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Archive for 'culinary history'

ZUCCHINI: THE RAW & THE COOKED

Zucchini has quite the reputation. The plants are prolific as hell, and with the effortless pick-up of a sports car, their offspring zooms from the cute, almost-ready-to-pick stage to the size of a cricket bat (see above) in no time. Garrison Keillor, chronicler of the small, fictional town of Lake Wobegon on A Prairie Home Companion, has […]

A MICROGREEN GARDEN

In another month, the Union Square Greenmarket will be bursting with young greens—not just the ubiquitous ramps, but dandelion leaves and wild edibles such as chickweed, claytonia, and nettles—spring tonics, all. Meanwhile, I’m getting my fresh fix from microgreens. Unlike sprouts (the first stage of plant growth), which are germinated in a dark, moist environment, […]

CELERY VICTOR(IOUS)

Apart from Thanksgiving, when it’s pressed into service for stuffing and the relish tray, celery is the old maid of the crisper drawer. A few stalks are used here and there for soups or stews, or cut into thirds and filled with peanut butter or pimento cheese for a quick snack or down-home hors d’oeuvre. But […]

LEEKS—FROM MARKET TO MESOPOTAMIA AND BACK

Leeks are a slow-growing crop; the beauts you see here were planted last summer. They’re as stalwart and noble as whoever is outside this time of year, digging them out of the frozen ground. I bought plenty—enough for a pot of leek and potato soup and then some. Beneath that rugged appearance, you see, the leek […]

WINTER KOHLRABI—A (QUICK) MARKET STORY

On a frosty February morning, what brings me to a screeching halt is the sheer richness of color—ravishing purple and celadon green. I’m looking at kohlrabies*, shorn of the whirligig leaves that grant them an interplanetary status for much of the year. I do not have time for this. For cooking, that is, let alone mooning over […]

NEW YORK STATE SORGHUM: A MARKET STORY

About six years ago, I’d heard that a couple of farmers, two brothers, from the Catskills region had started making sorghum syrup, a tangy, deep-flavored sweetener better known south of the Mason-Dixon Line. I filed the information away, then forgot about it; I always seem to have a jar of the stuff, lugged back from […]

THREE CLASSIC AMERICAN SALAD DRESSINGS

A recent encounter with a restaurant salad drenched in a thin, too-sharp vinaigrette left me pining for richer dressings, those with swagger and substance. Green Goddess is one such treasure: Anchovies give it a deep resonance and tarragon, a bright, joyous peal of flavor. It’s most famously served over avocado, but it is also superb […]

YELLOW SUMMER SQUASH

Plenty of folks think yellow summer squash is boring, but I love it. I tell people this, and more often than not, they nod knowledgeably. “Well, you’re southern,” they say. “Squash casserole! Do you make yours with cornflakes or potato chips on top?” I stopped trying to figure out whether I’d just been insulted long […]

STRAWBERRIES WITH MADEIRA AND ORANGE

Strawberry shortcake has its place. I’m not saying it doesn’t. But if you are inclined to take the path of least resistance, then it’s hard to beat strawberries macerated in a little sugar, orange juice, and Madeira or Sherry. This is far from a new idea. Stephen Schmidt, culinary historian, cooking teacher, and author of […]

IT’S ROOT BEER SEASON

June 10 was National Black Cow Day, and even though we celebrated in style, I realized I don’t really need a reason to pop the cap off a frosty bottle of root beer. The most sentimental of soft drinks, it reminds me of backyard picnics on a chenille bedspread, Sunday afternoons at a minor league […]