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Tripe Soup, by Jennifer Brizzi
Monday, May 14, 2007
Ten Sweet Years
Mood:  happy
Topic: food writing biz
This month makes ten years as a food writer for me, since my first food column "Jenny's Food Focus" came out in the May 1997 edition of the Hudson River Sampler. I've been doing columns ever since, through "Good Food," and now "Ravenous."

I was once asked if I was afraid of running out of topics, with so many columns to write so regularly. I haven't run out yet and don't foresee it ever happening. Writing about food, tasting it, thinking about it and cooking it, are a joy and a delight, most of the time, and food is a subject I know I'll never tire of.

So after ten years I'm waiting to turn into an overnight sensation. Maybe a few more decades are needed...

Back to work, doing radishes this babies~~~my first radishes frm hort!

Posted by Jennifer Brizzi at 2:27 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, May 14, 2007 2:39 PM EDT
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Sunday, April 15, 2007
special mention for me
Mood:  celebratory
Topic: food writing biz
For years I have really really wanted to go to Greenbrier, the annual foodwriters' conference in West Virginia, which sounds to me like a few days of bliss on earth, hobnobbing with others as crazy for food as me, and who are making a living at it. Last year I missed the deadline for scholarship applications because of a messed-up link in my bookmarks. This year they extended the deadline and I barely got in with two columns, one on okra, the other on cephalopods. Lynn Swann, the coordinator, has been wonderful about answering e-mails and seems like an all-round good sort.

Well, I didn't get a scholarship, so I can't go, but they listed some special mentions in each scholarship category, and there were two winners of the Apicius scholarship, which awarded $500 towards the conference to "a professional food writer whose prose rings a clear voice and reflects the delicious joys of the table. In the spirit of Apicius, the first Roman to write cookbooks, the goal is to grant this award to that writer whose work will stand the test of time." After choosing two winners, the kind judges picked four of us for Special Mention and I was one of the four. The list.

This does make me very happy, even though I won't be able to go. Enough carrot to keep this donkey from giving up the food-writing thing, not that I really would, because I love it too damn much. But enough of a tease that I will keep trying until some day I get there. It's lovely that some judges who read 160 entries liked me enough to put my name down. Thank you, judges, you have made this food writer happier and prouder than she probably has a right to be, and hopeful that I can keep on doing what I love best after eating and cooking: writing about it.

Posted by Jennifer Brizzi at 11:02 PM EDT
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Thursday, October 26, 2006
New Lamb Recipes
Topic: Cooking
See my new lamb recipes from my cooking demos last weekend at the New York State Sheep & Wool Festival.
They're for South African curried lamb bobotie, shepherd's pie with roasted lamb, lamb tikka kebabs and Lebanese lamb kefta.

Posted by Jennifer Brizzi at 11:14 AM EDT
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Monday, August 28, 2006
Mood:  a-ok
Now Playing: Me on stage
Topic: food writing biz
This past week I did two cooking demos at the Dutchess County (NY) fair and appeared as a tomato judge at a local farmers market. It was all lots of fun, although the demos were lots of work recipe developing and testing, planning, paperwork and washing dishes. My demos seemed fairly well-received, I was nervous as usual (that old public speaking bugaboo) but planned better this time, I think. I got some nice feedback from the audience on how good the food was and one couple said, "You're our favorite presenter," which tickled me pink.

Although I forgot to put the corn in the Grits Casserole with Corn in the first demo (Southern Sides with Fresh Corn), and the basil in the tomato sauce in the second one (Italian Ways with Zucchini), they seemed to go fairly well, not perfectly but okay with good and bad points. The second had a little too much dead air and "well, let's just pretend this is done," so I could move on--I'm hoping that better timing will come with practice.

My recipes are not for everyone, not innovative, wow 'em, cheffy nor wild. They're classic dishes with a twist, none of them terribly complicated, most yummy, and I think there is a certain audience for that.

