Archive for the ‘Eating’ Category


Monday, March 26th, 2012

Blood Orange syrup.  I loves me some bubbly water but do not appreciate the over sweetness of most commercially made sodas.  We have one of those home soda system available these days, with a charged canister that delivers the bubbles.  I have been squeezing citrus into my glass but it tends to be more watered down that I desire.  So I decided to make myself some syrup.  Basically it’s zest, juice, sugar and a little water reduced on the stove by about half. The juice/water sugar proportions are about 2:1 liquid to dry.   A good tablespoon or so gives me a delicious soda with just the right blend of bubbles and tang. Ah, refreshment!

Temperate days

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Mother Nature is one confused broad these days.  She has been showering us with hot sunny days at a time of year when we should be wet, muddy and grey.  I think it will all go back to normal this weekend, but for the past week we have been playing at Summer, before having gone through Spring.

garlic sprouts

The garlic has sprung from it’s cold Winters bed.  We may need to close the garden back up so the chickens can’t get in to scratch at the tender shoots.  My chicken wire defense only partially works. But the green is a welcome sight.  Someone asked me at yoga the other day if I had planted my peas on St. Patrick’s Day.  This is common wisdom further South in New England, I have planted peas this early in other gardens, in other lifetimes.  Here in Maine we wait until Patriots Day, a holiday I was fully unaware of until we moved up here.  It comes right around tax day, a full month later than St. Patty’s.  I suppose if one was bold one could try putting some peas in the ground now.  Our soil was too frozen in the beginning of this week.  By now it has probably warmed up enough for an attempt.  For me however, that entails plotting out where I will plant what for the whole season, as I try to rotate my crops (!?) as much as possible to keep down disease and pests.  Somehow I am just not there yet.  Perhaps in another week or so, after it has gotten cold again, and I am longing for days planting with the sun on my back.  Then I will plot it all out, so the next time it gets even close to warm enough, I can run right out and plant those darling peas.

birthday cake In the meantime, we spent Thursday at home, having made an executive decision to enjoy its lovely weather and forgo our usual Sunday off, as rain is forecast for that day.  Our friend Peter came over for lunch and we sat on the patio, eating, talking and staring out at the still brown field.  We grilled some Scup, or Porgys as our fishmonger compared them. They were delicious.  Just brushed with olive oil, salt & pepper and a few slices of lemon in their cavities. The crackling skin was marvelous, the meat sweet and tender.  Accompanied by a Cauliflower and Red Pepper salad (because it is still March and here in Maine we have fewer fresh vegetable options this time of year) it was a tasty afternoon meal outdoors. The only thing missing was some green, no leaves anywhere with those temps was just plain queer.

We finished up with my new favorite cake, the Brown Sugar Lightning cake from The Improvisational Cook by Sally Schneider.  It is just as it sounds, brown sugary goodness that comes together lightning fast.  Split, filled with some Mangoes that had been macerating with brown sugar and lime juice, and frosted with whipped cream laced with Greek yogurt (full fat, thank you) and, wait for it, brown sugar.  It was dreamy.  Turns out it was Peter’s birthday, so we didn’t have any candles, and we didn’t sing at him, but it was his birthday cake.

John Dory

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Last nights dinner was a foil roasted John Dory bought from Harbor Fish, one of our all time favorite seafood purveyors.  Have you been there?  If you live in Portland, Maine, it is probably on your circuit.  Even if you are a summer visitor to Maine, you have been to Harbor Fish.  If not, add it to your itinerary.

I had a craving for some fish on Saturday, but only after the possibility for securing such raw ingredients was past.  Sunday morning after yoga I drove over to Custom House wharf.  Arriving at Harbor Fish at 10:30 on a Sunday morning was a new experience for me.  The place was empty, I had it all to myself.  And what an array of choices to be had.  Taking my sweet time, I surveyed all offerings and decided on the whole John Dory which they gutted for me. It is an ugly fish no doubt, spiny and flat with an enormous mouth. But man, was it delicious.

We buttered a big piece of tin foil, lay the fish on it with a couple cloves of garlic, some slices of lemon, salt/pepper, a sprig or two of thyme and a generous lashing of vermouth. In the oven at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes.  Served with some sauteed spinach and eggplant (a vegetable drawer combo if ever there was one) and whole wheat cous cous to soak up the juices form the fish.  Oh my….

I do love living somewhere where this kind of raw ingredient is so fresh, tasty and readily available.

Paint & Oil

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

The cover from a menu for a dinner of the Paint and Oil Club of Portland, Maine, held at the Falmouth Hotel, January 19, 1889.

Some highlights from the menu include:

Blue Points on the half shell

Boiled Chicken Halibut with egg sauce

Roman Punch

Mallard Duck with Currant jelly

Tutti Frutti (I kid you not, printed verbatim on the menu)

Coffee and cigars…

Sounds like a delightful evening.

New Coke?

Friday, March 9th, 2012

I have been a die-hard fan of the New York Times for my entire life.  However lately there just doesn’t seem to be any there there.  Been reading the Guardian.  They report things the US press misses or is late to.  Such as carcinogens in Coke and Pepsi….


Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

We had a snowstorm the other day.  A real snowstorm with snow that fell for a full twenty four hours. It left a foot of snow around our house.  An executive decision was made not to leave the house, even though it was a ‘workday’.  One of the benefits of being your own boss, and having a business without posted retail hours just yet. These kinds of days are one of the beautiful parts of winter in the Northeast. Sometimes you just have to stay indoors for a whole day. Being housebound leads to various trains of thought, one of which is: what do I have on hand to cook with?  My brain focused on Spaetzle for some reason.  Well, actually I’ve been mulling over Gnocchi since we had a delicious meal with Gallit and Chris of Fishbowl Farm last week.  Gallit made the best Gnocchi I have ever had with a magnificent lamb shoulder and some of their spinach.  I have never tried to make Gnocchi.  Always thought it was beyond me somehow, and that if I tried it I would fail.  Bad judgment on my part, but there it is.I have seen them made many times including when I was working in the kitchen at Craft and Damon Wise would make them every morning.  I would watch furtively from the pastry section.  So since we ate Gallit’s Gnocchi I have been toying with trying them, over and over, in my head.  I have all the ingredients at home.  Full disclosure here, I have still not yet tried, although I may tonight.

No, I thought I would dip my toe in the water with some Spaetzle. A hand-made noodle (dumpling?) of some similarity to Gnocchi, Spaetzle are generally considered a simpler enterprise.  They are made of just three ingredients: flour; egg, salt and a sprinkle of water.  Guess that’s four ingredients.   When Gallit was was giving me her tips on making Gnocchi she pulled out her battered copy of Beard on Pasta by the venerable James Beard.  I have one of those I remembered.  I haven’t pulled it out in a while, but it wasn’t buried too deep in our collection.  Not getting much use lately, it has seen better days.

It was a gift from my Father when I was in college.    He had been introduced to James Beard by his friend Raymond Sokolov who has written about food for decades, including most recently the Wall Street Journal.  When my parents divorced, Ray helped Dad set up his batterie de cuisine, including his early culinary library which included the likes of James Beard, Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey.   Dad had a brand new copy of Beard on Pasta the summer it came out and I made the fettucine with striped bass, except being on Martha’s Vineyard at the time, I substituted bluefish for the bass.  It was a hit at dinner that night so for my birthday, which falls in September, I was gifted my very own copy of this iconic title.

This is a book that has traveled a lot of ground with me.  It has been through many moves, various relationships, and at different points has inspired many meals.  When I took it back to college that first year I would make the fresh tomato sauce (to think I needed a recipe, but I was just 19) that called for four tablespoons of butter to be melted into the sauce at the end.  For some reason I remember it being a whole stick of butter, and that being the reason that I and all my house mates loved that pasta.  However I can no longer find mention of this step in the book.  Did I make it all up?

I look at this book now- dust jacket torn and stained- and see my culinary history. I just put a mylar cover on it.  Don asked why I was mylaring such a damaged dust jacket instead of just finding a clean copy.  Because it’s my copy.  I caused that book to look like that, it holds a small piece of my history and the stories that I carry from cooking from it. I may not cook from this book that frequently, but I am comforted by knowing that it is on my shelf.  Very proud that I did not get rid of it during the no-carb frenzy a decade or so ago.  It’s part of my library.  Something I hold dear.

So of course I was going to turn to Beard if I was to make Spaetzle. He has two variations, one called Spaetzle and another called Spatzen.  The difference is just the addition of a pinch of baking powder. Despite not having a Spaetzle-maker, I think my efforts were successful.  The delicate flavor of the dumplings was overwhelmed by the baked ham and roasted beet that I served it with.  But I will make them again.  And I am one step closer to making Gnocchi.

The things you do on a snowy day.

David Levy – Still Lives

Friday, November 18th, 2011

We will have an opening reception on Friday, December 2nd for The Photography of David Levy whose image you see here.  Please come out for a festive Holiday First Friday and say hello to David between 5:30 and 8:00.  We will have nibbles and sips and David Levy and good cheer.

new chicks, old zukes…

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

August is a blowsy month. The garden is producing at full capacity, and it is hot enough that if you don’t get out there in the early morning, by the end of the day you’ve got Zucchini the size of baseball bats.  It’s an old song but I’m still singing it.  Every time I go down there I find a critter I missed last time that has grown out of control.

Last week we had a day when I actually lost track of time. Truly.  It was a beautiful thing.  A friend came over in the morning for some coffee and helped us corral and house the thirteen day-old chicks that our wayward hen had just hatched.  Yes, you did read that right, thirteen wild Maine chicks were born, unbeknownst to us, to our walkabout hen this past week.  I am still trying to imagine how she sat on such a large pile of eggs –  and managed to hatch them.  But there they were, cheeping away.  They are now installed in a shipping crate left over from the renovation of the house.  They lived there solo for about 24 hours and then mother hen moved in with them.  Now she pecks at our hands when we reach in to refill their food and water.  She takes motherhood very seriously.  But I digress.

New Chicks

So after the chicks were situated and our friend left for the rest of his day, Don and I wandered off to projects.  In the late afternoon we re-convened to put together a meal for more friends coming over for dinner.  We spent the late afternoon into evening lolling about drinking, talking, foraging, grilling, eating, watching the toddler play in the water bowl.  And I forgot about time.  It was blissful.  In this day and age I find it very hard to disconnect from the modern world and just be.  You know, the way you used to during the summer when you were a kid and  days seemed endless, and school seemed a light year away. But for a couple of hours last Wednesday, that’s just how I felt. Lost in summer.  Better than lost in space.

In the kitchen the fruit flies have taken over.  I try to be diligent about eating or refrigerating any less than perfect produce, but I am human and occasionally miss things.  I have traps of cider vinegar and dish soap in jars on the counter, but somehow I cannot quell the insurrection.  Our current solution is to spend most of our time out of doors.  Not a difficult duty these days. Ice cream making continues apace, salted caramel being the current favorite flavor.  Having eaten rustic tomato salads for a couple of weeks now, we are looking for other ways to eat our fruit.  Barely warmed chopped tomatoes with cubed mozzarella and torn basil makes a great sauce for pasta.  Tessa Kiros has a recipe for tomato fritters in Food From Many Greek Kitchens

that I am going to try tonight.  What are you doing with your tomatoes?


Spring feasts

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

“The carp was dead, killed, assassinated, murdered in the first, second and third degree. Limp, I fell into a chair, with my hands still unwashed reached for a cigarette, lighted it, and waited for the police to come and take me into custody.”

Alice B. Toklas

EastoverIt is most certainly Spring here in Maine.  Cold wet days, punctuated with flashes of gorgeous sunshine, harbingers of what’s to come.  But first we have to get through this cold dank stuff.  I did not plants my peas on Patriot’s Day last week.  I just planned the garden beds yesterday so I had no idea where I was going to plant those peas a week ago last Monday. I am choosing to be smug that my peas are not languishing in the cold wet soil.  Maybe, since it seems not to be raining, I will plant them today.

We had a delightful Spring feast on Sunday in the barn at Broadturn Farm.  Long tables filled with smiling faces, happy to be out of the house and communing with friends. I love Winter in Maine, really I do.  But by the time we get to April I am jonesing for the company of others, and fresh air.

Next weekend is the MARIAB fair in Wilmington, MA.  Don will be manning the booth solo (I’ve got to go to DC for a family party). But we hope to see many of you Massachusetts folks there.  Don will tell you a little about what he is bringing down, and there are VIP passes for those who click through.

The sky is lightening, time to plant the peas.



Saturday, May 7th, we’ll be loading up the wagon to exhibit at the Boston Book and Paper Expo , in Wilmington, MA. It’s an easy drive, closer than Boston. This rare book fair is one of the last big shows of the year, and will feature more than 85 dealers from all over the East Coast, as well as presentations, exhibits and talks on topics of books and book collecting.

Rabelais be bringing an assortment of American, English and Continental cookbooks from three centuries, along with cocktail, beer and wine books from our large collection. Many of the books have not been shown before, and haven’t even made it to the store, so come see what’s new (or old, really).  Some highlights include a beautiful copy of Mary Harris Frazer’s Kentucky Receipt Book, which includes the first recipe for banana pudding; an original 1931 Joy of Cooking in the ultrarare dust jacket, featuring St. Martha slaying the dragon of cooking drudgery; and a collection of European and American manuscript cookbooks.   Some of our recent purchases from the library of Alan Davidson will be there as well.

Just how much will this cost me, you ask? Well, nothing! The show’s promoter, Marvin Getman, has provided us with special VIP passes for our customers. Just click here to download and print out the special pass.

Sale boxes
In case you forgot, we will be having a store-wide sale May 14-16th.  That’s a Saturday through a Monday for those of you in the industry.  And there will be new material put out every day.  The Antiquarian books are the only things not on sale.  There will be tables of $1, $3 and $5 books and then the balance will be 40% off.  Help us make some room!

Early Lunch at Ottolenghi, 3/11

Monday, April 18th, 2011
A delightful lunch

Plates at Ottolenghi