Search results for 'couscous'

An Upper West Side Story

23 Apr

I think I’m in love.

Of course, I’ve thought I was in love before.  But it was never for real.  When I first moved to New York, I thought I loved the Lower East Side.  But it was too hard.  Too noisy.  And after 9/11, too fraught with memory.  We needed some time apart.

So I moved to Brooklyn.  Where I thought I was in love again.  But when I lost my job, the herd of toddlers living above me who treated the hallway above where I slept as their own personal playground and enjoyed flooding their bathtub so that it would rain down into my bathroom became too much.  I fell out of love.  I just couldn’t take it.

So I moved to Park Slope.  I thought I loved Park Slope, but what I really loved was the park.  I didn’t love the neighborhood.  My feelings about my neighbors can be illustrated with a single anecdote.  I was walking to the subway one morning, behind a gentleman in a suit, when a child on a tricycle zoomed past, nearly knocking me onto a stoop.  The child smashed into the gentleman, the tricycle’s tire riding up his pants leg, smearing it with mud.  The child’s mother ran up to him and screamed into his face, “Jesus Christ, why don’t you watch were you’re f*cking going!”  I wasn’t in love with Park Slope.

So I moved to Cobble Hill.  I did love Cobble Hill.  And I loved the apartment I was in.  But I didn’t love my roommate or the landlord who lived below us with his wife and two boys who felt our apartment was an extension of their apartment.  They would just barge in at any time and make themselves at home.  And their father often did the same thing.  It was creepy and I already had a man in my life, so I decided to move in with him.

It’s amazing I ever agreed to move here. Find out why after the jump.

Snow Birds

11 Jan

For a minute there, I almost believed that winter had forgotten about us up here.

Isaacs lavendar yesterday.

Isaac's lavender yesterday.

Isaacs Lavendar Today

Isaac's lavender today

I was watching the status updates on facebook of my friends down in the city: Playing in the snow in Brooklyn! Cozy inside watching the snow fall.  Snowball fight!

And we were up here, in the great snowy north, with no new snow.  It was mystifying.

And then, as soon as I dared to mention something to Isaac, oh?  What’s that?  A flake.  Followed by another and another.  By the time we got home from the grocery store, it was snowing in earnest.

Click here for more Snow Birds.

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!

Bakey, Bakey

22 Oct

Did you know that Ace Frehely recorded a disco-era paean to New York City?

The Brooklyn Bridge

It’s a giddy, stompy, bizzarly addictive nugget of shuffling guitar-driven goodness. And some kid named Davey decided to load it onto his iPod and listen to it while dancing around on the Brooklyn Bridge on a heart-achingly beautiful New York city day, complete with backup dancers. Don’t believe me? Click here.

Why do I mention this? Because, well, much like Ace, I feel like I’m back in the N.Y. Groove.

Grand Central Terminal

I had a wonderful weekend with my aunt and cousin. We had a beer on Stone Street, walked over the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset (if you can’t stand the swarms may I recommend you try the other bridge) and ate dinner at La Maisson du Couscous, possibly the best restaurant in Bay Ridge, and definitely worth the trip from anywhere.

Grand Central Terminal

On Sunday morning, bright and early, I bounced around the house organizing and planning. We were heading to the Bronx to see the chrysanthemums and I had to get everyone rounded up and to Grand Central in time to catch the proper train. I sent text messages and left voice mails, I kissed the Boy and left him with a few minor errands to run and then I jumped on the train.

City Hall Fountain

The MTA, for once, was voluminously accommodating in getting me to my destination. I got to Grand Central with almost half an hour to spare, so I got a coffee and wandered around taking pictures, relishing the opportunity to be a tourist in my own town for once. And then I waited, and waited, and waited.

City Hall Fountain

The train had been gone for quite some time when I got the call, we weren’t going to the Bronx after all. Instead we strolled around lower Manhattan and laughed and ate and laughed some more. By the time they left I felt revived, revitalized, more in love with New York than ever and ready to get back into the groove.

The Woolworth Building

When I got home the Boy had two quince roasting in the oven. The house smelled amazing: Flowery, delicate, perfumed with that aroma only a baking quince can release. After a quick kip on the couch I was back in the kitchen chopping and dicing and ecstatic to be there.

The Woolworth Building

I roasted a huge bulb of fennel with a lemon. I pulled smoked turkey meat off of a slippery, cold leg. And then I squished and baked and tossed my way into one of the most exquisite dinners to come out of our kitchen in a very long time. The smoked turkey meat, mixed with golden onions and spices were stuffed into the quince, and the roasted fennel was tossed with radicchio, onions, chiles, mint and fennel fronds and dressed with the roasted lemon juice.

