Bright stew (with tiny potatoes, white beans, castelvetrano olives and meyer lemon) and 3-wheat medley (with farro, bulgur, and freekeh)

potato, olive, white bean and meyer lemon stew

potato, olive, white bean and meyer lemon stew

It’s a winter storm! It has a name, and I think it’s Janus, which is fitting, I suppose, this being January. Janus was the god of beginnings and change, of gates, doors, passages, journeys, endings, and time, the future and the past. But sitting here, looking out upon snow upon snow upon snow, I don’t feel inspired to start anything new, to embark on any journeys, to open any doors, be they real or metaphorical, and let the icy winds blow into my home. More arctic cold is predicted for the rest of the week. That’s right, it’s winter and we’re experiencing wintery weather. And everybody is talking about it, which is fine by me because I heartily approve of talking about the weather, I think it’s a weighty and important subject. But I also believe that if people have a problem with this weather, it’s because they made the wrong choice in being human. Obviously, they should have been dormice. I’m dormouse-obsessed at the moment. I saw a picture of a hibernating dormouse in Isaac’s magazine, and I’m completely enamored. Listen to this wisdom. They sleep all of winter and a good part of fall and spring. They don’t scurry around hoarding food, they just eat it! And get (relatively) plump! And then they curl up and sleep very soundly for months. Plus, they’re arboreal. They’re mice who live in trees. They have extravagant whiskers. They have bright dark eyes. They eat hazelnuts and berries. I want to eat hazelnuts and berries! They have little hands and feet and fluffy tails. They sleep so soundly that people can pick them up and record the sound of them snoring, which is apparently a thing that people do…

(look at his little hands and feet tremble!)

This is a juvenile dormouse in a torpid state.

If it’s snowing where you are, or raining, or the least bit cold, you should probably just stay inside and watch these BBC dormouse videos.

Or you could make this nice bright stew. It has tiny potatoes, but you could use larger potatoes and cut them up. It has small white beans, and white wine, and rosemary, thyme and sage. It has spinach and castelvetrano olives, and the juice of a meyer lemon. It’s nice in winter, because it’s savory and satisfying, but vivid and green and juicy as well. It would be nice in spring or summer with fresh new potatoes and baby spinach. I served it over a medley of wheat grains…bulgur, farro, and freekeh. I thought they were nice together because they each have a different texture. We had some goat cheese caper toasts, too, which I might tell you about another time.

Your song for today is this whistling dormouse.

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Millionaire shorbread with sea salt, rum, and meyer lemons

Millionaire shortbread with sea salt

Apparently there’s a woman who successfully sued nutella because they made her believe their product was healthy. She fed it to her daughter daily, with dangerous results. Well! I feed nutella to my son on a regular basis, but I don’t kid myself that it’s healthy! I know it’s got lots of sugar and fat. But I spread it on a sandwich made with unsweetened peanut butter and whole wheat bread. And I know those are good for him. I believe it’s important to find a balance. A little bit of sugar is okay if it’s part of a relatively healthy combination. Sugar whipped together with chemicals in candy is a very rare treat. Chocolate in a cookie, on the other hand, is a good reward for a meal well-eaten. Especially if it’s a cookie that we make together! I’m suspicious of processed foods. Even “healthy” processed foods. I’m not a fan or margarine, low-fat cheese, or sugar-free anything. These products remind me of the saying, “Americans will try anything to lose weight, except eating less food.” And the food companies will try to sell any kind of diet that involves products they can market to people trying to lose weight. Which, let’s face it, is probably a majority of Americans. I’d rather have a small amount of real butter or real sugar than a large amount of a substitute that tastes like chemicals. Everything in moderation. As long as you have lots of vegetables and fruits and foods with protein and vitamins, it’s fine to have something special and sweet once in a while.

Which brings us to millionaire shortbread with sea salt, rum, and meyer lemons. Let’s see. There are ground almonds in the crust! That’s good for you, right? A little? Well, you wouldn’t want to make these every day, but they’re ridiculously delicious, and I think we need to eat sweets like this every now and again (health permitting)! I cut them small, and I almost think of them more as candy than cookies. Let me tell you about them…they have an almond shortbread crust with some rum in it. They have a layer of caramel with meyer lemon zest & juice and a bit of rum and sea salt. And they have coarse sea salt sprinkled on top. I had fun making the caramel, but it was a slightly anxious time. I’ve made caramel in the past to spread over a cake. I wanted this to be a little harder, but not hard enough to crack anybody’s teeth. I thought I might have made it too hard, so I added an extra tablespoon of butter and milk. And it turned out perfect! I’ll have to try it again and see if I can repeat the feat.

