Monday, August 31, 2009

Currying Flavor

This has been a weird summer. While our blogging pals just across the bay have been complaining of too-hot days, we have had an unusually cool summer over here, only about 10 miles distant. Still, there are compensations for the lack of warm weather - such as lamb curry. If this were high summer, such a warm dish would be unwelcome. In our cool summer, it was awesome.

I made the sauce by browning my lamb chunks in olive oil, sautéeing a chopped onion in the same pan, then adding the goozle left over from the pork roast I cooked in the crock pot 'way back in June and subsequently froze. When it had cooked down even further, I added the curry flavoring. We always enjoy all the toppings one puts on curry, so I chopped green and white onion, bacon bits, peanuts, raisins, hard-cooked eggs and chutney to add salty, sweet and savory flavors at the table.

The resulting curry was milder than my usual in terms of curry flavor and spiciness but far, far richer in taste. The pork goozle gave the dish some serious "bottom" on which to layer all those other textures and flavors, a dark richness that's hard to describe and hard to stop eating, too. I'm going to have to make more goozle - clearly it is the secret ingredient to add richness to just about any dish when you are currying flavor.

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Sunday, August 30, 2009


I did it and it was just peachy!

After several days of procrastinating while the peaches I picked from our wedding present tree grew increasingly fragrant on the counter, I finally got to work and made the jam I'd been dreaming about ever since taking the jam making class with June Taylor.

The peaches were easy to prepare; all I did was wash them, gently scrub off the fuzz under running water, cut them around the middle, pop out the pit (mine are freestone peaches) and cut the halves into small pieces. I didn't peel the peaches, on June's advice, and I think she was right. The skin all but dissolves in the cooking and what's left has a nice little tang and texture that the sweet body of the jam lacks, like a very subtle version of the zest in marmalade.

I made this first batch just plain, with a little organic sugar (about 5 parts peaches to 1 part sugar by weight) and some lemon juice from my own lemons, so I know everything in the jar is clean. In a nutshell, all you do is mix in the sugar and leave it to macerate with the fruit for a few hours (or overnight if you like). Once the sugar is fully dissolved and the juice is extracted from the fruit, you boil the fruit in a heavy-bottomed pan until it is a thickened consistency, then add the lemon juice and ladle the jam into clean jars (carefully - this stuff is HOT) and put on the lids. Each of these steps has nuances that are best learned from a seasoned jam maker, but it really isn't complicated.

I experimented with re-using some lids and some of them didn't seal - another time, I'd just use new lids; it's too much trouble to make not to have the lids seal.

Next time, since this was a success, I plan to use some spices or herbs. I think wild fennel would add a lot of rich flavor and tarragon sounds good to me, too. My friend Nancy, who got to taste the first jar, suggested adding cloves and said that her grandmother added orange juice; I was thinking about allspice, so we're in the same ballpark, and I like the idea of a tad of additional acidity from the OJ as well as another layer of flavor.

I'm a good procrastinator but now I have the courage to try again soon with some riffs on this peachy experiment.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Care Package Dressing

You never know what will show up in the mail when the package is from my Hawaii brother. A t-shirt printed with a lavender mahimahi (he catches the fish himself and prints shirts or paper with them. I'm not sure if he eats them afterward but he's an adventurous guy - he might!); a packet of drawings from his daughter who loves animals even more than I do (she recently adopted a hen who loves to be held and petted but who scares the s**t out of their very macho cat); a letter with greetings from his wife and each of his children; and salad dressing, wrapped up in the t-shirt.

Good thing this dressing was in a soft plastic bottle - it survived the USPS unscathed. The flavor is sesame-miso and, according to the package, it works equally well as a salad dressing or as a marinade for various meats and fish. Despite the Italian name, Angelo Pietro, it is made in Japan and exported to Hawaii. So far, we have explored only its salad dressing capabilities and we can attest to its excellence on summer salads. Stand by for the review when we marinate some grillables in it.

It's always a blast to get a package from the Island branch of the family - no matter what's inside, it will be fun!

* Late breaking news from Hawaii states: "
Oh and the fish do get eaten even after being printed. I used non-toxic paint to start and wash it off before cutting. The skin is also peeled off so there's no paint anyway."

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Peach Fuzz

My plan is to make peach jam with this year's crop. They are dropping off the tree every day now. I took a jam-making class from the witty and inventive June Taylor recently and she answered an additional question or two via email, so I should have all the information I need.

