Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Snowy Interlude

Dear Mouse,

I dont know if you heard down there in FL, but it snowed a bit up here in NYC.

In honor of Snow Day, I thought I'd share the following recipe, from the Folger Shakespeare Library. It's a real recipe. I think I may try to make it. My fave is the part where you beat it with a tree branch. (And if anyone knows what a "Sillibuffi" is, contact me immediately.)

Happy New Year!

To make Snow.

Take a pint of thicke sweete Creame,
and halfe a pint of Sack* and halfe a
pound of Sugar, and the white of two Eggs
well beaten, and a pretty deale of Limon,
and mingle all this together, and put it into
a pretty big earthen Pan, or Bason, and
take a pretty big birchin rod, and beate it
till the froth doth rise, and thin take it
of with a stirre, and put it into the thing
you would have it goe in, (it should bee
a glaze Sillibuffe pot, if you have it, if not,
a white creame dish will serve: you should
lett it stand a pretty while before you eate
it, because it should sittle with a little
kindi of drinki at the bottom, liki a Sillibuffi.

Mrs. Sarah Longe, Her Receipt Booke, c.1610
* "sack" = sherry
Happy New Year! Come back so we can have a kindi of drinki.


The Boo

Monday, December 13, 2010

Subliminal Weight-Loss Tapes (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Chocolate Croissants)

Dear Mouse,

Remember Lloyd Glauberman?

Of course you do.

In our house, there were many surprising traditions (speaking of xmas!). But two things will always stand out to me as Hart Household Staples: Diet Foods (Sugar-Free Mini-Muffin, anyone?) and Meditation Tapes.

Yes, our family believed in the power of deep breathing and visualization to treat everything from insomnia to Thanksgiving traffic. My favorite of these tapes were the mysterious Dr. Glauberman's. With names like "Excellence" and "Mind-Body Connections - Feeling Better", they featured a 'Hypno-Peripheral Processing' technique in which LG's voice would appear in stereo; telling one story in one ear of your walkman's headphones, and an entirely different story in the other. While sort of space-y New Age music played, I would drift off into a 'twilight state' leading, eventually, to sleep, or to a general well-being. I loved them.

Of course, we had other favorites. I liked Shakti Gawain's recording of her 'Creative Visualization' Meditations, featuring the Pink Bubble Visualization and others. And while in college, at home one fateful day, I discovered a random hypnosis tape entitled "Weight Loss". Mired as I was in collegiate angst and the effects of the Freshman Thirty or whatever it was, I jumped at the chance to think some more about my favorite subject at the time: calories, and how to burn them. (I am glad to say this stage is over). I tried it.

It was similar to a lot of other tapes. It asked you to visualize something you really wanted to achieve and focus on that. (Oh, while looking great). The package explained that 'certain threshold statements' were also being played at certain points in the tape, but you coudn't consciously hear them. I just hoped they weren't, like, "Fatty", or "Eat Mallomars", and pushed play.

Now I can't remember whose tape this was, or anything about it, except that ... it worked. Not in any big dramatic way. I didn't become suddenly rail-thin, or replace eating with aerobics. But I did, miraculously, notice that I would look at certain foods and think a completely new thought, "Do I really want that right now?" If the answer was no, and it often was, I would think another completely new thought, "Well, then why would I eat that? I'm trying to stay healthy/lose weight", and go on to do something else. And sometimes that was aerobics!

I wound up thinking less about food. And also being more aware of it.

Thinking less.
Experiencing more.

I asked that the tape be sent to me while I was in Ireland as an exchange student, but when I got it, I found our father had accidentally recorded over it with himself talking on the phone. Not as effective. And that was it for my subliminal life for a long while.

OK, so fast forward to last week. I have a really demanding role coming up in two months, and by that I mean it contains a scene in which I am going to have to appear onstage wearing, say, a sheet. In front of, oh, potentially most of the American Theatre. And while this is certainly exciting, it also calls for help.

Help that only one person can give.

It turns out that Dr. Lloyd Glauberman is not only still going strong, he is updated for the digital age, with CDs AND downloads for sale.

... AND he also has a new recording: "Hypno-Peripheral Processing - Weight Loss".

I figured, "It can't hurt", and I ordered it, already hearing you laughing at me. (I understand). It's pretty much what I remember - the soothing, spacey sounds, the dual doctor voices, instant twilight, no memory of what he said upon 'waking', good falling-asleep experience. I noticed some changes immediately - namely, a general sense of well-being and an increased mindfulness. An awareness of my own appetite, and the instinct to choose veggies and protein frequently. But perhaps most importantly, several days in, there was this.

No, this is not a diet croissant.

I know what you're thinking, because it's exactly what I thought, when I woke up on day 7 or so with only one thought on my mind. I had to have breakfast, and it had to be this: a warmed-up, flaky, melty, chocolate croissant. My mind protested for a moment -- "You NEVER eat these! What kind of weight-loss tape makes you crave croissants? You're just going to ruin everything". But somehow, a different voice was stronger. I went downstairs, picked up coffee, the paper, and a chocolate croissant from Le Pain Quotidien. I went back home, popped it in the oven at 250F, waited about 9 minutes.I brought back the now-gloriously puffed up and warm specimen to the table and prepared to assume the traditional furtive, "I shouldn't be doing this", croissant-eating

-- and it didn't happen. I sat up straight and calmly took a bite.

And - these experiences are always so hard to really explain after the fact - but I have to tell you I finished that croissant with only ONE thought on my mind, which roughly translates to "MMMMMMMMM!" There was absolutely, positively, no guilt, no bargaining, no Fat Thoughts AT ALL.

Happy Holidays, Dr. Glauberman! Thank you for the reminder that maybe, just possibly, one of the ingredients of a healthy bodymind is (gasp!) sincere mindful enjoyment of the Food it eats.

And though out of habit, post-croissant, I may fleetingly have thought, "well, now the day's lost'....

... it wasn't. What did I have for lunch?
(Without, I SWEAR, thinking about it and certainly not as punishment?)

A bowl of sauteed collard greens.

They were delicious too.


The Boo

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sticky, Sweet, Salty, Sour (and other words to describe the holidays)

Dear Boo,

My, how embarrassing. I've really been falling down on the job lately when it comes to cooking and writing and writing about cooking. I swear it's not ENTIRELY due to my faraway, but impending nuptuals, though I have to say, for two pretty low-maintenance people, it sure is taking us a while to figure out where the frick to get married (seriously, any ideas, people? Put me out of my misery.). There's also that little thing of school. I write to you now, still in my pajamas at 12:30, having pulled the old person version of a paper-writing all-nighter. ie, get home at 10pm, put on a pot of coffee, order some diner food, and write until 2am when the fiance is asleep on the floor, and I just can't read another sentence about theories of attachment in the infant-caregiver dyad. Ick.

The point is, it's been so busy around here that I turn around and here we are, smack in the middle of the holiday season. Thanksgiving came and went in a house in Virginia full of 26 close relatives of the fiance (13 of which are children), and a tummy full of the ubiquitous biscuits and gravy (on the MORNING of Thanksgiving, no less) and a truly decadent turkey dinner. And then Hanukkah, earlier in the season than is really fair. As if the inferiority complex wasn't bad enough in a Christmas-focused culture, here we are lighting candles before we've barely put away the leftover cranberry relish. Or at least, some of us are. I've been such a bad half Jew this year. The only time I've lit them was on the night of our family brisket dinner in honor of the holiday. For which, as per usual when it comes to our family, in a panic induced by the Mother that we may not have enough food (read: twice as much as is really necessary for any 4 person dinner.), I made some chicken.

But not just any chicken. Grandma's apricot chicken. Or an approximation thereabouts. It has been one of my very favorite comfort foods since we had it grandma's table and then at our own when mom used to make it. It's sticky and sweet, savory, salty, crispy and moist. And, as I was reminded this time around, easy. The perfect weeknight main dish, holiday or no. Thanks, Grandma. And happy Hanukkah.

Now, onto Christmas.

The Mouse

Grandma's Apricot Chicken

* I was surprised to find
a similar recipe to our family version in Bon Appetit for a Hannukah menu in 2007. Apparently, we're not the only ones to find this strange mix of asian and eastern european flavors somehow appropriate for a Jewish family dinner. As my measurements and cooking times are all estimates (and rather loose, at that), you may want to refer to this one for details. I won't be hurt.

1 3lb chicken, cut into 8 pieces
1 cup apricot preserves (
make your own here!)
1/3 cup Teriyaki Sauce (plus a couple of tablespoons)

1/3 cup Soy Sauce (plus a couple of tablespoons)

3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

Ginger powder (optional)

salt and pepper as needed

Marinate chicken in a couple of glugs each of soy sauce and teriyaki. Sprinkle a bit of ginger powder if you like. Add a bit of the minced garlic, reserving most for the glaze. Let sit in fridge for anywhere from 30 minutes to 8 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix preserves, soy sauce, teriyaki, and rest of garlic in a bowl. If you're not in a rush/limiting your dirty dishes, blend this mixture in food processor until mostly smooth. Line a shallow, heavy baking pan with tin foil and sprinkle with a bit of oil. Place chicken skin-side up on sheet, and place in oven. Cook until chicken is just beginning to brown (10-15 minutes). Take out of oven and spoon glaze generously over chicken. Put back in oven. Cook until about halfway done (about 30 minutes more), turn and glaze other side. Finish cooking in oven (20 more minutes?). For last few minutes put under broiler to crisp skin a bit. Serve with anything. Lick fingers.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bone Marrow, Chicago

Dear Mouse,

**Lack of beautiful Chicago photos in this post brought to you by Apple Computers: Planned Obsolescence. Rated G, for AnGry. (as in, my brand new iphone died with all photos in it before I could post. Ahem. )**
photo courtesy of

So it's 5AM Monday morning and Vitamin A is earning Good Guy points driving me to O'Hare Airport. We are listening to an REM compilation and talking about "Fall on Me", the first song of theirs I ever heard (age 10, Amy S.'s room, Highland Park NJ, cassette tape player). I tell him I have a vivid memory of my exact mental image while listening: that I was holding in my hands a ripe melon - coarse, scratchy, and brown outside - and prying it open to look at the fruit - rich, coral, miraculous- inside. I remember that is what I thought. Why a melon? I have no idea, especially since it was probably a cantaloupe and I've never liked them. But that's what came to mind, and it's probably my earliest food/art mental collusion.

A says "You should tell the band that. They would probably love to hear it."I fleetingly imagine doing so. (Ring, Ring. Hello? Michael? This is The Boo. Well, you dont know me, but, your song reminds me of a melon.)

Rewind to Saturday night. Date night dinner at Longman & Eagle. Scooping bone marrow and onion jam onto a toast point, Vitamin A asks me, "So do you really like to read books...about food?"

Pause to imagine a photograph here. Blustery exterior, dimly lit and gray-brown vivaciously noisy interior. Dark wood bar, friendly crowd in various jeans and sweaters. It's all very Chicago. Menu titled "EAT". Zoom in on cocktail menu titled "DRINK" and the phrase "Extensive Libations Program".

Yes, let's rewind further. Longman & Eagle, named for the adjoining street and a nearby statue of an eagle, is attracting a lot of Chicago foodie interest with its adventurous menu and casual dare I say hipster vibe. A friend of A tells me, breathlessly, that the restaurant recently earned its first Michelin star. Not too shabby.

I bypassed the "Blood and Sand" (involving scotch and 'flamed orange oil') and the "Harvest Sidecar"(applejack, pear liquor, cointreau, nutmeg) in favor of a "Hot Apple Cider" which is exactly that, if you add generous amounts of rum and applejack brandy. I watched Vitamin A peruse a list of beers with names like "Three Floyds Robert the Bruce" or "Half Acre Daisy Cutter"; I think he ended up with "Goose Island Night Stalker", but I can't swear to it.

Anyway the point is that the whole reason we are eating bone marrow (I moved on to wine at that point) is because of a book about food, which is how the subject comes up. I am so sure I remember some articulate rhapsodizing about bone marrow on toast in Ruth Reichl's memoir "Tender at the Bone" that I knew we'd have to order it. Even before I texted you, Mouse, (A: "Are you really going to text your sister about this?") for support.

It arrives - this really should not be surprising- in a bone, a thick short bone right there on your plate. It comes with warm toast, a pot of tangy red onion jam, and an overflowing spoonful of sea salt. I really, really like all of these things. So far so good. I scoop some of the - yep, that's really marrow isn't it? - creamy, translucent substance out with my knife, spread it onto the toast, dress it up, and bite in.

Vitamin A is talking about Shakespeare's Henry V, which I am about to assistant direct with a cast of 5th-7th graders (true). I reflect on how interesting it is to talk with people who a) LOVE books and literature, b) love food, c) are well-educated and well-spoken about both... yet do not necessarily see how these things could be connected. While for me, as I've said many's the time, Food and Art 'live' in the very same place. Sure, I say, I read books about food. Because they're not just about food. But food can be a language all its own, a powerful way to put the reader "there". No? I can't imagine a better description of my 'Fall on Me' experience than that imaginary melon.

