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eG Foodblog: Ninetofive - January in New England


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I hope some of you will comment on any books you see in my collection you love/hate/are curious about! In some previous foodblogs, eGulleteers have posted their collections and it's so interesting to see what people read.

I see Jane Grigsons books, which I love, and 2 of my alltime favorite cookbooks: Anna Thomas' Vegetarian Epicure, and Margaret Costa's Four Seasons!

Yes, Jane Grigson rocks. I also have one of her daughter's cookbooks, and I notice that many of her recipes have her mother's "stamp."

And I love the Anna Thomas cookbooks, too. Everything turns out wonderful from them, and I :wub: Margaret Costa. I think I picked this up in London a couple years ago.

Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author

The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock (Marion Street Press, Nov. 2006)

DianaCooks.com

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About the cookbooks: do please tell about The Passionate Vegetarian. Anybody named Cresent who poses on the spine of her book as Carmen Miranda has got something going on.

Thanks for your kind words, Ellen. They mean a lot to me.

Ah yes, Crescent Dragonwagon (the last name kills me). My parents gave me another of her books, The Dairy Hollow Bread and Soup Cookbook many, many years ago. That book isn't vegetarian, though. But I liked it and when I'd heard good things about her vegetarian book, I ran to the store for it. I cook from this a lot, but I probably read it for the fun of it more. This may be the book where she writes so eloquently about her partner's death -- it breaks my heart every time. The headnotes for the recipes are written in such a way that you Must. Right. Now. Run to the kitchen and cook.

This was the cookbook that turned me on to seitan and seaweeds, and where I learned the trick of putting some kombu in a pot of beans to make them less "tooty." I have Dede Emmon's vegetarian cookbook, but I much prefer Dragonwagons as every recipe I've tried from Crescent's book works, and I've had many disasters with Emmon's book. I've heard good things about Jack Bishop's vegetable book, so this is next on my list.

Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author

The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock (Marion Street Press, Nov. 2006)

DianaCooks.com

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The Renegade Writer Blog

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Another lurker coming out of the ether to let you know what a fabulous blog this is. It will be sad to see it come to an end.

Your style of eating is much like mine, but more so. We love eating local meats, CSA, eggs, honey, and all during the growing season, but in the off-season, we are stuck with fruit and vegetables from the (kind of lousy) groceries in our community. Its gotten to the point where the food in our local chain supermarkets is a real turnoff.

We share a taste for variety, a love of ethnic groceries and farmer's markets, dislike of packaged foodstuffs, many cookbooks, some pots, and that great little MyWeigh scale, though mine is a 700, which is, I think a newer model.

Oil and potatoes both grow underground so french fries may have eventually invented themselves had they not been invented -- J. Esther
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Another lurker coming out of the ether to let you know what a fabulous blog this is.  It will be sad to see it come to an end. 

Your style of eating is much like mine, but more so.  We love eating local meats, CSA, eggs, honey, and all during the growing season, but in the off-season, we are stuck with fruit and vegetables from the (kind of lousy) groceries in our community.  Its gotten to the point where the food in our local chain supermarkets is a real turnoff.

We share  a taste for variety, a love of ethnic groceries and farmer's markets, dislike of packaged foodstuffs, many cookbooks, some pots, and that great little MyWeigh scale, though mine is a 700, which is, I think a newer model.

Add yet another, including the eating style. I am loving your out of the way adventures. Like Tamian, I also have lots of trouble in the off-season but I think my community will get there over time.

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About the cookbooks: do please tell about The Passionate Vegetarian. Anybody named Cresent who poses on the spine of her book as Carmen Miranda has got something going on.

Thanks for your kind words, Ellen. They mean a lot to me.

Ah yes, Crescent Dragonwagon (the last name kills me). My parents gave me another of her books, The Dairy Hollow Bread and Soup Cookbook many, many years ago. That book isn't vegetarian, though. But I liked it and when I'd heard good things about her vegetarian book, I ran to the store for it. I cook from this a lot, but I probably read it for the fun of it more. This may be the book where she writes so eloquently about her partner's death -- it breaks my heart every time. The headnotes for the recipes are written in such a way that you Must. Right. Now. Run to the kitchen and cook.

