Archives for posts with tag: cooking

marina-helena-muller-9qt0QKk_N3M-unsplash
Amends
by Jessica Gigot

It is hard to hold a homegrown
            head of broccoli in your hand
and not feel proud.
Seed to start,

seedling to robust stalk and floret,
I cradle this broccoli like my first born.

The infant I protected from damping-off,
            aphids, club root, and pesky flea beetles
                          dotting up all the leaves.

The green gleams and sparkles.
In that one hour on that one day

I made amends with the earth.

Other times, I buy the shipped-in stuff,
            California’s wellspring
Touched by a thousand hands
            and automated sanitation.

Sweat makes this one something special—
            the give and take of it all,
                          my muddied pride.

PHOTO: Broccoli garden. Photo by Marina Helena Muller on Unsplash.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem after working in the garden last summer, feeling proud of what I had grown and also overwhelmed by how vast and harmful our food systems has become over the past several decades. Chef Alice Waters wrote, “Finding the beauty in food can change your life,” and I believe that appreciating the poetics of food and the work of growing food will lead us towards farms that are more ecological and in balance with the earth.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jessica Gigot is a poet, farmer, and wellness coach. She lives on a small sheep farm in the Skagit Valley. Her second book of poems, Feeding Hour (Wandering Aengus Press, 2020) won a Nautilus Award and was a finalist for the 2021 Washington State Book Award. Jessica’s writing and reviews appear in several publications, including Orion, Taproot, and Poetry Northwest, and she is currently a poetry editor for The Hopper. Her memoir, A Little Bit of Land, will be published by Oregon State University Press in 2022.

dali 1926 the-basket-of-bread.jpg!Large
How to Make Friends (and leave a trail of crumbs)
by Julia Klatt Singer

Start with a bag of all-purpose flour, some kosher salt, room temperature water.
Mix these with a whisk on your desk, then add the sourdough starter your mother
sent with you back to college. To this college you transferred to, after a year in one
you loved, but so much farther away. Where you were before the pandemic.
Where making friends was as easy as opening your dorm room door, despite
being in Iowa and a tiny college, in a tinier town.

Let the dough rise overnight. Then carry it to the kitchen in the lidded pan
that was your great-grandmother’s. The one she gave to your mother when
she moved into her first apartment. The dough now shaped, it rises again
in a steamy oven. Say hello to the woman you pass in the hall. Say
I’m making bread, when she asks. When Simon from the room next to yours
asks when it will be done, tell him, he will know. He will smell it baking.

When it comes out of the oven, and you and Simon realize you don’t have a knife,
Three other students will go on the search for one. A small group of you now
In the kitchen, you open the peanut butter and jelly and find two spoons.
A small plastic knife is found and you stab it into the loaf, right after taking
a picture of the bread with your phone and sending it to your mother.
Ten minutes later you send her another photo, the bread now, just a heel
and crumbs.

PAINTING: The Basket of Bread by Salvador Dali (1926).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: How to write a How-to Poem . . . Start by thinking about all the things you’ve learned how to do since the pandemic started. How to think about time differently, notice how the light is changing and that you are too. Try to embrace technology, see how it connects you, or a part of you, with the world. Recognize how you have always watched the birds and trees for clues to resilience and beauty. Think about what gives you wings.  Think about where you fly. Start baking bread. Like your mother did when you were a girl. Not the same breads, but bread. Make two loaves and give one away each time you bake. Drop the bread on a neighbor’s porch and drive it across town. Show your son how easy it is to make. Send back starter with him, when he returns to college, mostly because you’ll know he’s eating that way, caring for himself, but also because he enjoys making things with his hands. And when he calls and says thank you, Mom, for sending the starter back with me, I’m meeting so many people by baking bread, realize that this is how to write a poem. Give it time. Let it form and then share it, let it be devoured.

Singer1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Julia Klatt Singer is the poet-in-residence at Grace Nursery School. She is co-author of Twelve Branches: Stories from St. Paul (Coffee House Press), author of In the Dreamed of Places, (Naissance Press), A Tangled Path to HeavenUntranslatable, (North Star Press), and her most recent chapbook, Elemental (Prolific Press). Audio poems from Elemental are at OpenKim, as the element Sp.  She’s co-written numerous songs with composers Craig Carnahan, Jocelyn Hagen, and Tim Takach.

art-books_43_mary-pratt-jelly-shelf-1999
How to Make Jam
by Stephen Howarth

Pick your fruits and words with care. Weigh them
accurately, in good proportions. Choose your tools,
knowing the function and purpose of each:
the thermometer and boiling pan, the paper and pen.

