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The Meatrix I'm not a vegetarian but I dislike factory farming and I support small, family farms.

 

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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Booksigning and Barbecue 
There will be a booksigning tonight at Towne Center Books in Pleasanton on 555 Main Street at 7:30PM. Every reader of this blog or any food blog and all guests are cordially invited. Guy Prince of Meathenge will read, sign and cook barbecue! Ellen Ferlazzo of Chronicles of a Curious Cook and CheapCooking.com will bring something fresh from the garden and will read and sign. I, alas, will only read and sign.

What will we be reading from and signing? Digital Dish, of course. A collection of five seasons of the freshest recipes and writing from food blogs around the world.



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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Final 50 (In no particular order) 
The grand list is finally done - we have 50 things that normal people can actually do that are at least as good as the original list. Thank you all contributors! And now for a challenge - read to the end and then try to do some of the things here you have never done and write about it!


Many of you have probably read about the recent Nigel Slater article in the Observer (UK Sunday Newspaper) by now where he lists 50 things that every foodie should do at sometime in their life. A couple of bloggers (you'll have to scroll down a little on that second one)I know (not surprisingly, both are in the book) have commented on which of the 50 they have done. However, as they both point out, many of the 50 are impossible for normal people, even if you substitute a local equivalent.

I will say that I have done 16 (of the original Observer list) if I make a few local allowances.

However, that list really is not possible for normal people - not even remotely - so I'd like to enlist all of your help in compiling a REAL list that any food blogger in the world could achieve - and that is at least as good if not better than the Observer list. Remember that we are going for the top 50 food experiences of a lifetime. Please add your suggestions/additions in comments and I will update from time to time.

I am going to kick the list off with all the things on the Observer list that I think ARE possible for anyone.

1) Make toast
Not just any old piece of toast, but that which has been cut thick from a fresh, old-fashioned white loaf.

2) Dismember a chicken
Nigella Lawson says that everyone should do this at least once in their lives. It is actually quite easy when you get the hang of it, and your supper will taste much better for your having had a hand in it, so to speak.

3) Boil a new-laid egg

4) Pick your own
I'm going to transform this from mushroom gathering (a risky business but one that I have actually done) to gathering any kind of wild crop and cooking it. One of my top food memories of all time is walking back from a place the kids had gone horse-riding on a trip to Cork in Ireland. It was a five mile walk and I gathered about four pounds of ripe, rich blackberries on the way. We had pie that night.

5) Learn how to make a REAL dry martini
I'll leave this in even though cocktails aren't my thing, I know they are for many

6) Shuck an oyster
No excuse on this one - it is easy and eating a fresh, raw oyster really is something you have to do at least once

7) Eat the first asparagus - but despite what they say in the Observer, it doesn't have to be a British asparagus - it has to be a LOCAL asparagus - one picked at most a few hours before

8) Be cooked for by a legend - rather than go with Marco Pierre White since it seems unlikely that it will actually happen, this can be ANYONE you think of as a legend - and that means ANYONE.

9) Pod fresh peas - I can go with this one too - peas are very satisfying and truly fresh taste very different from anything else

10) Queue for fish and chips - I'm keeping this one too, although it does stretch the definition here a little - it may not be possible for everyone.

11) Get up early and go to market - this should really be number one - there is absolutely NO excuse for not doing this at least once in your life - you should really do it every week...

12) Catch your own dinner - I'll extend this to any fishing/hunting/trapping form. It really makes you think about the food chain and where you sit and the difference between a living creature and a shrink-wrapped package in a refrigerated case

13) Grill a steak - even if you are a vegetarian. There's something buried in our evolutionary psyche that reacts to cooking meat over a fire.

14) Bake a loaf of bread - another to put at the top of the list - there is no excuse possible

15) Milk a cow - I'm lucky enough to have done this and to have drunk the unpasteurized result back when I was four on a farm in Devon

and now I am going to add my own one to the list....

16) Hand make fresh pasta - there is little to beat the joy and satisfaction of working with your hands on something so simple and yet sublime.


OK - your turn....

17) Making stock from scratch - Kitchen Queen Tai suggested this one.

18) Preserve something (jam or pickles etc.) - Culinary Fool suggested this.

19) Grow your own - this would have been my second if I had allowed myself one. Ellen from Cheap Cooking suggested this and added, "fresh herbs, a tomato plant in a pot, or a full-blown vegetable garden," and that she loves going out to see what's for dinner.

20) "In the middle of the night, share fresh, cool water with someone close to you, via a kiss" - suggested by Sam (aka Sixy Beast for obvious reasons!)

21) Cook FOR a legend - Mike at The Radio Kitchen suggested this and I like it - it would be fun! (we are going to let him have three suggestions unfairly because his three are so good and so eminently achievable)

22) Taste wine straight from the barrel - should be possible for most people - harder in the tropics and the very cold climates but still within possibility and it sounds so nice.

