The Simple Life (Sans Paris Hilton)

Avocado and sardine toasts (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Today it is raining. Sheets of fine mist slant through my gray Brooklyn sky and I watch it comfortably curled in my desk chair, writing poetry, drinking coffee, reading Buglakov’s The Master and Margarita, where Satan has just finished throwing a rager. I light candles and take a bath, paint my toenails, watch Jesus Christ Superstar, write more poetry, listen to rain dribble against my air conditioning unit with metallic thwacks.

When I wake up this morning, I find this comment from my mother on my facebook status: I didn’t want to get out of bed this morning. All I could think was how the cold has reduced my world to a very small space, and all I do in that space is eat.

Of course, she has no way of knowing that it will be cold in Brooklyn again, that it will rain in Brooklyn, that I, too, won’t want to leave my space – or my space heater. But I consider it good advice, and I eat.

The toaster (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Avocado (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

In the cold, on this day, I want nothing complex. I don’t want to cook. I want toast – and then to stick my hands in the toaster after I pull my bread out. I want salty sardines in olive oil and avocado. Sicilian black pepper cheese. Salt. Pepper. And then I want to go back to my desk, surrounded by candles and light, read about the devil, and listen to rain.

Sardine and butter toast (Eat Me. Drink Me.) » Continue reading this post…

Tailgating at 9 AM (a post by Josh)

At the Davidson Farmer's Market (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

From my limited understanding about tailgating, what you do at a tailgate is stand around the back of a truck, grill, drink, and stand in a parking lot. How American. That’s not what I ended up doing at 9 am yesterday, but I did tailgate. What? Stop confusing me.

What Davidson has stated to do in the winter months, when the crops are few and far between, is have its weekly Farmer’s Market become a bi-weekly tailgate Farmer’s Market. What that means is every other Saturday, farmers will bring their produce, baked goods, jams, ostrich meat, and flowers to the back parking lot of the local coffee shop, Summit.

Vendor selling lettuce (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

The market board (Eat Me. Drink Me.)
Fresh bread (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Yesterday was a Saturday that the market was happening, and how thankful was I. It was the first beautiful day in North Carolina since the November heat wave – a comfortable 60 degrees, blue skies, and crisp.

Lettuces (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Homemade dips (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Although there were a bunch of appetizing vegetables, I only had my eyes set on Brussels sprouts.

Um, why?

Well, it turns out that yesterday was not only a good day because of the Farmer’s market, and beautiful day, but also because there was to be a potluck that night. With potlucks, I always try to bring that food that everyone thinks they hate – see: cabbage, mushrooms, etc – and make them try my version. For me, it’s the ultimate test: can I make someone like something that they used to hate? So this time, I tried Brussels sprouts.

Beautiful brussels (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Once I got home with the two packages of sprouts, I realized that I actually didn’t know how to exactly cook these miniature cabbage-like things. Looking in a few cook books, I figured that boiling them, then sautéing them would be a legitimate option.

So after washing and halving them, I boiled them for about four minutes. » Continue reading this post…

Ingredient – A Quick Shout-Out to Semolina

Semolina flour (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

A few months ago, when I was about to move to New York, I decided to clean out my parents’ pantry of all the things that had been sitting on the shelves for years (not hyperbole) and would most likely be doomed to sit there for many more. I snatched some canned jellies, pickles, pastes, pates, spices, curds, and pastas, knowing they would never be missed. I’ve been slowly working my way through my parents’ pantry here in Brooklyn, and I’m often grateful for that swiped can of anchovies (sorry, mom, I know you would have probably used those) or am inspired by a bag of chocolate pasta I wouldn’t have gone out of my way to buy. Sometimes the food has been sitting around so long it’s already stale – I’ve eaten some disappointing packets of oatmeal, slurped stale Ramen soup, and given away old-tasting pretzels to my less discerning roommates. But so far, the best find from the pantry has been semolina flour.