But it takes all kinds. Vitamin A's response to food-in-literature is the same as my response to raisins in my baked goods and your response, at age 5?, to the freckle you found on your arm: Nooooooooo! Get it oooooofffff!

We also ate veal (because why stop at one aggressive meat) with some really stellar creamy grits, a beautiful salad with sliced apples and a melted cow's milk cheese called "Barely Buzzed" (there was pork in the dressing!!), and a main course of Maple-Braised Pork Shank (this also contained pork), which we both agreed was kind of disappointing; like they just poured maple syrup over it. But all in all a delicious meal, if a bit too sweet.

We stopped just short of the dessert menu, because I was full, A is not a dessert guy, and because the menu features - get this - gruyere donuts (!) with parmesan (!!) and "whipped citrus goat cheese" (!!!). Longman, please.

And the Item Itself? Well ... honestly: there was love, but I'm not sure if it was the marrow or its accessories. And there was the gelatinous-ness, which usually spells trouble for me. I've often said I despair of being a "real gourmet" because there are so many classics (think bleu cheese, or foie gras), that I just can't get into. And also ... it was bone marrow. I kind of couldn't get past that. So I'm not sure I'd go back. But it was exciting and new and if nothing else certainly an endorsement of Ruth Reichl's ability to turn a phrase. Perhaps sometimes the reading is better than the eating.

If, of course it was Ruth at all. I searched for that Reichl passage in order to write this post, and I just couldn't find it. If anyone has it, send along. I offer you this instead.

Well I could keep it above...
but then it wouldn't be sky anymore...
so if I send it to you, you've gotta promise to keep it whole...

Love and cantaloupe,
(and Happy Thanksgiving!!)

The Boo

Thursday, November 11, 2010

15-Minute Quinoa "Risotto"

Dear Mouse,

OK, something is happening.

Perhaps it's all the changes in the air right now -- new apartment, new borough, exciting new gig coming up, and the news that the comfortable, mind-numbing day job I've had for, oh, NINE years or so is - finally! - laying me off in February. I dont know. But what I do know is that somehow, some way, I have become ... a person who cooks. (And who posts RECIPES on the blog. Not just, say, recipe links or gossip. Though that will certainly continue.)

Now I know what you're gonna say. What have I been doing this whole time with pie crusts and muffins and soup? Well, yes. But it's the realization that you can leap without a net (or a recipe) and survive. That I can make stuff up on my own.
I got so excited about my quick-and-tasty invention tonight that I actually plugged in my laptop, and started typing this post as soon as I finished... this:

When you're here, you're family.

This really took fifteen minutes to make. Ok, yes, one of the important ingredients - the "Chopping Board Pistachio Pesto" from the Splendid Table - had been prepared in advance and was waiting for me at home. BUT allow me to point out that THAT recipe came from their "Weeknight Kitchen" newsletter. It's simple and fast. So even if you do this whole "risotto" in one go, it would just be a half an hour and a bit of extra chopping.

Following some primal instinct, I picked up a can of navy beans, a jar of sun dried tomatoes, and a box of quinoa, and I made the following deliciousness in 15 minutes flat. Perhaps because of the Italian flavor palette, I really think it resembles a risotto, only lighter and packed with protein from the nuts/beans/quinoa trifecta. It's comfort food that gives you energy instead of knocking you out (risotto, for me, usually involves an early bedtime... if I make it to the bed.)

The Boo's Fifteen-Minute Job-Loss Quinoa "Risotto"
(with thanks to The Splendid Table)

Probably 1/2 C leftover Chopping Board Pistachio Pesto - ? or less, whatever tastes good
1 C quinoa
2 C water
1/2 small jar (or more if you like) sundried tomatoes in oil, chopped up
1 can navy beans, drained
sprinkling of leftover fresh thyme leaves, to taste
coarse salt and black pepper to taste
splash of red wine from the bottle you didn't finish on sunday
leftover grated parmesan from when you realized the pesto recipe doesn't call for parm
That's it.

Bring the quinoa and water to a boil on the stove. Turn down, cover, and simmer 10-15 until all the water is absorbed. While quinoa is cooking, mix the beans with the pesto in a big bowl. Add chopped up sundried tomatoes. Splash a little red wine in, sprinkle the thyme, add salt & pepper. Then spoon probably 3/4 of the quinoa (you can save the rest for something...) into the bowl while still hot, and mix gently but well. Serve with grated parmesan for sprinkling.

Here's to improvisation in the face of life's changes. Happy Thursday,

The Boo

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sausage Pancakes. Yeah, you heard me.

What's hiding under these pancakes?

Dear Boo,

I've had a quite a few million dollar ideas in my lifetime. There was the iphone app that turns the screen of your phone into a mirror for makeup touch-ups. And there was the heartbreak when I realized this already exists. And who could forget my million dollar jingle for Shout Detergent, sung to the tune of Tears for Fears "Shout" (shout, shout, get it all out! These are the stains I can do without!). SC Johnson--call me. And then there was the sausage pancake. A brilliant idea I was sure would be embraced by The Boyfriend--oops, sorry, not used to the new terminology yet--The Fiance, who has been known to douse a plate of pancakes, sausage and bacon with maple syrup, and by you, The Boo who does not fear an odd combination of pork product and sweets (see: bacon bark, and peanut butter and bacon sandwiches). And yet, when I presented this idea to the two of you, triumph ringing through in the timbre of my voice, I was laughed--LAUGHED--out of the kitchen, and it pains me to recall was met even with a flat-out, collective "EW GROSS." My pride bruised and my dreams dashed, I forced a laugh and retreated behind the proverbial diner menu of bored, traditional breakfast foods.

But, in the words of Winston Churchill, I never never never gave up.

So you can imagine I wasn't entirely shocked when I saw this:

Dunkin Donuts' Sausage Bites, "bite-sized sausage encased in maple-flavored pancake balls", a new breakfast offering which, while totally disgusting, will surely be worth at least a million dollars for the donut giant.

And so it came that this morning for Sunday breakfast, there were homemade sausage pancakes on the menu at the Mouse House. And while The Boyfriend still holds he prefers the two items intact and separate, united on his plate only by maple syrup (wrong), everyone at our table could agree the creation was delicious (And, it goes without saying, surely superior to the laboratory-created, mass-marketed crap).

Of course, poke around on the internet and it becomes very clear that I'm not the only one to have had said million dollar idea.
But no matter.
A delicious union of sweet and savory breakfast treats: One million dollars.
The feeling that comes with saying I TOLD YOU SO to all the sausage pancake haters (who shall remain named The Boo and The Boyfriend): Priceless.