Well, they have asked me back for the Sheep and Wool Fest, and maybe I'll do two recipes instead of three so I can focus and time them better--I have a couple months to figure it out.

And I may be doing some little farmer's market demos on hot plates, which should be a gas.

It is great fun though, and I think a good thing for a food writer to do. I'm seeking help and advice from experts on the nuances of food demos, on timing, recipe development, etc., so I can streamline and make them better, more entertaining. Lisa Ekus does a one-day media training for food pros that sounds wonderful but at $1800 for one day, $3000 for two, that will have to wait until I find a sponsor!

Oh, and a scrumptious heirloom "Mennonite" won the tomato contest, but I had to talk the other judges into it...

Posted by Jennifer Brizzi at 1:12 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, August 28, 2006 1:18 PM EDT
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Sunday, August 20, 2006
Pork story ... continued
Mood:  crushed out
Topic: Cooking
The meat was a tad dry but undeniably tasty, and swabbed with a western NC-style mop, topped with cole slaw on plain buns, not bad. But the experiment didn't pan out quite as planned.

The part I thought would be the toughest, keeping the temperature between 200 and 250, was not as hard as I'd expected; it actually cruised along without the addition of coals at the right temp throughout most of the afternoon, spiking only briefly when I did add coals and stir them up a bit.

From my research I learned from many sources that such a chunk of slow-smoked pork would rise in interior temperature to about 160 or so and then arrive at a plateau that would take about two to four hours and then rise until it reached 190, 195, 200 which would be the perfect point of melting fat and collagens, and then it would be perfectly ready to pull (translate shred).

But that never happened. In the late evening it reached the plateau and just never left it. The temperature in the Weber kept right where it was supposed to be, around 225-240, the aromas were lovely, but the meat never did what it was supposed to. I didn't want to give up, and crazily kept at it until it had been on the fire for 19 and 1/2 hours, and I had been conscious for 24, at which point I simply gave up, spent and ready to sleep. So I just wrapped it in a couple layers of foil and a big paper bag, put it in a cooler with ice, washed some of the ashes off my filthy feet, and crashed. The next day I put in in the oven for a couple hours and the temperature still never rose about normal pork temp, although it did shred pretty well.

The meal was great; my mop was cider vinegar, water, brown sugar, catsup, Worcestershire sauce, salt, red pepper flakes, etc., nicely balanced, and a coleslaw dressed with mop, plus baked beans James Taylor style from Amy Rogers' Carolina cookbook. At the last minute I ditched the hush puppies I was going to make, but served a killer grits and fresh corn casserole, redolent of garlic, jalapeno and cheddar, that I did up in preparation for a cooking demo I'll be doing at the Dutchess (NY) County Fair on Thursday. Friend Erin brought a great green salad. As a goof, along the southern theme I made a blueberry jello "salad," which was actually great, although I don't usually go for that sort of thing. I did some lame sausage balls for an appetizer, but a nice peach cobbler for dessert, but that pork just didn't quite do what I wanted it to do and I m not sure that I want to try it again. I will ask my expert buddies at the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts and Letters, who know everything, what they think I did wrong.

Oh, and I took photos, but when I tried to add them they were too huge, so I will keep working on the technology of that, too...

Posted by Jennifer Brizzi at 11:53 PM EDT
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Friday, August 18, 2006
Swine a comin'!
Mood:  happy
Now Playing: It begins...
Topic: Cooking
Today's the big day; I'm going to slow-cook me some North Carolina-style pulled pork. After poring over 102 pages of research culled from a variety of Internet sources, I'm ready for my first real attempt at the art of replicating this soul-of-southern-cooking specialty.

At 6 a.m. I rubbed a 9.75 lb. picnic shoulder with approx. equal parts coarse sea salt, coarsely ground black pepper, sweet sticky paprika from Penzey's Spices and dark brown sugar.

I won't be able to start it smoking until after I drop off the kids at camp, so if I can get it on the Weber by 9:30 or so I could conceivably be at it until about 1 a.m. when it gets to the magical internal temp of 190-200 essential for pulling.

Keeping the temp inside the Weber hovering around 225-250 degrees will be the tricky part. I'll be hoping I don't get a citation for stinking up the neighborhood with hickory and apple smoke!

Will keep you posted as the process progresses.

* * *

10:27 a.m.

The pork has been on the Weber for about half an hour, and at first the temperature was too high, well over 300, but now it is 230, which is perfect.

It's starting to smell mighty good and that's just the apple chips and hickory chunks; the swine isn't even melting yet. Now the challenge is to keep the temp from going too low, with a combination of continually adjusting the top vents and throwing on more coal and wood, while simultaneously writing an article about the food of Sicily for Global Writes!

I considered using all wood lumps instead of charcoal briquettes, but they tend to run hot and burn fast and I figured this would give more control over the cooking speed, which needs to be sloooooow.

I am terribly slow at everything I do--cooking, cleaning, writing, etc.--so to do something where lack of speed is a virtue is a rare treat!

* * *

2:32 p.m.

Cruising along now, looking yummy already although it may not be done for another 12 hours or so!! It has been at a nice steady 225 for a couple hours now, even without adding any coals. It's time to stop throwing in wood chips--it should be as smoky as it's going to get.

Posted by Jennifer Brizzi at 7:30 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, August 18, 2006 2:40 PM EDT
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Thursday, July 20, 2006
Shredded swine quest
Mood:  bright
Topic: Cooking
I'm on a mission. Having recently sampled fine examples of eastern North Carolina and western North Carolina barbecue (but not in sufficient quantity), I am planning to try to replicate it in the near future for a small group of victims. I did an improper but tasty one in 2000, and am ready to re-tackle it with lots of research. I can't decide whether I prefer the eastern style (whole hog, spicy vinegar sauce) or the western (shoulder only, vinegar/tomato sauce)--they are both unbelievably good.

Lacking the funds to buy a whole hog, I will buy a nice fatty, bony picnic shoulder. My next step is to find some apple wood chips--going hunting for that this afternoon. Then I need to set a date for the event--I will keep you posted.

For my recent column on N. Carolina food, look here.

Can't believe it's been three months to the day since my last blog entry--I will have to check in more often. And it seems that blogs just aren't blogs these days without lots of big juicy photos. Should I add some of those?

Posted by Jennifer Brizzi at 11:56 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, July 20, 2006 11:59 AM EDT
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Thursday, April 20, 2006
easter feastin'
Mood:  party time!
Now Playing: an intimate sit-down dinner for 15
Topic: Cooking
Readers of my columns know about the grand holiday feasts cooked by my father-in-law Angelo, a Tuscan expat who crossed the Atlantic more than two dozen times as a merchant marine and died five years ago. Every Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and other occasions in between he would cook huge meals in his two tiny Manhattan kitchens, serving ten to twenty-five people dirty jokes, jolly camaraderie and fantastic food.

In his honor--and admittedly with my own desire to cook a big dinner--I offered to cook Easter dinner for my mother-in-law and an assortment of her friends.

I kind of surprised myself that I pulled it off, since usually timing the components of a meal for two is beyond me. I think Angelo's spirit was guiding me. I can't wait to do it again. The menu:

Crostini di fegatini (the classic Tuscan chicken liver pate on toast that Angelo often served in the living room before big dinners--mine was tasty but the texture a bit off, with no food processor on hand)
Olive (an assortment of olives from a Greek market on 9th Ave.)

Then into the dining room for:

Cosciotto d'agnello arrosto sulle cipolline primavera (a departure from italian dishes, to Macedonia, Greece, thanks to Diane Kochilias' The Glorious Foods of Greece: leg of lamb on a bed of scallion greens and fresh mint)
Involtini di pollo < saltimbocca > (homage to something Angelo might have made: pounded chicken breast wrapped around prosciutto, Italian fontina and fresh sage, but with my own added touch of Southern cream gravy)
Torta pasqualina con carciofi (a Neopolitan Easter tradition, a savory cheesecake with artichokes encased in puff pastry)
Lasagne < amerdicane > (also an homage to the way Angelo made lasagna for parties, studded with slices of Italian sausage)
Patate al forno (roasted potatoes the way Angelo cooked them, dried to shoe leather in a slow oven but scrumptious)
Scarole coi pistacchi (Sicilian in honor of my Sicilian mother-in-law Maria, escarole with pistachios)
Asparagi (topped with fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano and butter, from Emilia-Romagna)
Piselli (peas with onion, prosciutto and white wine)
Insalata verde (three salad-in-a-bags plus thinly-sliced mushrooms)
Vini Italiani e Siciliani, rosso e bianco

Pastiera di pasqua (an Italian classic candied fruit-studded not-too-sweet cheesecake, purchased on 9th Ave.) ed altri dolci (cakes, tarts and other sweets brought by generous guests)
Caffe, te, liquori

It was lovely, a fun gang, some new faces and some old, tons of fun, lots of work, a joy!

Posted by Jennifer Brizzi at 9:49 AM EDT
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Friday, March 31, 2006
IACPconf/I wish I were there
Mood:  blue
Now Playing: CRANKY!!
Topic: food writing biz
Man, life as it is is good, but how I have wanted to go to this year's conference, in Seattle, of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. I went in 2000 to the one in Providence, RI, and it was so incredibly great that I wanted so bad to get to this one, too, and to see Chandley, my best oldest childhood friend who lives there, and a family--the Kaplans-- who were in Vietnam with us, getting another son when we adopted our daughter, and my second cousin Mary Ann Gwinn, who is book editor of the Seattle Times--so many reasons to go, but not enough cash, not enough child care.

I am thinking of the crowds, thinking of the schmoozing, thinking of the tastes and smells and joy of being with thousands of other food-fanatics. In Providence I got to meet and talk to the recently departed and very sweet Sicilian food expert and actor Vincent Schiavelli, and also Clifford Wright and Julia Child, all of them pros and genuinely kind and friendly.

Alas, Child and Schiavelli will not be there this year. But I wish I was. It is all for the best, I know. I need to be here with my little ones. But man oh man how I wish I could be there, too. Cheers to all of you IACP'ers in Seattle right now. I hope you are having a fantabulous time.

Posted by Jennifer Brizzi at 11:45 PM EST
Updated: Monday, April 3, 2006 12:03 AM EDT
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Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Taste Your Own Tongue
Topic: food writing biz
If you want to be a food writer, there are three things you need to do, and none of them has much to do with food.

The first thing is just to be a writer. Forget about the food for now; that part will come naturally. If you truly love food, it will infuse everything you write.

To Be A Writer is a fine idea, like wanting to be a teacher so you can have summers off but forgetting about squabbles with administration or brats hurling blunt objects at the back of your head. To Be a Writer sounds like sitting at a desk all day dressed in PJs, sweats or nothing at all. To Be a Writer makes you imagine a long snaking line of people all gazing at you with abject adoration as they approach the table where you sit signing book after book until your hand cramps pleasantly.

But To Be a Writer actually means writing. And if you have always scribbled words on paper and banged computer keyboards, you are already a writer. If you have always had to write--rather than chose to write or wanted to write--and just could not keep yourself from doing it, if you are hopelessly addicted to writing, you are already a writer.

So keep writing. Anything: great literature, newspaper articles, how-to manuals, potentially prize-winning essays, journal entries, a blog, short stories or just witty, pithy e-mails to people who love you. Just write. Every bit of practice does you good.

And another thing. Read. Read not to emulate other writers, but rather to inspire yourself with the joy of words, and especially to stoke the fire of your lust for words. If you don't love reading, if you wouldn't rather read than just about anything else, maybe your love for words and the way they blend and simmer is not quite fervent enough to spend days molding them to sound like the thoughts in your brain, only better.

