Category Archives: food

Prose and soup

“Read at the level at which you want to write.” Jennifer Egan (brainpickings.org)

I couldn’t read Roth until I was older and now he is one of my favorite writers. I hope he never dies! I may have read this Zuckerman novel before (or maybe it just seems familiar because it takes place in the Berkshires where I was born and lived a good many years?) No matter, it’s worth a re-read.

Here’s a sentence: “My guess was that it would take even the fiercest Hun the better part of a winter to cross the glacial waterfalls and wind-blasted woods of those mountain wilds before he was able to reach the open edge of Lonoff’s hayfields, rush the rear storm door of the house, crash through the study, and, with spiked bludgeon wheeling high in the air above the little Olivetti, cry out in a roaring voice to the writer tapping out his twenty-seventh draft, ‘You must change your life!'”

Swoon.


Beef with barley soup for lunch after another frigid walk with the dog. And since K won’t be here for dinner, I’m not even cooking: a bowl of fruit, yogurt and sunflower seeds topped with honey from Charleston.


*thank you Mo for link on FB to the article.


Soup and salad


This shrimp, bean, and chicken sausage soup was delicious! Not only does it come together in a hurry, but most of the ingredients are stock pantry and fridge items, meaning it could become a regular in my weeknight lineup. If you’re like me, you keep onions, black beans, and boxed chicken stock in the pantry, as well as frozen shrimp and corn in the freezer. I very often have a four pack of chicken sausage in the cold cut drawer as well because they keep forever and are a good alternative to beef and pork. Cilantro was the only thing I might not have on hand, but thankfully, I did.



There are both black beans and white beans in this soup, but the starring role goes to the white beans — baby white limas. I went in search of these beans while still in SC after an outstanding lunch at Bertha’s Kitchen* in North Charleston. I gushed about the meal on Facebook and a former Charleston resident commented, “Go to Doscher’s Market.” (That would be Donna Hardy of Sea Island Indigo. She ran the workshop I attended in 2014).


Doscher’s Market is an IGA in West Ashley that’s been run by a German family for generations. Part of the secret to their success has been to cater to their customers, who are largely African American. One article I read noted, “there are smoked pig parts representing everything but the squeal”.**

While I looked for the dried beans, K wandered along the seemingly endless meat counter in curious amazement.

Here’s the recipe.

Shrimp, Sausage and Bean Soup
Serves 4

Night before: pour boiling water over one cup of baby white lima beans and leave to soak. While assembling the soup the next day, drain the beans and bring to a slow boil in about three cups of water. I did not add salt.

1/2 onion, chopped
2 chicken sausage, cut in quarter moons
1/2 T red pepper flakes
6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
28 ounce can diced tomatoes, with liquid
14 ounce can black beans, without liquid
one box organic chicken stock (if no homemade in the house)
1/4 c chopped cilantro for cooking, more for serving

Handful frozen shrimp
1 c frozen corn
And, if on hand, two cups cooked rice

S&P

Saute onions in olive oil, add salt, and once wilted, throw in sausage and red pepper flakes. Stir to coat. Add six or seven cloves of diced or smashed garlic, allow their aroma to rise (about 90 seconds), then pour in chicken stock, diced tomatoes (with juice) and black beans (without liquid). If white beans are done, add them as well. Because the delicious, soupy side dish that I had at Bertha’s Kitchen looked to contain bean cooking liquid, I included some here. I happened to have cooked white rice from the night before, so I added two big clumps. Smash to separate and then throw in cilantro, frozen corn, and frozen shrimp. Cook to heat through, roughly five minutes.

Serve. Add more fresh cilantro and salt and pepper to taste. If desired, add a few jazzes of hot sauce. I poured my husband’s soup over toasted and buttered, homemade cornbread. With two kinds of beans plus rice and corn in the soup, that’s a little bit of carbo overkill, but not enough to render the dish unhealthy. Mine, I ate as is and it was very good and just as good the next day!

Now on to a spectacular lobster salad. If the soup belongs in the realm of week night cuisine, this one is for special occasions. A friend who parked her car in our driveway for two consecutive weekends brought us a container of cooked lobster as a thank you (she’s from Maine). That container was crammed full with SIX lobster tails. Oh man!

Lobster Salad 

1/3 c chopped red onion
1/2 T fennel
Put these two ingredients in a bowl and cover with boiled water. Soak while assembling the rest of salad.

1/2 green pepper, diced (would have used celery, but was out)
1 T capers, rinsed
2 generous T sweet relish
Couple big blobs of mayo
6 lobster tails, cut in chunks

The mayonnaise, which was probably about 1/2 cup, was slightly excessive. Also, we use full fat mayo in this house but I’m certain substituting a reduced fat version would have worked (but never no fat — gross!)

I didn’t think it would need salt because of the capers, but just a little dash helped. Since part of the glory of this gift was how easy it made dinner prep, I forewent spritzing the salad with lemon just before serving… it would have brightened the flavors nicely, I’m sure.

The fennel seeds were my sister’s idea. She’s a more adventurous cook than I and also had, coincidentally, just seen a cooking program on which the chef asserted that ‘no French cook would dream of serving seafood without fennel’. I was skeptical but went ahead anyway and I have to say that small cluster of seeds added a subtle and nice perfume. Definitely recommend.

Oh yum. YUM!  And there’s enough for Saturday lunch!

PS  When the news gets too unbearable to discuss, too awful in too many directions to wrap your mind around, count on food posts. They are reliably engaging to write and wonderful, constructive distractions.

* Bertha’s Kitchen has just been named an America’s Classic by the James Beard Foundation. The prestigious award is reserved for “beloved regional restaurants, distinguished by their timeless appeal”. Read more in this Post and Courier article.  

**Tim Allen of Rebellion Farm wrote that IGA article. Funnily enough, I’ve eaten pig that he’s roasted. “How can that be?” you ask. Well, he was the farmer who hosted Donna Hardy’s indigo workshop. Well-known Charleston Chef BJ Dennis catered the rest of the meal, by the way. (I didn’t know how illustrious he was until later, when I started to follow him on Instagram). Here’s my description of that meal from 2014. If you do a little research on southern food, you will find interesting and on-going discussion about cultural appropriation, foods of the African diaspora, and lasting contributions of the enslaved to Southern culture. 

Festive salad and Salem visit

Lost my mojo. In fact, the campaign and election were disturbing enough to convert me from a “woman who yells” to one who cries. I still feel off, but miss my blog peeps, so here I am with a modest offering of food. This delicious winter salad has four ingredients: romaine, slivered radicchio, thin-sliced red onion, and pomegranate seeds. Topped with a mustard/garlic vinaigrette on the tangy side. The red bits look festive, don’t you think?

Good thing it was tasty because for some reason the frittata bombed. Came out like a rubber mat with inclusions of goat cheese. Seriously.

C acted the good sport and came to Salem with me today. Removed a cruddy rug. Got the AC unit down to the basement. Moved the bed and the exercise machine. We shopped for food and wine. Pictures were hung, curtains put up, and a few decorations fetched from storage.

This was AFTER C. bagged up another five bags of leaves for the neighbor who hired him, making a total of 28. Whew! It was the last leaf pick up in our town. On our side of the fence, it went pretty painlessly. The guy I thought I hired never showed and I’m glad because being outside and raking was one of the sanest and most grounding activities of the last few weeks.

Potato rice soup

By the time we turn the clocks back and it’s dark at 3:45, I will be semi-hibernating. This soup is perfect preparation.

This recipe is courtesy of Lidia Bastianach (of PBS fame). Quick, simple and really tasty!
img_6929A lot happening here, but most lies beyond the pale of my blogging. Writing progresses. Care giving goes on (and on).


The campaign continues to occupy and discourage and disorient. Fear whispers over my shoulder. The vitriol. The hate. The incitement to violence. Where will it all go, come November 9?

After the release of the pussy-grabbing tape, I had one of my Male Intruder dreams — a distress that belongs squarely in that orange-haired lunatic’s lap (oh gross. never mind). I used to have some variation of this dream frequently — sometimes as much as two or three times a week.


(The dream:  He has a rifle. He’s in my house. He wants to kill me and he would have but I wake).

But to be clear, it is Trump’s allegiance to delusion and his pervasive, unstoppable lying that terrify me the most. It’s unbelievable how he makes shit up. It’s equally unbelievable how his followers just eat it all up. What has happened here? Is there any going back?