This was the cookbook that turned me on to seitan and seaweeds, and where I learned the trick of putting some kombu in a pot of beans to make them less "tooty." I have Dede Emmon's vegetarian cookbook, but I much prefer Dragonwagons as every recipe I've tried from Crescent's book works, and I've had many disasters with Emmon's book. I've heard good things about Jack Bishop's vegetable book, so this is next on my list.

Whoa, I missed (or could not quite make out on my screen) that her last name is Dragonwagon! That is a riot. And if she's into seaweeds, I'm there. I first learned to cook with and love the stuff many moons ago during an abortive foray into macrobiotics, but it would be cool to pick up more fun things to do with the sea veg.

I completely forgot this other nostalgia-trip point in my previous post, prompted by your athletic endeavors: also when I was in college, one of the Resident Tutors, at the time a second-year law student, was massively into marathon running, and his training diet was a constant source of amazement and amusement to us undergrads who were his friends and charges. He was a smallish guy, but when he was carbo-loading I swear he put away enough food for two or three linebackers. Again, I realize you train and fuel differently because you're training for fast-burst-of-speed triathlons, but it still strikes me to this day as a dramatic demonstration of how the bod's fueling needs vary drastically according to activity level.

I feel for you, living in a "mixed household" food preference-wise. I am grateful at least that Mr. E likes garlic and coffee, but his aversion to spices (even a little too much black pepper can put him off) has definitely challenged my creativity to come up with work-arounds that keep my taste-buds content without blowing his out of the water. :laugh:

Oh yeah--Wilson Farms! Man, I haven't even thought about that place in like forever!

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Wah! That's too funny. About a year after we'd been married, my husband said, "Why do we have so much GARLIC in everything?!" I'd never noticed. Growing up with an Italian-American mom, garlic was absolutely normal. 

When my husband first moved in with me, he would awaken to the smell/sound of garlic sizzling in olive oil as I started the usual Saturday morning routine: making gravy (what we called tomato sauce when I was growing up).

He said it was the hardest thing to get used to. :wacko:

I married him anyway. :laugh:

I too, hated the smell of coffee when I was in my twenties. I don't know what changed, but now I have to have dark roasted coffee or it isn't a good day. Remember that old OJ jingle - a day without oj is a day without sunshine? Change that to coffee for me, please. I also used to hate olives with a passion and now I can't get enough. So maybe there's hope for your husband that his palate will change ...

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I've had to be away from the computer for a while, and find myself having to catch up with some comments and questions now.

First off: I think you're taking the prize for number of lurkers brought out into the open with your blog. If *that* doesn't show you that folks are reading and enjoying, I don't know what will!

The food incompatibility between you and your husband makes me laugh and groan, and puts my household's incompatabilities in perspective: at least he, bless him, loves all things allium as much as I do! Our disagreements are more along the lines of sweet vs. savory. As a rule I lean more toward the tart or savory: he prefers sweet salad dressings and will adjust a sauce's seasoning with "white balsamic vinegar" (even as he decries my refined white sugar use in cookies) when I'd be inclined to add more lemon juice instead. However...just let me get a whisper of cinnamon near my chicken or lamb, to approach my favorite Middle Eastern seasonings, and he's pulling his split pea soup out of the freezer. Olives? Nope. He says he likes them fine, just not in something (no, it doesn't matter what type of olive). But if I offer them up as an appetizer, I'm still the only one eating them. Now, after reading your travails, I'll let him douse the chili with so much paprika that I can't taste anything else, and just keep on smiling.

I've read mixed reviews of Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, and am glad to read your take on it. I may have to revisit the bookstore to see whether I want to pick up a copy. One reviewer wrote that it still takes hours instead of 5 minutes, even with the dough already prepared and resting in the fridge. Yes? No?

I see you too have the Gourmet's 50-year best-of celebratory cookbook. I have it too, and consider it one of my "what was I thinking?" purchases. It looks okay, but I don't think I've ever actually cooked from it. Have you? Do you have any recommendations for where I should dive in, if I'm to keep that book?

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Please tell me that all that straining and simmering and straining resulted in a lovely little bowl of tender vegetables, which were consumed as Cook's Treat, or maybe on a crispy slice of toast?

I'll be pleading the fifth on that question. :unsure:

Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author

The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock (Marion Street Press, Nov. 2006)

DianaCooks.com

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Have any of you tried these drinks? What do you think? I've actually come to look forward to the DandyBlend in the evening. It tastes nothing like coffee, which is a good thing for me. The one in the middle I haven't tried yet. And the Cafix I like because of the chicory flavor.

