Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Cool Summer Shrimp and Grilled Peach Quinoa Salad

SUMMER IN THE SOUTH: A Progressive Dinner 

Appreciation is a wonderful thing; 
it makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well. 
- Voltaire 

I'm a Southern Girl. Oh, I'm no Georgia Peach and my brand of South isn't the cornbread and biscuits, fried chicken and yams, collard greens and black-eyed peas South, ya'll. I grew up in Florida along the dunes and waves of Cocoa Beach and in the shadow of the rockets of NASA. My South is flavored by the tropical fruits and citrus that grow in the lush and savage flora along the Indian and Banana Rivers, the seafood fished in those rivers and in the ocean, coming in through the ports of Titusville. My Southern cuisine is shrimp, crab legs and catfish, steamed or fried, the mangoes and avocados, oranges and grapefruit, peaches and watermelon indigenous to the area, most eaten as is, fresh from the tree, rather than being elaborated in a dish. Cool respite from the sweltering heat of the Florida summer.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Panmarino becomes Italian Chive Bread


Chester chooses chestnuts, 
cheddar cheese with chewy chives. 
He chews them and he chooses them. 
He chooses them and he chews them. . . . . .
those chestnuts, cheddar cheese 
and chives in cheery, charming chunks. 
- Singin' in the Rain 

I never know when something will please my son and when something won't. Homebaked, homemade goods fill him with dread and suspicion, and he jumps to the conclusion that there is something odd and horrid hidden within. Tiny flecks of green or orange convince him that I have secreted vegetables, something healthy, into a cake or bread, any red meat in a stew means fat that must be dissected away, chunks mean the dreaded mushroom. Even a plain chocolate cake if not THE chocolate cake he loves fills him with mistrust, questioning my baking integrity, assuming that I am trying to pull the wool over his eyes and trick him into eating something… weird.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Best, Old Fashioned Cherry Blueberry Cobbler


Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been 
the two most beautiful words in the English language. 
- Henry James 

Not much to do these steamy Florida afternoons. Locked in the house but to dash from inside to out to car to shops. Even inside with the sometime chill of the air conditioning when it is working one feels a summer sloth, hot and tired, too lazy to cook or bake. Infused with summer vacation. I keep mom entertained, drive her from errand to errand, and every afternoon we head to brother and sister's-in-law for a meal, talk and movie night.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Yoohoo/Mocha Frappuccino Panna Cotta


Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to. 
- John Ed Pearce 

The first morning, my mother and I sat in her kitchen cleaning out the cabinets as we awaited news of my wayward suitcase, which chose to remain in Paris as I flew off to Florida. First thing emptied was her large, state-of-the-art oven whose existence has been relegated to storage rather than baking. I pulled out box after box of cookies, candy bars, overly-sweetened, chocolate-studded treats trying to pass for granola bars, sweetened oatmeal and more cookies. I yanked open the tall pantry cupboard and unloaded can after can, many expired, of baked beans, tuna, soups and corn and stacked them on the counter. Out came more boxes of cookies, granola bars, cookies, sweet cereals and, yes, cookies. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Peanut Butter on Toast


Gone — flitted away, 
Taken the stars from the night and the sun 
From the day! 
Gone, and a cloud in my heart. 
- Alfred Tennyson 

I've been eating peanut butter on toast, lunch and dinner, for the past two days. To be more precise, peanut butter on baguette, fresh or toasted, but that's just semantics. Fastidious. Under the circumstances. I've been eating a lot of peanut butter on toast. Peanut butter on toast is my ultimate comfort food. I eat it when I am sick and I eat it when I am sad. I woke up Tuesday morning, logged onto Facebook, as is my habit first thing after coffee, and discovered the death of a friend. A man just a year older than I, killed in an automobile accident in Orlando, Florida.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Lamb Curry with Fresh Peas


You will never get out of pot or pan anything fundamentally better than what went into it. 
Cooking is not alchemy; there is no magic in the pot. 
- Martha McCulloch-Williams, Dishes & Beverages of The Old South, 1913

Supermarkets are rather a newfangled affair in France, having come to fruition, caught on and spread like wildfire sometime during the 1990's, during our stay in Italy, when we were out of the country, surprising us upon our return. My husband, like all Frenchmen and women of his generation, like the generations before them, grew up shopping at the market and small artisan shops, the butcher, the baker, the cheese and the fishmonger, the mom-and-pop corner shop for dry goods. They were not ready for the supermarket explosion.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Devil's Food Cake


They were remarkably fresh, too, notwithstanding their great exertions: for, on the appearance of the dessert, they broke out again, as if nothing serious had taken place since breakfast. 
– Charles Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby

France has certainly been wrapped up, engrossed and submerged in World Cup soccer. Football. After France's colossal win in 1998 that united a country and their fall from grace in 2010, embarrassing an entire country, the newly formed and coached team, seemingly humbler, more cohesive and definitely playing better for it, has entranced the French. The performance of Les Bleus has gripped a nation. The cheers rise up in unison across our city, throughout the country, swell and push out from living rooms and bars and into the streets, the squares, the excitement and energy palpable, making this World Cup even more exciting.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Best Chocolate Chip Pecan Blondies


It was a splendid summer morning and it seemed as if nothing could go wrong. 
- John Cheever

A morning dog walk, shadows stretched across the sidewalk, sunglasses needed against the brightness of a summer day.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Blue Doors


Oh! Darkly, deeply, beautifully blue, 
As someone somewhere sings about the sky. 
- Lord Byron 

The rain has finally stopped, more or less, and the days are clear, warm and summery, more or less. At about the same hour each afternoon, we slip into our light weather jackets and slip out of the apartment for a stroll.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Postcard from Italy


A man who has not been in Italy, is always conscious of an inferiority, 
from his not having seen what it is expected a man should see. 
 - Samuel Johnson 

Tuscany is drunk with memories. Seven years of our lives in Italy, the odd weekend or holiday in the sage green hills and silver-tipped olive trees of Tuscany, fill the cup and overflow and I am back here after much too long a separation. Flooded with sensations, the warm sun on my skin (after chilly, rainy days in France) tickling out souvenirs of driving these same roads next to my husband, two little toddlers asleep in the back seat. - from Plated Stories Tuscany (with photos by Ilva Beretta)


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