Wednesday, February 17, 2010

February doldrums, Pt II

I suppose you've heard I'm giving the commencement address at my alma mater this year. A trip to Cambridge is what the doctor ordered (perhaps not the allergist, but I can cope). I'm not much of an orator. It should be interesting.

I'm trying to keep the culinary mood light amid the snow and gray. I went bird watching today, and despite wearing three pair of socks, I nearly froze. I'm getting old.

What was there to do after that trek but eat lemon bars. Gert made some for the church potluck Sunday and I of course pocked one or five. I ate those for an afternoon snack with a mug of well-steeped Earl Grey. Just the thing.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

February doldrums

A young friend the other day pointed me to this mishmash of information about me on the liberal blog site Huffington Post. It came out shortly before my retirement. I enjoyed it, I have to say. But felt a pang of sorrow when I saw slide 5 of the photo show, in which I'm wearing my favorite tie that I have since lost.

Enough of that. Is it just me, or has this winter has been particularly harsh? Bitterest one in recent memory. Can hardly keep the fire stoked. I've been a glutton with the electric blanket.

I've also been eating a lot of tomato soup. And grilled cheese, of course. Plain Campbell's is good for me. You just add a sprig of dill. And then for the grilled cheese, a healthy slab of cheddar on buttered country bread. No substitutions. I'm no cheese snob. Frankly, I don't get cheese. And I never want to.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Yule, yule, yule et al

Well, scratch the post two before this one. I woke up in a seasonal mood yesterday, and it has yet to subside. It is man's prerogative to change his mind, right? (Or does that adage only apply to women? Shame.)

This may be because of the new snow, or the pine boughs I dragged in from outside and hung over the hearth this morning or because Martha brought me half of a cranberry-tangerine coffee cake yesterday leftover from her choir practice — the kind bedecked with the most satisfying cinnamon crumble on top and a generously plush interior. I could eat just the crumble part with a spoon. I try not to.

I'm thinking about being experimental this weekend and trying my hand at a coffee cake of my own, copyright Souter. I brainstormed three possible combinations: almond and chocolate, pear and cardomom, or chocolate pear almond. Which would you choose? I am leaning toward the latter.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A hungry hike

I hike most every day, 8-12 miles in the mountains. It gets more fun and challenging as the air cools; I've perfected the number of long john layers I need to keep warm. Hiking keeps me engaged in the earth. Truly religious.

But today, I forgot to take along my packed sandwich, and it put quite the chink in my plans. I was more than halfway through my hike when I reached in my knapsack for my ham and mustard on rye only to find my binoculars and some antiquated lip balm. I was famished and the disappointment of not having my sandwich seemed to deplete my glycogen stores with all the more expedience. Luckily, always prepared am I, and I was able to subsist on a baggie of raisins I had brought with me another day but hadn't eaten. Those little things powered me through to the end.

However, upon returning home, I immediately gobbled my forgotten sandwich, plus another.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Some new food

My friend told me about this cooking web site called "Epicurious." Clever. Have you heard of it? Anyway, according to a large picture their front page, Christmas is coming. Well, I never. Ho ho ho hum, correct?

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy Christmas. I like walking to midnight mass, I like the smell of a pine bough, I even delight in a jam thumbprint or two at Martha's annual party. But really, just another day. And I could do without a cake shaped like a yule log, which I encountered one year.

But back to this web site, "Epicurious." On it I clicked "Easy Menus" and then "Healthy Winter Dinners" and found a recipe for chive-corn muffins. Health is good, and I thought the recipe sounded good, so I made the muffins. It turns out I didn't have chives, though. And I dislike spicy food, so I omitted the cayenne pepper. So I suppose I just made corn muffins. They turned out well, however, puffed and golden as the recipe predicted.

I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit I ate four good-sized muffins for dinner and two bananas for dessert. Oh, and some chocolate ice cream. I'm not sure how that ended up in my basket at the store this week.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Breakfast in the morning

When I was at Oxford, breakfast wasn't much -- principally greasy meats, beans and white bread. (Strange how English and Southern cuisine are so similar at times. Which is to say, devoid of nutrition.) I'll for the most part eat anything, but beans for breakfast toes the line. It's a bit much. Throws me off.

So I ate a lot of toast there. Toast, for me, is a given, I rarely eat bread raw, so to speak. White toast with butter, rye with cream cheese, wheat with jam. No permutations. I write this with nostalgia because my toaster oven, bless its heart, exploded on me this morning, singing my shirt and filling my kitchen with an acrid smell that has yet to dissipate. So no toast for me. I nearly ate the bread I laid out untoasted, but decided better of it and had a bowl of cereal. Sad but true.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Breakfast in the evening

I had for dinner tonight what my old college pal used to call a "one-skillet deal meal:" Eggs, bacon and potatoes all fried up in the same cast-iron pan, at the same time. If you're feeling particularly raucous, you can break the egg yolks and create a mishmash with the ingredients (I believe in nicer magazines they describe this preparation method as "rustic").

I declined to do the rustic approach tonight. I like to enjoy my food compartmentally, so I split the skillet in thirds with my eye and fried each component as it was.

You might say this breakfast-for-dinner sounds rather uninspired, and I might normally agree with you, but tonight I substituted a yam for a regular potato. Root vegetables, I believe, are a gift; nothing is as splendid as the jeweled yam, cubed and spotted with oil, salt and maple sugar, roasted and then fried to a crisp. Yes, I do not think anything quite compares. Worth keeping your egg yolks intact.