July harvest part 1: Oregano by Weezie

Posted on 07-20-10 · Tags: , , , ,

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The summertime chores ground me. To get the most out of the harvest I have to be in the rhythm of the earth; in tune with the seasons and the weather. It is something farmers know, but not us suburbanites. We normally do what we want when it suits us. To pick oregano when the bouquet is most fragrant, you have to do it just as it flowers. The peppermint needs to be picked in the early morning before the sun heats it and dries up its oil. If I don’t pick the blueberries when they just start turning blue the birds will enjoy every last one. If I don’t pick them when they are just ripe they will turn into hard kernels and drop off. These simple tasks, performed at the optimum time, keeps me in touch with the earth. It makes me feel connected to something bigger than myself.

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Adventures in butter making by Weezie

Posted on 07-07-10 · Tags: , , ,

Homemade whipped butter in a jar
top left – cream yogurt; top right – thicker after shaking 4 minutes; bottom left – curds about separated; bottom right – ball of butter floating in whey

In the early 70s I was a weaver and a member of the Philadelphia Guild of Hand Weavers. I didn’t just want to weave. I wanted to card my own wool, spin it into my own yarn and make my own dyes. I even had fantasies of raising my own sheep. Well, I’m the same way with cooking. Anjuli and I always want to get back to the basics. We make our own ghee. We love it. Recently Anjuli said, “wouldn’t it be great if we made our own butter so that we know what kind we’re using for our ghee?”

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Wilted endive salad by Weezie

Posted on 06-21-10 · Tags: , , ,

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Anjuli’s grandmother, my mom, was born in 1910. She did not cook much until she married in 1940, as far as I know. She went through WWII as a wartime bride, exposed to rationing and culinary marvels like Scrapple and Spam. I was a baby boomer, born in ’47, so for me her cooking style was a product of the 50s. She delighted in post-war conveniences: plastic bags, frozen vegetables, cold soda, Tastykakes and Entenmann’s, en masse condiments like mayonnaise and ketchup, and keeping leftovers in the fridge (sometimes too long in my opinion). And she loved iceberg. Salads at home were invariably iceberg, tomatoes, carrots, onions and one of ten kinds of bottled dressing. The only exception to this rule was her wilted endive salad. She’d even make her own dressing. We always ate it as a main course because of the ample bacon and hard boiled eggs. I loved this salad for its heartiness, the texture of the curly, wilted endive, the sweet and sour tones of the dressing, and the lovely, crispy bacon. It satisfied all the tastes. It stood alone beautifully.

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Matar Paneer by Weezie

Posted on 06-16-10 · Tags: , , , , ,

Mom's Matar Paneer

Last year was a bad year for peas in Simsbury. There was too much rain and the peas did nothing. Maybe I got one meal out of them. As the snow fell in January, Priscilla and I sat by the fire with a cup of tea and a basket full of seed catalogs. We browsed through the seed write-ups, dreaming about next year’s garden. We tried to imagine which peas, peppers, brussels sprouts, lettuces, or onions would do well in our Connecticut soil. We strategized on how to rotate our crops this year to defy the squash borers or the cabbage moths without using poison. We tried to guess how much of each vegetable our family would want to eat in 2010. Priscilla lives five minutes away and like me she has an organic garden. She spends every available moment during the school year and all summer amidst her tomatoes, raspberries, blueberries and her 1000 heads of garlic. She and I often plant different vegetables or different varieties and then share our harvests.

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Noon Rogani by Weezie

Posted on 06-08-10 · Tags: , , ,

Mom's Noon Rogani

I have been a fan of King Arthur Flour for a long time. They have been grinding flour for 200 years and they really seem to have it down. Their organic whole wheat, if treated right and soaked the night before in a slightly acid solution, rises as high as white flour in my experience. They have a huge product line and they offer recipes on line and classes in their headquarters in New England.

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Tres Leches by Weezie

Posted on 02-08-10 · Tags: , , , , ,

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I just got back from Uruguay so all things Latin are still on my mind. I have been wanting to try this cake for forever. With the sun and beach of South America still fresh in my memory I decided to take the plunge and I am so glad I did. You will be too if you try this. I warn you though, the taste and texture are addictive.

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Cauliflower with Black Olives, Orange Pepper, Carrots and Walnuts by Weezie

Posted on 12-28-09 · Tags: , , , ,

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I sometimes realize how incredibly lucky we are that we all cook, not only cook but love to cook.

With all the holidays and a disaster or two thrown in, I have not had much time to write either on the blog to all of you or to work on our cookbook. I wanted an uninterrupted 3 hours or so with no other responsibilities so I could just dive in. Sometimes writing is like painting, it takes time to submerge yourself. That, in my experience, is when my writing starts to live and breath. Austin, Anjuli’s brother is back from Bulgaria. He is tall and lean and vegetarian. It is hard to keep him full. We all, including him, take turns.

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Hearty cabbage soup with sausage and potatoes by Weezie

Posted on 12-11-09 · Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Hearty cabbage soup with spicy sausage, ham, and potatoes

Cabbage is a satisfying vegetable to grow in the garden like carrots and parsnips. It is relatively undemanding and available from July on in the garden. In the fall after hard frost, when you have harvested everything from the garden, it will keep in the fridge for at least a month. We consider it a staple, like carrots or onions, that we almost never have to buy.

Cabbage, by many, is considered a poor man’s vegetable and thus there are millions of recipes from around the world for wonderful cabbage soups. The following was inspired by the Frugal Gourmet Cooks with Wine, with my adaptations.

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Mom’s Uruguayo Pot Roast by Weezie

Posted on 12-06-09 · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

My good friend and former business partner, Diego, brought me some beef from a little, tiny Uruguayo grocery store in Queens that imports its beef from Uruguay. The store is close to a wonderful Uruguayan restaurant called El Chivito D’Oro in Jackson Heights.

I have traveled to Uruguay over 30 times in the last 15 years for work and pleasure, creating with Diego our travel company, Discover Uruguay, which features travels to Uruguay and parts of Argentina and Brazil. I turned my share of the company over to my cohort about a year ago to pursue my passion for cooking.

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Bulgur with Peas and Mint, Leeks, Prunes, Walnuts and Orange Peel by Weezie

Posted on 11-29-09 · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Bulgur with Peas and Mint, Leeks, Prunes, Walnuts and Orange Peel

When Anjuli and I get together in a kitchen it is like the improvisation that goes on between jazz musicians. She has an idea and it sparks me, I enhance on it, back and forth we go until, from these sparks, a dish is created. It just flows from mind to mind and heart to heart with no effort and no ego. It is quite amazing to me. I used to sing in the 60s with a partner. Sometimes we would hit a perfect note together. The feeling of the perfection of the note would make the hair stand up on the back of my neck. It had a life of its own. When Anjuli and I cook together sometimes we create a dish that feels like that. We can just feel that it is right.

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