The Mouse

The Mouse's Sausage Pancakes

Not that you really need a recipe...

Take 4 breakfast sausage links (we used chicken because that's what they had). Remove the casing and break up into quarter-sized chunks. Brown in a pan with a bit of oil, until cooked through.
Make batter according to package instructions. We used a Buttermilk and Honey mix from Maple Grove Farms of Vermont, but Bisquick is good too. Pour batter into the pan, and then scatter sausage bites as you would blueberries. The Boyfriend did this part, since he's the pancake maker in this house. Seriously, he's never made a less-than-perfectly round and golden brown pancake, and he does crazy-delicious things like add granola as a filling which, if you haven't tried, you should do.

Flip, and cook as you would any pancake. Keep warm in the oven while you cook the rest. 4 Sausages were plenty for the 6 large pancakes we made.

Eat with a pat of butter and generous REAL maple syrup.

Laugh all the way to the bank. Or, more likely, the couch, where you will need a nap.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Eat This Poem

Dear Mouse,

In honor of apple season, I wanted to share this poem. My friend Famous Poet Guy was commissioned by this organization to write about kids' health and nutrition. Good message, good to remember in a time when it's easy to get conned into thinking "it isn't a problem if they can't sell you the cure".

Plus that kinetic typography just looks cool.

I'm going to eat a freshly-picked apple for breakfast right about now.
Preach it, Eat it, Reheat It, Repeat it.

(See? I'm a Slam Poet Too!)


The Boo
PS. Fresh cranberries are finally in the grocery store!!! Making muffins right now.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Brooklyn Barn-Raising (with Quiche!)

Dear Mouse,

"I like New York in... October...
How about you?"

Oh, Autumn. I think it's only fair to say that probably my next three posts will be dedicated to this, my favorite season. Anyone who is not as enthralled as I am by fiery gold and magenta trees, boots and jackets, chill winds and bright sunlight, apples and pumpkins and squash, and the subtle surge of excitement as the Wheel of the Year turns once again...

Still Life w/apples and homemade challah (or "Jewish Egg Bread" according to the recipe that came with The Poets' breadmaker. Uh-mazing.)

Oh, as if there could be such a person. (What's the Fall version of Scrooge?). Anyway, my point is that once again we have entered the glorious Season of Change, and this one is more exciting than most. First of all, there is YOUR wonderful, exciting news that "The Boyfriend" is now a free handle for use in this blog. :-) Secondly, last weekend, I attended a gorgeously autumnal New England wedding on 10/10/10 and am now convinced that the October wedding is THE way to go... and, thirdly, THIS weekend ...I made quiche.

(Oh, and I'm gonna be in my first movie. !! But you can't eat that.)

Not just any quiche. Life-affirming, celebratory, in-with-the-new quiche. Also, really really easy to make, so I thought I'd share the details.

Not far from The Mouse House, in another part of the forest, another lovely couple were preparing themselves for a new chapter. My dear friends Mr. and Mrs. Poet, who regularly welcome what seems like NY's entire literary/performing community to their Friday Night table, are about 2 months away from a more permanent form of dinner guest. One who needs a room to sleep in, with a fresh coat of paint and cute stencils on the walls. And probably one or two embarrassing, rock & roll-themed onesies. Only time will tell...

"Come help us paint", said Mrs. Poet, "and we'll feed you."

Basically, I was at the door five minutes later bearing a large box of Dunkin' Donuts from the set. (Side bar: why, WHY, is there so much of this kind of food on movie sets? Why would you lock a bunch of actresses in a room together to prepare to be in your film and then buy them pastry? It's hilarious. There is more food available than at one of our family gatherings, and no one eats. )

Mr. Poet and I rolled up our sleeves and began to paint Little Poet's room a lovely dove gray. We hauled a set of bookshelves out to the curb and stained them dark brown as the sun began to slide orangely (orangely?) down the Williamsburg sky and the building's heat clicked on.

"One more coat", said Mr. Poet, "and then let's break for dinner." I thought about how there is something really satisfying about food that is eaten after manual labor, as replenishment and reward for a tangible, self-evident job well done. I thought about Amish communities, who all get together to build somebody's house. " I feel like I'm at a barn raising", I said.

Over glasses of Mr. Poet's father's buttery-toffee-scented, peat-smokey-flavored HOMEMADE WHISKEY (which it pains me to inform you that you can't get anywhere but at their house), Mrs. Poet (she was drinking seltzer, don't worry) said "I think I'll make a quiche for dinner with the eggs from our CSA."
Crust awaiting farm-fresh friends.

When I arrived for the Barn Raising, Mr. and Mrs. Poet were already busy in the kitchen. Their kitchen table was covered with tomatoes, potatoes, prune plums, turnips, a golden, dusty head of garlic, and a carton of eggs of delightfully varying sizes. It was their latest Farm Share haul, and they were sorting it into piles to muse on before tucking away into the fridge. Mouse, when I move back to your hood, we need to go in on a CSA together. It's crazy not to. For the uninitiated, a CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) is a win-win situation where, for a yearly fee, you get to pick up a 'share' of fresh vegetables, fruits, eggs and/or even meat, sometimes flowers, that come straight from local farms. As the East Williamsburg CSA site says, "you are purchasing a direct link to the freshest local produce, providing farmers with much-needed capital at the beginning of the growing season, and investing in sustainable farm practices". Further info is at many web sites, but here's one for NYC folks, for starters.

AND more to the point.... you can taste the difference.

Farm-Share, Baby-Welcoming, Fresh-Egg Quiche with tomatoes, cheddar, and some kinda greens, I forget what, I was so enthralled with the taste of the eggs. Hard to describe, just delicate, super-fresh, and HEALTHY. And as always when eating REAL FOOD, I wondered "why would you eat anything else?"

This quiche was made out of local eggs and tomatoes (& store-bought grated cheddar thrown in, but it could easily have been farmer's market goat cheese, picked up on the way home from work). And - as all cooking is when you have stellar ingredients - it is SO, SO EASY. Mrs. Poet taught me this trick for the filling: Break the eggs into a measuring cup and whisk them. Then, just thinking "1/2 cup milk per egg" (because it doesn't actually measure out that way), pour milk into the same measuring cup til it reaches that line. ie, if you're using 4 eggs, pour in the milk til the "2 Cup" line has been reached. Then, whisk to combine and pour into a bowl.

Then, put ANYTHING you want in with the egg mixture -- a package of grated cheese, diced tomatoes, chopped fresh herbs, salt & pepper --- to heck with measurements - and pour it all into a prepared pie crust (yes, you can buy one). Bake it at 350 for probably 30 min (check at 20) or until a fork inserted in middle comes out clean and it isnt runny. Serve with a big green salad, and of course, movie-set-reject donuts afterwards. Expectant Moms will thank you.