The last requirement for being a food writer is to follow your own tastes, not what's trendy or popular but what you love. If creating recipes for low fat vegetarian dishes gets you going, do that. If it's discovering what makes people tick, then follow around wildly popular chefs and crab fisherpersons and microgreen farmers and make your reader really get to know them. Or if you love how sexy food can be, or if strange foods from the other side of the planet stimulate your sense of adventure, write about that.

See food through your own eyes, taste it with your own tongue. Seize the aspect of it that excites you the most and let that thrill spill out onto the pages of what you write.

Posted by Jennifer Brizzi at 10:33 AM EST
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Wednesday, February 8, 2006
Timkat Tet party
My children, nearly five and nearly four, were adopted from Vietnam and Ethiopia, and the biggest annual holidays in the countries of their births fall close to the same time each year. Ethiopian Epiphany runs from January 18-20 and is celebrated there with much more hoopla than their Christmas on January 7, with parades and mass baptisms and feasting on the meat of the fat-tailed sheep. Vietnamese New Year, or Tet, begins like Chinese New Year on different dates each year, January 29 this year. The days-long festival celebrates the return of the buffoon-like kitchen gods to heaven. The Vietnamese prepare by cleaning their house until it sparkles (I deviated from this part of the tradition) and cooking up a storm so no work will be have to be done during Tet, which will be devoted to fireworks, feasting and visiting relatives.

So I planned a modest feast to celebrate both holidays. I would have liked to invite a hundred of my best friends for the occasion, but my house is so tiny that any large gatherings are reserved for when it's warmer outdoors. So we invited a few nearest and dearest and I served the food buffet style, with the Vietnamese stuff on and near the stove and the Ethiopian on the small kitchen table.

It struck me while I was planning the food that the two cuisines, Ethiopian and Vietnamese, are so different that it seemed odd to serve them at the same meal. But as I cooked it I realized that both call for lots of garlic and ginger and sweet spices. My mother, who had never tasted either cuisine before, said that the flavors were much the same. “It's that ancient spice trail,” said my husband, and actually some of the food of Vietnam, especially in the south, is influenced indirectly by India to the west, and many people who have tried Ethiopian food say the rich spice blends and buttery foundation remind them of Indian food.

We started with nem, or cha gio, Vietnamese spring rolls that were fun to make. I rolled delicate rice paper wrappers around a filling of ground pork, minced tree ear mushrooms, bean threads, garlic and ginger. They were fried and then eaten by wrapping them in Boston lettuce with fresh mint, cilantro, sliced cucumber and star fruit, and then dipping them into Vietnam's classic dipping sauce, nuoc cham, of fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, chopped bird chilies and garlic.

Artifacts, art, scarves and serving ware from both countries did the decorating, with a shuffle of music from our CDs of classic and contemporary Ethiopian and Vietnamese music. My kids dressed in the colorful costumes of their birth lands, topped by a red conical hat of poster board for my daughter and a black pillbox type for my son.
We moved on to the main courses with a few more Vietnamese dishes to go with steamed jasmine rice. There was coleslaw that I dressed with something similar to the nuoc cham but with touches of canola oil and rice vinegar added. Friend Erin brought a pretty pink and red Vietnamese dish of fat shrimp in a sweet caramel sauce embellished with red pepper strips. I had stewed some pork riblets in sweet spices, fish sauce and coconut juice, great fun with the atypical kitchen tools of drill, screwdriver and hammer.

On the Ethiopian side of the room there was a big platter of freshly cooked injera, big pancakes made of a fermented dough of teff and wheat flours. In Ethiopia it acts as fork, napkin, plate and tablecloth, a sour but tasty contrast to the sweet complex stews.

One was the classic feast dish, doro wat, a stew of chicken, red onions and boiled eggs swimming in spiced butter and the fiery spice mixture berbere. We also had some milder red lentil stew colored yellow with turmeric and a luscious on-the-bone lamb alicha cooked by my brother-in-law Mig.