I'm not even new to canning - I've made applesauce, pomegranate syrup and apple jelly before - so why does this seem so intimidating to me?

Just need to start, I guess.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Pizza Trial

We made pizzas from scratch this week, three small rounds, and topped them with everything we could find in the fridge: Italian sausage; Swiss and mozzarella cheeses; sweet peppers; arugula; zucchini slices; roasted tomatoes; onions both green and white; broccoli; duxelles; bacon; tomato sauce with oregano; fresh sliced Paul Robeson tomatoes in different combinations, then each of us tasted all of them.

Raised the pizza dough three times. Grilled above a hot fire on the Weber grill, flipped, topped the seared side, then baked on the grill again, covered this time, to crisp the bottom and melt the cheeses. Another time, I'd pre-cook some of the veggies - it cooks so fast this way that the veggies were essentially raw.

And I'm still looking for the perfect pizza crust. This one, from Sunset magazine, was good - and we loved the blistery, dark places where the dough was stretched thinner - but not as yeasty-tasting and chewy as I like. Still, it was a fun experiment and one we'll enjoy repeating. We froze the other three crusts uncooked, so it will be even easier next time we have a pizza trial.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"O! she doth teach the torches to burn bright"

Juliet is producing - big time! - and her fruits are a bright reddish orange - so beautiful. So many were dropping off onto the ground that I decided to halve and bake them in the oven for a couple of hours to preserve them for a few more days.

Drizzled with a very little olive oil and sprinkled with just a hint of salt, they roasted for 2 plus hours at 200 degrees, losing water but retaining sweetness.

They are great on pizzas or in salads, or just popped into the mouth as a snack straight from the fridge. I've been told they freeze well, too, but ours never made it that far.

I'll bet Shakespeare loved tomato season, too.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009


On our northern excursion, we explored the quaint little town of Ferndale, California for a morning. Ferndale is one of those towns, like Mendocino or Healdsburg, where it's not really for everyday life - it's a town that owes its living to tourists and getaway weekenders. It's simply too cute for words, with many shops that add an extra e onto their names. Ye Olde Antique Shoppe; you know what I mean. Even the grocery store is quaint and you just know that the Safeway and the Home Depot are in a strip mall somewhere out of sight.

Having said that, I did get a kick out of poking through the cutesy shops while My Beloved conducted some business via telephone and we had a delicious lunch in Curley's restaurant in the Victorian Inn. Curley's has a delightful decor with mismatched tables and chairs, table settings of bright mixed-color napkins and Fiesta ware. Each table is graced with a different whimsical salt-and-pepper shaker set - ours sported Dagwood Bumstead and his Dagwood Sandwich.

My lunch of chanterelle mushrooms, kale, cherry tomatoes and Parmesan cheese over angel hair pasta was richly creamy and redolent of garlic, and was too large to finish. My Beloved had the meatloaf special and, being a connoisseur of meatloaf, he felt well qualified to say that it was delicious.

Take a little time out from admiring the redwoods to tour the Main Street in Ferndale - it's an enjoyable town despite its self-conscious cuteness.

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Monday, August 24, 2009


Eureka was for me a pleasant surprise. My friend Pat has lived up there for many years and she always makes joking remarks about the miserable weather and the slightly nutty people, so I was expecting a hick town with kooks and cloudy skies.

Imagine my surprise when we found bright blue skies, towering trees, an expansive and abundant bay filled with playful seals, whimsical Victorian "painted ladies," good food, cute shops and friendly people.

On a Saturday night, we discovered the newly renovated waterfront promenade and, across the street, a very nice restaurant called Café Waterfront Oyster Bar, which served a mean Spicy Shrimp Bisque. Café Waterfront is so popular that we were only able with no reservations to sit at the bar to eat dinner but the friendly staff made that a pleasure. The owner, a proud new papa, entertained us with pictures of his 18-month old son and two of the wait staff stopped by just to check on us from time to time. A couple from Sacramento took our picture for us and we returned the favor for them. We admired the decor, which was somewhere halfway between Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts, and enjoyed the fresh seafood options.

The bisque with bay shrimp was not very spicy, despite its name, and was deliciously full of shrimp. My Beloved's New England clam chowder was among the best he's ever eaten. Both of our dinners (petrale sole and scampi) were also excellent. It was such a pleasant experience that we returned the next night and, that time, actually scored a table for two.

