Archive | November, 2007

People Drop By From Time To Time… Part 5

30 Nov

The Granny Cart kitchen has been quiet, posting has been light, but that doesn’t mean people have stopped dropping by.

Lower Manhattan From The Promenade

Oh no. the human is a curious animal.

For a while I was confused why my favorite tomato bisque recipe was getting so much traffic, then I realized it’s because the recipe name includes the year it was created, 1907, and people are searching for what people ate 100 years ago. I think that’s cool.

Slightly less predictable was the rapid up-tick in people searching for pickled egg recipes just before Thanksgiving. I mean… To whom doesn’t a vinegary, purple egg simply scream harvest festival?

Jeff Koons Blue Diamond, Christie's, New York

And how do I know all this? Because the good people at WordPress, the platform upon which the Granny Cart floats blissfully through the universe of the internets, are kind enough to allow us users to see the phrases; often funny, sometimes scary, but always interesting, that drive people to our blogs.

There are lots of queries about farro, couscous and pickles, a few about boar roasts, many about poultry, and a goodly number looking for cheesemaking hints. There’s the accent crew too, looking for recipes for Spätzle, Čevapčići and Coq a la Bière. But the grand majority of the inquisitive folk that end up on the Granny Cart probably don’t want to be here.

Bridge, Prospect Park

I hope the person that was looking for Vermont “Olive Oil” finally found what he was after, because the information was certainly not contained on this here Website.

To the gentleman who put curry on his curry, while I agree that the situation might in fact be a pressing one, I really don’t feel that it’s that big of a predicament. In fact, I bet it was quite tasty in the end!

I hope the person that wanted a “recipe containing macaroni and cheese” found one. (If not there’s one right here if you’re still looking, and it’s called Mac & Cheese).

Finally, I will end my commentary on the state of search queries in the same way as always by appealing to the people searching for “tiny bunnies that don’t grow.” Have you found them? Do they really exist? Please, if you’ve managed to find the world’s most perfect pet, contact me. I’ll be waiting.

Rip Van Winkle Bridge from the grounds at Olana

The Cute

cats that look like gernot (Kind of makes you wonder who Gernot is, doesn’t it?)

give a pig a pickle (That’s gotta be pretty amusing)

how to get a live chicken in a bottle (I bet it’s nowhere near as easy as getting a ship in a bottle)

Cauliflower poodles (Ah yes, behold, there on the horizon, the noble, cruciferous hound)

cute hard boiled eggs (I think these would make this person very, very happy)

Hudson-Athen Lighthouse, Hudson River

The Curious

sunshine scientific names (I’ve never wondered about sunshine before… But if clouds have names… And precipitation has names…)

onion and cheese mexican joke (So a queso and a cebolla walk into a cantina…)

everything is pickled people are pickles (Sounds like the start of someone’s manifesto, if you ask me. That reminds me, I’ve been meaning to write one of those…)

will God allow me to eat shrimp (Oh dear. I think there’s only one person that can really help you make that call, and it’s not me)

rabbits eat pickles? (If pigs can…)

Dumbo Warerhouse

The Creepy

what to do with wife that doesn’t make dinner (Might I suggest a two prong approach: 1. Become friendly with a restaurant that will deliver and 2. Learn how to cook for yourself, perhaps?)

Round-the-World Cookbook cannibal recipe (I’m sure this exists, and yet…)

I’ll give you my antidote To the venom, (But…?)

june cleaver tablescape (I think tablescapes were a little before the Beaver’s time, and yet simply imagining this sends shivers down my spine)

delete granny’s pet,now! (Oh dear, must have been old Gernot again)

Gowanus Canal

And finally, I would like to leave you with one of the truer statements I’ve ever encountered.

small is beautiful but not for cheese

Sir, you, me and Isaac must be seperated at birth. You are welcome here anytime. Please, take a seat, make yourself comfortable, oh, and don’t forget the cheese!

Have a happy weekend everyone!


27 Nov

We went for a long walk on Thanksgiving day (I know, you’re shocked), through Carroll Gardens, down to the Promenade in Brooklyn Heights.

Confused Tree

There wasn’t much open, aside from book stores and Italian cafes. A perfect cappuccino and a pignoli cookie may be the finest breakfast of all time.

Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims

Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims is my new favorite church in New York (my old favorite was Grace Church on 10th Street & Broadway). It’s the church where Henry Ward Beecher preached and espoused abolitionism. It was also a stop on the Underground Railroad.


We were hoping that Jack the Horse Tavern would be open. It was not. So we ate lunch at a nice Turkish joint on Montague Street. It was quite busy, and yes, as each person left, they felt compelled to say, “Happy Turkey Day!” to the proprietress.

Gorgeous Brooklyn Heights

Did you know that Brooklyn Heights was the first commuter town?

From the Promenade

Did you know that the Promenade didn’t exist before Robert Moses built the BQE?

Brooklyn Heights Subway Station

Can you tell Barry Lewis’ ‘A Walk Around Brooklyn‘ was on PBS after Thanksgiving dinner?

Cranberry/Apple Crumble

I sat and learned while devouring this delicious, just-enough-sweet-and-not-too-tart crisp. It was a delightful end to a relaxing day. I hope yours was just as wonderful.

Pig Out

21 Nov

On Saturday morning, I still did not know what I was going to do for Thanksgiving.

I wish I lived here

My mom had made an off-hand comment about the whole family maybe coming down to Brooklyn to dine chez Granny Cart. Even though I was 98% sure she was joking, it lodged a bee in my bonnet. On Saturday morning I woke up and wanted to cook.If the whole Upstate gang was going to descend on my humble home, I was going to be ready for them.

And so for Saturday night dinner Isaac and I had a faux Thanksgiving dinner. No messing around with making up my own recipes, if I was going to cook for a crowd, I was going to make stuff that other people had already vetted. I turned to Florence Fabricant‘s Brussel’s Sprouts & Chestnuts in Brown Butter, Molly’s squash purée, and Flying Pigs farm‘s absolutely, utterly, fantastically, astonisingly perfect pork chops (with the maple & bourbon pan sauce, naturally).

Whaaaaa? Pork chops? For Thanksgiving dinner? Well… As odd as this may sound, on Saturday, there were no (affordable) turkeys at the greenmarket. I wanted meat, so we got pork chops. And boy oh boy were they good. They completely overwhelmed everything else.

I wish I lived here

Molly‘s purée was delicious. FloFab’s sprouts were good but watery (when she says to drain those sprouts, she means it). But the pork! Oh the pork!

This is the best method for cooking pork chops ever! And if, in fact, the whole crew were to descend upon Bay Ridge for Thanksgiving dinner I would have quite the conundrum: To cook a turkey (something I’ve never done) or to cook perfect pork chops (something I can definitely do).

World's most perfect pork chops, Brussel's sprouts in brown butter, and Orangette's squahs puree

Happily, it’s a conundrum I will not find myself in this year. I’ll be spending Thanksgiving day relaxing on our couch, catching up on my reading. What will we eat? The leftover squash and sprouts, to be sure, and I must have stuffing and maybe some mashed potatoes for Isaac (I’ve got my eye on this recipe, I bet the color is amazing).

Maybe we’ll have turkey, it all depends on today’s trip to the greenmarket. I know I’ll have turkey this weekend when I head Upstate for a slightly delayed turkey fest with the whole family, so I’m not all that stressed about it.

Or maybe I’ll just buy some more pork. The pilgrims had pigs didn’t they? No, apparently they did not. Poor pilgrims.

Something Good To Eat

15 Nov

“Welcome to Camp Chaos!” I chirped.

NoHo Door, Of special note, the N is on the southside and the S is on the northside

I was up to my elbows in dough and there was a halo of steam around my forehead. Isaac was home at least a half an hour earlier than I had expected him and I was running about a half an hour behind. The timing was actually perfect, I was able to finish up my kneading while he unpacked.

He was back from visiting his family for Western Orthodox Christmas. He’d given one of his sisters the New Book Of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden and so, as a treat, he whipped up lamb in yoghurt sauce and basmati rice for a light, traditional Colorado Christmas dinner. It went over gangbusters but was a bit of a gutbuster and so he was quite relieved to learn that all of the bubbling and simmering and kneading was not in fact preparation for some arcane Medieval feast reenactment, but rather for a nice, light bean and kale soup with freshly baked bread.

The Old Police HQ, NoLita

I was at first tempted to try this absolutley ridiculously good looking pork loin Luisa whipped up last week, but alas, by the time I made it to my old greenmarket stomping grounds at Tompkins Square, the pork guy was all out of pork. “What have you got left?” I pleaded. “Welllllll… I’ve got a few chicken parts… Some livers, some wings, a few necks and quite a few feet!” “Ah, I guess you’ve made my decision for me,” I replied, “I’d been torn between making a roasted pork loin and chicken soup!” So I bought some feet and wings, a few onions and lots of kale and headed home.

Bloomberg Building, Le Cirque is to the left

I do some of my best thinking just before drifting off to sleep (I’m also a champ at brainstorming in the shower), the challenge is remembering my great idea the next morning. On Saturday night I was thinking about beans. But not just any beans. Christmas Limas. Big, beautiful speckled dried lima beans that Christina had sent me in trade a few months ago for a jar of Pepi Pep Peps. In the note she sent with the beans, Christina warned that they take quite a bit more time soaking and cooking than smaller dried beans, and so I was thinking about this while falling asleep, and just then, right on the edge, I thought of a solution. The yogotherm.

The yogotherm came into our house as part of the cheesemaking kit I bought Isaac for his birthday. It’s a little plastic bucket with a lid, that slides into a styrofoam sleeve which sits inside a pretty plastic container with cows on it. Not the most environmentally responsible thing I own, but unlike other yogurt makers, it doesn’t need electricity. In cheesemaking the yogotherm keeps cultured milk warm while the cultures do their thing and make cheese, yogurt, kefir and all manner of delightful things. And so I figured, if it can make me cheese, why on earth couldn’t it make me beans?

Bryant Park Sheep

I rinsed my beans and popped them into a ziptop bag filled with warmish (probably around 100°F) water, stuck the bag in the bucket and closed up the contraption. By the time I got home 5 hours later, the beans were absolutely perfect. I have discovered something huge in bean cookery! Hear that Steve? My gigantic Christmas Limas only took an hour to cook after their yogotherm soaking. I feel like I’ve really contributed something to the culinary landscape with this.

The Old West Village Jail

To the beans I added lacinato kale and green mustard greens (thanks for the idea Toni) and a few ladles of stock. It’s the most aromatic stock I’ve ever made. I decided to forego my traditional recipe in favor of something a bit gutsier; a base of fennel, parsnips, bay leaves and thyme. I’ll definitely make this again, but there’s one thing I will not repeat.

Cooking with chicken feet. Ugh. Mine had some of the weird foamy skin still clinging to them, which skeeved me out, and then, as you’re cooking, they poke out of the liquid, looking like something that should be in the pot of Macbeth’s witches. Yes, they make good stock, but, oh man, no, not again. No more chicken feet.

Lacinato Kale

So we sat down to nice, piping hot bowls of soup with a “baguette” I had baked. I say “baguette” because this loaf was as French as EuroDisney. I followed Judith Jones‘ recipe from The Tenth Muse, but, not having a stand mixer I kneaded the loaves by hand for, oh, maybe 30 minutes? The bread has a nice crumb, but teeny tiny holes. I was hoping that the long kneading would produce enough gluten to support nice big airy holes, but alas. I actually think I may have kneaded it too much. I guess this just means I’ll have to buy myself a stand mixer for Christmas (unless someone buys me one beforehand, hint, hint…).

Western Orthodox Christmas Beans & Greens Soup

The soup was delightful. Christmas Limas get their name because to some, they taste like chestnuts, and chestnuts are associated with, well, Christmas! If you cook them to just the right consistency, you can squish the bean against the roof of your mouth, and as Christina puts it the, “inside of the bean squirts out like mashed potatoes.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Head below the jump for the recipes for Aromatic Stock and Western Orthodox Christmas Soup.

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12 Nov

Sometimes I feel like the entire city is conspiring against me in some giant act of karmic re-balancing.

Jeff Koons sculpture outside Christie's

Thursday night, after a delightful dinner full of delicious food and laughter at a friend’s apartment, I was walking to the subway when I was very nearly run over by a van while crossing the street (in a crosswalk, with the light). The guy didn’t have his lights on, and I’m not sure if it was my scream, another woman’s scream or a car honking it’s horn, but the driver finally snapped to and skidded to a stop with this much room to spare. The exhaust on my shins felt like dragon’s breath, my heart was in my mouth and I was sprawled across the van’s hood. I looked up at the driver. He crossed himself, and then made a motion shooing me off his hood. I brushed myself off and carried on. When I got home I poured myself a nip of whiskey and had a terrible night’s sleep.