For dessert we had two lovely Vietnamese desserts brought by generous good-cookin' guests: a sumptuous banana cake with ice cream baked by Erin, plus a creamy coconut flan provided by my sister Calico.

We were likely the only ones in town having such a dinner, but it was great fun and I hope it will become an annual tradition for us.

This ran in my column "Ravenous" in the Kingston (NY) Times on February 2.

Posted by Jennifer Brizzi at 11:04 AM EST
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Thursday, January 19, 2006
Mood:  hungry
In last year's special food issue of Oxford American magazine, my father Donald Harington wrote an ode to chicken and dumplings in which he debated round versus flat dumplings and presumed that my sisters and I only made flat ones these days, unlike the fluffy ones he made when we were little.

Although the real thing is pretty much just chicken and flour and nothing else, this is how I do it and it is truly delicious. The dumplings, which are not so fluffy but reminiscent of a German bread dumpling, are killer and lifted directly from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook by Marion Cunningham (13th Edition, Knopf 1990).
The rest of it is my recipe and I'm sticking to it.

Chicken and Dumplings

For stew:

1 (one) 2 and 1/2 to 3 pound quality, naturally-raised chicken (I get mine from Gippert's Farm in Saugerties, NY)
Salt, pepper and cayenne to taste
1 large onion, chopped--mince 1/4 cup of it and reserve for the dumplings
1 carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet (optional)

For "feather dumplings":

1 cup flour
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten well
2 tablespoons butter, melted
The 1/4 cup minced onion you saved from the stew part
1/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon finely minced parsley
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Rinse and dry chicken and cut into 8 serving pieces. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and cayenne and brown on both sides in some of its own fat over moderate heat in a Dutch oven.

Remove chicken pieces and reserve. Add onions, carrots, celery and garlic to Dutch oven and cook and stir until soft.

Put chicken back in pot and cover with water, approximately a quart, depending on size of the pot. Add the Kitchen Bouquet, if using, and some additional salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer about a half hour.

Meanwhile, (here's Ms. Cunningham talking) "Combine the flour, bread crumbs, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl, and stir to mix. In another bowl, lightly beat the egg, melted butter, onion and milk together. Stir into the dry ingredients to m make a stiff batter. Stir in the parsley and pepper. Once the chicken has cooked about 30-35 minutes [actually M.C. says 20 but I like my chicken well-done], drop spoonfuls of dough on top of the bubbling broth. Cover and steam for 20 minutes without lifting the cover."

Posted by Jennifer Brizzi at 10:46 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, January 22, 2006 12:23 AM EST
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Monday, January 9, 2006
Starch 'n cheese
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: Cooking
I will never be too snobby to appreciate macaroni and cheese, in most any form.

In my book that combo of pasta and cheese baked together and topped with crispy crumbs surpasses most treats. I have had creamy versions at southern buffets, sweet macaroni pies in Jamaica and Barbados, had floury bland versions in cafeteria lines, and tasted plenty of the Kraft crap I give my kids sometimes (my own bowl sprinkled heavily with freshly ground black pepper), and ain't none of it bad.

Tonight at the risk of Rolando's wrath (he is lactose intolerant and usually I never make it unless he's not around) I had an urge to bake a little casserole-full to accompany a meal that would have been perfectly fine without it: oven-roasted natural local pork chops with lemon and Penzeys Bavarian seasoning, butter-roasted turnip slices, and (full disclosure) salad-in-a-bag.

My version of macaroni and cheese is like what I ate as a kid but with a couple of tweaks. As a kid I would sit at the table long after every one else had gone, digging into fourths and fifths of my mother's macaroni and cheese. I was a wisp of a skinny thing then, but insatiable when it came to that stuff.