If you find yourself in far northern California, we can recommend Hicksville. It's a great little city with some lovely folks and good chow, too.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Log Zone

Family style eating appears to be on the way in again. Several restaurants, such as Boulette's Larder in the Ferry Building and Della Fattoria in Petaluma have started setting communal tables as a way of encouraging client interaction. It never went out of fashion at the Samoa Cookhouse 'way up north near Eureka in Samoa, California - they've been serving family style since God was a child.

My Beloved and I stopped there for breakfast on a recent business/pleasure trip to Eureka/Arcata/Ferndale/Scotia and enjoyed a whopping great breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausages, huge planks of toast sliced from housemade loaves, home fries, juice and coffee. The juice and coffee came in pitchers - you pour as much as you want and refresh them as often as you like. The waitress stopped by a time or two to ask if we wanted more of anything - apparently, you can just sit there and eat until you're full, as did the lumberjacks of old.

Despite the friendly seating, our nearest neighbors were uncommunicative that morning, staring sleepily into their coffee cups and speaking to each other only in monosyllabic bursts. The genial host made up for their taciturnity with a bubbly invitation to explore each of the rooms in the restaurant where vintage photographs showed scenes from early settlers' lives.

The Samoa Cookhouse has been serving breakfast, lunch and dinner since 1890 and shows no signs of slowing down. The mismatched chairs and plastic-coated red checked table cloths provide a cheery note and the antique photographs of fishing and logging can teach quite a bit about how life was lived in the late Victorian era in far northern California, when men took great pride in felling giant trees and posing for the camera five or six abreast across the stumps.

I have heard that California is divided into three zones, south to north: The Smog Zone, The Fog Zone and the Log Zone. We enjoyed our trip to the Log Zone and we can attest to the fact that they eat heartily up there.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

It Starts Early

My sister's granddaughter has begun cooking and, apparently, inventing recipes already at the tender age of ten. Kelly and her Dad, assisted by little sister Milla, made a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting the other day and in a letter from my sister today came this recipe for Spaghetti Tacos handwritten on a paper towel.

To wit:

Spaghetti Tacos

Get taco shells
Get spaghetti w/ meat sauce
Get a BIG spoon
Use the BIG spoon to put the spaghetti into the taco shells

It will be interesting to see if this budding foodie continues to invent and tweak her recipes or moves on to other interests. I hope Kelly keeps writing them down - it's a bummer when you've made something yummy and can't recall how you did it, especially something as scrumptious as Spaghetti Tacos!

There was another recipe included for Tapenade but it lacked the specific directions about what to do once one has eaten. Apparently, Tapenade doesn't produce burps.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Buckle? Chuckle

I like to read the Wednesday Chef blog - I like the way Luisa writes. She's funny and witty, and you can almost hear her talking. And, every now and then, she posts a recipe that transports me to heaven - what's not to like about that?

And so it is with Luisa's post about
Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson's Lemon Blueberry Buckle. I made only a very few changes to Luisa's recipe, subbing in some kefir that I had in the fridge for the buttermilk that I didn't have, and it was truly, truly killer.

Luisa advocated letting it get cold after baking and I'm an obedient student, so I did. The crumb is as light as air and perfumed with lemon throughout. The berries made dark little hollows of sweet-tart flavor. But, I forgot to tell that to My Beloved, so the next morning he gently heated it for our breakfast and, Big Wow!, it was great that way, too!

I carved up the remainder to offer to my neighbors as a peacemaking gesture for their forbearance with all the nail pounding and drilling they are enduring as we add a small deck onto the house. I doubt if they even noticed the noise while they were transported on a cloud of Lemon Blueberry Buckle.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Jammin' with June

Whew, this has been a busy two weeks! All fun, all good, but it's also good to sit down to write a blog post or two while the washer sloshes through the mountain of dirty clothes that result from back-to-back weekends of pleasure with no drudgery in between. August is always like this, it seems.

One of the very best experiences of this August has been my conserve class at June Taylor's Still Room in Berkeley. In her clean and airy kitchen that is bathed in natural light and stocked with no-nonsense equipment, with a unique hands-on teaching style June showed the 10 or so students from as far away as Tennessee and Seattle and as close as next door how to prepare, cook and jar up delightful jams from a variety of fruits. We worked on Dapple Dandy pluots, cutting up the fruit ourselves, learning how to measure, macerate, mix and cook, as well as lots of tips for making the work go easier.

