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Lindacakes

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  1. Breakfast You may have noticed the chorus line of grapefruits in the photographs of the kitchen. This is the Lucy-and-Viv-in-the-Candy-Shop factor of my food life. You may recall the episode where Lucy and Viv got a job working in a candy shop, the climax of which was a berserk assembly belt that caused them to jam candies in their mouths, under their hats, etc., to keep up. I mentioned a certain vegetable box, which comes on Thursday. I signed up for a weekly delivery of organic fruits and vegetables several years ago. Every single Thursday, unless I call and cancel (which I do only when on vacation), a box shows up and it is our goal to eat said fruits and vegetables before the next box arrives. This is a challenge I take up willingly, because otherwise, I would subsist entirely on foods composed of various forms of refined carbohydrate. Sometimes, the line backs up and we end up with something like the grapefruits you see. They no longer fit in the antique Tanglefoot Flypaper box on the same shelf, and are readied for consumption. However, this morning I opt to use up four Granny Smith apples for breakfast. Once cooked until they are soft, to these I add dark brown sugar and cinnamon and blend them with a Bamix immersion blender. This is the one electrical appliance used daily in the kitchen. The yield is the most delicious applesauce -- very smooth, warm, and with a nice bite. Ernie is offered a variety of bird foods in his cage including pellets, seeds, fresh fruit, various dried fruits and vegetables, and water. Birds are flock animals, of course, and they like to eat with the rest of the flock. They cannot eat chocolate, avocado, caffeine, or alcohol, foods which are poisonous to birds. Ernie is enjoying his apples post cooking, but before sugar and spice have been added. Nearly every morning we drink a smoothie composed of non-fat yogurt, various juices, and a foul green powder called Green Vibrance. The Green Vibrance turns everything the same shade of dank green, but the shakes taste good and I carry the belief that the Green Vibrance is more healthful than vitamin pills. I wash down two Omega 3 capsules with it. In this particular shake I’ve put bananas, pomegranate juice and carrot juice. The juice I buy at Costco. Now that I’ve had some vitamins, I’m going to shower and go into the City, which is how we Brooklynites talk about Manhattan. I’ve taken today and tomorrow as vacation days from my leftover 2007 vacation. Today I’m going to go have lunch with a friend who is a psychotherapist. Sometimes we grab lunch between her appointments. Later in the day I’ll meet Lynn and we’ll go have a corned beef sandwich at an Irish police bar.
  2. Hello! Nakji, we have regular recycling in New York, so I put the cans out for recycling. They are really nice cans. If I was to save them, I think I'd put hardware (nails and such) in them. But you can't see inside, which is a drawback. I've already eaten enough Marshmallow Fluff (nice jars with red lids) to take care of this problem. They'd make nice drums and shaking instruments for kid's band. Lucylou, do you know the artist Liza Lou? She makes entire environments out of beads and she once did a kitchen, just fabulous. What we're going to be eating this week is corned beef for St. Paddy's Day, likely some Italian carry out, organic fruits and vegetables, and something I haven't decided for Easter. It's a big holiday week! Linda
  3. The Kitchens. We have two kitchens, by virtue of having two apartments, which happens when you are two artists who require studio space. These kitchens have separated into a savory kitchen and a sweet kitchen, or an everyday kitchen and an entertaining kitchen, or your kitchen and my kitchen, however you choose to look at it. It took a variety of strategic moves, concluded by the death of our upstairs neighbor, to achieve two apartments on the top floor of our building. We can prop the doors open and pass from one apartment to the other. This assists greatly when complicated cooking, particularly for guests, must be achieved. My common pattern is to serve hors d'oevres from the front kitchen while drinks are being made, enjoy drinks and hors d'oevres in the living room, pass to the back kitchen (which has a larger table) for dinner, and then return to the front living room for dessert, which has been laid out in the front kitchen. It sometimes confuses the guests, but if I remain sober enough, I can remember the configuration of table changes and get them fed in the proper order. One of the advantages to this is that if something goes wrong (case in point: the Christmas in which my Yorkshire pudding was not rising properly) the guests can sip their drinks in the front apartment, oblivious to the panic and swearing in the back apartment. What follows are photographs of the front kitchen, which is painted the color of cantaloup. Several pints of Benjamin Moore were bought and demo'd on the walls before this color was settled on. Unbelievably, it seems to tone down the pinkish linoleum and the cheap particle board cabinets. Note that Ernie's cage is kept in the kitchen. This is against common wisdom for bird cages, as cooking fumes can damage a delicate avian respiratory system. For this reason, I own no non-stick cookware -- the fumes from non-stick cookware can be fatal. I'm also very careful about having Ernie out of the kitchen if there's fumes, and the windows near to the stove are opened. Later in the week we will visit the back kitchen, when sweets are prepared.
