Farewell Summer, I Shall Not Miss Thee

The grill, covered and neglected in this cold weather

As I sit at home on this gloomy, cold day in the Mid-Atlantic, it seems like so long ago that the summer heat of August was blazing down on us, rendering me miserable and cranky in my home and kitchen. While I know that many of you  lament summer’s passing, and the associated end of grill season, I have been looking forward to the change in weather for some time.

With no air conditioning in my kitchen, the summer weather meant that we did little cooking in the kitchen. Grilling became our main source of sustenance. I longed for the days when I could whip up a one-pot meal that would produce leftovers throughout the week. And now, finally, the seasons have changed (perhaps too fast for those of you getting snow), and we are deep in the middle of fall-cooking weather.

So here, readers, are my five top foodie reasons why I am happy to see summer gone:

5. Crock pot

The crock pot never ceases to amaze me. Throw in a bunch of veggies, meat and some liquid, and eight hours later – voila! – a tasty meal. I never use it in the summer, since I don’t really crave a meat and potatoes sort of meal during the summer.

ES on crock pots: BBQ Pulled Pork

4. Hot tea, hot cocoa, hot cider…

Who doesn’t love to curl up with a hot cup of your favorite beverage on a cold fall or winter day?

ES on hot drinks: Homemade Hot Chocolate

3. Red wine

Call me crazy, but in the summer, I have no interest in drinking red wine. And I love red wine, so sometimes I’ll make sangria, but generally, I have to wait until the cool weather hits to really enjoy it.

ES on wine: How to Use Leftover Wine

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The Turkey Torch Has Been Passed

So many recipes!

My mother, growing increasingly vegetarian, and increasingly averse to preparing animals of any kind, made it clear to us that last year would be the final Thanksgiving where she would make the turkey.

My brother and his girlfriend, being vegetarians themselves, could not take over the reins of the turkey-makers in the family, and so the duty now falls to my husband and me. In preparation, I have begun compiling and reading all of the turkey recipes I can get my hands on. I am amazed at the wide variety of recipes I am finding. How can it be that there are so many turkey recipes out there?

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Endless Contests: Small Kitchen Stories

Smallest. Kitchen. Ever.

Surely I’m not the only one here who complains about the size of their kitchen. Moving a few months ago from Delaware to New Jersey, we went from a duplex that had a remarkably large kitchen to a rowhouse with a ridiculous tiny kitchen, almost an afterthought in the 100-year-old home.  I have lived in apartments and homes that have had small kitchens before, but our new kitchen takes the cake in terms of function and feng shui. When we moved in, there were only cabinets and counter space on one side of the kitchen, and those were all quickly filled up with only a tiny fraction our kitchen-ware. The microwave and dish drainer took up the minimal counter space. We added metal shelving and a kitchen island on the other side of the kitchen, and that island now serves as our one and only prep surface.


Generally speaking, the size of the kitchen is not a problem if we I’m whipping up something quick. However, when I am feeling ambitious and want to make something like enchiladas, or even Indian food, which require a lot of ingredients, I have developed a few methods to keep myself from losing my mind:

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Flying Pies on the Upper West Side


Endless Simmer readers, I must be subconsciously, or not-so-subconsciously, obsessed with record-breaking food events these days, because here’s another story about the world’s largest custard pie fight.

I didn’t see it live, but you can watch a video (and pity the people who had to clean up the mess) here:

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The Cupcake Trend Goes Big

Feast your eyes upon this – the new “WORLD’S LARGEST CUPCAKE!” This 1200-plus pound cupcake made its grand appearance at the Woodward Avenue Dream Cruise Classic Car Show in the Detroit area last week. Looks beautiful, although perhaps a little light on the frosting?

Unfortunately for me, I missed feasting my eyes on this cupcake by just two days. Happening to be in the Detroit area last week to visit friends and family, we made our way to Dream Cruise on one of the “unofficial” cruising days, Thursday, and thus missed what could have been a life-changing moment for me. Instead, all I inhaled was a mass of car exhaust. I’m sure I would have been a much happier camper if I could have seen this behemoth in person. Apparently there was a cupcake eating contest affiliated with this event as well, where the winner ate 18 cupcakes in 8 minutes. Gag. Too much sweetness in too short a time. I have to wonder if the winner got a crazy sugar headache and crashed out twenty minutes later.

Find more cupcake craziness in Endless Cupcakes


Friday Fuck Up: Ice Cream Epic Fail

My husband and I, upon our first foray to a large farmer’s market near our new house, decided on a whim to buy a whole coconut. So exciting! So tropical! The adventure we had opening the coconut and eventually eating it made me think of other odd fruits and veggies that people eat and love – artichokes being my personal favorite. Who ever thought, back in the day, these things were edible? Why put forth such effort to get to the wonderful taste inside? But I digress. After the initial excitement wore off, and we had nibbled on a little bit of coconut meat, it now fell upon me to figure out what to do with the bulk of the coconut meat and the water.

Mmmm...fresh-grated coconut

It being August, and living in a house with no central air, my mind automatically went to ice cream. I don’t have a stand-alone ice cream maker, but I do have an ice cream maker attachment that came with my beloved KitchenAid mixer. I’ve attempted ice cream before, to utter disappointment. The problem originated from the fact that I don’t want to make normal ice cream. I want to make soy cream. We’re a lactose-intolerant household around here, and my first attempt at soy ice cream, back around Thanksgiving, used soy milk and tofu, and ended up an icy, non-creamy concoction that I threw out. This time, I thought I’d do a hybrid, taking a regular recipe and putting half dairy, half soy in it instead, along with the great goodness of the coconut meat and water – it was bound to be tasty….Right?

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A Solution for the Crust-Fearing

Bittman's lattice bake

I love baking pies, but I can’t tell you the amount of times that a pie crust has torn, fallen apart, or landed awkwardly into my pie plate, and I know it’s one of those uncomfortable predicaments for most home bakers. Am I right or what?

Fortunately, one of my favorite food writers, Mark Bittman, recently posted a recipe in the New York Times for his “Stone Fruit Patchwork Bake,” his cobbler-like solution to the finicky crust of many pies, and the difficulty of moving  crust from the counter surface to the pie plate. Usually wrapping it in the rolling pin and transferring it that way works for me, but for those of us who are so crust-averse that they won’t even make a crust at all, Bittman suggests cutting the crust into small squares or rectangles and just overlapping them, instead of worrying about the whole transfer-in-one-piece process. And, by calling it a cobbler instead of a pie, you avoid the whole bottom crust altogether, increasing the fruity-goodness of each spoonful. Genius! Ahhh, Mark Bittman just makes it sound so easy. Check out Bittman’s inexplicably gangsta-tinged video instructions here.

So, what do you piemakers think? A brilliant solution to an age-old dilemma, or just semi-cheating? And to the crust-averse, will Bittman’s suggestion get those of you who don’t like handling pie crusts to give it another go?

(Photo: NYT)

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