lone catfish.

I unexpectedly "saw" Radiohead live last night in the Westerpark. Yeah, I saw them from behind the stage, coming out of their dressing room or whatever and going on stage, then I didn't see them again until they came offstage. But we could hear them, and this arrangement meant that I didn't have to give the evil bastards at Mojo any of my money (tickets were 60 euro).

It was unexpected because the plan had been to listen to them from our roof, thereby avoiding the 18,000 people in Westerpark, but yeah then it turns out that we knew a few of these people, they were having a picnic/party, the weather was perfect, etc. Here's a video of what life was like for the ticketless.

Hopefully some actual pictures of the Dog Hill Party will surface after the people who had the cameras put themselves back together, at which point I'll replace the above photo stolen from Flickr. Unfortunately there's no picture of an unusually intoxicated HPoes kicking an empty beer can down the middle of the street.


It probably says something important, sociologically speaking, that this is the first time I've ever heard anyone say this in my entire life. Hooray for us, the childless.

I recommend NOT reading the "Comments" section after the article if you want to retain any moderately non-negative feelings you might have gotten from reading the article. The Fresh Prince was right.


Something I make all the time for myself is gingered catfish. But I never do it the same way twice, and for this reason I almost never serve it to anyone. So I'm going to try and put a recipe for it together now, in hopes that said recipe might become a reliably reproducible part of my repertoire.



nothing doing.

It's that time of year: terrace weather. It's always a bit of a challenge every year to rebuild our mental database of Good Terraces around town. Here's a bit of a kick-start: NL20 magazine did a Top 20 Terraces list a couple years back...while they're not my Top 20 terraces, it's an OK list of popular, decent places to sit outside and drink.



tomato clearance.

I said a couple posts ago that I didn't like tomato juice. Usually this dislike applies to raw tomatoes as well, unless they're in a salsa or have been otherwise acidized.

The little guy above is an exception, he dropped by last night with about 30 of his buddies, and well we showed them a good time. Rather we showed them our version of a good time, which involved eating every last one of them. On sale now in the Everything Must Go section at De Avondmarkt.


In other almost-tomato-related news: last month when I was in Atlanta, I went to El Rey del Taco on Buford Highway and didn't take any pictures. One of the things I didn't take a picture of was Steve's hangover remedy, the Michelada. It was almost really good, but I would've sworn that there was tomato juice in it, because it gave me Bloody Mary flashbacks. Guess it was just Worcestershire.

Nothing but the hottest news stories here, folks.



Had a rather crap day at the beach. Beautifully sunny for much of the day, but a constant strong and swirly breeze (I checked, that's the right word) tormented us throughout by alternately pelting, showering, or drizzling sand onto/into all of our exposed areas. Frequently resulting in the following face being made:

The top photo was taken just before the only bus on this road blew by us without stopping. I'm sure it just looked like we were location-scouting for a movie shoot or something, certainly we weren't waiting for the bus, you sad vindictive powermad bus-driving fucker.

Once we actually managed to board a bus, the ride home was the highlight of the day, during which we shared an MP3 player and made ourselves feel better by ridiculing our fellow travelers. You would have done the same thing: look at how crabby we were.


The night before, we watched something that can't have been happening in too many other places around the globe: The European soccer semi-finals accompanied by live free improvised music. This was the monthly Brokkenavond, and the organizer decided that if The Netherlands were in the semi-finals, no one would come to the show. So she combined the two, and it was an unexpectedly fun mash-up. Poor Turkey, they completely dominated Germany and still managed to lose.


komro komro tapoe asing.

No I haven't swallowed my tongue. That's the name of this Surinamese pickle in its native language.

I don't love cucumbers, which means that they are a member of a very select group of foodstuffs which I do not normally enjoy eating. Let's look at that list right now.

1) Tomato juice
2) Cucumbers

As I said, select. Tomato juice gets the number one spot because there are no circumstances under which I truly enjoy it, though in an emergency I can force my way through a Bloody Mary or three. But I make a face the whole time.

Cucumbers, however, can be enjoyed as pickles. I like pickles very much. Below is a pickle recipe that I will be making all summer long because it goes with everything. These proportions need a bit more testing, but this is pretty close to what I've been doing.


cucumber/papaya pickle.

2 cucumbers, sliced in your favorite picklish formation
1 cup papaya, or less, diced
1 red onion, chopped
6 pimiento berries or 1/2 tsp ground allspice
8 cloves or 1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 cup or more coconut vinegar
1 or 2 tbsp ginger syrup
1 or 2 tsp Surinamese mango chutney
1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste

I love saying that!
Wait 1 day, then adjust salt to taste, and eat.


