I was looking over asmartmouth.com and I just can’t believe we have never posted a yeast bread in the history of the blog. It seems impossible to me. Bread baking is such an intrinsic part of my life. I have been baking my own bread since I was 16, not all the time, but often. In recent history I don’t think that I have bought a loaf of bread in the last two years. We always bake our own. Last Christmas Matt and Anjuli gave me my own flour mill so now I can even grind my own flour. If I had the land I would probably grow my own grain.13 Comments » Keep reading »
I had invited Priscilla for her birthday, but I was a little cooked out and couldn’t come up with anything to make. I started dreaming about the ingredients I knew she’d love – a stew of shrimp, chicken and sausage kept popping into my mind and making me hungry. So I considered what would go well with this rather unconventional trio. The cuisine of the seafaring Portuguese and hearty southern stews seemed apropro, as did capers, some wine and of course my herbs. I wanted this stew to be hearty and full with some heat from Italian sausage, a hint of sea brine, and those perfectly pink shrimp and deep brown chicken thighs.1 Comment » Keep reading »
Anjuli, poor girl, has, of all things, pneumonia. She and Matt have been staying in Connecticut while they get ready for their travels. They’re going to be outside of the US for a while, so their planning and packing involves millions of little details. The last thing Anjuli needed was to come down with pneumonia. I wanted to make something that would lift her spirits in this never-ending winter. It was Valentine’s Day, so I thought she would love it if I made some nut brittle and backed it with chocolate.2 Comments » Keep reading »
If I want something impromptu that I can whip up from start to finish in one hour and still call it homemade bread, something I can offer for lunch to dress up a homemade soup, for example, expecting each and every time I make it to hear oooooh, I make focaccia. I make it with my pizza dough, paint it with olive oil, sprinkle it with minced garlic, rosemary and coarse salt and voila, in six minutes at 500F I have a crusty masterpiece.1 Comment » Keep reading »
This is one of those dishes that is home to me. It comes out all piping hot and bubbling from the oven and you present it simply to your guests. You cut the flaky, tender crust into wedges so everyone gets a good piece and dish out the aromatic, creamy filling. The result is warmth and nourishment to the belly — pure rapture — and a dish that makes everyone feel like royalty.1 Comment » Keep reading »
I am sitting in the living room of one of my closest friends in Philadelphia, Anj’s godmother Kristin. I grew up in Philadelphia and have been very close with Kristin since I was 16. That is over 40 years. She is dying of lung cancer and I don’t know if this is the last time I will be with her.
For the last year I have been making the purest and simplest food for her – organic chicken broth or very simple organic lentils with greens. Even though I can’t be there to cook for her every night, she can combine these simple foods to make soups and stews – giving her comfort, inspiration and the nutrition she needs to keep her strength. I freeze them and bring them to her about once a month. Now most of what she is eats comes out of an intravenous tube. (What she takes by mouth she usually throws up.)
So here I am, sitting next to her, and writing this post while she dozes on my shoulder – a surreal experience. But work is an anchor that grounds the soul – so here we go.2 Comments » Keep reading »
I did not grow up in a family that did a lot of jelly making or canning of anything whatsoever. My Mom was very happy about the frozen vegetables that were newly available to her in the 50s and was quite content to go buy a bottle of Smuckers strawberry jam.
My grandmother had canned on a routine basis in her day and made lots of jams. By the time I was six, though, she was already 65 and winding down a little. But she would take me to pick wild strawberries. We would come home and put up a jar or two of strawberry jam from that very precious fruit. So I knew theoretically how it was done. In other words I knew just enough to be completely intimidated by all those huge pots of boiling water and the necessity to sterilize bottles and lids. It all seemed rather mystical and out of reach to me. But I had such fond memories of those delectable little jars of wild strawberry jam and how different they tasted from a store bought jam.8 Comments » Keep reading »
When I get to be an old, old lady, scrawny and skinny, all elbows and knees and just can’t imagine growing a vegetable garden anymore, I will still grow my herbs. Returning to my garden from being away I go to my herbs first. They anchor me. There is something so timeless about them, magical even. Who knows, maybe in a past life I was a shaman or a witch, poking around in my herb patch, passing out love potions and remedies.6 Comments » Keep reading »
I don’t know if any of you are familiar with Sally Fallon or her cookbook Nourishing Traditions. Sally Fallon spent ten years putting together recipes that focused on Old World traditions before cheap and easy were the primary objective of our meals. Her research and inspiration were the provactive studies conducted by a dentist named Weston Price in the 1930s. Dr Price traveled the world to document the teeth and bone structures of different peoples. After extensive research, Price came to the conclusion that people with good bone structure and strong teeth – full, wide jaws and well-formed, even teeth – came from pre-industrialized villages that all had common nutritional threads. The people whose villages had already switched to more processed food tended to have crooked, crowded teeth, narrow jaws and unbalanced features. Dr Price’s own book, Nutritive Degeneration is a fascinating, if dense read, illustrated by smiling faces of people Dr Price encountered in small villages and towns.2 Comments » Keep reading »
Tomatoes are awesome this year. They’re plump, juicy and bursting with flavor; no rot, no blights. YEAH! Tomatoes are such a satisfying thing to grow. Once you get the hang of it, your tomatoes will taste and feel infinitely better (and be infinitely cheaper) than what you can buy. As long as you stake them, you can grow tomatoes in the most minuscule of places – even on a fire escape in the heart of a city. Tomatoes, generally a vine crop, like to grow up, so you just need to give them a little support. You can grow cherry tomatoes in a pot, too.Leave a comment » Keep reading »