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Our Alter Egos
Our Alter Egos (Photo credit: Tracy Rowan)

I don't know if I mentioned it here, but I've started a new blog.  I share this one with Glinda North, and it's called "Those 2 Nice Girls Next Door."  Why?  It's a complex story and has to do with the things we talked about when we were contemplating our move, searching for a house and all the rest.  We joked that people would probably not remember our names and would call us "Those two nice girls next door" or something similar.  So when we were sitting together having coffee a bit ago, Glinda suggested that we start a blog with that title and talk about our life here.  How we got here, what we think of the arrangement, the house, our lives and so on.  I thought it was a terrific idea and set up a blog, which I'm currently monopolizing because she's been so over-worked lately.  When my quarterly calls start in a week or two, she's going to have to take up some of the slack.  It was her idea after all.  Fair warning: Right now we're obsessed with the garden and probably will be so pretty much through June.  Spring is always our most active time out there, so many of the posts are going to be garden-related.

Amber and Green beaded braceletThe other thing we plan to do is open an Etsy shop with that name.  We're both crafters and it would not only do us good to earn a bit of money, but I think it would be good for us to have that outlet.  (The bracelet to the right is one of mine, I sold it under the name "Belle Epoque Originals.")

We need to clean up the basement first, and set up the Art Box I won.  God knows when that will happen.  There never seems to be enough hours in the day.

I've been working on "Winter Rose" aka, "The Russian Novel" and "The Time Travel Novel."  It's coming along slowly but the characters drag their feet abysmally.  And today I decided that I was going to... not rewrite an old novel, exactly, but revisit it.  Many years ago, around 1980 or so, I wrote a novel called "Cat Tales," and I've been thinking seriously about taking some of the original ideas and developing them into something different.  I won't be reselling an old story, just cannibalizing the best of it to make something new.

The Pantry Project is still ongoing.  I'm not doing as well as I'd hoped I would be by now, but we're eating better and wasting less.  I cook more often and we're eating less meat and ordering out less.  I can't expect habits to change overnight or even in a year, really.  Not when they're this ingrained. I want to get back to trying new things.  Tonight we had Hasselback potatoes for the first time.  They were very successful, though the mess in the baking dish is scary.  And a trip to a new Sur la Table store on Saturday ended with me buying avocado oil for our salads.  We are trying new things.

The cats are great.  Leo is having a lot of asthma problems since I started using a supposedly asthma-friendly clay litter, so we're going back to cedar.  And Peeb seems to be not having a lot of 'sodes since I plugged in the Feliway. I don't think to ask for miracles.

So... new and old, and old made new again.  We work with what life gives us.

 

New leaf?

Nov. 13th, 2012 12:41 am
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English: Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris) with vari...

English: Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris) with variously colored stems on sale at an outdoor farmers’ market in Rochester, Minnesota (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So the pantry project is ongoing, but just lately Glinda and I have started talking quite seriously about how badly we tend to eat.  To that end, we’ve made a couple of pacts:  First we said salad once a week, minimum.  By which we meant dinner salad.  This was a good decision but badly thought out because it’s gotten cold here and the last thing we want for dinner is a cold salad.  Tonight we agreed that a heavily vegetable-based meal would do as well in the cold months.  Of course we agreed this while eating a perfectly delicious meal of a half of a (large) sweet potato each, some freshly roasted chicken with lemon zest, curry powder and garlic, and a fantastic kale salad that was pretty much the same as my Swiss chard with lemon and ginger except served cold, not hot like the chard.  When you can eat things that taste so good, eating better is not a hardship.

The other pact?  Fish at least once a month.  We made that agreement over a month ago and tomorrow night will be our first proper fish meal since I don’t count tuna casseroles.  I suppose I could or should, but I don’t.  Glinda’s cooking, YAYZ!

It’s all well and good to make promises like that but going at it rather haphazardly is a recipe for disaster (Forgive the pun. Normally I’m not given to them, but sometimes they race up and whap you over the head.)  So after having experimented with about a week of making a to-do list every day, I observed, over coffee on Saturday, that we really should try mapping out a week’s worth of menus.  Since we were going shopping on Sunday, we could decide what we wanted to make and then make a shopping list too.  I mean, this is what real people do, right?  Grown-ups.

So we talked about it for a while, and came up with the following:

  • Saturday: Tuna noodle casserole.  It was already planned so not a big stretch.
  • Sunday: Butter chicken.  Glinda makes a great butter chicken curry.
  • Monday: Sweet potato with kale.  Alas, I lost track of the recipe I wanted to use so I had to improvise.  The reason there was chicken was that we went to the meat dept. of Whole Paycheck and got a roasting chicken and a rump roast.  Why there?  Well, if we’re going to eat meat at all, and we both still do, we would at least like to make healthier and more humane choices.  We’re willing to pay more for that, but then it becomes all the more imperative that we make good use of what we buy.  So… wait, what was I saying?  Oh yeah, the chicken.  We got a roaster and I cooked it this afternoon.  I figured we’d have some with dinner, and then I’d cut the rest of the meat off the carcass and use it for chicken a la king at a later date (It’s in the freezer now.) The carcass is in the slow cooker with six cups of broth and some herbs.  It’ll be ready some time tomorrow morning.  This is spreading the cost of the $10 chicken out across at least three meals and possibly four or five.  Yes, it’d be even cheaper from some other source but like I said we’re paying for our principles.  Oh yeah and we’re collecting drippings for the Thanksgiving gravy because Glinda’s sister, Laurie is The Gravy Master and uses all sorts of drippings in her masterpiece.
  • Tuesday is fish and veg.  Glinda is in charge.  I’m really looking forward to it.
  • Wednesday is what my friend, Gwen, used to call “Choice day.”  You take what’s in the fridge or you fend for yourself.
  • I’m excited about Thursday because I’ll be making some jumbo shell pasta stuffed with a chard and ricotta mixture and baked in homemade marinara from our neighbor, Linda.  How many times can I say that we have the best neighbors on earth before everyone tells me to shut up?
  • Friday I’m going to be making a rump roast the way Mom used to.  I have some serious trepidation about this because Mom was one of the best cooks I ever knew, and also I’ve never made this by myself.  Good thoughts will be appreciated.  If all goes well, we’ll get at least three meals out of the roast, and probably more.  I’m looking forward to a hot beef sandwich, and finally to making up a beef pot pie and freezing it for later.
Shakshuka

Shakshuka (Photo credit: Pabo76)

I honestly have no clue what we’ll do over the weekend, but I am beginning to have a freezer full of useful stuff.  And I’ve been wanting to make shakshuka, a savory bread pudding, and matzoh soup, all of which I can do with what’s in the house, so I’m feeling kind of good about our choices, how I’m starting to shop and the way I’m beginning to think about food.

Why am I writing all this?  Because I’m starting to feel that it’s really possible to change the way we do things if we just pay attention to how we think about those things. I know I’m not going to accomplish a complete 180 and make my life perfect overnight.  Doubt it’ll be perfect ever, but I can keep on trying.

So this weekend, we’ll sit down and talk about what’s for dinner next week.  And it should become a habit. And when it does, we’ll be one step closer to eating better and saving money.  I don’t think you can argue with that outcome.

For anyone who is interested in the recipes that informed what I’ve been cooking lately, here’s a partial list.  If you know me at all you know I consider recipes to be nice suggestions.


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Three entries?  Three??  What the heck happened to the competitive spirit?  Or cookie fanaticism? *tsk* Well fine.

I got three suggestions for additions to my breakfast cookie and I liked them all.  If I’d gotten twenty, even a dozen, choosing a winner might’ve been simple, but with three really interesting choices, I’m sort of in a quandary.

Parhelion suggested cardamom and cashew with a bit of citrus, and I really liked the idea.  I’m not a big cashew fan but with the cardamom and particularly the citrus, I think I’d like this cookie very much.