The moody photo at the top is from our dinner at Mamouche last week. A mixed experience, not bad, but definitely not worth the money. Mara's food in particular looked beautiful but didn't taste like much (this is a salad of raw tuna and scallops).



do the dishes.

I'm doing that thing where I put off something I don't want to do by writing a blog entry instead. This is counter to protocol. But I did want to highlight (before I forgot) Epicurious's handy "Peak-Season" applet. Of course it's targeted for the U.S., but if you aim for northeastern states you end up with a not-irrelevant list of seasonal fruits and vegetables, point being: most of these should be priced bargainesquely in our local markets.

Speaking of website applets, The Weather Channel has one that I'm afraid to click on because it can't possibly live up to my expectations: Check Mosquito Activity in Your Area. I'm imagining something like a reality show/surveillance/webcam camera angle into mosquito leisure escapades.



brewing alternatives.

One of the results of my luxuriously long vacation last month was the realization that we (I) spend "a lot of money" on food.

This whole self-awareness thing is something that can happen after a long absence from home, right? You see your "normal daily life" from a slightly dollied-back perspective, which maybe allows you to see some opportunities for directorial tweaks here and there, etc.

The tweak I've got in mind is a frankly fucking awful-sounding little experiment: a Weekly Grocery Budget. I need to do some experimentation to figure out exactly what that means, number-wise. It won't include meals eaten outside the house, b/c that doesn't need any further discouraging.

But yeah. What got me re-thinking about a budget was the sardines I made today. After a few bites, I was all "You know? I could eat sardines every day," and then I was like "Boy would that save a bunch of money on groceries." And then I was all like etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.

And then (ha) I saw this Chowhound post: Eating Like a Chowhound on $3 a Day. They're talking about a budget of $3 a day, per person, so roughly $100/month per person. There are weekly recipe plans and all kinds of useful ideas out there.

Now, the comments on this Chowhound thread make this budget sound like an amazing sacrifice. I'm thinking 3 euros a day still sounds kind of high. That's 6 euros a day for both of us, and I could be waaaay off, but I think--my constant pointless impulse purchases aside (wild turkey leg confit?)--we're probably not too too far off from that right now. I mean really, Mara only eats eggs, butter, tomatoes, cheese, bread and tuna, and I pretty much just eat catfish, tempeh, and prunes at this point. How hard can it be???!?!!??!???

UPDATE: eh...perhaps I misestimated some things. A preliminary budget reveals that in order to keep eating non-junk food (no refined flour or sugar, no partially-hydrogenated this or that), it will cost us more than 3 euros a day. I think we can maybe squeak by on 4 euros a day. Budget and grocery list forthcoming.


Ye always wonder if you're buying the best sardines available in yr little 'hood. If only there was some sort of sardine taste-off to help determine the best brands...click. My favorites to date are still the Moroccan brand Tagine, but the Suriname cookbook mentioned a couple of posts ago singled out Brunswick and Morjon...so I bought a can of each today.

Sardines in tomato sauce get a bad bad rap in most taste tests, because of the tomato sauce itself. Which is understandable, I think the most that canned tomato sauces can really hope for is a top rating of "Edible".

The Morjon 'dines weren't bad at all, though I didn't taste them right out of the can. But once prepared in the Surinaamse stylie, I was completely hooked. The mint and ketjap asin are my customizations, totally not authentic.


sardines in tomato sauce with rice, kinda suriname-style.

1 tin Morjon sardines in tomato sauce (79 cents!)
1 tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
0.5 to 1 madame jeanette pepper, minced
2 tbsp celery leaves, minced
1 tbsp mint leaves, minced
1 to 2 tbsp ketjap asin (the salty version of ketjap manis. ketjap manis would probably be fine too)

Make rice (or bulgur, in my case). In a wok or something, fry onion and pepper in 1 tbsp butter for 5 minutes or so. Add contents of sardine tin and celery leaves to onion/pepper, and simmer the whole thing for 10 minutes. Before serving, stir in mint leaves and ketjap. Serve over rice.

Serves 2.



Slate makes itself useful for a change and writes about the death of the semicolon. Wherein we learn that "...the semicolon is the enemy of action; it is the agent of reflection and meditation." Maybe that's why we love the little guy so much.


Note to self: see Edge of Heaven.



de avontuurlijke surinaamse keuken.

