Cake Helps

I was really hoping to start this blog off with succession of short, funny entries about food that would make you crack up and think I’m super clever. But this is really a personal blog that happens to center around my love of food. And since it’s personal, I cannot pretend here that I’m not experiencing some major sadness  this week about losing Super Kitty.

She had a long, good life. She was my twin, but in kitty form. She loved food as much as I, and had the bowling ball waistline to prove it. Like me, that cat rarely lost her appetite – no surgery, stress or illness could keep her from a meal. In fact, what clued us in that she was terribly ill is that she would not even look at the mixture of tuna juice and chicken stock that we put in front of her on her last day.

SK, in our skinnier days

Oddly, or maybe not so, my response to her death reminded me of my strange but happy relationship with food. After hours of tears on Wednesday night, I found myself planning out a menu for Friday. My friends that I am house-sitting for, Weather-Girl and The Welshman, are returning for the weekend with cousins in tow. A few other friends will join us on the deck Friday night for food, wine, and catching up.

On Wednesday, my heavy heart instinctively knew that getting up to my elbows in some cooking would make me feel better.

I don’t know why, but an old recipe from Molly Katzen came to me. Jeweled Rice Salad from Still Life with Menu. The taste of olive oil, lemon, parsely, honey and garlic is such a Moosewood-y flavor combination, and it takes me back my early 20’s, when I taught myself how to cook by making almost every recipe between it’s tattered covers. I prefer to use short grain brown rice, and I skip the grapes and add chopped red & yellow peppers. It’s a cheerful looking dish, and one of my favorites.

I got the biggest head of cabbage you’ve ever seen from Simmon’s Farm, with which I made a simple slaw with a lime-cilantro dressing. We’ll probably grill up some of their amazing sausages or make burgers from their ground beef. Weather-Girl and The Welshman have a freezer shelf full of Simmon’s Farm meats, having been members of their CSA meat share last winter.

And to finish, we’ll have an upside down cake, but made with local plums rather than pineapple. I’ll serve it warm, with creamy, locally made vanilla ice cream, of course.

I know I’ll think of Super Kitty and miss her as I’m unwrapping the softened butter and measuring out the whole-milk buttercream, two things among many we shared a mutual love of. What I’ll miss most, of course, is the mutual love we had for each other.

But cake helps. Even SK knew that.

More Food, Less Pain,


Eat Thru The Pain

In a year of big changes, I’ve had a month of one big challenge after another, leaving me feeling a bit stunned. Which I guess is just fine and quite fitting for my first official blog post. I did some self soothing tonight by cooking and dining alone, followed by some quiet time now to write this post.

So. The changes. A Move. A new job. Ex met someone. I met someone. A very sick pet.

The move and the job position were welcome, though still stressful. My ex falling in love with someone else, while I saw it coming, left me crestfallen. And then I met someone one, fell hard for him, and my heart broke even more. Then my cat was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

But this year of changes and challenges has taught me to count my blessings, and to seek out the positive. My ex is a good man, and a good friend, and he deserves the happiness he’s found. There is a relief in knowing he’s moved on and is finding real joy in his life again.

The person I met and fell for was an important first step in opening my heart again, and while it hurt like hell, I know I’ll learn from it and that it will make me wiser and stronger.

Even the sadness about poor Super Kitty being diagnosed with cancer has a silver lining: I now know why she’s been so sick, and know how to offer her some relief in her final weeks.

690b7-2011summer065And tonight I counted the blessing in dining alone, at peace for the moment with myself and my life as it is. It is a good life, with great friends, a beautiful home base for the summer, and of course, the best food.

I cooked one of my favorite “alone” meals tonight. It was nothing fancy or original, but it represents the kind of cooking that I am grateful to understand: that fresh, local, seasonal ingredients need very little manipulation to make a beautiful meal of.

I made fresh papardelle topped with chopped tomatoes, steamed corn and fresh basil from Hodgkiss Farm here in Jamestown. I finished it with some fresh ricotta from Narragansett Creamery, and a little olive oil. And of course, wine. A Sancerre, pricier than I’d usually pour for weeknight. When I bought it, I thought I’d save it for a celebration or a dinner date.

But sometimes the special occasion is the one you have right there and then, on a deck in Jamestown, alone with a summer sunset. And while I usually believe that great food and wine are best when shared, that simply was not the case tonight.

More Food. Less Pain.