For tonight's version, which the kids wouldn't touch, preferring Kraft as they do, I boiled a bit more than half a box of Barilla pipette until not quite done and tossed it with grated Cheddar and Cheshire (Vermont's Cabot hunters' extra sharp and pink crumbly English export, respectively), a dusting of Locatelli Romano, half a finely chopped onion and a little garlic that I had softened in butter in a hot little cast iron pan, hearty sprinklings of dry mustard and cayenne, and salt and pepper. I buttered my tiniest blue Le Creuset, threw it all in and filled not quite to cover with 2% milk. Then with the grater still handy I grated some really old Italian bread over the top, dotted it with butter like I might an apple pie and cooked it at 350-375 until it was golden on top. As sweet as the turnips were, as perfect as the local pork, had I been alone I might have eschewed them both and eaten the whole lot of that macaroni and cheese.

Sort of my mother's version, sort of mine, all comfort food and all good. Low carb and New Year's resolutionary diets be damned.

Posted by Jennifer Brizzi at 12:01 AM EST
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Wednesday, January 4, 2006
Mood:  smelly
Now Playing: Considering blessings and cooking Ethiopian
I hate to go so long without checking in, but life, aaahh, you know. I'm digging out from under that Christmas tree skirt piled with heavy presents garbed with gaudy wrap, from the overwhelm of the holiday season, its purpose seeming most days merely to distract us from the fact that fall is over and winter is grabbing us by the balls.

It had its good stuff: the Christmas cards coming in two by two as they encircled the kitchen door frame, a festive Christmas Eve's Feast of the Seven Fishes at Maria's, not quite like in Angelo's day but reminiscent, happy, the kids digging into their booty Christmas morning ... if I'd had more than two hours of sleep I would have appreciated it more ...

Now it's full-on winter and although the kiddies are still singing Christmas carols (pretty much just Rudolph) and basking in the leftover glow, I'm ready for it to be over, to go back to normal, whatever that is.

Tomorrow will be two years since Marco arrived from Ethiopia and I'm considering throwing an Ethiopian dinner party, although I have not the time nor space nor energy nor money for such a thing. But it would be festive. We'll see. I do love cooking Ethiopian food. I'm remembering the last time I made injera bread, fermenting it in my biggest bowl on the countertop for a few days, then drizzling it crepe-like into a huge saute pan, then spreading the massive pancakes over a platter and dropping bits of spicy chicken and egg stew, lentils, on it. It's great fun. The food is wonderful.

I have adopted kids from countries where not only are the folk very fair of face, but the food is exquisite. By chance? Perchance not. Sweet luck. Sweet kids.

Every day is a blessing. Whether we are "religious" or not, our lives on this planet are short and each day from dawn to dusk is full of treats for all the senses.

Happy, healthy 2006 to all.

Posted by Jennifer Brizzi at 11:32 PM EST
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Saturday, December 3, 2005
'Twas good
Now Playing: holiday sick cooking
Topic: Cooking
The weather held out and we did go to Mig's for his 40th--he and it were jolly. We got there after the meal, so although my sweet potato pie was among ten other pies and appreciated by some, my appetizer-intended pork and rabbit rillettes didn't get eaten, although I did save some at home that we've been digging into. Only slightly like processed chicken spread, they are lovely with horseradish mustard from Drier's in Michigan.

We had bought a turkey in case the weather was too bad to travel and we could still do our own Thanksgiving so I cooked it all up the next day, with the best stuffing I ever made: day old cornbread, three kinds of crusty bread, sausage (unfortunately Jones instead of Jimmy Dean), apple, toasted pecans--it was killer. Man oh man. The best part. Felt very silly to cook such a feast the day after, though. Shameful, sorta. Something I don't tell just anyone. But with all those leftovers I made killer turkey pot pie, turkey soup and turkey chili, all good.

Now I'm planning a Christmas Eve meal at La Nonna's. I'll bring marinated squid and codfish--the rest will be takeout, but it will be lovely to spend Christmas Eve with Maria...

Merry merry.

Posted by Jennifer Brizzi at 11:56 PM EST
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