Thursday, April 27, 2006

well read, well fed (installment one)

I was recently inspired to research and write a post about literature that involves food. Novels with recipes in them, memoirs revolving around tastes and food experiences...that sort of thing. I was a bit surprised to find how many books there are out there that are heavily influenced by food. I suppose it's natural. I mean food is part of everyday life. We have emotional as well as physical connections to it. What we reflects who we are and where we came from. So it works well in literature to humanize the subject, to tell the reader something about the characters and to draw the reader in with feelings they can identify with.

To get an idea of the amount of food-related books out there, check out this list. Just for starters! So, I abandoned the idea of one long involved post on the subject, and thought it would instead make a good regular feature.

Recently I read a book by Kurt Vonnegut, one of my most favorite-est writers, Deadeye Dick. It's about a boy with eccentric parents who accidentally shoots and kills a woman. It goes through his life until adulthood. Throughout the novel there are recipes. Rudy Waltz, the main character and narrator spent much of his boyhood in the kitchen with the family cook, and prided himself on being the only one in his family who could actually cook.

Here's an excerpt from pgs. 28 & 29:

“I myself am in one picture in the paper. It is of our entire family in the street in front of the studio, looking up at the Nazi flag. I am in the arms of Mary Hoobler, our cook. She would teach me everything she knew about cooking and baking, by and by.

Mary HooblerÂ’s corn bread: Mix together in a bowl half a cup of flour, one and a half cups of yellow cornmeal, a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of sugar, and three teaspoons of baking powder. Add three beaten eggs, a cup of milk, a half cup of cream, and a half cup of melted butter.
Pour it into a well-buttered pan and bake it at four hundred degrees for fifteen minutes.
Cut it into squares while it is still hot. Bring the squares to the table while they are still hot, and folded in a napkin.

When we all posed in the street for our picture in the paper, Father was forty-two. According to Mother, he had undergone a profound spiritual change in Germany. He had a new sense of purpose in life. It was no longer enough to be an artist. He would become a teacher and a political activist. He would become a spokesman in America for the new social order which was being born in Germany, but which in time would be the salvation of the world.
This was quite a mistake.

How to make Mary HooblerÂ’s barbecue sauce: Saute a cup of chopped onions and three chopped garlic cloves in a quarter of a pound of butter until tender. Add half a cup of catsup, a quarter cup of brown sugar, a teaspoon of salt, two teaspoons of freshly ground pepper, a dash of Tabasco, a tablespoon of lemon juice, a teaspoon of basil, and a tablespoon of chili powder.
Bring to a boil and simmer for five minutes.”

It's a very good book, the heavier moments lightened up a bit with these recipes.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

couch potato

Well, I don't watch as much food proramming as I used to (back when Jamie Oliver, Tony Bordain and Nigella all had shows...), but there's a couple new food shows that I've been digging lately....Wait, first, some very very good news...Nigella is gonna have a new show on the Food Network!! This is so exciting. I've missed her. I can't fathom that FoodTV didn't put her on sooner (her previous shows were on the Style network and BBC America, I believe).

Okay, on to the shows currently on TV. On the Food Netork, Ive been thoroughly enjoying Ham on the Street. It's a hilarious show, with the host usually out on the street making passers-by try his strange concoctions or play the game "Name That Meat." Very entertaining. But also, there's lots of good ideas! For instance:

Cinnamon Rolls made in a hollowed out orange for camping. You wrap the whole thing in foil and throw it on the embers of your campfire. Brilliant!!! I tried to make cinimon rolls last summer while camping. I just made kind of a foil tent pack thing. They were pretty flat and doughy, but an okay breakfast. I'm so doing this orange trick next time.

As a matter of fact, that whole Great Outdoors episode was full of fun and neat ideas. Check out the "Bean Hole Soup" (Oh man did they have some fun with the phrase "Bean Hole!") and S'mores Nachos *droooool* (s'mores and nachos are some of may favorite foods.)

One more thing I will probably try out this summer is the Venezualen hot dogs from the hot dog episode (another very humorous episode). Cabbage and potato chips ON at hotdog. Fantastic.

The other new show I've been watching is Bravo's Top Chef. I didn't think I'd like it at first, but I caught the second episode, and it's pretty neat. It's like Iron Chef meets, say, Project Runway. Drama, competition and food. Good times.

This winning recipe from episode 4, the convenience episode, looks totally do-able and yummy: Mirin Glazed Sea Bass. Episode 4 was fun because for the quick challenge they had to make something out of ingredients they bought from a convenience store. Very creative.

Slashfood (my favorite food blog) has a recap of the show every week.

Now back to your regularly scheduled program...

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

notes to self

Recipes I must try SOOOON:

Roasted Curried Cauliflower.

Coconut Lime Macaroons.

Curry Potato & Spinach soup with lots 'o yummy fixins.

These Banana Muffins:
Banana Muffins

1/4 cup of margarine or butter
2 cups of brown sugar, lightly measured (not packed)
2 eggs
6 bananas

blend well

in a separate cup mix
2 tsp baking soda
4 tbsp hot water

add to the banana mixture

3 cups of flour
1 tsp salt.

Mix lightly, till blended, don't over mix.

bake at 375 for 20 minutes, makes 24 muffins.

(I don't remember where I nabbed this recipe from, sorry)

On the non-recipe front, I should think about contributing to this nifty project.

But for now, I'll just finish my hefeweizen and finish reading a book...