  4. That’s real estate talk for an eat-in kitchen in a pre-war building, and it is from this cultural locus in Brooklyn that I am reporting on my Epicurean exploits. Which are influenced by: My parents, who loved to play with food. The changing face of New York City, my beloved melting pot. The vegetable box, which comes on Thursdays. Julia Child at 3:00 a.m., and food as succour. My name is Linda, and I am an Italian-American living in an Italian neighborhood in Brooklyn with my partner, Lynn, and our parrot, Ernie. The building I live in has a bakery on the ground floor, which was once a bakery of some renown in our neighborhood. My landlady’s father built it in 1930, and bread and pastry were sold at the front of the house. That’s bricked over now, and the coal oven is in the back where the landlady’s nephew still bakes bread for commercial bakeries and one food store on our block that has a sign reading “We sell Caruso bread on Tuesdays.” Now you wouldn’t know there’s a bakery here unless you witness the weekly coal or flour delivery. This is us, our only formal portrait. We have been together a long time. I am on your right. Every morning I am served espresso in bed. This is made in a Bialetti Moka Express pot. The reason why I am served is that I am incapable of movement before my daily injection. At any given point in my adult life, I am in some state of addiction/withdrawal from some form of caffeinated beverage. Right now, I am in withdrawal. This tidy espresso cup, rather large by European standards, and is likely a double, is half my usual dosage. I’m doing well and can sometimes actually get out of bed to make my own espresso if the pot has been prepared the night before and I have to pee really bad. I use Illy canned coffee in this pot, and I believe that learning how to make it is what got me started on eGullet. I wanted to be able to replicate the espresso I had in Italy, I did some research, and ended up with this. This espresso does not, by any means, taste as good as the espresso in Italy, but it’s low tech and I try to live a simple life, a philosophy often expressed through food.
  5. With apologies to Janet, who I love, I think of Foodie as a term Rachel Ray would apply to herself. Someone upthread mentioned the fashion factor to the word. There is an explanation on the Chowhound web site as to why they eschewed foodie. It's because a Chowhound is not a fashion eater. At a recent demonstration of Rose Levy Bernbaum's in New York, everyone went around the room introducing themselves, I'm a this, I'm a that, and they got to me and I said, "I bake." Everyone laughed, and it was funny, but I hadn't meant it to be. Maniac eat freak would describe me.
  6. What was your family food culture when you were growing up? My father is Italian, my mother is a Scottish/English mix. My mother is an excellent cook and baker, and one of the most wonderful gifts she has given me is an early education in baking. My mother did the cooking, and now that they are divorced, my father does the cooking for Christmas eve in particular, which is an Italian thing. I grew up in Ohio. All the vegetables were canned and I didn't meet broccoli and cauliflower until I went to college. But my parents were in love together with food, and food was a great project and entertainment for them and it is for me, too. I am bound to both of my parents in individual ways through this factor. Was meal time important? Yes, my father was a carpenter, and we he came home, he was hungry and we ate. As mentioned in the previous post, we ate at the same time of day at the same place at the table each day. If we hadn't, today I don't think any of us would know each other. Was cooking important? Maybe shopping was more important. I shop now like my mother shopped then. In Ohio, in the 60's, she went for her groceries in niche places: the Polish butcher (he would give me a big handful of penny candy with his big sausagey hands), the farm wife who sold us the eggs that we resting in a basket on her piano -- we would knock and step in to the parlor and wait for her. I would go to the Pick N Pay with her every Friday, and I sat in the front of the cart and I got a Jack and Jill magazine and a box of animal crackers. What were the penalties for putting elbows on the table? We had to observe table manners, but neither of my parents were particularly strict about it. Personally, I find chewing with the mouth open to be one of the more disgusting human postures. Who cooked in the family? My mother, who was very anxious for me to learn to do it and take over. Some of this was accomplished during the pre-divorce years, but once they split, my father came into my room one night and told me to remember to eat vegetables. I lived with my father after that, for a short time before I went to college, and I don't particularly remember our reduced family having meals together. I cooked, then, and I do now, when I'm visiting my father. I insist that he not take his plate on his stomach in front of the TV, but sit down at the table with me. Were restaurant meals common, or for special occassions? I went to my first restaurant as a celebration