23) Volunteer in a soup kitchen - a totally worthy goal for at least once in your life... (these last two were also from Mike)

24) Brew beer, ale or mead (I'd add ferment wine to the list too) - from Barabara of Tigers and Strawberries.

25) Make chocolate yourself from cocoa beans - this one is pretty tough - I'm not sure how easy it would be in a normal kitchen - but a very worthy goal - from chronicler at Food Chronicles.

26) Make and/or eat breakfast in bed - NO, no frying pans and primus stoves under the sheets! You know what we mean. Although this is an easy goal, it is a worthy one. From Rachael of Fresh Approach Cooking.

27) Make a souffle - ("Presenting the flavor of eggs in its best possible light. And offering a presentation that is pure delight to gaze upon") from Kevin at Seriously Good.

28) Roast a suckling pig in a backyard pit - I've helped do this one but maybe I should do it all for real...this is also one that is more of a challenge for the urban and suburban among us. Well, my Dad did it back in 1976 in the back garden of a semi-detached in a London suburb - right in the middle of the lawn - so you can do it too! Suggested by Sylvie of Food - Got To Love It.

29) Learn how to make your own cheese - this is another one I would have added if I had more than one choice so I am very glad that Claire of eat stuff suggested it.

30) Go back to the country or region of your heritage and learn to cook something like your ancestors. (OK - this is clearly an American suggestion what with the 'give me your tired, your hungry...' and all but if you take it in a generous spirit and look for nomadic roots in the mists of time or just step back a few hundred years and look at what you might cook...and I really like the suggestion anyway - from Sarah of The Delicious Life.

31) Make your own truffles (the chocolate kind). Fatemeh of Gastronomie had this as her second suggestion, her first being to deep fry a turkey, but I am not prepared to cede that that is an experience of a lifetime.

32) Make tortillas by hand, corn or flour - Renee of no known abode suggested this and I think it is a good one. In my experience, outside of the Americas, all Mexican food is execrable, and one of the reason is the tortillas. (There's a whole side conversation here about just how bad cuisines are outside of their native land. In my admittedly limited experience, cuisines are like real ales in this regard - they don't travel all that well and the further they go the worse they are. That's alleviated somewhat by how much of the culture itself has been exported, so Indian food in England is better than anywhere else outside of India, but I still suspect it is true on the whole).

33) Teach or encourage a child to cook - another great suggestion - and since it came from my Mom (Adele) it is more than appropriate.

34) Breed your own animal to eat (suggested chicken or rabbit) - BMan suggested this and then rescinded it. But I overrode and am putting it in since it is quite possible for most people and really forces you up against some of those modern food production issues...


35) Make a pizza from scratch - everything - dough, tomato sauce and even, for an extra challenge, the mozzarella cheese(scroll to the bottom)...selected from FarmGirl's two because the other one was a bit too much like several we have already.

36) Make your own couverture by tempering chocolate (one of the key techniques for making really nice desserts and chocoalte candies) - suggested by Stephanie from the Grub Report who just got her writing compared to that of Elmore Leonard or James Ellroy!

37) Make vinegar yourself - suggested by Kevin of Seriously Good and inspired by his mother's five-year-old sherry vinegar.

38) Create a cake recipe - not from a recipe, not by making a little change to a recipe. Make up your own cake recipe. Tweak it a little. Play with it. Make it YOURS. Suggested by BJ of Early One Morning.

OK - let's have some more suggestions...we still need 50 to rival the Observer.

39) Work in a restaurant - this one's a little tougher but you can volunteer to do it once or twice - A JoAnna at ChefBlog says, "Whether a fine restaurant, a family-dining place, or a fast food place, the experience will alter your perceptions of how food is made. A good place will show you how things should be done. A bad place will show you how things ususally ARE done."

40) 'Point at the menu' - another entry from Chef JoAnna. She wants you to order something at a restaurant that you can't pronounce and don't know what it is - roll the dice and accept what comes.

41) Take a teenager/child out to lunch and teach them how to dine out - how to sit, what to do with the napkin, how to be polite and enjoy the experience, how to tip, how to offer to share the check graciously (rather than cheeseparing), how to summon a waiter, how to ask for the check, and so on. Another from JoAnna at ChefBlog.

42) Grill pizza (or bread) - once you've mastered making bread (see #14 above) now try making it over/with an open flame. It gives you yet another dimension and will get every kid or teenager at a barbeque begging to help. Suggested by Sweetnicks at Sweetnicks.

43) Make your own sausage - stefoodie suggested this and pointed out very accurately that this way you know everything that goes into it! I remember doing this as a kid with my family and we really enjoyed it - it really WAS fun (unlike making headcheese which was interesting but NOT fun).