Begin with the half-intended products of
your garden: cook with what you know,
use the fruits you’ve grown, try them together,
test and taste, discover how they combine to give you

senses of futurity and seasoned summer fulness.
Rinse your words, top and tail as needed,
place them in the boiling pan, add a modicum of water
and more sugar than you consume in a month,

because life’s shocking sharpness and tartness
may be softened in this new creation. Use every sense
to create this newness. Apple and rose-hip, gooseberry
and apricot and gin, strawberry, peach and mead:

You are a magician now, imagining and making,
melding and moulding. Do not overboil.

PAINTING: Jelly Shelf by Mary Pratt (1999), All Rights Reserved. 

Jams and jellies

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: During Britain’s first lockdown, I had fun teaching myself how to make successful jams and jellies.Habitually I give some away, but am often given some in return. So I have at least a year’s supply for domestic needs, and mainly eat it during breakfast (although my stalwart preferences are marmalade — some given to me — and Marmite, a spread that you might not know). The jars are basically any old jars that have been thoroughly washed in HOT water and heated in the oven prior to potting up, so that the jam (just off the boil) doesn’t crack them. ¶ Oh, and in this case at least, size matters! I’ve been given some marmalade in such enormous jars that they’re really quite awkward — Imagine a Hellmann’s jar with a two-pound capacity . . . So I don’t do that, just ones around one-pound capacity maximum, with a number of smaller jars to use as gifts. Top tip: go easy on the ginger.

PHOTO: The author’s kitchen and an array of his jams and jellies. Left to right, rose-hip and apple jelly; raspberry and blueberry jam; gooseberry and mint; gooseberry, grape and apricot brandy; apricot, peach and mead; strawberry, peach and mead; courgette, lemon and ginger. Others made later include cotton candy grapes and mead, and rhubarb, apple, ginger and sloe gin.

Howarth

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephen Howarth has been an independent professional author of history all his working life. He served in the Royal Naval Reserves both on the lower deck and as an officer and wrote the official centenary history of the RNR — for which he was appointed an honorary Commander by HM the Queen. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and of the Royal Geographical Society, and a Life Member of the US Naval Institute and The 1805 Club. He earned a Master’s degree (with Distinction) in creative writing at Nottingham Trent University.

dandelions-1985.jpg!Blog
A Quest, for an ideal dandelion soup
by Steven Bridenbaugh

Dandelions are ubiquitous, but around here
The fuzzy leaves of cats ears more commonly abound.
But early California March
Beneath a stately larch
A robust colony I found.

I want more than just a leaf
Next to the root, is the heart.
Soaked in water and ice
Thrice washed makes it very nice
One cup chopped: the first part.

To this part, add one part parsley
And of Swiss chard, two parts.
These greens are surely not all that entices
To begin, in a dry pan roast whole spices:
Fennel, coriander, turmeric, and cumin, just to start.

Asafoedita, black pepper, and a pinch
Of cayenne, by hand well ground
With mortar and pestle is best
These spices will divest
To a vegetable broth something that will astound.

I wilt chopped leaves with ashwaganda ghee
With boiling broth complete
In ten minutes green and dark they will be
A blender perfects the sorcery
To this poet, not bitter, and to aging bones, most sweet.

IMAGE: Dandelions by Yayoi Kusama (1985).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have been reading about harvesting wild plants, and my lawn is a good source for them, since I have never used herbicides. This recipe illustrates a good way to make wild harvested plants more appetizing. True dandelions are not always easy to find in my area. Cats ears are a kind of dandelion, which is also edible. I have made a dandelion salad, following  instructions by Jacques Pepin, using cats ears, and they were delicious, but not as visually appealing as young dandelion. When you harvest dandelion leaves, try to include the white base of each stem, as it is very nutritious, and adds to the flavor. The bitterness of dandelion leaves is diminished by fat. To make a small amount of ashwaganda ghee, I heat a cup of water in a small pan, together with half a teaspoon of ashwaganda powder and a tablespoon of ghee from my bottle of clarified butter in the refrigerator. After the water is mostly evaporated, I toss the liquid into the greens, and braise them. I should add that it it is worth the effort, to grind freshly toasted spices with mortar and pestle, just as they do in India. My recipe is based on one in Kate O’Donnell’s Everyday Ayurveda Guide to Self Care.

