You Should Eat This
Recipes for writer’s block
I am having a hell of a time writing these days. I find myself not at a loss for words so much as a loss of confidence in my words. Why does what I have to say matter? Perhaps more to the point, why would anybody care? The problem is, I can’t hear my ‘Go get ‘em’ rally cry as my inner critic has picked up a bullhorn and is usurping what could be an otherwise insightful dialogue.
Hours, days, weeks have passed and the pages are still blank. I’ve spent too much time devising tactical strikes against said inner-critic, all of which have included a significant amount of creative torture: staring at the computer screen for painful hours on end, hoping the words will flow, re-reading the Iliad and Dante’s Inferno (who wouldn’t be inspired).
Last night at 2AM I made the executive decision to throw in the towel. Defeat was the anticipated response, God knows I’ve waved the white flag in deference to my inner-critic far too many times.
Instead of a litany of rather testy internal dialogues, the mental static cleared and there was silence. The message: don’t write what you think you need to write, write what you want to write.
And so I am here, writing to you about food. I could wax poetic about the metaphorical meaning behind this all, but I don’t feel like it. I’ll just let the stories tell themselves.
Who knows where this will go. Right now it doesn’t matter. What matters is getting words on the screen and sharing with friends. I’ll stop explaining myself now and let this shit speak for itself. Happy reading. Happy eating. And may your creative juices flow.
Very Old Fashioned Gingerbread
I went to a private high school 24 miles north of where I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA. Newly licensed and a pot-smoking pro by the age of 16, my mother would make this gingerbread for breakfast. I’d hop in my car, slap a Grateful Dead bootleg in the cassette player, smoke a joint and inhale this gingerbread all while driving those glorious adult-free 24 miles to school.
This gingerbread is so good you’ll want to eat the entire pan... even if you’re not stoned.
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 9” square baking pan. Beat shortening and sugar together until fluffy. Add molasses, egg, coffee, vanilla and lemon rind. Beat to combine.
2. In another bowl, sift together remaining ingredients and combine with the wet mixture. DO NOT OVERMIX! Bake about 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.
In total, I have made this soup fifteen times, once before each breast surgery I have had over the past ten years. Broken down, this equals two mastectomies and a baker’s dozen of breast reconstruction surgeries. Hard to believe.
Like my fake tits, this soup has gone through several permutations over the years, each batch improving on the one before. The original recipe was full of prep work and Martha Stewart caliber kitchen fanciness. I did away with all of that fanfare and just throw all of the ingredients in the slow-cooker.
1. In a 4 1/2 - 6 quart slow-cooker combine chicken stock, carrots, celery, onion, bay leaves, thyme, pinch of salt and pepper.
2. Place whole chicken on top of vegetables.
3. Cover slow cooker with lid and cook for a long time: 2 hours on high setting followed by 2-4 hours on low setting, depending on the size of your bird.
4. While soup is cooking prepare egg noodles according to package instructions.
5. When chicken is cooked through, transfer to cutting board. Discard bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Remove skin, fat and bones from the chicken and shred meat into pieces. Return chicken meat to soup. Add noodles and parsley and serve.
Tres Leches is traditionally made with a meringue frosting, which while lovely, makes the cake super sweet. My solution is to keep it simple and go frostingless. I’ve included the recipe for the frosting in case you want to do it up right. Serve this with a side of the Black Keys and some vintage lingerie. For realz.
Preheat oven to 275F. Mix the egg yolks with 1/2 c. sugar until thick and white. In another bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add remaining 1/2 c. sugar to the egg whites and beat until stiff peaks form. Add a little of the egg whites to the yolks and mix thoroughly. Fold remaining whites into yolk batter. Add the flour, spoonful by spoonful, gently folding in after each addition. Pour batter into a greased 11x13 inch pan. Bake for 20-30 mins, until golden brown on top. Allow cake to cool.
