Monday, July 13, 2015

Saturday, July 4, 2015

July 4th picnics and barbecues

good cateress newsletter, july 09 I have slowly realized that I enjoy all the seasons, with their wide swings of temperatures. My least favorite is the deep cold of winter. Truthfully, I love the hot, lazy, days of summer, probably because I am a summer baby. Apparently, Britain and the North East United States have swapped weather this summer; my english family and friends are loving it. The grey and endless rain of June in NYC have finally given way to the sun, and nice sun with coolish nights not the brutal 90’s, that have seemed the norm for the past ten years or so. Looking back at childhood summers, there were many picnics, by the sea; by a pool; in a farmers field; by a small river in England , Germany or France. The picnic blanket, 4 or 5 different thermos’s filled with ice cold roses lime juice, ice cubes and water; or orange squash. Bags filled with sandwiches, fruit, hard boiled eggs, cake and biscuits/cookies. A bottle of white wine, kept cool in the river. Sitting warm and comfortable in the open air, laughing and joking as a family. My first picnics were when we lived in Fallingbostel, Germany. Mum really used to miss the sea, having grown up surrounded by it on the Isle of Wight, so on a weekend, we would get up at first light, to be on the road for the long drive to the North Sea for the day. We would be some of the first people on the beach and would leave again shortly after lunch so that we were home in good time - not unlike going out to the Hamptons, but further. The North Sea beach was often very windy, but they had these amazing chairs, that you could rent. Wicker, high - I am guessing 6 or 7 feet, with a back on it and a colorful shade that could come out in the front. You could turn the chair so that your back was protected from either the wind or the sun. I have never seen them anywhere else, but they certainly worked for the North Sea. I have no recollection of swimming here, I do remember paddling with a fish net. I am guessing this was my first taste of cold sea water and that I was not a fan. Once we moved to Berlin, the trips to the North Sea came to an end, but we would drive to Riccione, Italy on the Adriatic coast for a long summer sea’s fix. Newsletter July 07. The weather was a lot like New York, and the heat would come rolling in for June and stay. At least, one of the weekend days would be spent at the British Forces Pool. This was a complex of 3 pools of various sizes, big lap pool, shallower children’s pool and a small diving pool, probably built for the 36 Olympics. The other part of the pool complex was for the Germans; we could see them and hear them, there were fountains and more pools; but we were separated. These were great days. I was very happy swimming, jumping, playing in water all day. It was in Berlin that we learnt to swim, took our various proficiency tests. There were amazing indoor pools for winter swimming on Sunday afternoons too. Mum would pack a picnic. Sandwiches: cheese and tomato, salmon and cucumber, ham and mustard, cheese and cucumber, egg. Sausage rolls, maybe a pork pie or sausages. Sponge cake, cookies/biscuits, fruit and we were allowed to buy an ice cream in the afternoon. And always, the thermoses filled with lime juice, on a hot summers day, it is the first thing I want to drink. So much more refreshing than soda. We just never had that much soda. No swimming for 20 minutes after eating! Tupperware entered our lives in Berlin; I cannot say whether it came through American or English friends. Our picnics with the colored plastic glasses with lids, mine was yellow; the sandwiches and other food all sealed up nicely in their square plastic containers. None the less, the sandwiches were always slightly soggy by the end of the day, but utterly delicious in their sogginess. It is now the 4th July. I am sitting in our garden in Harlem, a warm breeze blowing. Neighbors are setting up their barbecues; music is playing, laughter in the wind. Families enjoying the holiday. My first 4th of July was in Berlin. My father was part of BRIXMAS; the group in the forces that would venture into East Germany to watch Soviet Bloc forces training exercises etc. He worked a lot with the Americans. All part of the Cold War and the Allied Powers keeping us Free. So we were invited to the 4th July celebrations. Now, I admit that until I came to the States and had my first 4th July party with the Barnett’s in Connecticut, I had no idea what the summer party was. But I remembered it clearly, Simon and I have talked about this memory and ours are identical, it stood out so much. In no particular order: Nat King Cole singing “Lazy, Hazy days of summer”; sitting watching Dad playing volleyball; smokey barbecues filled with hot dogs, hamburgers, drumsticks; tables laden with bowls of salads, buns, relishes; pop music playing, squealing girls dancing; coca cola; eating a hot dog and bright yellow mild mustard; playing a game that was a lot like the rounders that we played at school. Mum had packed a small picnic, we had no idea what to expect. We hardly touched it. I had a hamburger with multicoloured relishes, it was delicious; and a hot dog, we were allowed to eat it while holding it in our hands, like the Americans do. The “Twist” was all the craze. Dad had taught me to twist, while we listened to the Forces Radio station. I could hear Chubby Checker, The Beatles, Little Richard, I ran over to watch, there was a “Twist” competition! The teenage girls were excited and taking over the contest. Then they announced one for my age group, I rushed to take part. I did win something for Twisting, maybe I got a third. But I wasn’t the worst! Ice cream! In Flavors! With Toppings! I remember us all driving home, chatting excitedly about all our shared new experiences. Needless to say, Dad bought a barbecue on our next visit to the PX. The PX, which was big and loud: it made the Naafi seem rather sad. We could have burgers for lunch in the cafeteria at the PX! For every subsequent birthday, I had a barbecue, and it never rained. British Bangers are excellent on a grill. I can really recommend Myers of Keswick’s Cumberland’s. Mum always made the burgers herself, chopping herbs and onions into the ground meat. Num and I have recently been enjoying The Neely’s barbecue book. We made the barbecue sauce and spice mix, which are really wonderful and worth the effort. We have used them in a couple of different ways. Instead of marinating and cooking a pork shoulder, we made a turkey breast, that we then pulled and made sandwiches. Totally yummy, with the cole slaw. Grilled Summer Salad Bunch of asparagus - rubbed with salt and olive oil, grilled 3 small zucchini - rubbed with salt and olive oil, grilled 4 corn ears, grilled. For this I like to shuck the corn, grill it and cut the kernels off 1 bunch scallions, rubbed with olive oil and salt, grilled 1 lb shrimp, marinated in lime juice and a little olive oil, grilled Fresh local romaine lettuce Tomato’s,Avocado Chop the vegetables into bite size pieces. Sometimes, I leave the asparagus whole! Mix together in a bowl. Toss with salt and pepper, juice of one lime and your favorite olive oil. Add the grilled shrimp. You can also use, chicken or scallops. While the grill is still hot. Cut slices of good bread, rub with garlic and olive oil, toast on the grill. Then chop a tomato, or rub a tomato onto the bread. Serve. For a good summer reggae sound, check out “Ghetto” by Num & Nu Afrika on itunes.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Green Sauce

I had never had Green Sauce until I came to America. But it certainly was delicious with poached fish. I asked a few people for a recipe, and they looked blankly at me, so in the end I made a recipe up. 1 bunch Watercress - using only the top half of the bunch 1 bunch Dill - use only leaves 1/2 bunch parsley leaves 2 cups Mayonaise 1 cup sour cream salt to taste Blend all the ingredients in a food processor. Can make ahead of time.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Jane's Harlem Kitchen and Garden: Hazelnut Meringue Cake

In this winter of deep cold, snow, ice. It has been hard to be inspired about cooking. We have been eating stews, casseroles for weeks. I had thought about writing about them, but I tend to assume that everyone knows how to do this.. If not let me know and I will write a few recipe ideas. Last night we had a few friends over. I wanted to make something different for dessert. The Shepherds Pie was an easy Supper item. I love meringues in almost any shade or form. In fact it is one of the only ways I eat egg. It has always surprised me that Americans don’t eat them like we do in England. Mum often made them and all you need is a quick bowl of whipped cream to go with them. Our friend Sally Newbury makes one of my favorite desserts, Hazelnut Meringue cake. Last summer Sally gave me the recipe, I carefully wrote it in my notes, came back from England and got a new phone. Now I cannot access it. I looked at a few recipes online and came up with a recipe that worked for me. Hazelnut Meringue cake 5 egg whites 4 oz/125 grams of Bob’s Red Mill Hazelnut Flour - you can also use whole Hazelnuts, by placing the Hazelnuts on baking sheet, roasting until lightly browned in a 375 degree oven, then grind in a food processor. I wanted to try the Hazelnut flour and found it worked perfectly and was certainly easier. 8 oz caster sugar vanilla essence a few drops 1/2 tsp of vinegar. Whisk the egg whites until they hold their shape, then gradually beat in the caster sugar, a spoonful at a time, add the vinegar and vanilla essence with the last spoonful. Grease and line with parchment paper 2 8inch cake pans. Divide the meringue mixture between the two tins, and place in a 375 oven. Bake for 35 - 40 minutes. Remove, let cool in the pans. Whip 1 cup of heavy cream with caster sugar to taste. Spread whipped cream over the meringue, I put raspberries on top of the cream, but you can add sliced strawberries or peaches or nothing. Put the second cake on top of the cream, add the rest of the whipped cream to the meringue. Add more fruit on the top. Serve.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015