Monthly Archive for August 2009
My mom loves to tell a story about lobster. When she was a kid, she couldn’t stand the stuff—something her siblings agreed on. The kids’ aversion, though, was my grandparents’ boon. They could each feast on a lobster, dunking the meat in drawn butter, while feeding the kids something much less glamorous. They didn’t do it often, because it was expensive, but that they could afford to do it at all was only because the kids turned up their noses.
Somewhere along the way, the kids grew up and caught on. They, too, wanted lobster and my grandparents’ little secret was blown. A parallel story is unfolding these days—just with a different generation and a different delicacy. The star of this story—the one that involves my parents and me—is creamed corn.
So, a few weeks ago, I got an email from Grace at Design*Sponge asking if I’d like to post a recipe to the site’s new series: In The Kitchen With. I nearly fell out of my chair. Receiving such a request from a blog you adore, apparently, does a number on one’s uprightness. I composed myself and responded that I’d be thrilled to do it. The email was restrained and exclamation point free, but today I say what the heck: The Kitchen Sink is featured on Design*Sponge today!!! So, go check it out. There, I’ve got a lovely recipe for one of the most beautiful fruits available in the farmers’ markets these days.
Oh, and have a good weekend!!! That’s a command completely worthy of multiple exclamation points as well.
We’ve been home so infrequently this summer that it feels like a real treat to have a good old fashioned weeknight in. It’s the mundane—a slow walk around the neighborhood, collecting our dry cleaning and grabbing a carton of eggs at the market; watering the flowers while the sun goes orange as it sets; sitting at the table on the deck long after we’re done eating dinner—that feels so good, so refreshing. Since these nights have been few and far between, though, I’ve been relying on stand-by recipes: like this, this and this one. Even where dessert for dinner guests is concerned, I’ve been—gasp—recycling recipes (for the record: you should make a batch of these, stuff them with excellent vanilla ice cream coated with mini chocolate chips and call it a chipwich … like, tonight).
But, this week, I’d had enough of the re-do’s. We’d been through all of our old favorites once, twice, thrice this summer. So I went hunting for new recipes. On Monday, there were pork chops and halved plums grilled simply and served with a pile of greens—a meal inspired by The Publican’s current incarnation of its country ribs. Tonight, we’re trying a new steak sandwich, which is generally a no-fail proposition. We snuck in a dinner out on Tuesday night. Which leaves us with Wednesday.
Although it always delivers sunny skies, emerald lawns and delicious produce, summer, and what it means to me, has changed over the years. As a kid, it meant late nights scampering breathlessly around the neighborhood, running through the cool arc of a lawn sprinkler, spending a couple weeks up at my grandparents’ house.
When the teenaged years hit, summer shifted to mean hours spent on the phone and sunbathing, a mind boggling number of soccer games, and a series of pushed boundaries where bedtime and boys were concerned.
While we were in Northern Minnesota, my grandpa made us all a big platter of pancakes for breakfast one morning. As he sat on his kitchen stool flipping the hot cakes, one by one, my grandma told us the story behind the recipe: Pancakes by Norma. My grandparents used to drive the hour south to Duluth every so often to spend the night “in town.” They’d stay with my grandpa’s brother and, in what became a tradition, his wife Norma would serve them her pancakes—the very pancakes my grandpa was frying up that morning.
On one trip to Duluth, my grandma jotted down the recipe and, when she got back to her own kitchen, scrawled it into the margins of one of her most well-used cookbooks for safekeeping. Now, my grandma’s handwriting has a tendency toward illegibility—at least for the uninitiated. But I’ve read countless pieces of mail from her—sometimes featuring her golf game, other times providing a garden update, always recounting the weather—and I’ve learned to decipher her hand. Here’s the recipe in her cookbook (but, don’t worry; given your lack of practice, I’ve translated it for you below):
Up where my grandparents live, on the north shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota (more simply, “the North Shore”), I am unfailingly happy. It’s the kind of place where the landscape is stunningly beautiful—papery birch trees, rocky cliffs, rushing streams and that big, gorgeous lake—and the people are unflinchingly real. Nearly everybody knows everybody and they cut to the chase.
See what I mean?
Oh, dear. Somehow, a week has slipped away since my last post. You’ve been there on your side of the computer and I’ve been here on my side, but the space between us—this little site—has been silent. Which is funny, because my real life has been anything but quiet. It’s been a busy (one might call it “crazed” or perhaps even “frantic”) week, but in all the right ways. We spent a long weekend in Minnesota, way up north on Lake Superior, visiting my grandparents. Details and recipes and photos from the trip will be along shortly, but before that, I have news.
On Saturday, we staged the Second Annual Blueberry Picking Contest of the North. This year’s competition was fierce and included the following contenders:
On Sunday afternoon, I visited a little corner of hell. It wasn’t subterranean, it wasn’t all that hot, but hell it was, right there in Lincoln Park, at the corner of Kingsbury and Sheffield. Chicagoans might recognize this location: it’s the site of Chicago’s brand new, super(-duper)-sized Whole Foods—a sprawling spectacle of food and booze and carts and people.
To be fair, I’m kind of a sucker for spectacles and I actually quite this new Whole Foods. But I apparently only like it before the hour of 9 a.m., or some similarly unpopulated hour. I can tell you one thing for sure: I do not like it at the hour of 3 p.m. on a Sunday.