for graduating from high school. We went to McGarvey's On the Lake and I ordered escargot. I might have also ordered a lobster tail, as my mother had a penchant for them. We had McDonald's once or twice, and a sack of burgers was brought into the house. The pizza was also delivered to the house. I still do not think it's particularly appropriate for children to be in restaurants, certainly not crying and running in restaurants. My parents went out now and again, for weddings and special events, and I usually got some sort of gift in the morning -- a net bag of Jordan almonds if the occassion was an Italian wedding, or a drink stirrer if the occassion was romance. Did children have a "kiddy table" when guests were over? Only on Thanksgiving. A padded just off white card table with bronzy edges. One of the chairs is still at my dad's house. When did you get that first sip of wine? It's likely I stole a sip of Cold Duck when my parent's friends were visiting, but I remember a good deal of Mateuse and apricot brandy got siphoned out of the liquor cabinet. I'm sure my parents thought my brothers were responsible, as I started rather early. Was there a pre-meal prayer? Only on Thanksgiving, thank God. I don't like public prayer, and I'm always uncomfortable at other people's houses while this is going on. Was there a rotating menu (e.g., meatloaf every Thursday)? Not a formal one, as in It's Wednesday! It's Ronzoni spaghetti night in Brooklyn!" (Do you remember that commercial on WCBS?) But a regular rotation hit the table. Breaded pork chops was my favorite and I completely dreaded okra-and- tomato-stew-on-Minute-Rice night. My mother found some recipe for chicken breasts on a bed of chipped beef with a mushroom soup sauce poured over top. That made a regular appearance. We had Bisquick pancakes for supper. In the last year I have made a salmon loaf from canned salmon a couple of times out of nostalgia for it. Her choices may have been mundane, but the technique and execution was always excellent. My mother's food spoiled me for life and made a cook out of me for necessity. An awful lot of not good food is passed off as good food, particularly in restaurants. How much of your family culture is being replicated in your present-day family life? More than I would have ever thought. My partner and I make food together, and take on challenging food projects together like my parents did. I use quite a few of my mother's recipes for holidays and would find the day rather empty without them. Shopping is as much fun to me as any other aspect of food, and I go to a regular rotation of stores for my supplies. We have our set places at the table. I'm generous with my food and overfeed guests and send them home with leftovers. We will split a pie together, like my parents did. Here's a nice little story to end with: Before the VCR and the DVD, the Wizard of Oz would play on TV once a year, during tornado season. And every time it was on, coincidentally, my mother would have baked a cake and we would be allowed to eat the cake in front of the TV. And it wasn't until I was grown up, many years later, that I realized my mother had planned it that way. She would make the cake for us, to sort of celebrate the Wizard of Oz. And I try to do that to, use food to brighten the colors in Kansas.
  7. I have a theory of personality based on where you sat at the family table. We had a round table, and my father sat at the position that would be considered "the head" (i.e., he could most easily arrive and depart). My mother sat at the position most accessible to the kitchen (i.e., the one who did the work). I sat next to my father, farthest from my mother, and I believe doing so forged an alliance between us. My father, sitting at the head in every way, was allowed to do things at the table that us kids were not allowed to do. For instance, remove big fat chalky kidney beans from his chili and cast them aside. I would add my chili beans to his pile, and therefore escape detection and punishment. This would work in my positive favor, as no one liked potato skins except the two of us. We would place a pile of cast off skins between us and sit there, buttering them and eating them after the others had left. My favorite brother sat on the other side of me, and to this day, I am closest to my table side-by-sides and farthest from those on the other side of the table. It was my job to sweep after dinner -- my brothers never had kitchen chores. The unfairness of sweeping the filth around farthest brother's chair made me the feminist I am today.
  8. I think there's an important distinction between the chicken finger and the Chicken McNugget. A chicken finger is a strip of breast meat, breaded and fried. A Chicken McNugget and his bretheren are shreds of processed chicken product held together with meat glue. My guess is that the McNugget came first -- because McDonald's has to adapt food to a form that can be eaten while driving. The chicken finger came after, once people realized that fried chicken taste without fried chicken bones was not a bad idea, when one is too inebriated to know the difference between meat and bone.
