Saturday, August 28, 2010

How Can I Not Love This?

She is, after all "the first British-Kashmiri female dholi, trained by the Dhol Blasters and Azaad dhol..."

Don's Pharmacy Potato Salad

I used to get all fancy and complicated with potato salad, because I really didn't like it. No matter how fancy I made it.
Then I discovered French potato salad made with vinegriette and that was pretty good. And different.
But it wasn't until I impulsively ordered  — and tasted — the house potato salad while at ONE OF THE LAST LUNCH COUNTERS IN AMERICA (and one of the few places you can still get a real malted milk shake) — for my annual BLT w/o the L or the T, that I knew I'd finally found the secret.
And what is it, you ask. KISS, honey, just KISS.

Take any number of white potatoes that you want and microwave them on baked potato setting, then let them cool but not get cold.
Or you can boil them if you want to go to all that trouble. They do get a little too soft in the microwave.
Chop up a bunch of scallions, greens included, until you've got enough to kind of balance the potatoes. Roughly, I'd do about one bunch to four medium potatoes.
Peel and dice the coolish potatoes into 1/2 inch chunks, throw in the scallions (you HAVE washed them, cut off the root ends and discarded anything that looks brownish, right? Do I have to explain everything?)
Then start spooning in heaping tablespoons of mayo (Best's only, unless you live in the Midwest, where I've heard Heilemann's is the man) and gently coating everything until it looks neither too dry nor too wet. Salt and pepper to taste. Eat. Enjoy.
Refrigerate leftovers. You can add chunks of peeled harboiled egg to this, but it's not necessary unless you're making it a one-dish vegetarian dinner and need some protein. Scallions and potatoes, scallions and just about anything. I would not recommend substituting any other kind of onion. Then it wouldn't be Don's and you'd have to get all fancy to pull it off, in which case, why bother, just buy some of that overpriced pre-packaged stuff at Safeway.
BTW, Don's is no longer called Don's. It's called The Leader Drug Store, which probably means the local newspaper publisher bought it and named it after his paper or paper company or something.
But to me, it will always be Don's. The waitresses are all the kind you usually only find in the movies, call me honey and some of them are older than I am.
The cook used to be female but they've got some passing ex-shed boy in there now.
He makes great potato salad, a decent cheeseburger and there's lots of B on the BLT without the L or the T.
It was a great place to hang out my first winter here when the rain was driving me crazy and the kid was at school. Still feels like home.
What's a shed boy? Well might you ask.

Early Meatless Monday For AB

So I have all this aging celery in the garden, it's getting fibrous and I don't even like celery but even the celery lover doesn't want to eat it but I hate to let it go to compost.
Just so happens the NYT had a recipe that I saw when linking to something else that called for five cups of celery, which is a lot.
Yesterday I decided to make the Greek beans, which I think of as Italian beans because instead of tomato sauce or paste, I used a can of diced Italian spiced tomatoes.
The celery lover and I split the results and, guess what, we each have only about a spoonful left after less than 24 hours.
I like my beans with enough broth to eat as soup because the broth is soooo good. But I was still scarfing the dish down at midnight while I watched The Ghost Writer — pretty good thriller — and so it turns out it was an uplanned but totally satisfying Meatless Friday.
Use all your bean broth when you put the dish in the oven and  bake in something larger than the two-quart glass casserole I used, which boiled over a bit.
I will never be a vegetarian, but I could do more things like this and skip the  beef/pork/chicken entirely every couple of days and never notice the difference.
P.S. I had small navy beans, so that's what I used.

Recipes for Health
White Beans With Celery

This dish is inspired by a Greek recipe from Diane Kochilas’s “The Glorious Foods of Greece” that calls for giant white beans and about three times as much olive oil. I had regular white beans in my pantry and a bunch of celery left over from a recipe that called for only a couple of stalks (which happens so often). I love the textures here. The celery retains a little crunch, which contrasts nicely with the soft beans.

1/2 pound (about 1 1/8 cups) white beans, rinsed, picked over and soaked for six hours or overnight in 1 quart water

Salt to taste

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

4 to 5 cups chopped celery, including the leaves

4 large garlic cloves, minced

1 8-ounce can tomato sauce, or 2 tablespoons tomato paste diluted in 1 cup water

1/4 to 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley (to taste)

Juice of 1 to 2 lemons, to taste

1. Drain the beans, and combine in a large saucepan with enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, add salt to taste, cover and simmer until the beans are just tender, about 45 minutes to an hour. Do not let the beans boil hard or they’ll fall apart before they’re cooked through.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet, and add the celery and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until it just begins to soften, about three minutes, and add the garlic. Stir together for a minute, until the garlic is fragrant, and remove from the heat.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Drain the beans over a bowl. Place in a large baking dish, preferably earthenware, and toss with the celery and garlic, the remaining olive oil and the tomato sauce or diluted tomato paste. Add enough of the drained broth to cover by an inch, and stir in the remaining olive oil. Cover the dish tightly with foil, and place in the oven. Bake one hour, or until the beans are soft and creamy.

4. Uncover the beans, stir, and add salt and pepper to taste. Add a tablespoon or 2 of lemon juice, or more if desired, and adjust salt and pepper. Serve hot, warm or room temperature, with a little more olive oil drizzled over the top if desired.

Yield: Serves four.

Advance preparation: The beans will keep for three days in the refrigerator. You may want to thin them out with a little water or broth.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Email O' Teh Day

(Thanks, JK)
Inner Peace: This Is So True

If you can start the day witout caffeine
If you can always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains
If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles
If you can eat the same food every day and be grateful for it
If you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time
If you can take criticism and blame without resentment
If you can conquer tension without medical help
If you can relax without liquor
If you can sleep without the aid of drugs

...then you are probably
the family dog

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Blog It Is

I admire and respect Jerome a Paris over at Daily Kos.
He's French but with a native grasp of American politics as well as the world picture, plus he knows all about energy and economics. He's in the business, as it were, green energy investment apparently.
Anyhoo, I just started reading his new post, the first in a long time that I've noticed, and just thought I'd recommend it for his impressive grasp of the salient factors in our recent economic experience. Guess what, he doesn't include the housing bubble. Hmm.