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Posts Tagged ‘lemonade’

No preliminaries from Little Miss Chatterbox this time. Let’s go:

1) Be skeptical of any dessert served with an amorphous heap on top—whipped cream, raspberry sauce, spark plugs, whatever. It usually means the kitchen is trying to distract you. Remember: if the dessert could stand on its own, it would.

2) Smile at your restaurant server even if he or she doesn’t smile back.

3) If you loved your meal, send your thanks to the kitchen. It’s not pretentious or old-fashioned; expressing appreciation will never be thus.

4) If your Filipino friend invites you to an authentic Filipino meal made by her mom, say yes.

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Lumpiang shanghai—homemade spring rolls filled with ground pork, carrots, and onions. Piping hot and crisp. I couldn’t stop eating them, which was rude because my hosts and friends kept trying to engage me in conversation, but I got a little delirious with these.

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This is is monggo, and lovely comfort food. Beans, broth, shrimp, and vegetables. Again, I needed to exercise better portion control and likely didn’t.

5) If a friend who grew up in Wisconsin tells you that a local ice cream place is fantastic, go.

6) Never refuse a cookie made from scratch.

7) When in a burger joint or chain restaurant, don’t order the pasta. Doesn’t matter if the place has an Italian-sounding name.

8) It’s okay to hate marshmallow Peeps and Cadbury Creme Eggs. Get in line with me. We’ll hang out.

9) Always pull over to buy lemonade from kids selling it in front of their houses.

10) When trying an exotic dish for the first time, make sure the people preparing it know it like they know how to inhale and exhale.

11) Own a copy of The Joy of Cooking. Every single standard dish is in there, and it’s plainly written.

12) Eat fruits and vegetables when they’re in season and you’ll find out how they’re really supposed to taste. Watermelon delivered to New Jersey in March is, for example, a disgrace. In August, purchased locally, it’s celestial.

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Organic Sugar Baby.

13) Shop at farmers’ markets. Ask questions. The guy behind the fold-out table most likely grew those sweet grilling peppers himself and loves talking about them.

14) Recognize that your tastes can change. Something you used to hate might taste very differently to you today—or you simply might learn that you hate broccoli when roasted, but love it when steamed.

15) Put your hands in soft bread dough at least once. Making bread is easy. Really really.

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Babka dough…on the rise.

16) Just because a recipe looks difficult to make doesn’t mean it is, or that you won’t enjoy every second of making it.

17) When traveling, eat where the locals eat for the best value and flavor. If you want fancy, ask a local butcher where to eat; he or she will know which restaurants buy the best cuts. If you want simple and hearty, ask a policeman where to eat.

18) Along the same lines, try foods that the place is known for. Taste an artichoke in Rome, heather honey in Scotland, flying fish on Barbados, sharp white cheddar in Vermont.

19) Go strawberry picking. Go anything picking. Wear decent shoes. Flip flops aren’t.

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20) Own a proper set of knives. They should be weighted evenly, with the metal running straight through the handle. I firmly maintain that if you own cooking equipment that you don’t have to fight, you’ll enjoy cooking far more.

21) On the other hand, don’t spend much for ordinary things. An aluminum muffin tin has a design that’s hard to foul up. I bought a few sets for something like $7 at an ex-boyfriend’s sister’s garage sale in 2006. I also bought a hand mixer for five bucks. Both were at least 10 years old when I got them and they’re still chugging along fine.

22) Try different ingredients together, different textures together. If you don’t like it, so what? You can always chuck it if it doesn’t work out. Or you might come up with something wildly groovy.

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This was a weirdo idea I had for a breakfast sandwich: roasted local peaches with my fresh ricotta, basil leaves, and a drizzle of honey. It was too sweet. Next time I’m going to try balsamic vinegar instead of the honey.

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My honeysuckle syrup. One to one with plain vodka over ice was OUT of this world.

23) Eat with your hands. Not at a posh spot with your district manager, but as often as you can. It will taste differently. It’s grounding.

24) Find out what’s growing wild in your backyard, research it, and be clear on it. I’d bet there’s something edible there you can throw into your salad.

25) Eat good-quality chocolate, pure maple syrup (Grade B!), fresh garlic. Spread Irish butter on your English muffin. (Sure, they’ll be fighting in spirit, but in your mouth it’ll be divine.)

26) Try making pumpkin muffins with fresh-baked pumpkin at least once.

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Above: Cinderella pumpkins; below, cheese pumpkins. Highly recommended.

27) When at a Jewish deli, order the hot pastrami sandwich.

28) If you ever come across a cold bottle of sarsaparilla, try it.

29) Ditto for homemade hot chocolate. Ix-nay on the blue packets.

30) Adding a little sprinkle of sea salt to the top of homemade brownies, truffles, chocolate-dipped figs, and peanut butter fudge gives them a happy little punch.

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I’m a sucker for buying anything kids are selling on card tables in front of their houses. I don’t care if the lemonade is watery or if the cookies are stale; I’ll buy them.

When I was a kid, my sister and our two friends used to try to sell stuff to neighbors all the time. Shrewd businesswomen that we were, we set up our table at the end of our friends’ driveway, which faced the town ball field and tennis courts. Less-than-shrewd businesswomen that we were, once we added blue food coloring to 7-Up. (We actually thought we could market this stuff in cans!) Two worn out tennis players approached us and when they saw the color of the drinks, one said to the other, “You go first.”

Oh, the foolhardy days of my youth.

Recently I drove past a building in my neighborhood, one I lived in some fifteen years ago. Behind a table on the sidewalk were three beautiful Latina girls about ten years old. On the table was not a pitcher but a curious red-and-white machine. Holy innovative beverages, Batman! Was this what I thought it was?

I parked and called out to them, ‘What are you selling?’ and in unison they answered, ‘Snow cones!’ Well, sold, obviously.

‘What flavors do you have?’

‘Just cherry.’ (Not blue, in other words. English was their second language and they still knew more than my sister and me.)

They grinned and got to work. The machine gave them a hard time; it took a lot of elbow grease to hold the machine with one hand and pulverize the ice cubes with the lid with the other, so they called their mother out to help.  And I took French, not Spanish, but I still understood the conversation between the two because it was the same as it would have been between any antsy daughter and her aggrieved mother:

‘Mom…it’s taking too long!’

‘Don’t start. You were the one who wanted a snow cone machine for your birthday.’

‘I didn’t know it was going to be such a pain!’

‘Well, aren’t you glad I didn’t have to work today and could help? Thank your lucky stars.’

Ten minutes later (it really was, but who cared?) I was offered a plastic cup of crushed ice with streaky squirts of cherry and a bendy straw. One of the girls said, ‘Do you want this, too?’ She held up a little open can of sweetened condensed milk, which I use when I make caramel and which is a staple of Latin cuisine, especially in that voluptuous knockout, Tres Leches cake.

‘Of course!’ I said, and she poured some of the stuff on top of the mixture, less like a snow cone now than like a slushie with a Spanish accent (but again, who cared?) and paid them. They were so excited.

Told a few friends about this, and one commented that a drink like that lacked rum and nothing else to be a perfect summer drink. While I’m inclined to agree, it really was perfect the way it was: A buck for a trip to the tropics.

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