Sunday, August 15, 2010


What summer?

It's been a time of lobsters turning red in my stock pot like a cruel miracle. It's been a time of feral lobsters crawling in my yard, eating the grass seeds my landlord has seeded the yard with. Grass lobsters. I dream I am near the ocean, I can smell the saltiness in the wind and in my skin.

It's been a time of scallops, famous scallops, milky in their thick plastic bag when I carry them home on the bike I stole from my ex-boyfriend. We're still friends, the scallops and I, most especially when I consume them, seared in butter in my little pan with a handle carved out of ocotillo. I am a desert girl in an ocean town. Scallops are an ocean butter in my grass-fed bovine butter.

It's been a time of mussels, but when is it not? Steamed creatures spilling all their orange and chestnut secrets to me. I bake bread and and rip it and dip it in the jouissance. I sprinkle myself in sea-salt harvested from the bellybuttons of virgins.

It's been a time of oysters. I've been making bets about how many oysters I can eat in a year. I've been fulfilling all my bets. I've been betting all my fulfillments on more oysters. I've been out driving to other ocean cities in search of new varieties of raw. Oysters, I tell them, it's your time. One night, Heather and I ate two hundred and sixteen oysters each and dreamed of oyster cosmos. An oyster is one part silver and one million parts ocean, then inverted and times twelve. An oyster is an omen of a new form of math in which there are no numbers and there is no time.

Summer? Come over. Have a glass of semillon with me and we'll discuss seafood and go hungry together in the fading heat.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


A week ago I dropped a window box fan out of our second story window in the middle of the night. Two nights ago I dropped my phone into a cup of jasmine tea. Then I climbed a mountain and found a bird guarding her nest, which was built into the giant wheels of an abandoned bulldozer.

Sometime it seems like events crochet themselves to each other to make some sort of meaningful pattern.

 I second guess myself.

        What’s actually going on here is Russian Roulette.

It’s been a rainy June in Montana. The downside to that is that we miss the sun. The upside is that the house is cool, breezy: we can use our oven.

We ignored the rain and ate in the sun. We topped layers of phyllo with pesto, goat, cheese and tomato and baked it. We turned home-canned salmon into salmon cakes served with a lemon basil white sauce. We dressed our mixed green, carrots, and cashew salad with a flax oil vinaigrette. We drank an oaky Chardonnay and toasted everyone. We were momentarily sentimental and ridiculous without regret.

We’ve been gone for awhile. Things are indefinite.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Ice & Fish

"I knew nothing about ice," the oceanographer said, the glaciologists lingering in her mind.

I too knew nothing about ice, or at least I disapproved of putting ice in white wine. In fact, once when I was a waitress, I deliberately ignored someone's gauche request for ice cubes to add to her Riedel of chardonnay. "Oh Lady, no you don't," I thought to myself.

But now that it's summer in Boston, and I'm waiting for my ceviche to cure, I sure as hell put ice in my vinho verde.

The oceanographer, my sister's roommate, just got back from a conference on melting.

I never even liked white wine until a year or two ago. I'm amazed now, standing on the cliff-edge of my 28th birthday, by the things one can cease to think one knows about, can make a judgment about, or can or cannot appreciate. I am amazed by lots of things these days, like the fact that lime can cook fish, for example. To say nothing of the anticucho that is currently my heart... But that's another story, one for a night of red wine and not white.

I went to Peru recently, by the way, and ate some amazing corn tamales, quinoa soup, seafood taca taca, alpaca tenderloin, alpine lake trout, and ceviche, washed down with plenty o' pisco sour. It was a lovely escape. Now back home, I'm making my own ceviche. Mostly so that I don't have to turn the stove on.

The cilantro is waiting like a bouquet to be added to the juicy mix of lime & tangerine juice, tomatoes, red onions, jalapenos (my hands are burning from cutting them), and sea salt, covering the local scallops and haddock my sister and I got this morning from our favorite seafood place "Alive & Kicking."

Conclusion? Look to oceanography, amazement and escape, awe as escape. Look too to coming back home to oneself, and to waiting for a meal to cook itself, slow as a glacier in summer, not so slow at all these days.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

We Didn't Celebrate Easter, But

Lamb and Vice: I’ll start with the vice. I have many of them, but you who know me may be particularly aware of my salt vice. As for salt: many people like salt, but I like salt more. Its not something I’m proud of, but there you go. You may have witnessed me liberally dusting my dishes while trying to distract you with witty conversation, so that you wouldn’t notice how much salt I used. If, at such times, you did notice and commented on my salt use, I probably told you it’s all good, ‘cause my blood pressure’s low. Friends, take heed: that was an excuse made an addict.

