Just What We Needed

12-1-14

This year, we hosted Thanksgiving for Guy’s family in our studio. The days leading up to it were a happy buzz of making lists, shopping, cleaning, brining, cooking, baking, planning. The actual day blurred by. The gigantic, spatchcocked bird still managed to roast unevenly, too many side dishes sequestered us in the kitchen, Uncle Anthony sliced his finger open while carving the damn turkey. And then, suddenly, it was 9 o’clock, the studio had cleared out, and I was alone, listening to Patsy Cline and staring at a sink full of suds.

On Monday morning, we were back in the studio. All the bits and bobs and wings and things of the turkey went into a giant stockpot and boiled away until they became liquid bronze. Guy made coffee-flecked chocolate chip cookies for our tenant, as a thank you for the Thanksgiving day EMT call. Lunch was a little soup made with the leftover sweet potatoes, red curry and some coconut milk. It was all very relaxed cooking, no agenda—just what we needed.

Late-May Mash Up

BE GRATEFUL.

That is what we wrote on a piece of paper and taped to our wall last week. It will stay there, as a reminder.

We are happy to have a lot going on (a new studio soon, a new book in the works, a cool smoked fish shoot coming up in June, fun work with Applegate, a tree fort going up in the backyard… all of which we’ll post about here in the coming weeks), but staying focused has been hard. So when we sat down at the computer to pull together this blog post, these three images made sense to us in that way that salty and sweet make sense to us in cookies.

1. Elio’s birthday is on Sunday. Holy 8! (This pic is from last April, wait till you see him now.)

2. Guy has been crazy trying to start a starter and finally he has trapped yeast in flour and water (it is nice and sour smelling) and, hopefully, will soon be making the dense sprouted bread we so love from our time in Germany and Austria.

3. We love this portrait of Fabrizia, and it reminds us that the Anna Tasca Lanza Cooking School (where we lived and helped produce the book Coming Home To Sicily) is having its 25th anniversary in June. It is going to be a fantastic celebration (which sadly we will miss) but again serves to remind us of the experience that got us started on our path and yet another reason to be grateful.

So, with that we leave you with these…

 

final_may20

Kick-ass ice-cream

Where: The Bent Spoon, Princeton, NJ

Who: Gabrielle Carbone and Matt Errico

Why: Its their 10 year Anniversary this week! Go get some ice-cream.

I am not sure if we have mentioned that we used to live in Santa Fe, NM, and Sicily, and New York, and, yes!, in Brooklyn too. But we have landed here in NJ. Many people would, (and do), ask why? It is too long of story to get into but what is important is that we are happy, we are near family and we can get really good, really fresh ingredients that we love to cook with.

Plus we can find other people (like the Bent Spoon people) who also like to make incredibly good things with the best ingredients. Lucky us! And there is none of that Brooklyn hipper-than-thou attitude (we have our own sort of attitude to deal with in Jersey, thank you very much!)

On another note, this portrait of Gabrielle is one of my favorites that I made in the last few months. Sort of Patti Smith meets artisanal ice-cream.

 

spoon_final

 

 

a farm, ian, and…

a project evolves.

Last fall we started working on a project with Ian.

Now, four meals in, lots of photos and many happy full tummies later we are getting somewhere and we are really excited! Below are just a few of our favorite images from the last dinner that Ian did at Wyebrook Farm in West Chester, PA. Wow, this place is special and we are happy we made it! Join Ian’s mailing list or let us know if you want to be at the next meal. We would love to see you there because, you know, we love eating with friends.

 

wye_final

 

(See this post for some pics of the first dinner with Ian and learn more about Ian here).

 

 

 

Another cookbook…

worth having. Publishes today!

The New Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook, by Ellen Brown. Published by Sterling Epicure.

Photographed by Guy and styled by Kate.

We photographed this book a while ago but still remember many of these delicious recipes. (I think we just made the Irish soda bread in March!)

Here’s a sneak peek to get you started.

 

 

IS_2

IS_1

IS_3

 

Check it out online  here

The Return

 

Just before my trip to Santa Fe this week I received this book in the mail, The Return by Adrain Chesser and Timothy White Eagle. Kate and I know Adrain from our Santa Fe days and were super happy and proud to support him in this truly special book project.  It is not only beautiful and insightful, but it made me do what I have come to crave to do more and more in this instant/digital world; it made me slow down and really look and read. The tactile nature of this type of book is, for me, one of the reasons I want to make pictures and words and put them together in print. And here Adrain and Timothy have done it perfectly.  And then, of course, the subject matter (portraits of people who have made an intentional return to living off the land) makes it all the more grounded. I just love it!

Without getting too philosophical,  I can’t help to feel some deeper connection now to my current trip to Santa Fe, which always feels like a return to a way of being and seeing, a resetting of myself,  that is sometimes challenging but always energizing.

Dear Adrain and Timothy, Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

 

4_15_1

4_15_2

 

 

birthdays

We seem to know a lot of people who have birthdays in early April. Sometimes we get to make them cake.

Birthday boy: Gordon

Years around the sun: 28

Cake: Flourless chocolate with a spritz of Meyer lemon zest—why not?—from Canal House Cooks Every Day

4-10_final

 

Shoot today

And this happened today… a shoot for Applegate Kitchens. Tasty sandwiches.

4_7

Friday Night Fish Fry

When I was a kid, Friday evenings during Lent meant fried fish sandwiches. My dad and brother and I would drive up Braddock Avenue, into Swissvale, to the M&M Lounge. It was tucked behind a sad little shopping center with a Ben Franklin and a Shop & Save. The sky overhead was always heavy with dingy clouds, at least in my memory. But March in Pittsburgh is never known for its blue skies. Even as a kid, I could tell the M&M was not a place you wanted to stay and eat. The walls were scuffed, the few tables were laminate, and I think the place was carpeted, years of frying captured in the yarns of that rug. You ordered at a tall counter—four fried fish sandwiches with French fries—and waited around with the other dads and their kids picking up their Lenten meals. I’m sure you could have gotten something other than a fried fish sandwich, they must have had a larger menu, but in my mind, this place existed only for these Friday nights, for this one meal.

Ten minutes later, a couple of bulging paper bags were handed over the counter and we escaped to the fresh air of our car. In the five minutes it took to get home, grease spots bloomed over the bags and their contents kept our laps warm. At home, we’d dump out the French fries and unwrap the foil around the sandwiches—soft hamburger buns dwarfed by two or three curling pieces of breaded haddock. The table was set with ketchup (Heinz, of course) and malt vinegar and our glasses of milk. It was a feast.

In our town of Lambertville, there are two places to get your Friday night Lenten fix—the First Presbyterian Church and the Columbia Fire House. We haven’t tried the church’s supper yet, but last Friday we went with friends to the fire house. It is like walking into the pages of a National Geographic article on small-town America, circa 1976, or an early Saveur spread. Wood-paneled walls, fluorescent lights, long tables covered with red plastic tablecloths and set with upside-down coffee mugs on their saucers and baskets of rolls and butter.

When we sat down, a volunteer brought out bowls of stewed tomatoes and macaroni and cheese. The boys ate all the bread and butter in about 5 minutes. We were dismayed to find out they had already run out of cole slaw. In the back kitchen, the firemen were frying away, sending out plate after plate of fried and baked fish, fried shrimp and French fries. People chit-chatted with their neighbors, passing tartar sauce and cocktail sauce up and down the tables. Our group of eight got a table to ourselves, and as happy as we were to be with our friends, I think we all know that part of the fun of these things is getting to talk with strangers. Still, we gladly sipped the beers that we had brought, laughed at our boys, and ate enough fried food to last us for a year. Dessert was your choice of chocolate, vanilla or butterscotch pudding, which was scooped out of industrial-sized cans and festooned with Redi-Whip. It was a feast.

During the evening, we learned that this will be the last year of fish fries. The fire house is closing, consolidating with the larger house on Main Street, and the building will soon be going up for sale. Walking out into the chilly March evening, we speculated about it becoming a great neighborhood restaurant, or a gym, or how it could be converted into a house. We stopped at another friends’ house and talked on their porch for a few minutes, as the streetlights came on. Sometimes, our sweet little town feels a little too little, a little too provincial, for me. And sometimes it feels just right.

3-20-1

3-20-5

3-20-3

People Eating: Elio

I like pictures of beautiful food. I like beautiful pictures of food. But what is meant to happen to that food? Hopefully it will be eaten, enjoyed, appreciated; happily. This is something I want to start seeing more of. It should be an interesting challenge because who wants a picture of himself eating? I started with Elio the other day after making these little potato croquettes (Banatages) from the gorgeous and under-appreciated book, Medina Kitchen by Fiona Dunlop. This book focuses on the cooking of North Africa and I hope to cook from it a lot and report back here. So this is my first try with the book and my first try with pics of someone eating (along with beautiful pictures of beautiful food).

Fortunately Elio liked these, because that was dinner!

Untitled-1

%d bloggers like this: