Thursday, March 27, 2008

vaguely related to things vaguely related to food

I remember dinners with my family being a lot like the first few moments of this video: the curious gravity, the warmth, the ceremonial and quiet gifting. It seems sad now in my remembering of it, but only in the peculiar way that anything seems sad when it has succumbed to a little time and a great distance.

A Picture of Our Torn Up Praise:Phosphorescent

Monday, March 24, 2008

sugar high

"'I don't want to be a girl, Uncle Tom. I want to be a boy. A girl's all kissing and dolls. I don't want to be a girl. I don't want to.'" -Mary by way of John Steinbeck's East of Eden.

There are very few foods out there that have absorbed as much emotional bankruptcy as the cupcake.They seem to be uniquely capable of assuaging the wounds of the sexually rejected. When the omnipresent “HE” has ceased calling, stopped dropping by, or begun committing whatever other crimes a disinterested man is capable of, the cupcake is a go-to. I have also found them to be an adept tool at combating job loss, parental disagreements, unequivocal self loathing, seasonal blues, and general boredom. Why should the cupcakes role as the ultimate emotional salve be important at this particular moment? No reason! Let's just say that I was justifiably intrigued by an invitation to experiment with cupcake batter from an ambitious wanting-to-open-a-bakery friend. I appeared promptly at her doorstep, aching to lose myself in the girlish oblivion of powdered sugar and flower petals.

For this recipe, you will need:
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
1 ½ cups sugar
¾ cup whole milk
1 tablespoon rosewater
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
A handful of individual rose petals
A bit of powdered sugar

To Make:

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat the muffin tin with cooking spray and set it aside for later. It is important to get this stuff out of the way immediately, as in your emotionally decimated state you may begin to cry irrationally when you realize you have to wait an extra ten minutes before you can start to bake.

Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar. Add the dry ingredients to the large bowl, a bit at a time, and beat steadily until smooth. Bring the milk and rosewater to a boil in a small pan, then add the warm mixture to the batter in a slow stream, beating continually. Stir in the butter and vanilla. Make sure that all the ingredients are well combined.

Pour the batter into the muffin tin, and slide the cupcakes into the oven for about 15 minutes. The time that it takes the muffins to bake and then cool upon eventual removal is perfect for preparing the decorative rose petals. For this part, having a few fresh roses on hand will do the trick just right. Carefully peel the petals off (he loves me, he loves me not, etc). Rinse them with luke-warm water and pat dry. Brush each individual petal with egg whites, using a pastry brush and an extremely delicate touch. Once they are evenly coated, dust them with finely powdered sugar and lay them out to dry for at least an hour. When the cupcakes have finished baking and have been iced, place a few petals atop each frosty mountain for a nice finishing touch.

Monday, March 10, 2008


A Fruitless but Well-Intentioned Attempt at Imitating a Garden Party circa 1967

Rachel Scott; summertime 2006

I Got My Eye On Your Sack Lunch

(1) Quarter up your slices of zucchini.

I know I'm in a minority that barely registers on the Richter scale of social acceptability when I say that I love to cook in the mornings before I go to work, but it's the truth. I even set my alarm twenty or thirty minutes early to ensure that I have time do it. Is that embarrassing enough yet? If so, stop reading now. It only gets worse from here. The sleep I sacrifice for my unsightly morning ritual (I do it in my underwear) is negligible compared to the level of sanity-maintaining pleasure that it provides. It’s the only time during the day that I can allocate for something other than the practiced cadence of work and going to work, a compulsory attempt at perpetuating the grand illusion that I have any measure of control over my time. I'm also broke, and packing lunch beats eating out every day for reasons of both cost and quality.

This particular recipe is a time-tested favorite, unearthed after cookthinking my craving for couscous. It's handy for dinner parties/pot lucks/any communal event requiring large amounts of good food be made on the cheap, but I find that it takes very little time to just throw it all in some tupperware and call it a lunch. She of gingerbread-cookie-chiding fame,Siri, has mentioned it as a favorite before, and her and her boyfriend now cook it up on the regular. That means you have to try it at least once, right?

(2) As the couscous cooks, sautee the zucchini until it is slightly browned around the edges.

(3) Check out my sweet PJs.

(4) Toss it all together, and you're good to go!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

listings: Southside Cafe

Don’t be fooled by the name, Southside Café boasts a menu heavy with traditional Italian fare and a strong preference for reliability over innovation. A long, low main dining room maximizes the potential of a space suited for no more than 60 or so diners at a time and the décor is a mildly successful gander at pastoral Italian countryside, with exposed brick facades, an upstairs fireplace, and a series of ambiguously bucolic paintings. The food options never deviate from the expected, with moderately priced dishes unafraid to dabble in stereotype: pasta in vodka sauce, lasagna,spaghetti and meatballs, etc. No creative leaps of faith, to be sure, but the kind of standards that will attract a regular crowd savoring routine and consistency (think the 70 and up set). Most dishes strive to impress with hit and miss success; an eagerness revealed in the abundance of oil and butter lavished on what should be delicately flavored side-dishes, namely the bruschetta. The Portobello Alla Griglia, an arugula salad that doesn’t skimp on the mushrooms, is an easy stand-out. Wedges of portobello are charred to crispy perfection, a satisfying accent to the more muted combination of shaved Parmesan and sticky vinaigrette. The main courses are proportioned appropriately for what they lack in creativity: huge, heaping shares of pasta and sauce, mixed fish and vegetables, and towering stacks of lasagna oozing layers of cheese. They make for hearty, well intentioned meals that are favorable in context of some well-selected wine. Dessert is more of the same, but with a surprising success in the form of a cinnamon-infused homemade flan. (

Monday, March 3, 2008

side notes: part two

A very good man, Jay Patel, has done me the honor of mentioning this blog in an article for the Pace Press. It's a wonderful piece and very worth reading, but I don't have a darn scanner. Due to my embarrassing inability to reproduce the article in its original form, I implore anybody who comes across this blog to venture on to and search the archives for Jay's articles. He's tremendous both as a person and a writer!