- by Nancy, April 18, 2010
Detail of study for “In the Dining Room,” oil on canvas, Nancy Gail Ring 2010
Here is a detail from a new painting I am making studies for that will be about small moments. I’m asking a lot of new questions now in my painting practice, looking to communicate something more and something truer than my habitual ways of working from the past. This is a little portrait of my son at the dining room table. Enjoy.
see also: Dining Room Art
Not to be Forgotten
- by Nancy, March 27, 2010
Three eggs, two-thirds cup sugar, (half-cup milk may be added if not wanted so rich); beat butter to a cream, then add yolks and sugar beaten to a froth with the flavoring; stir all together rapidly, and bake in a nice crust. When done, spread with the beaten whites, and three table-spoons sugar and a little flavoring. Return to oven and brown slightly. This makes one pie, which should be served immediately. Miss J. Carson, Glendale.
From Buckeye Cookery, by Estelle Woods Wilcox [Buckeye Publishers:Minneapolis] (p. 187) 1877.
Me in the kitchen of the house I rent with my mother’s circa 1970’s Cuisinart all set to pulverize some graham crumbs.
Chess pie was the featured recipe on the back page of one of my glossy food magazines this month. I had been flipping pages absently, and it held my attention. I love old recipes. But this one looked odd: a gooey caramel-like filling too soft and messy for its pastry shell. Still, the combination of rich and sweet ingredients promised something delicious if I could find or invent a good recipe.
Old bananas, gouache and watercolor on paper, Nancy Gail Ring
I had all these old bananas ready to be used in something wonderful and I just couldn’t imagine making yet another banana bread. How about a Banana Chess Pie? Was that crazy or would it work?Read more »
- by Laura, March 20, 2010
Spinach Torta via Hoboken
4 pkgs frozen chopped spinach (10 oz each)
8 eggs (beaten)
1 cup grated Parmiggianno-Reggiano cheese
1 large 8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
salt and pepper to taste (parsley--or other fresh herbs such as marjoram are optional and always nice).
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Brush about 2 tablespoons olive oil on the bottom and half way up the sides of a 9x11 pan or Pyrex-type dish.
3. Begin with three mixing bowls: large, medium and small. In the largest bowl, defrost and drain spinach very well. Expedited with heat or the microwave if you wish Place the cream cheese or (other fresh cheese) in the medium bowl. Beat the eggs in the small bowl.
4. Cream the cream cheese, using a hand-held electric mixer. Add the beaten eggs, then the Parmigiano, salt, pepper and parsley. Mix well and pour half the mixture into your spinach. Evenly spread the spinach mixture into the oiled pan. Cover the spinach with the remaining half of the liquid egg mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees. Depending on your oven it will be done between 35 and 50 minutes—whenever top is golden.
I am lucky to know Mario Bosquez from the Martha Stewart Radio Channel on Sirius. Mario is a food and wine enthusiast (and like me an animal lover), a wonderful radio host of the show Living Today, and all-around great guy.
He’s started a “weekend cooking challenge” on his facebook page, inviting people to all make the same recipe on a given weekend, then share comments and feedback. Like Nancy’s “bake with me” events, these internet gatherings are an interesting way to defy the idea that we are all living in our atomized internet lives. I am delighted that Mario chose my “Spinach Torta via Hoboken” for a challenge this weekend. And to help, I’ve posted photos of every step. Once you’ve got your cream cheese softened and your spinach cooked, this recipe will take about a half hour to assemble, then about 45 minutes to bake. You’ll have a nice big pan of spinach pie for a simple lunch or supper. Or you can cut it small and have it as an appetizer or side dish at a party. It is not a fancy dish, but simple and homey. It’s comfort food in my family. But you can certainly add additional flavors as you wish. And if you like a more pungent torta, you can replace a little of the parmigiano with peccorino.
The word torta means cake. But around Genoa, it also refers to the extremely popular institution of the vegetable pie. There are infinite variations of torte--and you can be creative. This recipe of my family’s has been Americanized with “filadelfia” (cream cheese) and frozen spinach. But the spirit and taste are quite similar to what I’ve had there. If you’d like to learn more about my quest for old Genoese recipes such as torta, I refer you to my book ”The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken.”
If you want to just make this torta, just follow the jump and see my step by step photos and instructions. Then compare notes--if you wish--on Mario’s page.
Lucky me. Son Number 2 (age 9) just came home from karate when I was making it. Ever enthusiastic, he offered to help. And he’s a wonderful hand model, don’t you think?
- by Nancy, March 17, 2010
Sometimes only a poem can say adequately what needs to be said. Here is one of my favorite poems by one of my favorite poets. It’s about most of the things we blog about on jellypress: old recipes, modern life, threads connecting present and past, belief, daily ritual, the span of one woman’s life as map and measure of time, and walking on with one foot in the present doing what must be done today, the other in memory. Enjoy.
