Tag: Friday food and drink post

Member Post

 

One of very few clever little services I’ve signed up for on the Internet dished up for me this morning the fact that today, May 6, 2021, is the 161st anniversary of the day that Italian general Giuseppe Garibaldi set sail, together with a small army of his Redshirts, from Genoa towards Sicily, as part […]

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Friday Food and Drink Post: Weirdest Holiday Foods Edition

 

Well. Lugubrious Joe and Gurning Anthony notwithstanding, 2021 proceeds apace, and we’re on the cusp of closing out its first quarter.** Yikes.

But before we do, along will come St. Patrick’s Day, not a big seller in the land of my birth, but huge in the two areas I’ve lived in, in my adopted country–Boston and Pittsburgh.

It’s the holiday that always “springs” (see what I did there?) to mind when I think of revolting unusual celebratory foodstuffs. Green beer. Virulent green bagels. Green donuts. Artificially colored anything that can pass mustard (ouch, again) with enough FD&C Green No. 3 added to give it that special relevance on the day. Ice cream. Mashed potatoes (a bit of a twofer, there, at least if you’re Irish). Anything.

Friday Food and Drink Post: What’s Really Important in Life Edition

 

When I was in high school and college, Dad engineered annual summer vacations for the family to Prince Edward Island in the Canadian Maritimes. I wasn’t really smart enough at the time to recognize the value of these, but as I’ve aged, they’ve assumed pride of place as one of those touchstone experiences and an enduring memory that has made my life so special (moms and dads, please take note).

Friday Food and Drink Post: Pot Luck Edition

 

It’s become an annual tradition, here at Chez She, that I should spend a considerable portion of the week before Christmas making sure that the freezer is well-stocked with prepared dishes so that there’s plenty on hand to eat during the holidays besides interminable leftovers from the Christmas meal itself (not that there’s anything wrong with that). It’s an old family maxim that those who befriend us “won’t starve, and will never die of thirst” and, having come this far, I don’t want to let the side down for what remains of my time on this earth.

Usually, when cooking in quantities like this, I leave out a day or two’s-worth to eat “fresh,” and package the rest either into tubs, or single-serving plastic containers with lids, or plastic bags, whatever seems most sensible, and stick it in the freezer.

Even though I’m not expecting much company over the holidays this year, I see no reason to change the habit of, if not a lifetime, at least of a couple of decades, so I’ve been busy. What doesn’t get eaten between now and the New Year (please, God, let there be a New Year), will stand me in good stead for a couple of months, and at least I won’t have to worry about what’s for dinner for a while.

Member Post

 

Ugh. It’s been chilly and damp the past few days here at Chez She, and my mind is turning to thoughts of warmth, fellowship (as much as our overlords will allow us to indulge in this year, anyway) and festivity. As ever, I’m regretting taking down the Christmas tree all those months ago. It seems […]

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Friday Food and Drink Post: A Nice Recipe and a Memory of Good Times

 

I’ve written before, in this series of posts, about my fondness for “hot stuff,” at least in the culinary sense. But I haven’t written much here, other than perhaps in a few comments, about my fondness for Thai food. That’s been a staple ever since my stepson Sam introduced me to it decades ago, and ever since I visited some of Pittsburgh’s Thai restaurants (Thai Me Up, on the South Side Flats, the Spice Island Tea House in Oakland (not CA, but PA), Pad Thai (was that where I enjoyed a delicious lunch with @jamesofengland a few years ago, or do I have that wrong?), and perhaps my favorite of local establishments for SE Asian food, The Golden Pig, just a few miles down the road from me, not far from where those icons of American music, Perry Como and Bobby Vinton, were born. (Funny, that.)

If I hadn’t come by my love of Thai food honestly over the years I’d have fallen for it hard during a visit to the country a couple of years ago, and most especially during the course of a day-long cooking school during which I concocted several authentic dishes with the assistance of an authentic Thai chef. Everything I made that day was delicious, aesthetically appealing, and winsome.

But that wasn’t the sum total of my experience of the country or the food. The tastes of the walk-through markets, the sai oua (northern Thai sausage), the green papaya salad, perhaps the most delicious dish I’ve ever eaten. The pineapples, the bananas, and the mangoes. (Lord. I used to pick mangoes off the trees in northern Nigeria when I was a child. I’d forgotten how absolutely delicious such things are when they come straight off the tree.)

