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Posts Tagged ‘food’

— 1 —

Random things cooked this week, some old, some new:

Plentiful and cheap tomatoes mean that I do this a lot. 

The twist that I’ve added this year is to do the initial roasting in the evening and then leave the tomatoes in the oven overnight.

Like candy. 

I had “roasted tomatoes” as part of an antipasto in a fancy-shmancy restaurant in these parts a couple of weeks ago , and I tell you they had nothing on mine. They seriously just tasted like stewed tomatoes…out of a can, even.

Harrumph.

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Made Spanish Romesco sauce (or at least this version of it) the other day – a new thing for me, and really good.  I used roasted red peppers that I’d done myself.  I probably won’t do anything fancy with it – I’ll just use it as a spread/dip for myself.

— 3 —

Also…

The usual Artisan Bread in Five Minutes, which I make regularly now, and throw in a cinnamon cake.  Peaches and blueberries are coming in strong, so time to start in on them…..

And pizza. Always pizza.  It’s nine o’clock at night, and I think, “I really don’t want to make pizza dough right now…”

But then I do, dragging out the mixer and the flour, pulling it all together and then pulling it apart into six firm little discs of dough, and then the next day at noon I’m so glad I did because I can answer the question “What’s for lunch?” in a very exciting way.

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To balance out the food, the past couple of week’s exercise podcasts have included some In Our Times that are worth mentioning not only because of their quality, but because they took religion seriously and without the usual American narrative voice which reflexively dismisses religious conviction and the spiritual dimension of human life.

One was on the 17th century scientist Robert Boyle, often regarded as one of the fathers of modern chemistry and, like most of his contemporaries, a very religious man.   It was interesting to me that Melvin Bragg kept pushing the question of the connection between Boyle’s faith and his scientific pursuit, which the panel generally affirmed, but not specifically enough for Bragg until one of them finally made the fascinating connection between Boyle’s interest in casuitry and self-examination and his scientific method.  Really interesting – and observations made by Michael Hunter on the connections between Boyle’s “practical religious life and practical scientific life,”  the author of a book called Boyle: Between God and Science.so that makes sense.

The program on the Bluestockings – a salon-type movement among British women - also took for granted these women’s religiosity – although I wish it had gone a bit more into it.

There’s another BBC4 show called The Food Programmewhich had a recent episode on “Holy Food” – it wasn’t the most thorough treatment of the very rich subject of the connection between monasteries and food and drink, but it was good for what it was.  One of the subjects interviewed was Madeleine Scherb, the author of a book called A Taste of Heaven and a blog called The Hungry Pilgrim. 

This week’s In Our Time is on Hildegard of Bingen – haven’t listened yet, but I’m trusting the tradition of decent treatment of religion will continue….

— 5 —

This week I read Penelope Lively’s Judgment Day which I picked up for ten cents at a library book sale.  It had its moments, but as a whole was too episodic and without much depth.  I’m continuing to read Collins’ No Name, which astonishes me because I read and read and read and the Kindle Ticker is telling me that I’ve still only made it through twenty percent of the thing.  It must be a thousand pages long.  But it’s a good, melodramatic, 19th century beach read, and although there’s no beach nearby right now, I’m enjoying it.

— 6 —

This is Rocky.

"amy welborn"

Yes, me – the person who never had a pet as a child and has only allowed thirty years’ worth of children to own 1) some hamsters for a couple of months and 2) some fish for about the same amount of time – for some reason got all crazy and bought a snake at a reptile show.

A snake. 

My youngest is reptile-mad, we were at a reptile show, and so the next day we went back and bought Rocky. We won’t be traveling as much as we have been over the next year, and besides, snakes can go a week (they say) by themselves…

He’s fine.

I’d say he even has sort of a nice face, don’t you think?

I have no problem with snakes and I’m surprised to say that so far, he seems low-maintenance.

It’s kind of crazy, though. When you see snakes in the wild, the pattern is for both you and the snake to scoot, both as fast as you can.  These ball pythons are relaxed creatures.  They loll around, they curl and climb, but never too fast, and yes, we may be crazy but it does seem that Rocky has a special affection for his keeper.  Well, not affection.  But a comfort level that’s readily apparent.