From Jane Kenyon: Collected Poems
Who knows what I might find
on tables under the maple trees —
perhaps a saucer in Aunt Lois’s china pattern
to replace the one I broke
the summer I was thirteen and visiting
for a week. Never in all these years
have I thought of it without
a warm surge of embarrassment.
I’ll go through my own closets and cupboards
to find things for the auction.
I’ll bake a peach pie for the food table,
and rolls for the supper.
Gramdma Kenyon’s recipe, which came down to me
along with her sturdy legs and brooding disposition.
“Mrs. Kenyon,” the doctor used to tell her,
“you are simply killing yourself with work.”
This she repeated often, with keen satisfaction.
She lived to a hundred and three,
surviving all her children.
including the one so sickly at birth
that she had to carry him everywhere on a pillow
for the first four months. Father
suffered from a weak chest — bronchitis,
pneumonias, and pluerisy — and early on
books and music became his joy.
Surely these clothes are from another life —
not my own. I’ll drop them off on the way
to town. I’m getting the peaches
today, so that they’ll be ripe by Sunday.
see also: Kitchen Library
- by Nancy, March 15, 2010
It’s been a long time since the days of nutmeg graters like this one and leather-bound cookbooks.
Recipes are now often glowing links in email inboxes, like the one I received today from Saveur Magazine for rum-spiked chicken with a hint of nutmeg.
And though I love my old grater, I admit that I reached for my sleek modern microplane when it came time to grate the nutmeg for this recipe, which by the way is delicious, easy, and at our house, made a fast weekday dinner with bowtie pasta and roasted carrots. If you’d like to try it too, visit Bell’alimento.
see also: The Picayune Creole Cookbook
- by Nancy, March 14, 2010
The “How to Freeze Cookie Dough in Logs” post intended for yesterday, Saturday, March 13th, had to be postponed. What’s this about? Click here Join Nancy next week instead to learn to freeze Ginger Molasses Cookie dough in logs with some great cookie baking tips, March 30th. See you then!
Oil on paper study for painting, “Dining Room”, Nancy Gail Ring, copyright 2010.
Here is another study of my dining room that I am doing in preparation for a series of large paintings I will begin soon. It’s the reason my baking posts have been less frequent lately.
There is always a balance that artists have to keep between what we need to do to survive, like working for money, cooking, cleaning and taking care of children, and what we need to do to make art, like making priorities that preclude a perfectly organized house and full social calendar such as long periods of solitude in the studio.
Conversely, there is also a richness of experience, necessary to art-making, that comes from simply living life — doing dishes, gardening, spending time with friends and family. The Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn, who also writes poetry, once said that there would be no poetry without gardening, meaning that if he did not experience life, there would be no inspiration to draw from when contemplating the form the art will take.
I have been living life, and lots of it, in this dining room for years and years. I hope the paintings will eventually be informed and deepened by that experience. If you know the paintings of Jan Vermeer, you will notice that I have given a small nod in this piece to his “Lady Writing a Letter with Her Maid.” Read on for a reproduction of Vermeer’s painting and to see if you can pick out the details that repeat in mine.Read more »
- by Laura, March 12, 2010
I am not one for the fire water. But, a couple of weeks ago, in Florida, my dad produced a bottle of 1945 Schenley’s Canadian Whiskey, bottled in 1957 and hidden away for decades. Recently, some friends had convinced him to finally open it.
It had belonged to grandmother’s number-two husband, the Italian contractor who gave her furs and jewels and many luxuries, but left her with little. He was a self-made millionaire who came from Naples alone at age 14. He was the deal my grandmother made. And he was also the intruder on my mother’s life at age 15. My mother left for a while and lived with friends.
Through events I can barely explain, we wound up living upstairs from them for five years of my childhood. I loved being near my grandmother. But there was no question he was the boss.
Going down to their apartment was like visiting another country--filled with ceramic cherubs, marble, and ornate Italian things.
But most fascinating was the basement, where the boss had a party room and a most amazing mahogany bar. That bottle of Schenley’s
Not to be Forgotten
- by Nancy, March 11, 2010
Not often is there romance and a golden glamour about a cook book.
From the introduction to The Picayune Creole Cook Book, 1916,
I found this great old cookbook during a house sale at my friend’s Dad’s house after he passed away at the age of 111. It was on the cluttered shelf of his butler’s pantry. The beautiful frayed leather cover and fragile yellowed pages opened to reveal a 1916 publication date. Turns out it’s quite a book.
First of all, New Orleans Creole style cooking is fascinating: think Spanish spices, tropical fruits from Africa, native Choctaw Indian gumbos, all with a French influence.
