Archive for the ‘Words’

Aunt Peggy’s Bestever Cake

November 24, 2016
By Holly Jennings

Bestever Cake

 

The cake above is not just any cake—it’s not even just the bestever cake, it is the last thing I ate prepared by my late aunt Peggy. I got news of her sudden and unexpected death a few weeks ago. That night as I lay sleepless, recalling her, I remembered that she’d made this excellent cake for our family reunion, in June of 2015. She called it simply “bestever cake” and said it was ridiculously simple to make.

 

More memories of Peggy Jo Rose and her cooking flooded back. On a summer morning when I was eleven or so, Aunt Peggy gave me and my cousins a great gift: encouragement to go out into the world to do some work, with daring, if needed, in order to return home to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

 

“If you kids go pick sour cherries from Mr. X’s tree, I’ll make you a pie. Remember to ask him first. And pick a big bagful—I’ll need a lot for a pie.”

 

A pie in exchange for picking cherries was more than fair. We ran off to ask Mr. X ourselves, to figure out how to get up and down the tree ourselves, and to not neglect our work, if we wanted enough fruit for a large, mile-high pie.

 

We did get that pie, and it was the best pie I’ve ever eaten. Looking back, (more…)


Slowness

November 13, 2016
By Holly Jennings

Hyacinth Bean blossom

Hyacinth Bean blossom

 

This posting is in honor of poet and singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, who died this past Monday. I learned of his passing the day before yesterday.  The day before yesterday is also when I discovered the underdog in my courtyard, the climbing Hyacinth Bean, had finally, after five months of meager growth and persistent attending to on my part, yielded one flower, just two days before our first forecasted frost. This  particular Hyacinth Bean was my second attempt; the first had died in early June, while I was away enjoying a two-week vacation.

 

Listening to the radio coverage about Leonard Cohen, I learned it took him years to complete his most covered song, “Hallelujah.” We know this because Bob Dylan, the story went, once asked Cohen how long it took him to write “Hallelujah.” Cohen said “two years,” but, according to his biographer, Sylvie Simmons, he was too embarrassed to admit that  it took him much longer.

 

This was heartening to hear, for me and I would think for anyone whose approach is slow. I am a slow writer—plodding, pondering. In fact, I’m slow at just about everything. This makes me feel out of pace; the words “hurry up,” voiced by others to my child ears and later parroted in my inner monologue, are an uneasy and constant low hum.

 

But if slowness leads to a single Hyacinth blossom and a work of beauty like “Hallelujah,” it is good, not bad. I’ll always be a slow writer, though I can imagine, overtime, being able to tap the heart of the matter with a few less drafts, a few less turnoffs, maybe.

 

The evening of the day before yesterday, while reading the book Coffee: A Dark History, as part of some research I’m doing for one of my slowly evolving writing projects, I came across this quote:

 

The only certain things in this world are coincidences.

—Leonard Sciascia

 


The War of Words . . .

August 20, 2016
By Holly Jennings

 . . . and the Personality of Punctuation

 

Paper in typewriter

 

Based on its title, you might suppose this posting is a topical one about the verbal battles between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, which have included an incendiary comment from Trump about the second amendment that seemed to many like a literal call to arms.

 

It’s about writing and editing, and the defense of good practices, a matter too small to make it into the entertainment-as-news media channels.

 

Recently, a story I wrote about coffee ice cream was published in a local food magazine. I got my first glance at the story after submitting it when I received my copy of the issue in the mail a couple of weeks ago.

 

The anonymous editor did a great job of tightening the piece without losing its heart; a couple of story points that I find intriguing were cut, but I can always pick up their thread in another story later on, if I want to.

 

It’s what was added, rather than cut, that (more…)


The Art of Bread, and a New Year’s Resolution

December 31, 2015
By Holly Jennings

I hate to waste food. Even bad food.

 

That’s how a loaf of bread made with more ingredients that I can count on both hands worked its way into the two photographs below, illustrating quotes that get at, with more folk wit and elan than I could wring from a slice of milk-soaked bread, why you should avoid processed, or “white,” bread.

“The whiter the bread, the sooner you’re dead.” —Folk saying, dating from the mid-1920s* Bread #1, 8 November 2015, Holly Jennings, America Mixed Media: Premium Potato Bread (Enriched Wheat Flour [Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Reduced Iron, Niacin, Thiamin Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid], Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Yeast, Potato Flour, Soybean Oil, Salt, Wheat Gluten, Corn Flour, Mono- and Diglycerides, Datem, Calcium Propionate (Preservative), Monocalcium Phosphate, Calcium Sulfate, Grain Vinegar, Spice & Coloring, Soy Lecithin, Natural & Artificial Flavor, Soy Flour.), 18 October 2015; Pigment print by Joseph Sudek entitled The Cemetery of Mala Strana, 1940–1950 (reprinted in Josef Sudek [1896–1976]: Sixty Pigment Prints from the Artist’s Estate [New York: Salander-O’Reilly Galleries]). *At the time this saying was coined, ultra-refined, ultra-white, and less-nutritious flour, possible with the invention of the roller mill and bleach, had become common. Not until the 1940s did American milling operations start to enrich flour with thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, and iron in an attempt to compensate for the loss of nutritional value in flour milled using modern milling techniques.

“The whiter the bread, the sooner you’re dead.”
—Folk saying, dating from the mid-1920s*
Bread #1, 8 November 2015, Holly Jennings, America
Mixed Media: Premium Potato Bread (Enriched Wheat Flour [Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Reduced Iron, Niacin, Thiamin Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid], Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Yeast, Potato Flour, Soybean Oil, Salt, Wheat Gluten, Corn Flour, Mono- and Diglycerides, Datem, Calcium Propionate (Preservative), Monocalcium Phosphate, Calcium Sulfate, Grain Vinegar, Spice & Coloring, Soy Lecithin, Natural & Artificial Flavor, Soy Flour.), 18 October 2015; Pigment print by Joseph Sudek entitled The Cemetery of Mala Strana, 1940–1950 (reprinted in Josef Sudek [1896–1976]: Sixty Pigment Prints from the Artist’s Estate [New York: Salander-O’Reilly Galleries]).
*At the time this saying was coined, ultra-refined, ultra-white, and less-nutritious flour, possible with the invention of the roller mill and bleach, had become common. Not until the 1940s did American milling operations start to enrich flour with thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, and iron in an attempt to compensate for the loss of nutritional value in flour milled using modern milling techniques.

“People who eat white bread have no dreams.” —Diana Vreeland, Empress of Fashion Bread #2, 8 November 2015, Holly Jennings, America Mixed Media: Premium Potato Bread (Enriched Wheat Flour [Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Reduced Iron, Niacin, Thiamin Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid], Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Yeast, Potato Flour, Soybean Oil, Salt, Wheat Gluten, Corn Flour, Mono- and Diglycerides, Datem, Calcium Propionate (Preservative), Monocalcium Phosphate, Calcium Sulfate, Grain Vinegar, Spice & Coloring, Soy Lecithin, Natural & Artificial Flavor, Soy Flour.), 18 October 2015; Silver gelatin photograph by Marcia Due entitled Columbia County, New York, 1993 (reprinted in Design Quarterly 164 [Spring 1995]).

“People who eat white bread have no dreams.”
—Diana Vreeland, Empress of Fashion
Bread #2, 8 November 2015, Holly Jennings, America
Mixed Media: Premium Potato Bread (Enriched Wheat Flour [Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Reduced Iron, Niacin, Thiamin Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid], Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Yeast, Potato Flour, Soybean Oil, Salt, Wheat Gluten, Corn Flour, Mono- and Diglycerides, Datem, Calcium Propionate (Preservative), Monocalcium Phosphate, Calcium Sulfate, Grain Vinegar, Spice & Coloring, Soy Lecithin, Natural & Artificial Flavor, Soy Flour.), 18 October 2015; Silver gelatin photograph by Marcia Due entitled Columbia County, New York, 1993 (reprinted in Design Quarterly 164 [Spring 1995]).

The mixed media, faux egg-colored (or it the color meant to conjure butter?) loaf of bread that I sacrificed to art came into my possession this October, during a weekend get-a-way with my husband. Destination: My family’s (more…)


Fat Words

July 08, 2012
By Holly Jennings

. . . reading about one of nature’s best flavor enhancers

FAT
An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes
By Jennifer McLagan
Ten Speed Press
240 pp. $32.50

When DCCC members picked Fat this spring, I decided to make The Food of Franceby Waverly Root my companion read. This beautiful book—its is spine embellished with golden fleur-de-lis—is organized by butter, fat, and oil.

I got as far as the second page, where I was stopped in my tracks by a sentence so concise and so contemporaneous, even though the book was published in 1958:

“. . . .food is a function of the soil, for which reason every country has the food naturally fit for it.”

Or, said another way by Dan Barber, (more…)


Cartouche

April 23, 2012
By Holly Jennings

If you’ve ever sealed a bit of leftover food by pressing a piece of plastic wrap directly onto its surface, but didn’t have a fancy name for this practice, you now have one: cartouche. That, at least, is how David Thompson, author of the most recent DCCC pick Thai Food, uses  this term. (He recommends storing leftover curry paste this way.)

 

The word cartouche, which can be used as a noun and a verb, is, in the cooking world, most commonly used to describe a piece of round parchment paper that chefs place over a sauce or gravy to keep a skin from forming.

 

As a home cook, I like its application to the more mundane and everyday practice of food storage as it gives me more opportunties to use it. Without knowing it, I’ve been cartouching for quite a while to keep foods as fresh as possible, and to keep them from turning color (guacamole, for example, benefits from this practice), and now I have a name for it.

 

Note: This is the first posting in “Words,” a new category I’ve created for the DCCC blog.  This is where I will share cooking terms, or unusual uses of cooking terms, or a particularly enjoyable or original turn of phrase that I’ve discovered while reading a DCCC cookbook, or ancillary reading material.



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