February 28, 2008

a leap to march

If you've ever been tempted to celebrate leap year - and given the weather here right now, this is a long, long February to celebrate the end of - I wish you even half the energy and creativity of one of my new friends. She sent me this last week. I loved it and wanted to share it with you...it starts with food...Happy Leap Day - off toward March and spring...

If you are feeling social Friday Night – the 29th of February – Leap Year, come party with us.

Leap year comes only once every four years – let’s leap, jump and jive.

As usual there is a suggested schedule of events starting with the traditional cutting of the cucumber sandwich ritual at 8pm sharp.


8.00 Cutting of the Cucumber Sandwich Ritual
8.15 Short performance by host on piano
8.30 Question Period - guest volunteers to be questioned by those present, topics include but not limited to: Allergies, hobbies, travel, phobias, religious views
8.45 Board games and card games begin under the loft
9.00 Newest 45 records donated by Nick spun on turntable
9.30 First rotation of the disco ball
10.00 Mystery guest arrives, whispers in ear, leaves
10.15 Mayhem, absolute mayhem.
10.20 Leap! Leap!
10.30 Piano playing for 15 minutes only, no flugelhorns, bongos or bagpipes please. Singers sing, players play.
10.45 Connie Frances Twist Album
11.00 OK, bagpipes
11.00 Parade of the wind up toys (Unfinished business from last party when host couldn’t find them)
Exchange of business cards near battery operated yapping little white dog
11.30 dancing
12.00 spiders discussed
12.30 dancing
1.00 ghost stories
1.30 bed time stories, flannel
2.00 host crashes (sings in synagogue next morning at 8.30 am)

RSVP If you are coming, feel free to bring a friend especially if they are of fine character.
BYOB or whatever, there’ll certainly be some wine if you are just passing through so no need to fret. Oh, fret. I forgot to put that in the schedule.

February 21, 2008

Culin-oscar-py's 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen.

Welcome to this year's red carpet. Yeah baby, it's shag.

Time to showcase the foods that deserve recognition, endorsements and Winston's gems.

Last year I asked for the all time greatest acceptance speeches for the food you're most grateful for.

This year...Imagine - which star, alive or dead, is sitting at your dining room table - sipping champagne - come on, I said imagine...who would it be? And what would you be making them for dinner?

A pulled pork sandwich for...?
A fruitcake for....?
A bottle of water and lettuce for...?

I dare ya...and keep it clean babes.

February 20, 2008

off the mark

I tripped on a show about interior design today.

The host was exploring minimalism.

In the next segment I saw a rotating shot of a statue of Buddha. Sitting. Cross legged. In meditation.

She said Buddha is a symbol of enlightenment. It is a symbol of zen.

And as a result it was a feature of today's segment: Gotta Have It.

I changed the channel.

February 16, 2008

a little giverny

Playing in Claude Monet's garden at Giverny outside Paris - is being in a painting - the lily ponds, the arched bridges, the willow trees are famous - and the controlled gardens outside the house itself are beautiful, even in the rain.

We were there last July, a quick visit, a beautiful diversion, before my journey to the riverbank.

We fled into the house itself to escape the rain - and I found myself in a kitchen and dining room that are, well, quite something.

I had no idea that Monet was such a food freak.

When I got home our landlady lent me a book called Monet's Table - The Cooking Journals of Claude Monet by Claire Joyes.

She wrote, "It was only at Giverny, which he discovered in 1883, that Monet was able to establish the lifestyle that really suited him..."

Monet had shared another house with a couple who had once been his patrons but who had lost all their money. Monet's first wife, Camille was dying. The other couple had separated and Alice Hoschede and her six children moved in with the Monet's, "living as one" once Camille had died in 1879...by 1892 when Alice's estranged husband had died, she and Monet married.

"Their sole culinary ambition," Joyes wrote, "was to serve beautifully prepared dishes using whatever the kitchen-garden or the farmyard could supply. This was their food, homemade but often making use of recipes invented by the great restaurants they patronized, or even dishes created by their friends, who included writers, art collectors, painters and actors."

And I'm sure they knew a few of those.

At the back is a raft of recipes, including the salt cod bouillabaisse, which comes from Paul Cezanne. And Tarte Tatin, which they managed to convince the actual Tatin sisters to give to them.

Here is the salt cod soup, in the interest of interesting history:

1lb large piece of salt cod
2 cups olive oil
1/2 cup flour
6 potatoes, sliced
4 leeks, white parts only, sliced crosswise
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1/8 tsp saffron
1 bayleaf

Soak the salt cod for 24 hours. Use a colander, put the fish skin side up and change the water occasionally. (This part takes me back to Portugal and Portuguese Christmas)...Drain well and pat dry. Heat the olive oil in a skillet. When it's smoking, dust the salt cod with some of the flour and fry it until it's cooked through, but not brown. Remove, drain and put it aside. Use the same skillet to saute the potatoes for about 10 minutes, until almost cooked through.

Pour a little of the frying old into a deep cast-iron pot. Add the leeks and saute tem on low heat. Slowly add the pepper, cloves, garlic, parsley, saffron, bayleaf, and the rest of the flour, which will brown in the oil. Add 6 cups hot water, and boil, covered, over high heat for 10-15 minutes. Slide the cod and potatoes into the pot.

Serves 6.

February 15, 2008

February 07, 2008


Tasha died tonight.
She is one of the animals I have been lucky to love in my life.
She owned two of my dearest friends, and she spent her whole life smiling, wagging, sniffing, living and, I swear, laughing with them.
She was a reflection of their hearts.
They loved her well, so she lived well.
I will miss her.