Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Grocery Day

So much going on in the last week and I didn't get a chance to post last week's groceries, and it was a challenging week because I went a little over budget. I needed coffee and it threw me off my game. I have to say though that nothing can beat Sahadi's Italian Roast for $4.75/lb, I think it has to be the biggest bargain in NYC, especially considering that I used to spring for Illy at $12 for 10oz.

This week will be even more challenging, because I need to buy olive oil. They were having a tasting at Sahadi's last week, so I know what I'll be getting - I love a spicy super-tasty olive oil, but it's going to put a serious strain on my budget and creativity.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Check it

Check out my post on about learning to cook

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

101 Simple Salads

NYT: The Minimalist - Recipes for 101 Simple Salads for the Season

Don't just bookmark this one, copy and paste it and save it to your hard drive!

Grocery Day

Last Thursday's grocery day anyway. Here's what I bought this week:

Produce Stand:
7 limes
1 large head of loose leaf lettuce
1 bag of carrots

1.3 lb dried chickpeas
.3 lb moroccan olives

Damascus Bakery:
1 package of small sesame pita loaves

Trader Joe's
16 oz Greek-style yogurt

Grand Army Plaza Farmer's Market:
2 cucumbers
1 green pepper

100 fast easy recipes

Guardian: The 100 easiest, fastest recipes. Ever

From a variety of chefs and food writers, with an English summer slant. Numbers 63 - 100 are from Mark Bittman, who wrote 100 fast, easy recipes for the NYT a few years ago.

None of these seem exactly cheap, but I want to look at it again and see what I can use.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tomato Crop in Peril Late Blight Fungus Threatens Tomato Crop in Northeast and Mid-Atlantic

My patio tomato gave me three tomatoes, two ripe and one green, and has totally succumbed to blight. I bought a new one at the farmer's market this morning for $4. I had better throw out the old plant before it affects the new one.

The blight affecting tomatoes is the same blight that affected the potatoes in mid-19th century Ireland and caused the Irish famine which caused me to be born in Illinois. Oh dear I can live without tomatoes for a year but my Irish genes can't live without potatoes!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Price of milk

As I was poking around the Ballymaloe Cookery School website I noticed a posting that said the price of milk has collapsed around the world. Is this true? I checked the University of Wisconsin dairy statistics and it appears to be true for the US:


Lettuce, cucumber and mint soup

The other day I was looking through a stack of old Gourmet magazines, and I found an intriguing recipe for Lettuce, Cucumber and Mint soup in the August 1990 issue, from a feature on the Ballymaloe Cookery School and their beautiful herb garden.

Following on from the delicate taste of my menthe a l'eau I thought this would be a perfect dish for the sweet summer weather we've been experiencing here in New York. And it tasted amazing; the flavors are delicate, unexpected and soothing.

The original recipe served 8, but I cut it down to 1 large serving; also, since I did not find the recipe either on the Ballymaloe Cookery School website or on Epicurious, I'm reproducing it here in its entirety, with my proportions for one serving.

Ballymaloe Cookery School Lettuce, Cucumber and Mint Soup
from Gourmet August 1990

1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup diced potato
1/4 cup diced cucumber
1 1/4 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup lettuce
1 tablespoon chopped mint
1 tablespoon cream or milk

In a heavy saucepan heat the butter over moderate heat until it begins to foam, add the onion, potatoes and salt and pepper to taste, and stir until the onion and potatoes are well coated with butter. Cook with the lid on over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until the onion is soft. Stir in the cucumber and the broth and simmer the mixture covered until the potatoes are tender, about ten minutes. Stir in the lettuce and simmer the mixture uncovered for 5 minutes. Stir in 1/2 half the mint and the tablespoon of cream or milk and blend. Serve garnished with mint.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Menthe à l'eau

Menthe à l'eau is a drink mostly for French children, the thought of which can send people of a certain age into reveries. I discovered it the summer I was a high school exchange student in a small town in France. At the café or before lunch you might have un menthe à l'eau while the grownups had their apperitifs (although sometimes we did get to have the apperitif), or in the afternoon after bicycling around in the hot sun you could make it at home with store-bought syrup - maybe serving the role that lemonade served for American kids before Big Gulps ruled. But oh how sophisticated I felt ordering un menthe à l'eau at the café in the nearest big town!

All the pictures of menthe à l'eau that I could find are bright flourescent green, which was the color of the store-bought syrup; however I was given to understand by my "family" that the final drink was meant to be a very lightly tinged green, or else it was a sign you had put in too much syrup.

I have a mint plant growing as part of my "kitchen garden" outside my front windows, and I was thinking of what uses I might make of it for summer refreshment, and of course menthe à l'eau was on my mind. I found this recipe at Epicurious for mint simple syrup. I made a half batch using 3/4 cup of mint leaves (packed), 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water, enough for two or three large pitchers. The syrup makes an icy mint flavored water that is delicate and not overpowering, which as a grownup I appreciate more. Not to mention that it's practically gratuit.

Grocery Day

My groceries for this week:

Produce Stand:
5 limes
2 heads of leafy lettuce
1 bag of carrots
1 cucumber
2 pints of blueberries

.25 lb of French Feta
320 grams of tahini

Trader Joe's:
1 lb of frozen shrimp
1 6oz can of tuna
2 cans of chickpeas

Target had a sale on some small appliances and I bought a mini-chopper (1 1/2 cups) for $7! I have wanted a mini-chopper since my last one died; I loved it so. This one is actually a bit larger, although maybe not large enough for hummous. Perfect for pesto!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Kitchen Illiteracy

Grist: Not much convenience in “convenience foods” via Bitten.

One of the first things I learned when I got back to cooking at home was that you can cook a meal in the time it takes to wait for it at a takeout place, for less cost. This post talks about a UCLA study which found that families who used (so-called) convenience foods didn't save all that much time, and blames kitchen illiteracy for the misconception.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Urban Farming

NYT Will Allen: Street Farmer -

Fascinating article in the NYT Sunday Magazine section about Will Allen, a Milwaukee-based pioneer of urban farming.

If there’s no place in the food movement for low- and middle-income people of all races, says Tom Philpott, food editor of and co-founder of the North Carolina-based Maverick Farms, “we’ve got big problems, because the critics will be proven right — that this is a consumption club for people who’ve traveled to Europe and tasted fine food.”

The Brooklyn counterpart to Will Allen's Growing Power is Added Value, which operates its own farmer's market in Red Hook.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Grocery Day

Holidays, visiting relatives and sudden rainstorms can't stop me from my weekly grocery shopping. I thought I would post my grocery purchases to show you what I have to work with.

From Sahadi's:
1 lb of cocoa
.3 lb of French feta

Damascus Bakery:
1 package of 5 small sesame pita loaves

Produce stand:
7 limes
2 heads of red leaf lettuce
1 bag of carrots
1 bag of 4 red onions
2 pints of blueberries

Trader Joes:
12 oz Trader Joes Greek-style yogurt

Cocoa granita is now a staple. I have plenty of beans, eggs and chicken to get me through next week, and I expect to get plenty of free food over the holiday weekend.