So, my original plan for Lamb and Vice was to roast a leg of lamb in a salt crust (basically, a mixture of flour, salt, and water). This crust was for flavor only: it was to be removed after roasting and was not to be eaten. If you’ve noticed the imperative indicative future tense I’ve been using, then you’ll know that I did not actually end up roasting a leg of lamb in a salt crust. This was because the grocery store had no legs of lamb for sale, and so I bought shanks instead.

Lamb: The Shank

The shank looks like a large cut of meat, but it deceives, tricky meat! The shank serves only one. It is also a rather tough piece of meat, and so it ought to be simmered for a long time. These two pieces of wisdom were not mine until I after I (thinking I could substitute them for the legs in my salt crust plot) had purchased some shanks. Perhaps I could have made the substitution, but in lieu of the new information about the toughness of a shank, I decided to simmer the shanks in a red wine-rosemary sauce rather them roast them; then, after the shanks had become tender, I baked them in a goat cheese crust. The lamb came to the table with new German Butterball potatoes that had been roasted (and liberally salted) in olive oil and also with roasted asparagus sprinkled with Parmesan cheese (and salt).

The Secondary Vice: Chocolate

I know we did chocolate last month, but I still like chocolate, even though it’s March and in spite of that it’s cliché to claim chocolate as a vice. So, for dessert: French Chocolate Almond Cake, a recipe taken from the Moosewood Restaurant Cookbook: New Classics, and chosen specifically because it includes in its ingredient list cinnamon and black pepper. It was very nice—crispy outside, chewy inside and topped with fresh whipped cream— but I might have another go at a vice dessert and try for something that includes salt. My friend Gretchen made a most inspiring come-to-jesus Coarse Salt Sprinkled Chocolate Torte. Along those lines I was thinking about a Course Salt Sprinkled Key Lime Pie. As an aside, the types of salt you use when cooking and/or finishing dishes can and should be a serious consideration, and you have lots of options here. If you think you’re familiar with salt, think again.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Lamb & Everything


Every supper is the last supper.

Once upon a time, I cooked a meal with infinite courses. I was cooking for you, my friends.

It began with cheeses carved from the caves where the goats make their hermitage. I served the cheeses with grapes and blood oranges.

Next I served you tiny lamb rib chops, marinated in white wine and nutmeg and vanilla bean and pepper, seared with sea salt on cast iron. I served the lamb "popsicles" with watercress salad and maple-candied crispy prosciutto.

Next I served you lamb loin chops braised in a fenugreek white wine cream sauce with baby potatoes.

Those were the first three courses. It was the beginning of spring, and the crocuses and periwinkles in the yards thought it was the beginning of everything.


In a dream, my lover is wearing my apron. He looks good in frills. He says "I'm playing domestic now." There are animals inside our house chasing each other. A dog catches a rabbit in his mouth. My lover pries it loose and hands it to me, "take it outside, where it will be safe from us," he says. I take the small tawny creature in my hands and carry it out, through a garden of blackberry brambles, lit up in the moonlight with dew. I must carry it farther away. If I set it free here, this tiny wild thing will destroy my garden.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Coming Soon...

Lamb & Vice

Does that sound like a book of poems written by a theologian or WHAT? But no, it's just our cooking project for March.

Last year, I made leg of lamb braised with hay and lavender (a recipe from Paley's Place in Portland). We'll see what Heather and I come up with this month.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Love Power

Valentine's Day: there's so many things to think about on Valentine's Day-- martyred saints, Greek mythology, Sandal's Jamaica... Jack and I, however, chose to reduce this rich and historically complex holiday to a meal involving lots of chocolate. For the most part, it turned out well.

We started with salad: Baby Greens, Goat Cheese, Maple-glazed Pecans, Popcorn, and Cocoa Nibs in a Balsamic Vinaigrette. I'm skipping the cocoa nibs next time. To my taste, the nibs didn't go well with the fruitiness of the vinaigrette.

Then the main course: Beef Ribs in a Chocolate Cinnamon Reduction accompanied by a Red Rice Pilaf and Green Beans with Caramelized Onions and Prosciutto. Amazing, all of it. The secret was cooking the beef for a long time and then letting it sit overnight in the sauce/reduction so that all of the flavors in the dish had time to blend. Also, I had some help with the beef...

And dessert: Vegan Chocolate Cake with Chocolate, Peanut Butter, and Avocado Mousse Frosting. The avocado addition sounds weird, I know. But it tasted lovely. Jack made the chocolate cake. The recipe is from a Moosewood cookbook. It's the best chocolate cake I've ever had and, because it was vegan, it was easy to delude myself into thinking for the next three days that I could without consequence replace my morning oatmeal with this cake. When I'm honest with myself, I know that I had some bad sugar crashes on those mornings. They were worth it.