At some point over the last summer I started collecting anatomical heart designs after I found a necklace shaped like one in the Pacific Science Center. A heart, after all, is not heart-shaped. In design, an anatomical heart is a scientific representation of an emotional metaphor. Blame Sherlock or Frankenstein MD or Hannibal for encouraging this aesthetic, but I am enjoying decorating my new place with vintage culinary and medical drawings.
It took me a year to get this one down pat, but this vegetarian tart has been a hit at dinner parties. Rosemary-roasted beets, butternut squash, parsnips, and carrots are tossed with roasted garlic and goat cheese, then baked in a savory pie crust. The crust and vegetables can be prepared ahead of time, which is especially useful with the awful commuter traffic in Seattle…
Make the dough first, and then prepare and cook the vegetables during the rest time.
Lately I’ve been thinking about recreating the regional food from the part of the Midwest where I grew up–goetta, Cincinnati chili, Jello salad–and, of course, the desserts from my extended family and community. In my opinion, which you all seem to trust, my mom makes the best apple crisp in the whole state of Ohio. (And the best spritz!*) In our home, we favor the oatmeal crumble part of the apple crisp, and she and I occasionally doubled that part of the recipe because our family tends to wander into the kitchen to steal some of the topping before, during, and after serving, trying not to making the nibbling too obvious.
I had some leftover frozen cranberries from the farmers’ market from autumn, so I decided to make a cranberry-apple crisp with Bon Appetit‘s fruit compote and my slightly adapted version of my mom’s oatmeal crumble. Washington apples and cranberries make a nice bridge from my Ohio roots to my relatively new life in the Pacific Northwest. The cinnamon is my personal addition to the dish.
What I like about using fresh/frozen cranberries is that the tartness works so well with the sweetness of the oatmeal layer. There’s a little extra work since you have to cook the cranberries and apples together first (vs. using raw apples), but the gooey filling really complements the tender texture of the oatmeal topping. This is a great dish for a chilly autumn night–or spring, if you freeze those cranberries!
Ch. 3: “Rice-Sandwiches”
We’ve made it to the sushi chapter, readers!
This “cake” occupies a nebulous area somewhere between dessert and cornbread. Almond meal, whole-wheat pastry flour, and cornmeal add a toothsome bite to the soft, sweet pears. I brought this to a potluck as dessert, but I liked it even better when I served it for brunch alongside a frittata and baked oatmeal.
Ch. 2: Rice Dishes
Like many chapters, this one starts off well, with an explanation that rice is the staple food of Japan (all 85 million inhabitants; now 1.27 million) and is served in a variety of ways; there follow instructions for washing and cooking rice.
One thing I find off is that the author always uses imperial measurements. Japan has been using metrics since the 1890s, although it does have its own type of measurements (tatami mats, Japanese cups, etc.). An American couple who had the finances or moving allowance to bring all their American kitchen equipment might benefit from using imperial, but I don’t see why not to give both styles of measurement. (This is still a problem with English-language cookbooks for Japan-based cooks.)
Prior post: “Foreword”
Ch.1 : Ingredients, or On Learning to Judge Foods
Let’s talk learning foodways as part of your culture. If you are told that a certain food is gross by media, peers, family, or society at large, you will probably internalize that message on some level. Case in point: Brussels sprouts and liver and onions for Americans of a certain generation.* Brussels sprouts are divine when they are cooked with care: sauteed or roasted or shaved into salads. They are not very delicious when over-boiled and under-seasoned. Some flavors that taste bad to children are delicious when one has developed an adult palate as well as a personal palate. The child who once rejected bitter foods like coffee; cut their tea with half milk and lots of sugar; turned their nose up at pungent foods like natto or cabbage rolls or fish; found umeboshi or grapefruit too tart; disliked the earthiness of beets or mushrooms may grow into an adult who loves those foods if given the chance to try them again and have them prepared well.
Japanese Food and Cooking (1956)
Charles E. Tuttle Co: Publishers
This was printed 27 times by 1981. Twenty-seven times!
Content warning: a lot of causal historical racism, colonialism, classism, and sexism.
My friends, knowing I love food history, gave me a copy of an English-language Japanese cookbook as a parting gift. It’s been quite some time since I’ve written about SCAP (Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers), the US presence in Occupied Japan from 1945-52. In grad school, I wrote about SCAP decrees regarding film, and the micro-management of Japanese media to “promote democracy.” This is a bit of a different look–not a government decree from above but a cookbook created by and for the post-Occupation (1956) expat who wants to make Japanese food at home in Japan. Griffin’s cookbook is a very telling sociological text in that it captures the general colonialist attitudes of the expats toward Japan as an occupied nation and of gender norms (for both Japanese and American women). Additionally, the book provides insight into the introduction of Japanese cuisine to Americans and to the US through its explanations of ingredients and dishes as well as the translations of some of the terms used.
Happy new year, readers! There’s nowhere to go but up from here!
My favorite weekends now include what I call Hannibrunch, which is my old Saturday-Morning-Fannibal routine kicked up a notch into Brunch with Friends. Not only do I get to relive the psychological thrills of season 2, I get to bake breakfast foods for a group instead of just for myself.
For our last session, I got a request for scones, so used pumpkin puree I had leftover from making pumpkin chili. I’ve made the chocolate-chip version of this recipe before, but I liked the second batch I made with crystallized ginger even better. The orange really makes the ginger pop without overpowering the pumpkin, and the scones are tender on the inside. They’re best fresh out of the oven –no need for jam, although clotted cream might be nice.