so you think you don’t like okra, eh?

summary: fried okra hash; Vivian Howard’s compelling words; rooftop garden;

I’m calling [this] hash, for lack of a better word. Whatever its proper name, this is magic draining on a paper-towel-lined plate – Vivian Howard, Chapter 18: Okra, Deep Run Roots, p404

In late June, in the middle of reading the okra chapter in Vivian Howard’s truly wonderful book, “Deep Run Roots”, we immediately put down the book, jumped on our bikes and sought out okra to make okra hash for that night’s dinner.

Deep Run Roots

Because, unlike many poor misguided people, we love okra. Or rather, we love okra as long as the scary slime has been cooked out of it.

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This is Our Kind of Music!

Catalan Potatoes summary: how hard is it (really) to make garlic paste? – Epicurious video investigation; fake news; what to do with garlic paste; the wonders of alioli made with home-grown “Music” garlic; Catalan potatoes; some opinions about garlic;

“One rule in life”, he murmured to himself. “If you can smell garlic, everything is all right”. – J.G. Ballard (1930-2009), High-Rise

'Music' Garlic Once again last fall, I planted “Music” garlic.

I don’t care that we don’t really have enough sun in our garden. I don’t care that the resulting heads of garlic are a little smaller than they should be.

Can you smell the music? I can!! Everything is all right….

I first saw the following video on “Facebook Watch” on 13 August; it conveniently (for FB) left out the plug for the Epicurious website. It turns out the video was originally on the Epicurious YouTube channel on 2 January of this year (at least I think it was originally there), with the words,

Watch as 50 people try to make garlic paste by any means necessary, including peeling, cutting, mincing, smashing and squashing. […] Browse thousands of recipes and videos from Bon Appétit, Gourmet, and more. Find inventive cooking ideas, ingredients, and restaurant menus from the world’s largest food archive.

YouTube: 50 People Try to Mince Garlic | Epicurious

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In the Heat of the Night (BBB August 2018)

go directly to the recipe

Bread Baking Babes August 2018 summary: recipe for Yeasted Blueberry Coffee Cake; brioche; hot weather baking; information about Bread Baking Babes;

At ten minutes to three in the morning, the city of Wells lay inert, hot and stagnant. Most of its eleven thousand people tossed restlessly; the few who couldn’t sleep at all damned the fact that there was no breeze to lift the stifling effect of the night. The heat of the Carolinas in August hung thick and heavy in the air. – John Ball, In the Heat of the Night

Sigh. Late again. I WAS going to be ontime. I really was.

I blame it on the Dog Days. Even though it isn’t Dog Days yet. It sure is hot enough though. It went up to 31C yesterday. And now, only a few hours into today, it’s still 24C. And stinkingly humid. “Stifling”… “Thick and heavy”…. Make it stop!

But enough (almost) whining, and on to the heart of the matter:

Bread Baking Babes (BBB): Yeasted Blueberry Coffee Cake

BBB August 2018

Brioche dough is so soft and silky, I look forward to making it just to enjoy the feel of it under my hands. The finished dough is so full of life it requires constant deflating duing its maturing rest in the refrigerator. […] Do not allow the dough to rise more than the number of times recommended […] or the rise will weaken the sturcture and cause the bread to be heavy.
 
– Rose Levy Beranbaum, The Bread Bible, p485-486

This month, Judy (Judy’s Gross Eats) chose yeasted blueberry coffee cake for the BBBabes to bake. At first, I imagined I was going to use wild yeast only.

Ha. As if. The heat and humidity got to me. It also made our wild yeast extremely unpredictable.

Happily, we still have some active dry yeast in the fridge. And beautiful wild blueberries in the freezer. I was set!

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Delving into the Archives… Black Rice

go directly to the recipe

summary: recipe for perfect rice every time; Basement of St. Lawrence Market; local asparagus is way better than imported; is expensive black rice really better? Yes, if there are shrimps in Pernod;

black rice

Back in the middle of June, at the height of asparagus season, we rode our bikes to St. Lawrence Market. I can’t remember now exactly why we HAD to go to St. Lawrence Market. It wouldn’t have been for the asparagus. We get terrific asparagus in June at our favourite vegetable store just down the street from our house.

But. Could it have been Placeware’s kitchen supply to look at pullman bread tins and find out they are quite expensive and rather large? (How many times really would we want square bread?) Or were we looking for Asian gold mustard seeds at Kozlik’s? Or perhaps it was for the bacon at Witteveen Meats….

Whatever the reason, we decided to wander around the lower level. Once there, we couldn’t help but stop to gaze at all the dried lentils, beans, grains and rice at Rube’s Rice. Who knew there were so many different kinds of rice!

We asked the vendor what her favourite rice was. Without hesitation, she pointed to the organic black rice; she loves its nutty flavour. (continue reading )

Biscuit Making Traditions – South vs North

summary: Vivian Howard’s biscuits from her cookbook, Deep Run Roots; using lard instead of butter; flat vs lofty;

I didn’t learn to make biscuits and elaborate Sunday lunches at my mother’s knee. Nope; growing up, I was busy plotting my grand exit from the middle of nowhere, Deep Run. -Vivian Howard, Deep Run Roots, Introduction | Roots, p5

Unlike Vivian Howard, I did learn to make biscuits and elaborate Sunday lunches at my mother’s knee. But, I wasn’t exactly a willing student…. However, I was obedient.

lofty Biscuits

lofty Northern-style biscuits made using Mum’s recipe calling for flour, baking powder, butter (or vegetable shortening), milk, and salt

And Mum’s biscuit making lessons have stood us in good stead. I used to make really good biscuits, until I showed T Mum’s recipe and he took over the biscuit-making. Now he makes GREAT biscuits.

While I may not have been Mum’s best student, I always did (and still do) love to eat good food. Both of us do. Not to mention T is constantly striving to improve his already stellar cooking.

So when we were reading “Deep Run Roots” and got to the section on biscuits (calling for flour, baking powder, lard, buttermilk, and salt), T announced that as there was excellent lard in the fridge and we had some really good ham from our favourite butcher, he was going to make Vivian Howard’s biscuits.

Lillie [Hardy] gave me a lesson on biscuit making, and beforehand I thought she was going to show me something I already knew-how to measure, gently knead, roll out, and cut big fluffy biscuits. Instead, she showed me how to fashion the biscuits that I had thought only a scowling magician toiling hunchbacked behind a swinging kitchen door could craft.
    Because these are flat, they don’t make great bookends for stout combinations like bacon, egg, and cheese […] This is a one-stuffing kind of biscuit, a happy home for a link of sausage split lengthewise or a naturally slight slice of country ham. Lillie and most people around, though, eat them just as often right out of the oven with molasses.
 
-Vivian Howard, Deep Run Roots, Chapter 16: Sausage | ENC-Style Buttermilk Biscuits, p366

ENC-Style Buttermilk Biscuits (continue reading )