44) Visit a farm - go to really see and experience how your food is (or should be produced). That's a hint - don't go to a factory farm...suggested by Kate at Accidental Hedonist.

45) Learn to make the five (or six) 'mother sauces' properly - in classic French cuisine, all sauces derive from these five: the bechamel - a white roux-based sauce; the holandaise or mayonnaise - a cold egg-based emulsification; the veloute - a stock and cream based 'blond' sauce; the espagnole or brown sauce - stock-based and thickened with a brown roux; and finally you get a divergence between the 'old testament' Escoffier who makes the fifth a beurre blanc with shallots and vinegar and Careme, the 'new testament' who makes the fifth a tomato-based sauce. Suggested by the pragmatic chef.

46) Build your own wood-burning oven - this may seem like a hard one but to be honest it is probably only hard for us overprivileged types living in industrialized nations. This takes us back to a form of cooking that was slowly evolved over thousands of years - efficient cooking with fire. There are lots of places to find out how to do this online and even kits you can buy and Sunset magazine has an online article about building a backyard adobe oven. I am planning to build one when I get the time - a nice, waist high oven with wood storage below that can double as a better fireplace. Suggested by Fatemeh of Gastronomie.

47) Roast and brew your own coffee - this was suggested by deccanheffalump of a Cooks Cottage and it is something I would love to try - even as simply as roasting them in an iron skillet on the stove - just imagine the smell!

48) Share a ripe mango in bed with your lover - not much needs to be said about this one! Suggested by Celeste of I know not where.

49) Cook (bacon) over a campfire - Ron Berg suggested this as cooking bacon over a campfire, but heck - cook ANYTHING over a campfire! Even s'mores...

50) Dry your own - pretty much anything you can dry that is worth preserving. I have a jar of the most fragrant coriander seed that I saved from a bunch of cilantro plants that bolted and I let go to seed and waited until it had completely dried and then harvested a full pint onto newspapers. It is (even over a year later) infinitely better than any bought coriander seed. Suggested by Amy of Beauty, Joy, Food.


That's it - there are the food blogger 50 things that every reasonably normal food lover should try at least once in their lives.

Now for the fun part - I am going to set out to do the ones I have not already done. Maybe I'll write about the ones I have done that I haven't blogged about. Some (numbers 20 and 48 spring to mind) I may keep to myself however!

Please, all of you, do some of the things on this list you have not doen before and write about the experience!
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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

How to cook a fantastic Roast Chicken in only 18 Hours! 
It has been a little while since I came up with something truly original, but I think this one counts. It came about by accident, but oh, what a happy, serendipitous accident!

I have been very busy at work lately and it has also been extremely hot. This has meant that we have been eating cold dishes like the smoked trout, arugula, moroccan olive, cucumber, tomato and toasted pumpkin seed salad that my daughter and I came up with independently. There isn't time to fire up the charcoal grill and cook outside. So I turned to the slow cooker and decided to cook a chicken in it overnight (using one of the poaching methods described in Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook.

I liked the sound of the red chinese chicken dish but since I didn't have all the ingredients I closed the cookbook and did the following.

Eighteen hour roast chicken



It is important to start in the evening after dinner and the day before you want to eat so that the chicken can cook overnight on the low setting and thus not heat the house up. Wash and pat dry one chicken (without giblets) and tear off the chunks of fat that are always tucked just inside the entrance to the cavity. Put it in your (large) crockpot or slowcooker. Tuck twelve dried shiitake mushrooms around it. Now pour three tablespoons of soy sauce carefully across it making sure you get some on all the visible part of the breast. Next sprinkle two teaspoons of chinese five spice powder over the bird (this is a ground mix of fennel, anise, cloves, cinnamon and ginger). Now carefully put a tablespoon of dry sherry inside the bird and one in the bottom of the pot. Next pour two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar over the bird, just like you did with the soy sauce. Finally take two tablespoons of black bean garlic paste and carefully smear it over all the surfaces of the bird you can reach using the back of a spoon.

Cover and cook on low for eight hours.

At this point I wouldn't have been too far in spirit from the cookbook and was planning to remove from the heat and put the crockery part of the cooker straight in the fridge and have cold poached chinese chicken for supper. But I forgot and went off to work with the chicken merrily cooking away. My family didn't know what I had done and assumed the chicken was cooking through the day for them. So, a total of 18 hours after I started it they served up dinner (onto a nice leftover lemon-scented pilau rice I had made).

For a short time they actually thought I had put a purchased rotisserie chicken in the crockpot. You see 18 hours had left the skin that was exposed (above the two inches of liquid that had formed in the bottom of the pot) dark and crispy and full of black bean garlic chinese goodness. The meat was meltingly soft and tender, the liquid was rich and deep with exotic flavors and chunks of sublime shiitake mushroom.

When I got home I was told it was the best roast chicken I had ever made. So, as usual, the best way seems to be to take your time!

Leftovers promise to be even better. I shredded the meat off the bone (which isn't hard when everything is already falling apart) and stored in smothered in the rich juices.
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Monday, July 18, 2005

45 Things Every Normal Food Lover Should Do In their Lifetime - 5 more to make the 50... 
[[SIXTH UPDATE - IF YOU HAVEN'T ADDED TO THIS LIST, THEN PLEASE SEE THE COMMENTS AND COME UP WITH AN IDEA WORTHY OF INCLUSION - NOTE THAT I WOULD PREFER TO GET TO 54 OR SO SINCE I'M NOT QUITE SURE ALL THE SUGGESTIONS SO FAR QUITE MAKE THE CUT AS FAR AS TOP EXPERIENCES FOR A NORMAL COOK.]]
Many of you have probably read about the latest Nigel Slater article in the Observer (UK Sunday Newspaper) by now where he lists 50 things that every foodie should do at sometime in their life. A couple of bloggers (you'll have to scroll down a little on that second one)I know (not surprisingly, both are in the book) have commented on which of the 50 they have done. However, as they both point out, many of the 50 are impossible for normal people, even if you substitute a local equivalent.

I will say that I have done 16 (of the original Observer list) if I make a few local allowances.

However, that list really is not possible for normal people - not even remotely - so I'd like to enlist all of your help in compiling a REAL list that any food blogger in the world could achieve - and that is at least as good if not better than the Observer list. Remember that we are going for the top 50 food experiences of a lifetime. Please add your suggestions/additions in comments and I will update from time to time.

I am going to kick the list off with all the things on the Observer list that I think ARE possible for anyone.

1) Make toast
Not just any old piece of toast, but that which has been cut thick from a fresh, old-fashioned white loaf.

2) Dismember a chicken
Nigella Lawson says that everyone should do this at least once in their lives. It is actually quite easy when you get the hang of it, and your supper will taste much better for your having had a hand in it, so to speak.

3) Boil a new-laid egg

4) Pick your own
I'm going to transform this from mushroom gathering (a risky business but one that I have actually done) to gathering any kind of wild crop and cooking it. One of my top food memories of all time is walking back from a place the kids had gone horse-riding on a trip to Cork in Ireland. It was a five mile walk and I gathered about four pounds of ripe, rich blackberries on the way. We had pie that night.

5) Learn how to make a REAL dry martini
I'll leave this in even though cocktails aren't my thing, I know they are for many

6) Shuck an oyster
No excuse on this one - it is easy and eating a fresh, raw oyster really is something you have to do at least once

7) Eat the first asparagus - but despite what they say in the Observer, it doesn't have to be a British asparagus - it has to be a LOCAL asparagus - one picked at most a few hours before

8) Be cooked for by a legend - rather than go with Marco Pierre White since it seems unlikely that it will actually happen, this can be ANYONE you think of as a legend - and that means ANYONE.

9) Pod fresh peas - I can go with this one too - peas are very satisfying and truly fresh taste very different from anything else

10) Queue for fish and chips - I'm keeping this one too, although it does stretch the definition here a little - it may not be possible for everyone.

11) Get up early and go to market - this should really be number one - there is absolutely NO excuse for not doing this at least once in your life - you should really do it every week...

12) Catch your own dinner - I'll extend this to any fishing/hunting/trapping form. It really makes you think about the food chain and where you sit and the difference between a living creature and a shrink-wrapped package in a refrigerated case

13) Grill a steak - even if you are a vegetarian. There's something buried in our evolutionary psyche that reacts to cooking meat over a fire.

14) Bake a loaf of bread - another to put at the top of the list - there is no excuse possible

15) Milk a cow - I'm lucky enough to have done this and to have drunk the unpasteurized result back when I was four on a farm in Devon

and now I am going to add my own one to the list....

16) Hand make fresh pasta - there is little to beat the joy and satisfaction of working with your hands on something so simple and yet sublime.


OK - your turn....

17) Making stock from scratch - Kitchen Queen Tai suggested this one.

18) Preserve something (jam or pickles etc.) - Culinary Fool suggested this.

19) Grow your own - this would have been my second if I had allowed myself one. Ellen from Cheap Cooking suggested this and added, "fresh herbs, a tomato plant in a pot, or a full-blown vegetable garden," and that she loves going out to see what's for dinner.

20) "In the middle of the night, share fresh, cool water with someone close to you, via a kiss" - suggested by Sam (aka Sixy Beast for obvious reasons!)

21) Cook FOR a legend - Mike at The Radio Kitchen suggested this and I like it - it would be fun! (we are going to let him have three suggestions unfairly because his three are so good and so eminently achievable)

22) Taste wine straight from the barrel - should be possible for most people - harder in the tropics and the very cold climates but still within possibility and it sounds so nice.

23) Volunteer in a soup kitchen - a totally worthy goal for at least once in your life... (these last two were also from Mike)

24) Brew beer, ale or mead (I'd add ferment wine to the list too) - from Barabara of Tigers and Strawberries.

25) Make chocolate yourself from cocoa beans - this one is pretty tough - I'm not sure how easy it would be in a normal kitchen - but a very worthy goal - from chronicler at Food Chronicles.

26) Make and/or eat breakfast in bed - NO, no frying pans and primus stoves under the sheets! You know what we mean. Although this is an easy goal, it is a worthy one. From Rachael of Fresh Approach Cooking.

27) Make a souffle - ("Presenting the flavor of eggs in its best possible light. And offering a presentation that is pure delight to gaze upon") from Kevin at Seriously Good.

28) Roast a suckling pig in a backyard pit - I've helped do this one but maybe I should do it all for real...this is also one that is more of a challenge for the urban and suburban among us. Well, my Dad did it back in 1976 in the back garden of a semi-detached in a London suburb - right in the middle of the lawn - so you can do it too! Suggested by Sylvie of Food - Got To Love It.

29) Learn how to make your own cheese - this is another one I would have added if I had more than one choice so I am very glad that Claire of eat stuff suggested it.

30) Go back to the country or region of your heritage and learn to cook something like your ancestors. (OK - this is clearly an American suggestion what with the 'give me your tired, your hungry...' and all but if you take it in a generous spirit and look for nomadic roots in the mists of time or just step back a few hundred years and look at what you might cook...and I really like the suggestion anyway - from Sarah of The Delicious Life.

31) Make your own truffles (the chocolate kind). Fatemeh of Gastronomie had this as her second suggestion, her first being to deep fry a turkey, but I am not prepared to cede that that is an experience of a lifetime.

32) Make tortillas by hand, corn or flour - Renee of no known abode suggested this and I think it is a good one. In my experience, outside of the Americas, all Mexican food is execrable, and one of the reason is the tortillas. (There's a whole side conversation here about just how bad cuisines are outside of their native land. In my admittedly limited experience, cuisines are like real ales in this regard - they don't travel all that well and the further they go the worse they are. That's alleviated somewhat by how much of the culture itself has been exported, so Indian food in England is better than anywhere else outside of India, but I still suspect it is true on the whole).

33) Teach or encourage a child to cook - another great suggestion - and since it came from my Mom (Adele) it is more than appropriate.

34) Breed your own animal to eat (suggested chicken or rabbit) - BMan suggested this and then rescinded it. But I overrode and am putting it in since it is quite possible for most people and really forces you up against some of those modern food production issues...


35) Make a pizza from scratch - everything - dough, tomato sauce and even, for an extra challenge, the mozzarella cheese(scroll to the bottom)...selected from FarmGirl's two because the other one was a bit too much like several we have already.

36) Make your own couverture by tempering chocolate (one of the key techniques for making really nice desserts and chocoalte candies) - suggested by Stephanie from the Grub Report who just got her writing compared to that of Elmore Leonard or James Ellroy!

37) Make vinegar yourself - suggested by Kevin of Seriously Good and inspired by his mother's five-year-old sherry vinegar.

38) Create a cake recipe - not from a recipe, not by making a little change to a recipe. Make up your own cake recipe. Tweak it a little. Play with it. Make it YOURS. Suggested by BJ of Early One Morning.

OK - let's have some more suggestions...we still need 50 to rival the Observer.

39) Work in a restaurant - this one's a little tougher but you can volunteer to do it once or twice - A JoAnna at ChefBlog says, "Whether a fine restaurant, a family-dining place, or a fast food place, the experience will alter your perceptions of how food is made. A good place will show you how things should be done. A bad place will show you how things ususally ARE done."

40) 'Point at the menu' - another entry from Chef JoAnna. She wants you to order something at a restaurant that you can't pronounce and don't know what it is - roll the dice and accept what comes.

41) Take a teenager/child out to lunch and teach them how to dine out - how to sit, what to do with the napkin, how to be polite and enjoy the experience, how to tip, how to offer to share the check graciously (rather than cheeseparing), how to summon a waiter, how to ask for the check, and so on. Another from JoAnna at ChefBlog.

42) Grill pizza (or bread) - once you've mastered making bread (see #14 above) now try making it over/with an open flame. It gives you yet another dimension and will get every kid or teenager at a barbeque begging to help. Suggested by Sweetnicks at Sweetnicks.

43) Make your own sausage - stefoodie suggested this and pointed out very accurately that this way you know everything that goes into it! I remember doing this as a kid with my family and we really enjoyed it - it really WAS fun (unlike making headcheese which was interesting but NOT fun).

44) Visit a farm - go to really see and experience how your food is (or should be produced). That's a hint - don't go to a factory farm...suggested by Kate at Accidental Hedonist.

45) Learn to make the five (or six) 'mother sauces' properly - in classic French cuisine, all sauces derive from these five: the bechamel - a white roux-based sauce; the holandaise or mayonnaise - a cold egg-based emulsification; the veloute - a stock and cream based 'blond' sauce; the espagnole or brown sauce - stock-based and thickened with a brown roux; and finally you get a divergence between the 'old testament' Escoffier who makes the fifth a beurre blanc with shallots and vinegar and Careme, the 'new testament' who makes the fifth a tomato-based sauce. Suggested by the pragmatic chef.
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Friday, July 15, 2005

Paper Chef Winners Announced - a la Golden Globes 
Well, we have winners! Sarah, over at The Delicious Life has selected a host of awards in the style of the Golden Globes for all our entries this week! The results are here.
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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

EOTMEOTE #8 - the dramatic edition 
Two Eggs of Lafayette - Act V Scene IV

With sincerest apologies to Old Bill from whom large portions of the following have been lifted straight.

[[To summarize what has gone before - in a terrible mix up the two sisters Amelia and Grace have gone to bed willy-nilly after a Summer's day of gaiety, laughter, talk, conflict and confusion. They have swam like the dolfins in the sea and gamboled like lambs upon the greensward and eaten from the white peach tree. But now they rise confused for they are sore beset with hunger and neither their father nor their mother has prepared a meal as is their wont.]]

Grace:
How use doth breed a habit in a child!
This shadowy room, unfrequented halls,
I far worse brook than peopled residences:
Here could I sit alone, unseen of any,
And to the televisions's complaining notes
Tune my distresses and record my woes.
Repair me with thy presence, Amelia;
Thou gentle sister, cherish thy companion!
What halloing and what stir is this today?
These are my parents, that make their wills their law.
They love me well; yet I have much to do
To keep them from uncivil outrages
Such as have happened here today.
Where is that which custom has
Accustomed me to taste? The nectar
That is egg and bread its solid base?
Withdraw thee, Grace: who's this comes here?

Enter Amelia, dragging her feet...

Amelia:
Had I been seized by a hungry lion,
I would have been a breakfast to the beast,
Rather than have my father fail so in duty.
O, Heaven be judge how I love Grace,
Whose cooking's as tender to me as my soul!
And full as much, for more there cannot be,
I do detest that I am hungry so.


Grace:
Thou uncommon friend, with faith or love,
For such is a friend now; courageous sister!
Thou hast beguiled my hopes; nought but mine eye
Could have persuaded me: now I dare not say
I have no friend alive; thou wouldst disprove me.
I am glad I must trust thee more in this,
Our parents to currently awake.


Amelia:
I dare not, even for thy uncommon sake,
For wrath indeed its fearful visage wakes
Like unto our Father in his sleep
When from that feathered hollow takes
His head in reply to my earnest request.
So, I decline and thy hatred reap.

Grace:
Behold her that gave aim to all these oaths,
And entertain'd 'em deeply in her heart.
How oft hast thou with perjury cleft the root!
O Amelia, let this habit make thee blush!
Be thou ashamed that I have took upon me
Such an immodest raiment, if shame live
In a disguise of love:
It is the lesser blot, honesty finds,
Words to change their strength than men their minds.
I will forgive you at this moment
For it dawns upon me to take up
The challenge of EOTMEOTE
And find some use for these two
Common eggs of Lafayette.
I shall defuse my pain and wrath
Upon their shells by breaking them.
And their contents beaten and whisked
With a little pale milk as suits their nature.
To further raise my spirits and draw down their own
I intend to burn, nay, rather slowly heat
Them on a slow fire until they, crying mercy
Turn like curds and show their yellow side.
A final note. I shall place them on their deathbeds;
Crisped, brown slabs of wheaten bread,
And, final ignominy, devour them.
What say you sister? Will you join with me
In this perfidious calumny?

Amelia:
Come, come, a hand from either:
Let me be blest to make this happy close;
'Twere pity two such friends should be long foes.
And now, to work, and leave those
Who idle in their beds have need
Of neither toast nor eggs.
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Paper Chef #8 The holiday edition roundup... 
It's time to round up the Paper Chef entries once again. As usual, the quality of entries is amazingly high and Sarah has a difficult time on her hands coming up with a winner and any other awards she wants. We also got a wave of highly innovative fusion entrants this time around. And I'm beginning to wish I had some way of enabling entrants to let me taste everything. I wonder if I made that a rule how many people would pack their dish in dry ice and express courier it next day to me? Hmmm...

First to finish - yet again - and taking only one and a half out of the eleven days allowed is Jennifer of Taste Everything Once with her simple but great-looking Warm Spinach, Cremini, and Kalamata Salad with Creamy White Cheddar Dressing.

