Something to Read: Blood, Bones and Butter

30days

The best chef’s memoir I’ve ever read was Gabrielle Hamilton’s Blood, Bones & Butter. She’s another writer-chef I heard about through Anthony Bourdain on Twitter, and when I looked Gabrielle Hamilton up, it turns out she’s a bad-ass chef with an MFA in Creative Writing (those are my dream credentials) – I pre-ordered the book (hard cover) and paid full price. It was worth it. So worth it.

Blood-Bones-And-Butter-Gabrielle-Hamilton

If you like Cheryl Strayed, I think you’ll like Gabrielle Hamilton. Both write beautifully and simply about lives both lush and hard-lived; Hamilton just also happens to be writing about food in addition to life and working and marriage and motherhood, so there’s another layer of sensory oomph.

I find her so relatable.

Even now, as I’m sitting here just trying to say something nice about a book I loved, I’m overwhelmed with my own tiredness. Re-reading passages again about Hamilton’s struggles with her 18-hour workdays and her two small kids at home and everything she has to do to keep everything afloat is cathartic, and just when I’m caught thinking maybe you can juggle everything if you just throw high enough, she reminds me, in writing more eloquent than I could muster, that the one who suffers most of all is the juggler.

Maybe this book resonated so much for me because I read it just after it had been published in 2011, when I was just adjusting to life with a small person and the million little changes that go along with that. Everything felt so much harder then; I’m not sure things are any easier now. While the book is just good writing, it appeals in particular to those of us who are struggling to do everything, to make sure that the work gets done well and the kid gets fed and talked to and most of the bills get paid and the partner doesn’t get throttled even though he has done ten things this week to deserve it (and it’s only Wednesday). It appeals to those of us who can do one thing great or two things shoddily.

Which is not to say that Hamilton is in any way shoddy; I’m projecting. Her writing is clean and sharp, with the flawless execution that comes from really knowing one’s craft. This book is not only not boring, but it is not like any other chef’s memoir I’ve read because it is written by someone who is as much a writer as a cook. Both are hard skills to learn, but Hamilton has mastered them, and I read her book in awe.

The Italians have a way of counting for these kinds of family dinners that I wish we had in English. If you ask how many we are expecting for dinner this evening, they’ll answer “un trentina” – a little thirty – or “una quarantina” – a little forty. It’s like saying “roughly twenty” so we know that we can expect anywhere from thirty-five to forty-five when someone answers “una quarantina.” I want this vague yet perfectly precise way of counting in so many contexts of my life. I always want to say everything was twenty years ago. Or you can cook it in twenty minutes. Or I’ve been a cook for twenty years. Or I haven’t spoken to my mother in twenty years. But exactly twenty? Not for an Italian minute. Exactly a “ventina.” (Page 243.)

This is the best book of all the books I’ve told you about, and if you buy any of them I hope it’s this one.

There are no recipes in the book, but here’s one of hers I’ve made and loved. I believe she’s working on a cookbook; I will buy it when it’s out. Preorder, hardcover.

Fennel baked in cream

  • 1 1⁄2 lbs. fennel (about 2 large bulbs), stalks removed, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1⁄2″ wedges
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1⁄2 cups finely grated Parmesan
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 tbsp. butter, cubed

Preheat your oven to 425°F.

In a bowl, combine fennel, cream, and one cup of the cheese, with a bit of salt and pepper, and mush everything together with your hands. Pour the mixture into a 9″x13″ baking dish. Place the cubes of butter over top, sporadically. Cover the dish with foil, and bake for about an hour.

Pull the dish out of the oven, remove the foil, and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the dish. Put the whole thing back into the oven and continue to cook for another 20 to 30 minutes, until the fennel is tender and the cheese is golden brown.

It’s very good with white fish, or chicken. Or, cold, out of the refrigerator when you’re up at 3:00 a.m., wondering what you should do with your life.

 

 

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Something to Read: Fresh Off the Boat

30days

Fresh Off the Boat is a memoir about food, family, and not fitting in in America. It’s author, Eddie Huang, is a foul-mouthed, hip-hop loving raconteur and restaurateur, a Gen-Y immigrant kid from a Taiwanese family in Orlando. It was Anthony Bourdain who turned me on to him via Twitter, and though he is occasionally problematic and I don’t always agree with him, I’ve been a fan ever since. I knew kids like Eddie, and while I might be a little too “middle-class white girl from the suburbs” to really relate to many of his stories, I respect his hustle and the way he tells his story unfiltered. This is not a boring book.

fresh-off-the-boat

(If you are sensitive to colourful language, this may not be the book for you. If you would like to learn to swear more effectively and casually, this book will help. You could also come over any night I’m cooking something that splatters. The tops of my feet are freckled with burn scars.)

