Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Phone Call Two Days Before Thanksgiving

Chef: Hello, Erica! What are you doing? Want to do a little Thanksgiving cooking and prep?

Me: Er, I'd love to. But I just got to the gym.

Chef: I see how it is. You're choosing the gym over Thanksgiving. Where are your priorities?

Me: Um, well, not really. I love Thanksgiving. I plan to have five slices of pie on Thursday. So I'm at the gym now.

And that is how I committed myself to five slices of pie.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Three More

All the Presidents' Pastries: Twenty-Five Years in the White House
Roland Mesnier

If reading elaborate descriptions of desserts served at state dinners is your thing, this is your book. I was particularly intrigued by the author's collection of ice cream molds and found the photos in that department rather lacking. In fact, what I missed most about this book were photos, because they were few, and my mind couldn't keep up with the lists of ingredients and components of each dessert creation. I also wonder if some of the stiffness of the language was a consequence of translation. While I laughed, it was more about the situations and less about the language. The vignettes were inconsistent in their degree of connectedness and humor and my mind wandered quite a lot while reading. I did however, find myself consistently craving pastries.

Candyfreak: A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America
Steve Almond

Oh happiness! I never knew candies were so regional. I read this right before Halloween to get in the spirit of the holiday. I also bought no Halloween candy this year, which probably would be a great disappointment to the author if he knew, since his devotion to candy is so complete and all consuming. I loved this book, down to its size and shape, the funny lettering on its spine, but mostly, because the talk was of enrobers and factory tours and sometimes awful sounding candies, but it's a story with both humor and heart.

Kitchen Con: Writing on the Restaurant Racket
Trevor White

Why did I read this entire book? Within fifty pages I realized that if I finished the book it would be out of some sense of inertia. There was no argument at all, or alternately too many arguments. Just when I thought I'd toss the book away something fun would appear, but mostly this is a tame read with little in the way of humor and much in the way of choppy language. I should have judged this book by its cover.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Passion fruit yogurt at the local grocery store! The flavor is a bit more sweet than tangy. What's really missing though, are the delightfully crunchy passion fruit seeds, but I'll take what i can get of this fine flavor. Yum!

Friday, November 16, 2007


A bad bagel in New York. Fluffy and doughy. Ugh.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

An Apprentice Still

After we'd brainstormed Thanksgiving Pies, Chef and I got into a debate about cheffing duties. I always maintain that Thanksgiving is a collaborative process. As an apprentice, I've been learning about all the Thanksgiving dishes at once. But Chef decided it was time to test my knowledge and see if I'd made any progress. And so, in the middle of dinner, just after I'd taken another delicious bite of linguine and duck confit, the question came, "How do you make the stuffing?" Since this is a super secret family recipe, my first thought was, "We're in a public place. If I recite the recipe, anyone else could hear it and the secret might not be a secret anymore." Than again, it was so loud, and people were so engrossed in their oversized bowls of (delightful) french fries, I decided it was probably safe to proceed. With a few hiccups here and there and a few telltale raised eyebrows on Chef's part, I managed to narrate the process of making the stuffing. So I think it's mine to make this year. An apprentice still, but officially tasked with one dish.

Friday, November 09, 2007

When it's November

You know the hot topic must be Thanksgiving. At dinner with Chef and Baker the other night, we first contemplated the pies. Well, first, we called and invited people to Thanksgiving dinner, in the middle of our dinner. It seemed only fair to make pie selections based upon the guests.

The contenders:
Pecan Pie
Crazy Custard Pie
Apple Pie
Banana Cream Pie
Indian Pudding
Cranberry Nut Pudding
Mincemeat Pie
Pumpkin Pie.

Did I mention we're currently a party of 7?