Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Levi Strauss

I have been thinking lately that I might have to give up my blog. I'm in a new city now and with that comes this change of life's season. I started the blog eight years ago to chronicle my escapades and fiascos in the kitchen. Of which there have been many, many of which have paralleled my life in some way allowing me to make easy analogies about fires, stolen tomato plants, and throwing things together but having it all turn out OK in the end. It's been fun. I can't give it up completely. But things need to change.

I can't really write recipes because of this new job I have writing recipes, but nor do I want to. I spend all week cooking, my blog needs to be an outlet of a different sort. I'm not really sure what will rise up from the ashes, but I don't really care. I'm sure that after a year of incredibly sporadic updates, nary a soul is still reading, so I will just go ahead and be as self indulgent as the next blogger and qualify myself to write unoriginally and to steal images from the interwebs to make my meager and dull words more compelling.

Let my first official new post be about style.

I wish I came of age in the 70s. I adore the high waist. It's slenderizing, it's clean, it makes me look taller. It makes a plain T-shirt look like something. The cashier at Macy's does not understand this. I did not understand this when I was a young wippersnapper judging my mom's old tapered jeans that made it nearly to her belly button. Those were the 90s, when I was wearing low low low waisted pants a la Britney Spears. Do you all remember those days? That was not a good look. She probably had to shave, like down there, to wear those jeans. It was so obvious, no mystery--just tight tops, sequins and bootiliciousness.

So I've been out looking for high-waisted jeans. I've been looking for them for years. They pop up every now and again at the Gap or elsewhere. And then I got cable and saw this Levi's commercial.

So cool. I need those jeans. And baby, I found them. One pair for $189 at the Levi's store on Newbury Street. Excuse me, no. The sales people at this "vintage Levi's" store is swearing to me that I can only find those Levi's at that store and nowhere else in the world or online. Because Levi Strauss has been around for almost $150 years thanks to of its exclusivity.

Meanwhile, at Macy's, I was rifling through piles of Levi's priced at $35 not sure where to go. The sales lady was completely shocked when I inquired about the high-waisted pants. She just blurted out, "but those are mom jeans. I mean, to me." And then the self doubt rushed in a bit. Was I pulling off it off or just looking frumpy? My sister reassured me via telephone to rock my Farrah Fawcett look. Don't mind if I do.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Appley Apple Crumble

A month or so ago, I treated myself to Nigel Slater's Ripe. This is a beautiful encyclopedia of gardening tips for fruit cum cookbook. I am fantasizing about my future garden, all of which can be achieved with only a tiny urban plot--that's all Slater has at his London flat. There won't be any weeds or slugs, and the light will filter romantically through the leaves of my plum trees. My prose will be succinct but redolent, just like Slater's. This man has a serious way with words. Listen to this random collection of phrases that I just opened the book to, "This is a fruit soft and tender as a baby's cheek, with a scent that is part honey, part almond. A fruit whose flesh has notes of peach, brown sugar, and orange blossom and opportunity for pleasure that is too good to miss." Can you guess the fruit? Apricot.

I'm a bit rusty with the writing these days. It's easier to distract myself with TV (I have cable for the first time in six years) and the Internet, and I leave no room for my cooking, reading and writing much less cleaning. But it does feel so good to clack my fingertips on my old keyboard and see my thoughts appears as if magically on a screen. Slowly I am whittling away at writing again and cooking odds and ends when I'm not at work. My first recipe from this tome was "A deeply appley apple crumble," as if I could skip it. Molly Wizenberg plugs it on the back and so I made it my first conquest.

It's simple, of course. Apples, brown sugar, lemon juice and a buttery crumb layer on top. I even dusted off my new ice cream maker. I got it for Christmas last year from my boyfriend and had yet to use it. I had to pack it away all summer in my subletted apartment where it was probably used as an ashtray like some of my other kitchenware. I had some buttermilk in the fridge--true buttermilk from when I had made cultured butter (see what I mean about the odds and ends)--so I made buttermilk vanilla ice cream. It could have been brilliant, but I scalded the sensitive buttermilk and it separated and formed a grainy end product. I should have just threw out the custard base and made an egg-less cold cream.

Apple Crumble
2 pounds apples
half a lemon
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter

For the Crumble:
6 tablespoons butter, sliced into 1-inch chunks
2/3 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar

Peel and core the apples and cut into 1/2-inch chunks. Heat skillet on medium high to melt butter. Toss apples, sugar and lemon juice from half lemon into skillet and saute until sugar dissolves and apples just begin to leach out juice. Carefully transfer warm apples to small baking dish.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In separate bowl, combine butter, flour and brown sugar for crumble. Rub butter into flour and sugar with fingers until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle over top of apples. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes.