Recently a friend and I were complaining with great vehemence about food blogs where you have to scroll down for 7 minutes to find the recipe because the author is busy talking about the mist in the trees and their trip to Turkey and getting kefir from mysterious strangers and their life story and…
From now on, unless it adds to the drama and suspense, I’m putting the recipes first, y’all. I’ll pontificate at the end for anyone who wants to read my (obviously brilliant and utterly genius) philosophising.
a.k.a. Cheating at Poutine in a Country that Doesn’t Have Any Ingredients to Make Poutine
A recreation by taste and experimentation of vegetarian poutine I had at La Banquise in Montréal
N.B. This recipe is a long one. It takes forever. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. I think it’s worth it, but I also enjoy taking literally 2 days to make bread, so. I may not be the one to ask.
Milena’s Cooking Adventures — Yesterday Was Monday
First of all, my apologies for falling off the cliff of inactivity into the abyss of forgetfulness. In other words, sorry I haven’t posted in ages. I’ve had some personal things to juggle, but they seem to be well juggled now. I’m hoping I can get back to my regular Tuesday posting. Oh, is today Friday? Well, yesterday was Monday. So no worries.
For many years, I have pined for the salep and Monteida olive oil and simit that my dear lovely college roommate (let’s call her S) used to describe for me and bring me back from her trips to Turkey. After consistently hoarding knock-off mostly fake salep in my sock drawer for years and hissing and growling at anyone who came near (salep is illegal to export, for those of you who wonder why I found it so precious) I finally jumped over to that country to see the beauty of its food for myself.
Milena’s Cooking Adventures — Yesterday Was Monday
Yes, I know. I keep posting kefir recipes. It’s because (surprise) I have a lot of kefir. And it’s delicious. And it makes me very happy. My little guys (the grains) make about 4 cups or more a week. So if you don’t like kefir, or you can’t find it, or you don’t have grains to make it, I’m sorry. I wish your life were enriched with tiny magical wizard grains.
My twin’s favourite recipe with kefir is definitely kefir mac’n’cheese. It’s tangy and interesting and super easy to make. It’s what I use to bribe them. I truly hope they’re not reading this… because it is a highly useful manipulative dish that I intend to keep on using for that purpose. Continue reading Kefir Mac’n’Cheese with Browned Leeks
Milena’s Cooking Adventures – Yesterday Was Monday
Here in France, there are incredible ingredients– fresh butter, quality local leeks, incredible varieties of meat, more cheese than anyone could eat in a lifetime (although I am doing my level best). When I was in Chicago, the limp vegetables made me want to cry, but cooking in France is a joy. Still, whenever you move continents, just as some ingredients (high quality cheap wine, lardons, mimolette, dijon mustard) become more abundant, some ingredients that used to be standard to you seem impossible to find (baking powder, brown sugar, chilis, spices). It’s a trade-off, and if you like cooking, it becomes a bit of a challenge.
Yesterday we had a wonderful lunch. Two of our dear childhood friends are visiting from the U.S. and I wanted to cook a lunch for all of us. My French love came from out of town and helped advise us in what order to drink our wines (a Very Important Decision). We bustled furniture around to make everyone fit around the table and put the wines out on the balcony to get nice and cold. It was so lovely to be surrounded by old friends, translating important English words like “heckin” and “potate” for our French visitor. This, in case you weren’t aware, is a heckin potate:
Whenever I find myself facing a multi-course meal, I find it’s best to combine the known and unknown– a couple of dishes that are tried and true, and then some that I’ve done a million times and know I won’t need to think too hard about. And to prepare as much in advance as possible. This is about how my brain works when I look at the menu I prepared. Continue reading Lighter Kefir Banana Bread
The lack of a real stack of fluffy pancakes in France is the lead cause of my dépaysement, my homesickness, my deep-seated unrootedness in this country. If only I could go out to almost any restaurant and receive the four-pancake-high tower of pure calories that I crave, slathered in butter and drowned in maple syrup, then– I could be truly happy.
Five years ago, at an appointed time and place, I met a stranger to collect something I knew nothing about. In his hands he carried a beat-up milk carton. “You’ll need this too,” he said casually, slipping an index card into my hands. And then he and his sports coat left.
I took the bus home with my old milk carton. I examined the neat notes on the index card. I got a metal mesh fry screen and cut out wonky circles, then fit them onto jam jars to create a screened top. I poured the contents of the old milk carton into a jar, poured in some fresh milk, and wondered what I was doing with my life, and when exactly I had agreed to become a parent.
And deepest apologies for such a delay in posting. I’ve been settling into living in France, diving through layers and layers of bureaucracy, meeting new people, making new year resolutions, and generally setting up my little nest here. As 2019 reveals itself, I thought I’d look back at the past, back when my dissertation was devouring my life to such a point that I decided the only way to fight back was to bite back. Literally. Don’t worry, you’ll understand soon enough. Keep up.
From The Marvelous Machinations of Milena and Myles
About a month ago, my twin and I moved in together. Since we shared a room for the first 18 years of our lives, we know that any good home-creating begins with clear expectations, good communication, and some sensible house rules. We knew this because we did not do any of that for 18 years and ended up with some literal scars. Did you know that if one twin shoves the other one upwards in the womb, that other twin is capable of breaking their mother’s rib? Another interesting fact: if you kick your twin in the shin hard enough, they will limp for a week.
Our idea of house rules, of course, might not be what you were thinking of. Do we know whose turn it is to take out the overflowing trash? No. But do we have hyperbolic ingredient lists and overly intricate design sketches for the ambitious recipes we have to make this week? Hell yes. We have got our priorities right, kids. Creating a bizarre and tangled list of 100 recipe ideas, rolling a die every week, and then setting out to create said recipes together? That is an excellent house rule.
This past weekend was my birthday, and as is my usual tradition, I made my own birthday cake. Actually, I enjoy it. This year was particularly fun because I sort of designed it myself. I didn’t invent the entire recipe, but assembled it from other recipes that I found. I still haven’t named the cake yet–maybe you all could help me??
The cake is chocolate and passionfruit. It’s based on a cake from the recipe book The Cake Bible, which involved a chocolate genoise (don’t worry, I’ll explain this below) covered in strawberry whipped cream. I had made this cake several years earlier, and I remembered it when I was trying to decide which cake to make for my birthday. As some of you know, I’m in Hawai’i right now doing research for my dissertation. However, I wanted something tropical to fit the place I’m in, and which would hopefully be locally grown. I decided to replace the strawberry with passionfruit because it also goes well with chocolate.
One would think that it would be easy to find fresh passionfruits, which are also known as lilikoi, in Hawai’i. Here, there is a vast quantity of passion-orange juice, passion-orange-guava juice, passionfruit flavored desserts and on and on. But let me tell you. NO ONE SELLS IT. NO ONE. I guess it must be available at farmer’s markets, and apparently it grows wild everywhere on the Big Island. BUT NOT ON O’AHU (which is the island where I am). I went looking for them at perhaps six different grocery stores. I finally found frozen passionfruit concentrate at the last store and I have no idea where it was from, so my attempt to buy local didn’t even work out. Oh well. For this recipe, you can use either passionfruit concentrate or, if you’re lucky, fresh passionfruit juice/pulp. Continue reading Where have all the passionfruits gone??