Springtime Deities: Green Goddess Dressing

Tarragon (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Today is a happy-Joni Mitchell kind of day. There’s another kind of Joni Mitchell day which is rather introspective, but this isn’t that kind of day at all. It’s the kind of day where you open all the windows and belt out, “Oh Carey get out your cane / And I’ll put on some silver. / Oh you’re a mean old Daddy / But I like you fine.” The neighbors are probably listening to you, and that’s ok.

The persistent reminder of spring is everywhere in the city. The tree in our inner courtyard is flush with green. There’s a pretty, yellow flower (whose name I just spent 15 minutes trying to find on the internet, to no avail) sitting on my kitchen table. Every market stall is plump with fresh herbs and the vegetables are starting to taste like themselves again. I fell in love with a basket of cherry tomatoes this morning and ate every single one. » Continue reading this post…

Veggies in the Fridge, the Leftovers Edition: Thai Green Curry

Thai green curry (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

What to do the day after you’ve made Balinese Gado-Gado and have a refrigerator full of vegetables just begging to be eaten? Roll with the punches. Give them what they want.

And what do they want? Well, they desperately want to be made into a spicy, fragrant Thai Green curry.

Birds-eye chili (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Cilantro (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Preparing green curry paste (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I’m particularly fond of Thai food. It’s both comforting and fresh, spicy and sweet, and it makes use of some of my favorite ingredients: coconut, chili, cilantro, brown sugar, and lime to name just a few. » Continue reading this post…

A Little Journey: Balinese Gado-Gado

Chopped red onion (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Germany is a country of church bells. They ring the hour languorously – glottal chimes layered one upon the other, deep, dull peals. From my apartment, I can hear three distinct churches. The large, loud bells from the church nearby, which sets off the next two bells like dominoes. They’re further away. One like gleeful wedding chimes, the other low and bored.

The sound of the bells transports me to another part of Germany, to Bremen, where I first recall really feeling the bells. For three summers, my family lived in the city, and I’d wake to their morning clang. The Teerhof, where we lived, was close to the inner city and its many old churches. Maybe because I was young, probably because I was reading a lot of Victor Hugo, Bremen was a magical, romantic city. And when I hear the bells today, I’m swept up in nostalgia. I can smell the moist, rain-laden air and the river, the sweetish apple smell wafting from the Beck’s brewery down the way. » Continue reading this post…

How to Be a German-American

Toast with leberwurst (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Tacos (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

For lunch, make slices of toast from dark bread crunchy with seeds and grains then top it with fresh leberwurst and thin slips of yellow onion, cracked black pepper and coarse salt. For lunch the next day, make tacos on corn tortillas loaded up with limey guacamole, habanero, red onion and corn salsa, sour cream and ripe, red tomatoes.

Never lean too much one way or too much the other. Love butter with cheese. Love brown sugar and cinnamon Pop Tarts.

Live in both lands and languages, never mind being better at one or the other.

Know how to whip up the dough for spätzle and how to press it into boiling water, waiting for the little gnarled noodles to bob up to the surface. Sweep them out with a slotted spoon. Know that the secret to spätzle is to fry them up in a buttered pan with cheese until the knobs sport caramel-colored scabs that crunch between your teeth. Know the warmth of eating at on old wooden table with a knit beige cloth and chipped, flower-printed plates.

» Continue reading this post…

Apples and Guilt: Baked Apple Custard with Butter Cookie Crust

Baked apple custard (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

The way I see it, there are three types of guilt. Guilt complexes, guilty consciences and the most fun of the three, guilty pleasures. Guilty consciences arise when you’ve done something you know you shouldn’t, and a guilt complex comes from anticipating a guilty conscience. A guilty pleasure, then, is something you do to calm  your guilt complex down. It’s the solution to everything.

Apples and guilt go way back. Biblical back. (Let’s not get too hung up on whether apples really are Edenic. Persimmon, perschmimmon. We’re sticking to modern-day symbolism, here.) It was the fruit that cost the garden, and introduced the very first guilty conscience to the world. And we all know the three-tiered progression of guilt that follows. » Continue reading this post…

The Arrival Poems: Berliner Leek and Apple Tart

Leek and apple tart with goat cheese (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Who knows pleasure who does not know the smell of leeks on a stovetop? Fragrant and sweet, soft with butter, the scent is a perfume muskier than onion and green with earth. The leeks slowly simmer down, reducing to the thinnest slimness, translucent and rimmed with butter-burnt brown. Now there is sage in the pan, now salt, now the hiss of hard apple cider.

In this moment, I can imagine nothing more beautiful. I am completely happy.

I have just started to write poems about Berlin. What does this mean? For one, it means that I have stopped writing poems about New York. It means that at least for a while, Berlin is the most tangible home I have. » Continue reading this post…

Show Me the Green: Wilted Kale with Feta and Fried Egg

Wilted kale with fried egg and feta (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Apparently I have a reputation for really liking kale. I don’t know where it came from or what I’ve done to start it, but my love is apparently well known.

I’m not ashamed. I do love kale.

I’m hitting the talking-about-kale bandwagon a bit late. According to the internet, kale’s trending days have come and gone – it’s so last year’s green. (Although The Guardian seems to think that kale popsicles are going to be big in 2014…)

But I don’t love food because it’s trendy; I love it because it’s delicious. I love the way crisp and chewy kale plays off shaved parmesan, chopped dates and lemon dressing in a raw salad, the way the curled leaves trap salty pancetta bits, the way a kale chip crunches apart in your mouth, or the way a bitter wilted leaf is the perfect foil for chili flakes and a soft, rich egg. » Continue reading this post…

Bad Weather Breeds a Sweet Tooth: Carrot Cupcakes with Cointreau

Topped with cream cheese icing and walnuts (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

What better time to talk about desserts than when it’s raining? The sky is gray, the red tiled roofs of the buildings in the courtyard slicked with wet. Slushy snow flakes dot the drizzle in what the weatherman calls a “wintry mix.” And I’m thinking about cupcakes.

A long time ago, before I moved to Schöneberg, when I still called Neukölln home, I was in a baking mood. I don’t think the weather was quite so dire nor was I feeling quite as lazy as I am today – or else I’d be baking these cupcakes right now instead of dreaming about them and staring out my window. » Continue reading this post…