After our first entry, though, we suddenly found out what happens in the Paper Chef if you give people a bit more time. Not that they all take it mind you. 2 Minute Noodle Chef of An Electronic Restaurant debuted in the Paper Chef with a completely amazing array of fusion dishes: Wasabi spinach ice cream with cashew & cheese wafers, olive & coriander salsa and an olive-spinach mandarine lassi shooter!

We had lots of newbies this time around - next up was Stephen of What's For Dinner? with a delicious and beautifully photographed Spinach / Cheddar Tart with Eggplant, Roasted Tomatoes and Olive Cream.

Next up was Rachael of Fresh Approach Cooking with her Spinach Souffle and Tapanade-Whipped Potato Timbale with Red Olive Relish. She also gave us the cooking school graduates name for the same dish - Vintage Irish Cheddar and Fresh Spinach Souffle, and Nyon Olive Tapanade-Whipped Potato Timbale On a Potato Galette, Topped with Spicy Red Olive-Hazelnut Relish, and Garnished with a White Cheddar Frica and Fried Spinach Leaves!

Next up is Sylvie of Soul Fusion Kitchen who really turned things around with a hearty and true-to-name Cuban Style Pressed Sandwich with Spinach, Cheddar Cheese, Bacon, Olive Tapanade served on a French Bread Loaf with a side of Potato Chips. She said it was tasty and it certainly looks that way! Better than what I get to eat for lunch, that's for sure!

Yet another first timer came from Ann of redacted recipes who was inspired by a dish from Le Tableau in New York and came up with Spinach and Olive Cigars with Cheddar Fondue.

Our fourth or fifth first time entrant (I'm losing count here) was J of KUIDAORE who presented (and photographed beautifully) a Cheese & Crema di Olive Nere Torte on Cheddar Shortbread with A Salad of Ratte Potatoes, Baby Spinach and Prosciutto.

Pille of Nami-Nami, YAN (Yet Another Newbie), entered a wonderful looking hors d'oeuvre or canape, Potato shortcrust cases with Cheddar cheese, topped with garlicky spinach and olive filling.

Now we switch gears just a little. I put these little overviews together by going through the entries from the comments section of Tomatilla! first, then the emailed entries. So now we switch back in time to Stef of stefoodie.net, one of our previous entrants (making her a rarity this time around) with her Stefoodie's Hearty Breakfast Skillet with Black Olive Hollandaise.

Now we turn to the would-be-late-if-we-cared-about-things-like-that entries. Martin of Serial Griller entered a Belated Roasted Pepper, Spinach and Olive Quiche. But he had good excuses involving the end of the academic year and a girlfriend and a ball (no - not that kind - the dancing kind!) so we totally forgive him. And since our judge was even later with her 'entry' for reasons that also include a love interest, she can't really take issue now, can she?

But Martin still beat out deccanheffalump (what an amazing nom-de-plume) of The Cooks Cottage (one of a wonderful new set of Indian food blogs that have sprouted up recently) with her innovative fusion Olive and Spinach Surprise: Alu Palak bonda.

Our final 'entry' comes from the judge herself, Sarah of The Delicious Life. She entered a Creamy Spinach, Olive, and Sun-dried Tomato Quiche in a Cheddar Crust along with her posting that blamed her tardiness on Blogger and photo posting issues but still somehow managed to drag in her 'friend' from last time around - why does he come visit when the Paper Chef is on? Does she want us to make the Paper Chef every two weeks or every two months now?

That's a total of twelve - if I missed someone, please leave a comment here or email me at the address on the top left and I'll add you ASAP.
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Monday, July 11, 2005

London 
Everything happens when I go on vacation...

Fortunately, my family in London are fine. Better than the last major bombing in London when the IRA went after Harrods and my brother got knocked off his feet on his way home from work (but wasn't seriously hurt).

I have lived in three cities in my life. Bristol for University which almost doesn't count as a city but for which I retain a great fondness. San Francisco (or environs) for the past sixteen years, which I love. And London where I lived for six years or so off the Archway Road and in Highgate and near which I grew up. In many ways London is still home. And last week was horrifying, saddening and totally pointless. If I had to pick one city in the whole world which could let an event like this bounce off it with no effect, it would be London. People are rightly bringing up the Second World War and London's resiliency. It reminds me of the brilliant photograph of St Paul's standing proud amidst explosions and clouds of smoke.

One other thing London has - a mayor who is a real person and a real politician. I wish there were politicians in the US who could talk like this (full transcript of the speech by Mayor Ken Livingstone of London on July 7th):

This was a cowardly attack, which has resulted in injury and loss of life. Our thoughts are with everyone who has been injured, or lost loved ones. I want to thank the emergency services for the way they have responded.

