Friday, April 3, 2009

I once invited a man and his wife for dinner. Let's call him Dr. Angel. Dr. had been a good friend to me. I met him at a pig roast in an old barn that smelled like cleaning and mucking had taken place scant minutes prior to us pigroast patrons arriving on the scene.

Dr. Angel was sporting a vast array of camera accoutrement, straps, flashing gew-gaws and film canisters like magnum loads on his belt. He also wore clean shoes.

Clean shoes in farm country flag a man as foreign. That and the fact that Dr. Angel was Korean.

We stared a little bit with eyes cut sideways. and then we gave each other the look. The one that says;whois-he-what's-he-doing-atourpigroast-pretend-you-don't-notice-we'll-talk-after-chores.
He snapped shots of my children faking like they were eating pig sandwiches while they held their noses and gagged over the ripening barn smells.

Dr. Angel told me he was a writer. "Oh!" I giddily exclaimed. "I am a writer too!" We exchanged biz cards. Mine with crayon and grease stains and the lofty designation, "author" printed on it.

Dr. Angel signed his card with his new phone number. I'm certain I visibly blanched as I glaced at his card. Both sides, typed covered with his vast literary credits.

My only credit was, mother. I tucked the copy of my book, the one I was going to give him, a heady and deep diaper/mother book, behind my back.

He insisted and reached for the hidden book. I begged off... He insisted. I gave him the book and left thinking about the diarrhea story he would read and how he would take it to the room of his learned colleagues at the university and would say, "poor little thing, nothing important to say." or some other awful comment.

Two weeks later a most wonderful letter appeared in my box. Dr. crowed about my little diaper book, said he thought it could change the world. Maybe that's not exactly what he said. Whatever he said was lovely praise. He mentored and guided me for almost a year.

In gratitude, I invited Dr. Angel and family to my house for dinner. Mrs. Angel ate little. She was skinny. I long to feed skinny people. I never think they eat right. Under the giant old oak we sat with coffee and dessert. Mrs. Angel didn't have dessert. Mrs. Angel didn't speak a smidge of English. Suddenly she turned to the giant, old oak and picked up fallen acorns from the deck and began eating them.

I thought maybe she had pica. I tried not to gasp and gawk. I busied myself eating her piece of chocolate cake and pondered the feeding of foreigners.

Today, I have evolved in my thinking. We'd all be a lot better off if we'd lay off the chocolate cake and eat tree droppings, leaves or grass clippings.

Here is a recipe I think you'll like. You can make it with acorns if you are feeding foreigners who eat better than we do. Actually the story was just a good story I wanted to tell and the recipe has nothing to do with acorns except I thought they might be good toasted and processed in Cuisinart. Like almond paste. Acorn paste. I've never made this with crushed acorns...I've never eaten an acorn. I don't know if Mrs. Angel is still alive.

Pate a Choux Au Fromage (say: path-ah-shoo)
1 c. water
1c. flour
1/c butter
4 eggs
pinch of salt.
Grated cheese of your choice
lightly toasted acorns processed into a paste

Preheat oven 400F. In med sauce pan bring water and butter to a boil. Stir in flour and continue stirring vigorously over low heat for one minute or until mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat and beat in eggs immediately. Continue beating until mixture is smooth. Roll into two balls and top with cheese. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake 35-40 minutes. until puffy and golden (like and acorn) Let cool and cut off tops fill with filling of choice (crushed pureed toasted acorns)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Marla's Coconut Cake

In honor of my birthday yesterday, Mr. Frosty pulled out and it's 52 degrees in the Heartland! I am positively giddy that it is not -27F.

I can hear the snow melting. Only people who live in snow can hear it melting. It is a spiritual thing that cannot be learned. You must live and endure endless winter to hear this deeply.

So in honor of 52 degrees. I am logging in with 52 great things to eat. No. On second thought. I will eat 52 things and blog them.

In the meantime, here is the last word on birthday cake: Marla's Coconut Cake-a recipe I will give out with sufficient begging.

Monday, January 19, 2009

One of the great wonders of the modern world is the little-known fact of Midwestern hardiness. I have come to believe it is my duty to let those persons, who in the dead of January, might be wearing shorts and a tank top, or driving to the grocery store with the windows down...There are people freezing in the Midwest.

Last week for instance; minus twenty-seven degrees Fahrenheit. This was not windchill, no siree-bob, this was actual Illinois temperature according to everyone's thermometer. Our schools closed for days. I'll be honest. I wanted to close my cafe but I have these die-hard employees who keep me straight and opened the cafe even though I called in sick and tired of minus twenty seven.

I am sure they were thinking of the huge, enormous bucket of soup the night before that would go to waste if we didn't open. I mean huge. Even I could not believe how much soup I'd made. When I am left alone in the kitchen too long without supervision, I play fast and loose with food. I kept thinking up things I wanted in my soup. I peeled, diced and plunked until the soup grew beyond our required 13 cups to 13 gallons of soup. OK maybe only 3 gallons, but let me say this; three gallons is a boat-load of soup for a tiny cafe.

These kinds of unrestrained kitchen forays do not usually work our for me but on this day, the minus-twenty-seven day, alchemy occurred. I received so many compliments on my blowsy soup that I actually went to my notepad and wrote it down.

This is a good soup that will feed 3000 if you are called to do such a thing. I cut this recipe down to serve 6-8 peeps because I had to toss out many gallons on the minus-twenty-seven day. Even to Eskimo-ish midwesterners, minus-twenty-seven gave pause and 2,990 of them stayed home by the fire drinking hot chocolate so I had some left-overs.

Fraiche Cafe Bread Soup

1 turnip diced

1 celery root diced

1 small onion diced

1 cup mushrooms

1 carrot

1 parsnip peeled, diced

5 thick slices of good bread cut into cubes

E. V. Olive Oil

1 cup grated Parmesan

8 cups chicken broth

(I hope you have home-made broth in your freezer to use)

1lb ground beef

1 egg

1cup cooked rice, brown rice is nice

1/4 cup taco sauce

(I hate to admit this is the secret ingredient)

Lots of ingredients but easy to assemble.

Mix ground beef with beaten egg.

Make tiny meat balls.

Put all ingredients into saute pan with olive oil to brown

Pour hot broth over all ingredients.

Serve over toasted bread cubes and top with Parmesan.


Friday, November 7, 2008

Baby it's cold outside! I can't give a good report about the sideways sleet outside my window. It's November, in Northern Illinois and there is rarely any good report about sideways sleet or November.

Squishy Albright-ish garden veges hang from boney, soon-to-be slimey vines. And my food lament begins in earnest. I wax melancholy for the Farmer's Market. What oh, what to cook.

Squash. It's good comfort food. This year the Delicatas from Driftless Organics brought tears to my eyes they were so delicious. I carted home 30 lbs. Those young garadening Turks have never steered me wrong.

I am partial to squash soup with splash of apple cider. Just a bit of sweet. Not a lot is needed when you have squash this good. Little doctoring is required, mostly assemblage.

Slash the Delacatas or Carnivals, or baby dumplings..(it's all good!)....Roast the halves until squashy (couldn't resist), scoop it out cut up a few apples, a quart or so of good broth (I hope you made it from your good organic and free-ranged hens) grind up some French sea salt, a grunt of pepper. Not too much else. This soup is not a platform for excesses! Puree it all --serve it up with a dollop of creme fraiche and something green--a sage leaf plucked just before last nights frost will warm you almost as much as the soup.

Eat this in your warm, fuzzy slipper and an old robe. Pretend that it is not sleeting sideways, grey snow outside.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008