I almost picked up some Cafix yesterday because I'd never seen it before (is this really a good reason to buy something?), but it was 6 euro, well over my impulse buy threshold. Guess I'll have to get some!

Mark, if it's any consolation, it's expensive here, too. I think I paid $8 for the Cafix and $12 for the DandyBlend. Since you only need a heaping teaspoon, it does last awhile.

Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author

The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock (Marion Street Press, Nov. 2006)

DianaCooks.com

My eGullet blog

The Renegade Writer Blog

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Another lurker coming out of the ether to let you know what a fabulous blog this is.  It will be sad to see it come to an end. 

Your style of eating is much like mine, but more so.  We love eating local meats, CSA, eggs, honey, and all during the growing season, but in the off-season, we are stuck with fruit and vegetables from the (kind of lousy) groceries in our community.  Its gotten to the point where the food in our local chain supermarkets is a real turnoff.

We share  a taste for variety, a love of ethnic groceries and farmer's markets, dislike of packaged foodstuffs, many cookbooks, some pots, and that great little MyWeigh scale, though mine is a 700, which is, I think a newer model.

Tamiam, thanks for your kind words! :smile: Do you do any preserving/canning/freezing? One thing I'd like to start doing is some cold frame gardening so at least I can get some hearty greens over the winter. And I hear you about the local chain markets, although we do have good looking produce. It bugs me, however, when I think about the real cost of having strawberries in January. Unfortunately, my little guy has got to have his fruit.

The scale rocks. I use it all day long. I have a few scales, but this one is my favorite.

Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author

The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock (Marion Street Press, Nov. 2006)

DianaCooks.com

My eGullet blog

The Renegade Writer Blog

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I completely forgot this other nostalgia-trip point in my previous post, prompted by your athletic endeavors: also when I was in college, one of the Resident Tutors, at the time a second-year law student, was massively into marathon running, and his training diet was a constant source of amazement and amusement to us undergrads who were his friends and charges. He was a smallish guy, but when he was carbo-loading I swear he put away enough food for two or three linebackers. Again, I realize you train and fuel differently because you're training for fast-burst-of-speed triathlons, but it still strikes me to this day as a dramatic demonstration of how the bod's fueling needs vary drastically according to activity level.

The serious marathoners do, indeed, have amusing diets. My father was a serious marathoner back in the late 70s through the 80s and we used to tease him about his crazy diet and the "carbo-loading." Witnessing all this along with the injuries and horror stories about bodily functions letting loose at mile 24 turned me off forever from running a marathon. Besides, I have the attention span of a flea -- just when I'm getting bored with swimming, yay, it's time to hop on a bike!

With sprint distance triathlons I don't have to change my diet too much, except a day or two before the race, and even then, it's nothing "crazy." It's more like eating foods that won't wreck havoc on my system. Afterwards, though, I do eat like a pig. I think last time I ate a huge egg and bacon breakfast, then downed a huge piece of red velvet cake!

Moreover, I don't consider myself a serious competitor ... I do them for the fun of them, although this year I'd like to improve my times. Right now, for example, I'm not actively training ... that'll begin in early to late April. But I am doing a lot of gym work to strengthen my quads (I have knee problems from skiing and gymnastics when I was younger) and eating to lose some extra body fat.

Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author

The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock (Marion Street Press, Nov. 2006)

DianaCooks.com

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The Renegade Writer Blog

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I'm off to bed. It was a long day up in Concord and I'm bushed. Will load photos tomorrow and do some more bread baking on my last day of food blogging. (sniff)

Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author

The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock (Marion Street Press, Nov. 2006)

DianaCooks.com

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The Renegade Writer Blog

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Now that I've seen your cook book collection I don't think I have too many books at all! In fact I need to get more :biggrin: Thanks for all the pics..especially the snowy ones..LOVE THE SNOW! Your son is too adorable..I love to see kids in the kitchen and he seems to really like baking. Thanks for sharing your week with us...I really enjoyed it. It did go too fast mind you!

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Diane, I too have been lurking all the time. Everytime you posted about Oliver, I would think of a similar thing with my son Billy (who's 7). Billy's our youngest and is the one always in the kitchen pestering me of things that he could do to help with my cooking/baking. I adore those pictures of Oliver adding the ingredients and the look of concentration with the egg breaking.

