In preparing for my move, I worked on paring down what I needed and what I did not. I went through my closet to determine what clothes I was wearing and what clothes I was not. I looked around my bathroom, and decided what items had outlived their utility. And naturally, I went around my kitchen, searching for redundancies, coordinating with Caitlin to ensure that we did not arrive with two or three of every useful kitchen device.
Beyond these steps, I also worked to use up my food. There was no need to stack my car with bags of flour and sugar. By the same token, there was no sense in throwing away perfectly good butter or eggs. The last few weeks saw a veritable flood of baking and cooking.
Among these items, Continue reading
Every so often, I like to treat myself to a steak. During the week, I often settle for a cold sandwich of almond-butter and jelly, chicken salad, or sliced turkey. Lunch is unabashedly dull. If I have the energy, I try to make something more exciting for dinner: fish, perhaps, or even arepas, the Venezuelan corn cakes that I recently discovered.
Fish and arepas are appealing because they are quick and easy to cook. But so is steak and so is couscous (provided I don’t make it more complicated than necessary). And unlike a broiling fish, there’s a certain pleasure in hearing the sizzle of the steak, as the hot iron meets the cool, raw side of the meat. After a quick flip and a few minutes in the oven, the steak is cooked, leaving you five minutes of eager anticipation, as the steak cools and cooks under its foil tent.
If you remember to marinate the Continue reading
I am such a mess sometimes.
Yesterday I treated myself to a steak. This was the first steak I’d ever made for myself, so I spent the morning looking online and through several of my cookbooks, hoping to get my steak just right. I wanted to learn the perfect marinade, the precise cooking time, and how to get the steak done at the ideal temperature.
The best steak, I learned, should be cooked until medium-rare. According to the finger-method,this happens when the feel of the steak approximates the feel of your index finger pressed into your slightly clenched palm. According to the meat thermometer, this happens anywhere from 145 degrees to 125 degrees — depending on whom you ask. Cooking Light’s Grilling, and Steven Raichlen’s How to Grill call medium-rare at 145 degrees. But in James Patterson’s Cooking, it’s 125 degrees, while an online source says it is between 130 and 135 degrees. For what it’s worth, the U.S.D.A. recommends that steaks be cooked until they reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees. The lower temperatures may reflect the willingness to sacrifice absolute food safety in the name of greater flavor and tenderness. Fortunately, Peterson and Raichlen both ascribe to the finger-poke method, so I may try to become comfortable with that method.
But for my first grilled steak, I decided that I should play it by the numbers, and settled on 145.
I grabbed the steak, a little oil Continue reading
In 1969, Georges Perec published La Disparition, a mystery novel of sorts. The book centers around the disappearance of Anton Vowl, and traces his winding path through the various chapters of his life – though chapter five is omitted. La Disparition, or “The Disappearance,” is a story and not a story. The novel tells a tale, but also functions as an exercise. Which captures the essence of Georges Perec.
Georges Perec belonged to OULIPO, a workshop of famous French authors. The workshop for potential literature (Ouvroir de Litterature Potentielle) was both a place and a style. One of its co-founders, Raymond Queneau, published Exercises de Style, in which he wrote the same story ninety-nine different ways. This was hardly unusual. Perec, Queneau, and the other members delighted in wordplay. They wrote Continue reading
Jeffrey Tennyson, an artist and satirist, once remarked that the real American icon is not apple pie, but the hamburger. And Tennyson would know; he spent a good part of his life writing about the hamburger and collecting hamburger memorabilia. When it opened in 1993, Tennyson’s memorabilia formed the core collection of the now-defunct Hamburger Hall of Fame, in Seymour, Wisconsin.
Seymour, Wisconsin, according to some, is the birthplace of the hamburger. In 1885, Charles Nagreen stuck a meatball between two slices of bread, and served the sandwich at the Seymour fair, giving rise to what would later become the modern burger.
Meanwhile, in New Haven Connecticut, Louis Lassen was busy grilling the leftover trimmings Continue reading