Battery Park Ducks

I never could have come up with these combinations on my own. The quince are supposed to be stuffed with lamb, but the Boy had picked up the turkey legs at the greenmarket. The combination of sweet and smoky sounded appealing, so I used them instead.

Smoky Stuffed Quince

And the salad? A true team effort. He wanted the fennel thinly shaved and tossed with the radicchio and mint. I wanted it roasted. So we did both. An utterly perfect salad, born out of compromise.

Roasted Fennel & Lemon, Radicchio, Chile & Mint Salad

And so I’m back, back in the N.Y. groove. It only took a little stepping outside of it to get back into it.

Head below the jump for the recipes for Smoky Stuffed Quince and Fall’s Perfect Salad.

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Easy Cheese

13 Sep

“Next time, I’d like some herbs in mine.”

Park Slope Roof Deck Insanity

That’s what I think I heard my boss mumble over the symphony of oohing, aahing, lipsmacking and marriage proposals emanating from a group of my co-workers who were huddled around my friend’s cubicle, snacking on a small button of chevre that I’d brought in for them yesterday.

My co-workers love cheese as much, if not more, than the general human population, but they wouldn’t go this gaga over just any goat cheese I’d purchased from the Greenmarket. No, I’d brought in some of the chevre the Boy and I had made last weekend.

It was nice to bask in their praise. My job is pivotal, but oftentimes thankless. If I do it right, no one should ever have to think about me, but when something goes wrong, wham, there I am, directly in the line of fire. So it was nice to bask in their adoration for a few minutes, especially since it was barely warranted.

Park Slope Roof Deck Insanity

How could my well-earned moment of idolatry be unwarranted? Because making chevre is so easy. The hardest part is finding the milk.

I started with my favorite goat cheese lady at the Greenmarket, but alas, the state of New York has a set of prohibitively expensive regulations that forbids her and many other small goat farmers to bottle their milk. I guess that’s why you see so many people selling goat’s cheeses and products at the greenmarkets, but no milk. Sigh.

I finally tracked down some half-gallons at Whole Foods. Each one was about $7, but one jug made more than a pound of cheese. If a 4 oz. Medallion of Coach Farm’s chevre is $6 at Fresh Direct, and there’s 16 ozs. in a pound, that’s $24, subtract the price of the milk and $1 for the culture packet, and… What? Hello! A savings of $16! I’d say that’s a good result!

So, if making your own goat’s cheese is both cost effective and easy, why does no one tell us this when we first earn our foodie stripes? Bah! It’s a conspiracy I tell you! If they let on to how easy it is we’d never pay a premium for it.

So, how easy is it to make your own chevre? Allow me to explain.

Carroll Gardens Rowhouse

Once the milk was procured, it rode the subway home with me, where one half gallon was dumped immediately into a large non-reactive pot and brought up to 86°F. We added a packet of starter culture, stirred well and then poured the inoculated milk into a Tupperwear container that it sat in overnight and got all good and goaty. The next morning we strained the curds, let them drip for a few hours, salted them and packed the cheese into molds. And then we were done.

Et voila, that’s it. That’s all there is to making chevre at home!

With the other half-gallon I made some goat’s milk feta. This was a little more complicated (but not much) and is still brining in the fridge. I did learn one very important lesson while making my feta. If you make your own cheese and use rennet, do not use municipal water supply water to dissolve the rennet. It will kill it. I found this out the hard way. Now you have been warned.

Yep, getting the mail out of the mailbox is more strenuous than making goat cheese!

Homemade Chevre

Sure there’s some more complicated ones in our future, like a fresh French style cheese that needs a starter culture that must be cultivated, much like a poolish. Aside from time and the need to, say, maybe purchase a mini wine fridge in which to age cheeses and a few packets of mold, making cheese at home is silly easy and easy on the wallet.

The preconception that making your own cheese is difficult and expensive must be another one of those myths hoisted upon us by the agribusiness giants. They’ve convinced us that making bread takes too much time and isn’t worth it (wrong), and that beans from cans are easier and better (wrong), and that couscous is supposed to be sticky and gross (wrong), and that biscuits are supposed to pop out of a cardboard tube (so very wrong) and that cheese should be bright orange and individually wrapped. Wrongwrongwrongwrongwrong.

Homemade Chevre

Commodities prices are skyrocketing due to a complicated, global game of Risk that’s inflating the prices of commercially manufactured milk, cereal and bread. Heck, it’s gotten so bad that the Italians have called for a pasta strike. But the price of milk from a cow, sheep or goat that grazes on grass probably hasn’t gone up a dollar.

So get out there my fellow foodies! Do your part to fight global warming, our dependence on Middle Eastern oil and support a local farmer all in one fell swoop. Make your own cheese!

P.S. Sorry the pictures aren’t better, cheese is really hard to photograph.