Lots of excitement yesterday, starting with the local yarn crawl. The goal of such an event is to visit as many local yarns stores as possible, admire new yarns, make aspirational yarn purchases, and hang out with other
yarnhoarders likeminded people. But we had a very specific recycled cashmere mission and headed straight to the Woolpack to see Ellie’s new yarns. She unravels worn cashmere sweaters, gently washes the yarn, and spins it into luxurious color combinations. We also wanted to show her the socks we made with her yarn (one of us went on a knitting spree into the wee hours the night before):
OK, I know you came here for the food. Dinner brought some good friends from Newburyport. We had bonded with these folks over burrata earlier this summer, so I decided to indulge us and made the burrata and oregano pesto crostini pictured above. It’s simple. Just make a batch of this pesto, toast some bread, and top it with burrata and a drizzle of the oregano pesto.
I’m feeling the corn countdown. It’s still at the Boston farmer’s market, but some of the local farms are done for the season. It’s finding its way into salads and is the star in this simple corn soup. To give the presentation a bit more zing, I topped the soup with some of this paprika and herb oil.
The crostini and soup can be filling, so the entrée was on the lighter side: a mixed lettuce salad with seared scallops, roasted beets, lentils, cherry tomatoes, and roasted delicata squash, inspired by this salad from last fall and this one, which helped me get over my anxiety for cooking scallops.
Dinner was followed by this luxurious chocolate pumpkin spice cake brought by our friends, and a round of joke telling. What could be better?
Here’s my new favorite salad. The story of how it came to be is also the answer to the question, “what have you been up to this summer?”
I had been wondering about the Boston University Gastronomy program and decided to dip my toe in the pool and signed up for a summer class, “Nutrition and Diet: Why What You Eat Matters.” For the past six weeks, most of my conscious nonworking life involved studying, cramming my brain with how our digestive system works, where our food comes from, what nutrients and how much of them we need, what foods have these nutrients, what sustainability means, what causes obesity, and what research has found about various diets. Yep, all in six weeks. The weekly seven hours of class time was riveting, taught by a nutrition and obesity researcher epidemiologist rockstar whose sheer energy, knowledge, and output (on her blog alone!) is an inspiration. And I was joined in class by other foodies including this blogger. Continue reading
Oregano is growing in huge bunches in the garden, so I decided to see whether it would make a good pesto. I went for simplicity and combined oregano, almonds, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and was pleased with the result–herby, slightly lemony, and delicious over warm pasta or drizzled over crostini topped with burrata or tofu.
The pasta also included much of the haul from McGrath and Hutchins farm stands: green onions, fresh peas in pods, and zucchini. The trick for fresh peas is not to overcook them. I put the peas in a colander and poured the pasta and pasta water over them, which softened them while retaining their grassy, fresh flavor and toothsome texture.
After I wrote about one of my mom’s creative dinner feats, many of you wanted to know about my dad. Did he do unexpected stunts while raising my three brothers and me?
I don’t have one specific story, but there are many things he did that kept his sanity and made us who we are: Every 2 weeks we went to the library, and there was no such thing as an overdue book. On a quiet back road near the 5 freeway, he’d do “crazy driver,” abruptly swerving the car back and forth to make us giggle with delight. He took us screenings of movies he loved, usually starring the Marx brothers, Charlie Chaplin, or Harold Lloyd. He and my mom were committed to exposing us to culture and dragged us to concerts, museums, plays, and ethnic restaurants. And, to this day, he has always encouraged us to pursue our dreams and passions, even if it meant we would move thousands of miles away. Continue reading
Getting dinner on the table
If you ask any of my three brothers to tell you about a time when they laughed the hardest as a child, they will either recount watching the Cheech and Chong “Up In Smoke” movie with my dad, or they’d recall one specific family dinner.
My mom cooked for our family of six every night, kept track of my three brothers and me, and did all the housework. This was before feminism came to our Los Angeles suburb, so my mom just did her job and tried to get us to help when she could. But sometimes we didn’t do our part (and who could blame us–we were 6, 8, 10, and 12 at the time of this memorable meal). My mom would yell and we might or might not be more helpful next time. Eventually she came up with a better strategy. Continue reading
Unexpected items are showing up at the Boston City Hall farmer’s market. Yesterday I spotted white Concord grapes and strawberry tomatillos (both of which had a pear overtone), and these prune plums.
I bought the plums with visions of a rustic tart, but it’s a rainy weeknight with no social prospects to share such a tart and husband prefers chocolate. The plums were too tart for eating as is, so I roasted them with honey to see what would happen.
Turns out what happened was plummy sweet tart goodness. Would have made a classy dessert paired with high-quality vanilla ice cream or some buttermilk ice cream. Not so classy, I would have been happy to eat these warm right off the pan. But I’m also a big fan of anything that can be put on toasted Nashoba Brook Bakery bread, so I decided to make a fruit spread. Let me know if you try this on ice cream, and what flavor.
Plum honey butter
10 small prune plums, washed, cut in half with pits removed
1 TBS honey, plus more added later to adjust sweetness
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1. Heat oven to 325. Put a sheet of parchment on a baking sheet, spread out the plum halves, and drizzle with honey. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
2. Roast until very soft, about 30 minutes. Let cool.
3. Put in blender, food processor, or large cup if you are using an immersion blender. Add balsamic vinegar and blend to the desired consistency. Taste and if it’s not sweet enough, add honey by the teaspoonful and blend, tasting and adjusting until it’s sweet.
4. Serve with toast or ice cream.
I was going to take you on a tour of the newish Saturday farmer’s market in Concord, MA. But the rain forecast kept the farmers away, so now we are going to two of my favorite farms, both family farms with a long history here. Then we are having corn soup for lunch, my recipe inspired by the best corn soup ever at 80 Thoreau, with a swirl of my own.
Our first stop is McGrath farm, for corn and impulse vegetable shopping. Continue reading