In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the water and 2/3 c. sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat to medium-high and boil, without stirring, until a candy thermometer reads 235. Near the end of the bioling time, whip egg whites with the cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Add the 2 Tbsp. sugar and whip until the whites form shiny, stiff peaks. With the mixer running, pour the syrup onto the whipped whites. Whip at medium speed, about 3 minutes more. The frosting will thicken, cool and form glossy, stiff peaks. Add the vanilla. Cool to room temperature, about 10 minutes. Spread frosting over cooled cake.
I write in lingerie. Beautiful one of a kind pieces of lingerie that make me smile. I am also an early riser. Winter is coming and it can get pretty chilly sitting in front of my computer at 5AM writing in nothing but a lovely little something or other...
When you’re covered in goosebumps but you can’t bear to slip out of your get up, defer to warm food and hot tea to take the chill off.
Take the time to make steel cut oats from scratch. And make a big batch, you’ll want more.
Follow the instructions for making steel cut oats, substituting coconut milk for the water. Top cooked oatmeal with sliced banana, pistachios and a sprinkle or two of cinnamon.
I’ve not included a recipe for cake or cupcakes here because quite honestly, I don’t care what you eat this with. This buttercream is fucking out of this world. It would make cardboard taste great.
Chop chocolate. In metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water melt chocolate, stirring until smooth. Let cool. Cut butter into pieces and soften to cool room temp.
In a 1 1/2 quart heavy saucepan bring water and sugar to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil syrup, without stirring, until candy thermometer registers 248F.
While syrup boils, in a bowl with an electric mixer, beat whites with a pinch of salt until foamy. Beat in cream of tartar. Beat whites until they just hold stiff peaks. Beat the hot syrup into with whites in a stream (try to avoid pouring syrup on beaters or side of bowl). Beat mixture at medium speed until completely cool, about 10 mins. Beat in butter, 1 piece at a time, beating until mixture is thickened and smooth. Buttercream will appear at firt very thin and at some point look like it is breaking, but as more butter is beaten in, it will thicken and become glossy and smooth. Beat in cocoa powder, melted cocolate and pinch of salt, beating until smooth.
My paternal grandmother is a bad-ass. Affectionately known as ‘Ma’, she still makes these crazy-good deviled eggs at the age of 95. She also lives alone, still drives, loves to go shopping and can tap dance like nobody’s business. Amazing.
1. Hard boil the eggs. How Ma does it: place eggs in a large pot of COLD water. Bring water to the boil then start timer. Boil for 10 minutes and drain. (FYI, if you throw in a matchstick or some vinegar, leaking whites will coagulate and not allow the entire egg to seep out.)
2. Cool eggs and peel. Slice in half lengthwise. Remove yolks and mash with a fork to make light and fluffy.
3. In a small bowl combine approx. 1/3 c. mayonnaise and 2 tsp dijon mustard. Add the juice from the jar of olives and whisk until creamy. Stir this into the egg yolks and mix well. (Note: Depending on the size of your eggs, you may need to make more mayonnaise/dijon sauce. Add more to yolks to taste.)
4. Fill hollows of egg whites (pipe filling in with a pastry bag or a ziplock baggie with the corner clipped). Top with a pimento stuffed olive.
Super easy and ridiculously good. No, I do not know amounts. That’s all up to you. I am prone to excess when it comes to toppings of any sort, so my personal take is the more nuts, cherries, carrots and feta, the better.
1. Preheat oven to 425F. Halve each delicata squash lengthwise. Scoop out pulp. Drizzle some olive oil on a cookie sheet and spread in a thin layer. Place squash halves face down on cookie sheet and bake in middle of oven until done (amount of time depends on number and size of squash).
2. Cook quinoa in chicken stock.
3. Chop nuts to desired size and toast until fragrant.
4. Soak generous handful of unsweetened dried cherries in enough warm water to cover for 5-10 mins. Drain.
5. In skillet saute garlic in olive oil. Add diced carrots and saute for a few minutes. Add nuts and stir. Remove from heat.
6. Add cherries to skillet and stir. Season with salt and pepper.
7. Add quinoa to skillet and gently stir.
8. When squash halves are fork-tender they are ready. Flip each half over and fill with quinoa stuffing. Top with fresh feta.
(serve steamed kale on the side)