Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Freshly harvested from out back, the root is soaking to get rid of some of the dirt that clings to all the crevices. Rather octopus-like, don't you think? We planted it two years ago, and this is the first root we've dug up.

I remember (many years ago) when our across-the-way neighbors in western Mass. asked if they could dig up some of the horseradish in the field between our house and the church. We didn't even know we had a patch of it! Turned out, we had a lot of it.

I'll never forget the wallop it packed after we ground it up in the food processor. One whiff almost sent us reeling. According to Nikki Duffy in River Cottage Handbook No. 10, Herbs, these fumes "(thiocyanites, if you want to know) are highly volatile, however, and soon lost. That's why freshly grated horseradish, mixed into an acidic stabilising medium, always tastes better than any that's been grated and stored." Her basic method "is to peel a small section of root, grate it ([she uses] a fine Microplane grater) and immediately combine it with enough lemon juice to make a damp (but not wet) mixture." Which is what I'll be doing later today.

Friday, February 08, 2013

A girl's gotta have a guide

I have a rather interesting memoir/collection of notions of recipes that is quite enigmatic. Mary Ann Caws's Provençal Cooking is her account of her time in France and her friendship with the poet René Char, some of whose poems she translated from the French (published by Princeton U Press). In fact, she says that Provençal Cooking was "deeply influenced by the poetry of Provence itself, as well as the poetry of René Char." What does this have to do with The Busy Girls' Cookbook? Ms. Caws mentions it: "my preference for speed, informality, and spending time with the mountains [of Provence] or my guests may be a direct product of too heavy a reliance on one of my first loves in the kitchen, and which I still recommend wholeheartedly: The Busy Girl [sic] Cookbook." So of course I had to track it down. And I thought you'd like to see some of the suggestions/recipes/artwork/typeface used.