It’s ironic, though, that his brother and I read this Ambrose Bierce story, “The Man and the Snake,” earlier this year.  I admit I think about it sometimes when Rocky’s snaking around….

(Was the photo a “trigger” for anyone?  Sorry.  I worked for a principal once who had such a morbid fear of spiders and snakes she had to clip together pages of books that had pictures of either so she wouldn’t accidentally open up to them. She was a science teacher, so this was a bit of a challenge for her.)

(The name “Rocky” happened because they saw the movie just a couple of days before the snake came into our house, and it just seemed right.)

— 7 —

Rectify continues to absorb.  As with a novel, it’s hard to pass judgment this soon – being only two chapters in.  But what I’m seeing so far is the continued weaving of complex themes of culpability, honesty and consequences as well as that intriguing and fairly accurate depiction of an individual’s spiritual life – in this case, Daniel’s sister-in-law, Tawney.  In one stressful, but well-done and sensitive scene she confesses and works through her confusion about  spiritual and emotional motivations.  Another scene depicts a women’s small group – meeting outdoors around a fire pit – I do wonder about Georgia evangelicals breaking open the wine during small group, but I’ll just assume that they’re part of a church where the pastor sports jeans, hipster glasses and a soul patch and we’re good.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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This is gonna be random, people.  Fair warning.

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Michael (just 9, as you noted last week) has taken to piano with an intensity that I’ve hardly seen in any of my other four children.   He maintains that he still wants to be a herpetologist when he grows up, but those snakes better enjoy music because…

Anyway, this is one more area in which the Internet is amazing.  The child can say, “I would like to learn to Carol of the Bells” and mom can go online, find an Easy Piano version, pay a couple of dollars, download and print.  And three days later, he’s got it down.  Then the child can say, two months after seeing the movie, “There was this music in Beetlejuice that I liked, and I wonder if I could play it.”  So we go to YouTube, find someone performing it, he nods – that’s it  – I find an easy version, download and print, and he’s off.

— 3 —

Speaking of movies, we watched the original Planet of the Apes the other night.  First of all…it’s a little racier than I remembered.  As in, happy nude astronauts jumping in water and some sly camerawork here and there.  Secondly, the ham-handed RELIGION VS. SCIENCE AND TRUE REAL KNOWLEDGE theme is fairly lame.  Third, I found the first section of the film – before they’re captured – really interesting and almost breathtaking.  Charlton Heston and his teeth grate on my nerves, but the landscape (filmed on location in AZ and CA) and the pace are something you just don’t see much of today, with our fancy CGI. But fourth, oh, this was funny, and shows the joys of being unspoiled.

Michael was watching.  We get to the part where the astronauts come upon the feral humans in the corn field.  He says, “Wait, I though this was Planet of the APES?”  He’s a little confused, thinking this was going to be the extent of encounter and conflict.  I say nothing. And then the apes ride in on their steeds.  He sits straight up, mouth agape, and says, ‘ What the HECK?”

— 4 —

I’ve done a heap of cooking this week, what with my daughter home and Thanksgiving and all, and while much of it came out fine, I’m not thrilled will all of it.   I’ve done the artisan bread in five minutes thing a couple of times since this post, and it’s true that it really does best after the first day.   It’s a keeper.  The pizza dough that I made using this recipe is really great. Again – the key is waiting at least a day.  My pie crust was weird.   It looked pretty,but the edge was bizarrely hard.  Like someone had lined the pan with cement.  Jambalaya was good. This was great. I mean, I think I could live on Latin American stews and be super happy.  Cranberry-orange pound cake was good, albeit a bit dry.

— 5 —

Nothing like going out of your way to go to what you think will be a great exhibit expanding your children’s understanding of a subject in which they’re interested in interesting ways and it turns out to be a bunch of signs, nothing more.  Not a single artifact in sight.  I won’t name names, but I’m just saying.  Are you going to exhibit?  Then exhibit. 