Finally, I found a first-class, professional, good-looking Surinamese cookbook (and for only €14,95). Quite a relief, b/c it means that I don't have to write a Surinamese cookbook. Nice job, men (and womens).

Here's the website.


Unlike most Suriname cookbooks I've come across, there's a good bit of background information here about ingredients and where recipes came from. I really wish that I'd read it when it came out back in 2005, because it would've saved me a great deal of Speculation Time.

For example, there are a few pages that explain everything that goes into a proper moksi meti (including a useful tidbit about fa chong meaning two different things in Suriname and China), a discussion about what goes into a Surinamese masala mix (fewer ingredients than something like a garam masala); an explanation of how canned sardines serve as the Break Glass in Case of Emergency food (and which brands are preferred); and the following handy explanation of the habanero/adjoema relationship:

There's lots more where that came from. Haven't tried any of the recipes yet, of course I will report back here as soon as I do.



thursday night smackdown, downstairs, i wish.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. I've probably mentioned Thursday nights before. That's when this amateur big band rehearses in the basement of our building for about 19 hours straight between 7pm and midnight. Last week we made a pact to go out to dinner every Thursday night from now on until the end of time in order to avoid ever hearing their "smooth but shitty" sounds ever again, but tonight An Insurmountable Obstacle materialized and now I am sitting at my dining room table listening to Blue Bossa over and over and over and over and over and over.

Very much like the video above, with about the same level of grating, amusical pointlessness, but with 12 people playing 1 instrument each badly instead of 1 dude playing 2 instruments badly. Except they've also got a drummer. And an electric bass player, for which there's no excuse whatsoever.


You may not take me for a Top Chef watcher, but I am one. Even though every season I try not to be one...it pulls me back in regardless. I'm not like a real fanboy or anything, but I did think that Stephanie's lamb dish with braised pistachios sounded like something my teeth would enjoy. So just in case the world ends and Bravo goes off the air, I'm putting her recipe right here for safekeeping.

I've made a couple of modifications to this based on what little I know about the English language: these recipes, it's as if whoever transcribes them is doing so while being chased by a pack of hungry werewolves, the screaming transcriptionist frantically typing on their Blackberry device with one hand while rummaging around in their pockets for a silver bullet sandwich with the other hand...


roasted lamb with mushrooms, braised pistachios, and blackberry gastrique.

1 rack of lamb, removed from bones (reserve bones)
2 tbsp yellow miso
thyme to taste
1/2 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup red wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 pint blackberries
1 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
Salt to taste
1/4 lb mushrooms
2t olive oil
1 tsp butter
pepper to taste
1/4 cup manzanilla olives, minced
1 shallot, minced

Clean silverskin from lamb and rub with miso and thyme. Let sit overnight. Brown bones in the oven. Meanwhile in saucepot, brown onions and garlic. Deglaze with red wine and let reduce. Add in 1 1/2 cups chicken stock and 1/2 pint blackberries; let simmer. Add in browned bones and reduce to nappe (um, which means "to coat the back of a spoon" in Chefspeak. Come on, people). Season and strain.

Place remaining blackberries in nonreactive pot with white balsamic and sugar. Reduce to thicken and strain.

Place pistachios in remaining chicken stock; season with salt and simmer until nuts are softened.

Break mushrooms into bite sized chunks. When time to serve, saute mushrooms in one teaspoon each olive oil and butter, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Wipe miso off of lamb, season and brown all sides. Place in oven for a few minutes then let rest. Mix together olives, shallot and remaining olive oil.

To serve, place mushrooms on plate. Top with sliced lamb and spoon of tapenade. Place a few pistachios on each plate. Pour spoonful of sauce on top and drizzle with blackberry gastrique.

Serves 8.



file under slag.

Was starving on the way to the gym today so I used that fact as an excuse to stop in at Il Tramezzino on the Haarlemmerstraat. I'd peeked in a few weeks ago and their sandwiches looked semi-inspired and authentically tramezzinish.

Ten years ago when we first started traveling around Italy, tramezzini were our Emergency Food. After we'd walked around for hours trying to find just the right place to stop for a bite and a drink (without actually ever going into anywhere...this is called a Death Mope, something to avoid) and we could finally bear our hunger no longer, we would break down and get a tramezzino or two. And we would be SO HAPPY to be sitting down and munching away on our tuna fish or egg salad, or whatever the mediocre filling was.

And today: my experience was very authentic, meaning that they were pretty boring little sandwiches with the crusts cut off. I got 1/2 smoked salmon and asparagus and 1/2 chicken salad with pesto. Both were fine, but I was so hungry it didn't matter what they were. Oh yeah, they were also one other thing: twice the price of our Italian tramezzini back in 2000. My advice: save your money and make your own non-mediocre sandwiches.


A note on the photo above. When I was in America last month, this note was on the kitchen island one morning when I came down for coffee. Once you know that D.T. is Mara's dad and J.T. is Mara's mom, the rest is pretty self-explanatory. I post this because it made me shake my head and say "you crazy foul-mouthed kids", and I brought it to Amsterdam b/c I knew it would make Mara do the same, which it did.


the continuing saga of nature boy.

Yesterday I accidentally walked from Zandvoort to Bloemendaal and back, and it was great. My plan was just to hang out at Zandvoort for the day, but I started walking north along this very handy brick oceanway that leads up the coast (note the two blue Google push pins on the coast, the southernmost one is Zandfoort).

Here's the brick oceanway, this is me looking back south towards Zandvoort. At a certain point the oceanway splits into two lanes, one for bikes, one for pedestrians, and you can just go and go and go.

Dotting the trail up the seaside are little fish trailers, selling all kinds of fried and non-fried oceanic bounty. I stopped at a Kroon Vis cart, they've been selling fish in Zandvoort for 30 years. Here's a stolen photo of a Kroon cart on a snowy beach in 1982:

Ha ha, good clean fun, a fish truck in the snow. So anyway, I myself was looking to try some more fried surimi, and in this endeavor I succeeded mightily:

Can't say that it was as hot or as fresh as the last time I had it, but still quite tasty in a "dream food" kind of way...like you're eating in a dream, and the food you're eating is somehow familiar but not quite right....but luckily there's a dipping sauce.

So you walk for a while, chomping on fried imitation dream crab, and just below you on the sand you're constantly passing these beach clubs. Viewed from the back they look like training camps for dangerous fundamentalist surfers or supermodels:

And there's one every couple of minutes, so you're constantly tempted to get off of your healthy walking mission and descend into the the sun-baked, coconut-scented, and otherwise welcoming dens of iniquity below.

Nah, they're mostly pretty wholesome places, at least on a Tuesday afternoon. This is where my will finally broke, Club Nautique (where the food coming out of the kitchen looked pretty good), and I took this picture because this couple capped off their romantic beachside meal by proceeding to each whip out a novel and start reading.

So, I was about halfway to Bloemendaal at this point, which I didn't actually know, I was just walking, and I saw this inviting scene on the inland side of the road:

This is a nature preserve for cranes. I poked around a little bit over there, and then trudged on northward. I eventually reached my sort-of destination, which I didn't even know for sure was going to be there: Woodstock 69.

It's yet another beach club, but they've had a reputation for being very laid-back and hippie-ish, and for asking interesting chefs to devise the menu every summer. The vibe was mellow indeed, and the music was a surprise (an entire J.J. Cale concert) and surprisingly enjoyable. I could've stayed all afternoon.


Speaking of Nature Boys, here's another one.




Made this for dinner tonight and it just about blew our heads off. The recipe called for one Madame Jeanette pepper (the picture above is what Dirk v/d Broek called "Madame Jeanettes", I'm not so sure), and that's what I used. Maybe half that much would make it edible for the general population.


vismasala (surinamese fish masala).


600gr whitefish, cut into large pieces
3 tbsp masala spice mix (coriander seed, cumin, mustardseed, fenugriek, nigella, black pepper, turmeric)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1/2 madame jeanette or habanero pepper, stemmed and seeded, cut into thin rings
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tomato, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup water
4 tbsp celery leaves

Rub pieces of fish with masala and salt, let sit for 5 minutes. Heat the oil in a wok or sautepan and brown the fish pieces. Remove the fish and add the onion, garlic, and pepper to the pan. After a minute of cooking, add the tomato. Cook for a minute or two then add the celery leaves and water. When it reaches a simmer, add the fish back in and simmer for 15 minutes over very low heat. Serve with buttered rice. Serves at least 3, maybe one more if you were serving another dish as well.



And so the socializing begins again. As it should. Today we are having a "BBQ" on the roof with all of our building's tenants. Maybe we should call it something else. After just having been to a couple of actual American barbecues last month, I think that we're setting ourselves up for disappointment in referring to this rooftop meal by the same name.

Cooking gear: we have a single Weber (I think it's even smaller than a Weber Smokey Joe), roughly the size of a dinner plate, putting our total simultaneous grilling capacity at something like 1/2 of an American steak.

Therefore, I'm making an Indonesianish green bean salad so as to not rob anyone of their chance at grill superstardom.

UPDATE: All of the food was remarkably good, we must again consider ourselves fortunate. The Spaniard made a tortilla with potatoes; the Indonesians made grilled fresh sardines; and the Dutch offered grilled merguez sausages and a broccoli salad. Miss Mara made her unstoppable saté lilit cakes again. All to the sounds of Monique's collection of punk 45s played on their ancient Phillips turntable. And I know some of you will say gee Mara looks strange in that one picture, and that's because it's not her, it's our newest tenant, who bears a superficial resemblance to The Real Ape. And that bottom picture of Mara? She's not sad, honest, it's a trick of the light. I took that picture over my shoulder.


green bean salad with peanuts, coconut, and bacon.


a mess of green beans
1 tbsp sambal trassi
juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp ketjap manis
1 tbsp sesame oil
100gr spek/bacon, diced
3 tbsp grated coconut
1/2 cup peanuts, crushed
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tbsp coconut vinegar



sweetness and light.

Have you ever tried to quit smoking? Have you ever tried to quit drinking? Have you ever tried to quit smoking and quit drinking at the same time?

Prevailing wisdom has it that someone in this unenviable position might crave sweets. From my own experience I can verify this to be true.

As someone who is also trying to lose weight, this whole sweets business is an unpleasant obstacle. I guess the easiest answer would be to just ignore the craving as you would every other craving you're ignoring.

And yet...sometimes it's better to pacify a craving safely than to let it grow into an unmanageable bulge that will finally need to be released (?). You know what I mean.

So I'm going to take a moment to jot down some relatively harmless sweet little pacifiers here. Today's cavalry arrived in the form of a rojak, an Indonesian or Malaysian fruit salad with several additional sour and salty elements. Mine consisted of mango, pineapple, cucumber, tamarind, lime, fish sauce, coconut vinegar, a little palm sugar, peanuts, and cilantro. You're supposed to serve it at room temperature, but I like mine cold, quite cold. Cold Rojak I like.

Bulge Status: Managed.


Something else I saw recently that I want to carry in my Emergency Kit is a "chocolate ice cream" made from two ingredients: ripe bananas and cocoa powder. Only problem is, our freezer's not big enough to accommodate our ice cream maker. Dilemma.


Something that I do not get at all is kwark. I mention it here because it's occasionally referred to as a "diet food" in this country (then again, so is roast beef). I've tried to like it, but its charms continue to elude me. It's been a challenge to figure out what an American equivalent might be, but the latest research indicates that it's probably easiest to think of it as a Dutch variant of fromage frais: a fresh cheese. Here's an article that elaborates in detail. And provides a couple of curiosity-arousing recipes. Maaaybe we'll give kwark a chance to prove itself in the kitchen. It is a diet food, after all.



product placement.

It's not often that we single out a particular commercial product for favorable comment here at Vegetarian Duck, but lately this little dude has been making me very happy. It's yogurt with prunes and lavender, sweetened with unrefined sugar. Manufactured by Udea, you can pick it up at the Natuurwinkel, and I heartily recommend doing so.

UPDATE: I just found that the De Avondmarkt has it as well. Of course they do.



son of the beach.

Or, What I Did Today. I was at the beach for 8 hours because of a change in bus schedules. That no one told me about. True, there are worse places to be stuck for 8 hours, aren't there. Only potential drawback would be my newly bright pink exterior.

But in the More Germane department: look at the size of this salad.

The fork and book provide useful points of reference (the book is Michael Cunningham's Specimen Days, which is worth reading...although, if you zoom in on this photo, you can see that this book includes the phrase "a spasm of white-hot rage", which is not indicative of the quality of the writing in general). The salad is smoked salmon, crayfish, sea beans, chives, and a lemon-dill dressing. Degree of difficulty? Low. Serving size? Bordering on overload (what kind of wuss am I, can't finish a salad for chrissakes). Would've been pretty perfect though if someone had just spent a tiny bit more time washing the lettuce. This all went down at Zilt aan Zee at IJmuiden.

And then later? I saw a boat decorated in the style of the Jordaan.

And finally I saw a Summertime Cat.



fish cake monkey.

Back in the NL. Happy to be shopping at my same old places again, American grocery store prices are fucking astronomical. $2.99 for a head of cauliflower. $2.99 for 2 twigs of rosemary. $3.99 for a bag of salad greens. I just walked around with my mouth hanging open for about 20 minutes at our local Publix, trying to find anything that didn't cost $2.99 (carrots were the lucky winner). I don't know how people are surviving.

My first dinner at home was another good welcome back moment: Mara's adaptation of saté lilit. She's been making it so often that we had all the necessary ingredients already, and it's easy to see why she's got this fish cake monkey on her back: this stuff is like crack. Made from fish.

Here's the original recipe I posted, but her version adds candlenuts and dried laos (galangal). In fact, she has most often made this with all dried spices, and though it's perhaps not as fragrant as using fresh, it's still definitely fish crack. It's really an excellent weeknight dinner (or breakfast), quick, easy, and cheap (she's been using tilapia or catfish as the protein), and made from ingredients that are completely non-exotic here in Mokum.


saté lilit (fish cake saté).


2 tbsp peanut oil
500gr mild white fish fillet (cod, tilapia, sea bass, catfish)
5 tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup thick coconut milk
5 kaffir lime leaves, very thinly sliced

5 shallots, chopped
5 candlenuts, smashed/chopped
1 red Holland chile or 1 tbsp sambal
1 tsp dried galangal (laos)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp brown or palm sugar
1/2 tbsp sliced lemongrass (or 1 tsp dried lemongrass)
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
salt to taste

Toast candlenuts gently in medium-hot pan, 5 minutes or so. Add oil to pan and sauté shallots, sambal or chiles, and ground spices until fragrant. Stir in salt, sugar and garlic, remove from heat and allow to cool.

Finely chop fish fillet and combine with shredded coconut, three-quarters of the thick coconut milk and kaffir lime leaves. Stir and mix thoroughly. Add shallot/candlenut mixture and stir to combine thoroughly.

Now you can either form these into cakes or balls and bake them in the oven, or (hypothetically) mold them onto saté skewers and grill them. For the latter, shape 2 tablespoons fish mixture around a saté skewer. Press firmly until it sticks to the skewer. Grill the skewered fish over hot charcoal and brush with remaining coconut milk until cooked. Hypothetically.

Serve with sambal or other chili sauce.



scattered pictures.

For those of you who don't have enough memorabilia of days gone by around your own house, there's nothing like visiting one of your parents' houses to round out your collection. Above: Mara's first sculpture, from the 70s: The Platypus. Below, something small-scale she did in the 90s (both of these are sitting on the still-unbeatable dining room table she built as well). Bottom: the artist as a young girl.


comfort, food.

So, yeah, we're cooking for a wake tonight, my first time. If you're an obsessively overachieving home cook like some people, your first impulse might be to attempt to engineer The Most Comforting Dish of All Time. This is an impulse that should be suppressed. Cook what the families have always eaten at family gatherings: this is probably as close as you're going to get to their most comforting dishes of all time.

This side of the family is half Irish/English and half Italian, but right now the cooking crew is skewed heavily towards the latter kitchen. Tomorrow's table will be filled with sweet Italian sausage and bell peppers, eggplant parmesan, chicken with spinach and prosciutto, grilled vegetables (asparagus, mushrooms, peppers, zucchini), and a big green salad...with a bourbon-enhanced and massively cinnamonized peach crumble and a buttercream-frosted layer cake for dessert.

It will be comforting food for sure, but it might have been even more comforting to have everyone in the kitchen cooking together last night...normally we'll all take a dish, bust it out individually, and come together to serve them, but last night we were all chopping and assembling each other's contributions in a way that seemed as much an expression of support as it did cooking.


peach crumble with bourbon and cinnamon.


4 big cans peaches, drained
3 tbsp corn starch
1/4 cup (or a little more) bourbon (we used Maker's Mark)
2 tbsp cinnamon

1 cup flour
250gr butter (2 sticks), cut into small pieces
1/4 cup cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 375F/190C. Butter a baking dish. Slice peaches if not already and toss with cinnamon, sugar, corn starch, and bourbon.

To make topping: combine dry ingredients, then work butter into dry ingredients with hands until mixture resembles a coarse cornmeal. Spread mixture evenly over peaches and bake 40 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Serve with vanilla ice cream.


UPDATE: This dessert was vaporized by the crowd. By the time I got to it, there was one still-warm spoonful left. It's pretty heavenly. I'd like to try it again with some kind of buttermilk ice cream....