Sugar Pumpkins – pepitas and puree by Weezie

Posted on 11-01-10 · Tags: , , , , ,

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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.

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Adventures in candymaking: Dulce de leche + caramels by Anjuli

Posted on 12-14-09 · Tags: , , , , ,

Dulce de leche caramels

I enjoy a good chewy sugar sweet, especially tiny squares of creamy caramel. I love sucking on them until you have just a tiny little drop on the tip of your tongue. Of course anything sweet paired with salt is a wet dream for your taste buds. I also love the more complex caramel flavor of dulce de leche. It’s the most beautiful reddish brown and has a velvety texture that hold its own but doesn’t feel like a thick, sticky caramel sauce. Oh, did I mention, I just adore dairy and sugar combined? Well, if my professed love of caramels and milk wasn’t cloyingly sweet enough for you, please, read on.

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Gingerbread stained glass cookies with peppermint candy by Anjuli

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

Homemade peppermint candy

It’s that time of year again for lugging out the decorations. Thankfully in this house anyways, most of these decorations are homemade and many of them edible. Last year we made homemade gingerbread stained glass cookies. This year we finally decided holiday or no holiday we did not want to be chomping through some perfectly delicious gingerbread and encounter an insidious “lemon” or “orange” flavor at its center. We are also not about sugar that causes you to first bounce around the walls and then five minutes later fall on your face. So we opted for some homemade candy to accompany our hearts, stars, and spaceship, errrr, penis ornaments that hang on the tree.

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Chipotle Cranberry Date Chutney: “Don’t feed bears!” by Anjuli

Posted on 12-10-09 · Tags: , , , ,

Apple and cheddar pie
Apple Cheddar Pie

Generally on Thanksgiving the cranberry sauce is the odd man out. Either it’s guiltily shimmied out of a tin can and onto a small plate, homemade and then somewhat forgotten in the rush to get a first piece of pie, or just plain admired for its good looks against the turkey’s pale flesh. This year we decided to try something different. I had found this fabulous recipe for Cranberry-Date Chutney from One Hot Stove. I felt it needed a little smokiness and some citrus so we added a chipotle and some orange zest. The result was spectacular and unexpected. Not only was it a prize at the table, we’ve been using the leftovers ever since. It kept really well considering there’s no dairy or other highly perishable ingredients.

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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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The meal by Anjuli

Posted on 11-28-09 · Tags: , ,

Thanksgiving

Everyone pitched in to create an incredible spread this Thanksgiving. Thanks to my friend Dan, who has spent many a Thanksgiving with us, for taking most of these photos.

With the bird safely in the oven by 9:30, and mom onto making a pumpkin pie, we relaxed a bit, then got into full swing around 1pm. My favorite part of Thanksgiving is those three or four hours when we’re all cooking in sync, everyone handing around spoons for tasting, adding a little of this or that and tasting again. In the midst of all the activity, the oven was turned off accidentally for a full hour with the turkey inside. I’d have to say it actually improved the texture. The turkey turned out to be incredibly succulent and flavorful from the browning outdoors. We also found time to invent a new dish – bulgar with roasted shiitake mushrooms, peas, plumped prunes, and mint. It was a wonderfully sweet and savory alternative to bread dressing.

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Mom’s Maple Pecan Pie with Orange Rind by Anjuli

Posted on 11-26-09 · Tags: , , , , ,

Maple Pecan Pie with Orange Rind

That was very fun posting on Anjuli’s blog. I had no idea how excited I was going to feel when I actually saw it up there. It took me by surprise. Sharing with all of you is so tantalizing.

I have been cooking for 2 days straight, 8 – 10 hours per day. Can you believe anyone would actually still do that, more, that they would actually enjoy it? I have burned about 10 hours of music on CDs, all kinds of music; oldies, Latin music, classical and I listen as I cook. I even dance a little. Anjuli’s dad just retired and he cooks too so there actually is a shared experience going on. I can even get him to dance with me once in a while.

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Thanksgiving untraditions by Anjuli

Posted on 11-20-09 · Tags: , ,

Thanksgiving

Anyone who stopped by last year around Thanksgiving will remember I cooked some family recipes away from home.

This year is a family reunion, two families actually, each cooking in our own kitchens and bringing the food together. When my mother was growing up Thanksgiving was very much about tradition and ceremony. In our home it’s generally about new experiments, cooking what you like, and different families coming together to share what they love with each other. We split the menu in half and find out how it comes together on Thursday!

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Melty marshmallows made in Manhattan at midnight by Anjuli

Posted on 04-24-09 · Tags: , ,

Homemade marshmallows

I’ve had the urge lately to make a bite size piece of something fluffy, sweet, and totally unnatural. I am told this requires gelatin. I also happen to have a totally unhealthy relationship with marshmallows. I will indulge in campfire when I have to, but much prefer the pillowy, melty, homemade style from City Bakery. We’re on a baker’s schedule lately, so at 10:30pm on Wednesday it was go time. We needed gelatin and molasses (for an anadama sweet bread), which we guessed was a mission impossible. These once typical ingredients are not generally in high demand at the Manhattan supermarket/market/$8 peanut butter bodgea, and especially not in the stiletto and cobblestone nether region of the Meatpacking District. Besides, why would you buy ingredients for bread and marshmallows when you can just purchase the products for under $5 with money left over for a couple of beers? Because I am the master of my belly and homemade is more delicious.

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Biryani w/ dried fruit, almonds, bell pepper, and spice by Anjuli

Posted on 12-26-08 · Tags: , , , , , ,

Biryani w/ dried fruit, almonds, bell pepper, and spice

This year’s Christmas dinner was homey and low-key. Everyone came together and cooked, and everyone felt a sigh of relief that we were making a no-fuss but excellent meal. This dish was surprisingly outstanding. By that I mean the recipe was of Indian roots, was repurposed and gussied up by a Californian and presented as a “holiday” dish, and turned out a flavorful and prosperous union of two different cultures. Not an uncommon find in this household, but still happily surprising.

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