I had never eaten semolina flour before yesterday. My roommate and I had gone to a kegger in Williamsburg with free Kombucha and free Sixpoint beer, and by the time we left we were feeling hungry and tired after long days. In the mood for a movie and comfort food. I remembered a recipe from last month’s Bon Appétit that I had wanted to try – deep fried eggs with sriracha remoulade, which sounded like the bastion of comfort food: warm, soft-boiled eggs, mayonnaise, spice, pickles, and fried goodness. So I picked up a six-pack of Sierra Nevada at the corner Bodega and made small talk with the owner, who was feeling glum about spending his Friday night stuck under fluorescent lights.

Back at the apartment, I found my neighbor on the couch and told her she was going to have to stay for deep fried eggs even though she had work to do. » Continue reading this post…

Childhood games, Adult spirits (a post by Josh)

Ice cream ingredients (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I’ve been feeling too old these days, so I’ve decided to play a game. It’s a lot like that childhood game “Simon Says.” Just this time, I’m getting rid of socially constructed masculine dominance, and making Lyz, Simon.

Lyz says: Read Fergus Henderson

I inter-library-loan it in my College’s library and get both of his books. I fall in love with the second one, published in 2007, Beyond Nose to Tail.

Lyz says: Make ice cream

I decide that I want to make a dessert from Henderson’s book, so why not choose ice cream.

I choose Honey Brandy Ice Cream, realize Lyz didn’t say this, but I can’t help myself. It’s five o’clock on a Friday afternoon, and I’ve been working since ten with a lunch break. I should put my books down, put on comfortable clothes, and do what every spring semester senior does: start to have a beer or two.

But wait, I don’t want to. More than anything, I’ve been caught up in Henderson’s recipes, and readings on Southern food for the past five hours, now I have to complete one. Since I chose to make this ice cream, I have to run to the store and pick up the brandy and heavy cream. Then back to the apartment and instead of dinner preparations – oh no, those can wait – I start to make my dessert. Before I can get anywhere beyond compiling all of my ingredients on the counter, I have to decode the metric system back into US measurements. Grams? How about tablespoons, Fergus? Oh, the whole world uses metric? Right, I forgot about that. » Continue reading this post…

Because the Only Conceivable Thing to Do When It’s Snowing is Eat Snow

Virgin snow (Eat me. Drink Me.)

Well, it’s snowing again. And once again the bitter, endless winter kicks our hopes of impending spring in the shins. I am tired of walking through slush, shivering in my coat, walking with my head down and shoulders bunched, shuffling over ice, trudging through drifts, and ruining all my shoes with salt. I am ready for short skirts and sandals, lazy ambling, sunshine, popsicles (that are not my numb toes), rooftop barbeques, green leaves, summer reading, and happiness.

Winter, winter, please be over soon.

Alas, until that beautiful day arrives, I’ll content myself the little joys – slippers, hot soup, mulled wine, candlelight – and eat the snow that spites me.

I’ll admit that when I woke up a few days ago and soft snow was drifting down and settling like ganache on the tree outside my window, I smiled. I thought of snow angles and snowmen and snowball fights, and my personal childhood favorite, snow ice cream. Snow ice cream is simple. Milk, sugar, and vanilla folded into powdery snow until the consistency rests between crunchy virgin snow and wet slush. It should be delicate and still light, but softened by the milk and vanilla. It is cold and sweet and good.

Snow ice cream (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

So on that morning, I pulled on a pair of boots over my pajamas, stuck a hat on my head, and trudged out into the cold to find some clean snow in my industrial-looking Brooklyn. Though not as good as rural Pennsylvania snow, New York snow is not too bad, just a little metallic. It’s still lovely to watch fall, and since playing outside no longer appeals to me quite so much, I’ll settle for bringing a little of the beauty of falling snow inside and eat it as I snuggle underneath my blankets and wait for winter to be over. » Continue reading this post…

Kale and You (a post by Josh)

Kale and potatoes (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

You sit in your apartment, thinking that it’s too cold outside to leave. You don’t understand why North Carolina and New York are the same temperature, or so says weather dot com. It’s not bad, just too many layers to put on before heading out to the grocery store to pick up the last ingredients for your dinner tonight. It’s probably been at least two months since you have seen all of your old roommates together in one space. This dinner is the first of hopefully many gatherings making your friends companions – those who break bread together.