Filipino church in NoLita

I woke up angry. Angry at the guy that tried to kill me. Angry at the city for letting this happen. Angry that I had to go to work. But I made it through to Saturday and was more than rewarded for the effort.

Everything I did, every interaction I had, was straight out of Metropolitan Diary.

Rockefeller Center

Dear Diary:

My boyfriend was out of town on Saturday so I indulged in my favorite single-girl breakfast; the pickle plate and pork neck ramen at Momofuku. As I sat at the newly expansive counter, watching the chefs and reading the paper, I finally learned the secret of their perfect eggs; they’re steamed in ramekins. This alone would have made the visit noteworthy, but as I was reveling in this knowledge, the woman next to me leaned over and asked what I was eating.

The pickle plate I said, it’s delightful! You must try it! And so she turned to her husband and hailed their waitress and a few minutes later their pickle plate appeared. I’m not sure they loved it as much as I do, but the she turned to me again. “Do you know what they’re making there?” I look at the grill in front of me and say with full confidence, “That’s the rice cakes. They’re served in a spicy Korean sauce.” And so she hailed the waitress again, placed her order and turned back to me, “Oh, you must share them with us!”

I was stunned. I’ve never met a stranger that would share the food off her plate with me. And so we talked and laughed and shared the rice cakes and then parted ways. They headed back to North Carolina, I headed uptown with a renewed faith in humanity.

Herald Square Park

Dear Diary:

I found myself in Herald Square Park contemplating the monument to James Gordon Bennet, founder of the now defunct newspaper, the Herald. It’s a stunning piece, Athena with her arm outstretched, her owl and two bell-ringers, Stuff and Guff, forever preparing for the next hour. But my favorite part is the inscription:

A memorial to James Gordon Bennett (1795-1872) Founder of the New York Herald in 1835 And to his son James Gordon Bennett (1841-1918) Through whose visions and enterprise the New York Herald became one of the world’s great newspapers.

I stood there contemplating the hubris of the inscription when an older gentleman came up beside me and said with a wink, “Must nottabeen so great a newspaper after all, eh?”

My feet, in Macy's

Dear Diary:

On the N train one recent weekend evening from Manhattan back home to Brooklyn, I sat across the aisle from a bespectacled, scholarly looking gentleman and his adorable Chihuahua. Everyone in the car was smitten with the dog. He was a brave Chihuahua, not a quivering mass of nerves that one more commonly sees. He sat on the gentleman’s knees surveying the crowd who were all staring back, adoringly, at him.

Somewhere downtown a family with a young girl got on the train. She was instantly taken with the dog. She waved at him and made faces and little cooing noises at him. Finally, the seat next to the gentleman opened up and he motioned for her to sit down and then told her it was okay to pet the Chihuahua.

At first she wasn’t sure what to do, and kind of robotically tapped the dog on the head, who took it in stride. This was obviously not the first child that had patted him before! The gentleman showed the girl how to pet the dog, to stroke his coat in the correct direction, to not hit him too hard. By the time we made it into Brooklyn, both girl and dog were as happy and content as could be. Who knew that petting a dog wasn’t an innate behavior!

Empire State Building

And that was my day. I returned home with a happy heart. I was in love with the city again, and hungry. David Chang’s noodles are spectacular, but there’s no way they can sustain a body for eight hours of walking in the cold, fighting the seething crowds of tourists.

Skating in Bryant Park

I whipped up a pesto of dried tomatoes from my mother’s garden, full of cheese and garlic, and a balsamic and red wine reduction to balance out the bright acidity of the tomatoes. (Yes, yes, I hear the gasps of disbelief… Balsamic reduction? But that’s so, 1987! Yes, I know, but sometimes in our haste to judge we forget that something can be delicious). At the Food Emporium under the 59th Street Bridge, I found this Creste di Gallo pasta. It was the perfect shape, crenellated and humorous.

Presto Tomato Pesto & Pasta

I sat in our big armchair, humming softly to myself while I ate, the picture of contentment. The city had redeemed itself. It had knocked me down, but then it raised me back up.

Head below the jump for the recipe for Presto Tomato Pesto & Pasta.

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