Here’s Mississippi John Hurt with Shortnin Bread. He’s the best!

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Hellooooooooo!! Greetings from Shadfesterville. As I speak there’s a sea of people walking back and forth in front of my house. It’s shadfest! It used to be all about the fish, man. And then it was all about the art, man. And now it’s mostly about homemade soap and dog bandanas. It’s all good, though. An exciting weekend in our sleepy little town. I baked a ton of food to offer in our store, so if you’re in the neighborhood, stop by! And if you’re not, I’ll tell you all about it with recipes on Monday!!

So, not much time to write, at the moment, but I’m very very excited to have found fiddleheads. They’re so lovely. We ate them boiled till bright and tender-crisp, and tossed with a bit of butter and meyer lemon juice (yes, I will be putting meyer lemons on or in everything I eat until the bag is gone.) Then we chopped up some equally serpent-green castelvetrano olives and mixed those in. Bit of sea salt and pepper. Perfect!!

Here’s Desmond Dekker with the contagious Intensified Festival ’68.
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Tart with ramps, chervil, and meyer lemons

I love books with cross-section drawings. Books that will show you the inner workings of an ancient Roman villa, or a castle, or a galleon. I used to pore over them for hours as a child. They seem to give such a clear idea of how people might have lived. I wish I had the skill and patience to draw pictures like that! We have a few of these books around the house, you know, ahem, for the kids. I like to read the one about castles. On one page, you can see the kitchen (fascinating) and then the next shows a glimpse through the kitchen window into the great hall where a feast is in progress. You just know they’re eating savory pies! And I like the book that shows a man-o-war. There’s a kitchen in that one, too, with it’s mealy-worm infested hard tack. Yum! Well, this morning, as I was perusing a cross-section drawing of a galleon, I learned that the shipwrights that built them didn’t have written plans. They used a method called rack-of-eye, in which they would have a mental image of how parts should fit together. My first thought was, “that doesn’t seem very safe!” And my second thought was, “that’s exactly how I cook!” Although, obviously, the consequences of fitting the parts together incorrectly are a lot less dire on a savory tart than on a galleon.

But I digress. As you can probably tell from the title of this post, I ventured into Whole Foods again. I entered in search of a few specific things. Didn’t find them. Came out with a few unexpected non-specific things. They didn’t have golden beets or king trumpet mushrooms, but…what was this? Unbound and unlabeled, nestled on a little mound of ice…RAMPS!! I’ve been searching for ramps! I’m a curmudgeon when it comes to trendy things, I always have been. I didn’t wear lavender docksiders in third grade! I resisted the temptation! Food trends are no different. But when it comes to delicious garlicky greens that have pretty white flowers and have to be foraged when the world is cool and that completely represent spring? I’m on board! I don’t care if they’re so 2011. And then I saw a bag of meyer lemons. I’ve never had meyer lemons! I never thought I’d be able to have meyer lemons in New Jersey. They’re so pretty and smell so sweet I want to inhale them!

Imagine my surprise when I looked at my receipt and saw that ramps cost $14 a pound. Ha ha!! Who knew!! Probably everybody but me! So I had to cook them immediately, and I had to make something delicious with them. And I might as well use meyer lemons, too, because they’re so pretty! And David suggested adding chervil, which is also so pretty and smells so good, and which we recently acquired. It’s waiting to get planted in the garden. Let’s hope it makes it before I eat up all the delicate little leaves. So I caramelized the bulbs with meyer lemon juice and a little white wine. I quickly sauteed the greens with chervil, and I made a pretty pattern with chervil on the top.

In the interest of keeping it ordinary, I should tell you that you could probably make this tart with leeks, parsley and ordinary lemons. In the interest of justifying my extravagant ramp purchase (and to speak the truth) ramps are mother-flippin delcious! Meyer lemons are also delicious! This was a very very nice tart. We ate it with tiny boiled potatoes, mixed with a little butter, salt, pepper, and summer savory (also hoping to make it into our garden before I eat it all). And a nice salad with arugula, tart dried cherries and hazelnuts.

Here’s Antsy Pants with Vampire. I was having trouble coming up with a song to go with ramps, but David, the genius, suggested this one. Here’s why it’s perfect. I read that ramps are strongly garlicky when eaten raw that children would eat them to get sent home from school, or to ward off vampires!!
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