Judymoe, who doesn’t consider herself any sort of foodie, made what I thought was a really interesting suggestion, and one I’d never even considered before: lavender.  Now I can’t stop thinking about it, and I know I’m going to try using it in a batch.

And NamasteNancy suggested: walnuts, coconut to taste and sun dried cranberries.  She was actually a bit more specific about her amounts, and this sounded like a really tantalizing cookie, particularly as I love all three ingredients.

What to do, what to do?  My first thought was to let Peeb decide.  I put three balls on the floor with the names of each of the entrants.  I figured that she’d choose one to play with and that would be the winner.  This is what happened:

Sleepy Girl

Clearly Miss Peeb cares nothing for cookies or reading.

So what I just did was assign a code name to each entrant — Grim, Dave, Rafe; all characters from the novella — and asked Glinda North to choose one without telling her why.  She chose Grim, and in doing so, chose Judymoe!

Miss Judy, you will be receiving your copy of Devil in the Details tonight or tomorrow.  Congrats!  Thanks to Parhelion and NamasteNancy for playing.  The rest of you suck. No, you don’t suck, not really.  But I was hoping for a metric fucktonne of ideas to carry me through the winter.

Oh and when I try the combos you three suggested, I will post the results here!  Thanks again.

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I finally figured out how to use this new web builder program… after a fashion.  At least enough to get my author site updated.  I’ll continue to work on it, of course.  It’s sloppy not to keep it somewhat fresh, especially since I shut down my author Facebook this week.  (Facebook’s new pay-to-play policy on posts.  I don’t think so!)

English: Standard ingredients of chocolate-chi...

Anyway, tomorrow Devil in the Details is being released, and it’s time for a contest!  Now a lot of you will remember my infamous Breakfast Cookies, aka Never Twice the Same Cookie, so called because what I put into the basic batter is always different. Always.  Sometimes it’s several different types of dried fruit, other times its a mix of chopped nuts.  I’ve used cocoa nibs, crystallized ginger, garam masala… you name it, I’ve probably tried it.  Sometimes the magic works and sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s always an adventure.  I’ve posted the recipe a couple of times and I’m reliably informed that the cookies are always a big hit.  They also play a part in the seduction of my hero.  Oh yes, Rafe can be had for a couple of these cookies, though he wouldn’t actually admit it.

So here’s the deal: I’m going to publish the ingredient list for the basic cookie below.  What I want from you lot is your ideal NTtSC cookie.  Tell me what you would add to it to make it the cookie of your dreams.  Peanut butter?  Cocoa powder?  Rose water? Yogurt? Ground beef? (Yeah that would be a hard sell, but maybe you could convince me.)  I’m going to pick the cookie ingredient list that sounds the best — and most likely to succeed — and award a copy of Devil in the Details to the hedonistic cookie lover who thought it up.

So here’s the basic ingredient list:

1 1/2 cups butter
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
4 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
5 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

You don’t have to give me quantities; the only reason I include them above is that it will give you a bit of an idea of what the cookie is like. (For non-bakers, it’s a big, soft, almost cakelike cookie.)  Just tell me what you’d mix in.  Spices, maybe herbs? (I love basil with chocolate!), fruit, dried or fresh; nuts, nut butters, some form of chocolate, flavoring agents… seriously, people, knock yourselves out.  What blows your skirt up, cookiewise?

I will give you until 6 p.m. central time Monday to come up with your grand creation.  I will announce the winner either on Monday night or Tuesday morning.  And I may just use your ideas to make my next batch of cookies!

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Me, Ashley and a potato, about 1990

Me, Ashley and a potato

Temperature is headed back up so I made an executive decision that tonight’s dinner is going to be new potatoes with dill (steamed in the microwave) and a raw zucchini salad.  Potatoes are washed and ready to cook, zucchini is sliced and salted.  The hardest thing I’ll have to do is go out and snip some dill from the garden.  What a trial! The Dover sole is going to have to wait until I feel like baking or sauteing it.  But it’s no big, Glinda and I can make a meal out of veggies very happily.  And there will be dessert.  And wine.