Following the al-Qaeda attacks on September 11th in America we conducted a series of exercises in London in order to be prepared for just such an attack. One of the exercises undertaken by the government, my office and the emergency and security services was based on the possibility of multiple explosions on the transport system during the Friday rush hour. The plan that came out of that exercise is being executed today, with remarkable efficiency and courage, and I praise those staff who are involved.

I'd like to thank Londoners for the calm way in which they have responded to this cowardly attack and echo the advice of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair - do everything possible to assist the police and take the advice of the police about getting home today.

I have no doubt whatsoever that this is a terrorist attack. We did hope in the first few minutes after hearing about the events on the Underground that it might simply be a maintenance tragedy. That was not the case. I have been able to stay in touch through the very excellent communications that were established for the eventuality that I might be out of the city at the time of a terrorist attack and they have worked with remarkable effectiveness. I will be in continual contact until I am back in London.

I want to say one thing specifically to the world today. This was not a terrorist attack against the mighty and the powerful. It was not aimed at Presidents or Prime Ministers. It was aimed at ordinary, working-class Londoners, black and white, Muslim and Christian, Hindu and Jew, young and old. It was an indiscriminate attempt to slaughter, irrespective of any considerations for age, for class, for religion, or whatever.

That isn't an ideology, it isn't even a perverted faith - it is just an indiscriminate attempt at mass murder and we know what the objective is. They seek to divide Londoners. They seek to turn Londoners against each other. I said yesterday to the International Olympic Committee, that the city of London is the greatest in the world, because everybody lives side by side in harmony. Londoners will not be divided by this cowardly attack. They will stand together in solidarity alongside those who have been injured and those who have been bereaved and that is why I'm proud to be the mayor of that city.

Finally, I wish to speak directly to those who came to London today to take life.

I know that you personally do not fear giving up your own life in order to take others - that is why you are so dangerous. But I know you fear that you may fail in your long-term objective to destroy our free society and I can show you why you will fail.

In the days that follow look at our airports, look at our sea ports and look at our railway stations and, even after your cowardly attack, you will see that people from the rest of Britain, people from around the world will arrive in London to become Londoners and to fulfil their dreams and achieve their potential.

They choose to come to London, as so many have come before because they come to be free, they come to live the life they choose, they come to be able to be themselves. They flee you because you tell them how they should live. They don't want that and nothing you do, however many of us you kill, will stop that flight to our city where freedom is strong and where people can live in harmony with one another. Whatever you do, however many you kill, you will fail.

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Friday, July 01, 2005

Official start to Paper Chef #8 Holiday Edition (cheddar cheese, olives, spinach and a choice) 
For this special holiday edition of the Paper Chef (there must be a holiday of some kind happening near this time no matter WHERE you are) the final ingredients are:

1)Cheddar cheese - any kind but I would recommend avoiding the rubbery mild American kinds and also avoid Keen's or Montgomery from Neal's Yard Dairy because cooking with them is a crime.

2)Olives - lots of room for interpretation here...

3)Spinach - pretty straightforward so far...

and 4) The special 'topical or seasonal' ingredient. Since this is the holiday edition, what is more appropriate than a gift? The gift of a choice. You may choose ONE of cream or potatoes as your fourth ingredient, but NOT both!

And. of course, as usual, any other ingredients you care to use - but you MUST use the four above.

Our judge this time is Sarah of The Delicious Life.

You may start as soon as you read this - but this time you get a second gift - the gift of time. I'm on vacation next week and so can't do my roundup until I get back. So you get until Monday July 11th at Noon PST to devise your recipe, cook your dish and write it up! Then email a link to your entry to the email that is now listed at the top right on my blog. Spectacular whining, preferably with stupendously creative excuses left in the comments area, might normally get you an extended deadline but not this time.

Winner gets to put up the prestigious Paper Chef Winner icon (which will be supplied) and also gets to judge next month (if they want). Have fun!
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Final Ingredient List for Paper Chef #8 - The Holiday Edition 
The current ingredient list is:
Red wine, cream, cheddar cheese, quinoa, butter, asparagus, cured, aged ham (country not city), lemongrass, spinach, vinegar, sweet potatoes, marshmallows, dried chillies, sausage, dried fruit, olives, berries, regular potatoes, eggplant, summer squash, edible flowers, star anise and shrimp.

Sometime in the next few hours I will perform the exotic and technical procedure that picks the final four ingredients. Three from the list above and one 'seasonal' one that I get to choose. Let's see - we have lots of sporting things for inspiration - tennis, tour de france, baseball, rugby tours, cricket matches, etc..

Then there is July 4th - but that is a bit US-centric. There is of course the glory of Summer - unless you live in the antipodes in which case we are talking deep, deep, deep midwinter, frosty wind does blow...

In the news we have Afghanistan, climate change, Iraq, budget crises, the G8 summit, Live8, supreme court justice crises, etc.

So many options...more in a couple of hours.
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