Summer’s Lease

 

Happy First Monday in September (AKA Labor Day), everyone!

I hope, in this weird time, as we are about to enter our seventh month of “Fifteen Days to Slow the Spread,” that some of you will be enjoying times with family and friends, and perhaps even a picnic.  (Don’t be put off by those who, after they’ve guilted you for super-spreading, will, as a fallback, try to make you feel like a worm for using a racist term to describe your activity.  You’re smart enough not to fall for the first, and the second simply isn’t true.)

I’m not going to be indulging in a big celebration myself, although I will be driving to Pittsburgh this afternoon for a little get-together on the back porch with some dear friends.  Our hostess is a fabulous cook, but today we’re just having scones and coffee, and whatever each of us brings with us to add to the festivities.

Group Writing: The Face That Launched a Million Memories

 

Oh, I do love me a good seafood restaurant. Perhaps that’s because I’m a native of an island nation, no part of which is more than an hour or so away from the sea, so when Dad was home on leave from Nigeria, fish was always fresh, plentiful, and on the menu. Or perhaps it’s because I spent most of my first decade living just south of the Sahara, in a place where salt-water fish was simply unavailable, and fresh-water fish was largely suspect. Whatever the case, I really started to get my fish fix on in 1967, when I was twelve years old and my family traveled, for the first time, to Canada’s smallest province, the place known to the indigenous population as “Abegweit,” (meaning “cradled in the waves”), which was called by the French settlers, Isle St. Jean, but which has been known to us, since Confederation in 1867, as Prince Edward Island.

We had other goals on that long-ago trip–we visited Expo 67 in Montreal and explored a bit of New Brunswick on the way over, and Maine on the way back. We weren’t terribly well-off, so we camped on our travels, and had rented a small beach cottage in Cavendish (at Shining Waters Lodge) for our stay on the Island, which I think was about ten days. Confining my large (physically speaking) and boisterous parents, my sister, who was six at the time, and myself, in any sort of close quarters was always a dicey proposition, but we did so well that, three years later, we returned to PEI, and then repeated the annual performance for several subsequent years of idyllic and sun-drenched summers. By that time, we’d bought a 19′ trailer, and augmented the family by one (my brother, born in 1968), and added a dog, and on occasion, a friend, so space was still pretty tight, and we were still on a shoestring budget. But we managed, and I’m glad because the memories of those many years are totally worth the price of admission.

Member Post

 

For those of you who might not be familiar with the term, “slow food” originated in Italy in the mid-1980s, when the first organization to promote localism and traditional methods of cooking was formed by Carlo Petrini. Its name, clearly, is a reaction to “fast food” and the homogenization of food culture into a global […]

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Friday Food and Drink Post: Restaurant Memories

 

Ah, but not in the way you’re thinking, although I’d love to hear about the most expensive/best/worst meal you’ve ever eaten when you were dining out. Remember that? I do, and I miss it, even though my family’s endeavors in that area rarely approached the exorbitant, the world-class, or even the gourmet. (One startling exception was the lunch that Dad and my siblings enjoyed at Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire, on one of my infrequent jaunts home. A member of our party was employed there, so we enjoyed a small discount, but even so, I think the damage for lunch was more than a fortnight’s take-home pay at the time. You’ll get the idea, if you browse the website, and you’ll also see what an absolutely lovely venue it is.)

No, I’d just as soon be replete from a meal at Shorty’s Lunch on West Chestnut Street, in Washington, PA, where two people can still eat their fill for under $10 the pair. Alas, part of the experience at Shorty’s is also that of the venue itself–in this case, 1930s diner and the grease that goes with it. The above Wikipedia link quotes Rick Sebak, a local documentarian (who, as it happens, I was at high school with), saying, “There’s no other place like it. They haven’t changed a thing in there since the place opened in the late 1930s. That’s what’s great about Shorty’s. It has a high funk factor.” True dat. In these COVID-19 days of “takeout only,” it’s clear that something is missing in the deal. Still good hot dogs, though. (They’re from Alberts, @phcheese. I’m guessing you know about Shorty’s.)

But (please observe that nothing comes before “but”) today I’m thinking about embarrassing incidents that have stamped certain restaurant experiences firmly on your heart or in your brain. I’ll go first and relate three, none of which is supremely awful–I’d have to include experiences of dining out with my mother in order for that to be the case, and I can’t quite go there right now–but which, reflected in tranquility, cause me to miss the people involved, or the life-stage that they were at when they happened. Ready?

Quote of the Day: The Analytical Engine

 

“The Analytical Engine has no pretensions whatever to originate anything. It can do whatever we know how to order it to perform.”–Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace

One-hundred eighty-seven years ago, on June 5, 1833, Augusta Ada Byron (she was the poet’s only legitimate child and a brilliant 15-year-old student) met Charles Babbage, the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University. Ada and Charles subsequently went their separate ways, she married and had children, but she never lost her love for, or stopped studying, mathematics. Although she thought about her one-time mentor every now and then, and about the huge mechanical “Difference Engine” he’d built to perform and tabulate mathematical functions, she did not come into his life again in a substantive way until 1842. She was asked by a mutual friend, Charles Wheatstone, to translate an article written in Italian and describing a talk that Babbage had given in Turin the previous year.

At the time, Babbage was on a whirlwind tour of Europe, trying to drum up the money to build his next-generation “Analytical Engine,” as he’d been repeatedly disappointed at the lukewarm and miserly reception to his fundraising efforts in his native England. Babbage envisioned a steam-powered unit, into which instructions were fed by a series of punched cards (an idea he stole from the French weavers and their Jacquard looms, another interesting story in its own right). A memory store in the Analytical Engine would be capable of holding a thousand or so numbers, and the output resulting from its machinations would be sent straight to a printer.

Friday Digging (and Cooking) for Victory Post: V-E Day +75!

 

Ladies and Gentlemen of Ricochet, I bring you across-the-pond greetings from Auntie Pat (97 in July, may she live forever). She wishes you a very happy V-E day, thanks those of you with WWII service members in your families, hopes you are well, and that you have a very nice summer and Fourth of July. She’s currently locked down and holding her own in a facility in Birmingham in the UK.

Friday Food and Drink Post: One a Penny, Two a Penny…

 

A Good Friday tradition I don’t always adhere to but which, for many reasons, this year I thought I should. Blessings and a joyous Easter season to all Christians, a Happy Passover holiday to all of the Jewish faith, and best wishes for the happiness, safety, and health of absolutely everyone.

Legend has it that the first hot cross buns were baked in England by a monk of the 12th (or perhaps the 14th–you pick it) century and that he distributed them to the poor on Good Friday. There are other traditions associated with them: Hanging one in the kitchen is supposed to repel evil spirits, and the bun is supposed to stay fresh for an entire year (unlike the Burger King Whopper in that weird and rather revolting ad). As the years passed, hot cross buns became a popular staple of English bakeries, until Queen Elizabeth I decreed that they were sacred, and could be sold only on Good Friday and at Christmas. Unsurprisingly, this led to the baking of hot cross buns in the family kitchen, and another tradition was born.

No one really knows how old the nursery rhyme is, but it’s a variant of the street-seller’s cry:

Friday Food and Drink Post: Before There Was AllRecipes, There Were Cookbooks!

 

And I’m a sucker for cookbooks. My favorites are the ones with personal touches, personal stories, and family recipes. In all of those veins, some of my “go-to” volumes are Nigella, Jennifer Brennan, Jamie Oliver, M.F.K Fisher, and Julia Child. In addition, when I’m visiting foreign climes, and if at all possible, I like to bring a local cookbook home with me. Here’s my rack. (Men of Ricochet, those of you whose minds live in the gutter, rise above!) Click to embiggen if you would like to read the spines. It’s the result of over half-a-century of collecting, and of occasional heartrending refinement, because I only have so much room:

Friday Food and Drink Post: “I Want To Be Alone” Edition

 

So, Ricochetti: What are you doing to eat your way through the CoronApocalypse? Here at Chez She, in the very armpit of Southwestern PA, we’re going big for soup, and have worked our way through beef vegetable, mushroom barley, and (most recently) chicken noodle. We’re too far from town for meal deliveries. I’m trying not to go into town myself if I can avoid it, and, anyway, most of the little places we do like to eat are closed because they’re small businesses and it’s become too complicated and expensive for them to stay open just for take-out.

