About those lemons? Forget it. I realized the lemon juice was actually irritating my throat more, so I switched to a vile red syrup called Tylenol Extra-Strength Adult Rapid Blast Liquid. Could I make this stuff up? Who exactly comes up with these names? It’s like they want you to think you’re taking a shot of some sports drink or Red Bull or maybe even some nasty form of alcohol that I wouldn’t actually know about (cause I’m sheltered like that). Oh, & it’s supposed to be “cherry-flavored”—don’t even get me started. It does seem to be working though; I was able to swallow solid food for dinner, even though it still felt a bit odd going down.

Do I not do my best to entertain & enlighten you, dear reader?


I’m sick. I have that disgusting wretched cold. All those Meyer lemons I was planning to make lemon meringue pie with? They go straight into hot water with honey & garlic for my miserable throat. Meanwhile, whenever I am not asleep or moping around in a foggy stupor, I’ve been surfing the type blogs (don’t ask me why), which eventually led me to this endlessly amusing timewaster P22 Music Text Composition Generator. Check it out, they have many instrument choices, including some of my favorites: banjo, accordion, bagpipe… the acoustic bass doesn’t sound very convincing though. Anyway it’s much more suited to my current condition than trying to appreciate the fine differences between various Garamonds.

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Nostalgic Americana fetish of the day: packaged, ready-to-bake pull-apart dinner rolls. Seems like these don’t get nearly as much play in the retro-kitsch imagination as Pillsbury tube biscuits, which, of course, have that inspired, nay, genius packaging going for them. Plus, the tubes & their satisfying twist/burst/pop persist unto the present day, whereas the pull-aparts have fallen by the supermarket wayside. Or have they? If you know, do tell! (Thanks to Miss Peace Broccoli for jogging these memories; she was telling me about pull-apart rolls she likes from Andronico’s.)



Variations on a theme, continued:

About 1/2 a bag of arugula, 3 fat endives (sliced), a Fuji apple (cut into wedges & then sliced crosswise), pine nuts (toasted), Orangette’s red wine mustard vinaigrette.

While eating, we improved it with thick shavings of Pecorino (using the veggie peeler) & snips of dried plum (using the kitchen scissors):

Meanwhile, I’ve been knitting, a few rows at a time, & finished the left side of Dashing in a nice periwinkle color. Devoted readers of this blog will note that this represents significant hand progress! I have been very careful not to overdo it. Ice after knitting helps. I’m so excited to be knitting again that I have 2 hats, a scarf, & Dashing all in progress at once—& since I still can only knit a few rows at a time, this means not much is actually getting done. One of the hats is Yarnharlot’s unoriginal hat, which theoretically goes really fast, but Dashing is distracting me so much I haven’t touched that hat (or the other one, which is going to take forever anyway) in a couple of weeks.

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That earthquake pasta the other night got me into some kind of mood. The next day, we went on one of those rare grocery shopping extravaganzas where you just go crazy & pile up the cart—at the bottom of the very long grocery list I had written “actually, EVERYTHING”. Fridge & pantry are busting at the seams now, but lunch today ended up strangely earthquakey nevertheless. I think it’s got to be some kind of winter hibernation mentality, cooking & eating as if you’re holed up in some little cabin in the snow with lots & lots of Mason jars of preserved foods.

Okay, well, not quite.

This here is simply polenta (which I always keep in the freezer), topped with buttered corn (also from the freezer), Pecorino, & a few leaves of fresh oregano just to remind me that we have green food in the fridge. I got the basic idea from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook, but of course hers involves fresh corn & more finessing of the polenta than I can handle right now.

Boil about 1-2/3 cups water, whisk in 1/3 cup of polenta, turn down to very low simmer & continue to whisk frequently, for approximately 20-30 minutes. At some point I sprinkled in salt. Meanwhile, melt some butter in a pan & cook about 1/2 cup of frozen corn kernels. When the polenta is ready, pour it in a pasta dish, top it with the corn, & microplane Pecorino on top. Garnish with oregano leaves & serve to one cold person, still premenstrual as all hell. Don’t worry too much about me though, I had fresh arugula for dinner.



I appear to be some kind of magnet for Bakesale Betty gossip. I was on the phone with Cooking Show, discussing hot water bottles & amaryllis bulbs, when she gave me the dish she got from Mr. Betty himself: soft serve ice cream is coming to Bakesale Betty’s! How fabulous is that? I love that it’s soft serve; that is just so Betty. Apparently they did their research down at Sketch, which boggles my mind because I didn’t even know that Sketch had soft serve, & I call myself knowing about ice cream around here? For shame. Hopefully my timely reporting of this here rumor will redeem me as a reliable info source on Berkeley/Oakland ice cream procurement.

But wait, there’s more: there will be a second Bakesale location opening in Oakland (in the neighborhood I refuse to call Uptown—don’t even get me started), with more baking space, which means an improved flow of the necessary pies in both new location & old. This is a damn good thing because the last two times I tried to get my hands on a chicken pot pie, they’ve been out of them, thus driving me mad with desire & longing, &c.

Let us pray that this expansion will not damage the goods—or the spirit—as has befallen other, once-lovable enterprises.

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What to do when faced with the early-January depleted larder? (What exactly is a larder? Does it mean the same thing as pantry? Don’t I really mean “empty fridge”?) As if the holidays weren’t horrifying enough on their own, the end of the year further tests my already-fragile sanity by depriving me of both farmers market & regular swimming. After all that, throw in a few days’ torrential rain & the worst PMS in memory, & the world should be relieved I barely left the house all weekend. Is it any wonder there was No Plan, no ingredients, no real prospects of any kind for dinner last night? Worse, we had already used our Go Out Instead card the night before.

But fear not! The spirit of chop suey is alive & well around here, & after having moped around the house all day I rose to the challenge.

Here is what I rescued from the forlorn, echoing chambers of the fridge:

half a red onion, the cut surface shriveling with dehydration
3 shallots in good condition
the middle of a celery bunch, still reasonably stout
4 endives, also fine
a bag of bulk lemon fettucine, keeping the faith from our last trip to the Bowl
1 small Meyer lemon from the garden
a tiny nub of Pecorino

We also had about a quarter loaf of the famous Tartine bread, but, I kid you not, it had to be more than 2 weeks old. (Don’t worry, I wouldn’t ever serve this to a guest, except in an earthquake situation.) I started by aggressively trimming off all the crust & dried-out edges, then stuck the salvaged middle of the bread in the Cuisinart to make crumbs. I did similarly aggressive editing on the onion, then chopped it & the shallots & celery into some vague approximation of a mirepoix. (Did you know that Trader Joe’s is selling mirepoix in a plastic container? It’s actually labelled Mirepoix, & the carrots & onions & celery are arranged in these cute layers in the plastic—has “mirepoix” entered the general vocabulary all of a sudden?! I saw that right after a server in a restaurant used the word while describing a dish to me. She totally expected me to know what it was. I feel like I only happen to know what mirepoix means. Do all of her other customers know? Are we all expected to know mirepoix now? Does Rachael Ray have something to do with this?!)

Breadcrumbs went into the pan with olive oil & melted butter, & were joined by a generous handful of pine nuts from the freezer. When they were all nice & toasted I set them aside in a dish. Into the hot pan with more oil went the wannabe mirepoix. When that was done, I dumped in the just-cooked pasta along with the sliced endive, mixed it all around until the endive seemed to disappear (it’s that cooked translucence thing), gave it another generous drizzle of olive oil, & served it up. Crumbs & pine nuts on top, & then microplaned lemon zest & Pecorino on top of that.

Not bad for a scavenged dinner.

Too late, I realized we also had a few capers knocking around the bottom of a jar; I woulda chopped them up & added them to the mix too.

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