Would You Wear Berries In Your Hair, For This Battalion of Lovers?

winter salad


because the onset of winter (however fitful) tends to get me excited about everything again, i’m going to get back to now and again just posting food i make for myself that i’m happy with, or think i learned something from. you know, like some kind of a”food blog” or something.

today: chicory salad with smoked turkey, fennel, cranberries, avocado, and madagascar green peppercorns,

i had never tried smoked turkey (we’re talking a whole smoked bird, not some deli meat shit), but a friend came over the other night with FOUR smoked turkey carcasses that still had a load of scrap meat on them, so we scavenged what we could* then hucked some potatoes and celery and onions in there, and had ourselves a stew.

this morning, i sautéed some turkey scraps and skin bits in bacon fat, because i figured smoked turkey + smokey bacon = duh, along with some halved cranberries and some of those  fresh green madagascar peppercorns, which are not too expensive and really just liven the shit out of things (i’m thinking there’s got to be a good use for the cloudy brine they come in, too. pepper martinis? hit me back on this). they have an almost ginny quality, i find, which is probably much more of a gin-having-a-green-peppercorn quality sort of thing, but they go tremendously well with bacon and like cured meat fats.** the cranberries were good, although i might have quartered, rather than halved them, because when you hit a whole half it was a little aggressively on the tart side. dried cranberries might actually be preferable, but that could also turn out too sweet. i originally did this with just olive oil and lemon juice, but decided to add some white wine vinegar for depth.

the avocado was just there because it was on sale, and i have a soft spot for combining fats. a soft spot called my gut.

* in the process i was struck by how useful it would be to have a cool “meat scraping glove” with metal claws that one could use for just such carcass work.

** i knew i had talked about these somewhere before; it turns out it was FOUR YEARS AGO, in a post almost almost identical to this one. plus ça change, plus de chicory and green peppercorns, apparently.

listening: At the Gates – “Terminal Spirit Disease”, Rome – “The Accidents of Gesture”

recipe, Uncategorized

As Big A Fan As I Am of Fuss and Muss . . .

combines my love of bread with my hatred of doing anything that has more than two steps!


lord knows by what dereliction of duty on my part i have kept this from you for the past two years, but it seems high time, when the shutters are flung wide and unnecessary doors are unscrewed from their hinges and consigned to the alleyways, to share with y’all the simpler pleasures of the simplest of beer breads (summer is baking season, right? well, my oven works for the first time in months, so it is now). now there are lots of kinds of beer bread out there, and for some time i was all hesitant, with qualifications at the ready whenever i spoke of this beer bread – “Oh, it’s not so much bread as something between bread and a biscuit” (the above, an old photo, actually portrays it as more biscuity than the product i have been achieving of late) – but nuts to all that, right?staff of life, fools, i don’t have all day.

i have no idea how or where we came upon this recipe, only that it occurred back in December of 2009, when we were recently returned from France, and i imagine were feeling dearly the absence of the freshly baked bread with which we had grown accustomed to daily girding ourselves. in any case, it stormed into our lives, winning a permanent seat in our affection with its brash simplicity and convenient exploitation of the fact that if there were more than 3 of us in a room somewhere (any of us, really), then there was likely also to be beer afoot.

the particulars:

3 cups of all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
3 teaspoons salt
1 bottle of beer

mix the dry ingredients, add the wet ingredient, dump the (still sticky, somewhat more so than you would expect from bread dough) lot into a lightly greased baking dish, bake at something like 375° for around 40 minutes. there is no kneading. there is no rising. there is only beer, and then bread.

what emerges is not quite sandwich-ready, but for all other purposes (butter, jam, soup, hangovers) is heartily adequate. i’ve tried various styles of beer, and have found that i prefer a cheap lager; while when one would expect that something with a little more character, such as a stout or a rousse, could lend a dash of excitement, most such experimentation has yielded an overly pronounced yeasty taste. save it for the drinking, i say.

speaking thereof, leafing through Mark Kurlansky’s The Food of a Younger Land, i came across this recipe, originaly from Kenneth Roberts’ Trending Into Maine (1938), for hot buttered rum:

Pour one fair-sized drink (or jigger) of rum into an ordinary table tumbler: add one lump of sugar, a pat of butter the size of a single hotel helping, half a teaspoonful of cinnamon, fill up the tumbler with boiling water, stir well and sip thoughtfully. If too sweet, use less sugar in the next attempt. If not sweet enough, add more. If the cinnamon isn’t wholly satisfactory, try cloves. If more butter seems desirable, use more.

it is for my fondness for recipes in this spirit, and the vague and slippery culinary exploits they encourage, that i shall never be a baker. 

or a skateboarder/guitarist/astronaut. no discipline.










Bold Is Love.


standing in front of the stove unintentionally but sincerely embodying the infomercial subject’s “There’s Got To Be A Better Way,” while trying to make a grilled cheese sandwich with a fried egg in it.

this reminds me that, cf: IF YOU LIKE IT YOU SHOULDA PUT A EGG IN IT, putting a egg in it need not be exclusively a celebratory act. i think it can also fulfil a motivating function, like where you’ve been muddling around (say, on the internet) all morning* not really doing much of anything, and are just like “Okay, I gotta get down to business,” and so you put a egg in it, whatever it is. it’s a little hitch up your pants, boot in the ass kind of thing, like a promise you make your self. like you’re the Mayor and you’re like “I don’t want to do this, but shit I am the Mayor, and the Mayor’s gotta get shit done” (NB: i have no idea what mayors do), out of sheer respect for the office.

putting a egg in it is like throwing your cap over the wall.

anyway, after considerably brainstorming, it seems like the best avenue of attack is to butter one’s bread, place the two slices independently upon a griddle, gird them with cheese, so you get the browning going and the cheese melting. that’s step one. then crack an egg in a separate pan (or separate area of the same pan, should it be spacious enough), and fry it just enough on each side that it sets and the yolk is held in place. when the egg is ready, and the cheese beginning to melt a little, you transfer the egg to one of the slices, top it with the other (carefully) and crank up the heat, being careful as well when you flip it, because you don’t want that yolk to break until you bite into the sandwich. or at least until the sandwich is on your plate, then you can give it a good press down and get the egg disseminating (that is exactly the kind of gender-blending that the English language tries to hard to prohibit, but hey, words can’t be everywhere all the time, right?) through the cheese, still viscous and ready for consumption.

this is not going to work.

in other news, i’m considering putting a piece of colourful string around my finger to remind myself every time i’m like “what am i supposed to be doing right now?” to just put on some Hendrix. because at least then, confusion notwithstanding, i’ll be feelin’ it.

* it is conventionally at 2pm when you realize this.


Soul On Ice

if you live in montréal right now, you may have noticed that it’s SUMMER AGAIN. after a brief but disheartening cold snap, wherein everyone was running around long-faced and harriedly trying to readjust to such inhumane-seeming practices as sock-wearing and buttoning their shirts up beyond their solar plexus, it is back to an even 36°w/humidity, which means it is also iced-coffee climate again.

to which i say: prosit!

and i say it like so:

2 or 3 giant ice cubes
2 shots espresso, or the strongest coffee you can conjure
1 shot coffee liqueur (i’ve been using Mona Lisa, which is sort of like a thinner, more straightforward Kahlua, to which it can’t hold a candle, but it’s ideal for this kind of thing.)
milk/soy milk/cream, to taste
a sprinkling each of good quality coarse sea salt and demerara or turbinado sugar

that last bit is essential, as the salt adds provides the sweet/savoury interplay that pushes it over the top into Total Deliciousness. i wouldn’t stir it in too vigorously, because that can get weird.

what i -am- toying with, however, is the idea of maybe crushing the salt and sugar up a little finer and giving the glass a salt/sugar/liqueur rim. how about that?

that’s the kind of shit you bust out when company’s coming.

markets, recipe

Brassica Uber Alles, Part Two: Roman Fever Revisited.


which is, i have noticed, variably the last two weeks of august or july. alternately,


yes, that hotly anticipated time when – for those of us who don’t live in Italian-dominated neighbourhoods, where that shit runs like water – rapini descends from its 3$ Throne On High and  suddenly becomes attainable for a buck or two, which is Awesome, and then i end up eating it every day until i have honestly pretty much ruined it for myself, but whatever dude, this path is stupid, it goes in spirals, perhaps in circles, but whichever way it goes, i will follow it.

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recipe, Uncategorized

Ce n’est pas de la tarte

behold! another guest post from my buddy-in-arms, Hannah Mae, who now and then will be and has been posting here. keep an ear out.

j. “crooked mouth” campbell


You know what word I like?  “Galette.”  You know why I like it?  Because when you get to that point of making a pie where you’re all I made the filling I made the crust I just wanted to eat some pie I don’t care what it looks like why in the damn hell would I want to sit here crimping edges forever etc. etc., and you just want to throw it all in the oven like it is – you can just throw it in the oven like it is, more or less, and then instead of apologizing for your funny-looking pie, you can present it proudly to whatever ungrateful dinner guest would object to something called a “funny-looking pie” (seriously, dude, you need some new friends, that guy sucks), and say “voici la galette!”  It’s French, so you know it’s good cooking, right?

