Peel and Eat Shrimp

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Expatriation is a strange thing. You love your adopted home and fit in completely, relishing the unexpected details of everyday life. The longer you settle in, the more foreign your birth place becomes. Eventually you can hardly remember what it felt like to be ‘home’ because ‘home’ has come to mean something new.

Asparagus, Cayenne, and Lime

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I am a terrible gardener. I kill every plant that comes into my life, quickly and decisively. Even so, each spring I start dreaming of a kitchen garden, imagining the wonderful heirloom tomatoes, fresh English peas, and summer squash I’ll have at the end of the season. I look forward to a glut of produce, and start planning preserves and chutneys and jams. I fast forward to an imaginary winter scene of me plucking a mason jar off the pantry shelf each night, making year-round use of my resources.

In Search of Baked Beans

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You’re sitting in a wet field, surrounded by cars, trying to keep your hands warm against a plastic cup of hot tea. Listening to the patter of weak drizzle echoing against your tent’s flysheet, you and your friends are discussing the day ahead. You had planned a nice long hike, or a bike ride. You had considered surfing. As the sky turns from slate grey to pale grey, all you can think about is getting warm—but you don’t want to be the first to say it. You feel the damp seeping into your jeans through the camp chair you accidentally left out all night, but it wouldn’t do any good to change clothes since the rest of your bag sat under a leak in the tent while you slept. Finally (bless him) a friend jokes that you could just spend the day in the pub instead of doing something outdoors. I mean, after all…it’s not the best day for a hike.

Charcutepalooza: Grinding Sausage

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So I’m late, as usual.

I’ve just discovered Charcutepalooza: a ‘year of meat’ in which a group of bloggers learn about charcuterie through a series of monthly challenges, and then report on the experience. The brainchild of Mrs. Wheelbarrow and The Yummy Mummy, festivities have so far included making duck prosciutto, hot smoked salmon, and home-cured bacon. Salivating over the thought of making  eating these sorts of goodies myself, I impulsively joined the ranks, thumbing my nose at the fact that I am completely broke and have no budget for any new kitchen equipment or expensive cuts of meat. No smokers, no stuffers, no terrine dishes, no duck breasts, nothing.

Happy Hour: Cherry Heering

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Poor Rudolph Valentino. Sex symbol, cultural icon, Hollywood star—he had it pretty rough, didn’t he? Back in the 1920’s when most Americans made about $2000 a year, Valentino made $7500 a week. Women fought over him, and men resented him. His nickname was ‘the Latin Lover’.

Mother’s Day Party Cake

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My great-grandmother Nettie, like many women of her generation, knew how to cook. Her parents were immigrants in New York—the story goes that her father gained passage from Germany as a 14-year-old stowaway in the 1880’s, though I have no idea if that is really true. Nettie grew up in Brooklyn, married a milliner (not to be confused with a millionaire) four years before the Titanic sank, and raised her children near Prospect Park.

Woodland Foraging: Fiddleheads

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A year ago I would have looked you dead in the eye over a glass of Côtes du Rhône in my London garden and explained to you that I’m really more of a nature person than a city person. Then I’d have clopped off to spend the afternoon shopping at Borough Market, or nosing around the farm store on Lordship Lane. If The Fella and I could be bothered, we’d battle traffic to get outside of the city for a day. We’d get on our mountain bikes and follow the GPS around the North Downs bridle paths, which was really just an excuse for stopping at a country pub on our way home. See? Nature.

Extra/ordinary Pork Rillettes

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I think I’m feeling classical. I go through this periodically, when stir fries and improv stews à la Stéphanie aren’t enough. When I feel like in order to be a Good Cook, I need to make Things I Might Eat in a Restaurant. Extraordinary stuff.

Usually this mood inspires me to make something French—it’s my way of pretending I’ve gone to culinary school. I spend hours agonizing over the little details of a recipe, making sure I have exactly the right ingredients, and reading through books and websites to learn pro techniques. I usually spend so long on all of this that by the time I finish making dinner, The Hubs and I have long since succumbed to a tuna sandwich. We stick our extraordinary dinner in the fridge and go to bed.