Super freaking good.  If you don’t have a double boiler, use a metal bowl on top of a saucepan (and have hot pads ready to handle it). Don’t know what teff is? Go ahead, GTS.

You’ll need:
1 cup teff (whole grains, not flour)
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. salt
4 cups water, milk, or water and milk

You’ll do:
In a small bowl, combine teff, 1/2 cup water, and salt.

Bring the 4 cups liquid mixture to a boil in the top of a double boiler.  (You can speed this process by bringing your water to a boil in an electric kettle first.)  Gradually stir in the teff mixture.  Return to a boil, continually stirring, for 3-5 minutes.  Lower heat and cover; cook for 25-30 minutes and stir frequently.  It gets thick.

If desired, add 1/2 cup nutritional yeast in the last 15 minutes of cooking.  Or 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, whatever.

Spoon into bowls for immediate eating or pour into a lightly oiled cake tin and chill.  Cut the chilled polenta cake into wedges and eat cold, heat up, or grill over a hot grill pan.

Hello, my little bloggie friends!

Is anyone even subscribed to this thing anymore?  I don’t think I’ve updated it since like the late 80s in internet years.  (Three years, yo.)

Now you might be wondering:  why revive?  Why dredge up the past?  WHY NOW???

And as you sit there, poised over your screen’s greenish glow, waiting with bated breath, I will tell you:  GIANT FABRIC STASH.

Yes, that’s right, peeps. The Odd Kitchen is now (also) a sewing blog.  ‘Cause I have two ginormous plastic bins of fabric that I have been collecting and carrying around with me from apt. to apt. FOR TEN YEARS.  Ten years!  That’s like the early 70s in internet years.

So, because I am a tidy little organized buglet at heart, I pulled each piece of fabric and each garment that needs fixing out of bin and bag and PHOTOGRAPHED THEM ALL, and MADE A SPREADSHEET.  And this freaking blog will help me check every last little thing off that list.

I’ll still post about food, too.

Go, gentle Scorpio, go…

Sauerkraut

So.  Do you like sauerkraut?  I mean — have you given homemade sauerkraut a chance in your adult life?

I was reintroduced to the stuff when I lived with a roommate in Boston who was, according to a friend, “like a Level 10 vegan.”  Vegan roommate, an excellent cook, used to pack red cabbage in jars and let them ferment in a cabinet, adding the finished product to sandwiches and rice dinners and other things.  It was good sauerkraut, not creepy like the unmonitored vats at a hot dog stand, and I could see that it was very easy to make.  (It is easy on the level of doing your own laundry.)

Not long after I found a terrific fanzine called Wild Fermentation that teaches one how to make their own sauerkraut.  It also teaches one how to make cheese, or tempeh, or tej or yogurt or pickles and other fermented foods.  It has since been turned into a book but you can still find the stunningly simple recipe for sauerkraut here. Thank you, Sandor Ellix Katz, a.k.a. Sandor Kraut, for making your passion so accessible to us.

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This is one of my most favorite everyday cakes, since it is reasonably simple to prepare and it includes two of my most favorite flavors, pears and cardamom.  I first made this cake at my sister’s house where I pulled the recipe from one of her cookbooks; I then copied the recipe onto the back of a receipt or something similarly scrappish and promptly lost it in a pile of paper; and then I rediscovered it today while cleaning off my desk.  The thing is that I didn’t write down whose recipe it is or what book it came from, so if there are any sleuths out there who can clue me in to its origin, please do.  Otherwise we’ll all just have to wait until I go to see my sister again.

It is called “Buttermilk Country Cake” and I am positive it is from a Maida Heatter-influenced cookbook.  I made a Pear Upside-Down Cake using an actual Maida Heatter buttermilk cake recipe for a dinner party in Alaska, and it was just not the same.  For starts, the M. H. version was enormous in comparison, like double-size the progeny’s version, and for seconds, it was a bit drier and tougher (though for that I’ll point to my probable overbeating of batter.  M. H. is not to be messed with).  The recipe I have for you here is moist-er than the popular Gourmet Magazine buttermilk cake recipe floating about online.  For me, it is just right.

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Oysters on deck

About an hour after arriving in Valdez, and less than 24 hours after arriving in Alaska, I received an invitation to spend the night on a fishing boat in Prince William Sound. My dear friend S., on hiatus from the Redacted Museum, has been spending her summer working at the Valdez Museum and I took her up on the offer to visit. She’d borrowed a minivan from her friend Neal to pick me up in Anchorage, where my flight got in at eleven-thirty at night.  Upon arrival I noticed the visible station of the sun and a quantity of handsomely taxidermied animals positioned about the airport, and felt certain that I’d landed in a different place.

