Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Food Watch: Mostly Martha

Mostly Martha
Germany

Martha is a chef who has a great deal of discipline, an obsession with food although she never seems to eat, and little joy in her life. When her sister dies, Martha is forced into facing unknown situations after her orphaned niece comes to live with her. Then a new chef is added to the staff and Martha's loss of control seems complete. Suddenly Martha's life is no longer under control at all with the expected growth of character resulting.

This is a slow and deliberate movie but the acting and dialogue are great and a lot of the scenes are very funny. Naturally, as this is about a chef, it is a major "foodie" film. Mostly Martha is a German movie with subtitles but don't let that scare you. Actually we liked listening to the German and picking out words that were almost the same as in English ... but that's the kind of thing our family does for fun.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison

Vegetable Literacy: Cooking and Gardening with Twelve Families from the Edible Plant KingdomVegetable Literacy: Cooking and Gardening with Twelve Families from the Edible Plant Kingdom by Deborah Madison

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This is a beautifully written book which nicely weaves gardening and cooking anecdotes with factual information. Having read several other books which fill a similar niche I was interested to see how this one stacked up.

I really liked the writing and author's voice. However, none of the recipes appealed to me. To be fair, Madison is speaking to vegetarians whenever she writes and I am not in that group, though I do enjoy a good vegetable recipe as much as the next person. These recipes may all be quite stellar but the titles and descriptions never looked enticing. I tend to enjoy vegetable recipes coming from ethnic sources, especially Asian, and there is something about her recipes that always looks a bit forced in the way that many vegetarian cookbooks have done in the past.

I should add that there are some very basic recipes for most vegetables which anyone would enjoy, however, I have been cooking long enough that many of these are in my regular repetoire. Thus I must depend on the other recipes to make a cookbook valuable.

Chalk it up to a disconnect between Madison and me. Others with different taste will probably get a great deal out of this book, not to mention the basic vegetable family knowledge which Madison conveys. I'll stick with Nigel Slater (Tender) and Bert Greene (Greene on Greens) as well as various Asian and Middle Eastern recipes.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Tips & Tricks: Frozen Coffee Cubes

A few years ago I gave y'all a great recipe for iced coffee.

For a while I made it and then my interest in iced coffee took a nosedive.

Recently my interest revived, but not to the point of all that planning ahead. I'll admit it. I just save the leftover black coffee from that morning and dose it up with a bit of milk and some sugar.

To my palate it is just about the same. Which may say more about my lack of discernment about iced coffee than anything.

What I could discern though was that the cold milk wasn't getting the coffee "iced" enough and adding ice cubes watered it down. Ugh.

I have begun using a little trick that I read about decades ago in a mystery novel, The Innocent Flower by Charlotte Armstrong. Some frozen cubes of coffee provided a neat twist in the mystery solution and also powerfully grabbed my imagination.

I began keeping a stash in the freezer and lo and behold! No more diluted iced coffee!

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Food Watch: Spinning Plates

It's not what you cook. It's why.

Spinning Plates
(documentary)


This was a fascinating comparison of three very different restaurants - one high concept where the chef is like an artist, one Iowa restaurant that holds the community together, and one Mexican restaurant where the family has placed their hopes for a better life on its success. The flow is masterful between the places as their stories progress and we get to know the main restauranteurs.

It was also interesting in that none of these were about going somewhere to get a bite to eat. All these places were the focus of hopes, dreams, and fulfillment on an entirely different plane than mere sustenance. It compares well with Jiro Dreams of Sushi and, in fact, I liked it better.

We found ourselves afterward in terms of our own business, our own hopes and dreams, and our own lives. Highly recommended.