Tom's Foodie Sunday #1
I'm kind of a foodie. I don't really cook for myself since I live alone and learned long ago that I don't do leftovers. I was taught that wasting food is a sin, that there are starving people in the world that would be very happy to get those cooked carrots (then, pray send them to them, Mother..) and the result was that for years I would dutifully wrap the half of the dinner I hadn't finished up and put it into the icebox, where it would sit balefully staring at me until I moved it it the freezer. It would still be there when I went for the ice cream (or more likely the Vodka), a small frozen reproach to everything I was brought up to believe. Eventually I learned to just let it go, and pick up something from the salad or soup bar, or a cooked chicken leg and call it a night. No hassles, no leftovers, no fuss.
I do still like to cook and did so with one of my oldest friends. We would cater events together. Our whole friendship was founded on food; we met in the eighties when I got my first job out of college, at Dean & Deluca in SoHo. I ended up working for her in the pastry department and we became fast friends. Over the years we catered friends weddings and theater openings and did numerous parties at her (various) homes. We assembled canapés in a room under theater 2 at the old Tiffany Theater on Sunset, hunched over in a windowless room with a five foot ceiling and a light fixture that strobed so much I thought I was going to develop epilepsy. We baked a wedding cake in a borrowed Brooklyn kitchen, drove it and then decorated it in a hotel room in the Catskills, cutting gum-paste decorations out with my library card since we goofed and only packed one knife. We cut out cookie-sized tortillas and bought cheap camp stoves in Little Tokyo to make individual quesadillas for a friend who was trying to get people to invest in his circus, clowns unicycling around us.
We were nuts.
But there is something wonderful about cooking, and cooking with someone with whom you have a rapport. We're the sort of friends who don't need to talk all the time. We can watch an old movie and chop our endive or bake our pies. My friend is the baker. Is there a better smell than baking? Smart realtors often put a sheet of sugar cookies in the oven before an open house; the smell of baking cookies could make the most Addams Family of houses seem that much more homey. I maintain that my friend is the better baker than I since I like the more free-form things to make that give you more leeway. Baking requires precision; even doubling a batch of brownies can change the outcome for the worse.
The one thing I do bake is Biscotti. They are marvelous: delicious and very easy to make: mix up, form into a loaf, bake, let cool, slice and bake again. While Foodie Sunday isn't going to be recipe central (at least from me, since my recipes tend to be "buy food from Gelsons and eat it". But I will mention that Googling will get you about 300 decent recipes and that any of them that have say, cranberry pistachio can easily be changed to almond or plain with grated lemon zest. Your house will smell delicious and you'll be very popular in your 'hood.
If you're a baker, why not share some of your favorites?
Image source, countryliving.com