What? What did I say? No pressure.



The Boo

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Snapshot of a Dinner

Dear Boo,

What you see pictured here is not my most inspired creation, nor the most aesthetically appealing dish to grace our table, nor the most perfectly seasoned. In literal terms, its roasted pears and fennel, with a bit of balsamic and a healthy dose of blue cheese, intended to top a salad of mixed greens. In not so literal terms, it is love.

There are, as our mother has astutely noted, some times in life when you find yourself, for some reason unknown to any but the deepest, most primitive, wisest, most tucked-away part of your soul, taking a mental snapshot of a moment. Years ago, before the Boyfriend was even a twinkle in my eye, before I could even imagine imagining where we'd go, when all I knew was that around him I laughed harder and wilder than with anyone else, producing snorts and whoops and wheezing I barely knew I was capable of--one night, I sat across from him at a rehearsal table and before my mind had a chance to process it, before it had even occurred to me (I swear!), a tiny voice I didn't even recognize as my own, peeped up from inside me and told me that some day I would kiss this person and that it would change everything. I remember that moment. I remember where I was sitting in the room. I remember what our chairs looked like. I remember the wood grain on the table. I remember the lights from the windows of the apartment building across the street.

Years from now, I will close my eyes and call up a snapshot of our dinner table. I will remember the candles. I will remember the light blue of the napkins we always use. I will remember dipping our hands into a giant bowl of mussels, trying, as we always do, to eat slower. Talking, as we always do, between bites of broth-soaked crusty bread. Laughing, as we always do, our mouths full.

I will not, however, remember this salad.

We never ate it.

For once in my life, I was actually too happy to finish a meal.

And so was The Fiance. :)


The Mouse

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

There's No Denying It.

Dear Boo,

Though this has probably been obvious for quite some time, it's only just been made blatantly clear to me that I am, in fact, a food geek. What clued me in, you might ask?

Exhibit A:
I recently donned pigtails and a gas station work shirt emblazoned with a name tag reading CARL, got on a ferry one early Saturday morning, and spent the day slinging pork for the Pig Island Event on Governor's Island, at the Grill-A-Chef booth.

If foodies attend such events, food GEEKS volunteer for them.

It was a blast.

Read more about it (and get the recipe) here.

Exhibit B:
The other morning, on a crowded subway platform on 168th Street, elbowing my way into the elevator up to street level, trying not to spill my coffee or drop my umbrella, I actually shrieked when, while listening to a podcast of the Sporkful, I heard the host mention my name and QUOTE me!

If a food nerd listens to a podcast called the SPORKFUL, then a food dork writes in to said podcast, and a food GEEK gets overly excited and texts everyone she knows.

I can't even touch the fact that the episode was about oatmeal and my comment was an impassioned vote for a savory breakfast version you see above. I don't even know what to call a person who does that.

Listen to it here! Or download the Sporkful podcast here! (I'm right towards the end. You can call me The Closer.)

Yours in Geekdom,

The Mouse

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hot Dogs for Breakfast (Chicago, IL)

Dear Mouse,

So there I was. A beautiful, autumnal Monday morning in Chicago, at I'm gonna say, 10AM (which was 11 for me, still on NYC time, but still - !), attempting to answer this question:

"So how would you feel about hot dogs for breakfast?"


The speaker was my host and companion Vitamin A, who my friend Dave likes to call "Abe Froman" (as in, Ferris Bueller's "Sausage King of Chicago"). I was pondering the irony of this when I realized A was waiting for an answer. He couldn't possibly be serious, so I just laughed ... and then, in the pause that followed, heard the unmistakable sound of a carefully-crafted itinerary crashing onto a hardwood floor. Hastily, I scooped up the shards and plastered them back together into something that sounded like:

"I mean, why not? That sounds great!"

and then, weakly,

"But I think maybe we should do EITHER hot dogs OR pizza "(which I knew was coming at dinnertime), "not both."

Here was breakfast:

"Chicago-style hot dog, with Everything" (pickle slice, onions, tomatoes, relish, mustard)

Marsala and Roasted Garlic Wild Boar Sausage. What.

and, as I'm sure will not surprise anyone, here was dinner:

Deep dish w/pepperoni, green olives, mushrooms, and fresh garlic.

There was a long walk in between; that's gotta count for something.

Vitamin A is one of those entirely suspect people who a) claims he rarely eats, b) eats, c) has out-consumed me every time we've eaten, and d) shows absolutely no evidence of this on his physical frame, du tout. You would never know, for example, that this was by no means his first time eating both "Hot Doug's" and Pequod's Pizza in the same day. Live and learn...

...and, when in Chicago, eat these things:

For Breakfast ...
Allow me to suggest a rich, cake-y, big ol' slice of banana bread with an umistakable cardamom streak and the crunch of sugar crystals throughout. Fabulous coffee. Natch.

For Alternative Breakfast... HOT DOUG's
This "Encased Meat Emporium" boasts a menu that includes Alligator, Wild Boar, Chicken, 'Bacon Sausage', Bratwurst, Andouille, and His Eminence the "The Dog", as seen above.

For Rainy Afternoon "Tea"...THE GAGE outside the Art Institute (where you should go for, you know, Art).
OK: Poutine is french fries doused in gravy and covered in melty cheese curds. I know, it totally sounded gross to me too. It's awesome. At this joint, it's fancified, involving "Elk Ragout" and bits of meat in the sauce. Also on the menu are brussel sprouts w/melted brie & bacon and if you don't order that you are Wrong. If, like me, you are not a beer drinker but are somehow seduced by the list of craft beers you can get a glass of beautifully autumnal Southern Tier "Pum-King" Pumpkin Ale. Pumpkin pie spice "on the nose", is what I'd say if I talked like that, and a flavor aptly described by our server as "roasted pumpkin". I loved it. If like A, you are an actual beer drinker, you probably will not. Order something more like Bell's Best Brown Ale, which is deep and nutty and I still can't drink more than half a glass of that kind of thing. It helps if it is a grey and blustery day outside. It does not help if you leave your umbrella there. Just FYI.

For Just-Off-The-Plane Kinda Fancy Dinner... West Town Tavern
"Contemporary Comfort Food". Yep. Pesto Gnocchi, Duck Confit, Trout, Apple Crisp. Done. Vitamin A claims that whenever I taste something delicious for the first time, my eyes inadvertently close, and this may be why I can't remember what the trout looked like.

For Last-Night-in-Town Flourish, We-had-Hot-Dogs-For-Breakfast Dinner...
Oh the honor and the glory. Chicago Deep Dish, I bow before you. As a New Yorker, I am obligated to balk at calling this "pizza", but can embrace it as just plain Joy on a Fork. Fresh garlic is IT; totally 'makes' the whole pizza and it is best to be sharing it with someone who is also eating it as they are not kidding about the garlic and it will seep out of your pores for the whole night (worth it). I carried a leftover slice in my purse all the way to NYC on the plane. Better the next day.

So long Chicago. I'll be back soon - you're a Hard Habit To Break. An Inspiration. (Couldn't resist!)

By the way, did you know that there really is an Abe Froman? I didn't.

The Boo

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cheap Date

Dear Boo,

I've been suffering lately from a painful condition called Broke, brought on by prolonged exposure to graduate school and a severe income deficiency. It's been difficult. So when the birthday of a certain tall person with whom I share an apartment rolled around, I realized I'd have to make a few adjustments to my celebratory plans. In other words, no Per Se for us. Now, while the Boyfriend has never been one for big, overblown, expensive celebrations, if there's one occasion that I believe calls for splurging, it's a birthday. So I was determined to find a way to plan a worthy date, sacrificing none of the exuberance, specialness, or sexy, while conserving some of the cash.

What I came up with, I think, has taught me a few things about dating on the cheap. And birthdays. And cake.

Going somewhere out of the ordinary automatically = special.
Unless, of course that place is Guantanamo, within reason, getting out of the usual neighborhood or the haunts where everybody knows your name, feels good. In fact, it's scientifically proven. Ever wonder why vacation makes you feel like you're falling in love all over again? It's because you are. Just changing your environment tricks your brain into thinking everything is new--it actually mimics that feeling you get when your partner is brand new and everything feels exciting and special. I told the Boyfriend we would be--gasp--Brooklyn bound. Shudder. Tremble. Flutter.

If you're going to go cheap, at least go clever.
The Boyfriend loves fried chicken. And has been known on a few occasions to suggest that one of the great tragedies of our era is that no one goes out for a slice of pie anymore. Not long ago, I read a post on this blog about Pies n Thighs in Brooklyn, a humble establishment devoted to just that--fried chicken and pie, and pleasantly reminiscent of that classy Providence offering, Legs n Eggs which had a slightly more x-rated take on things. It's cheap, it specializes in two of the best things on the planet, and the answer to the Boyfriend's ubiquitous question: Can I wear shorts? would be a resounding YES.

But I had to find at least one thing to splurge on. Sorry, it's just my nature.

An expensive drink is still cheaper than an expensive meal.
I asked around to those more in the Brooklyn-know, and found Hotel Delmano, a hipster paradise just a short walk from our final fried and greasy destination. If we were going low-brow for dinner, we'd go high-brow for cocktails. Candle-lit, and of course, lacking any visible signage, the bar is a converted tattoo parlor with fogged mirrors and a long wooden bar. We sidled up, elbowing our way through the handlebar mustaches and high-waisted pants, and ordered a Smoke & Flowers for me (St. Germain, sherry, dry vermouth, Ardberg single malt scotch) and a Rattlesnake for the Boyfriend (rye, absinthe, lemon, egg white). Both delicious. Both strong. Both excellent with the oysters we ordered to round out the experience. Our appetites whetted, and before we could end up waist deep in a sea of hipsters, we struck out for our next stop.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Eating with your hands is sexy.
There was a wait at the restaurant when we got there, but when you're on a good date, a little standing around under a streetlight never hurt anyone.

At a table for two, in the courtyard out back, we dug into our Chicken Boxes, three pieces of perfectly fried, juicy and crispy chicken, alongside a biscuit the size of a frisbee, flaky, warm and the essence of butter. The Boyfriend got collard greens, and I had the waitresses favorite, a special of green beans in a tomato sauce, over the creamiest bowl of hot grits. And I have to say, knowing the bill would be well within my means (the box is $11), freed up some mental guilt space to spend on the fried chicken and biscuit. And spend it, I did. We took a banana cream pie for the road. Because it's true. Going out for a slice of pie is a lost art.

It's not a birthday without (this) cake.
The next day, on the Boyfriend's actual birthday, I made a cake. But not just any cake. It's a special cake because a) it's probably hands down the most delicious chocolate cake I've ever made. and b) it was made during my fast for yom kippur and baking a cake for someone--a big huge, frosted, chocolate cake--when you have not eaten all day and your stomach is talking LOUDLY to its neighboring organs, well if that's not love, I don't know what love is.

It's a combination of a few recipes--the cake is from a recipe given to me by our Uncle, after hearing about it on some Morning Show, as Epicurious' most viewed recipe. And lemme tell you, there's a reason for the hype. It's deep and rich and perfectly moist, with a texture that I can only describe as having just the right amount of air in between the crumbs. And, because I always have to complicate things, I decided to make a milk chocolate frosting. It's a little fussy, but it's so worth it. And you get to exercise your custard-making abilities which is good not only for your cooking repetoire, but your stand-up routine, because let's face it, custard is comic gold.

In the end, a good date is a good date, no matter how much you end up spending. Duh. And a birthday? Well, they're more complicated. But nothing makes the future look a little brighter than a slice of chocolate cake.


The Mouse

The Best Chocolate Birthday Cake Ever
(with thanks to Gourmet)

For cake layers

3 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut
1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

For frosting

2/3 cup whole milk
3 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces and softened
8 oz milk chocolate, melted and cooled
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled

Make cake layers:
Preheat oven to 300°F. and grease pans. Line bottoms with rounds of wax paper and grease paper.

Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well. Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Cool layers completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove wax paper and cool layers completely. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

Make frosting:
Heat milk in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat until hot. Whisk together yolks, flour, 1/3 cup confectioners sugar, and a pinch of salt in a bowl, then add hot milk in a stream, whisking. Transfer custard to saucepan and bring to a boil over moderate heat, whisking. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking, 2 minutes (mixture will be very thick), then transfer to a large bowl. Cover surface of custard with a buttered round of wax paper and cool completely, about 45 minutes.

Add vanilla and remaining cup confectioners sugar to custard and beat with cleaned beaters at moderate speed until combined well, then increase speed to medium-high and beat in butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, until smooth. Add chocolates and beat until combined well.

Frost cake. Make sure the cakes have cooled COMPLETELY. I thought I was good, only to discover the middle layer of frosting had melted and oozed out. I must have gotten a little impatient. Learn from my mistakes.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Baker's Dozen 4: The Baker, Brendan Corr

Dear Mouse,

Happy Rosh Hashanah! *Sneeze, Sneeze. Cough.* Love that traditional post-show, change of season head cold.
So while it sucks that I can neither smell nor taste anything on the night of our family's (arguably) most delicious feast, it brightens my spirits a little to bring family and food together in another way: with the latest Baker's Dozen Interview - !

