June 6, 2007

June Has Come Too Soon

God, it's been crazy around here. More has been happening than I can keep up with, and as a result, even though it feels like I've been cooking up a storm (to which my perpetually full-of-dishes sink will bear witness), I don't think I've done much that's original or noteworthy. Except -- I did make that lamb stew from Julia Child's Mastering, with some local lamb stew meat from the Tower Grove Farmer's Market (sorry, Soulard, you're just too crazy and unreliably sourced for me). I also got some fabulous bones from the same farmer ($1 a pound), and I'll tell you, that was a fine stock. It's totally worth it to keep a bag for vegetable and sundry scraps in the freezer for the purpose. The more I make them, the better my stocks get. I think it all has to do with just saving the scraps and then being totally not picky about what you put in the pot. As long as it doesn't have dirt on it, it goes in. I do give a flash of thought to the dish, I guess. For instance, some things might not like a ton of some strong vegetable taste, like asparagus, and I'll sort of sort through the bag with such things in mind. And of course the base is almost always onion, carrot, and celery, unless I haven't managed to get to the store for them. In that case, the scraps of these work fine.

At any rate, the stew recipe includes spring vegetables, and I used the entire crop of sweet peas from my garden (maybe two cups, tops; it's a small plot), which made the whole thing feel really springy -- lamb from a Missouri farm, my own garden peas. I meant to make some sort of amuse bouche or other out of fresh mint, but, what with Anth's surgery and all, it didn't happen. I do think a good stew is a very healing thing, and at least he did eat some of it.

I have been getting two quarts of organic berries at the TG market these last two weeks, and they have been fantastic. Just eating a handful here and there feels like such a luxary. These berries are smaller than the typical grocery store variety, and the flavor is far more concentrated. The trick of setting them in a single layer, on top of paper towels, in a sealable (like Tupperware) container without washing them first works very well to keep the berries fresh. Don't let them touch one another. Wash them just before you eat them.

I did make an unbelievable peach, raspberry, and apricot cobbler from a chef friend's family recipe. Ohmygod. I have never had a better cobbler. Strangely, I'd set out that morning for rhubarb and couldn't find any, but the cobbler ended up apparently mimicking rhubarb, as several people thought that's what it was. I have been sworn to semi-secrecy, though, regarding the topping recipe, so I regret to say that I can't share it here (the web is certainly not semi-secret). I will try to make it for the reunion this year, with whatever fruit I can find in season at that moment.

Beyond that, there's been a bit of grilling. I'm enjoying the little Weber Molly got me for Mother's Day. It's been at least 25 years since I've really grilled, and it's a lot of fun. Ribs, burgers, brats. Corn, mushrooms, eggplant, onions. Yum.

Not a lot of baking action. I've had to put a hold on it, more or less, for the sake of my butt. Since I started in on learning to bake a year ago I've put on 15 pounds! My God. There's no excuse. So, except when requested, I will no longer be playing with dessert recipes, at least for the foreseeable future. OK, I know that contradicts the cobbler paragraph above. I'm sorry. I can't explain it. Just remember that in paradox lies the heart of truth.

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