Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Italy: Ancient, Renaissance, and Modern Cookbooks

A dozen Italian food books on my shelf.
I have many Italian cookbooks, featuring regional cuisines, Italian-American foods, historical studies, and encyclopedic treatments of pasta and of Italian cooking in general, all in English. Today for Cookbook Wednesday I want to describe -- briefly! -- three cookbooks representing three vastly different eras of Italian food.

A Taste of Ancient Rome by Ilaria Gozzini Giacosa (1992), a book reconstructing the food of antiquity.

Was Roman food the prototype for the now-famous Mediterranean diet? Perhaps somewhat, says Giacosa, except that many elements of modern Italian cuisine use new-world products like  tomatoes, turkey, peppers, and polenta made from maize, as well as other more-recently introduced foods like eggplant, most citrus fruits, and even pasta. All these and more were absent in Roman times. Further, the very common Roman condiment called garum, a salty fermented fish sauce, hasn't retained its popularity.

Roman writers created quite a lot of material showing just what foods they ate, how they grew and prepared these foods, their styles of dining from simple meals to lavish banquets, and how Roman meals changed during 1000 years of history. Roman authors particularly important for their food information include "Cato, Columella, Apicius, Petronius, Martial, and Juvenal," according to Giacosa.  From these sources come the detailed food descriptions and reconstructions of recipes included in A Taste of Ancient Rome.

The Fruit, Herbs & Vegetables of Italy by Giacomo Castelvetro (1614), an impressively beautiful edition, translated by Gillian Riley from the original Latin. 

This volume is full of reproductions of Renaissance paintings of food, markets, gardens, wine-makers, apothecary shops, and kitchen scenes, along with the author's descriptions of vegetables and suggestions for preparing them.

Castelvetro lived in England for a time, as well as in several other Italian and continental cities. He wrote this book towards the end of his life, to encourage English people to imitate the Italians, who valued eating fruits and vegetables. His approach seems close to many modern food writers. From the introduction by Riley:
"Castelvetro did not intend to write a recipe book. He must have known the works of Vicenzo Cervio, Bartolomeo Scappi and Giovanni Rosselli, describing the elaborate banquets of the courts of the Italian nobility, and felt passionately about a very different gastronomy.... With tact and good humor Castelvetro expounded his own ideas of luxury -- exquisitely fresh vegetables, simply prepared, using the finest ingredients.... He does give recipes when necessary, to explain how to use a particular fruit or vegetable, but the simple approach is what Castelvetro wanted to get across. The basic method for so many dishes could hardly be called a recipe: cook your vegetables simply in salted water and serve them tepid or cold with oil, salt and pepper and bitter orange or lemon juice." (p. 28)

La Cucina di Lidia: Recipes and Memories from Italy's Adriatic Coast by Lidia Bastianich and Jay Jacobs (1990), a book of wonderful memories of Italian foods and recipes.

Although in her childhood, Lidia and her family became refugees from their native town in Yugoslavia near the Italian border, she shared some happy memories of their time in Trieste, Italy. She also described her transition to New York and her enjoyment of what I think it's ok to call the American Dream -- becoming a restaurateur, successful cookbook author, and eventually hosting TV shows.

Lidia's TV programs are broadcast on the very laid-back Create channel (or did appear there when I had that channel on my TV, don't know about now). In various episodes she demonstrated recipes, traveled through Italy, described her past and present experiences, and introduced various friends and members of her family. These included her quite elderly mother and her young grandchildren, who all joined her in the TV kitchen. I call her Lidia because these programs make me feel as if she's a friend!

Cookbook Wednesday is inspired by
Louise at Months of Edible Celebrations.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Tagine, Tagine

My new tagine cooker, preserved lemons, and spiced lamb, ready to go.
Recently I decided to try Moroccan tagine cooking. Around a month ago, I put up some preserved lemons, which are now ready to use. I also bought a tagine -- quite a beautiful piece of ceramic cookware. After it arrived (from amazon.com), I realized that I also needed a heat diffuser for my smooth-top stove. When that arrived, I spent several hours painstakingly following the instructions to season the tagine in preparation for cooking -- soaking it, oiling it, baking it in the oven, simmering water in it on the diffuser. Finally, this morning I bought all the ingredients for lamb tagine with couscous, and got everything ready.

More ingredients.

A sorry sight!
I was heating the lower cooking vessel part of the tagine slowly on the diffuser, following the instructions. Suddenly I heard a loud crack. It split in two. I had not yet added the meat to the pot so only some oil was lost -- making a mess on the stovetop. Luckily, the heat was low per the instructions so it didn't burn. It's all cleaned up now, and I had to make the lamb in an ordinary pan. I plan to try to return this defective item to amazon.com, as I did everything with it exactly as I was told to do.

Using a skillet to cook the lamb.

Happy ending: the result was delicious! You can see the preserved lemons and also the apricots in the couscous.

RECIPES
Lamb Tagine
2 lamb leg steaks (around 1.5 lb total)
1/4 cup olive oil
1.25 cups water
1/2 cup grated onion (around 1 medium onion)
2 cups chopped onion (1 to 1.5 medium onions)
1 cup green and/or black olives, pitted & cut in pieces
2 preserved lemons, rinsed, pulp removed, cut in julienne
1/2 cup Italian parsley and coriander leaves, stems removed

Spices, blended together in a mortar:
1/2 tsp mixed saffron & turmeric
1.5 tsp ground ginger
1.5 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp salt

Cube the lamb and toss with the spice blend and the grated onion. Allow to stand for up to an hour. Heat oil on medium heat (ideally you would use a tagine cooker, but as I unfortunately showed, a regular skillet big enough to hold the lamb is fine too). Toss the spiced lamb in the heated oil until light brown. Add the water and cover tightly. Bring to very low simmer and cook for 1 hour; then add the remaining onion. Cook very slowly until meat is tender, adding water if necessary, but it probably won't be necessary.

10 minutes before serving add the olives and preserved lemons and bring to medium simmer. Garnish with the parsley and coriander leaves. Serve with couscous.
-- adapted from the pamphlet that came with the tagine from amazon.com

Couscous
1 cup water
2 tsp butter
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup couscous (used Trader Joe's whole wheat couscous)
2 tsp ground coriander seeds
1/3 cup dried apricots, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
flat-leaf parsley & cilantro leaves for garnish

Bring water, butter, and salt to a boil in a 1 1/2- to 2-quart heavy saucepan. Stir in couscous and coriander, cover pan, and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes.

Fluff couscous with a fork and stir in oil, apricots, and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with herbs.
-- adapted from an internet recipe and the couscous package

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Gil Marks

From the New York Times: "Gil Marks, a culinary historian who wrote widely on the relationship between Jewish food and Jewish culture in a manner that was both scholarly and friendly, died on Friday in Jerusalem." (Gil Marks, Historian of Jewish Food and Culture, Dies at 62)

I don't own any of Marks's cookbooks, though I have checked some of them out of the library and found them very interesting. The Times obituary  mentioned these:

  • The World of Jewish Cooking
  • Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes From Jewish Communities Around the World (a James Beard Award winner)
  • Encyclopedia of Jewish Food. 

According to the obituary in the Jerusalem Post, Marks also edited a cooking magazine, wrote other successful cookbooks, and was a rabbi as well as a cookbook author. About his visits to various Jewish communities to lecture and give cooking classes, Marks is quoted as having said: “I’m sort of like bringing the rabbi and rebbetzin in at one time. I can do the sermons and the speeches and the cooking demonstration too.” [Note: A rebbetzin was a rabbi's wife; in the past when there were no women rabbis, and in present-day Orthodox communities, the rebbetzin had a special role in the community.]

Yesterday I wrote about Israeli cookbooks for Cookbook Wednesday. Several of Marks's books would have fit right into that discussion.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Israeli Cookbooks: Hummus and Falafel

Today's cookbooks from my collection all feature the foods of Israel. I've copied images from each one to illustrate the various ways that the authors deal with two typical Israeli dishes: Hummus and Falafel. These are both favorites with both Jews and non-Jews in Israel, as well as in many other countries. I love them too. Israelis enjoy complete connoisseurship of hummus -- we were once sent to the famous Diana restaurant in Nazereth because the hummus was "poetic."

The earliest Israeli cookbook in my collection is called Israeli Cookery, by Lilian Cornfeld, and dates from 1962. It's organized around the many Jewish communities that had already settled in Israel at that time, not long after Israeli independence. The book is also very concerned with nutrition, and classifies Falafel and Hummus as "Sabra Cereal and Legume Foods."