This is more over-arching memoir than straight food book, though food is a dominant theme.

Earlier in the day, Grandpa had asked me where I wanted to go for my sixth birthday. He figured I’d say Chuck E. Cheese or McDonald’s, but Momma didn’t raise no fool. Chuck E. Cheese was for mouth-breathers and kids with Velcro shoes. “I want to go where they have the best soup dumplings!” (Page 5)

After we ate, I was kinda pissed with the shitty soup dumplings. It was my birthday! Yi Ping Xiao Guan, you can’t come harder than this for the kid? Chuck E. Cheese can serve shitty food ’cause you get to smash moles and play Skee-Ball after lunch. But all you have are soup dumplings! How could you fuck this up? Yi Ping Xau Guan was like Adam Morrison: your job is to slap Kobe’s ass when the Lakers call time out. If you can’t do that, shoot yourself. As I sat there, pissed off, I saw a waiter pouring off-brand soy sauce into the Wanjashan Soy Sauce bottles. Corner-cutting, bootleg, off-brand-soy-pouring Chinamen! (Page 6)

Been there, in some form or another, too many times. What I like about this book is how much stuff matters to Huang. Soup dumplings, hip hop, fire red Air Jordan Vs – all of it is important, and defining. And Huang is defiant, opinionated, and not good with authority. He is an underdog throughout – at home, at school, in America – and he wears it well. Huang is an anti-hero with a felony on his record, a law degree, and a 2010 New York Times “Best of New York” credit to his restaurant’s name (Bauhaus).

He has a lot to say about race, class, food (history, origins, quality, sourcing – you name it), music, American and Taiwanese cultures, basketball, poverty, and family. It’s all complicated, and though it wraps up pretty nice in the end you never get the sense that there’s any promise of that. You never quite know what to expect. Eddie Huang fux with you.

No recipe today because I’m kind of dead tired, but if you’re looking for a good/witty/occasionally abrasive summer read (and if you grew up in the 90s … there are a lot of references to get), check out Fresh Off the Boat. I have two more posts to produce and three more recipes; stay tuned.

 

Something to Read: Between Meals

30days

I bought Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris without knowing anything about it because I was about to go to Paris and also it seemed kind of absurd. The back cover describes the author’s experience as a “Rabelaisian initiation into life’s finer pleasures,” and I emitted a Ha! so loud I knew I had to buy the book.

between-meals-an-appetite-for-paris

The author is AJ Liebling, a journalist and noted glutton. In James Salter’s introduction to the book, Liebling is said to be someone whose “pull was towards the disreputable elements of society, the seamy part of life, men who lived by their wits.” He was “a big, rumpled figure with a homely face and his navel showing through an unbuttoned shirt,” and his gluttony, “however it had begun it had become an essential part of him, a rebellion, a plume.”

“He had given up on his appearance but was living lavishly.”

I know that there is something fundamentally wrong with me, and I am aware of Liebling’s suffering and ill health toward his end, but something about all of this is very appealing. Who doesn’t want to eschew convention and expectation and just eat all of everything that Paris has to offer? I can’t just be speaking for myself when I say that it’s hard not to feel the burden of moderation? Real life is so restrictive. Let’s all take a study abroad term in France.

“The optimum financial position for a serious feeder is to have funds in hand for three more days, with a reasonable, but not certain, prospect for reinforcements thereafter. The student at the Sorbonne waiting for his remittance, the newspaperman waiting for his salary, the free-lance writer waiting for a check that he has cause to believe is in the mail – all are favorably situated to learn. (It goes without saying that it is essential to be in France.) The man of appetite who will stint himself when he can see three days ahead has no vocation, and I dismiss from consideration, as manic, the fellow who will spend the lot on one great feast and then live on fried potatoes until his next increment; Tuaregs eat that way, only because they never know when they are next going to come by their next sheep. The clear-headed voracious man learns because he tries to compose his meals to obtain an appreciable quantity of pleasure from each. It is from this weighing of delights against their cost that the student eater (particularly if he is a student at the University of Paris) erects the scale of values that will serve him until he dies or has to reside in the Middle West for a long period. The scale is different for each eater, as it is for each writer.”

AJ Liebling was a lush and a “feeder” and a talented writer and a lover of France in that snapshot of time when Paris was the stuff of romance, of longing, the stuff of so much good fiction at a specific time in our history, the stuff of fantasy that endures. Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris is funny and indulgent, the kind of thing you read and think “I have made so many poor life choices,” the kind of thing you should read on a rainy weekend with a lot of pinot noir and pâté close at hand.

Chicken liver pâté

(Serves four regular people or two gluttonous fiends.)

  • ½ cup room-temperature unsalted butter
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ lb. chicken livers, membranes removed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 whole sprig of fresh thyme
  • ½ tsp. ground white pepper
  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp. cognac (I’m poor, so I use brandy)
  • 2 tbsp. heavy cream

Over medium heat, melt two tablespoons of butter in a pan. Add the shallots and garlic, and cook until the onions have turned shimmery and translucent.

Add the livers, thyme, bay leaf, nutmeg, pepper and a pinch of salt. Cook for three to five minutes, until the livers are just barely pink in the centre. Remove from heat and let cool.

Remove the bay leaf and the sprig of thyme. Dump the contents of the skillet into a food processor, and pulse until smooth.

Scoop the liver mixture out of the food processor and into a bowl. Beat the remaining butter into the mix, then add cognac (*cough* brandy). Stir until well combined, then gently mix in the cream. Taste, adjusting seasonings to your preference. Spread the pâté on bread or crackers, and feel very gourmet about the whole thing.

Something to Read: On Booze

30days

Cocktails before meals like Americans, wines and brandies like the Frenchmen, beer like Germans, whiskey-and-soda like the English, and, as they were no longer in the twenties, this preposterous mélange, that was like some gigantic cocktail in a nightmare.

Ugh, this week.

I’ve been busy at work, working late the first two days of the week but then showing up late this morning because Toddler was fevered and barfing. The little guy seemed like he was doing better, but that was the Tylenol talking and by the time I got home he was back to flat and sweating, watching a Thomas (the train) movie for the fifth time in a row and throwing up his warm milk. I gave him a Gravol and sang him to sleep, but he’s been stirring all evening, whimpering and breathing heavy.

Poor little guy.

So, tonight, let’s talk drinks. I love drinks. I like them to relax, I like them to socialize, I like them by myself in a bathtub with a book or in a patch of sunlight with a book or in my travel mug at the grocery store. (People do that, right? It’s not just me? I don’t drive to the store, if that helps?)

I drink an drink when it’s been a long week already and after Toddler has gone to bed sick.

I’ve always been partial to writers with well-known vices. And since so many of the good ones had them, it’s easy to call a bit of cold vodka and a bit of olive brine something akin to creative juice; a drink once in a while suggests a darkness in one’s heart that makes one crave a bit of levity. Anyone who willingly suffers the creative process has at least a little darkness, and no doubt more than some will admit.

I read The Great Gatsby a million years ago in a high school English class and it bored me to death, but I read it again in a community college lit class my first year out of high school and found it suddenly very exciting. It was among my first Serious Literature, and I got it. (I wanted to be a lawyer and Irish when I was in high school and so I read every John Grisham book and every Maeve Binchy book published before 2001. I had some stories to catch up on.)

On-Booze

 

The Great Gatsby is by no means my favourite book, nor is it anywhere near my top ten, but it’s like an old friend who shows up to charm me every so often. For that reason, On Booze jumped out at me when I was wandering my local bookstore aimlessly one rainy weekend afternoon. On Booze is a collection of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s writing on the topic of booze (excerpts, letters and essays), and as it’s 86 pages it’s the kind of thing you can finish off with a few glasses of wine and some cheese on crackers some night when you don’t have anything else to do.

“Perfectly respectable girl, but only been drinking that day. No matter how long she lives she’ll always know she’s killed somebody.”

Dirty Vodka* Martini

(Makes one. Perfect to conclude long work-weeks and to soothe the tired mind after dealing with a sick cat or kid. Don’t use fancy vodka – you’re just going to stank it up with the olive juice.)

  • Ice cubes
  • 2 oz. cold vodka (I store mine in the freezer so it pours like syrup)
  • 1 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. brine from a jar of olives
  • 1 tbsp. dry vermouth
  • As many olives as you want for garnish and as a side-snack

Put ice, vodka, olive juice, and vermouth in a shaker, put the lid on it, shake it 23 times, then strain the mixture into a chilled glass. You can use a martini glass but those things are stupid impractical and prone to tipping; I am a classy lady who uses a tumbler because it doesn’t spill.

*You can use gin if you’re a purist, but gin and I have troubled history and are incompatible so my preference is vodka. Make the choice that best suits your needs on any given evening.

 

Something to Read: L.A. Son

30days

I have a crush on Roy Choi, the chef who started Kogi Truck and invented the Korean Taco. Tacos plus kimchi equals romance forever. I wanted his book, published under Anthony Bourdain’s imprint, before I even knew what it would be like.

la-son-roy-choi

It is exactly the style of book I’d like to one day be witty enough to write. It’s a memoir, it’s a cookbook, it’s mostly black and white but with the occasional full-colour photo thrown in. It’s beautiful. It’s funny. It doesn’t shy away from the swears, which I think is important because who cooks politely? I’m burning myself and spraying mess everywhere and cursing like a sailor on rough waters and that’s how I like it. Cooking is relaxing, and it’s relaxing because you’re in your kitchen burning off whatever needs it.

L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food is a fantastic book. It’s completely different in both tone and content from any other book on your shelf, I guarantee it. Roy Choi was born in Korea and raised in Los Angeles, and grew up around a mash-up of cultures and flavours. He studied, he misbehaved, he went to cooking school, worked at Le Bernardin, and then became a food truck boss and Anthony Bourdain pal. The book has recipes for everything – all kinds of things – from kimchi and spaghetti to pupusas and French onion soup. I read it over a week or so, savouring the text and marveling at every recipe.

There was one in particular that stood out to me – I laughed so hard I called Nick over to read it. You see, Nick is a sauce junkie. He needs small amounts of every possible flavour all the time, and prefers meals he can construct out of myriad bits. He loves dim sum, tapas, stuff like that, and he makes what he calls a “sauce line-up” whenever there are multiple sauces at his disposal. Chicken McNuggets plus every sauce including mayonnaise and honey is one of his secret favourite treats. The recipe is called “That’s So Sweet” and I might as well excerpt it for you here because if you’re on the fence, this will either sell you or sway you.

That’s So Sweet

I’ve always loved the sauces in life more than the food – maybe that’s why I cook the way I do. So it’s no surprise that I’m a sauce packet fiend. If I go to a fast-food joint or the mall food court, my tray is like twenty-five deep in the packets. And it’s not that I’m hoarding all this shit; no, I have a ritual. I’m real anal about my packet game. I open ’em all up before I eat anything, and make my sauces. I blend and mix and create. Then people say “Oh, he drowns his tacos and rice bowls in too much sauce.” Guilty as charged. Drown your chicken or shrimp in this sauce.

  • One 25-ounce bottle Mae Ploy Sweet Chilli Sauce or other Thai sweet chili sauce
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons roasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 serrano chiles, chopped, seeds and all
  • 5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Sriracha
  • 3/4 white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2/3 cup fresh Thai basil leaves
  • 2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2/3 dried Anaheim chile, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 2/3 cup chopped scallions
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons kochukaru
  • 2/3 cup natural rice vinegar (not seasoned)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped peeled galangal

Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend everything until it’s all real smooth.

Use liberally on whatever you got cooking for dinner – chicken, shrimp, everything – and pack the rest in Tupperware. It’ll store in the fridge for two weeks.

And here’s a preview of Eddie Huang, who I want to tell you about later this week. From his series Fresh Off the Boat, Eddie Huang interviews Roy Choi in L.A.:

Something to Read: Hunt, Gather, Cook and The Homemade Pantry

30days

I’m not doing great at keeping to my schedule. Last night I ate some expired salad dressing that may have gone off and some shrimp that might not have been fresh and spent the evening in a state of discomfort, trying to focus on The Voice and also complaining a lot about my bad stomach feelings. I did not have an enthusiasm-filled day today.

So, to compensate, I’d like to tell you about two books from two bloggers I love and think you’ll love too.