In your cabinet sits the olive oil, salt, pepper, potatoes, and vegetable stock that you need. Your refrigerator cools off the vegetables that you’ll use tonight – some mixed salad greens, goat cheese and tomatoes, as well as some kale from the local organic trade post.

The CD player ekes out soothing notes to fill the room as you return from the grocery store – for some spices you’ve wanted to get anyway. You take off your coat, turn on the stove light, and get ready to start the game of chopping, tossing, mixing, sautéing, baking, plating, and enjoying. First it’s the potatoes – they have to get oiled up and herbed down so that they can sit in the oven for at least forty-five minutes. Then it’s the water for the pasta. You think, starches are always a good thing for dinners. Not always, but for big parties, for sure. Next it’s the kale. You pull out the new cookbook your grandmother thoughtfully gave you for Christmas. Normally you don’t follow recipes, but tonight you think it has to be special. » Continue reading this post…

On the Insides of Eggs (a poem!?)

Eggs in a row (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

The perfection of four egg halves, which had previously been

two whole eggs, broken open on whole grain toast, hummus,

cilantro, the sting of salt, pepper, hidden red chiles.  The morning,

expansive, deceptive winter sunlight warming inside the windows.

I’ll clean them soon, I think, and return to my book – a cataclysmic look

at the apocalypse and a world of rats.  I eat my eggs.  The three men

with whom I share this space are somewhere behind their closed doors,

and I am alone with the contested floral carpet, the drum set,

the hookah still set up with last night’s coal.  I remember the eggs

before I broke them, mysterious and round, one brown, stolen

from my roommate, the other white, the last of my own eggs.

One egg cracked the second it hit boiling water, a filament of space

furrowing inside the shell.  But broken open, on the whole grain toast

with the hummus, the cilantro, the salt, I can’t tell which egg is which,

and each bright yolk reveals itself the same. » Continue reading this post…

The Man for Me: Boiled Belly & Lentils

Boiled pork belly with lentils (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

“An ox tongue in brine […] or a bucket of cabbage salting in the corner of your kitchen, what could be more reassuring?” says Fergus Henderson, author of The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating. My new culinary grail is a celebration of all those animal bits that are so often overlooked in the western kitchen like tripe, ears, feet, tongue, and brains. Seeing as unusual cuts of meat have been on my mind lately and since they are so conveniently sold at my local grocery store (and my new best friend the butcher’s place), this book came along at a time in my life when there were too many trotters and not enough recipes for them.

I never read recipes. This has gotten me into a lot of trouble on occasion. For instance, when halfway through making dinner, I get to the part of the recipe that says, “chill overnight.” Or when I’m canning zucchini and see the words “mix” and “rest for ten hours,” I assume, foolishly, that the recipe means mix all the ingredients and not just the zucchini and salt, at which point I must cancel dinner with my friends to make zucchini relish out of a bowl of sloppy zucchini mess.

Even when I read through my food magazines, I read the headnotes to recipes but leave the recipe to skim only if I end up cooking the dish. Reading recipes seems so boring.

But not with Fergus.

With Fergus, each recipe is lovingly related, as if we were old friends cooking side by side in a small, stone kitchen somewhere in the English countryside. For example, in his recipe for Saddle of Rabbit, he writes: “Serve the rolls with a salad that captures the spirit of the garden, made up from, for example, scallions, baby carrots, radishes, peas, fava beans (if in season), rocket (arugula), and chopped parsley (and a subliminal caper if you feel so inclined—I do!). » Continue reading this post…