Billy has this oh-boy-what-joy-I'm-cooking look everytime he gets to break eggs in my mixing bowl.

I, too, will be saddened when your blog ends. It was a wonderful glimpse of your beautiful part of the world. Thank you.

Doddie aka Domestic Goddess

"Nobody loves pork more than a Filipino"

eGFoodblog: Adobo and Fried Chicken in Korea

The dark side... my own blog: A Box of Jalapenos

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I'm enjoying every word, and very excited to hear more details about your diet for food enthusiasts book when things are really rolling on that project. I certainly hope you'll be keeping us updated with the details on your regular writing blog...

Going with you as you run your errands has been wonderful. The breads really look great. I hope they taste as good as they looked. When we lived in Los Angeles, my husband kept a mother and baked his own bread every morning. We couldn't find real bread anywhere near where we lived and it was one of the main things he missed from home in France. Once he got a routine going it really didn't take much effort at all. There were books back then that he used to guide him through the steps as well.

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Okay, now that I've gotten caught up: Thank you for sharing your life with us, and for all that lovely snow. I hope that kids-cooking shots do not become mandatory like fridge shots are (BTW, where's yours?), for that will disqualify me from producing any more foodblogs in the future. Unless, that is, I can borrow Oliver the next time I blog!

And given what you're writing, I now understand why you took an interest in our tag-team blog. I think that Ellen and Randi are way ahead of me in the food-that-tastes-good-and-is-good-for-you department, though. However, if your cookbook will have a chapter on how to incorporate lots of cheese into a healthy diet, I'll buy it.

Now to the nostalgia trip. I loved those shots from your drive through a bunch of Middlesex villages and towns. I remember driving out to Groton my freshman year in college (obviously, the first semester, for as you now know, I was carless after that) to visit the former music teacher at my prep school, who had landed at Groton after a somewhat controversial tenure at Pem-Day. It's truly lovely country, picture-postcard charming.

I decided to drive out to Groton, specifically West Groton, which is about eight miles west from here. The drive out there is lovely, especially in the summer. There are parts of the drive where you can imagine yourself in the English countryside.

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I'd agree that one of those photos could just as easily be in England, but IMO, all the other shots are distinctively and uniquely New England. Especially the two-lane road lined with evergreen trees. No, wait a minute: You could find scenery like that in the Pacific Northwest. I've heard it said that if the country had been settled from west to east, Washington State and Oregon would look very much like New England does; perhaps it's no accident that both regions have lovely cities named Portland? (Actually, it isn't, as the one in Oregon was founded by New Englanders who fondly recalled the one in Maine and thought the region resembled the one they left.)

You're lucky that you and your hubby have figured out how to work around those irreconcilable differences. I've heard of relationships that foundered over much less important matters: you know, little things like money and sex.

I look forward to seeing what treats you have in store for us this last day of official blogging!

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Thanks for the lovely and entertainingly written blog. Please know that there are many of us who are truly enjoying the snapshot of your life, kitchen, and family.

Your breads look phenomenal! I am now inspired to try something other than oatbread and challah, which are the only two breads I've been making for the past, oh, ten years?!

And although others have mentioned it, your son is beyond adorable :biggrin:

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Oliver and I hit the road around 12:00 yesterday so that we could arrive in Concord, NH, around 1. Here, half a boule cut up into small pieces and a banana for Oliver's snack. When we were in the car, he said, "Mom, you're the best bread baker I've ever met." Awwww.

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Pop quiz: Why do visitors from TAXachusetts love shopping at the NH State liquor stores?

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We pick up Linda and Eric and head to a local Indian restaurant they like. I'm sorry, but again, I was so hungry, Linda had to remind me to take pictures:

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Pooris and garlic naan.

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This was a shrimp korma. Oliver picked at his poori. He used to love Indian food, but in the past year won't touch it.

After lunch, Linda said, "Do you know there's a food co-op around the corner?" So naturally we had to take a look. I didn't take any pictures inside, but was very impressed that for such a small coop they had a nice selection of local cheeses and an excellent meat case. I bought a wedge of blue cheese and some pears for tonight's salad and a pound of locally raised ground bison for burgers:

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We went back to Linda's house and while Eric and Oliver played games, we talked. Then we headed out to Borders, read magazines, and told knock-knock jokes, which seemed to amuse everyone around us. Around 8, we headed home, stopping at a Hannafords to pick up some essentials (cereal and yogurt for Christiane, bananas, and fruit for breakfast today.) It was a very long day!

Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author

The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock (Marion Street Press, Nov. 2006)

DianaCooks.com

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The Renegade Writer Blog

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Sundays are "family day" around here. We try to do something special together, just the three of us. In the spring, summer, and fall there are so many things for us to do. Sometimes we'll visit Great Brook Farm State Park in nearby Carlisle and bring a picnic lunch, then hike the trails and look for mushrooms. Or go for ice cream at one of the many ice cream places around here. In the winter, we tend to look for places to keep warm, and unfortunately, it usually means a mall, where Oliver likes to look at toys or jump around on a play floor. We've recently instituted a new rule where each one of us gets a turn to pick what we do and guess what?

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Today's my day to pick! I do know we have to go to Costco to pick up my eyeglasses, but maybe I'll be able to squeeze in some foodie stuff.

I like to get up early on Sunday mornings and cook/bake. We're out of bread, so I baked up our "house loaf," your standard white sandwich bread. I'm not sure where I got the original recipe, but over the years I've tweaked it into my own. Both my husband and Oliver love this bread for toast and "jelly sandwiches." The smell of it baking is heavenly, but I don't actually enjoy eating it that much ... it's too sweet and soft for me. I like my bread rustic, somewhat chewy and hearty.

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Please ignore the fish sauce and chocolate syrup. I'm terrible about putting stuff away when I'm done with it! I usually use buttermilk in the bread, but since we don't have any, I clabbered the milk with a tablespoon of cider vinegar. Here I'm using King Arthur Unbleached White Flour, but sometimes I use KA bread flour, or even switch in 3 ounces of oat flour or rye to make the loaf a little more nutritious.

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Poor Bessie does the kneading while I futz around with other things in the kitchen. I put on a pot of beans for a soup I'll eat during the week:

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The bread goes into a warm oven for an initial rise of one hour. Blatant product placement shot, but I love this plastic wrap. It's the clingiest wrap I've ever come across.

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On Sundays I also wash and cut up fruits and veg for the week. I find that prepping fruits and vegetables cuts down on binge snacking. I like eating blueberries and melon for breakfast:

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Meanwhile the bread has risen for an hour, so I deflate it and shape it before sticking it in a loaf pan for a second rise.

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After 35 minutes, I remove the plastic wrap from the loaf pan and crank the cold oven up to 400. This gives the bread terrific oven spring and a nice dark crust. After 15 minutes, I turn the oven to 350 and bake for another 24 minutes before removing to cool:

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Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author

The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock (Marion Street Press, Nov. 2006)

DianaCooks.com

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The Renegade Writer Blog

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My breakfast this a.m.:

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The coconut/cilantro/shrimp soup is now very warm and spicy after a couple days in the fridge. I love eating soup for breakfast!

Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author

The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock (Marion Street Press, Nov. 2006)

DianaCooks.com

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The Renegade Writer Blog

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I've read mixed reviews of Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, and am glad to read your take on it.  I may have to revisit the bookstore to see whether I want to pick up a copy.  One reviewer wrote that it still takes hours instead of 5 minutes, even with the dough already prepared and resting in the fridge.  Yes?  No?

I see you too have the Gourmet's 50-year best-of celebratory cookbook.  I have it too, and consider it one of my "what was I thinking?" purchases.  It looks okay, but I don't think I've ever actually cooked from it.  Have you?  Do you have any recommendations for where I should dive in, if I'm to keep that book?

Nancy, it does take more than five minutes to get that initial loaf -- the 5 minutes refers to the shaping and doesn't include rise times. There's an initial room temp rest time of 2 hours, then you're free to bake or store the dough. I feel, however, that it's a more time-efficient way to get a home-baked boule than the Sullivan Street/Dutch oven-baked boule, which requires an initial 12 to 18 hour rise/rest time. You want a loaf of bread, you have to know a day in advance. With this new method, you have the dough ready and within two hours can have a loaf of bread on your dinner table. Another benefit is that you can make more than one loaf at a time, as I did yesterday. With the SSB, that's a little more difficult unless you have two dutch ovens handy.

I got the Gourmet cookbook at a steep discount, and whatever I've made from there (which admittedly isn't much) has turned out wonderful. Weirdly enough, the best recipe in there is the one for Boston's own Parker House rolls. My extended family begs me to bring these to holiday dinners and such.

Edited by ninetofive (log)

Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author

The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock (Marion Street Press, Nov. 2006)

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Okay, now that I've gotten caught up: Thank you for sharing your life with us, and for all that lovely snow.  I hope that kids-cooking shots do not become mandatory like fridge shots are (BTW, where's yours?), for that will disqualify me from producing any more foodblogs in the future.  Unless, that is, I can borrow Oliver the next time I blog!

Sandy, I got those fridge shots posted on the first page of my blog ... in fact, my editor at the Boston Globe put them up on her blog! There's even a Pocky shot on day 3 or 4.

Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author

The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock (Marion Street Press, Nov. 2006)

DianaCooks.com

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    • By liuzhou
      Note: This follows on from the Munching with the Miao topic.
       
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      After lunch we headed out to explore the tea plantation.
       

       

       

       

       
      Interspersed with the tea plants are these camellia trees, the seeds of which are used to make the Dong people's preferred cooking oil.
       

       
      As we climbed the terraces we could hear singing and then came across this group of women. They are the tea pickers. It isn't tea picking time, but they came out in their traditional costumes to welcome us with their call and response music. They do often sing when picking. They were clearly enjoying themselves.
       

       
      And here they are:
       
       
      After our serenade we headed off again, this time to the east and the most memorable meal of the trip. Coming soon.
       
       
    • By FoodMuse
      Hello everyone,
      eGullet was nice enough to invite me to write a food blog chronicling what I've made or eaten out for one week. I'm so excited about it! Thanks guys.
      About me:
      I dream about food, I wake thinking what's for dinner and I'm so excited to share it with you. I'm part of the food world in New York. By that, I just mean that I'm so fortunate enough to be invited to great events where I get to eat great food. I'm also a nerd and a part of the technology world. I produce, edit and sometimes host food related web videos and I'm also a part of the tech world.
      I'm launching a website called Please, Pass the Gravy. www.pleasepassthegravy.com We let you create a menu, invite friends and then collaborate on that menu. Never host another potluck with 8 pasta salads. You could use it now, but we're alpha launch, it works but it's ugly. It's my ugly baby. So, if you use it be kind and message me if you have improvement ideas. I thought it would be ok to write about it here because it is food related.
      I live in Brooklyn with a lovely guy who likes to eat and a small corgi mix dog. I cook pretty much every night and do a nice brunch on the weekend. I am not a crazy dog lady, but I do admit to cooking food for the dog. I have an excuse, beyond doting, he had seizures that have stopped since not feeding him dog food.
      Foods I cook:
      Spicy foods! If you look at my blog I have a simple papaya ketchup with habanero that is pretty darn good.
      I love great cheese. This may be the week for Beer Cheese Soup.
      I try to limit carbs, though I do cheat.
      In any given week C. and I probably eat cauliflower, broccoli and green beans as a side.
      Tonight's dinner will be Vietnamese inspired. We'll see how it goes. I'll post about it as soon as I can.
      Any requests? Questions? I'd love to hear from you.
      -Grace
    • By Duvel
      In these challenging times, a full summer vacation is not an easy task. For the last 1.5 years we have been mostly at home with the clear plan to visit Catalonia (or more precise my wife’s family) latest this summer. And it looked good for a while. Unfortunately, the recent rise in case numbers in Spain have resulted in …
       
      OK, let’s skip this part. Long story short - my wife and me are fully vaccinated, as are >90% of the people we care about in Catalonia. After some discussion (after all, Germans tend to prefer to be on the safe side of things) we simply fueled up the car, got each a test (for the transit through France) and started to drive …
       
      After a leisurely 11h drive we arrived at a small fishing town somewhat north of Barcelona around 3.00am. We unloaded the car and my wife an the little one went straight to bed. 
       

       


      I found an expired beer in the elsewise pretty empty fridge and enjoyed the cool breeze on the terrace. Holidays, here we come …
       

    • By liuzhou
      Last week, Liuzhou government invited a number of diplomats from Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar/Burma, Poland, and Germany to visit the city and prefecture. They also invited me along. We spent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday introducing the diplomats to the culture of the local ethnic groups and especially to their food culture.
       