The first one is Hunt, Gather, Cook, by Hank Shaw.

hagc

Hank Shaw is so cool. He hunts, forages, fishes, cooks, and writes about it, which is basically everything I look for in a marriage partner. I like to live with someone who will bring me wild meat every so often, and who keeps me in fish all summer. Who doesn’t, though … right?

I was excited about Hank’s book because I knew it would contain recipes we would use. He’s got recipes for big game, like deer and moose, and for ducks and geese (which we get on occasion), and fish (though I had hoped there would be more on trout) and crabs, and since he’s from the west coast, a lot of what he talks about is relevant to our proteins of choice/availability. He writes about fruit and flower wine-making, meat curing and sausage making, and his chapters on foraging are the stuff of aspirations, at least for me. I long to trudge through the woods to find nettles and fiddleheads, which Nick calls  “hiking” (and I don’t care for it).

You can read Hank’s blog at Hunter Angler Gardner Cook and if you haven’t already been reading his posts, you should definitely start, especially if you are interested in sustainable diets and interesting recipes for wild meats and vegetation. He was profiled in Field & Stream, which I think proves he’s legit. I’ve never read Field & Stream, but I assume it is to outdoorsy people as Bon Appetit is to indoorsy people. Gospel.

When we first started smoking fish, we turned to Hank Shaw first and he did not let us down. And what’s helpful about Hank’s blog is that when I need to learn how to do something, like butterfly a fish, the instructions are probably there. He’s like a really helpful friend you can call up anytime you have a weird question about animal parts. If only my IRL friends could do what Hank does for me.

The following recipe is from his section on wild greens, and the time is right to make this dish. If you have nettles nearby, grab some gloves, pick some weeds, and turn them into a creamy, extremely iron- and Vitamin C-rich risotto for dinner this week.

Nettle Risotto

(Serves 2.)

  • 1 cup blanched nettles (about six handfuls of raw nettles boiled for three minutes)
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup Arborio rice (I use half rice and half pearl barley)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken, vegetable or beef stock
  • 1/4 cup grated Pecorino cheese

Once your greens are blanched and cool, drain them and roll them into a tea towel and squeeze out any excess water. Chop them as finely as you can.

Heat stock to a gentle simmer.

In a heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat, melt two tablespoons of the butter. Once the butter is melted and has stopped frothing, add shallot, garlic, and rice, stirring for a minute or so until rice begins to look opaque and is nicely coated in fat.

Stir one cup of stock into the rice with the salt. Stir frequently, and when the first cup of stock has been absorbed by the rice, add the second cup. Repeat the waiting and stirring.

When it comes time to add the next round of stock, add your greens as well, this time with about a half a cup of stock. Your stirring should be more frequent now. Keep adding water in half-cup amounts until your rice is al dente and has reached the consistency you prefer. I always use all four cups, as I like my risotto loose.

Add the cheese and the last bit of butter. Stir, taste, and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve immediately.


The next blogger I’d like to tell you about is Alana Chernila of Eating from the Ground Up. I’ve been reading her blog since almost the beginning, marveling at how lovely her life seems out there in the Berkshires, wherever that is (I assume it’s like Narnia and I have to find a secret passageway to get there). Her book, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making has improved my life in simple, wonderful ways. I don’t buy ricotta anymore. There’s no need.

the-homemade-pantry

 

The best thing in this book might be the recipe for homemade instant oatmeal – ween yourself off that terrible-for-you sugary packet-stuff and start making instant oatmeal with rolled oats from your pantry – there’s a bonus recipe for homemade brown sugar, if you need it. This has been a life-saver for me with Toddler, who eats too much sugary crap but who can be tricked with better-quality stuff if you catch him before he’s formed a habit for the store-bought version. I’ve made it with Porridge Oats, which comes with bran and flaxseed in it, and it works just as well.

The recipe I’ve made over and over is her recipe for ricotta, which, if you leave it long enough, becomes paneer. A batch of ricotta is cheaper than the stuff you buy in plastic tubs from the supermarket, and it’s infinitely better and much more impressive when you serve it to friends. The recipe makes about a cup and a half, but I usually double it because why not.

Ricotta

  • 1/2 gallon whole milk
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about two lemons)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Sea salt to taste

Add the milk, lemon juice and cream to a cold pot (with a heavy bottom) off  the heat, and stir for a few seconds.

Affix a candy thermometer to the side of your pot, and warm the pot over low heat. You want to warm the milk mixture to 175°F, which at this low temperature should take somewhere around 45 minutes. After 30 minutes, be vigilant about checking. Stir a couple of times, here and there, as you putter around doing other things.

