Pimms Cups

June 30, 2012

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Heavens, its almost July already and not a single post for 2012. This says something about my state of mind, unfortunately. Cooking has been happening and photos have been taken but sadly nothing has been posted. However it is a sweltering hot day and getting hotter and I am thinking of tall, cool, refreshing summer drinks.

Dear Ms Stewart has an excellent recipe for for Pimms Cups in her Martha Steward Hors D’oeuvres Handbook. (So funny, I remember coming across the word “hors d’oeuvres” when I was a young teenager and was baffled by how it could possibly be pronounced. I very much liked the concept of “hors d’oeuvres” so I gamely set about using the word in conversation, pronouncing it more or less “whores devours” or even “whores divorce” if you layer on a slight Nigerian accent. Years later I finally learned some French and the proper pronunciation but I still find my old pronunciation more fun.)

Pimms Cups

2-3 small Persian cucumbers, skin on, cut into 1/4″ by 2-1/2″ long sticks (or one regular cucumber but I like the Persian ones better)

1 orange cut into 1/4″ rounds

About a dozen strawberries, stems removed and sliced in halves or quarters.

1 bottle (750 ml) of Pimm’s #1

1 bottle (750ml) of ginger ale (you can also use apple cider but I find it too sweet)

Ice

Place all the fruit into a 2-quart pitcher. Add the remaining ingredients and stir once to combine. Ladle into glasses, sharing the fruit in the glasses. Add ice and serve.

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You can find Pimms liquors at most decent sized liquor stores although I had no luck with our stores in Crown Heights. The whole beverage is like eating a fruit salad– it can be dangerous because you forget that there is liquor involved.

Postcard from Paris

April 16, 2011

(And like a real postcard, gets to you weeks after you were actually there…)

I adore the French cafe culture. Why miss any opportunity to crowd around a little table and drink tea or coffee or have a sandwich or a cigarette? All while taking in the view of the bustling street.

The Conservatory Gardens

September 26, 2009

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On Thursday afternoons I get off from work at 1.30 and I have designated the afternoon as a “Sabbath Day” where I don’t schedule any events or friends, but spend some good quality time alone, in meditation and study, and in prayer. I often go to a park and enjoy the nature, with a cup of tea and a cookie, my diary and some good reading material.

I recently rediscovered the Conservatory Gardens, up on 5th Avenue and 105th Street. They have become my new favourite garden in the City. Located at the north end of Central Park, you pass through an ornate set of gates into a heavenly world of slate stone paths and English country garden loveliness. Flowers spill over borders in waves of texture and colour, breezy statues of children playing drip with the laughter of the fountains, and for a moment the buses rolling by on the avenue are drowned out by the chatter of insects and birds. A tremendous trellis of vines arcs across the western side of the garden, beckoning you to come find solace beneath it. The first time I came to the gardens, four years ago, was with a now very distant boyfriend, to attend a wedding ceremony. I will never forget that evening, the beginnings of a rain storm trickling down through the leaves of the trellis, the sky grey yet bright, and the bride and groom glowing at each other as we all stood around cheering. What a wonderful place to start a marriage.
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My current Thursday ritual is to stop in a the Museum of the City of New York, which is across the street, tease the guards to let me down into the café where I then buy a fruit tea and a giant black and white cookie to take with me to the garden. After a leisurely stroll around the grounds, with frequent stops to sigh into the welcoming faces of upturned flowers, I settle myself into a bench for some blissful quiet.

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I love black and white cookies. The cookie is light and cakey, and the white glaze on the back is crisp and smooth and just a bit too sweet. The chocolate has a bitter bite to it, with a faint flavour of licorice in each bite. I take much comfort in eating this cookie slowly, bit by bit, letting the glaze melt in my mouth, not taking any one morsel for granted, washing down the sweetness with sips of tea. It is a large cookie so if you eat it too fast, you will ruin the experience with a sugar rush. I think because my favourite desserts tend to involve cake of some sort, that the black and white is one of the most perfect cookies imagined. And it is so New York.