Cover of "People Will Talk"

Cover of People Will Talk

So just now I was having some lunch and I managed to forget that I’d already opened my can of V8.  As I picked it up, I shook it.  Yeah.  Now in my defense I have to say that I’m still a little groggy.  I had a nap earlier, during which I had one of the oddest dreams ever.  I’d been watching “People Will Talk” which is easily my favorite Cary Grant film, and fell asleep with it on. So I started dreaming that I was watching a favorite TV show and that they were doing a salute to this film by using the dialogue over the show’s action.  But the show itself was about a married couple both of whom needed CPAP machines, and who went out to buy them at a clothing store, where the wife was trying on cocktail dresses.  I know what you’re going to say. Don’t bother.  My friends tell me all the time that it’s a really strange country inside my head, and days like this I believe them.

Changing direction now, I have to report that I put some of the blue toilet bowl cakes out in the garden yesterday and I checked four or five times during the evening, but didn’t see any rats.  This doesn’t necessarily mean anything, but it made me happy, even though the entire garden (and my back hallway which is where the rest of the tablets are right now) smells vaguely like a gas station bathroom.  For those of you just tuning in, toilet bowl tablets are offensive to rats, apparently.  I got that piece of information from one of the Streets and San people who were here to bait the alley a couple of weeks ago.

I also learned that vitamin D3 will kill rats.  It gives them heart attacks, according to the gal who talked about it on EveryBlock.  I’m not exactly sanguine about giving rats heart attacks, but I’d rather it was something relatively fast than the slow, icky death from the bait they use.  I asked her about other animals and she said it only does that to rats and bats, but I do know that D is a vitamin that builds up in the system and can cause harm even to humans.  I’ll have to give this more thought.  She also said that lime will kill them.  Again with the “who knew?”  Considering that a case of the plague just showed up in Oregon, I think caution really is called for.  Be careful out there.

And now I need to get back to Anna Magdalena which is chugging away in directions unexpected.  I’m terribly pleased.

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NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 30:  'Next Iron Chef'...

If Alton says it's okay it is!

So the pie… it’s good, but it’s not as good as I’d hoped for.  The fruit, particularly the plums, wasn’t as sweet and flavorful as I’d have wished.  As I tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to sugar, I never add more than is called for in the recipe and sometimes I add less.  While I added the full amount — one cup, which I thought was overdoing it a bit — the result was a little tart. *rimshot*  We’re keeping an eye on an elderly neighbor while her niece is out of town, and I meant to take her a slice, but Glinda suggested that it might be a bit puckery for her.  Fortunately I tend to like things that are sour, so I rather enjoyed it.  And the pastry was quite good.  It was a Pillsbury, refrigerated crust.  Hey, Alton Brown said store-bought pie crusts are fine, so I don’t feel a bit guilty using them.  I can make a homemade crust; I have, and it was quite good. I just prefer not to be bothered.

Tabbouleh

Tabbouleh (Photo credit: dronir)

Today I’m concentrating on salads, I guess.  I’ve got bulgur soaking for tabbouleh and quinoa cooking with curry powder.  Tabbouleh is pretty straightforward for me these days.  Bulgur, tomato (Can’t wait until I’m using our own tomatoes in this.), parsley, a little cilantro, olive oil and lemon juice.  I’ll probably add some chopped garlic scapes as long as I have them.  For the quinoa salad, I’ll be adding walnuts, snap peas, onion and diced apricots.  I’ll probably dress it with an apricot-curry vinaigrette.