When you reach 175°F, turn the heat up to medium-high. Do not stir. Watch your pot, and wait for it to get to 205°F. Should take three to five minutes. Don’t let it boil.

When you reach 205°F, take the pot off the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes.

Line a fine-mesh sieve with cheesecloth, and strain your mixture. Strain it over a bowl or something, as you will want to save the whey that’s left behind – it’s beautiful in homemade bread, and I’ve also used it in muffins and soups. Leave the cheese for another 10 minutes, then sprinkle with salt. Serve warm, as is, with toasted nuts and honey, or chill it for later use, or use it as an ingredient for something else altogether.

Something to Read: Fannie Farmer Cookbook & Baking Book

30days

Yesterday we spent the day in Porteau Cove and it was rainy and everyone ended up damp to their skin but it was fun and Toddler had a fabulous day and when we got home I still had to put Easter together so last night, I didn’t end up posting (I did watch a few cooking shows off the PVR and eat about a pound of Easter candy though, so that’s got to count for something).

Easter prep

I had meant to tell you about the Fannie Farmer cookbooks, which you likely already know about as they’re classics but if not, you should know about because they’re classics. So I might as well tell you about the Fannie Farmer Cookbook and The Fannie Farmer Baking Book, which are two of my most essential kitchen resources (both edited by Marion Cunningham). My aunt had asked for the recipe for Lazy Daisy cake, as she’s celebrating her PhD candidacy and it’s her favourite cake, so the timing is all kinds of right.

The Fannie Farmer cookbooks are pretty much the family cookbook where I grew up; my grandmother used them and I inherited her three copies; my mom has several copies (since I ruined her first one as I’m messy and irresponsible and not careful with things). If I’ve ever wondered how to make anything, even before Googling it, I check in with Fannie. Chances are the answers are all in there, probably with my grandmother’s notes.

Cuddles_FF

The thing I like about the cookbooks is that they’re reference as much as they are books of recipes; there are instructions on selecting cuts of meat and what each cut means, information and recipes for cooking for the sick, and a great many recipes that can be made on even the tightest budget. If you know someone about to move into his or her first home away from home, Fannie Farmer is a great gift.

I have a couple of really old versions of the books, and I keep them because they were my grandmother’s, but also because they’re pretty funny. For example, from my 1973 version which purports to be a facsimile of the original (circa 1896):

Banana Salad

Remove one section of skin from each of four bananas. Take out fruit, scrape, and cut fruit from one banana in thin slices, fruit from other three bananas in one-half inch cubes. Marinate cubes with French Dressing. Refill skins and garnish each with slices of banana. Stack around a mound of lettuce leaves.

I love recipes like these. So gross. So delightful to imagine someone serving banana salad in French Dressing to company.

But seriously, Fannie Farmer.

Here’s the recipe for Lazy Daisy Cake, followed by a recipe for Lazy Daisy Topping, both from the Fannie Farmer Baking Book. “Because this light and delicate cake is so easy to make, it is an ideal dessert for a lazy day. The topping is a rich butter-caramel glaze, and it is good.”

Lazy Daisy Cake

(Makes one 8-inch square cake.)

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Lazy Daisy Topping (see below)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour an 8″ square cake pan.

Warm the milk with the butter in a small saucepan over low heat.

Meanwhile, beat the eggs until they are foamy and feel like they’ve thickened slightly. Slowly whisk in the sugar, then add the vanilla.

Sift your dry ingredients into another bowl. Stir the dry mix into the egg mixture and beat until the batter is smooth.

Check that the butter has melted into the milk; if it has, stir into the batter and mix well. If it hasn’t, give it another minute or so.

Pour your batter into your pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean, about 25 minutes.

While your cake is baking, prepare the Lazy Daisy Topping (recipe below).

Spread the topping over the warm cake and brown slightly under the broiler for about one minute, paying attention all the while so that it doesn’t burn. Serve the cake from the pan.

Lazy Daisy Topping

(Makes about 1 1/4 cups, enough for one Lazy Daisy Cake)

  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut, toasted if you wish

Combine butter, cream and sugar in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir over medium heat until melted. Add the coconut. Pour the frosting over the baked cake; cook under a hot broiler for about a minute, until it bubbles and browns slightly.