Back on the ‘book.

Several months ago, I deactivated my personal Facebook account. I became frustrated with their continual loosening of privacy settings; I originally set up the account so that I could share photos, anecdotes, and random links with close friends and family — not necessarily to see how quickly I could garner a few hundred friends. When it became all but impossible to keep with that intent (not that I ever actually ended up with hundreds of friends — I don’t think I know hundreds of people), I gave it up. The primary casualty was my ability to keep up with faraway people, since that’s one reason the website is so successful (that, and giving everyone a really fun way to procrastinate and/or stalk old high school flames).

Since I’m still uncomfortable with my inability to control who sees my stuff (yes, I do know you can change the settings — but not like you used to be able to do), I’ll continue to steer clear of using it as a personal medium. But one day I realized — why not just talk about the food? Since I’m willing to do that already with any random stranger who is forced to chooses to listen, it seemed like the perfect solution. I continue to keep my private life in an obsessive-compulsive, paranoid void, and if you “like” me then (I think) I get to peep at all of your personal information. See how well this works?

So, if you’re into Facebook, or want a different way to get notice when I post, then by all means, like me:

Link to TFF’s Facebook Page

I have an ambitious goal: 11 fans by 2011.

My recent cookie obsession, which will soon be yours.

macaroon

I’ll grant you: these are old news on this blog. But having just made them again a couple times (it’s still the best thing I’ve found to do with leftover egg whites from making all of David’s homemade French-style ice creams), I’ve been reminded, after a long, ice-cream-free winter, how good they are.

Seriously. Even if you don’t think you like coconut, I think you’d like these. I might even refuse to believe it possible to not like them. If you come to my house, you are free to refuse much of what I might offer in the realm of the edible. Don’t care for eggplant? Sure, you can pass on the parmigiana. Shellfish gives you hives? Then by all means, we’ll skip the shrimp and grits. But tell me you don’t care for things coconut? I’ll probably smile, let you finish your thought, and then signal for Tim to grab both your cheeks in a grip we usually reserve for our 4-year old when we’re forcing him to take the requisite one bite of something at dinner. And you will. Eat. The macaroon. And then I’ll wait patiently while you finish chewing, so that you might adequately express your thanks for what I just introduced to you.

Because these little numbers? They are a game-changer.

Not only are they delicious, but they also keep well, staying moist and fresh for many days if kept in an airtight container. You can also whip up the mixture in advance, and refrigerate or freeze it until ready to bake. The original recipe from David’s blog calls for dipping them in chocolate, which I’ve done many times. But they really don’t need it, and lately I’ve been skipping this step out of sheer laziness. I’ve also reduced the sugar from what the original calls for — it doesn’t affect the texture to do so, and they are still plenty sweet.

My only warnings: watch them in the oven near the end, or they can quickly get too toasty; and maybe set yourself a daily limit — these morsels can get away from you (and then potentially become a permanent part of you).

Coconut Macaroons
(adapted from a recipe by David Lebovitz)

makes about 18 cookies

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 2 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a large skillet, mix together the egg whites, sugar, salt, honey, coconut and flour. Heat over medium-low heat on the stovetop, stirring constantly, scraping the bottom as you stir.

When the mixture just begins to brown on the bottom of the pan, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Transfer to a bowl to cool to room temperature. (This mixture can be chilled for up to one week, or frozen for up to two months.)

When ready to bake, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Form the dough into 1 1/2-inch mounds with your fingers evenly spaced on the baking sheet. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until deep golden brown. Cool completely. Can store in an airtight container for several days.

Bummer, and again.

moldedwheat

A couple months ago, I decided to start sprouting some grains here in my kitchen — you know, to have something to do to pass the time. I bought a couple half-gallon jars with stainless steel screen tops, read a few instructions, and got to sprouting. I started with wheat berries — hard white — and then moved on to spelt. It was working ok — the wheat sprouted evenly, but even in my chilly March kitchen I opened the jars to find a spot or two of mold on the berries. The spelt grains didn’t mold, but sprouted very unevenly. No matter — after painstakingly removing the molded wheat berries, I dried them all in my dehydrator and ground them into flour.

Why bother? No, it’s not really because I’m bored (if I was a wealthy woman I’d gladly be paying someone else to do this for me — this, along with laundry, mopping floors, dusting, and occasionally hanging with my kids while I did something luxurious like going to the grocery all by myself — but I digress). It’s a relatively simple task — one that takes just a few minutes of hands-on time each day for a few days. The real reason I bother is that sprouting those berries makes for much more nutrient-dense grains, as well as grains (and therefore flour, and therefore baked goods) that are much easier to digest. The grain is at its height of nutritive value when sprouted, and also neutralized of phytic acid (an enemy of nutrient absorption), allowing you bake things without pre-soaking the flour (if you’re into that sort of thing).

But this week has been two steps back. First, the two jars of wheat berries I began sprouting Sunday night were both replete with white fuzzy mold by Tuesday morning. The berries were just showing the tiniest white sprouts by Monday night — but I figured they needed just a few more hours, so rinsed them and let them go ’til morning. But a quick glance at the jars as I poured my morning coffee told me they’d gone too far: the sprout tails were already 1/4″ long, making them more difficult to grind once dried. And a closer look revealed many clumps of berries held together by fluffy white stuff. Way more mold than seemed wise to attempt to remove. So I dumped both jars into the trash, wincing mildly as I calculated the monetary loss (probably around a dollar or two… but before you scoff, wouldn’t it be hard to throw a couple dollar bills down the trash can? I rest my feeble case.)

Continue reading “Bummer, and again.”

#sorrymichaelpollan

(Note: I stole the title for this post from a twitter hashtag penned stolen from @crollwagon by my friend Cassia. Cass is a brilliant person — and I enjoy stealing from her [she, apparently, also enjoys stealing from her brilliant friends]. Thanks, gals!)

And why might I feel the need to apologize to Mr. Pollan? Because — although he’s never (as far as I know) claimed a desire to act as Moral Judge O’ The Universe in the realm of local eating, he’s sort of unwittingly become that. So, on days like today, when I am planning to make two batches of ice cream for a party we’re hosting tomorrow night for The Center‘s interns, and one of those ice creams will be Strawberry Sour Cream, I would love for my day to look like this one we spent last year (or the years before):

strawberries_pickin

…picking our strawberries from a local farm. The berries are tastier, cheaper, and our cash goes to straight to the farmers. Not a bad setup, and definitely not a bad way to spend a Monday morning.

Some days, though, it’s just not possible. So we instead get our strawberries the new-fashioned way:

strawberries_storebought

…we purchase them, two pounds for $4, at Trader Joe’s. The berries aren’t as good, they’re pricier, it’s not nearly as much fun, and we add just a smidgeon of a toenail to our carbon footprint. And I feel a wee bit bad about it.

Just not bad enough to not make the Strawberry Sour Cream ice cream.

Is 3 years of berry-picking enough penance for one year of buying them shipped from California?