Arm & Hammer to the rescue …

The other day I tried a new recipe, one from a friend. I cooked it in an enamel cast iron dutch oven. To my horror, when it was done cooking and I started to dish it out, I could see that the entire bottom of the pot was pretty thickly-coated with black, burnt, caked-on food. And I do mean the entire bottom.

A kitchen disaster. I could have cried. The pot is new and was expensive.

Gulping, I consulted the booklet that came with the pot. Following the instructions, first I let the pot cool. Plunging a hot pan into cold water can result in cracking or loss of enamel. I then filled it with warm water Continue reading

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Remembering Gaga …

Not Lady Gaga. My paternal grandmother. Long before I made my entrance into this world, an older cousin of mine struggled with saying “grandmother” when she was first learning to talk. The best she could manage was “Gaga” — and Gaga she remained for all generations to come until she died at 98.

I’m taking this little trip down memory lane because of a pot. No, not the kind you smoke or ingest.

My grandmother was a fabulous cook. All the women on both sides of my family were, but she was kind of unique because she eschewed any and all modern conveniences. As far as she was concerned, good Continue reading

Four hours later …

Omg! For months now, every time I’ve ventured into my spice cupboard I’d say to myself, “Fransi, you really have to go through this stuff.” Well, I finally chose last weekend to do it. I’m thrilled with the outcome, but what a time-consuming chore that turned out to be! Omg.

I know, I know, you’re probably sitting there saying, “spice cupboard???? How many spices could she (meaning me) possibly have?????” Well, how about an entire standard kitchen cabinet (3 fairly wide shelves)?

What can I say, I like to cook and I like to try different things. The problem is, as I’ve recently discovered, Continue reading

Before and after — vive la difference!

It’s a miracle, I tell you. Believe it or not, the frying pan you see in this photo, is exactly the same frying panfrying-pan that occupied this same space last week. In case you don’t remember, click here. Except last week it was charred beyond recognition. And here it is again, good as new.

I’d given it up for dead immediately. Then a few friends shared a secret “recipe” with me:

“Put some dish soap and water in the pan,” they said. “Then put one of those Bounce dryer sheets on top. Put the pan on the burner, turn on the stove, give it about a half hour — et voila!”

“And make sure you watch the damn pan this time!!!”

Except I don’t have any Bounce dryer sheets. I don’t use them because I can’t Continue reading

Nero fiddled while Rome burned (in a manner of speaking) …

… except this time it was me who was fiddling — with a blog post — and not paying attention to the frying pan onburned the stove. The All-Clad pan. I was cooking (obviously) and the recipe called for caramelized onions. They turned out fine, you’ll be happy to know.

It was after they were done that I ran into a problem. Because I’m lazy, I usually put some dish soap into the pan I’ve used, add water and put it back on to the stove briefly, just to loosen up all the bits so it’s easier to clean.

That’s what I did this time. It usually just takes a few minutes.

But inspiration struck. I got an idea for my next Huff Post blog. I’d been struggling with the idea all day. I couldn’t take the chance that I’d lose it, while I watched the pan. The heat was turned down very low, and all I wanted to do Continue reading

My latest obsession

My mother lived with me for the last several months before she died.  I was working full time and adchef agency life is not 9 – 5.  Not even close, in fact, it’s more like 12 and 14-hour days and lots of weekends.

So a colleague of mine kept insisting I get two things she swore would change my life:  A George Foreman Grill and a slow cooker (not what you thought I was going to say, is it?)  I was skeptical but she refused to let up and eventually I caved and bought both.

Bless you Sharon, you were right.

You see it was never just my mother and me I was cooking for.  I Continue reading

What a treasure trove I found (metaphorically speaking) …

Back in September I wrote about how I was finally attacking my closets and drawers and cupboardsmother's recipes and pantries and shelves and papers.  Long overdue it was.

Well I’m happy to say I’m done.  Mission accomplished.  And you may find this hard to believe but I actually enjoyed it.  So much so I seem to have become obsessed with order.

I now wake up in the middle of the night and go through stuff and purge.  While I’m watching TV or reading a book I suddenly get the urge to reorganize what I’ve just organized; and I do it!  In slightly under two months I’ve gone from thriving in chaos to being OCD.

Clearly I am channeling my mother who is, of course, loving it.

Speaking of my mother, when I moved her out of her apartment and Continue reading

You say tomato, I say San Marzano

I enjoy a good meal although I’m not sure I’d call myself a foodie.  Maybe I am, who knows.  What I do know is, I don’t San Marzano Tomatoesoften wax poetic about what I’ve eaten in restaurants, or cooked, in this blog. Having said that I do remember going into raptures about a peach back in 2012.

Recently, though, I had an otherworldly experience involving a tomato, a San Marzano tomato, (looks sort of like a Roma, but it’s longer, thinner and one end is Continue reading

Day 353. Bragging Rights

Ask anyone who knows me. They’ll tell you I’m not someone who often blows her own horn. But guess what? I am today. Unashamedly so, too. It all started bouillabaissewith Tuesday’s WordPress Daily Prompt: “If a restaurant were to name something after you, what would it be? Describe it. (Bonus points if you give us a recipe!)”

Hands down it would be my bouillabaisse.

In case you’re not familiar with what it is, bouillabaisse is a traditional Provencal fish stew originating from the port city of Marseille. It’s made with fish and seafood and it’s ‘cooked’ in a broth. The Italians have a version called cioppino. And I’ll bet there are those who would say that a creole seafood gumbo is another variation.

What I make is is the French version. It’s my own recipe. I concocted it. But the ingredients are pretty

Continue reading

Day 303. Bon Appetit

Do you ever get sick of all food?  Have no cravings for anything?  Stand in front of your fridge, staring into it, hoping for inspiration?  Willing your taste buds to kick eatingpillsin?  Flip through every cookbook you own, wishing something would cause your mouth to start watering?

Stare at menus, longing for something to jump out at you, screaming “Order me, order me, I’m really tasty, you’ll love me”?

It’s exactly where I’m at right now.  Have been for a while.  Nothing appeals.  Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration.  I can’t get enough nectarines.  Especially the white ones.  And those strange-looking donut peaches.  Gosh they’re delicious.  I could eat them three times a day.  For breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I do get urges for oysters and  lobster.  But not as often as I used to.  I love vegetables; and the sight of red Continue reading