This time, I checked in with The Baker himself, our cousin-in-law, Brendan Corr, who is currently working dough-related magic as Chef de Cuisine at Co., the classy west-side Pizza and Snack Palace. Although he was characteristically cagey about certain things (he claims his recipes are "not ready for publication"), he is never shy about sharing his opinions or his enthusiasm. Here we go.

1) What are your earliest food memories?

Being in the kitchen as a toddler while my mother made pancakes. I would hang onto her leg as she tried to cook.

2)When did you know you wanted to make food professionally?

Somewhere between my first professional baking experience at The City Bakery, and
managing the Greenmarkets. At the Market I got to know a lot of chefs. Some of them would let me trail in their kitchens. I was eager to learn, and being surrounded by food and knowledgeable people made it fun and exciting. In the kitchen at City Bakery I was happy doing the work. It was constant, precise, and required the use of body and mind.

3) You grew up in Ohio and Maryland, currently live in NYC, spend/spent a lot of timein Vermont, and did a brief sojourn in Los Angeles, about which we usually do not speak. What is your favorite food city?

New York. (Almost) everything is here. That being said, the Northeast Kingdom in VT,
where I've spent a lot of time, is becoming an interesting pocket of creative and delicious food. Jasper Hill is doing a lot of good work for small cheesemakers in VT., not to mention little known breweries and other food producers in the region. I also think that NYC doesn't do regional American cooking well. I am from Baltimore, so my first 8 summers were spent consuming a lot of Crabs and Crabcakes. I haven't found anything close to that in New York. I actually broke up with a girlfriend after she took me out for crabs here and they were bad.

4) If you did not work in food, what do you think you'd be doing?

Something scientific that kept me outdoors most of the time. Marine Ecology? Biologists? Out on the sidewalk asking for change?

5) What are the top mistakes home cooks make that could be easily solved?

Overthinking things. Ingredients tend to prefer minimal processing to be delicious.
A lot of recipes I see for home cooks overcomplicate by either adding steps, or adding ingredients that aren't really necessary.

6) Most annoying food trend at the moment.


-Standing in line for food.
-People on yelp. It is obvious to everyone that you are an unhappy person. Please don't share your complaining.
-Following David Chang like a smitten teenager. Someone announce him as prom king and get over it please.
-Chefs that go on about what annoys them...

7) Fall is coming!!! What should I make with fresh pumpkin?

Pumpkin Bread. I have a recipe that I love.

8) Favorite hangover cure?

Stage restaurant, large coffee, couch.

9) One food you simply could not live without.


10) Have you ever used your powers for evil?

Depends on what you mean by evil.

11) What do you do when you go to someone's house for dinner and the food is really terrible?

Have some more wine

12) I've heard chefs like to play a game of "last supper"--as in, what your final meal would be if you could choose. What would yours be?

It would involve meat and potatoes, I know that much.

13) You and I share an enthusiasm for peaches. Yet somehow I have not cooked with them or eaten more than two all summer. Do you have any interesting peach-related recipes/ideas to share before it gets cold?

Get them while you can. I like them in almost any form. Peach yogurt? Totally. You
can make it at home, I'll show you how.

And that's the latest. On a personal note, I would like to apologize for the pathetic, ran-out-of-brown-sugar-and-I-was-too-tired-to-buy-some apple crisp I will be bringing to the festivities. The Baker would be horrified. (Sneeze. Cough. Repeat)

The Boo

Monday, August 30, 2010

Meditating on Jam

Dear Boo,

The other day, in a state of that kind of agita that makes your chest feel hot and your breathing short and your limbs feel like they might go flailing off at unnatural angles, I decided maybe it was time to sit down and try meditating again. I picked a spot near the window with a nice breeze, pulled out my meditation cushion, or as we refer to it in our house, the place you sit when the laptop is charging and the cord doesn't reach the couch. I took a deep breath, crossed my legs under me, relaxed my face and let my eyes go half mast, fixing gently on a spot on the hardwood floor in front of me where the wood grain comes together in a swirling pattern, and tried to let go. I remembered what I'd been taught, to focus on my breath and whenever the mind wanders, which it inevitably will, to notice it, acknowledge it, let go and return to your breath. I can't say my attempt on this day was too successful--I know, I know, not that one should approach such things with the judgments of success and failure--I did, after all, succeed in sitting down quietly for five whole minutes, which let's face it, is half the battle--but I can't say my mind was stilled in any way. I emerged those five minutes later, breathing a little more slowly, my knees a little stiff, the agita tentatively abated, thinking about...apricot jam.

You see, what was really on my mind was the whole idea of holding on and letting go, and how, I dare say, 90% of my life, my decisions, my passions, my feelings, my resistances, my fears, my joys, come down to this balance between those two things. It's been on my mind lately, what with all the panic-attacking about being forced to let go of summer before I might be ready, and came up again this week as I closed this show and went through that familiar dance of denial, mourning, relief, and grief that happens when we come together in art and friendship and intimacy with a group of previous strangers, only to part again when the calendar dictates it's time. The Buddhists among us would say that all suffering comes from holding onto things we have no business possessing, desiring, or controlling, and that we may only transcend this suffering when we let go of that need to attach ourselves to things. Most of the time this makes sense to me, when I find myself tying myself in knots over expectations and goals that I've long outgrown or have been shown to be neither desirable nor realistic, nor in any way pleasant. Or when I was talking last week with a fellow cast-mate about those nights when you find yourself on stage, holding so tight to the performance you WANT to give, the one you gave last night, the one you PLANNED for, crafted, did all that GD homework for, but the tighter you hold onto it, the further away it feels, the more impossible, the more irrelevant it becomes and all you can do, (all you should have done to begin with!) is LET GO of all of it, what you thought it would be, what you want it to be, what you thought you knew....sigh. So easy to say, and so, so so hard to do.
Apricot Jam and Apricot Syrup

But sometimes, sometimes, I wonder if there isn't something to this whole holding on thing. After all, if we didn't hold tight to some things, sometimes too tight, how would we know the joy, the calm, the freedom that comes with letting go? Which brings me back to my apricot jam. Knowing my steadfast desire to hold onto summer as long as possible, to eke out a few more weeks of fresh berries and tomatoes, sandy toes, balmy, homework-free evenings, could there be anything more illustrative of my destructive, non-enlightened need to HOLD ON than going through the process of canning and preserving seasonal, perfectly ripe fruit? Instead of being in the moment, popping a fresh apricot in my mouth as I stood by the open window, enjoying the late August breeze, I chose to add sugar, cook down those beautiful fruits until they fell apart, and seal them up in glass jars to sit on my shelf.