Early girl tomatoes

Early girl tomatoes are (still too) early

French Breakfast Radishes

Fresh Picks should be here soon.  I managed to cadge some French breakfast radishes out of them again this week, and I’ve got a baguette coming, and a cheese-garlic spread from River Valley Ranch, so dinner is going to be really excellent tonight.  I’ll make some herbed butter for the radish sandwiches with either with Lake Shore Drive Seasoning or Sunny Paris Seasoning  from The Spice House. I’ll make up my mind at the last minute, I’m sure.  All in all, there’ll be some serious locavore action going on around here tonight.

I’m also planning to make a small batch of hummus today, but that’s by no means a sure thing.  I don’t have pita, but I do have a lot of different crackers and I’ll have a baguette later, which is really very good with hummus.  And the kicker is that none of this is really the type of thing I could take to our elderly neighbor and say  ”Bon appetit!” They’re really not her sort of things at all.  Maybe I’ll pull something together next week.

Coreopsis and rose

Coreopsis and rose (Photo credit: Tracy Rowan)

Glinda and I stayed inside last night and ordered a pizza.  She’d been home sick all day (I didn’t even realize until I heard someone walking around upstairs, freaked out, and phoned her.  She felt well enough to come down and watch Eureka (I say again, curse you SyFy, or whatever you’re calling yourself this week, for cancelling the best show you’ve got.) and eat pizza.  So when I was getting ready to close my back windows, I turned on the lights and the fountain briefly — I run the fountain for a few minutes each day to discourage mosquitoes from laying eggs in the water — and something that had been squeaking below the window, fled into the coreopsis.  So there I was at eleven-thirty yelling out my window “Dude, we’re going to have words about this!”  Not even rats take me seriously.

 

 

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The heat broke sometime last night after a couple of hot and humid days.  I opened my windows this morning and turned off the a/c.  Decided to make a pie because 1) I had all the fixings and 2) I couldn’t bake anything over the weekend, the a/c and washing machine were pulling too much juice; I started getting a lot of power fluctuations.

Strawberry Rhubarb pie

Looked good anyway (Photo credit: Tracy Rowan)

So today’s pie is a plum-strawberry-blackberry affair with cinnamon and cardamom.  It’s got cornstarch in the filling so I’m hoping it won’t be quite as soupy as the strawberry-rhubarb I made a week or so ago.  Last night I made leek-potato-garlic scape soup in the slow cooker because it runs on very little electricity and puts almost no heat out into the room.  I’m already planning Friday’s supper, a roasted pork belly, new potatoes with dill and zucchini salad extravaganza.  Cooler weather brings out the cook in me.  I’m going to be using herbs from the garden since they’re starting to look pickable.

Alas, we continue to have a rat problem.  Little ratty guys zoom across the patio when we’re out there, and linger there when we’re not.  I’m feeling kind of sorry for them because they’re fleeing all the work that’s being done on nearby streets, work that’s destroying their burrows.  Glinda’s not too sympathetic, but it makes me sad.  Not sad enough that I want them in the house or anything, but enough to make me philosophical. And then I worry about the bunnies.

We tried putting out coir soaked in peppermint oil which is said to be a potent repellent to them, but no joy.  Our next move will be ammonia or bleach.  We’ll also be caulking up the little open space where the concrete patio was taken out and the new pavers were laid.  Nobody ever plugged the gap, which is not big enough for rats, but it might be for mice. Might be.  We’ve got steel wool to use as filler and then a good exterior caulk.  Anything wants in, they’re going to have to get past both.

Sun pot corner

You have to admit it's a nice place for rats, too.

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To discourage seed predators, pulses contain t...

There's no point to doing this project unless I start digging down and using some of the less attractive stuff that's sitting in my pantry, by which I mean, food items that I look at and think, "What the hell was I thinking when I bought that?"  One of those things is a whole array of lentils.  I have a jar of green, half a jar of black and a metric fucktonne of red lentils.  I suppose I bought them during one of my bouts of "I'm going to get healthy/go vegan/be an earth mother" and the good thing is that they can sit there forever and not really suffer for it.  The bad thing is that they're always sitting there staring accusingly at me.