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miscellany/etymology, recipe

Who Is Farinata?


as opposed to “What is farinata?” which is what usually confronts me when i say things like “man, i’ve been really into farinata lately,” or “have you ever had farinata?” or “hey, you want to come over for some farinata?” because no one seems to know what it is, and for that matter, nor did i, until i ran across a recipe for it one day and was like “hey, that seems just like socca.”

the plot thickens, i know.

so to clarify, after the orgy of comma-spattered obfuscation that is customary around here, we must go to Nice, of all places.

the fall of 2008 quite improbably found me aboard a cruise ship in the Mediterranean sea, and one of our ports of call being Villefranche-Sur-Mer, where as there is little to do besides see Cocteau’s chapel (which was closed) and you know, enjoy the French fucking riviera, we decided to hop the train over to Nice, which we heard was okay. and i’m happy we did; happier still that my travelling companion had the wherewithal to learn a little about the place beforehand, because as a result we spent much of our day wending our way down charming winding streets in search of what the 4 pages i had torn out of some past-due Lonely Planet assured us was a must-try of Niçoise cuisine – socca.

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markets, product review, recipe

“And I Feel Like I’m Slowly, Slowly, Slowly Slipping Under.”

have i already written about you, preserved lemon? i’ve certainly thought about it. i even took pictures of you, i remember. it was going to be part of that three-parter, that mighty triumvirate i was plotting in honour of the little ol’ lemon and my then surprising, new, and now abiding love for it. the lil’ guy (or gal?).

it was going to go like this:

I. PRESERVED LEMONS, and how i love ’em.

II. SEARED LEMONS, as a topping for pasta or salad, mostly. so summery!

III. LEMON JUICE, 1 or 2 lemons worth, neat, for breakfast, its vitalizing properties.

i first picked up some preserved lemons at L’Olivier in the Jean-Talon (where i have just been informed of the distinction between moroccan and tunisian harissa, more on this soonish), and was immediately taken, because they are all salty and sour and bitter in spades and so how couldn’t i be? and then i read all over the place how easy they are to make at home, but pickling/preserving being one of those things i have an emotional/culinary block about (i just can’t seem to commit to it. if anyone versed in these arts feels like dating and/or marrying me, i’m sure that would be sufficient motivation for overcoming this hurdle), i never go around to it.

just last week i bought a jar of them from Akhavan, and while they are good, maybe a little pithier tasting, or merely pithy tasting in a less pleasant way? (it is mostly the rind that one is supposed to use, btw, a popular ingredient in tagines, chutneys, the like, and once you’ve had it, you’ll realize you’ve tasted it in all manner of places before) so i somewhat cowedly pictured this jar sitting half-full in my fridge for you know the rest of my life, until this weekend at the market (at a totally different shop, one of the food stands, on the opposite side of the market, i wish i could remember his name…) i chanced to try a pickled lemon confit this dude makes himself with an assortment of spices that a) was delicious, and b) reminded me i can do whatever i want (ie: that) with my preserved lemons. so i’m gonna. gonna have cardamom and chilis and uh, fennel. i’ll get back to you. (note to self: you are, however improbably, out of cardamom again. weird. sleepwalking? investigate)

this guy also makes his own hot sauce all with homegrown(farmed?) peppers, which was pretty good except it was Thai Sweet Chili style, which is unfortunately probably my least favourite species of hot sauce, besides perhaps Bland El Salvadorean Sauce or Stupid Boring Chipotle Sauce.


so. expect to hear more on lemons.


seared lemons. it can be a gamble, because you wanna cook them at high enough heat to actually sear ’em and get the sugars cookin’, but not so hot that the outside blackens before the inner pith cooks, ‘cos otherwise they’ll be too shocking.

similarly, you gotta cut ’em thin, so this’ll have a devil’s chance of happening , but not so thin that by the time they’re done they’re just a brown heat-chewed old rind with no juice in ’em.

worth the effort though. good with any lively or bitter green pesto pasta dish, some cream sauce affairs, and most salads that don’t have too much else going on. i’d say nothing more obtrusive than white wine vinegar or lemon and oil to dress, a slightly bitter green like spinach or frisée or escarole, and some kinda nice toasted seed (almonds man. almonds). milder cheeses like fior di latte or ricotta work well, although i’ve also had success with crazy salty stuff like armenian string cheese (which goes with all lemon) or even some blues.

who am i kidding, do whatever you want.


oh, and fresh squeezed lemon juice for breakfast – it’s like a less soul-corrupting shot of espresso.

recipe, Uncategorized

“Don’t Make Me Do It To You Homey, Cuz I Overdo It”