 

— 6 —

Bambinelli Sunday seems to be doing well - all ye Catholic booksellers out ,there, put it out next to the nativity sets! All ye pastoral ministers – have a Bambinelli Sunday of your own!  Some parishes are – like here and here. 

(Link to the event to be held in Rome)

— 7 —

The Bookmark that Ann & I did with Doug Keck up at CMN will begin airing this week.  I’ll be doing the Franciscan Media event on Thursday.  If you’re in Charleston, come see me on Saturday.  And next week, I’ll be on Jim and Joy Pinto’s show again. 

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Well, I was going to go crazy and scan all sorts of pages from this for your benefit and enjoyment, but then I discovered...it’s still in print!  Which is a good thing, because it’s a treasure, but it also means it’s copyrighted, so I can’t scan with abandon.

(Update:   See update below before you order…it’s apparently not the exact same)

This was one of my mother’s many cookbooks.  I don’t think she ever used it, but it was there, stuffed on the shelf between various very mod 60’s volumes about chafing dishes, fondue pots and gelatin molds and such.   It was published by the National Catholic Rural Life Conference in 1945, and while it doesn’t feature those great  woodcuts of which I’m such a fan in earlyish and mid-century Catholic lit,  it’s an invaluable glimpse into the era, as the first sentence of the Preface indicates:

This book is an extension of the Missal, Breviary and Ritual because the Christian home is an extension of the Mass, choir and sacramentals. 

That era being clearly resistant  to stereotype and caricatures of an unengaged laity.  As the author herself says in the very next paragraph, We need not shed tears over the past; neither should we exalt the present as the zenith of perfection or condemn it as the nadir of depravity. 

Anyway – the first Lent page is below.  The text is substantial, the recipes – for the most part – still interesting.  On the page that follows this one, the difference between now and then is unmistakable as the author encourages the consumption of whole wheat bread during Lent despite the relatively high cost and difficulty finding it!

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There may be a health food store in a town of 1000,000 which bakes a whole grain loaf at 23 cents, but that is not for the majority nor for the poor….

(She recommends, of course, baking it yourself – after you find a miller who can grind the flour for you!)

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I’m assuming the new edition is identical to the original – the reviews on the site indicate as much – but no promises, of course, since I’ve not seen it.

So ends the year with Christ in the kitchen.  What we have cooked we have made for His glory and the spread of His kingdom.  This way of living is but one path which leads our minds and hearts to His love.  We have not “feasted sumptuously every day,” but we have held both fast and festival in due season.  When great occasions arise, as they do so often in the liturgical year, “it is fit to bring hither the fatted calf and kill it and eat and make merry.” For Christianity is a happiness untold, not only to be tasted at the eternal banquet, but also in some small measure at our little festivals in time.  So with Christ at our table may He bless us and say:

“Eat thy bread with joy and

Drink thy wine with gladness,

Because thy works please God.” 

Update:

Apparently the reprint is not…a reprint.  From the comments, Jennifer of the blog “Family Food for Feast and Feria”

This is my favorite cookbook of all time! It’s also my favorite liturgical year book. I based my whole history undergrad thesis on this book and the publisher, NCRLC. I’ve written about this book several times,http://familyfoodfeastandferia.wordpress.com/2006/04/19/my-favorite-cookbook/, this being my sadly neglected food blog.

This book stemmed from the Liturgical Movement, and was the first American Catholic cookbook of its kind. All other liturgical cookbooks that follow never reach the heights of this book. It’s so family oriented, and helps connect the American to her rich Catholic culture. But Florence Berger makes you realize this isn’t a dead culture, not looking back in the past, but it’s a living connection, because we are part of the Mystical Body.

Sadly, the book that is currently being reprinted is not the original. All the recipes are revised, and if that isn’t good enough, the text is edited, chopped up, and lovely bits and pieces are removed. You will get some taste of the beautiful book, but not the fullness of the original. I can’t understand how they can label it a reprint if it’s fully revised. I’ve compared the original with the revised and just cried to see how much was changed.

While this book does not treat only Florence Berger’s books, “Cultivating Soil and Soul: Twentieth-century Catholic Agrarians Embrace the Liturgical Movement” by Michael J. Woods gives some background history “Cooking for Christ” that I find so interesting! The entire book is wonderful as it really gives an understanding of the Liturgical movement and the connections and role of the NCRLC.

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So aside from doing actual work, my primary obsession today was trying to get a picture of Mama Bird.

Who is, to no one’s surprise, a robin.

Who is also very alert.

"Amy Welborn"

First of all, you can’t sneak up on this bird.  Even if she’s got her back to you, and you’re (okay..I’m) creeping super-slowly, or even (I admit) crawling on the ground below the window – the second you get in range of her unblinking eyes, she’s off.

(Michael has observed that she jumps before she flies. For some reason, that fascinates him.)

So what I ended up doing was just leaving the camera on a pile of books (my tripod broke a while ago and I’ve not replaced it), parking myself in a chair right next to the window with a book in one hand and the other poised on the shutter release. Waiting.

"Amy Welborn"

Partly because I just wanted a blasted picture, but also because I didn’t want to continue disturbing her.

I’m not thrilled with the photos, but I suppose that means that Mama Robin and I are even now, she probably being very Not Thrilled with me.

"Amy Welborn"

My daughter has informed me that once the eggs hatch, I won’t be able to sleep at night.  I really don’t know how she knows that.

We’ll see. I’m used to babies keeping me up at night. Nothing new there.

In other news..how is it that a simple recipe you’ve made with great success several times fails miserably the night before you’re making it for a class bake sale, necessitating tossing an entire batch and starting from scratch at 11pm? Beats me. 

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I hesitate to post this photo because, honestly…it’s not appetizing.  And I couldn’t get the colors right. Because I still can’t do indoor photography with indoor lighting…inside. It’s beyond me.  And Picnik is disappearing into the Google Borg, and then what shall I do?

So. As we all know, the Food Network has devolved into an insane cycle of cupcake competitions, men driving around the country eating food, and men driving around the country fixing restaurants.  The only shows left worth watching are Chopped, Iron Chef when a Birmingham chef kicks Flay Tail, and yes, I watched and enjoyed The Next Iron Chef.  

If you want actual cooking shows, you’ve got to be fortunate to have the Cooking Channel, which is where reruns of Good Eats were sent and where I followed up on Michael Chiarello after the last season of Next Iron Chef.  He was pretty much hated all over the Interwebs, but I liked him, and wondered what his show was like.

I like it: Easy Entertaining.  His mannerisms in the show’s open do get on my nerves – he holds a plate of food in his left hand and flaps his right around while being forced to read lame lines about how his pals are all coming over for a Old West themed  polenta party on the beach during a lunar eclipse  in honor of Valentine’s Day or something.

But once we make it through that and he starts cooking, I’m there.  The food he crafts appeals to my tastes and always seems so doable. Which they should, of course, considering the title of the program.

Which is why I made his Northern Italian Caponata tonight. 

I know. It looks like hash.  But it’s delicious.  I will be eating on this for the next couple of days – that and another batch of my roasted tomatoes that I cooked for almost four hours this time and are like rich little oily, crusty gems.

Caponata, not surprisingly, has ..varieties.   Eggplant is the point, and it’s got a southern Italian/Sicilian provenance.   Chiarello calls this recipe “Northern Italian” and is probably considered a heretic because he throws in potatoes and there’s no tomato. Plus, the dressing is an agrodolce – a sweet and sour concoction (like a French gastrique) that has vinegar as a base, cooked down with a bit of sugar and some golden raisins.  Orange zest and red pepper flakes add to the contrasting flavors.

Please don’t think anyone else in this house is going to eat this.  That’s fine. I didn’t make it for them.

Now back to tonight’s other recipe, which they will eat  – birthday cake – a chocolate pound cake, requested by someone who will be eleven years old tomorrow.  That should be a prettier picture.  But weird Mom?  Prefers the caponata.

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