Transform Your Aching Soul with Cooking

Photo credit: C. Bertelsen Living today’s hurry-up-run-run-run-faster-faster-text-text lifestyle tends to blunt contact with more earthy things, like cooking. The act of cooking offers something that the stiffest drink or most potent tranquilizer cannot. Dare I say it out loud? It’s even better than sex, in a way. Especially when chocolate is involved, but that’s another…

Long Ago, When Chickens had Teeth …*

I’ve never had to kill for my dinner, unless you count the time I mangled a lobster at the Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris, crying silently as I tried to plunge the knife in the right place but failing to quickly put the creature out of its misery. I doubt I would have known…

The Lost Arabs of Marseille: Food, Family, and France

In his  timely Arab France: Islam and the Making of Modern Europe, 1798-1831 (2011), Ian Coller writes of the Arab families associated with Ya’qub Hanna, an Egyptian, a Copt and first non-French general who’d served with  Napoleon Bonaparte in his military campaigns in Egypt. The cover, I believe, was chosen to highlight the idea of…

Cooking with Mushrooms: Chicken and Walnuts and Baby Bellas, Oh My!

I went wild over the cheap chicken thighs at my local Kroger, dumping package after package into my grocery cart. And as I sniffed the seductive odor of pumpkin pies emanating from the bakery, I composed a menu in my head that shouted “It’s FALL, finally!” Mushrooms, walnuts, shallots joined the chicken in the paper…

“Ginger Shall Be Hot i’ the Mouth Too”

Sir Toby Belch: Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale? Clown: Yes, by Saint Anne, and ginger shall be hot i’ the mouth too. Twelfth Night. Act ii. Sc. 3. If anyone ever makes a movie about ginger’s long and fascinating history, I want Leonardo DiCaprio to…

Tomatoes, Dust, and a Tasty Soupçon of Africa, Too

My nose burned a little and an odd sensation on my forehead no doubt meant more freckles popping out. I didn’t care. I sat right where I wanted to be on that late August day, in the dirt between two rows of leafy tomato plants. Red globes of all sizes dangled like Christmas ornaments from the plants, the vines sinking into the dust from all that ripe weight.

The Artful Pomegranate

Guarded treasure, honeycomb partitions, Richness of flavour, Pentagonal architecture. The rind splits; seeds fall– Crimson seeds in azure bowls, Or drops of gold in dishes of enamelled bronze. —André Gide in Les Nourritures Terrestres (trans. Dorothy Bussy) Like the pomegranate itself, so ripe and bursting with seeds, the history of this berry-like fruit reveals more…

Deep Roots: A Love Note to the Lowly Carrot

A dish of carrot hastily cooked may still have soil uncleaned off the vegetable. ~~ Chinese Proverb Except for the feathery grey braids poking out from under the rebozo, she looked like a child washing dishes. But she wasn’t a child and she wasn’t washing dishes. Rinsing the large carrot— one about the size of…

The Random Herbalist: Books About Monastic and Medieval Gardens

I find the following books enlightening, soothing, and motivating. My plan is to create/design a medieval/monastic herb garden over the upcoming winter and plant it starting next spring.* Monastic Gardens, by Mick Hales (2000) Private worlds glimpsed by a privileged few, monasteries have long maintained an aura of mystery. Outsiders imagine the silent seclusion, the…