So, what's my point? Well, it's twofold. First, the jam is delicious, like apricots to the Nth degree, sweet but tart, perfect with butter and toast, heaven on greek yogurt, and this fall, perfect for the roast apricot chicken Grandma used to make. And Second, in the process of making this, I found myself a couple of steps closer to letting go. There was something about spending an afternoon in the kitchen, immersed in the scent of summer fruit, filling jar after jar with the most beautiful peachy liquid gold, that made me feel a little bit okay with the approaching Autumn. I'll still kick and scream all the way back to school, and probably go off on another fresh corn binge before the summer is out, but I feel like I've loosened my grip a little. And thank goodness for that. Because as much as I like to tell myself otherwise, there are actually a few things I don't have control over.
Apricot syrup with seltzer: homemade apricot soda!

A Mouse Royale: prosecco with apricot syrup. Let it come to room temp first for maximum dissolve... (other cocktail ideas: vodka, soda and syrup, or vodka, ginger beer and syrup, a twist on a mojito...)

So, my advice to you? Buy a batch of apricots. Stand in the market and wonder at the mountain of pink and gold in front of you. Take them home. Eat half fresh, standing in front of an open window, with your eyes closed. Breathe. Then take the other half, and make this jam.


The Mouse

P.S. Any more ideas for what to do with the apricot syrup??

Apricot Jam, yoinked from David Lebovitz

2 pounds fresh apricots
1/2 cup water
6 cups sugar
1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
optional: 1 tablespoon kirsch

1. Cut the apricots in half and extract the pits. If you wish, crack a few open and put a kernel in each jam jar you plan to fill (isn't this nuts? I thought those things were poisonous, and apparently they contain cyanide if you actually eat them. So don't do that, but do try this if you want to give the jam a slightly almondy flavor).

2. Place the apricots in a very large stockpot, and add the water. Cover the pot and cook, stirring frequently, until the apricots are tender and cooked through.

3. Put a small plate in the freezer.

4. Add the sugar to the apricots and cook, uncovered, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface (do not throw this foam away! Save it and you'll have a batch of apricot syrup. Make homemade soda, cocktails, ice cream sundaes, add to pancakes, yogurt, a spoon...). As the mixture thickens and reduces, stir frequently to make sure the jam isn’t burning on the bottom.

5. When the jam looks thick and is looks slightly-jelled, turn off the heat and put a small amount of jam on the chilled plate. Put back in the freezer for a few minutes, then do the nudge test: If the jam mounds and wrinkles, it’s done. If not, continue to cook, then re-test the jam until it reaches that consistency.

6. Once done, stir in the lemon juice and kirsch, if using, and ladle the jam into clean jars. Cover tightly and let cool to room temperature. Once cool, refrigerate until ready to use.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Rehearsal Soup

Dear Mouse,

Remember this mug?
"Stress: the confusion created when one's mind must override the body's basic desire to choke the living s*T out of some a***hole who desperately deserves it."

Inexplicably popular in, I'm going to say, the mid-'80s, when, despite its complete lack of actual wit, it became
a 'humorous' staple on various desks around the country? Akin to the "Hang In There, Baby" cat posters?

As you know, I'm deep into rehearsal for my first-ever-oh-the-terror-and-the-glory-why-did-I-ever-think-I-could-
do-this-oh-look-its-happening-anyway .... original play. Sorry, MUSICAL. Or, 'play-with-music'.
Whatever. I wrote it, with my childhood friend Leon, it got into this festival before there was a script, we
assembled a cast and director, and now it happens IN A WEEK. Lightning and neuroscience and
rock music and Shakespeare and a guy in a Lion Suit. Good good times. It's all very exciting.

And it's also happening in a WEEK. So.. when I found myself,at the end of last rehearsal in our borrowed attic
space, wearing an antlered mask while taking notes and muttering "No, no, the lateral sulcus needs to be
stage left", it really only made sense that the mug I wasclutching happened to be the one pictured above.
(Not that I want to choke anyone... just the stress. You get it.)

Tonight is our rainy night off, and I'm thinking of making a big pot of this:

courtesy of my co writer Bob, aka Leon the Lightning Safety Lion. I cannot recommend this highly enough. Leon
happens to cook
a lot and has fed me and the rest of the
company on several occasions when we seemed in danger of an Excitotoxic
Seizure (see the play). I have contributed by making, um, nothing. I truly believe that
this spicy, nourishing soup,
packed with protein and enriched with dark greens, ginger, and garlic, has prevented
colds, exhaustion, tears,
pessimism, and maybe even bad acting. Do not skip the peanut butter.

1/4 to 1/2 cup of peanut butter (creamy)
3/4 cup of peanuts
1 medium onion (diced)
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp ginger (diced)
2 tbsp garlic (diced
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 pound chicken breast, cut into chunks
6 cups chicken stock
2 sweet potatoes, sliced into rounds (non-sweet will work too)
8 plum tomatoes or 1 large can
1/2 ib collard greens (or kale) cut into strips
Red Wine Vinegar
Hot Sauce
Olive Oil
Salt, Pepper to taste

1. Marinate the chicken in hot sauce before cooking. 20 - 25 minutes is fine

2. In a skillet w/a thin layer of olive oil, on medium heat, sweat the
onions for 3-5 mins and then add the ginger & the garlic for the final 2
mins or until golden brown. (Times may vary based on your stove/frying
pans/etc. Basically, you want the Onions to sweat and the ginger and garlic
to brown w/o burning)

3. Add the chicken and lightly brown until no more pink is visible, do not
cook all the way thru. Crush the peanuts and let them slightly roast in the
pan. Lightly douse the pan w/the vinegar to de-glaze the pan. Take it off
the heat

4. To a medium dutch oven or other soup-cooking vessel, add the stock and
diced tomatoes and
the potatoes. on high heat, bring the contents to a boil. When it' starts
bubbling (don't let it come to a boil), turn the stove down to low.

5. Transfer the onions, garlic, and chickent to the cauldron. Add the kale,
and the peanut butter
and the cayenne pepper. Simmer on low heat. It should take about 15 mins til it's ready to
serve, but w/many soups, you can really let it continue to simmer and it
only makes it mo' better. W/this one, you can let it go on super-low heat
for up to an hour.

6. Salt, pepper to taste. Cilantro as a garnish.

Eat n' rehearse.


Don't be a Part of the Charge.

Love, The Boo.
PS. Tickets on sale HERE.