Bridenbaugh copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Steven Bridenbaugh is a retired teacher, construction worker, and mental health worker. In the last few years, he has been occupied with writing, playing guitar, and he is a student of Ayurveda and Vegan Cooking. Why? Because it tastes so good! He lives in Eureka California, and owns an older home which he is gradually remodeling. He is sorting boxes of books, which he has acquired over the years, mostly from secondhand stores. He plans to read most of these books, or find people who can appreciate them. If by any chance, you haven’t read The Vicar of Wakefield he will gladly give you a copy, as soon as he finishes reading it. Visit him on Facebook.

lemon no 96 1967 FY
Learning How to Make Meyer Lemon Muffins
by Catherine Gonick

“Have some sunshine!” read the note inside
the box. There was none outside, in icy New York,
but before me were twenty small suns, Meyer lemons
that my friend had picked herself, in her Santa Rosa yard.
Like everyone who’s lived in California, I knew
that Meyers were the best. A cross between
a lemon and a tangerine, colored deep yellow
inside and out, exuding a spicy scent,
they were sweet enough to eat out of hand.
I ate one. The snow on my balcony whispered,
muffins are next. Was this even possible? I rarely baked,
had never even attempted bread, but now
could think of nothing else. I found two muffin tins
bought decades ago, and they shouted, Meyer lemon
muffins or bust. The recipe asked me to blend
a whole lemon till finely ground. Boil it first,
advised my friend. Then when it’s soft, let it cool,
cut it in pieces, remove the seeds. In the blender
I use for smoothies, the limp pieces of lemon lay
in the bottom, well beneath the reach of the blade.
I learned to pulse. Next came the juice of two lemons,
walnut pieces, an egg, and a half cup of butter,
which I figured was a stick. I only had a one-pound
block, so guessed at the amount. I’d had to go out
for the walnuts, a can of PAM cooking spray, flour
(mixed AP and whole wheat), baking powder, sugar
and baking soda, but had salt. I didn’t remember
that sifting could take so long and gave up. That was OK,
I learned later. Two friends said they never sift flour.
I stirred the wet into the dry, filled my tins and popped
them into a 400 oven. Checked after 15 minutes.
Inserted fork. Not yet. It took half an hour for my muffins to cook
and they didn’t rise. Or not much. But they tasted
like a tree in California, each fleck of rind a ray of sun
in my mouth. I gave one batch away, got raves.
The next time I try, I’m adding more baking powder.
A perfect lemon deserves a more perfect cook.

ART: Lemon, No. 96 (Woodblock print, 1967) by Funasaka Yoshisuke.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Writing this poem made me realize the extent to which I was learning how to make these muffins as I went along. And, how often I find myself in a similar situation, with most recipes, all things digital or mechanical, as well as relationships with animals and humans, and all attempts to write. I count myself lucky when instructions are provided, but most often they’re not, and otherwise are just the beginning of learning how to do something. They’re also difficult to write, as I learned when trying to write some for local hikes. My foray into muffin-making showed yet again how poorly I was equipped for a challenge, yet how willing to take it on. As a member of a technological species, but one who needs to acquire many more skills, I rely on curiosity, passion and appetite as my most helpful tools.

Gonick

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Catherine Gonick has published poetry in journals, including Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Halfway Down the Stairs, Notre Dame Review, Lightwood, Forge, Sukoon, and PoetsArtists, and in anthologies, including in plein air, Grabbed, and Dead of Winter. She contributes often to Kai Coggin’s Wednesday Night Poetry Series’ open mic and works in a company that seeks to slow the rate of global warming through climate-restoration projects. She can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

the-palm-1926
How To Survive Winter
by Yvette Viets Flaten

First of all, I plan my escape.
Thumb the cookbooks. Choose
a route, make a shopping list,
assemble my kit and cast myself
off.

Is it to be a weekender escape,
or a long trek into exotica?
Island frivolity or serious meditation?
A seaside paella, or heady Vindaloo?

Shall I bubble my sugo on the back
burner all day, peeling an orange brighter
than the noonday sun? Or thread shashlik
redolent of the noisy Spice Bazaar?