June's own conserves use minimal sugar, allowing the fresh flavor of the fruit to shine. She became interested in how to preserve the rich harvests of spring and summer and that interest launched her thriving business twenty years ago. She sells at farmer's markets and via the internet so you can get some of your own, and you will want to do so, I promise. I endorse her lovely work without reservation - but a word of warning to most of my friends and family who may be reading this - you can expect to get jam from me for all subsequent birthdays and Christmases, so plan accordingly!

At the very end, when we each had a jar of still-warm jam that we made ourselves to take home with us, June treated us to a tasting of about a dozen different strawberry jams, some industrially and others artisanally made. Many of the industrially produced jars had more sugar than fruit and some even featured the dreaded "high fructose corn syrup" demon. I learned that a simple sniff easily separated the tasty ones from the ones so loaded with sugar that they tasted flat and uninteresting. Read the ingredients - if sugar comes first or you can't smell the essence of the fruit, pass it by.

June mixes carefully selected seasonal fruit from sustainable, organic growers with all different kinds of herbs, as you will see when you visit her website. She inspired me to do some experimenting of my own - my peaches are ripening fast and I'm thinking peach jam with wild fennel seeds. Any suggestions?

Needless to say, I enjoyed the class very much and felt it was well worth the price of admission. June is frank and funny, a skilled teacher and an experienced cook. If you are wondering how to get started and feeling a little uncertain about the whole mystery of conserving fruit, you couldn't find a better teacher to guide you through your first experience.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Mocha Belly Buster

Point Reyes Station, in addition to being a funky and charming town in west Marin county, is a mecca for lovers of milkshakes. The espresso shake at the Station House Café is as richly coffee-flavored as any shake I've ever loved every slurp of - it is my gold standard for milk shakes.

The Pine Cone diner, however, serves the only milkshake I've ever been unable to finish. Served in a tall glass and topped with an obscenely generous amount of (real) whipped cream, this mocha shake was accompanied by the rest of the shake still in the metal can in which it was mixed. Darkly, richly chocolate and studded with coffee grounds, it was manly.

My Beloved finished his, barely. I sipped, I dipped, I slurped and still there was half of the glass left unfinished. I met my Waterloo at the Pine Cone Café. I dare you to drive out to that consciously retro eatery and try to finish one. Beware, however, as their motto is "Good Food. Prickly Service."


Thursday, August 13, 2009

West Marin Weekend

When My Beloved and I tied the knot 10 years back, we received as a wedding gift a weekend at my friend Bonnie's vacation home on Tomales Bay, out in the western side of Marin county. The house is unique, set as it is on pilings at the far end of a very long dock, so the house is completely surrounded by water. Gulls, pelicans and twittering swallows fly by at eye level. Envious kayakers scull over to get a closer look. The sun rises in an amazing fireball across the water. Windy afternoons turn to tranquil nights and peaceful mornings. Moonrise is spectacular in this place.

We loved it.

Ten years later, Bonnie had the idea to reprise the gift as a celebration of our 10th anniversary and we settled on last weekend as The Date. She even stocked the fridge with champagne and cheeses. It's no wonder I've kept this friendship through 45 years and counting. One doesn't let friends like this ever get away!

This is half the view from our Honeymoon-Plus-Ten cottage, at sunset. Oh, yes.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Broken Record

I sound like a broken record (for those of you who remember records, that is) - plank, plank, plank!* Seems like we plank just about anything and we always love the results.

This lovely chicken was cooked for about 45 minutes on a cedar shingle above the charcoal in our plain old Weber grill.

The thin end of the shingle starts to smolder during the cooking, producing a lightly smoky flavor and preserving the juiciness of whatever fowl or fish we plank. Summer is the perfect time for planking - it's easy, doesn't heat the kitchen and it produces the best flavor bang for your buck that you can imagine. The meat, even the white meat, stays wonderfully moist with this method, as well.

It bears repeating - plank, plank, plank!