Falafel and Hummus as packaged 50 years ago

The Food of Israel: Authentic Recipes from the Land of Milk and Honey by Sherry Ansky was published in 2000. Every recipe is accompanied by beautiful photos. The book begins with a history and general discussion of Israeli foods, including a discussion of the Biblical "seven species" that still play a fundamental role today: olives, figs, dates, pomegranates, wheat, barley, and grapes.

Hummus, depicted in Ansky's book.
Ansky's Hummus recipe

Ottolenghi and Tamimi's Jerusalem: A Cookbook has been very popular since its publication in 2012. I cooked several recipes from  it, and wrote about it here: Jerusalem: A Cookbook. The book has beautiful images of the authors' native city, Jerusalem, and the discussion of hummus is illustrated with several photos and recipes; the image below suggests the wide selection of hummus in an Israeli market:



Joan Nathan's The Foods of Israel Today (2001) presents many recipes. She also reviews a variety of restaurants and small eating places throughout Israel. Some of her suggestions are probably obsolete, as the situation in the Middle East, as always, is complicated. (I'll stay off the topic of politics!)

I've reproduced, below, a page of general information on hummus and where to buy it. Again, this reflects the overall love of hummus throughout Israel.

A page from The Foods of Israel Today by Joan Nathan

The Book of Jewish Food; An Odyssey from Samarkand to New York by Claudia Roden (1996) is a survey of Jewish foodways from around the world, including Israel of course. Roden grew up in the Jewish community of Alexandria, Egypt, and began her career writing about general Middle Eastern food. The breadth of the recipes and stories collected in The Book of Jewish Food amazes me!
A story about Falafel from The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden

Recently, I wrote about another book on Israeli food titled Breaking Bread in Galilee: A Culinary Journey into the Promised Land by Abbie Rosner.

"I have chosen to approach food as a means of bringing people together instead of keeping them apart," Rosner wrote in her introduction. "If using food as a bridge between individuals from either side of the conflict can help overcome suspicion and promote mutual understanding, even on the most modest scale, then something very significant can be achieved."



Cookbook Wednesday is inspired by
Louise at Months of Edible Celebrations.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Ironic and Iconic

Christmas traditions are sometimes so overwhelming that someone just needs to react. Evidently, the French traditional bûche de Noël, a cake made to look like a yule log (usually with meringue mushrooms as a decoration) has now inspired lots of ironic versions from famous pastry shops. I just loved the nine images of cakes in this article: "These Redesigns of a French Christmas Dessert Will Make You Salivate." Actually, they make me laugh!

"The Magic of Christmas bûche de Noël from chocolatier A la Mère de Famille 
has Santa caught in some kind of magic act."
Google image page of traditional bûches de Noël suggesting how people
evidently compete to make the most elaborate versions.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

"Sacred Gifts, Profane Pleasures"

Pre-Columbian drinking vessel with
a monkey smoking a cigarette
and holding a cacao pod. Interesting
fact: the word cigar comes from
the Mayan language.
(Boston Fine Arts)
1600s: Netherlands agents became major tobacco shippers
for Europe. Dutch painter David Tenniers the Younger
 reflected this in many paintings, including this:
"Monkeys Smoking and Drinking"
The book Sacred Gifts, Profane Pleasures: A History of Tobacco and Chocolate in the Atlantic World by Marcy Norton contains a remarkable joint history of two luxury substances that were tightly linked during their early history in pre-Columbian America, but are now quite separate.

The author cites an Aztec poem that describes this combination of pleasures:
"The flowering chocolate drink is foaming
The flower of tobacco is passed around,
If my heart would taste them
My life would become inebriated"
She explains: "The sensory delights -- epitomized by chocolate -- bind the gods and earthlings. In experiencing the hedonistic pleasures of the gods, the inebriation of the senses, the celebrants experience divinity." ("Song of Tlaltecatzin," cited in Sacred Gifts, p. 32-33)

Norton's choices of art works from both the New World and the Old World especially fascinated me. I can't do justice here to this complex social and commodity history, but I have chosen a few of the images from the book to include in this post.

In the world of the Aztecs, Mixtecs, Maya, and other peoples of Mexico, both cacao and tobacco were held sacred, and frequently used together in sacred rites. Drinking chocolate beverages or smoking tobacco was a privilege often limited to priests or high nobility. Tobacco spread very slowly in Spain and then Europe, at first being imported in small quantities for personal use, and eventually becoming commoditized and ultimately a major source of revenue to support the absolute kings of Spain.

Codex Vindobonensis Mexicanus I: Mixtec cosmology and geneaology (National Library, Vienna).
The two central figures just left of the red line are sharing a pot of chocolate to celebrate their marriage.

Antonio de Pereda: Still life with
an Ebony Chest, 1652 (source)
The close imitation of Aztec and Mayan chocolate-drinking recipes and rituals in patterns of secular consumption in Spain and throughout Europe is one of the most surprising points made in Sacred Gifts, Profane Pleasures. As the native Americans did, so the Europeans began by making cacao into a rich beverage, using implements imported with the chocolate. They substituted sugar for honey to sweeten the drink, and used familiar spices like cinnamon instead of flowers as flavoring, though they did eventually use the American flavoring vanilla. Chocolate drinking became incredibly popular, first with colonial Spaniards in the New World.
Detail: Pereda depicted a chocolate pot, a "mollina" (wooden frother), and appropriate drinking vessels.
All are based on native Americans' chocolate-making utensils.
"It testifies to the enduring Mesoamerican sensory aeshetic." (Sacred Gifts p. 170)

Adriaen Brouwer: The Smokers, ca. 1636
Metropolitan Museum of Art
"The Flemish painter depicted a raucous group who bond around the impertinent puffs of smoke they blow at the viewer. The smoking clouds overhead unite them as if under an enchanted umbrella. The artist put himself in this portrait: he is blowing smoke rings." (Sacred Gifts, p. 186)

Both chocolate and tobacco were distrusted as reflecting savage and non-Christian elements. Sacred Gifts documents many struggles among Europeans, especially within the Catholic church, over the appropriate use of these products. And points out that drinking chocolate was a gateway to the later popularity of coffee and tea. A great book!

Friday, December 05, 2014

"The Family Mashber" by Der Nister

The Family Mashber by Der Nister was written after World War I, but describes the lives of the inhabitants of a town called N. in the Jewish Pale in the mid-to-late 19th century. The focus is Moshe Mashber and his family -- brothers, wife, daughters, sons-in-law, grandchildren, and associates and servants of the family.

I was amazed at the vividness of detail with which life in those days was described, and I enjoyed reading this quite long and rather obscure book. I was fascinated by the many hostilities among the Jewish inhabitants of the town, especially between the mainstream Jews and the members of the Bratslaver sect of Chassids. I've chosen some special quotations, especially about food and aromas, to illustrate the way the author uses detail to portray individuals and the atmosphere of the town.

Sholem the porter, a member of the Bratslaver sect, was characterized by what he could eat. Before becoming religious, he had been "quite capable of betting his fellow porters that he, Sholem, could eat up all the food prepared by Zakharye the tavern keeper for his customers. Everything down to the last morsel until the  table was empty: goose giblets and livers, goose crackling, knishes -- everything.... While the other porters stood around he  gobbled everything that was on Zakharye's display table. .... When he was asked what he wanted in the World to Come, [he] replied  that he wanted the green hill on the outskirts of town to turn into a loaf of bread, and the river that flowed nearby to turn into a stew so that he might dunk the bread into the stew." (p. 599)

On the eve of the New Year, Moshe Mashber went to the cemetery and then to the synagogue. The house was ready for the holiday: it "smelled of the holiday clothing the family had put on, and of the foods being readied for the table on which the candelabra would soon be set in preparation for the holiday candle-blessing that preceded the last meal of the year." (p. 281)

At a fair in the town where the Mashber family lived, peasants finished their business and went to taverns, and peasant women might buy a "brightly colored babushka, an apron, a dress, boots, and so on. ...in addition to those foods they brought with them from home -- bread and pork -- they eagerly sampled a variety of town goodies: loaves of partly white bread, for example; sometimes... a cluster of bagels hardened from being sun-warmed in the summer and by exposure to cold in the winter in those bakeries where they hung until they finally found their way to the fair.  Sometimes someone bought a bit of candy, or a herring, or a glass of kvass, or other town goodies. And they bought, too, the sorts of fruits that were not usually seen in their villages: especially watermelon, for example, whose sweet juices men, women and children sucked so avidly that their faces were damp and sticky up to the eyebrows." (p. 223)

And at the fair, "The air was laden with odors: the smell of coarse peasant clothing, hay, straw, grain, flax, honey and fruit. It sounded with the cries of those shouting their wares..." (p. 225)

Mikhalko the watchman's hut: "furnished only with a wooden cot, a chair and a table, was permeated with the smells of sweat, rye bread, dried herbs and coarse, cheap tobacco. ... A cheap lamp hung by wires from the ceiling illuminated a smoke-smudged icon in a corner of the room. On a shelf just under the light there were a couple of dried-out palm fronds left over from last year's Palm Sunday and a bottle of filthy gray water from a Twelfth Night celebration." (p. 154)

Inns and taverns have a particular aroma. One tavern, owned by a man named Sholem-Aron, was a gathering-place in the town of N. "The old building smelled of decay, of primordial darkness, smells that came from its old-fashioned apartments, from its three worn and half-buckling stories.... It smelled of antiquity. It had the sharp smell of soured old wine, of building and cellar damps and of air that had been enclosed for years." (p. 196) And beyond the town, where two characters wander at the end of the book: "The inn smelled of sourdough and stagnant well water, of chickens raised in the house who laid their eggs and hatched them under the stove." (p. 684)

The smells are so vividly described that I find the following quote, about a vicious man named Tsali, especially fascinating: "It made no difference [to Tsali] whose the money was, so long as it was obtainable. 'Because,' said Tsali, 'money has no smell.'" (p. 205)

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Louisiana Cookbooks for Cookbook Wednesday

My favorite Louisiana cookbook is The New Orleans Cookbook by Rima and Richard Collin, first published in 1975. It begins with lists. First, ingredients -- alphabetical from Absinthe through Tabasco, Tomatoes, and Yam. Second, techniques from Boiling to Smothering. Its recipe organization is just as indicative of the unique New Orleans cuisine: Chapter 1, Gumbos and Soups; Chapter 2, Red Beans and Rice! and Jambalya; then chapters titled Crabs, Crawfish, Oysters, Shrimp, and so on until Desserts and Drinks. I've written about New Orleans and Louisiana cookbooks before, starting with this, and I've based today's post on my earlier ones. 

The New Orleans Cookbook's illustrations of historic food ads, restaurants, and menus are fascinating, and the descriptions are lushly appealing:
"The steaming aroma of fresh caught crabs, shrimp, and oysters; the smell of butter and flour browning slowly in a large iron pot over an open fire; the sizzle of freshly chopped onions, green peppers, and 'shallots' added at just the moment the flour and butter turn a rich brown; the scent of chicken or duck slowly cooking into the mixture of onions, vegetables, and roux; the taste of good fresh okra or exotic sassafras -- this adds up to a good Louisiana gumbo." (p. 15)
For simpler home cooking, people from Louisiana recommend River Road Recipes, which is published by the Junior League of Baton Rouge, LA. It's another book with staying power. The number of copies was already in the hundreds of thousands when I bought one of 20,000 copies in the forty-fourth printing (November 1976).

My copy of River Road Recipes is yellowed and marked up. First, there's a little red check-mark next to many recipes, indicating the favorites of a woman we met in Baton Rouge (the mother of my brother's college friend). She recommended, for example, the Sauce Meuniere or Remoulade Sauce (p. 119) on trout. Over the years I've tried a large number of cakes and cookies from this book, and found most of them quite nice. As in many charity collections, some of the contributors were much more skilled at cooking, baking, and recipe writing than others.

Both of these books reflect the old-style Creole, Cajun, and New Orleans traditional cooking styles. Just reading through them is a fascinating reprise of one of our rapid trips into the city, when I seem to recall we ate three large meals between noon and evening, because our host wanted us to sample everything we possibly could. The dish that most impressed me was the bread pudding with rum sauce at a little home-style restaurant a bit away from the tourist area, but I've never had another bread pudding that delicious again.

Evelyn's Gumbo from Tiana's Cookbook: 
Evelyn says the recipes are good & amazingly easy to follow!
Another New Orleans cookbook in my collection is a spin-off of Disney's film "The Princess and the Frog." 

Tiana's Cookbook: Recipes for Kids,
includes quite a few serious recipes that kids may like to eat, but it takes a grownup to really cook them. Tiana's two most special dishes: beignets, which are deep-fried and gumbo.

There are also some very Disney things such as cupcakes frosted to look like frogs and a cake made in the shape of an alligator, which aren't precisely New Orleans cooking, more like Disney movie cooking. I wrote about the movie here: What do princesses eat?


