Thursday, April 22, 2010

Day 11: London to Damascus if all goes well

I have almost finished packing. All the signs are good for our taking off at about 4:00 this afternoon. I’m sure that Heathrow will be more chaotic than ever (and it is pretty chaotic even in the best of times) so we are allowing plenty of time to stand in lines—oh yes, it’s queues here.

I am looking forward to Damascus for many reasons:
  • Damascus has been the goal of our trip from the very beginning. So getting there, given the uncertainty we have endured, will feel triumphal. While I can’t really claim that being in London has been hardship duty, finally getting to our destination will feel really good.
  • I have gotten pretty tired of my chilly weather clothes and will be delighted to move into some of the lighter, more summery garb that Syria’s warmer temps allow.
  • As you can imagine, I can’t wait to have some Syrian/Middle Eastern food.
Tomorrow we hope to visit the ruins at Palmyra.

Day 10: London continued

We had lunch here at myhotelchelsea with Susan Ware, a friend from Cambridge, who was also stranded in London with  her husband. They had come for the opening of Hair and were 'forced' to stay on for more theater and good food. Her lunch included Diet Coke in a bottle.

For what we hope is our last meal in London before heading to Damascus, I found Awana, a Malaysian place, in the neighborhood. I must admit that I don’t know much about the cuisine of Malaysia—except that it influenced food in South Africa a while back. Awana’s menu may take the prize for the most confusing 12 or 14 pages I’ve encountered in quite some time. Starters and main courses are scattered over four or five pages with various special menus, specialties of the house, and vegetarian versions of the same. Fortunately our wait person was adept at thumbing through the pages and pointed us in a good direction. Pai ti, a shrimp salad in little pastry cups served in tiny glasses to support the cups. Tofu sumbat, fried tofu stuffed with mushrooms with two spicy sauces on the side. Rendang, a slow-cooked beef which turned out to be a little stringy and dry in a tasty brown sauce. Garlic roti, a naan-type bread which soaked up all the delicious sauce.
Dessert was Dadar, green pancakes filled with a sweet coconut mixture with a tiny scoop of coconut ice cream on the side. It was a lovely way to end our stay.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Day 10: London, but perhaps not forever

After our celebration last night (and hearing at least one airplane overhead), we are still left with some uncertainty: Will our particular flight take off? The news is not clear. But we are more hopeful than we have been in days. So much so that we canceled our flight to San Francisco for this coming Friday and made a new one for the following Thursday, returning to London from Syria on the 28th. Thanks to Jenny at Great Escapes in Berkeley for all her efforts on our behalf.

I’m still a little under the weather with my stuffy nose. One of our friends who is also stranded said that in fact we were all ‘under the weather.’ So true.

Day 9: Still in London

The best news was from the day before when Katherine returned to the hotel, having had a one-hour conversation with our air carrier to Damascus (BMI) and having scheduled a flight for this Thursday. Now all we need is for it to take off.

Another gorgeous day in London. I was still feeling stuffy and congested so decided that I wanted to stick closer to home (the hotel has now become home) and found that the Saatchi Gallery had moved maybe ¾ mile from here. So I walked over and found, to my great pleasure that Phillips de Pury & Company was organizing a huge auction of contemporary art called BRIC, featuring work from Brazil, Russia, India, and China. I wasn’t blown away by the overall quality but I was blown away by the number of artists included and their commitment to making art in these emerging countries. There were some pieces, mostly photographs, which I found gorgeous. One from Russia entitled Our Daily Bread from Hit-or-Miss Art (How to Create Works of Art Just in the Kitchen) was so fun I couldn’t believe it.

We returned to Gaucho, the restaurant where I ate by myself the first evening in London. We shared a great meal of Peruvian Shrimp Causita, a marinated sirloin steak called Churrasco, the same green peppercorn sauce I had the other night, sautéed mushrooms and my favorite Humita, the corn husks filled with a delicious sweet corn mixture. This time I took photos with my Nikon (rather than my IPhone) so that I would be able to show you the meal. It was a great meal.

We returned home and just casually flicked on the TV. To our great surprise, the headlines were that British air space was open and that flights were both landing and taking off. It isn’t clear why the ban was lifted. Did the flights from Shanghai and Vancouver which took off while the ban was still in effect essentially force Britain to rescind the ban? We cheered whatever the reason and hope against hope that we can fly on Thursday to Damascus.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Day 8: London (still here)

I’m feeling a little under the weather, blowing my nose and feeling a little less perky than usual. I may also be suffering from uncertainty. There isn't much certainty forecast for the next little bit. So here we are.

I didn’t want to sit around in the room worrying about plane flights or blowing my nose so I rousted myself and walked down to Tate Britain—a little longer a walk than I had imagined but just fine. I was able to see some of my favourite paintings by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (the PRB), an odd assortment of British painters who had affairs with their models, occasionally married them, and fell in love with each other’s wives. Being English in the middle of the 19th century, they felt extremely conflicted, guilt-ridden and sexually repressed. I don’t know that I would go so far as to say I love their work, but it is really interesting and beautifully painted. I am especially fond of the work by Edward Burne-Jones and the designer William Morris. Tate Britain has a great collection of their work which I visit every time I’m here. Then I walked through an exhibit by Chris Ofili, a Brit who is probably best known for his use of elephant dung in this paintings. He’s moved on to other things now—but I must admit I like the elephant dung pieces better than his current work.

I realized early this morning that I wanted to have a simple meal we could eat in our hotel room tonight without having to make plans and reservations. So I stopped by a local deli-type place called Jak’s and bought two plastic boxes of various salads of my choosing and some cooked salmon. Our dinner is waiting for us upstairs in our room’s mini-bar fridge.

If I find out anything about our plans later today when Katherine returns from her office, I’ll add a note to this posting.

Day 7: London continued

We went to see the movie The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as planned. Even the subtitles could not detract from this spooky and spine-tingling movie. I was glad that we had read the book, especially at the beginning. While the film doesn’t follow the book plot exactly, the film version is marvelously told and doesn’t suffer at all from the omissions. The acting is superb. Lisbeth Salander is a character you won’t forget maybe ever. If it comes to a theater close to you, see it.

And then we had to run—literally—down Fulham Road to meet our friend Chris who was waiting for us at Pellicano, a really nice Sardinian restaurant in our hotel’s neighborhood. We had such an active conversation going from the very beginning that I forgot to take pictures of the food. So I’ll give you a quick run-down and you’ll have to imagine what it looks like for yourself. I had mozzarella di buffala with tomatoes (which weren’t bad considering the season); the mozzarella was fantastic with a creamy center like burrata. I shared it. Followed by fresh tagliatelle with a wild rabbit ragout. Katherine chose a risotto with radicchio on top, and Chris had the home made ravioli filled with potato, pecorino cheese and mint in a tomato sauce. We shared an arugula salad with parmesan cheese and fresh spinach sautéed with garlic and chilli. For dessert we were supposed to share (but I actually ate) a Sardinian tart with pecorino and lemon zest drizzled with honey served with fresh raspberries. Chris and I drank a Sardinian red and Katherine had a pinot grigio. It was a lovely evening and an unexpected treat to be with Chris.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Day 7: London

The flight we have scheduled for tomorrow, Monday, is most likely going to be canceled. Apparently the airlines are taking up a small number of planes to see if they might be able to resume some flights. Meanwhile the back log of people and produce just keeps piling up around the world, causing hardships, financial losses, and endless uncertainty for thousands upon thousands of people. In relative terms, we are in good shape. We are staying in a beautiful city in a nice hotel and are slowly developing our options. At this point we think it unlikely that we will fly to Syria this week, but next week is a possibility.

I just finished the Steig Larrson book The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest and this afternoon we’re going to see the Swedish movie of his first book, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Then to dinner with Chris Kuelling, another stranded compatriot, who is married to Katherine’s dear cousin, Sibyl.

Day 6: London (continued)

London is just gorgeous. The skies are clear blue—in spite of the debris-laden air keeping the planes grounded—and the temperature is warming. We walked to the Victoria & Albert to see a quilt exhibition. I was a quilter for many years starting in Berkeley in 1974 and lasting until the early 90s in North Carolina when I decided that I wanted a quicker turn-around from conception to realization than hand-made and hand-quilted projects allowed. So this quilt exhibition was a connection with my past. And it was splendid.
All of the quilts were British, most were quite old with a few judiciously chosen new ones. All were in superb condition and were a thrill for me to see. My favorite was made for a child’s bed out of various colors of silk, with a thick batting which created a nice depth in the quilting. It was made by Priscilla Redding sometime between 1690 and 1720. She had made a note of it in her tiny journal which was also on display.

We ate dinner at a Chinese restaurant called Hakkusan which I found listed in a book which Franz and Michelle had give me for Christmas called The Fortune Cookie Chronicles by Jennifer 8. Lee. One of the stories involved the author being asked to find “the best Chinese restaurant in the world.” And Hakkasan was one of her final contenders for the title. It was superb. We had the dim sum platter, jasmine tea pork ribs, fried aubergine, and a lamb salad which was to die for. The lamb was cooked in a garlic sauce and the dish was multiple layers of lamb, Asian pear, mango, and green papaya pickle with some of the sauce dribbled on top. For dessert we had a coconut rice pudding with a mango “yolk” in the center and a chocolate extravaganza called Chocolate Textures. We were so happy.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Day 6: London

Today was the day we were to fly to Syria. No doubt you have heard about the closing of all the air space in Great Britain and now many other parts of Europe because of the volcano in Iceland spewing a combination of glass, sand and rock which is catastrophic to airplane engines flying through it. We learned first thing this morning that our flight this afternoon was canceled and that we are rescheduled for Monday. We are hopeful but it is entirely possible that that flight could be canceled as well. It all depends on the volcano and this plume of stuff moving south and east at about 25 miles per hour.

So we unexpectedly have a weekend in London to do as we please. More to come.

Day 5: Oxford to London

Thursday night I ate alone at 4500 Miles from Delhi, a very nice Indian restaurant right around the corner from our hotel. Eating alone in a restaurant is not my favorite activity but I think of it as a survival skill I have had to learn. My favorite place to eat alone is at a bar, preferably in front of the people who are cooking my food or a friendly bar tender. The activity gives me something to do. I never bring a book with me: I believe that eating alone gives me the chance to taste my food and if I’m reading I will be distracted from appreciating it. What’s more, I have always thought that a woman reading while eating her dinner looks a bit pathetic. I don’t want to generate sympathy. I want to have fun and enjoy myself and tell myself stories about the people eating around me.

That said, the dinner at the Indian place was really very pleasant, even though it didn’t satisfy my preferences when eating alone. I was seated at a table looking out toward Park End Street. There was a family sitting in front of me; two Indian fellows, one of whom had his cell phone glued to his ear; a table of four and a table of two women—plenty to keep me occupied. I started with Poppadoms served with four chutneys; moved along to Aloo Tikki, fried potatoes cakes stuffed with peas; and finally Chooza Makhni, tandoor chicken in a delicious tomato sauce with some Garlic and Coriander Naan. A glass of house Merlot. The family finished eating, paid their bill and left the restaurant. A few minutes later I saw the four of them on the top level of a bus as it drove by. I thought to myself: When have I ever seen a family of four in the US riding a bus home after dinner in a nice restaurant? Isn’t that true?

Now jump to Friday. We packed up our bags to come back to London. I set out for a nice walk through Oxford one last time, looking for a place to have lunch. I had noticed several places selling pies with various savoury fillings. In a covered market just off High Street, I found a nice shop called Pieminister and ordered a lamb and mint pie which was served with gravy. The crust was not as flaky as I would have liked and the filling didn’t have much lamb or any mint that I could detect. But what I liked most about the experience was catching sight of two students next to me eating their pies in the traditional way: with mashed potatoes, gravy, a mound of mushy peas on top and a dollop of ketchup on the side.

We took the train to London later in the day and had a lovely dinner with friends at their home—such a nice change from eating in restaurants. The food they prepared was beautiful, fresh and delicious. Thank you, David and Sarah.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Day 4: Oxford

After posting the blog yesterday, I set out for a bookshop I vaguely remembered from the last time I was here. Blackwell’s. I found it, looked over the cookbook section for anything new and interesting and bought the third in the trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest, written by Steig Larrson and not yet available in US. I’ve read the first two: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire. Well I started reading about 5:30, fully intending to stop for a bite of dinner. But I couldn’t stop. Just kept on reading until Katherine returned about 9:30. So exciting. I wasn’t hungry for anything but more of this fascinating and absorbing book. The other two items in this photo are my travel journal (thank you, Anne) and my little dinner journal in which I write all the food I'm eating on the trip.

I determined that today would be an art day. The small Modern Art Oxford was a wonderful little museum that last time I was here. But unfortunately I found out this morning that it was closed for refurbishing until April 17. So I set out on a different path: The Bodleian Library and The Sheldonian Theatre. But I also stopped at Marks & Spencer to look in their food area which is quite good. I love supermarkets and this one was full of women doing their shopping. Two things were especially interesting: The labeling here is much more complete than in the US and it is required to include the country of origin. The only coffee they sold was Fair Trade, which means that the farmers growing the coffee aredealt with directly and are given a better price than they would get on the open market working through a middle person.

And can you imagine what I did next? Back to the hotel for more reading…

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Day 3: London to Oxford

We had an amazing dinner at Fifteen last night. Fifteen is a restaurant which Jamie Oliver (yes, him again—you might think that I am spending all my time in London chasing after him like a teenage groupie; you wouldn't be far from the truth) started seven years ago in order to train at-risk English youth to be chefs and kitchen workers. All the profits from the restaurant go into the Fifteen Foundation to support the teaching efforts. So it is a very worthy cause. And it was a very worthy dinner. It was a tasting menu. I’m not going to tell you the cost. If it were in dollars, you would think it reasonable.
I’m only going to tell you briefly what I tasted. If I told you everything, I would vastly exceed the time I have at this internet café in Oxford. I had burrata, zucchini and ricotto cheese-stuffed ravioli, a pollack (fish) for the main course, and panna cotta with rhubarb for dessert. Just great.

I’m in Oxford now, just down the street from All Souls College. The new and the old side-by-side. We had a lovely lunch at our hotel Malmaison, a refurbished prison in the Old Castle. Small rooms (Katherine reminded me that they were originally cells after all) and ours must have been inhabited at one time by Robert Ogilvie. His name is on the door. Lunch was a smoked haddock chowder and a spring vegetable crumble. Just what we needed on this very chilly spring day.

Can you tell we're having a good time?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Day 2: London

Actually I have a little bit to report on last night’s dinner. I went to an Argentinian place called Gauchos. Apparently there are 19 of them in the UK and one in Amsterdam. All their beef comes from Argentina, which is well-known for the superiority of this product. I set aside my concerns for sustainability and the costs of shipping the beef over here. I must say I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Rib eye steak with green peppercorn sauce, humitas (a delicious slightly sweet corn mixture spooned into corn husks nicely tied on each end) and fresh spinach. A glass of Malbec. I sat at the bar which had a perfect view of the open kitchen. These guys were so good at grilling steak that they hardly had to look at it to know that it was ready—and perfectly cooked. (I took pictures on my IPhone but can’t get them to load on this PC. I'll do it when I return.)

So today. Lots of walking—about 8 miles so far. I first walked down to one of Jamie Oliver’s two retail stores and cooking class locations. It is way off the tourist maps down in Clapham, maybe two and a half miles from where I’m staying. It is painted pink, with some of the signs in Jamie’s inimitable ‘big love’ friendly and accessible language. He was not there. I was only able to get a couple of photographs before a salesperson told me that photos weren’t allowed inside the store. I did buy a Jamie magazine. What does this guy not have? A class was going to start at 12:00 noon. I was invited to stay and watch. But I decided to move along on my walking journey.

After putting some band aids on the back of my heels, I set off to my local tube station to ride to the Notting Hill stop for a nice walk to Books for Cooks, a splendid cookbook store which I had been wanting to visit for ages. With only a few missteps, I got there just in time to be told that the cafe in the back had run out of food. Never mind, I could hold out a little longer. I carefully looked over the books. I was especially interested in some of the Brits who were new to me: Jason Atherton, Skye Gyngell, Aaron Cruze, and Celia Brooks Brown among others. I didn’t buy any for the same reasons as yesterday but I sure do hope that their books eventually make it over the Atlantic. They look great.

I walked back to the Notting Hill tube via Portobello, just minding my own business, when I spotted the Hummingbird Bakery Café. I knew the name from the cookbook which Marie Clare found at Anthropologie down on Fourth Street in Berkeley and which I bought her for her birthday. I believe that her first blog featured cupcakes from that cookbook. Well I stopped in and bought myself a gorgeous and generous piece of Red Velvet Cake. So good. I ate almost all of it (I wrapped up the rest in a napkin for Katherine Fulton to taste after her day of work). I would have saved some for Marie Clare. But really, it would not have been very tasty in ten days time. Sorry, Marie Clare.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Day 1: London

We have arrived safely in London. Got in about 7:30am and headed for myhotelchelsea. Checked in and had a delicious Eggs Benedict to recover from the flight. A nap. And then a quick tube ride to Westminster to see Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, and Westminster Abbey.

I went into the Conran store close to the hotel and found a cookbook which I haven’t seen yet in the US: Jamie’s America. I wonder if it will be coming out in the US before too long. It has a sort of ‘cowboy’ look to it. Some of the recipes look great and the photos are wonderful—one is of an illegal Peruvian restaurant where from all appearances he was having a great time. The second one features a cook I've never heard of before. Marcus Wareing's Nutmeg and Custard. A very fine combination. I'll see what I can find out about him. I didn't buy either for several reasons: the prices, the weight, and the metric recipes (which I can manage but not well).

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Creating the Kitchen You Want

My kitchen just outside Kyoto, Japan in about 1972.

I spend a lot of time in my kitchen so I have some thoughts, gathered from nearly 44 years of working in 11 apartment or home kitchens, on what makes for a workable, healthful, and lovable space. From graduate student housing (see my very first blog for a photo) to Taiwan and Japan, from four kitchens in Durham, North Carolina to Berkeley and Sonoma in the present, I’ve put my mark on all of them and have extensively down-to-the-studs renovated two.

I renovated this kitchen in Durham, North Carolina in about 1991. 

Just one thought before I begin: If I think that I need the fanciest, snazziest kitchen around in order to cook good food, I am dead wrong. I can cook good food in almost any kitchen, primitive as it might be. Two propane burners (which always run out mid-cooking of course), cold water, and a counter that was 2 x 2 feet square may not be the ideal cooking space but I was able to cook pretty good Chinese and Japanese food in it. I remind myself that those conditions were a lot nicer than what many folks around the world use daily, squatting over an open fire on a dirt floor or a charcoal-burning brazier on the street. Don’t get me wrong, I love to cook in a nice, well-accessorized kitchen, but it is not necessary.

That said, I want you to have a kitchen you love. If you don’t like it or haven’t made it your own, chances are you will cook less and that would be a pity.

So I’m going to tell you first what I’ve done to improve many of my kitchens and second what I think is important if you are renovating.

I bet some of you, perhaps all of you, have suggestions to add. Please let me know and I’ll update this post in a few weeks. Send me photos too if you have them.

Five Kitchen Improvements

This photo is from the Sonoma kitchen prior to the extensive renovation. With paint and some imagination, I made this kitchen into a colorful and friendly spot to cook.

Color adds zip to the kitchen. A bright container for my favorite tools. Repainting cabinet doors or the walls in colors I love. Repainting kitchen stools in a smashing color or getting a couple of new bright kitchen rugs.

Good lighting is essential. I replaced florescent tubes with track lighting which brightened everything, including my mood.

This is a photo of my Berkeley kitchen. I've only made minor changes to it since we moved to California in 1996.

Floor mats save your body. I have an iffy back, hips, knees and feet situation. If I stand on any hard surface too long, they start speaking to me. Michelle, my daughter-in-law, pointed me to GelPro kitchen mats which have solved the problem. I put them in front of my chopping and prep space. You can find them at Sign of the Bear in Sonoma and on line.

A big wooden cutting board. Mine is made by Boos and is 15 x 20 inches. I also find thin plastic cutting sheets useful when I’m cutting up raw meat or for transferring chopped items from the board to a pan on the stove.

De-cluttering the counters. I like to keep my counters as clear as possible. It’s an aesthetic thing but it also means that I have more workspace however large or small it may be.

Nine Kitchen Renovation Suggestions

All these photos are from the most recent Sonoma kitchen renovation a couple of years ago.

An island or peninsula with stools is a great place for friends and family to hang out in the kitchen without getting in my way.

Glass doors on the cabinets which hold plates and dishes are so pretty. I use closed cabinets for food and pots and pans which aren’t so attractive.

Wooden floors are great in the kitchen. In two kitchens I’ve been able to scrape through multiple layers of linoleum to get to the sub-flooring which, in both cases, was a little funky but perfectly usable. With sanding and finishing, the wood adds a nice warmth to the space.

Bookshelves in the kitchen allow me to have my cookbooks readily at hand.

Having my prep/chopping area right next to the stove and large enough to hold my cutting board with some space on either side to spare is essential to me. I don’t like transporting chopped veggies across the kitchen.

Drawers for below the counter storage make it much easier to retrieve what I want.

Well-designed drawer pulls and switch plates are like good accessories to your favorite outfit. They make all the difference.

I chose to purchase more affordable models of appliances this time around. They work very well indeed and kept the renovation expenses a bit more within reason.

A splendid spice rack from the old ironing board cupboard is a great use of space.

Color, good lighting, floor mats, big cutting boards, and clear counter space are just as important in renovating as in improving.

Menu 15: Chili, Salad, and Oatmeal Cookies for a Chilly Spring Day

The Best Chili
As a child I used to get so confused by homonyms, two words with the same pronunciation but different spellings and meanings. Like pair and pear or chili and chilly. For a long time I connected my mom’s Chili con Carne with chilly weather. And perhaps that’s suitable. In my household, it 's a blustery spring favorite.

2 pounds ground chuck or 1 pound beef and 1 pound pork
Note: You can also use ground dark turkey meat.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or bacon fat if you have some
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons ground chile molido
½ teaspoon ground chipotle chile, more if you like your chili spicy
2 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon smoky sweet or regular paprika
2 teaspoons salt or to taste
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1½ cups liquid: stock, apple juice, wine or a mix
Note: Don’t use more than 1 cup apple juice or the chili will be too sweet.
1 16-ounce can kidney or black beans, rinsed and drained, optional
Zest from 1 orange
¼ cup fresh orange juice

Garnishes, any or all:
Sour cream
Diced avocado mixed with a little lemon juice
Chopped scallions
Grated sharp cheddar cheese
Fresh cilantro

1. In a large pot, brown the meat, drain, and tip into a bowl.
2. In the same pot, heat oil and brown the onion, celery, carrots, red bell pepper, and garlic. Add the seasonings (cumin through the black pepper) and cook for a minute or two.
3. Add the tomatoes, the tomato paste, the liquid, and the meat. Cover and cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Add the beans if you desire and cook for an additional 30 minutes. If you don’t add the beans, continue cooking the meat mixture for an additional 30 minutes.
5. Just before serving, remove the cinnamon sticks and add the orange zest and juice. Cook 10 minutes longer. Taste for seasonings. Serve hot in bowls large enough to include the garnishes.
6. Put the garnishes into bowls and serve at the table.

4-6 servings
Adapted from the Junior League of Durham and Orange Counties’ Even More Special and the San Francisco Chronicle Food section’s Chili with Black Beans and Meaty Chili with Cinnamon

Mango and Hearts of Palm Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

You could also serve a Everyday Green Salad (September 8, 2009 blog), Jicama Slaw (June 21, 2009 blog) or Erasto’s Coleslaw (May 23, 2009 blog).

1 large mango, peeled, pitted and cut into bite-sized pieces
¼ cup finely chopped red onion
3 stalks of hearts of palm from a 14.5-ounce can, drained, halved lengthwise and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 head Boston or other lettuce, washed and dried
Salt and black pepper

Lime vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon salt or more to taste

1. In a small bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the vinaigrette. Taste carefully for seasonings and adjust to your taste.
2. In a medium bowl, toss the mango, the red onion, and the hearts of palm along with half the vinaigrette. Add salt and pepper as you wish.
3. Arrange the lettuce on four plates. Spoon the mango mixture on top. Drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette and a few grinds of fresh pepper.

4 servings
Adapted from The Kitchens of Martha Stewart Living’s Great Food Fast

Classic Oatmeal Cookies

1¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ pound (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1½ cups packed light or dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons honey
2 large eggs
2½ teaspoons vanilla
1 cup raisins
3½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup chopped walnuts, optional
You can always add some chocolate chips if you want but your cookies won’t be “classic” in the same way.

1. Position rack in the upper third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease the cookie sheets or use silpats on the sheets.
2. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium bowl.
3. In a bowl large enough to hold all the ingredients, beat together the butter, brown sugar, honey, eggs and vanilla until well blended. Easiest if you have an electric mixer of some kind.
4. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Add the raisins, rolled oats and walnuts if desired. Mix well. You may need to use your hands.
5. Drop 1-inch globs of dough from a tablespoon on the cookie sheets. Allow about 2 inches between the globs. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until the cookies are lightly browned all over and almost firm when lightly pressed in the center of the top.
6. Remove the sheet to a rack and let stand until the cookies firm slightly, about 2 minutes. Transfer to racks to cool and store in tins in the freezer (to help me resist temptation).

Makes 60-80 cookies, depending on their size
Adapted from the Irma S. Rombauer et al’s 1997 edition of The All New Joy of Cooking