Thank goodness beauty can’t hear him. Thank goodness fall offers her gifts without regard to politics. One spectacular day follows another.



Heart rash and quiche

A red patch of itch over my heart. Don’t want to ponder its meaning. Just like I didn’t want to think too hard last week about the significance of leaving my power cord at the library.

There’s this: I went to Salem yesterday and it was disheartening for all the usual (mind bending heart rending) reasons. And this: a writer friend sent me an article about self-publishing that harshly critiqued the unreasonable expectations of first time authors and outlined why self-publishing was probably the more likely path to success and then ticked off the fifty things one needed to do to be successful at self-promotion (and I thought selling quilts was awful!). That kept me awake a good extra hour and a half last night.

And it’s still really really hot. We have AC but the body still sweats and suffers walking Finn taking out the garbage running errands. I plan to write swim write today. Maybe Walden Pond for a change? After getting back from China late Saturday night, K is taking the week off.

I’ll leave you with a photo of the quiche I made last night. Hadn’t made one in ages. Oh the steps! The mixing chilling rolling chilling baking one way then another. And that’s just the crust! It was 7:30 before we finally ate. With a filling of egg, carmelized onions with thyme from the garden plus a little bit of Swiss, it was worth both the wait and the gluten cheat.

Friday in June

Morning face.
Done with wind and overall tacking down, plus I added white stitches to lighten house. It disappears a little too much. Maybe for this week, the house ought to take on the shape of England? I mean, WTF?

Later on, it was nice to start the weekend with another bday celebration. Out on the deck. Beautiful light. Perfect temps. QUIET. School is out for the year.

 This barley salad was soooo good. Made several modifications. Very tasty with salmon done on the grill.
I modified the salad both because of available ingredients and taste preferences. I didn’t have any black beans, so none went in. I only used red peppers, not both green and red. I skipped the called-for carrots because I thought they’d be overly crunchy. And, instead of canned corn, I cooked up a fresh ear.

Probably the most important modification flavor-wise was substituting about a quarter teaspoon of Truvia in lieu of corn syrup and adding quite a bit more oil. Recipe calls for scant amount of canola. I added at least 3 more tablespoons of olive oil. This, from someone who likes a very acidic dressing.

Surprisingly, my pantry did contain a can of chipotle peppers in adobe sauce. That, along with the cilantro, cumin, and citrus juices were essential to the slightly smoky, but bright taste of the salad. Also surprising (to me): no garlic.

The next day I used the same dressing on a mix of chopped cherry tomatoes, red onion, and avocado and it was equally delicious.

Have a nice weekend all!

P.S. One of the nice benefits of a grain salad is how they keep overnight. And since the barley salad didn’t feature the olive oil very centrally, I could eat it straight out of the fridge. So good!

P.P.S. Brexit fucking floored me and made the realization that the xenophobia highlighted by Trump is not limited to our side of the Atlantic. I spent a fair amount of time on Twitter first thing that morning. Last night, K. and I re-watched “Children of Men” and all the ways that movie is scarily prescient were doubly so… the vans full of refugees being carted off to detention centers, shocking lack of resources, the vast poor and scant people of means, plots and counterplots, police working counter to the public’s interests, the human species on the brink of extinction. So much rubble, despair, and violence! I hope the Brits re-do the vote. What a stupid risk Cameron took with England’s future.

If you’re interested (I took twitter feed off side bar of the blog), my moniker is deeamallon: stream is here.

OMG – so tasty 

Making lunch just now I found myself thinking, “if food were the only thing I lived for (and it’s not), it would be enough.” I’ll share today’s one-bowl lunch.

Take some baby bok choy and even if clean rinse so there’s a little water in the pan to aid cooking. Sauté in olive oil. Add a chopped garlic and scallions at the end. Off heat, squeeze half a lemon over the greens.

Prepare basil butter. I used about three tablespoons of butter and the tops of three basil plants from my porch. Since I keep unsalted butter in the house, I added salt (pink Himalayan, of course).

Use about half of the butter for a serving. I used Barilla’s gluten free spaghetti  — it’s delicious and no, I do not get paid to say that.

Oh so good!