Tag Archives: cooking

grandma stuff.

My grandmother has been so much on my mind the last few weeks. She was 96 when she died this past February, at home and at peace and ready to join my grandfather. I was so lucky to have her for such a long time. But I’ve missed her a lot this month, because she’s been around every corner.


At Thanksgiving, I wore her apron and used her rolling pin to roll out crust for apple pie, using her recipe. The following weekend, I made a double batch of bourbon balls for Christmas and set them aging. In the last few weeks, I’ve used her typewriter to make a gift for a friend, and to type labels for bottles of homemade applejack that I sent. And ever since Black Friday, I’ve been getting emails from a florist company reminding me to “send Roberta Christmas flowers!” I could unsubscribe from that, I suppose, but it seems strangely disloyal and so I’ve suffered through the tiny pangs that arise every time one appears in my inbox. photo 1 (23)IMG_0075

For as long as I knew her, Grandma hated having her picture taken, so the smiling photos I’ve posted here are rare and precious. But in the days leading up to her funeral, I made a collage of photographs for the service, and I discovered a photo album from the year before she married my grandfather up through the year that their oldest, my uncle Sid, was born. She’s smiling radiantly in almost every picture. She may still have disliked the camera, but there’s no sign of it in these enchanting pictures. I now have this photo album, and I love looking through it at the pictures of their early life, and her beautiful smiling face.photo 2 (22)

So no flowers for Roberta this Christmas, but she is remembered in everything I do, and in many of the gifts I give. Here’s her recipe for bourbon balls. Consume with caution; if you let them age properly, they’re heady.

*NOTE: the measurements given are for cookies and nuts after they’ve been ground, not before. I managed to forget that this year, with slightly soggy results. So for proper results with a single batch, you’ll need to buy two boxes of Nilla Wafers, and more than a cup of walnuts. Grandma used a rolling pin, because she was a badass. I use a food processor, because I live in the future.*

Bourbon Balls

  • 3 cups ground Nilla Wafers
  • 1 cup ground nuts (I mostly use walnuts, but anything works)
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar, plus extra for dusting
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup bourbon

Grind wafers and nuts fine. Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Shape into balls about the size of a large cherry. Roll in confectioners sugar (I roll them twice). Age at least two weeks. Makes about 36; keeps indefinitely.

national poetry month, day 16.

A lazy swoonfest. If you need me, I’ll be in the kitchen.

The Love Cook

by Ron Padgett
Let me cook you some dinner.
Sit down and take off your shoes
and socks and in fact the rest
of your clothes, have a daiquiri,
turn on some music and dance
around the house, inside and out,
it’s night and the neighbors
are sleeping, those dolts, and
the stars are shining bright,
and I’ve got the burners lit
for you, you hungry thing.

report from hermitpalooza 2011.

My three days of no internet & no phone were an unqualified success. It felt very peaceful and purposeful, and seems to have given my neck knot time to heal. Apparently that’s from the way I sit at the computer, not from the way I sit when I work. The more you know…

As it turned out, I did end up spending most of the time hermitted in my apartment. On Friday I slept sinfully late and spent most of the rest of the day rereading Ender’s Game. It’s still brilliant and painful. I cleaned the already mostly clean kitchen and watched something vague on TV while I tidied up my workspace. My parents called, and I answered. Because I am not a monster.

Saturday, I made a quick run to the grocery store and then made sourdough bread and a triple batch of pickled red onions. Oh, vinegar and sugary, peppery spice! Four days later, the house still smells faintly of brine when I come in from outside. I made a list of all the things I want to get done this summer. I separated it into things that required the internet, and things that could be started right away. I got several of the non-internet things done, pulled books for an ambitious summer reading/rereading list, and then started reading Geek Love. Dysfunctional carnival family rabbit hole, meet Kateri.

Sunday morning, I lingered over coffee and Geek Love, took lots and lots and lots of new product photographs, and then did the rest of the short-term non-internet projects. I gathered information I might need later for the internet projects and redid my list, along with a rough calendar for the next six weeks. I went back to Geek Love, and finished it Sunday evening over a beautiful sushi dinner. (It’s an incredible book. The writing is wonderful, and the scope of the misery is operatic. I didn’t like any of the characters, with the exception of one peripheral character. Some of them were sympathetic, and many of them were occasionally lovable, but they were all fundamentally unlikable. I think that’s a major achievement: a perfectly paced novel of unmitigated misery and dysfunction that’s thoroughly enjoyable and compelling.)

My three days were delightful, and a reminder of how much I can accomplish without feeling rushed, and still have hours and hours to devote to reading. It’s not possible or desirable to live that way all the time, but it’s a good short-term habit for me. I ended up resolving to take one day a week off from phone and internet for the rest of the summer. Sundays, probably. It’s much harder to do that during the school year, when I need the whole weekend to run the business that I neglect during the week. I’ll just try to soak up my focus and silence while I can get it this summer.


I was a very lucky guest at a knock-you-down-scrumptious dinner party last weekend. Good food was contributed and enjoyed by all, along with a certain amount of liquid refreshment. I had a great time, and I also enjoyed making an appetizer. All the parts are so pretty, and the result is so tasty – I can’t be selfish. Here’s how you do it.

Roasted Asparagus Crostini

2 bunches of pencil thin asparagus
3 cloves of garlic
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
2 dozen crostini, or 1 large baguette, sliced
cheese for garnish

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Wash the asparagus, remove the tough ends, and snap them into thirds (about 2″ lengths). Crush the garlic and toss with the asparagus, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer on baking sheets and roast for 6-8 minutes (I usually do this in two batches, but if your oven is large they can all go in at once). Take the sheets out and toss the asparagus to turn them. Roast for another 3-4 minutes, until the asparagus is bright green and tender, and the tips are a little bit brown (which gives them that magical nutty flavor, and a tiny bit of crunch). Toss the roasted asparagus in a large bowl with the lemon juice and toasted almonds.

If you’re using a fresh baguette, toast (or if you’re really ambitious, grill) the slices before arranging them in a single layer on a serving dish or cutting board. Pour off a little bit of the juice from the bowl of asparagus, and brush it onto the crostini. Then layer small bunches of asparagus onto each slice, and garnish with a curl of your favorite cheese (I used Cypress Grove Midnight Moon, because it’s the cheese of the gods. True story.)

Crunchy, nutty, and green. Delicious.

crush month: day 27

Today’s crush is very confusing. I can’t choose among four women. I’m enjoying my first designing blitz in the whole of my two week vacation, and I’m watching Julie & Julia. This movie is so pleasing and satisfying, and I don’t know who is making me happiest: Julie Powell, the author of the original blog and book Julie & Julia; Amy Adams, who plays Julie; Julia Child, who was and remains an all-around enchantress; or Meryl Streep, on whom I have a lifelong girlcrush. I don’t suppose it matters much. I’m very happy right now, and took a few minutes out (while Julie’s stew is burning) to tell you about it. Now back to watching people cook, while I happily make jewelry and think about cooking. No time for hyperlinks; if it’s possible that anyone doesn’t know about this movie, may I recommend Google: your friend and mine.