Tiana's Cookbook includes versions of several recipes from another New Orleans classic: The Dooky Chase Cookbook which documents the life and recipes of Leah Chase, owner of the Dooky Chase restaurant in New Orleans. Leah Chase was a source of ideas for Disney studios when they planned the movie.

I did a full review of this fascinating cookbook and memoir in two posts -- Leah Chase: New Orleans Princess and Cooking.

The Louisiana Seafood Bible is the title of a series of cookbooks by Jerald and Glenda Horst. There are separate volumes for oysters, clams, crayfish, and two for fin fish, of which I have the first volume. There's an encyclopedic coverage of all types of information about fish, and lots of recipes. I've been meaning to try some of the recipes, but so far I have not, and I haven't written about it.


Finally, Tom Fitzmorris, a food journalist with a widely followed radio show originating in New Orleans, provided a great overview of the fascinating cuisines of New Orleans, along with a selection of recipes. When my culinary book club read his Hungry Town: A Culinary History of New Orleans, I'd never heard of him, but I read his book with enthusiasm. I wrote much more about this book here: "Hungry Town": All About New Orleans.

I liked Fitzmorris's view of food, food fads, food celebrities, and food hype. His observations of trends that started in New Orleans and were misappropriated elsewhere are interesting -- blackened redfish would be one of them. I've definitely eaten some bad burned fish as a result of that fad, and he suggests that I can't blame the originators as much as the pathetic imitations.

Again, this post celebrates both the wonderful food of Louisiana and New Orleans, and Cookbook Wednesday as invented by Louise at Months of Edible Celebrations.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Pies!


For Thanksgiving dinner this year, we had apple pie, key lime pie, and squash/pumpkin bread. I love Evelyn's key lime pie, and she sent me her recipe, which I intend to use.

Evelyn and Tom have a wonderful collection of cookbooks, including many dessert cookbooks. Here's a photo of three very special ones:

Three books by Ann Amernick, a well-known Washington DC pastry chef
who baked Evelyn and Tom's wedding cake.

Evelyn's Key Lime Pie (Based on a recipe from the web)

Classic Graham Cracker Crust
In a 10-inch glass or ceramic pie plate, make your favorite graham cracker crust recipe (or the one on the cracker box) and allow to cool.

Filling
2 large eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest (optional)
1 1/4 cups fresh lime juice, preferably key lime juice (from 25 key limes) or bottled key lime juice*
Two 14-ounce cans sweetened condensed milk

Whipped Cream Topping
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup sour cream
Key lime slices, for garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the lime juice, lime zest, condensed milk and eggs until smooth. Pour the filling into the cooled crust and bake for about 20 minutes, until set around the edge and slightly jiggly in the center. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until very firm, at least 6 hours or overnight.
  3. Using a mixer, beat the heavy cream and sour cream until soft peaks form, 1 minute. Beat in the sugar until stiff peaks form, 1 minute. Mound the whipped cream on the pie. Garnish with the key lime slices and serve.

*Note: This is the most labor intensive squeezing ever done. Use a bottle of lime juice! On a previous try, we ended up using clementines to supplement juice from 25 tiny dry limes, and it was definitely tasty that way.

UPDATE: Graham Cracker Crust from Dan and Lara via Elaine
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (you can use pre-crumbed ones)
1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted

Mix all the ingredients together, the press into the pie pan. Bake 8-10 minutes at 350. (Or you can fill it unbaked if you're making some other kind of pie that requires baking.)

The graham cracker crumbs plus the flour should add up to 1 1/2 cups, but sometimes I've done it with a bit less flour than 1/4 cup, compensated by a bit more graham cracker crumbs.

Lime Juice!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Turkey

Family Portrait
Top row: Arny, Tracy, Mae, Tom
Seated: Alice, Miriam, Evelyn, Len
Turkey in the oven
Carving

Thanksgiving Progress

Thanksgiving Squash by Tracy
Happy Thanksgiving!

We're starting to prepare our Thanksgiving dinner -- here is Tracy's painting of some of the squash and pumpkins that will eventually become part of our dinner. So far, we are almost finished making stuffing, which will soon go into the bird. Yesterday Evelyn made pies, cranberry sauce, and wild rice for salad. And all of us still had time to see the new "Hunger Games" film.

For more of her paintings see Tracy's blog.