  9. I think that when this discussion has hit on socio-economic factors, it's been the closest to the truth of the matter. I think the subject could fill a very interesting book and I wish someone would write it, because I would love to read it. I'm a woman over forty, and I've cooked and baked all my life, but only in the last decade very seriously. And I took it up to fill the emptiness that grief brought into my life. Cooking, for me, was in every way, an act of survival. I think all people should be able to cook at a certain level, it's a life skill. Those of us who are lucky enough to have a complex relationship with food are very lucky indeed. Reading this thread made me solidify some thoughts about myself as a woman and food: there was a time when I would bring food in to work to share. I often bake on a Sunday and then disperse that food on a Monday. If it can't be mailed, it goes downstairs to my landlord. If it can be mailed, I send it to family and friends. This has made me very happy. So, my love and joy would spill over and sometimes I'd bring things I'd made into the office, and pass them out to my co-workers: brownies, florentines, cupcakes. And I had to stop doing it. Because I realized that by baking and sharing I was contributing to a decline in my own status. I work in technology, and technology is a male-dominated industry, and women who bring cookies to the table don't get thought of as having Big Ideas. In addition to be gender-biased, the technology industry is age-biased. I also realized that I was losing some face amongst the young women I worked with. Baking and sharing made me a fuddy duddy. Definitely not fresh and sexy. Personally, I find big thick men who cook very sexy. I like to watch Robert Irvine cook and I like to watch Mario Batali cook -- in a visceral way, I like the confidence, the loomingness, the mastery that the size of the person has over this small area filled with small things and infinite detail. It's a juxtaposition, a tension. I don't think it's because men aren't supposed to cook and how sweet the big hairy man is all nurturing . . . I also realized, while thinking about this, that my foodie friends are men. About half gay men and half straight men. One of them doesn't cook at all, his stay-at-home wife does the cooking. But he loves to eat and he travels to eat and we're both Italian and love Italy and we go food for a long time. Then I have male friends who will discuss with me preserving things from their gardens and the very best way to build a drink. With my female cooking buddies, we talk four sugar and butter. Never with men. It's like a Rubic's Cube, the slide between our minds and our culture, every way you turn it it keeps realigning itself. There's no one right answer, but many possible ways to try to find an answer.
  10. Interesting to see this topic today because last night I found myself eating in front of the T.V. (done often, the coffee table is cleared of books and set, the bird likes eating there, it works) watching Alton Brown, eating a plate of thinnish spaghetti and meatballs ordered in from the Italian restaurant down the street and covered with freshly grated cheese, and reading the latest issue of Saveur, which is all about butter. At some point, I said Stop the Madness, turned off the T.V., closed the magazine and finished my dinner. In Weight Watchers this would be laughed at and then seriously discussed for behavior modification. However, I do accept it as part of a beautiful obsession that has brought me hours of fun, education, expanded political consciousness, improved relationships with others, and quick friends. Does it get better?
  11. Lamb is one of my favorite things to eat in Indian or Middle Eastern restaurants. Lamb curry, lamb kebob, lamb stews . . . Lamb is good. However, other than the odd chop here and there, I don't buy lamb myself. I don't buy a lot of meat, so that's not particularly odd, but I suspect it goes back to the time there was once a rabbit on the table when we were kids. I will never forget how the legs looked . . . And I will eat rabbit all over Italy but don't ask me to buy one.
  12. I brought a tiny espresso maker home to my father's house at Christmas so that I could have my fix. The first day, he watched me make it, asked what it was, shuddered, and refused to taste it. Day two: his ancient coffee maker had finally broken the night before, my sister-in-law made coffee in a pan on the stove. No coffee in the morning, Christmas eve, I'm sipping my espresso out of a regular coffee cup. "It's mean to drink coffee in front of a person." "You told me you didn't want any. Do you want me to make you some?" "No." Then there's a cousin of mine who is over fifty years old, still lives with his still living and still married parents and will not eat anything with seeds in it. My nephew, as a small child, would not eat bread. Yep, bread.
  13. On a whim I checked this today -- I'm glad you liked it, Jeff. I always do mine in an 8 x 8, but next time I'll try the round.
  14. Another vote for Bamix. I use it to do whatever a blender is supposed to do. I threw my blender away after I bought it. Crushes ice, chops nuts, whips cream, liquifys soup. Very strong.
  15. Well, most of us agree that butter is best, but what butter? This is my favorite -- Vermont Butter and Cheese My mother was/is a butter fiend. She will slice pieces of butter off the stick and eat them just like that. And yes, Virginia, she has had a heart attack . . . She never made anything with margarine -- she said she couldn't wash it off her hands. Long before the truth about margarine became common knowledge. My father keeps tubs of something yellowish in his fridge . . . I taste it with wonder once in a while. I can't imagine what it's made of, it doesn't behave like any other substance known to mankind. He buys the cheapest version possible. When I go home and cook for him, he is ravenous for anything I make -- with, of course, sticks and sticks of butter! Recently I had freshly popped popcorn with melted butter on it for the first time since I was a kid. Rapture.
  16. This is what I do for a living -- transform textbooks into wonderful interactive multimedia. I hear this either/or argument a lot. And I ask: did the microwave kill the oven? Did the cell phone kill the wall phone? Did digital movies kill cable? Why choose, why not both? Nothing replaces the experience of a book. My house is full of 'em, I collect 'em, I hand bind them myself, I even gold illuminate them. But I also have a computer, which serves a different purpose. What if: someone invented really good cookbook software? What if you could arrange the recipes anyway you wanted? What if you could have that lemon pie filed under pie and lemon? What if you could buy a cookbook and then download a digital recipe pack for free? What if you used a seach feature to search "rhubarb" across six different cookbooks? What if you could add your own cook's notes? What if you could get a special video pack on pie making? What if you could buy a Thomas Keller animated tutorial to go with his book? What if you could create your own cookbooks and print them out? What if you could collect all of the recipes you find online and bring them into your software? What if you could use your software to attend a virtual lecture by Diana Kennedy? What if your software included a Larousse and a link from anywhere to the Larousse? I could go on and on. I don't use cookbook software myself, but I have all of my recipes in digital format. Any new recipe I get, I grab it digitally. For two reasons: one, because in one of these threads I learned of a woman who had her hand-written cookbook stolen. Two, because I don't believe the plethora of free recipes on the Internet will last forever. Periodically, I download this file to a Flash drive and I have a copy in my safe deposit box. I like printing out a recipe, getting it dirty and throwing it away. I like being able to email recipes any time I want. I like searching across my recipe files. I like filing recipes in multiple places, because I am a flavor nut (I've got a buttermilk file). I have a variety of cookbooks that I own just to look at, like most people. Food porn. I would love, however, to have The Joy of Cooking digitally . . .
  17. Mmmm . . . order the Rancho Gordo beans. Really. Use the Russ Parsons No Soak Method. There's a thread. I usually hate lists like this. It's the first time I've bought this magazine. I intend to try to taste everything on the list I'm unfamiliar with. There's another thread out there, someone's blog on the top ten best foods in the world or something. I read 80 million entries and made note of everything I didn't know on the list, put that list in my Palm, and I'm working my way through it. God help me when my curiosity goes.
  18. Funny, there's been a lot of Moosewood bashing all over eGullet lately. I have the Moosewood and the unfortunately named Enchanted Broccoli Forest, which I got for a dollar in one of those Book-of-the-Month-Club 4-for-a-dollar specials they don't run any more. I really like many of the recipes from the Moosewood. The Gypsy Soup, for one. I suppose there are better versions of everything out there, but the recipes are reliably tasty. I own this one, and I don't really cook from it because I go to the restaurant. Angelica Kitchen I was given the Brown Rice Gravy recipe by the chef when the book was being written. Really ungodly good stuff. Dolores Casella's Vegetable Book (out-of-print) is not vegetarian, but it's a good vegetable book. And I second Chez Panisse Vegetables and Deborah Madison. Try the Moroccan carrots in Chez Panisse. Your guests will love you for it. You'll love yourself for it.
  19. Amazon.com is the best place for selection. Bloomingdales is next best.
  20. I don't like football and I don't eat junkfood, but during an experiment to blend in, I sort of got into the concept of super bowl food. I try to find something I would normally never buy and watch half time so that I know what everyone is talking about when they talk about the commercials. Last time I went to the grocery store I bought a box of frozen mini hot dogs wrapped in dough of some sort. I am looking forward to that. I'm thinking it would be a good time to buy a jar of some of that onion dip stuff (I like Helluva Good brand but it's hard to find anymore, I'm open to recommendations) and a huge bag of Ruffles. I admire the woman who dreamed up the guacamole football field with sour cream yard lines. All of this being said, while I'm munching my pigs-in-the-blanket and eating glutaginous methylcellulose, I fully intend to enjoy every minute of the Giants' victory.
  21. For me, it was pepperoni. The only meats I truly love are pepperoni and bacon. For my girlfriend, it was hot dogs. A hot dog from the cafeteria at the Museum of Natural History to be exact.
  22. I'm seeing definite levels of desperation in this thread -- some people are talking about when they have not much to choose from and some people really go to the down and dirty of when there is nothing in the house (like chocolate, hey, eating your baking chocolate supply when you're hungry for something sweet is not desperate enough). I'm with the sugar on bread people and I'm inspired by the brown sugar people. Of course, a baked apple with loads of extra sugar helps, and a bowl of yogurt with like a quarter cup of apricot preserves helps . . . How about those times when you could bake, but you want something ridiculously fast? I once started a thread about Quickies in the 8 by 8 that didn't fly very far. I was disappointed. I want a recipe for cereal bowl cookies. Like, whip up a half dozen cookies in ten minutes! Good ones!
  23. The Bean Feed. Does it exist in real life, or only on the News from Lake Woebegone?
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