Sunday, May 31, 2009


I wanted today to be all about writing and food: My perfect day.

To start, I began reading the Fannie Farmer cookbook, to see what she had to say about food and especially food science and nutrition. I immediately found out that I eat about three times as much as I'm supposed to. I tell myself that people were shorter then and didn't need as much nourishment.

Then I went to the neighborhood Farmers' market. I love to wander from stall to stall and then suddenly be smitten by something. I want to feel inspired. Today, it was baby turnips. What am I going to do with them? I have no idea, but they were so beautiful.

I also managed to pick up some Spring onions and shallots and some broccoli rape and sugar snap peas and cheese and una foccacia (and I managed to embarrass myself by using the wrong article and then not knowing how to say "I'm trying to learn Italian" in Italian; if I can embarrass myself once a week throughout the season, I might learn a thing or two about a thing or two Italian).

Then to the corporate grocery store because my daughter needed milk and my husband noticed they were having a sale on flank steak. Plus a bunch of other stuff.

Time for more writing. First, I thought I'd see what Fannie had to say about cooking turnips. I almost wept when I began to read the section on vegetables. Boil green beans for an hour? The same for spinach? So sad. This was cuisine in the turn of the century. The vegetables suffered.

I thought I'd get my flank steaks marinating, and I was about to go out to the garden to gather some oregano and thyme, when I realized that I'm basically out of garlic. Another trip to the store would be in order. I love food. I do not love going to the store.

Instead, I fixed lunch: whole wheat spaghetti with garlic, red pepper flakes, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, roasted red peppers, bread crumbs, and fresh parsley and basil, topped with some parmesan. All that and a glass of Chianti. My new favorite.

After my hedonistic repast, I had to buckle down and go to the store. I returned home with five bulbs of garlic. Now I have two steaks marinating (one is in the freezer for future use) and a batch of bread rising in the backyard (where it's extra warm). So far, the day has been a lot about food and a lot less about writing. I've worked on a couple of poems (glancingly), but it hasn't shared as much of my attention.

And it isn't over. In a couple of hours, I'll shape the bread and roast four of the garlic bulbs. But until then, I have some time, however much time, to write.


Premium T. said...

The much more recent Fannie Farmer is a pretty darn good basic cookbook -- one of my standbys, along with the Settlement Cookbook, Joy of Cooking, and American Cookery by James Beard.
I can't imagine boiling green beans for an hour -- would there be anything left?! Green water?

Joannie said...

I wanted to look at the older version to learn about Ms. Farmer's ideas and what was in this book that was rejected by so many publishers before it became a runaway success.

For most references, I use the Joy of Cooking or The New Basics or, if what I'm looking for is in it, The Herbfarm Cookbook.

jeannine said...

We used to grow turnips back in Tennessee and I recall that peeling them and cutting them up and eating them raw was pretty good - they taste like a sharper jicama. If kids are picky, serve with dip! Also good to add to various roasted veggies - onions, parsnips, carrots, potatoes - with roasted chicken. Still, I prefer them raw. Just like peas! When I grew up I was appalled people ate them cooked when they tasted so much better uncooked. I stand by that.

Joannie said...

I'll try them raw, and thanks for the tip.

We love roasted root vegetables with chicken or even flank steak, but not so much in this (wonderful, wonderful) heat.

Kristin said...

Your day sounds fabulous--especially to one who spent the day stuck in an office suffering through meetings (not, I might add, meetings about poetry!).

Jane said...

Funny you should mention Chianti. About a year ago I re-discovered Chianti. DaVinci is a good one. (Gone now is the image in my mind of those straw covered Chianti bottles with candle drips!) I've also been turned on to wines from Spain. Nice, full bodied reds. Try some.