[another gem from the annals of “When Did I Even Write This?” i believe it had something to do with staying up all night with my Token Irish Friend* listening to jazz and shit-talking our jazz-hating-punk friends, eating grilled after grilled cheese sandwich. lord knows why i felt it warranted a Jay-Z reference. i guess because i do, and therefore you really shouldn’t make me. homey**]

january 19th, 2009

when you reach the point of “I’m too drunk to use my hands,” be it in the context of coitus interruptus or the only practical constraints on a bluegrass jam, i recommend this for a snack:

grilled cheese sandwich stuffed with fried onions (-lots- of fried onions). any kind of cheese, really, although likely by this time your palate is probably insensitive to finer distinctions, so i recommend saving the good stuff. either  a mild mozza or a really sharp cheddar go well with this .

to be dipped in HOT BERBERE MAYO. yeah. homemade or storebought mayo will suffice, just add some harissa and HOMEMADE BERBERE SPICE.

in the spirit of unconscionable laxity, i am not going to bother to sort out the connection between the Berebers, as people (of northern Africa, a substantial proportion, ethnically, of Morocco and Algeria), and Berebere, the spice mix so important to Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine. i had always sort of assumed one came from the other, but the geographic distinction described above casts such an assumption under a suspicious light. if you want to sort this out yourselves, be my guests, and i can make a vague promise that this will eventually get sufficiently under my skin to force me take it in hand properly, at which point you will certainly hear about it, but in the meantime. the spice.

i could try to provide you with a recipe for the stuff, but after a cursory rummage through the pile of scraps which serves as the nearest thing to a recipe collection that i possess, i realize that no one of them suffices in and of their….

oh, never mind, i already gave you one, once. very well then.

take as much of that as you want and put it in your mayo. then dip your sandwich in it.

like, forever.

*that’s not true. man’s my Best friend. token nuthin’.
**it has come to my attention that what Hov says is “dunny,” not “homey.” i don’t know what/who that means/is.

rant, recipe

Death To Videodrome.

long live the new flesh

[sorry for the sloppy updating. i’m trying to keep up a semi-regular Thursday posting schedule, but you know, it’s spring.]

there is truly something to be said for unroasted nuts.

they are good.

now that i have put my finger on it, i intend to not forget that i believe it and have come by this belief quite honestly, if mostly by accident. i have been suspicious for some time, i insisted upon telling myself as i thoroughly enjoyed my dessert last whatever night. dessert – this in itself is special, as i so often claim not to have much use for dessert, despite my inevitable post-everything craving for sweets, and tonight is the first time in years (years?) that i can boast of addressing this craving with anything properly resembling a dessert and not merely the readyest-at-hand means of satisfying what i view as a perverse and dangerous compulsion (peanut butter oh henry, handful of chocolate chips, molasses on a rice cake, white russian).

this dessert consisted of a banana sprinkled with cinnamon and topped with a reduction of sortilège and bacardi 151 (i had planned to set it on fire, for fun more than anything, obviously, because it’s not like i had anyone to impress besides the cat, who is shamefully easy to impress, even or especially for a cat), and some walnut halves and maple syrup. just what i had on hand, i assure you. under ideal circumstances i would have just cooked down some rum w/maple syrup, but by happy accident this turned out to be pretty delicious. furthermore, under my projected ideal circumstances i would have had the time to toast/roast the walnuts a little (i had already turned the burner on the booze, and i was backtracking nothing, for no one), and had i done so i doubt i’d be writing this, feeling as i do, now.

i’m not saying i’ve got anything against roasted or toasted nuts, whoa no; i am reminding myself, and you all, that the raw nut is not to be neglected, nor scorned, nor left in the cold. that in turn reminds me that it is in fact a fruit or something, or whatever it is (a fruit. i checked. or a drupaceous nut, referring to the fact that while technically a fruit, that the fruit grows inside an outer husk or makes it analogous to the nut, a borderline nut; not a true nut but a dissembling nut. or dissembling fruit? i don’t know, i made that last part up because i’ve been reading a lot of spy novels. in the nauseous hour before dawn the nut contemplate the escape of second treason), that it is a thing of the flesh, and not just a crunchy little snack…not just whatever it is that allows us to disregard the nuts and seeds in our lives. it tears away the veil. the nut is the flesh, the seed is a life machine. etc.

it is rare that i am reminded of this, but most often it occurs with walnuts (which i love, btw, and am from this day forth no longer afraid of throwing in, chopped and raw, with braised brussels sprouts) or occasionally sunflower seeds boiled with rice, or when i read exotic tales involving green almonds, and i am glad for it.

the flesh or fleshiness of the nut, right? lest we forget.

(the shuffle on my itunes is really kicking ass right now. dinosaur junior, arch enemy, the boss, brian eno, thin lizzy and now the cure? what? you know how sometimes you’re just like song after song “what is this crap? why do i even have this?” well not today)