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Don’t worry, this post isn’t going to include a recipe for “Untouched Chicken Salad Sandwich” or something equally mawkish. I just happened to read my old teenage fave on a long bus trip recently and couldn’t help but laugh about its fine details and the way in which I took its perceived message straight to heart when I was younger. There is something slightly chiropractic about reading books that once seemed so deeply private and personal as a yearning kid when you are all grown up and grumpy. At least this one ages fantastically well, if you can’t tell at least by the way my current writing style sucks up to it. Really though, communing with the Glass family again reminds me how cheap and exploitative douchey lame Wes Anderson films are. Do you hear what I’m saying, buddy?

Hmm. Enough of this critical foofery for the time being. I just spent last night on a boat! And in a day or two, I’ll have a groovy recipe for some of the fruits de la mer we collected whilst sailing the seas of Our Great 49th State.

Postscript 8/29/09:  It was a very hot day today for San Francisco, and I was walking from one cool covered place to another when I found The Way of a Pilgrim propped up against a drainpipe not too far from the corner of 23rd & Folsom.  A funny coincidence, that this little brown book should find its way into my hands less than a month after re-reading F & Z.

Today was Mariquita Farms Mystery Box day, and today’s selection included a bag of Yukon Gold potatoes and basil and little bitty cucumbers and Pimiento de Padron peppers, among other things.  A friend was coming over for dinner, so I decided to put a little something together.  But what?

I wanted to use that basil ASAP.  I don’t buy basil, since it usually comes in huge quantities that languish in my crisper long after I use what I need, and this bunch was too good to go to waste.  And the potatoes — am I really in the mood for potatoes?  Somehow my brains came up with the terrific idea of a cold potato salad with basil pesto called I Can’t Believe It’s Not Gnocchi.  Because, like, you know, gnocchi are made with potatoes?  And this is just like gnocchi, only way simpler and, um, not like gnocchi at all?  Well, it’s still really good.  I bet Fabio would endorse it.

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The making of these cookies was inspired by a lecture on Kierkegaard and irony I attended with friend T.T. at UC Berkeley earlier this year.

First, there was the lecture, held in the department’s Howison Library on campus. Wood paneling, wood and leather chairs, long tables, leather-bound volumes and portraits of ancient academics set the endearingly shabby scene for Johnathan Lear’s presentation on “Irony and Identity”. Shall I recapitulate the arguments? No! I confess my attention drifted from the speaker to the dress of the attendees (nondescript) to the printed signage instructing patrons on how to use the photocopy machine, and back again.  Did I enjoy it, even understand what was being discussed?  Yes!  Ducks were actually employed in part of Lear’s argument, which pleased me very much.

To the point: at the end of the lecture, the facilitator invited us into an adjacent lounge for “coffee and cookies”. How delightful! And indeed, cookies there were – six or seven different varieties whisked in from some fantasy bakery of deliciousness. I kid you not, the cookies were all very good. Lemon sandwich cookies, dressy chocolate chip, some sort of intense fudgelike concoction, and square-shaped mint-flecked sugar cookies. All so very tasty.

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Made this earlier this month, and it was pretty good.  I believe some saffron milk would go along very nicely, too, if you have it.

Also, I want a tagine.  And someone to show me how to sharpen my own knives.

Also: Korean food. Can’t get enough of it. Even though it’s not strictly Korean, I’m ready to take a trip to L.A. to get my hands on a bulgogi taco. Bulgogi tacos, surfing (or trying to, anyways), and visiting my dear old pal and her weird dogs sounds like a good way to spend the next out-of-town weekend I can afford.

Next up: Philosophical Mint Cookies, in honor of friend T. T.’s departure to the east.

NEEDED:
1 cup dried red lentils/masoor dal
1 bunch green onions, sliced thin
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 can coconut milk
1 cup water
3 eggs
Ghee

Heat about a tablespoon of ghee in a saucepan. Add the onions, garlic, salt, and turmeric and fry until translucent and tender. Stir in coconut milk and water and bring to a boil, then lower heat & let simmer. Stir occasionally so things don’t stick. Add water, if needed, so lentils are of a thinnish porridge-like consistency. Lower heat so the flame is very faint; crack eggs into the lentils and let sit, covered, about four minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the lentils to sit at least another five minutes before serving. Garnish with cilantro and cracked peanuts, if you have some handy.

Serves 2, or one hungry adult

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