Its namesake is a turn of the 20th century Crescent City newspaper, The Picayune, that embarked on a quest toRead more »
- by Nancy, March 09, 2010
Nancy Gail Ring, “Dining Room,” oil on paper, 2010
I’ve been painting studies on paper of my dining room in preparation for a new series I will start soon on canvas. Here are two done at night.
I’ve lived in this house for seven and a half years and there’s been a lot of life lived and a lot of meals served in this room. So many families have lived here; it’s an old house, built in 1926.
The room remains virtually the same while families pass through it, eat here, change and grow here, arrive and depart.
There is a sense of place that is very much a part of me now.
see also: Dining Room Table On The Garden
- by Laura, March 07, 2010
Just a photo, that’s all. Here is a salt cellar and mother of pearl spoon found in my mother’s cupboard in Florida.
- by Laura, March 06, 2010
I went to Florida last week visit my mom who has Parkinson’s Disease and recently fell and broke a leg. She is getting better and will recover. But it was difficult.
My friend Lou tells me that mother is always our connection to life. And it’s true… I remember fearing her death when I was a child.... Well, the good part is that my sister Drea (who came with me) is a natural born comedian, and we had a lot of laughs, which I know cheered my mom.
I find Northern Florida to be such an odd place, with its palms and scrubby pine forests, its long flat empty vistas. My parents live in a forty-year-old town where everyone is a newcomer. All the buildings and houses look eerily alike. Yet the natural landscape is undeniably beautiful, with its vivid big sky and sun, its bright tropical flowers and lemon trees.
While we were there, I cooked a bit for my parents, and while I was rummaging through the cabinets and found these three dishes—one for each girl--from at least forty years ago. We loved soft boiled eggs. When I look into these bowls, I see my mom moving quickly on strong fast legs, from refrigerator to sink to stove, to table, where we girls sat waiting.
Nancy recently wrote me that “recipes just mark the places in the story, but the story is the important piece.” I agree, because I came to food writing for the stories. But I would also add that women have so often been silenced by men, that they have learned to tell their stories ingeniously, through silences, through ellipses, through anonymity and secrecy. Recipes give us this cover, this safety in the code.
Here’s Drea, with beautiful blue eyes.
- by Nancy, March 05, 2010
Ingredients we need today for freezing One Badass Chocolate Chip cookies in logs:
4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1 t. baking soda (you may use half this amount if you like a denser cookie)
1 t. salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) sweet unsalted butter, softened to room temperature or melted (either way works)
2 cups white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 T. vanilla extract
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (or half white chocolate chips and half dark chocolate chips)
Today we learn how to freeze cookie dough in logs. What’s this about? Click here.
We will be using my recipe for One Badass Chocolate Chip Cookie and if you click the highlighted words, One Badass Chocolate Chip Cookie in this sentence, you’ll see lots of photos of the finished, thick chewy cookies and how to bake them off.
What’s a Badass Cookie? Click here.
I’m going to give instructions for mixing by hand, but you can do this on an electric mixer fitted with a paddle too. The ingredients are listed in the box above.
First, take your chocolate chips, either all semi-sweet or half semi-sweet and half white chocolate mixed together, and place in a bowl. Set it aside.Read more »
- by Nancy, March 04, 2010
One day left if you want to learn some great cookie baking tips and how to freeze cookie dough in logs with Nancy. What’s this about? Click here.
Water Lilies by Claude Monet, 1914 - 1926, oil on canvas
Monet’s Water Lilies are on view now at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan through April 12th. If you’ve never seen these paintings and you live anywhere near NYC, I urge you to do so. Once in a while I like to share something here that is not food but that means a lot to me. This is another of those things.
Judging from the reproductions of the paintings I had seen in books, in person I expected to see ephemeral-looking objects in pastel hues.
I didn’t. What I saw instead wereRead more »
- by Nancy, March 02, 2010
Four days left if you want to learn some great cookie baking tips and how to freeze cookie dough in logs with Nancy. What’s this about? Click here.
I use a vintage wire egg basket for a centerpiece on my dining room table.
Egg baskets were invented to carry warm, freshly laid eggs safely from hen house to table. The open wire basket allows air to circulate so the eggs cool quickly, keeps them from rolling into each other and prevents cracking. I love the fanciful ones shaped like animals. They make great gifts, especially lined withRead more »
- by Nancy, March 01, 2010
Five days left if you want to learn some great cookie baking tips and how to freeze cookie dough in logs with Nancy. What’s this about? Click here.
Fudgey Chocolate Layer Cake. Soon you will need one for someone’s birthday. Or for a potluck party. Or maybe just because. I got the recipe for mine from a friend of a friend. What really makes it work though isRead more »