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Monthly Archives: November 2010

Raw Cranberry Relish with Tangerines and Walnuts

Thanksgiving dinner was just another family meal until my paternal grandmother started serving a cylinder of quivering cranberry jelly, gingerly laid on its back and sliced into thin discs. Not only did it inject a flash of color into the meal’s otherwise narrow spectrum of ivories, beiges, and chestnut browns, it was geometric and precise, and I was a child of all things orderly.

Later, barely into my double-digit years, I noticed a bowl of juicy cranberry sauce on my maternal grandmother’s table. It had probably been there each year, pooling in its faceted crystal bowl, but only then did I realize that mashed potatoes and cranberries and stuffing and cranberries and turkey and cranberries are all better when paired in a four-to-one ratio than when each is eaten alone. It was the first meal—and is still the sole meal—at which I willingly commingled my food.

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hODDY - Impressive she likes sour fruits. Cranberries are hard for me to eat.November 27, 2010 – 9:58 pm

Alana - Wonderful post!! Wonderful photo!! I love hearing about all the different cranberry phases you have gone through and now Elinor is just beginning! I think this is a fantastic recipe that is the “new cranberry sauce” at our Thanksgiving table!November 24, 2010 – 11:44 am

Nikki - What is, for you, the height of misery? I would agree a dry turkey breast!!!

Your ideal of earthly happiness? Like Heather, I do not often get the opportunity to go home for Thanksgiving as my family is on the East Coast. So I often work the day before and after Thanksgiving, saving my time off for Christmas when I do get to go home. So I LOVE when everyone else is out of town in THE City and I feel honored and lucky to have San Francisco to myself. I understand that I am not actually the only person left in the city but to me it *feels* that way and I love it!

Happy Thanksgiving! Thank you for sharing such a wonderful post!November 24, 2010 – 10:11 am

heather - Made something very similar just a few minutes ago: cranberry-whole orange-apple & pecan chutney. Sweetened with a touch of sugar only. It’s something my grandma makes everything Thanksgiving, and now that I’m no longer able to celebrate with family due to distance, I’ve taken a variation as my own. Love your photos and the story!

Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving,

*Heather*November 24, 2010 – 9:25 am

Heather - This post warmed my heart! And I truly appreciated it as someone for whom on-plate experimentation with commingling has been a lifelong endeavor… happy thanksgiving!November 24, 2010 – 9:14 am

Down-to-Earth Inspiration (Fall Cookbooks)

Once every few weeks, I pull one of a stack of boxes from my clothes closet and lift the lid with a mix of verve and trepidation. Sleeping—or, more accurately, hibernating—head to toe are objects known to most as pumps and to me as relicts. Until Elinor was born, including the final weeks before that delicious day, they accompanied me to the office five days a week. Now, I rely on flats, except when Dave and I venture out to taste the latest from San Francisco’s restaurants.

Last weekend, I unearthed a pair of black, pointed-toe d’Orsay stilettos, the kind with tomato-red soles, to accompany me to dinner and drinks. We started at a so-called tavern, where carbon-filament bulbs narrowly illuminate walnut-paneled walls and the fare is standard turn-of-the-twentieth-century San Francisco: roasted marrow, oysters on the half-shell, and the rough-and-tumble Hangtown Fry. My kind of place.

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Alana - A pleasant surprise from your usual phenomenal recipes!! Hope this is just a little break though! I always look forward to your writing and it hasn’t let me down!! It is interesting, entertaining and a glimpse into one fun night out in San Francisco!November 18, 2010 – 10:33 am

Borlotti Bean Mole with Roast Winter Squash and Black Kale

My 11-month-old daughter has developed a reputation in our neighborhood. Mind you, we live in a densely populated, urban neighborhood, so this is not an easy feat. And, while she is out and about three times most days, she is not outside for that long. But each neighborhood has its characters, even if you only see them every so often. We have the compact septuagenarian with a stern gait, undoubtedly a former dancer, who walks her twin black Scottie dogs several times a day. Without fail, she is adorned in black tights, a black wool topper, and a cloche hat (yes, also black). There is also the heartbreakingly skeletal woman who used to inch along alone on her spindly pilasters of legs, but walks these days with her blond Labrador Retriever service dog. Now, apparently, there is also Elinor. While she was at the park admiring dogs with my parents, a woman announced, “There’s the naked baby again!” (“The naked baby,” as in a baby that has been previously specified as naked: people are talking about her. This is quite different from the indefinite “a naked baby,” as in, “Is that a naked baby working on her tan?”)