Oh, how far can I travel from the ice
and deepfreeze cold of these winter days,
encumbered like cousin muskox, pawing
at tundra moss? I’ll make myself, then,
tonight, a warm tagine, and tomorrow,
dancing shrimp, basked in olive oil, sanded
with paprika and the salt of sunny seas.

PAINTING: The Palm by Pierre Bonnard (1926).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I love to cook and have collected recipes and cookbooks all my life. Like many others, I turn to the comfort of cooking during the isolated days of the Coronavirus Pandemic. But when the Upper Midwest also goes through the deep freeze temperatures of a Polar Vortex in the depths of winter, cooking becomes even more than a comfort. It becomes a happy escape from home quarantine, or, at 25 below zero, a way to endure what has morphed, quite literally, into house arrest.

Flaten

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Yvette Viets Flaten was born in Denver, Colorado, and grew up in an Air Force family, living in Nevada, North Dakota, and Washington State as well as France, England, and Spain. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish (1974) and a Master of Arts in History (1982) from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. She writes both fiction and poetry and her award-winning poetry has appeared in numerous journals, including the Wisconsin Academy Review, Rag Mag, Midwest Review, Free Verse, Red Cedar Review, and Barstow and Grand. In May 2020 she was interviewed by Garrison Keillor as part of his Pandemic Poetry Contest. Yvette’s poem “Riding It Out” was one of 10 winners. Find her interview with Garrison Keillor here.

the-milkmaid.jpg!Large
How To Condense Milk
by Jaya Avendel

I entice a fluffy cloud to rise above the
Silver rim of my grandmother’s pot by
Whisking until my wrist falls off,
Until the hands on my broken clock stop.

I count time in the sweet simmer of my blood and
My body’s response to the music
Filling my lonely kitchen with songs
Ugly in their portrayal of love.

I listen to fifteen songs
Fifteen songs all the same
All as slurred as the burn I prevent by dancing with
My wrist as well as my feet
At the bottom of my grandmother’s pot.

White turns to gold
I nurture sunshine in a frozen world
Until I want to scream
The steam is screaming.

Time stops with the chickadees
At the back of my mind
The radio fuzzes out
A storm is coming.

My grandmother’s pot
Harbors three minutes of pouring
Silky smooth substance and
Two minutes of thought
Tasted as love or hate depending on the tongue.

PAINTING: The Milk Maid by Johannes Vermeer (c1660).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Since age nine, I have written by hand, which offers a deep connection to the words and feelings I capture in ink. I often find myself feeling disjointed when I try to write in type without having my handwritten first draft in front of me. ¶ Several months ago, I condensed milk for the first time to avoid an impossible drive to the grocery store to make a rather questionable but sinfully filling treat called southern butter buns. Since then, making condensed milk not only to put into the bun sauce but also to mix with flavored fresh snow (yes, snow off the ground), is a labor of love that offers me clarity of mind and purpose.

Author Photo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jaya Avendel, from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, is passionate about family, fantasy, poetry, and prose. Her writing is published at Visual Verse, Free Verse Revolution, Mookychick, and Green Ink Poetry, among others, and is most recently published in The Kali Project Anthology. She writes creatively at ninchronicles.com

garlic by stijn nieuwendijk
How to Mend a Relationship
by Rafaella Del Bourgo

You must call and say “I am abject,”
and you must be abject
and tear at your clothes
until they’re shredded.

Make him dinner
while wearing your rags,
dice garlic, the knife rocking
on the cutting board. Say to the garlic,
“You must help me with this,” and it will obey.

When he asks about the mumbling on your plate
explain that you are eating your words
which are quite bitter
and, as you look at him expectantly,

he will hand across a needle
and a spool of thread.

PHOTO: Red garlic by Stijn Nieuwendijk, used by permission.

del-bourgo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rafaella Del Bourgo’s writing has appeared in Puerto Del Sol, Rattle, Oberon, Nimrod, and The Bitter Oleander. She has won many awards including the League of Minnesota Poets Prize in 2009. In 2010, she won the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award. She was also the 2010 winner of the Grandmother Earth Poetry Award. In 2012, she won the Paumanok Poetry Award. In 2013, she was the recipient of the Northern Colorado Writers first prize for poetry, and, in 2014, the New Millennium Prize for Poetry. In 2017, she won the Mudfish Poetry Prize and was nominated for the third time for a Pushcart Prize. Her chapbook Inexplicable Business: Poems Domestic and Wild was published by Finishing Line Press. She lives in Berkeley, California, with her husband and cat.

weston eggplant
Making Eggplant Croquettes with the NYT Food Page
by Robbi Nester

To make this dish, you have to plan ahead.
One day, two eggplants occupied the shelf
in my refrigerator. I baked them, purple
as a nimbus cloud about to split. They fell in
on themselves, all steam and soft white flesh.
Then I left them overnight to cool, bitter
black juice seeping into the bowl. The next
day, I slipped off their blackened jackets,
chopped the yielding shreds, grated in
four cloves of garlic with a microplane,
mixed in some green-gold olive oil
and salt. I wasn’t finished yet!

After another day of waiting, I spread
a sheet of parchment paper in a pan,
poured in the eggplant mixture, wedged
it in the freezer. Next afternoon, I cut it
into greyish squares smelling of sweet
garlic. Finally, it was time to cook!
I arranged three bowls of beaten egg,
flour, and seasoned panko, dredged
the squares of frozen eggplant,
heated the cast iron pan till waves
of heat shimmered like a spirit
over the oil, lowered the croquettes
into their sizzling bath. They hissed
and spit like cornered cats, and crisped
immediately, the insides creamy
on my tongue. Sometimes, cooking
is like a séance, calling forth from plain
ingredients what’s been there all along.

PHOTO: Eggplant by Edward Weston, silver gelatin print (1929).

egplant croquettes

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have always enjoyed reading and writing about food and cooking as well as watching professional chefs cook and talk about food. During the pandemic, I stopped going to restaurants. The highlight of my week has become going to the grocery store, mostly very early in the morning, when the markets are virtually empty, and I feel as though I am walking through my own personal pantry. ¶ Before, I was a careless cook. Though I have always loved culinary variety and innovation and sought to learn something from making new dishes, the pandemic has slowed everything down considerably, allowed me to spend more time on each step of the preparation. Now I have time to prepare dishes that I would never consider making in the before-world, like the eggplant croquettes I have written about in this poem, which I first discovered in the pages of the Sunday New York Times Magazine.

PHOTO: Smoky Eggplant Croquettes (New York Times, All Rights Reserved).

NOTE: The New York Times recipe site is subscription only. A list of ingredients for Smoky Eggplant Croquettes is available at copymethat.com. But the directions are only available at the New York Times subscription site, or in the above poem.

nester2-copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robbi Nester is the author of four books of poetry, a chapbook, and three collections of poems, the most recent is Narrow Bridge (Main Street Rag, 2019). She has also edited three anthologies, the most recent is The Plague Papers, published as a special issue of Poemeleon Poetry Journal, available to read at Poemeleon.me. Find more of her work at robbinester.net.

Elwell licensed
Gravy
by Barbara Crooker

To make good gravy, you must be patient,
let the juice settle to the bottom, let the fat
float to the top in all its golden light. Skim
it with a thin spoon, take its measure. Equal
it with flour, sprinkle with salt, speckle
with pepper. Stir constantly in the roasting pan,
making figure eights with a wooden spoon.
Scrape off strips of skin, bits of meat; incorporate
them in the mixture, like a difficult uncle
or the lonely neighbor invited out of duty.
Keep stirring. Hand the wooden baton
to one of your daughters; it’s time for her
to start learning this music, the bubble and
seethe as it plays the score. One minute
at the boil, then almost like magic, it’s gravy,
a rich velvet brown. Thin it with broth,
stir in chopped giblets, then pour into
its little boat, waiting with mouth open.
Take up your forks, slide potatoes, stuffing,
gravy, into your mouth, hum under your breath.
Oh, the holy family of gravy, all those
little odd bits and pieces, the parts that could
be discarded, but aren’t; instead, transformed
into a warm brown blanket that makes
delicious every thing it covers.

SOURCE: Line Dance (Word Poetry, 2008).

PHOTO: Rich steaming gravy with ladle by Christopher and Amanda Elwell, used by permission.

Crooker

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Barbara Crooker is a poetry editor for Italian Americana and author of nine books; the latest is Some Glad Morning, Pitt Poetry Series. Her awards include the Best Book of Poetry 2018 from Poetry by the Sea, the WB Yeats Society of New York Award, the Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred Award, and three Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowships. Her work appears in a variety of anthologies, including The Bedford Introduction to Literature. Visit her at barbaracrooker.com and on Facebook and Twitter.