food in Boston (Boston proper--not including suburbs)?  When was in VT, my sister (who lives in NH) took me to Boston once or twice for Chinese food because it was "the best in the area".  I thought the food kind of sucked, but I suppose when you had a craving, it would do.  I remember talking to someone in Brattleboro and when I asked about Chinese food she said, "If you want good Chinese food, drive up to Montreal!  Even Boston doesn't have good Chinese food!"

    My point...I got the impression from my experience as well as from what locals were telling me, that "ethnic" food in the NE pretty much sucks.  Would you agree, or are there exceptions out there?

    ETA--I forgot to ask this earlier--do you plan to change your diet at all when you start training for your marathons?  I often wonder about how athletes eat, and I remember a friend in junior high school (competitive swimmer) used to have the weirdest diet before competitions--she'd eat carbs and proteins on alternate days, so she'd have something huge like spaghetti for lunch one day, then only a couple of hard-boiled eggs the next.  I hope you consider doing another blog around the time of your marathon, because I'd love to see how you eat during that time!

    First, you asked about Boston proper, then in the next graf talk about New England in general, so I'll try to keep my comments about each separate.

    Ethnic food in Boston proper (I'll include Cambridge, too) is not my forte, to be honest. I've been for Indian food in Central and Harvard Squares, never had Chinese in Chinatown, and don't go to the North End for Italian because of the tourists.

    But as for ethnic food in New England sucking? I totally disagree. One place I'm going to show in my blog this week is Lowell, which is home to the second largest community of Cambodians in the U.S. Long Beach, CA, I believe, is the largest. People come from Boston to eat the pho at a Vietnamese restaurant around the corner for us (Pho 88 for locals) -- it is that authentic and good. I adore Indian food and markets, so when I have a hankering for vindaloo or curry leaves, I head to Moody Street in Waltham. And with so many Indian families moving out to the 'burbs where the high-tech companies are, I'm finding more and more great Indian restaurants, such as Udupi Bhavan in Lowell, which serves South Indian vegetarian fare. I've heard there are some excellent Mexican markets in Lawrence. I'll go so far to say we've never had very good Mexican food here in New England -- I lived in California for awhile and my husband lived in Texas from 4th grade through high school, so the bar's pretty high for us there.

    Chinese food specifically -- any Bostonians/New Englanders care to comment? I'm more partial to Indian, Thai, Vietnamese foods, so I feel I shouldn't comment any further.

    Prasantrin, I'll talk about my training diet in another post.

  14. I had a hard time learning to let my kids get involved in the kitchen.  Before I became a cook, my kitchen was *my* domain, and others intruded at their peril.  Especially to "help."  When my kids got to the age of wanting to get involved, though, I decided I had to get over my big bad self.  I wanted my kids to be at home in the kitchen as much as I am, and that meant encouraging and nurturing their interest in food.  My daughter is now 14, and wants to follow in my professional footsteps (an ambition I'm decidedly ambivalent about, but we'll see).  My son has his sights set on a more-lucrative career, but was the envy of his high school class by reason of his knife skills.

    This is interesting to hear, Chromedome. I really have to rein in my here-let-me-do-it 'tude when cooking with Oliver. Like you with your children, I want him to have happy memories of the kitchen, not memories of his mother chiding him for not getting all the salt into the bowl. A big thing I struggle with is when I'm trying to get food on the table quickly and he wants to help. I try to have little things he can do so he feels part of the experience, not an obstacle to a goal.

    I think it's cool your daughter wants a cooking career and your son has amazing knife skills. At six, Oliver has two career goals: a vet and a UPS driver.

  15. One big reason why I chose Craigie Street Bistrot for my restaurant adventure is that their food philosophy closely follows the theme of my eGullet blog this week. There's much food to procure locally in New England in the dead of winter. Tony buys his meats from farmers throughout the six N.E. states though two farming co-ops, for example. Fish come from boats out of Gloucester or shellfish from divers off Nantucket. And there's always plenty of squash and root vegetables this time of year. Just as I do in my kitchen from November to April, Tony augments his local supplies with a few items he can't get locally and spends a lot of time preserving for later on, everything from the sausages to wine vintages.

    The wine awaiting us was a white 2005 Sylvaner "Villes Vignes" from Valentin Zusslin in the Alsace region of France. Our waiter (who bore an uncanny resemblance to actor Paul Rudd) explained the wine is one of the many biodynamic, organic wines they serve at the restaurant. It was crisp, light, slightly sweet, I thought. I'm not strong my wine knowledge, although I do like drinking it, so please forgive:


    There was also a basket of bread from Iggy's, a local bakery -- small epis, some rolls. I did not partake as I'm carbed out of recent.

    Tony served us a "whim menu." Everything was in tiny portions, which I appreciated, because I wanted to make sure I could eat everything. Our first course:


    The scallop, from Nantucket Bay, was served sashimi style in a puddle of green olive-dashi vinaigrette and topped with paddlefish caviar. The first thing I noticed about the scallop was how sweet and soft it was in my mouth. Then a moment later I could taste some cumin. The caviar's saltiness complemented the sweet scallop perfectly (salty and sweet are an irresistible combo for me.)

    Unfortunately, I was in a swoon after eating the scallop, so when the second course arrived I forgot to take pictures. It was the cheek of a monkfish with pickled peanuts and crispy shallots. The fish came off a dayboat from Gloucester and had been caught that morning. It was very tasty, and I liked when they put it down in front of me, the aroma of peanuts teased my nose.


    This was my favorite dish of the evening, a potage of gillfeather turnips with a slow-cooked egg, Tony's homemade rabbit sausage, honshi meji mushrooms, and black truffles. I literally scraped the bowl clean with my spoon. The egg was soft and runny, and when you mixed them in with the sausage and mushrooms and turnips, it was like the best eggs and sausage you've ever had making whoopie on your tastebuds. It was THAT good. And let me just say I usually like my eggs cooked a bit firmer, but this was sublime. I'm going to bug Tony for some tips on those eggs ....


    The photo of the next course doesn't do it justice. People at tables around us stopped to stare. Can you see the quail's tiny legs kicked up in the air? This little organic Vermonter was stuffed with boudin noir (blood sausage, made on premises). There was also some winter veg, red cabbage and potato puree on the plate. The quail was perfectly cooked, tender and pink, with a hint of gamyness, which I appreciated (I don't like strong gamy flavors, but a hint is delicious.) I ended up picking this guy up and stripping him clean.

    OK, right after this is when I fell off my chair. Literally. I was scooting off the banquette to take the next shot, only there wasn't any banquette next to me and whoomp, down I went, ass to ground. In Diana's world, stuff like this always happens, so I calmly pulled myself up, laughed, and went about my business. I'm so used to God lobbing me these humiliating life experiences that I've learned to embrace them. At some point, maybe it'll dawn on Him that I'm no longer humbled, but merely amused by His teaching moments.

    I guess I was a little shaken, though, because now that i look at the shot, it didn't come out very well. :wacko: It was a pear sorbet topped with cajetas made from local goats' milk. The cajetas had a tiny bit of saltiness to it. Big thumbs up.


    Ok, who am I kidding? I was seriously embarrassed by my tumble and my hands were still trembling for this shot. It's white corn grits with a demerera sugar brulee, hazelnuts :wub: , dried fruit compote and canela ice cream. My dining companion got a fruit crisp, but we didn't even bother sharing. Secretly I was glad because i wanted the corn grits all to myself.

    At the end of the meal, we were served a tiny cup of hot cocoa flavored with ancho chile and cardamom. I couldn't taste any chile, or even cardamom in my chocolate, which was very, very rich. When our Paul Rudd-lookalike waiter came over to remove our cups, I wasn't quite finished, so my hand whipped out to protect my last bit of chocolate. Whew, my reflexes were back! What's interesting though is this was my least favorite course of the evening. Had i seen the menu before I ate, I would have bet this would have been my favorite, with the egg dish being my least.

    A couple shots of the dining room:



    As I was paying the bill, I noticed Tony eating a late dinner with his wife, who's expecting:


    I *love* this shot because it's exactly how I like to eat, surrounded by piles of books. I think that's Alice Medrich's book at Tony's arm.

    It was a very late night for me, so I slept in till 8 this morning. Now it's time to catch up on the rest of the day.

  16. This has been one of the best investments for my kitchen:


    You eGulleteers who've lived in Boston know what driving is like around here, so when you're on the prowl for a small Mexican market in Jamaica Plain that sells homemade tortillas or an Argentinian restaurant in Cambridge with renowned sweetbreads, this is the gadget to have.

    At any rate, thanks to clogged traffic on 128 and around the Alewife MTA, I was a little late for my dinner reservation.


    Craigie Street Bistrot is a couple blocks away from Harvard University, tucked into the basement of a large apartment building.


    Entering the restaurant is a little tricky, going down steps, then up or down a step when you get inside the vestibule.

    Inside I was greeted by Chew Tony Maws, who was chatting with my dining companion. Since it was a Tuesday night and rather early for diners, Tony had a little time to give me a quick tour around the kitchen and beyond. I liked Tony when I met him. He could be in his late 20s, but he's probably early 30s or so, intense without throwing off the crazy vibe. And although he was a gracious host, I could tell he really wanted to get in that kitchen and cook my dinner! :raz:

    The kitchen is maybe 10' x 25' feet -- maybe the size of an average home kitchen? But packed with a restaurant stoves and several chefs working individual stations, you can imagine how small it is. (And hot, even on a cold, quiet night such as this was.) Tony asked me if I've seen a smaller professional kitchen -- I have, but not one that's putting out food of this calibre. Tony told me on a busy weekend night, they're pushing 70 or so covers out through this tiny pass:



    Here at the cold station (I think that's what this is!), they do everything from put together salads to plate desserts. There was so little room for this chef, that it made me feel guilty about the big counter in my own kitchen.


    OK, truth be told, this is where my heart went aflutter, reading the words "pigs' heads," "sweeties," and "blood" written on this white board. Tony makes almost all (if not all) of his charcuterie on the premises. The board keeps track of different stages of production. I scanned the list for cabri -- Craigie Street is one of the few upscale restaurants in the area that serves goat, but Tony said it wasn't on the menu right now. This is where we got into our discussion of whether or not Boston diners have too conservative tastes and avoid menu items like tongue, cabri, or blood sausage. Obviously by looking at his white board, Tony disagrees -- his patrons come back time and again for these delicacies.


    Here's one of the sous vide stations. That may even be my Vermont quail taking a bath in there. Tony said each thermal bath cost $1K; in another room he had more sous vide equipment in use, as well as a dehydrator. Their cold storage fridge is amazingly small, so small that I couldn't even get in to take a picture. Recently, Tony bought the apartment behind the restaurant so they could expand. Before his office was a board on an overturned bucket. It is indeed something of a rabbit warren.

    At this point, Tony excused himself and said he had to attend to my dinner. Hey, I wasn't about to stop him. I was hungry! As you can see from my posting yesterday, I didn't eat a lot during the day specifically so I could enjoy my blowout dinner. I told Tony not to give me a menu. I wanted to be surprised. So off we went to our table where a glass of wine awaited us ....

  17. OK, I'm going to take a break now, finish dinner for the "kids," then get ready for my night out. I was going to keep it a secret, but I can't keep it in any longer.

    Tonight, I'll be dining at Craigie Street Bistrot in Cambridge, one of the most respected restaurants here in the Boston area. Not only that, but Chef Tony Maws is letting me into the kitchen to photograph him and his staff in action. And to make things even more interesting, I'm putting my meal totally in Chef Maws' capable hands. Whatever he wants to cook for me, I'll eat. Sound like fun?

    Till later ....

  18. Just a question about your eG posting handle:

    I'd hardly consider what you do a 9-to-5 job unless you block off that time for your paid pursuit.  (By this I most certainly don't mean it's not a full-time job: as I've learned from my own fitful freelancing efforts, freelance writing full time can easily eat up way more than 40 hours a week.)  Why did you choose this as your handle?

    (If you've read my foodblogs, my own posting handle should be painfully obvious.)

    Question for any trivia buffs playing along:  Is this the first time in eG Foodblog history that two professional writers have blogged in succession?

    Good question, Sandy. First, I purchased the URL to ninetofive years ago when I was working 9 to 5; I'm guessing I picked the handle for my eGullet account just because it's familiar to me. And, in fact, I do tend to keep these hours devoted to my work, although it's more like 9:15 to 5:15 -- not a very elegant URL. It's one reason why I get up at 5am-- I like to make sure the gym, housekeeping, and kitchen prep are done, so that when I get home from dropping O off, nothing keeps me from my work. That's exactly how I treat writing, as a job to get done, just like any other job I've had in my life, the only difference being that I have much more control over projects I want to do and I actually like my job on most days. :biggrin: (Confession: I do have to lock myself out of my office on weekends because of my workaholic tendencies. This year I'm trying to keep more reasonable hours *and* increase income.)

    (Not that you asked this Sandy; I'm just going on a roll!) I'm always puzzled by people who ask me about the "instability" of freelancing versus having a "stable" office job. As a freelancer, I feel like I have so much more control over my income than I ever did as a tech writer, marketing communications manager, or advertising copywriter, all jobs I've had in the past where I spent weeks, even months, worrying about layoffs or cutbacks or 2 percent annual raises, decisions that offered me little control. If I lose a client today? I send out proposals and get new assignments tomorrow. Want to make more money? Ditto. That kind of proactive-ness (icky word, sorry!) and self-motivation isn't natural to a lot of people, though, so I can understand why they think my job is so precarious.

    Let me end this long-winded post (can you tell I have a lot to say about the subject?) that I usually have more work than I can handle. Some weeks are brutal (like last week); others, like this week, are more calm and give me plenty of time for marketing.

  19. It is never too cold for ice cream:


    This was my favorite cookbook in 2007. I love everything about it: the recipes rock, the writing's great, mouthwatering photos, and measurements in weights, as well as volume. As my son would say, A thousand billion thumbs-up.


    Ingredients for tonight's dessert, strawberry sour cream ice cream. (Just a tablespoon of the vodka, so no need to call CPS. That's Christiane in the background, quizzing Oliver on his German articles. Oy, one huge reason why I'll never learn German!)


    This is where weight measurements come in handy. You see, I'm using a superfine vanilla sugar with this ice cream. The crystals are much smaller than those in a bag of cane sugar, so by using volume measurements, I might end up with an ice cream that's sweeter than intended.


    Produce aisle berries look frightful this time of year, so I took liberties by using frozen ones. Here they're thawed and macerating in sugar and the vodka. They'll sit for an hour, then I'll pulse them in a food processor with sour cream, lemon juice, and cream. Later this afternoon, Oliver will give the mixture a whirl in the ice cream maker. I like this ice cream, not only because it's delicious, but we don't have to make a traditional custard base, which usually needs a few hours to cool. Here you can pull stuff out of the pantry and freezer and in an hour or two have ice cream.


    When I made vanilla pudding on Sunday night, I was left with a split vanilla bean with plenty of flavor. I rinsed it off, let it dry, and now I'll top off my vanilla sugar stash:


    I just cut the bean up, throw it in the food processor with a cup of granulated sugar, then give it a whirl for five minutes. The sugar gets sifted so only the tiny bits of vanilla are left. This sugar is wonderful in creme brulees, pudding, shortbread, cakes, etc. It's one of those subtle things that makes something ordinary into WOW.

  20. Hi from France, where we have no King Arthur (alas!) and eat lots of endive.  Try splitting them lengthwise and removing the little "cone" you'll see inside at the center.  That removes most of the bitterness, although a little bitter flavor is a prized feature.

    And lots of KA photos, please.  I was a loyal catalogue customer for many years but I've never seen the store.

    Ah, thanks Abra! Next time I'll give that a try.

    I'm really hoping I can get lots of photos at the Baking Center. Sometimes these places can get fussy about cameras, but on the other hand, Vermonters are a laid back bunch. Plus, I seem to recall my aunt knowing people who work there ... fingers crossed.

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