Pennsylvania seems to be well on its way to the same draconian lifestyle restrictions as California (the list of what’s allowed and what isn’t can be found here**), and it’s a good thing I’ve got the world’s finest yarn stash and (at least) several hundred sets of knitting needles, otherwise, I’d be going stir-crazy by now.

Here are the recipes for our recent Soupapalooza: Beef Vegetable, Mushroom Barley, Chicken Noodle.

Friday Food and Drink Post: Knives Out!

 

This post isn’t an update on the final days of Biden vs. Sanders and the Democrat primary nomination process, one which might be settled on Sunday night (if the proposed meet-up actually happens) in one of those ‘push-up contests’ Joe Biden is so fond of taunting his opponents with. (For some reason, unbidden and unwelcome images of septuagenarian Jack Palance at the 1992 Oscars keep springing to mind.) Nor is it a review of a recent movie, one which I did see, and which I enjoyed. I wasn’t sure about it for the first ten minutes, which jumped around a lot and were talky and a bit confusing, but once it settled down I was quite entertained, and rather charmed by Daniel Craig’s Kentucky Fried Performance as Benoit Blanc, although Craig said he based what passes for his accent on Mississippi historian Shelby Foote’s narration of Ken Burns’s The Civil War.

No. This post is based on last weekend’s Wall Street Journal, in which the lead story in the “Off Duty” section was titled: “Why pay $24,000 For a Kitchen Knife?”

Why indeed? (The full story is behind the paywall, but don’t worry: I’ve got your back.)

A Jolly Challah-Day!

 

“Oh, it’s a jolly challah-day with Susan, Susan makes your ‘eart so light!” OMG. Apologies for the appalling pun, to you, to @susanquinn, to Mister Susan, to the brothers Sherman who wrote the music and lyrics for Mary Poppins, and above all, to everyone who reads this, wherever you are, for inflicting upon you Dick Van Dyke’s excruciatingly embarrassing (embarrassingly excruciating?) excuse for a Cockney accent. Born within the sounds of Bow Bells, he most certainly was not:

Friday Food and Drink Post: A “Rum Go”

 

It’s a chilly morning on the farm this January 17 (there’s a bit of snow), a perfect setting for National Hot Buttered Rum Day! (Who knew?)

You can read a very interesting little history of rum production here, where I learned that it came into being as a way to use up the by-product (molasses) of sugar production on Caribbean sugar plantations in the mid-seventeenth century. Getting any further into the weeds will teach you that rum production and commerce was inextricably linked to the slave trade, a nasty part of its history that we, and rum, must acknowledge and live with. No good comes from papering over it, so there it is.

I really can’t drink rum in anything but the tiniest quantities. It’s one of two alcoholic beverages that messes with my head in very unpleasant ways. But a little toddy now and then? Hot buttered rum? On a cold and windy day, when something resembling tiny shards of glass are falling from the sky and being blown, at speed, right at my face? Yes, please!

Friday Food and Drink Post: Pizza Fixin’ Edition

 

Thank heavens for Bill de Blasio. In just a few short years as New York’s Mayor, he has turned its underwater finances around, eliminated racism, sexism, religious intolerance, and violent crime, and he has spearheaded a jobs-and-revenue initiative, the crown jewel of which was bringing Amazon’s second corporate HQ “home” to the city. Along the way, he’s divested the city pension funds from fossil fuels (I suspect this is code for “taxpayer bailout coming soon”), banned single-use plastic items in the food-service industry (are condoms next–what a complicated and ‘intersexional’ discussion that would be), and pledged to “divert” 90% of waste from landfills (“to where,” I ask myself–in years’ past the answer to a question like that has too often been: to my neighboring state of West Virginia) by 2030.

Best of all, he’s even met Greta Thunberg. (I remember this specifically, because it happened on my birthday, the day that de Blasio’s Department of Education allowed hundreds of thousands of city school children to skip school and “throw a wobbly” in the streets. As we all know, “climate change” was fixed as a result of this brave action, and we are all. Much. Better. Off. as a result.)

So, now all the easy and less important stuff is under control, and now he’s got all this spare time because even the 31% or so of the population that self-identifies with a (D) after their name (no word on their pronouns) wasn’t dumb enough to support his presidential effort, de Blasio can turn his laser-like sights to a more pressing and difficult issue: New Year’s Eve pizza scalping.