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“Muffin Top” makes it into the Oxford English Dictionary

We interrupt this rarely-updated blog to announce…that “muffin top” has made it into the OED. You may resume activity now. 😉


pumpkin rocks

(For those of you who don’t know, who for some reason have internet but don’t check news or Facebook or twitter and hang out with people who don’t check news or FB or twitter, Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere, had an earthquake with catastrophic consequences this week).

I have been watching the images from Haiti, aghast and speechless with horror and heartbreak. For every person rescued, many others are languishing and dying under the rubble of concrete buildings. I wept last night as I ran while watching television when a man ran up to CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta with his 15-day old daughter who had a severe head laceration. His wife, the child’s mother had died in the earthquake, that child was all he head left. Every news report is accompanied by the wailing of mourners in the background.

Our fellow human beings are being subjected to suffering, and we need to not only send prayers but actual help, just as we did for Hurricane Katrina. The vast majority of us are unqualified to help, and so we *must* send money. We all have something to give, even if money is tight. Instead of dining out, send that money to aid organizations. Instead of buying that dress, send the money to aid organizations.

It’s as easy as texting “HAITI” to “90999,” which will contribute $10 to the Red Cross that will be charged to your cellphone.

If you want to donate more than $10, you can donate to the Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders or go to the White House Website to look at its list of other organizations you may want to consider supporting.

We are not helpless, because we can ALL help. And should.

My friend is putting together a bakesale for Haiti on Saturday January 23rd, from 10am-2pm, in various locations throughout Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco (Pizzaiolo in Oakland, Gioia’s Pizza in Berkeley, and Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco). Spread the word. There is more than one way to send money to Haiti–you can buy a cupcake and benefit Haiti, too.

Lunchtime Crunchtime


Mustard Sardines on Toast with Persimmons

Mustard Sardines on Toast with Persimmons

There’s been this strange economizing thing that’s come over me in the past few weeks – since my return from London, I suspect. I actually have found that the mantra my mate Marie used, “Credit crunch – packed lunch!” seems to have gotten stuck into my conciousness and the result is that rather than popping out for something to eat at lunchtime, I’ve been scouring my cupboards in the morning.

Trying to discover what strange and odd bits and pieces I can cobble together into something resembling a meal has become a bit of a daily habit. This particular day, cold yet sunny, I’d just had my organic box delivery with persimmons but I’d not had the opportunity to do much else with the rest of the lot. Leftover heels of bread from my weekly bake (another credit-crunch-worthy endeavour – keeps better and tastes far superior to any regular old plastic bagged loaf) with a tin of bargain-priced sardines in a mustard sauce. Quick toast of the bread, remove the spines from the fish, a quick mash on toast with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and lunch is had.

Quick note on the sardines… I never NEVER in my life suspected that I might be one of those people who actually willingly eat these little guys. I’d hated the thought of eating them – to me they were simply a treat for the cat! Until I moved overseas and my friend showed me the error of my ways. Remove the spines if you must, as I do, and the texture is simply lovely. Light and without any of the suspected fishy smell or overtly sea-like undertones. Its actually quite mild, a bit like tuna in that respect. If you’re a lady, you may decide that crunching the bones is a good source of calcium but I cannot in any good conscience recommend it. Oh, and a good Gourmet magazine to read is always a welcome companion.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Fried Green Tomato BLTs

Warning: This post may induce clogged arteries.
While I find it doubtful that some people have never heard of fried green tomatoes thanks to the novel and movie, I do find that lots of people have never had them. And that, dearhearts, is a crying shame.

Green tomato slices!

When I was about ten years old, my next door neighbor showed me how to make fried green tomatoes. (Yes, it was around the time when the movie first came out.) She was my grandmother’s best friend, and she was from Kentucky, and I thought she was the best cook in the world for quite some time. I don’t think I’d ever even considered that a tomato could be something other than red, or that you could fry it. When she and I went into the kitchen and dusted her fresh-from-the-garden unripe tomatoes with cornmeal, I thought that this might possibly be the coolest thing I’d ever done. They tasted like potato chips, but better, and I could have eaten them every day.

Green tomato slices in the skillet

We made them once or twice after that, but she moved and I grew older and since we didn’t grow our own tomatoes, we didn’t have green ones. And, up until I moved and started going to a farmer’s market regularly, I didn’t see them for almost a decade. One morning, I walked past a wooden box of green tomatoes, shiny and hard as rocks; I bought four praying I remembered the recipe. I searched online, and found recipes that baked them (they aren’t “baked” green tomatoes) and coated them with breadcrumbs (what??) or panko (hell no!). So I played around with what I could remember.

They’ve gotten to be more popular fare at both soul food hole-in-the-walls and at upscale places like Georgia Brown’s in Washington, D.C.. A few years back I realized that a bistro around the corner from me served fried green tomato BLTs, and I started going to that place more regularly. Continue reading

An edible garden’s birth

edible schoolyard's sign for their spring plant sale

The Edible Schoolyard, an Alice Waters landmark of gardening and good eats in Berkeley, is holding its annual spring plant sale. I noticed this sign while picking up pizzas at Gioia’s yesterday–I’m tempted to go there and pick up some more vegetables to plant–maybe you’ll be tempted, too?

The sign reminded me of my own vegetable garden, newly started this year–yesterday, I finished my planting of fines herbes (parsley, tarragon, chives, chervil) by planting some chervil. Ah, I felt strangely satisfied! Visions of scrumptuous food danced through my mind.

But for now, reading about using herbs, fresh from the garden, has to suffice: for example, Pinch My Salt’s herbed tuna salad post makes me salivate, as I watch my garden grow.

What do I have planned? I’m thinking herb tempura with the Korean perilla leaves! Pesto with the basil! Soup with the sour garden sorrel. Kimchi with the Korean radish. North Korean eggplant stew with the Korean eggplant. Oodles of possibilities with my fines herbes, and nibbling on lavash and tarragon sandwiches. Eating carrots fresh out of the earth, raw and sweet. Tea with the chamomile, tea with the mint! And maybe mojitos with the mint! Infused cocktails with the anise hyssop. Chicken soup with dill. Yogurt with dill.

The possibilities seem endless.

vegetable garden mid-May

unedited fridge 3

I actually take of sort of sick pleasure in organizing the fridge, but my husband’s been out of town, and we had a Cinco de Mayo fiesta last weekend so I’m rocking a bachelor fridge – booze and condiments! 

Normally, I do all my grocery shopping on Saturdays (farmer’s market, butcher, fishmonger, bakery, etc.) but didn’t go the past three Saturdays.  (I’ve kept some of my greens, especially the herbs, fresh by standing them upright in water in a glass container, loosely covered with the plastic bag they came in.  Trim the stems and change water every few days) However, I constantly tinker with food experiments, hence the fruit pits, the preserved/pickled items, the vodka infusions and the animal fats.  Also, I’m actively trying to clear out my freezer (must. finish. ice-cream!), so many of our meals were defrosted the night before; if I were to open it right now, everything would tumble out, which is why you won’t see a picture of it.  Tonight, I pulled out my wok and scrambled some egg, sauteed some bok choy and onion, and tossed in some frozen peas, leftover roast duck and green onion with a few squirts of soy sauce, fish sauce and sesame oil to make fried rice.  Tomorrow, I’ll probably take some of that defrosted pasta sauce and adapt that penne pasta dish with red pepper flakes, onion, parsley and salt pork from the Babbo cookbook.  On Thursday, I’ll complete the vichysoisse by adding cream and chopped chives and accompany it with a hunk of bread (um, no croutons) and a salad.

Maybe when I get back into my normal routine, I’ll take another picture.  If you think the contents of my fridge are weird now, wait til you see it when I’m back to “normal”.

Unedited Fridge 2

mai's fridge

Mai here. As per C(h)ristine’s directive, here is my unedited fridge as of 2pm today. It has mostly fruit (mangoes, cherries, strawberries, lemons), vegetables (onions, bell peppers), water (still and carbonated), eggs, bacon, smoked salmon, half and half, and cheese (smoked gouda, goat cheese, petit basque and jack).

I put things in “strategic” places, so my boyfriend can see that we have certain items (like the sliced smoked gouda next to the mangoes). If I don’t, he’ll either buy duplicates or it will go bad.

I usually buy items right before I make a meal with the goal of not wasting ingredients or holding too much in the house. This mostly works out. Right now I have everything to make a salmon quiche, but it feels too hot to bake. Maybe tomorrow.

Unedited Fridge

Unedited Fridge

Christine here! And that above is my fridge as of 9:00pm this evening.

Sam, over at becks & posh, has asked, “What is in your unedited fridge?” and her question has hit a nerve–everyone’s hopping on that confessional wagon!

It’s exhilarating to see the fridge contents of other foodies–especially UNEDITED fridge contents (no you may NOT neaten or straighten up the items of your fridge). You may notice things I’ve blogged about previously, such as organic maraschino cherries, or hummus .

But generally, it’s one big gorgeous mess! Sadly, there is MUCH more in that fridge than meets the eye. Hidden in the back are treasures like leftovers of galbi jjim as well as plugra clarified butter, organic tahini, homemade limoncello, and bottles of lillet.

My fridge is DEFINITELY not one of those fridges on MTV Cribs, where some celebrity opens up his/her fridge to neat rows of Evian water and Snapple, arranged like Westpoint cadets in marching formation.  Oh, with one bottle of ketchup and oranges or some other generic fruit to “round it out.”  Seriously–I scoff at those fridges.

I didn’t show the freezer–everything’s frostbitten in there, and everything will just fall out onto the floor once I slide out the door anyway. Yes, things like Viccolo’s frozen pizza, frozen Korean mandoo, frozen pita, various meats, and ice creams.

Would love all the other Muffin Top writers to show their unedited fridges in separate posts! You don’t have to, but you wouldn’t mind, would you?

What can I get you?

What alcoholic drink are you? I’m apparently a martini drinker who doesn’t like a flavored martini, even though I’ve professed my love of cosmopolitans, kamikazes, and french martinis here before…

Still, a fun little quiz.

You Are A Martini

You are the kind of drinker who appreciates a nice hard drink.
And for you, only quality alcohol. You don’t waste your time on the cheap stuff.
Obviously, you’re usually found with a martini in your hand. But sometimes you mix it up with a gin and tonic.
And you’d never, ever consider one of those flavored martinis. They’re hardly a drink!

What Alcoholic Drink Are You?