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On Gardening

September 7, 2009

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“I have given myself to this new garden that I may receive from it the gift of summer tomatoes and sweet potatoes, of scarlet peppers and the purple robed eggplant, of honey-sweet corn and buttery beans. But I do not forget that I alone cannot restore Paradise, not even in my own backyard. ‘Retreat to the garden,’ writes William Cowper, ‘cannot indeed to guilty man restore/ Lost innocence, or cancel follies past/ But it has peace, and much secured the mind/ From all assaults of evil’ (The Task)”
Excerpt from The Fragrance of God by Vigen Guorian, p. 68

I recently finished this wonderful book and have found much joy and peace in the author’s reflections on gardening. Here is some of the summer’s bounty…

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I made a quick fried rice with the fresh vegetables in my garden. Lovely Crown Heights, Brooklyn: despite the fact that I must regularly fish out broken glass bottles and chicken bones tossed over the fence into my garden plot, the plants have managed to thrive and given me reward for my pains. It is a blessing to be able to get my hands dirty, to weed and replant, to discover new buds and flowers– promises of good things for the future.

Not much to say in terms of this recipe: purple onions, diced zucchini, corn from the cob, sliced green eggplant, a fried egg, some chinese sausage  all fried up with some leftover rice. I threw in a handful of pine nuts and cilantro and a drizzle of sesame oil and tamari sauce to finish. Simplicity becomes divine.

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The Fruit Detective

July 31, 2009

“Most food writing is about cooking– it’s less about the ingredients than about the rendering of those ingredients, and the consuming of them in communal settings. [David] Karp is interested in the primal act of tasting– eating fruit right from the tree, vine or bush. (“I’m not a foodie,” he says. “I’m a fruitie.”) His goal is sensual pleasure, but he has a rarefied idea of what fruit should taste like. The particular kind of taste he’s after is one that the nineteenth-century writers on fruit described as “high flavor”– a fecund, almost gamy taste that, according to Karp, has been all but lost as fruits have been bred for mass production and long-distance shipping. “High flavor is the flavor of a pheasant, hung until high, “he said. “You bite into the fruit, you taste the sugar, the texture, the acidity, and there’s an almost overpowering aroma. That’s what fruit should taste like. But Americans don’t know that, because most of the fruit we eat is trash fruit.” A real peach, allowed to ripen on the tree, is too fragile to withstand the rigors of a cross country journey by truck or train, and so breeders have created low-acid, high-sugar peaches, which can be picked when they’re still very had but still taste sort of sweet.”
Excerpt from “The Fruit Detective” by John Seabrook, The New Yorker, August 19, 2002

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“Except the vine, there is no plant which bears a fruit of as great importance as the olive.”
—Pliny (AD 23-79)

“The whole Mediterranean, the sculpture, the palm, the gold beads, the bearded heroes, the wine, the ideas, the ships, the moonlight, the winged gorgons, the bronze men, the philosophers -all of it seems to rise in the sour, pungent taste of these black olives between the teeth. A taste older than meat, older than wine. A taste as old as cold water.”
—Lawrence Durrell, Prospero’s Cell (1945)

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Friends have been telling me to do this for about a year now so here I finally am setting it up. I am still amazed that anyone even spends any time going through blogs but I hear that they are quite addictive so lets see what happens. I’m doing this because I’ve also started a cupcake baking business (yummy cupcakes made to order) which promises to be super fun. But I do like the idea of talking generally about food since heaven knows, there is more to life than baking cupcakes. So, this first post is dedicated to my two muses: Elizabeth and LG . (I hope I’m allowed to post names on blogs…hmm). Elizabeth, because the two of us can talk about food until the cows come home (literally in the form of steak frites in our frying pans) and LG because he takes the most beautiful pictures of my food and my parties that I have ever seen.

I hope we can have some fun with this.