*Please be sure to buy untreated cedar shingles at a lumber store. Sometimes, they will give you a few as a sample, if you ask nicely, before you buy a whole bundle. The bundle will serve you and all your neighbors for the foreseeable future but you can purchase the whole bundle for what you'd pay for about four of the fancypants cedar planks at a cooking store and these are easier - you just throw them away when the planking is finished.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Inspired Combination

Whenever I'm out in West Marin county, as I was last Saturday to celebrate pal Sari's birthday, I stop at Marin Sun Farms' butcher shop and load up for the freezer. We enjoy their meats for the flavor but also for the comforting knowledge that the animals had a good life before they got to my table.

I spied this lamb sausage with wine in the case and had to try it. Simply grilled, it was moist and very flavorful with that richness that is peculiar to lamb but tempered somewhat by the wine. I served it on a nest of Swiss chard wilted with garlic and a dab of butter, which was as close to a genius combination as my simple cooking ever comes. Not perhaps a pretty meal but, oh! the flavors!

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Saturday, August 8, 2009

Garlic and Green Beans

As you must know by now, I'm not a fancy cook - I like to describe myself as producing good, plain food. I'm generally content to cook veggies simply and to adorn them with nothing more than a wisp of butter and perhaps a light shake of salt. In my view, it's hard to improve on the flavor of good, fresh vegetables.

Every now and then, however, I do embellish. I had some green beans in the fridge and some garlic; that reminded me of a recent Sunset recipe that sautéed fresh green beans with garlic and fresh thyme (I used lemon thyme as that is currently booming along in my pot garden - no, not that kind of pot!) for a little flavor boost. I used olive oil, just a drizzle, and minced the garlic and herbs. Once the beans were just starting to brown lightly, I added the rest for a moment or two to just warm the garlic and release the scent from the lemon thyme. Off the heat, added a squeeze of lemon juice.

I don't like the word "nice." So namby-pamby. But, in this case, it was appropriate. The dish was nice. Not offensive, not spectacular, but happily, tastily - nice.

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Friday, August 7, 2009


John Wm. Macy's Original Cheddar Cheese Sticks. Crispy, crunchy, cheesy and with a little kick of chili pepper, in my family we call them Cheesy-poos.

You can crumble them into salads or stick them in a cup of soup. We just snack on them as we are fixing dinner, enjoying the munch and the bite.

I found these hidden away in the cupboard; I've been known to hoard Cheesy-poos. No, I'm not sharing. Get your own.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Oops! Almost forgot to photograph our shared dessert at Rendez-vous before we snapped it up! Lemon creme fraîche and basil panna cotta with fresh (slightly) macerated strawberries around the edge and lively lemon zest as garnish.

It started out nicely round and prettily plated with layers of creamy white and soft green surrounded by the shiny pink sauce and red berries. It went down very, very easily! Gently sweet and flavorful, it was quite light and tasty. I hadn't thought much about herbal desserts before - now, I'm eager to try making some at home.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Rendez-vous at Rendez-vous

The downturn in the economy has reaped unexpected benefits for me and My Beloved - my retirement portfolio may have shrunk by half over the past year but we scored lunch with daughter Katie, who has been furloughed one day per week. Bummer for her, for sure, although she's grateful still to have her job, but we enjoyed a weekday lunch and a catch-up with her, thanks to a miserable economy.

We agreed to meet at a new-to-us restaurant in Albany, a French-style bistro called Rendez-vous that is actually owned and managed by a guy from France. You'd never guess he's French from his appearance - he's very tall and looks quintessentially, clean-cut American, but as soon as he speaks, I'm tempted to break into my schoolgirl French.

My Beloved and I have eaten there twice now, once for dinner and this time for lunch. Both were very pleasant and the food was formidable! This is not haute cuisine but rather my favorite type of French cooking, just good, plain, well-prepared bistro fare. At dinner there, I had steak and frîtes; this time, for lunch I had mussels and frîtes. Both were good, really good. The frîtes were crisp on the outside, melty-creamy on the inside and sprinkled with fresh parsley, rosemary and (I think) thyme. The mussels were plenty of the tiny ones where one need not fear the occasional "pearl," steamed with some wine and onions in the broth. We didn't taste Katie's choice of pissaladière but she ate the whole thing with relish so I think that's a thumbs up. The portions were plentiful without being obscene and the atmosphere is casual.

Both times, I have noticed that we arrived early to a nearly empty restaurant that filled to capacity in the time we were there - clearly, it's a popular spot. It is located near the corner of Solano and San Pablo Avenues, right next to a movie theater that shows artsy films. I expect a number of customers come for dinner and a show.

The prices are reasonable, too, another bonus in this sour economy. We enjoyed the chance to have lunch with Katie and to hear about her doings - we'll be sure to schedule additional future rendez-vous(es) at Rendez-vous!

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cutting Edge

This slicer has been in my cupboard for many years, but I hadn't used it recently. It took me nearly 20 minutes to figure out how all the pieces fit together when I dragged it out to slice some really, really thin roast beef for sandwiches. In the interim, I had also forgotten that one must push both green buttons (the other one is around the back) at once to make it go - safety precaution.

Once I had it all together and working, however, it did its usual great job. The roast beef, which began as a rather tough rump roast, was shaved so thin that it was tender and very rare. The machine also made short work of slicing my loaf of Della Fattoria Lemon Rosemary bread to just the desired thinness. The sandwiches made a great lunch.

Now, to wash this bad boy! Taking it all apart while carefully avoiding the wickedly sharp blade and making sure nothing nasty lurks in the cracks is the other down side and probably the reason why it had been so long since I had it out. Still, sitting down to perfectly rare, freshly sliced roast beef sandwiches was the reward for being on the cutting edge.

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Pasta Celebration

Loved this pasta dish from the latest Sunset magazine - simple and easy, as it promised. While the linguine cooked, I browned Italian sausage dollops in a little olive oil, removed the sausage and added chopped onions, minced garlic and zucchini slices to the pan over medium high heat, tossing until the zucchini started to brown lightly, then dumped the sausage back in for a final heating with some coarsely chopped fresh tomatoes.

When the pasta was ready, it was drained and then added to the same pan for a toss around before serving in my favorite pasta bowls. I took the picture before covering all that color in a blizzard of Parmesan cheese. Delicious and I think the whole thing took about 10 minutes from start to table once the pasta water was boiling.

So, why is that worth writing about?

The tomatoes all came from Juliet and Paul. Our own first tomatoes of the season, a true cause for celebration.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Meat Loaf By Any Other Name...

My pal Annie calls meat loaf, "Meat Lump," which seemed appropriate since this time my loaf was more of a mound. My elder brother and his lovely wife have christened this dish, "Woodchuck" and that name also seemed particularly appropriate this time, as the recipe I was following added fresh ground pork (ground hog=woodchuck, right?) to the ground beef, chopped onion, panko crumbs, egg, Worcestershire sauce and celery. But, like a rose that would smell as sweet by any other name, meat loaf tastes good, no matter what you call it.

I tried two new ideas with this lump and, sadly, in my view neither was a total success. Ground pork didn't add much to the flavor; next time, I'll return to my half-and-half mixture of ground beef and bulk sausage - or I might try Italian sausage. And cooking the groundhog on the barbecue didn't add as much smoky flavor as I had hoped it might - next time, I'd either plank it on a cedar shake or add smoking chips to the coals to multiply the smoke.

Still, it was good in that homey, hearty way that meat loaf always is and grilling it with just a thin layer of foil between it and the grate over the coals resulted in a nicely caramelized, crusty edge all around the outside that added texture to the slices.

It's a work in progress, inventing the perfect meatloaf. Ain't life grand when it offers such lovely challenges?

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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Burbank's Creation

In fourth grade, I went to a funky little school called the Bentley School. It was housed an a rambling old multistory wooden mansion in Berkeley. Founded by two sisters, it still exists today, although it has moved and has become expensive now. Of the ten schools I experienced as we moved around in the Navy, it was the best and my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Vohs, was the best teacher I had, ever.

Mrs. Vohs was one of those ladies who made children want to learn to please her. She was very positive and upbeat but she never took any guff from us, either. When she learned I was bad at subtraction, she immediately formed a "Subtraction Club" in which the best students helped me to get up to speed
quickly in subtraction and somehow made me feel like I had gained admission to some desirable group by being lousy at math. Now, that's gifted teaching!

Mrs. Vohs also taught me about Luther Burbank and his many contributions to the world of botany; to this day, my favorite of his creations are nectarines. Easier and sweeter than peaches, nectarines are the best of all possible stone fruits. They rock as simple fresh fruit and, when you grill them alongside your pork chop, concentrating their sugars and striping them with caramelized goodness, they reach a stage of deliciosity that simply cannot be bettered in this life - and maybe even in Heaven.

Bless you Luther Burbank and thank you Mrs. Vohs!

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