So this morning, I cooked up some lentils because I wanted to make a lentil salad.  I'd found a couple of interesting recipes on the internet and really wanted to give it a try.  I used green, red and black because I thought it'd be nice to have a multi-colored salad.  Yeah you lentil eaters know what I'm going to say. What I got out of the pot was a big, mushy glop of black lentils. So now I know to cook them for a shorter time and to NOT cook black lentils with anything else. They were too mushy for salad so I stirred them up with olive oil, lemon juice, a packet of dip mix from Wildwood Specialty Foods (Jalapeno-green chile) and some lemon-garlic marinade from The Spice House. Roasted, chopped walnuts and salt to taste, and I have a KILLER dip. I am not kidding when I say it was so good that I kept on eating way past where I should have stopped and now I'm regretting it. I also regret that I won't be able to reproduce it because that dip mix was from a store in the wilds of Wisconsin  (The Elegant Farmer; they make pies that are to die for.) and the company website is pretty unhelpful.

Well really, I shouldn't say I won't be able to reproduce it. I've got a list of what's in the mix:  onions, garlic, jalapeno pepper, green chili pepper, parsley and chives.   So I know it's an oniony mix, and that the amount of garlic in it wasn't enough to get the flavor I wanted so I'd need extra garlic in any event.  The peppers are easy as is the parsley, so I can probably get close with what I have in my spice cabinet.  This is a great thing because it's a pretty healthy dish, and also versatile.  I can use it as a dip, a spread, or mix it into broth for a soup.  I'm sure I'll think of other applications.

I also finally baked the tofu I'd been marinating for several weeks (not on purpose, I just got sidetracked) and it's really tasty. I marinated it in Litehouse sesame ginger salad dressing and baked it @ 350 for half an hour. Then I turned off the heat and let it sit. The result is that I have cubes of tofu with the consistency of soft caramel and a fantastic flavor. I've been snacking on them right out of the fridge.  I haven't been too nuts about the Litehouse line as dressings, but as marinades they're really very good.  I see they have a new cherry vinaigrette that looks tempting.

I expect I'm babbling on here about healthy food in part because I've been taking a lot of flak about my review of "The Blood Sugar Solution."  Now bear in mind that I gave the book four stars and said that I thought it was a valuable resource.  Apparently that's not good enough for the rah-rah brigade.  They're all over me because I suggested that 1) the process might be too expensive to jump into feet first and 2) that it might be too huge a change for many people, and perhaps a slower approach could bring people to the same point with less attrition.   Since the review went live two days ago I've been informed that anyone can do the program you just have to want to do it, with the unspoken implication that those who can't do it are somehow morally deficient and didn't want to from the get-go.  I've also been told that if you can afford a burger you can afford the program.  Leaving out the cost of the book for a moment, I would say that a $3 burger is vastly different from having to throw out all the food in your house and start over with only approved items.

So far I've been responding politely, though the last comment which accused me of pre-programming my own failure, got a snarky response.  But I have to admit I'm losing patience.  I don't consider haranguing to be valuable motivation.  If someone asks for your cheerleading, then by all means break out the pom-poms and the brass band.  I wrote a positive review which expressed some concerns.  I didn't say it was impossible, I didn't say not to try, I didn't say it could never work.  I said, take a moment to consider your needs and prioritize them.  Then approach the program with those priorities in mind, always intending to reach the point where you do spend those six weeks eating the way Dr. Hyman suggests.

On the plus side, 116 of 120 people thought my review was valuable to them.  That's only four people who didn't, the four presumably, who left comments.

And finally, on my way back from the garbage cans this afternoon, I noted that the garlic sprouts are starting to get quite tall.  That's exciting.  Our garlic was excellent last year and this year we'll be using garlic grown from garlic that we grew ourselves.  How cool is that?  I'm looking forward to the first scapes in late spring.  Glinda and I have been talking about the garden all winter, and one of the biggest thrills, for me at least, is seeing it start to come to life.  The chard is still coming up -- we have a local bunny who grazes on it -- and I see the first buds on the nectarine,which means it's time to get out there and prune.  The mint is sprouting along with all the bulbs, and the ferns never died back.  They're big and lush and green; even more so than they were in the fall.

Frankly, we didn't have much of a winter and that worries me, but at the same time I'm really looking forward to spring this year.    

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There are a lot of "vegetarians" out there these days. Some are vegan, which means they eat no animal products at all, including things like honey. Some are lacto-ovo vegetarians, meaning that they will eat dairy products, but no meat of any sort. Some vegetarians eat fish, and some people who call themselves vegetarian actually do eat meat occasionally. Most people are flexitarians which is really just another way of saying that they're omnivores, but trying to eat less meat. Mostly that's the camp I find myself in, and that's why I value good vegetarian cookbooks, which offer a variety of vegan and lacto-ovo choices so that I don't find myself thinking wistfully of a hunk of moo while choking down some rice and bean concoction studded with rubbery tofu.

I like "New Vegetarian" because there is a variety of recipes here. Many are vegan, and in fact all the desserts are since those who eat dairy products are unlikely to have to pass on any dessert. I have yet to see a pork truffle or chicken torte served as the final course of a meal (Though bacon is finding itself into chocolates. I remain skeptical.) Many of the recipes Asbell includes here are Asian-inspired, though that's hardly a surprise since most Asian cultures view meat as a condiment rather than a central focus of a meal. But inspiration comes from all over. The asparagus wrapped in phyllo and baked looks heavenly, as do the spinach empanadas. However I will also remain skeptical about the substitution of tofu for fresh mozzarella in a caprese salad. However as I still eat cheese, it's not an issue for me. And it's good to know that someone has thought of a vegan option. There are appetizers, soups, salads and main courses as well as the aforementioned desserts, giving the vegetarian user a wide variety of dishes to choose from.

Also included is a short primer on how to get protein on a vegetarian diet. (You need a lot less than you think you do.) and where your vitamins will come from. There's also a page of resources, just in case you can't find certain ingredients in your town.

It's not a dazzling but, but a good, solid resource for anyone who wants a bit more variety in their vegan/lacto-ovo diets. And frankly, it couldn't hurt some of you carnivores out there to give some of these recipes a try. You might even find you like eating less meat. Maybe.
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The sandwich is a creature born of convenience, and a certain amount of negligence, a Just-slap-it-on-a-slice-of-bread-and-I'm-outta-here mentality. So when someone comes along and raises the lowly sandwich to a work of art, it's worth a look. Tom Colicchio and Sisha Ortúzar have done just that with “'wichcraft” a beautiful book that takes sandwiches to a higher level.

The book is broken down by the sort of sandwich you might want to create: Breakfast, cold sandwiches which are particularly well-suited for lunches, and hot sandwiches which are heartier. There is also a section on sweet sandwiches which range from sandwich cookies to towers built of cake slices, ice cream and fruit. While there are some familiar sandwiches such as BLTs, most are either new takes on other dishes such as Salad Lyonnaise or very new concoctions such as the beer-braised beef short ribs with pickled vegetables, sharp cheddar and horseradish. There are also sections on sandwich information: The history of the sandwich, good sandwich architecture and so forth. There is even a section on the sandwich as a meal, and how less is more when it comes to piling the food on the plate. Excellent advice.

If I have a problem with this book, it's a minor one, but still worth discussing. Many of the sandwiches require a number of special ingredients. Now granted you can make many of these yourself; the recipes are included. But it almost pre-supposes that you're cooking for more than one or two people. And leftovers are often good for a week, which means you'll either be eating the same sandwich all week, or throwing a lot of relishes and garnishes out. I don't think this will keep many people from creating the sandwiches in the book, but it might mean they'll make them less often, or substitute other ingredients.

On the whole, though, I think that if you're a sandwich lover as I am, this book will set you to imagining all the amazing sandwiches you might whip up. It might provoke you to entertain more!

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Tracy Rowan

August 2013

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