Concord Grape Syrup

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There’s a world of difference between an unhappy accident and a happy accident. An unhappy accident is, well, not the kind of accident you talk about on a food blog; a happy accident, on the other hand, results in a sweet treat that you never expected, like Concord grape syrup.

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From The Desk of The A.G. (A Day of Letters)

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Dear Craig Claiborne,

I am greatly enjoying your somewhat notorious autobiography, “A Feast Made For Laughter.” Sure, it’s a little creepy when you talk about touching your dad’s erect penis while sharing a bed, but I appreciate your zeal for people and food. Case in point: early in the book, you tell a story involving Parker House rolls. Your brother passes you a basket of them and instead of taking the basket from him, you start to reach your hand in and take one out and your brother, appalled, drops the basket to the floor saying: “When anyone passes you a basket of bread, you take the basket. Or at least you touch it as a gesture of thoughtfulness.”

This passage amused me because it’s a good story, but mostly it made me hungry–hungry for Parker House rolls. I cracked open “The Joy of Cooking” and found the most basic recipe in the world; a recipe that required only yeast, butter, flour, sugar, salt and milk. I’d write out the recipe here, but it’s so standard any internet search will suffice. And those rolls–which took a few hours to rise–were quaint and comforting, the kind of food you want an American food icon to eat. Thank you for inspiring me to make them; I look forward to the rest of your book.

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Tuesday Techniques: How To Make Jam

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Craig’s cousin Matt came to stay with us this past week and he and his friend (who also stayed with us) had a wild time. Out every night, hitting up the town, they’d wake up bleary-eyed every morning and ask me what Craig and I did the night before. “We, ummm, bought a keg and threw a block party,” I’d lie, ashamed of the truth: that I’d made dinner, we’d watched “The Wire” on DVD, and went to bed early.

And then any credibility I had as a vibrant young person went out the window when they came home one day to find me at the stove next to a pile of cherry pits.

‘What are you doing?” they asked, watching me sweat and stir.

“I’m making sour cherry jam,” I said.

They looked at one another and then back at me. “You’re making your own jam?” they asked, incredulously.

“Yes,” I said and suddenly felt my hair turn gray, my glasses slide down my nose, and my back hunch over. “Oh no!” I gasped. “Can it be? Do I have I.G.S.?”

I checked my symptoms online, consulted a web doctor, and my worst fears were confirmed: I’d caught the bug, and I wasn’t going to get better. Instant Grandma Syndrome. I was a hunched-over jam-maker, and “Golden Girls” reruns and early bird specials were to become my new way of life.

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nibbles 5.23.08

* Iron Chef Michael Symon celebrates the reversal of Chicago’s ban on foie gras. “It always boggles my mind how quickly people bash foie gras but in the meantime have no problem with mass produced chicken, pork etc….let me assure that these ducks live a much better life than the “yellow chikens” that seem to be at every grocery store.”

* Pim visits Pink’s in L.A.. “Waiting half an hour for a hot dog was certainly a new experience for me.” (Long ago and far away when I lived in L.A. for a summer I visited Pink’s with a friend and enjoyed it. Though the celebrated “snap” of the dog, which Pulitzer Prize winning food writer Jonathan Gold made note of in his indispensable L.A. eating book “Counter Intelligence,” didn’t quite please me the way a soft, New York city street dog does. Maybe because the city dog is the dog I grew up with.)

* Davivd Lebovitz eats at Jules Verne in the Eiffel Tower. Strangely enough, I’ve been there too: my parents took my brother and I to London and Paris when we were too young to appreciate it, though I remember getting dressed up and riding the elevator up into the belly of the Eiffel Tower for dinner. When we asked for our table, the maitre’d kindly informed us that there’d be a small wait because “the American actress Sally Field hasn’t gotten up yet.” When she got up, we asked for her picture and she said no.

An Impromptu Food Blogger Meet-Up

Fate must be a fan of food blogs. It just so happens that my arrival in Seattle coincided with the arrival of David Lebovitz who you may recognize from the lyrics to a pretty brilliant song. The Seattle food blog militia got together and planned a dinner in my honor (David doesn’t have any honor) at Impromptu, a restaurant whose chef is Chef, betrothed to Shauna the Gluten Free Girl. Add to the mix Molly Orangette, Tara of Tea and Cookies and Lara of Cook and Eat and you have a fun table of people. Here’s the guest of dis-honor with Shauna:

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The room is a beautiful space with lots of light pouring in (we met at 7) and it’s near the water so the location is terrifically scenic. We ordered a Washington State white wine for the table–a Sauvignon Blanc, I believe–and, according to the waitress, it tasted like melon. After much gabbing and nose-picking (check out David’s version) we ordered some tasty food.

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David Lebovitz’s Malted Milk Ice Cream: The Song

Welcome to Music Week! Every post this week (except for the one below) will feature a song penned and performed by yours truly (and maybe a few special guests). To start out the week, I thought long and hard about what would inspire me musically. And then I remembered this:

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That is the tub of David Lebovitz’s malted milk ice cream that I made two weeks ago from his book The Perfect Scoop. It vanished in two days. I caught Diana eating it for breakfast, and Craig eating it in the middle of the afternoon. I told David I wanted to write a song about it and he confessed that it’s his favorite recipe in his cookbook. I agree (and I’ve only tried three!) What follows, then, is the song that it inspired and, after the jump, the lyrics and the recipe. Enjoy!

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