Friday, 30 May 2014

It's bananas! (Polenta, that is.)

Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana."
--Groucho Marx

I buy a lot of bananas. They are a convenient and portable snack, easy to buy fair trade and organic as much as possible, and there are weeks when we fly through five bunches. But then there’s the off week when the little Ps collectively decide they aren’t that into bananas, and I am left with a surplus. While everyone loves a good banana bread, I’ve got three loaves chilling in the deep freeze right now, so what to do with my extra ‘nanas?

My brother Alex is an amazing chef in Florida, and he gave me a recipe to solve this problem. Banana polenta. Sounds exotic, doesn’t it? This can be a sophisticated side for guests or for a regular Sunday night supper.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Czech us out...

Bůh trojici miluje. [All good things are three.]
--Czech proverb

The Czech story of Bruncvik is a journey tale, not far off the Odyssey model. Bruncvik sets off into the world looking for adventure, and finds it shortly. As soon as he comes to the sea, he and his men are swept away in a tumultuous storm, thrown ashore a dangerous island where Bruncvik is held captive, and after a daring escape, he befriends a lion who is his companion through more battles and the rest of his days. A statue of Bruncvik stands on the Charles Bridge, with sword raised aloft, fending off foes and water.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Bonjour, Paris

“When you get an idea into your head you find it in everything.”
 Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

I favor places that are neither too clean nor too dirty, that possess layer on layer of stories, histories, coupled with the feel of something new building on the old. In other, words, Paris. 

Paris is everything you think it is: Your fantasies of well-dressed women and swarthy Frenchmen, stunning architecture, amazing street markets, and blocks steeped in beauty and history, tinged by that hint of decay--a slight garbage-y smell, a decrepit balcony, urine-soaked metro, and the hint of a more interesting past impeding on a struggling present. It's a dream, a fairy tale in itself.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014


“Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.”
 Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

I have set a goal to stop taking everything so seriously. The past 18 months of my life have been excessively hectic, and some play has been sacrificed to seriousness (I’ve had quite a to-do list). I want to play more, say “yes” more, eat more ice cream, make up more games, pick more flowers, tell more stories, explore more places, and make more connections with people and ideas. Play requires you to live in the moment—how good would you be at it if you’re worrying about the laundry?—and I hope that this sense of being present permeates other spaces in my life. Play on.

Humble spuds

“I bought a big bag of potatoes and it's growing eyes like crazy. Other foods rot. Potatoes want to see.”
 Bill Callahan, Letters to Emma Bowlcut

Greek Yogurt Potato Salad

We receive an organic produce delivery every week, and in addition to the exotic veg that I have to look up on BBC Good Food, there are the inevitable potatoes. I am not much of a potato person, and my little Ps are not fans, so I’ve been looking for interesting ways to use up all of these gorgeous spuds.

I am a Greek yogurt person, however, and any chance I have to use it in an unconventional way, I take it. My Greek yogurt potato salad is the result of this fetish. (I also use Greek yogurt in baking, salad dressings, and marinades.)

Eat Me:

2 lbs. potatoes, diced and roasted or boiled
3 Tbsp. Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp. Olive oil
3 stalks celery, diced
dill (chopped small handful fresh or 1 tspn. dried)
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

(You could dice any crunchy, raw veg you like in potato salad--I like a bit of red onion or bell pepper as well, but it's also lovely and simple with just the celery.)

In a bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients save the potatoes and celery. Pour over the spuds, add celery, and gently mix to combine. I prefer to pour the dressing over while the potatoes are still warm, allowing them to absorb all of the dressing’s goodness. Eat at room temperature or chilled, to your liking.

Next "eat" post: my brother Chef Alex's banana polenta.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Adventures in Wonderland

“I don't think..." "Then you shouldn't talk," said the Hatter. 
― Lewis CarrollAlice's Adventures in Wonderland

Purchased at OxFam Bookshop, Bristol UK

We read classic chapter books. Rather, I read them to my little Ps. During the long, dark, rainy English winter, we would sit on the floor by the fire (as close as possible without lighting our hair on fire—it’s cold in these old English houses!) and read The Jungle Book. Frankly, the little Ps don’t pick up every detail of every page. There is a bit of tuning in and out as I drone on, but they’re all cozied up like a litter of puppies on the floor and we end up side-tracking into conversations about snakes and panthers and India. I adore these moments.

But now summer approaches, and long, bright days call for a new story. On a recent Saturday perusal of our local OxFam used bookstore, I picked up a tattered copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. This is like finding a gold nugget to me. Much-loved old books tell more than their own story, but also hint at past adventures. Alice and the rabbit and the Queen of Hearts are our summer companions. We’ll be getting to know them as we pile into bed and read by the evening sun.

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