      First off, we headed two hours north into the mountains of Rongshui Miao Autonomous County. The Miao people (苗族 miáo zú), who include the the Hmong, live in the mid-levels of mountains and are predominantly subsistence farmers. Our first port of call was the county town, also Rongshui (融水 róng shuǐ, literal meaning: Melt Water) where we were to have lunch. But before lunch we had to go meet some people and see their local crafts. These are people I know well from my frequent work trips to the area, but for the diplomats, it was all new.
       
      So, I had to wait for lunch, and I see no reason why you shouldn't either. Here are some of the people I live and work with.


       
      This lovely young woman is wearing the traditional costume of an unmarried girl. Many young women, including her, wear this every day, but most only on festive occasions.
       
      Her hat is made from silver (and is very heavy). Here is a closer look.
       

       
      Married women dispense with those gladrags and go for this look:
       

       
      As you can see she is weaving bamboo into a lantern cover.
       
      The men tend to go for this look, although I'm not sure that the Bluetooth earpiece for his cellphone is strictly traditional.
       

       
      The children don't get spared either
       

       
      This little girl is posing with the Malaysian Consul-General.
       
      After meeting these people we went on to visit a 芦笙 (lú shēng) workshop. The lusheng is a reed wind instrument and an important element in the Miao, Dong and Yao peoples' cultures.
       

       

       
      Then at last we headed to the restaurant, but as is their custom, in homes and restaurants, guests are barred from entering until they go through the ritual of the welcoming cup of home-brewed rice wine.
       


      The consular staff from Myanmar/Burma and Malaysia "unlock" the door.
       
      Then you have the ritual hand washing part.
       

       
      Having attended to your personal hygiene, but before  entering the dining room, there is one more ritual to go through. You arrive here and sit around this fire and wok full of some mysterious liquid on the boil.
       

       
      On a nearby table is this
       

       
      Puffed rice, soy beans, peanuts and scallion. These are ladled into bowls.
       

       
      with a little salt, and then drowned in the "tea" brewing in the wok.
       
      This is  油茶 (yóu chá) or Oil Tea. The tea is made from Tea Seed Oil which is made from the seeds of the camellia bush. This dish is used as a welcoming offering to guests in homes and restaurants. Proper etiquette suggests that three cups is a minimum, but they will keep refilling your cup until you stop drinking. First time I had it I really didn't like it, but I persevered and now look forward to it.
       

      L-R: Director of the Foreign Affairs Dept of Liuzhou government, consuls-general of Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos.
       
      Having partaken of the oil tea, finally we are allowed to enter the dining room, where two tables have been laid out for our use.
       

       
      Let the eating, finally, begin.
       
      In no particular order:
       

      Steamed corn, taro and sweet potato
       

      Bamboo Shoots
       

      Duck
       

      Banana leaf stuffed with sticky rice and mixed vegetables and steamed.
       

      Egg pancake with unidentified greenery
       

      Stir fried pork and beans
       

      Stir fried Chinese banana (Ensete lasiocarpum)
       

      Pig Ears
       

       
      This may not look like much, but was the star of the trip. Rice paddy fish, deep fried in camellia tree seed oil with wild mountain herbs. We ate this at every meal, cooked with slight variations, but never tired of it.
       

      Stir fried Greens
       
      Our meal was accompanied by the wait staff singing to us and serving home-made rice wine (sweetish and made from the local sticky rice).
       
       
       
       
      Everything we ate was grown or reared within half a kilometre of the restaurant and was all free-range, organic. And utterly delicious.
       
      Roll on dinner time.
       
      On the trip I was designated the unofficial official photographer and ended up taking 1227 photographs. I just got back last night and was busy today, so I will try to post the rest of the first day (and dinner) as soon as I can.
    • By shain
      It's been more than a year in which international travel was challenging to impossible, but gladly this is changing, as more countries are able to vaccinate their population.
      Greece had managed to return to a state of near normality, and opted to allow vaccinated individuals to enter. And so I decided to go on a slightly spontaneous vacation (only slightly, we still had almost a month for planning). To the trip I was joined by my father, to whom I owed some good one-on-one time and was able to travel on a short-ish notice.
       
       
      Many people are yet unable to travel, and many countries are suffering quite badly from the virus, and therefore I considered if I should wait some time with this post. However, I hope that it will instead be seen with an optimistic view, showing that back-to-normal is growing ever closer.
       
       
      We returned just a few days ago, and it will take me some time to organize my photos, so this is a teaser until then.
       
       
       
       
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