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Larkyn - I love this recipe! I never liked kale before but it seems to arrive in my CSA basket every other week so I’ve been forced to eat it and this recipe does a great job of disguising it for me :-) Even better I toss a cup full in the cuisinart and feed it to my one year old who loves it too!January 4, 2011 – 8:02 pm

ApresFete - This piece makes me smile. I saddened to think of Elinor’s little body wrapped in fabric but am comforted with the thought that she will return to her naked ways in time for eating watermelon. Your mole looks incredible. Must try. Immediately.November 27, 2010 – 8:08 pm

Megan Gordon - What a great story about your daughter! Love it. And boy, I’m ashamed to say I’ve never made mole at home although I absolutely adore it. I know of a few goods spots in San Francisco go get authentic mole, but I think it’d time I make a batch myself. Thanks for the nudge & Happy Thanksgiving!November 22, 2010 – 10:35 pm

Kimberley - It’s so easy for me to get stuck in a rut where winter soups and stews are concerned, and this is the perfect way out.November 17, 2010 – 2:09 pm

Erin - Thanks for your kind comment! As for the mole, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed; it really is one of the most unusual and satisfying stews I make.November 17, 2010 – 7:16 am

Sarah - P.S. I just read your “about” section and saw that Elinor Dashwood is your favorite literary character and got incredibly excited. Sense and Sensibility is my favorite Jane Austen novel and one of my favorite books altogether. I have offically bookmarked your page and I’m looking forward to more beautiful posts and delicious recipes!November 14, 2010 – 4:59 pm

Sarah - Your website is beautiful! I love everything about the layout and the design. It reminds me of a softly lit kitchen on a December morning or a line from a Joni Mitchell song. And this recipe looks spectacular. I’m a newly converted vegetarian and a freshman in college and all this fall find myself missing the hearty stews my mom usually makes this time of year. I’ll definitely be making this mole when I go home for Thanksgiving. Thank you so much for the delicious recipe and the lovely blog!November 14, 2010 – 4:54 pm

Jeff Blackwell - Even tough it may take some time, I’m willing to give this recipe a try. It will try my patience. And as far as your blogs go. OMG! You should be writing books. I’d rather read your blogs than a book. Your writing of recipes , Elinor or whatever else captures me and I’m stuck like glue. Have a nice day and keep your bellys warm.November 11, 2010 – 9:32 am

JehanP - Omg, I want to lick my screen! This looks so hearty, so delicious and flavorful.November 11, 2010 – 7:07 am

Alana - Well written entertaining and fun story about Elinor that makes me smile! Your writing is always what I look forward to with your posts! This stew recipe is delicious!! It is a nice change from chili and cornbread!! So flavorful!!November 11, 2010 – 6:37 am

Susan - I cannot wait to try this recipe. Vermont has had it’s first snow,and it now gets dark by 5 pm with the time change. Bring on the warming stews that last for days.November 10, 2010 – 8:32 am

Arkansas-Black Apples

Well after the early, rose-fleshed Pink Pearls and Thomas Jefferson’s dear Spitzenbergs, I was wrist-deep in a box of russeted Ashmead Kernels at the farmers market when a woman pressed up behind me. “When are the Arkansas Blacks coming?” she inquired hopefully, while peering over my shoulder, of Stan Devoto, grower of more than 50 apple varieties. He suspected a couple weeks. So each Saturday and Tuesday to come, as the firm Swaars, tart Sierra Beauties, and even the spicy Mutsus came and went, I asked about them, too. At least four others asked the same question, increasing the currency of this fall fruit with a seemingly cult-like following.

The day finally arrived—last Tuesday, to be precise—when I spotted a box mounding with deep burgundy orbs freckled with ivory specks. A small zinc label erected at the back of the box proclaimed: “Arkansas Black.” Behold! I gathered several pounds of them, wanting to make sure I had enough specimens to study, while also insuring against the risk of a cameo—what if they were only available that one day, as had happened to other varieties this season?

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ApresFete - I don’t think I have seen these. Apples are my absolute favorite fruit and I just purchased 60 pounds for canning applesauce and apple butter. Wish I could have Elinor for a play date and she could be my taster. I would seek flapping limbs for approval.November 27, 2010 – 8:03 pm

Kimberley - I love heirloom apples more than probably any other type of heirloom fruit. They are so much more interesting and nuanced, flavor-wise. And I love crisp, dark apples especially. You’re inspiring me to get out of my Trader Joe’s/Whole Foods rut, where they never stray from five boring old apple varieties.November 7, 2010 – 10:39 pm

Alana - Heirloom apples are such a treat!! There is a vendor at the Portland Farmers Market that has about 20 varieties — but not the Arkansas Black. Your story makes me want to find them and have my own taste of what you describe!!! Fantatic picture too!!November 5, 2010 – 10:28 am


Ritual. Repetition with meaning. To begin, it is a single act. In the dark, cool bedroom, I wake up to see Elinor sitting, watching me sleep. I hug her, and she settles her head into the nook where my torso and shoulder meet. She sings quiet, delicate songs to herself. We stay here for minutes; soon a half hour has passed. A memorable morning. This was last Wednesday. Each morning since she has done the same. A ritual. A child’s ritual, more fleeting since interests morph in perpetuity.

Some rituals are less overtly meaningful. Each Saturday morning just before eight o’clock and as Elinor and I head to the market, Dave walks five blocks to get his weekly cup of dark, heady coffee and then walks three more to the boulange, where the smell of baking brioche lingers as he waits for them to finish making his sandwich: soft, pungent Cambozola and crisp slices of pear pressed into a still-warm walnut baguette. I like to think that this is his time to spend with his city and his thoughts.

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ApresFete - I am psyched about this post. And inspired. I am brewing my own kombucha in 2011. First resolution. I share this ritual with you; it is decidedly the best afternoon pick up!! Ginger is my favorite and now I can savor the ritual without the $3.79 daily price tag.November 27, 2010 – 7:59 pm

Bill - I wanted to share a flavor treat with you – Safeway here in Annapolis is having a sale on Trop50 – a Tropicana drink and I got the pomegranate – blueberry combo thinking it might go well with kombucha. Well it surpassed my wildest expectations – 1/3rd or more of the Trop50 and 2/3rds kombucha.

It’ll knock your socks off! Try it…

BillNovember 14, 2010 – 7:50 am

Erin - Thanks for your comment, Bill. I’ve been tempted to try this continuous brewing method for a while. My only concern is the rate at which the newly added sugar ferments, but you’re suggesting that fermentation happens in a matter of days since at least half of the solution is always fully fermented. I’m going to try this soon!November 10, 2010 – 9:47 am

Bill - I use a 2 gallon fermentation glass jar and pull off a gallon at a time. I immediately add back some freshly made cooled tea with a cup or so of sugar in it to keep the process going.

Using this method, it only takes a couple of days and I can pull the next gallon off. Tested with pH strips, my kombucha gets down to around 3.0 and it really does have a bite to it. By adding flavors, citrus slices and sometimes bicarb to it cuts the bite and makes the final result wonderful.

Half the fun is in the experimenting – and that is how I have come to use 1/2 tsp of Crystal Lite powder in it – usually pomegranate and/or cranberry and/or lemon slices and/or lime slices and/or finely sliced fresh ginger. Unless, of course, I am experimenting further.

BillNovember 9, 2010 – 7:26 pm

Tina - Hi I heard about your post from the WAPF discussion group and I would love to take advantage of your kind offer to share some culture as I have not tried making this before. Wonderful read!!November 5, 2010 – 3:15 pm

Sheena - HI!

I found your post on tastespotting, I’ve always bought Kombucha from the store. I would love to learn how to make some, your post is a great tutorial. I live in San Francisco, and if you’re willing to share your some Kombucha culture I will be forever thankful. Let me know!

Kindest Regards,

SheenaNovember 4, 2010 – 6:39 pm

Tiffanie - Hi! Came here from the WAPF discussion list.
A quite pleasurable read. Thanks for sharing! : )
Now for some brioche while my tea cools….; )November 3, 2010 – 11:15 pm

ALANA - Your rituals are so nice–rituals can be so comforting–and fun–thanks for sharing!
I have had your kombucha with ginger and loved it. I was so surprised as the kombucha I have had in the past was bitter and did not appeal to me. I have also experienced making this recipe and again you came through for me–it is so much easier than I had expected!! Let’s get another batch going soon!November 2, 2010 – 5:23 pm

Jenifer - Everytime I read a post, it makes me think of the topic in a whole new light. Thanks for all the great storytelling!November 2, 2010 – 1:58 pm

hODDY - I know you love it, but the many times I have tried it, it is just too bitter of a drink for me, but I know its super healthy for you.November 2, 2010 – 6:07 am