This bowl is the third in the new set; it’s an almost disaster that I salvaged into a candy dish sort of thing with a flat bottom. My limited skill on the wheel is greatly enhanced by my post-wheel surgical chops and willingness both to coax things back from the brink and celebrate their lopsided uniqueness. I suspect that after I throw a hundred more I will be a lot less precious about the process. In any case, this duck confit made a worthy passenger for the bowl’s maiden voyage.
Well, that felt good. I was overdue for a tirade, I guess. If I had any savvy I’d rave like that all the time, since those posts (see the “best of” page for all you newcomers) always get mad traffic.
I forgot to mention that a contributing factor to the blogstipation around here has been a matter of simple laziness; since I’m out at least once a week shooting pictures, my tripod, light stand, and other gear tend to stay in the car. So when dinner time rolls around, the prospect of going out to get them and set them up in time to shoot a plate of food seems like too much work. Come summer, this will all be moot in the abundant natural light, but for now it represents an obstacle, if a silly one. I did, however, want to show off this new bowl—part of my first ever firing in a wood kiln.
It has been hot as balls around here, which will not be news to you if you live on the East Coast. While outside, though hot, there has been a breeze and thus in the shade it is not too too bad, inside without air conditioning is a wretched sauna of hatred, trickling sweat, and fetid stench. Also, the other night a skunk got spooked right outside the front door and sprayed all over a corner of the house, so with no rain in sight for weeks the air is seductively perfumed with a sulfurous reek redolent of nothing so much as a smoldering corpse wrapped in plastic that you forgot about in the trunk of your ’79 Chevy in the Nevada desert while you attended Burning Man. Good times.
Lovage is a new favorite of mine in the garden. Apart from the fact that it’s a perennial, roaring back in early spring for some of the first new domestic greens, it has a beguiling aroma that’s like celery and citrus and fenugreek all rolled into one. As it’s peaking right now, ready to flower, I cut some stalks thinking that since they’re so fat they might take well to being treated like a vegetable. Cutting them released their perfume, which combined with the scintillating sunlight and the parch in my throat to unleash a savage hankering for an icy gin-based beverage featuring lovage.
Among the many pleasures of spring are the season-straddling meals, which retain some of winter’s rich comfort quality while opening up to the verdant splendor of new growth. And morels. Lots of morels. Throw in a duck leg, some transformed leftovers, and kumquat/absinthe marmalade, and you’ve got yourself an exemplary dinner.
I’ve got a post brewing about early green things, but since it snowed that’s going to have to wait a bit. As winter begins to loosen its grip, there are all sorts of exciting developments to celebrate, most of them involving the garden, but this is also a time of year when fruit is revealed to be the great locavoracious challenge in this climate.
Consistent with the tradition in this house, there was no turkey for Thanksgiving. Turkey is boring and hard to cook well unless you take it apart. We did, however, have Milo’s awesome Lego turkey as part of the centerpiece. Also keeping with tradition around here, the meal was a seven-course exploration of whatever perfervid visions had swum into my insomniac mind during the preceding week. It’s funny; I was listening to the radio as I made the dough for the foie gras oreos—one such idea—and the guest was saying something like “The key to a stress-free Thanksgiving is never to cook something new for the first time when people are coming over.” I think that takes all the fun out of it; three out of the seven courses were things I just made up and figured wouldn’t suck.
August means that the good stuff starts showing up in quantity out in the garden. It’s the season for all the shiny tomatoes and peppers, and fat potatoes, and glossy eggplants in white, lavender, and midnight purple. The basil is rocketing skyward. Even in this year of half-assed planting and rodent ravage, there’s still a ton of food out there. It makes dinner so effortless.