Artist's Notebook

To paint on the knife edge

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I suffered a loss. Devastating. But It wasn’t the kind of loss that the world stops to acknowledge, especially if deadlines are looming, children need to be fed and cared for, and one needs to show up at one’s job. Oh, and a painting to finish, and not just any painting, but the banner painting for Jellypress. All I had so far was this oil sketch of daffodils and the pot of cooked strawberries. It was a nice sketch, but only a sketch. The plan was for Laura to come over and pose for me, so I could do an oil of her hands cutting fresh strawberries and rhubarb. Her company that night held me together - that’s what friends do for each other - but I couldn’t paint well to save my life. Mere days remained until we had to have the banner ready.

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Masher

Grandma Helen’s Sponge Cake

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My mother lives in Florida now, and rarely, if ever, bakes anymore because she is busy taking care of my father who has been very ill. I miss her. I miss baking with her. Every spring, she made sponge cake with strawberries. It was a revelation. It just wasn’t spring until we had that cake, airy and bright with lemon zest, stained with strawberries in syrup and blessed with a cloud of whipped cream. 

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Masher

We’re in the News

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Jellypress got nice coverage in two newspapers this week. We’re thrilled.  Check it out here:

The Philadelphia Inquirer


The New Jersey Star Ledger

Photo by Michael Bryant, The Philadelphia Inquirer


Not to be Forgotten

Rothe Ruben (Red Beets) from Lancaster

Rothe Ruben (Red Beets) from Lancaster

Red beets are preserved.  One boils them and peels off the course peel, and cuts them in slices.  Then one takes honey or sugar, adds a little wine to it, and boils it.  The foam is skimmed off; the syrup is boiled until it thickens somewhat, and then poured over the previously mentioned slices.  Then one may season it with the spices which one deems most desirable.  It may be kept for daily use.  These red beets serve as a salad in the winter.  One boils, peels, and slices them as above and then pours over them oil, vinegar, salt, and spices.

--Christopher Sauer, Jr. 1774
as found in The Landis Valley Cookbook, Pennsylvania German Foods & Traditions, The Landis Valley Cookbook, 1999



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Not long after I first met my husband, he took me home to meet his family in South Central Pennsylvania.  He still wasn’t sure about whether I was the one.  While he was thinking on the matter, he took me on a trial run home to meet his family. 

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Not to be Forgotten

A Fish Stew from Italy, 1891

Recipe 455.  Cacciucco I

Or Fish Stew

For 700 grams of fish, finely chop an onion and sauté it with oil, parsley, and two whole cloves of garlic.  The moment the onion starts to brown, add 300 grams of chopped fresh tomatoes or tomato paste, and season with salt and pepper.  When the tomatoes are cooked, pour in one finger of strong vinegar or two fingers of weak vinegar, diluted in large glass of water.  Let boil a few more minutes, then discard the garlic and strain the rest of the ingredients, pressing hard against the mesh.  Put the strained sauce back on the fire along with wherever fish you may have on hand, including sole, red mullet, gunard, dogfish, gudgeon, mantis shrimp, and other types of fish in season, leaving the small fish whole and cutting the big ones into large pieces.  Taste for seasoning but in any case it is not a bad idea to add a little olive oil, since the amount of soffritto was quite small.  When the fish is cooked the cacciucco is usually brought to the table on two separate platters:  on one you place the fish strained from the broth and on the other you arrange enough finger-thick slices of bread to soak soup all the broth. The bread slices should be warmed over the fire but not toasted.

--Pellegrino Artusi, Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well, 1891



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Don’t think you need much interpretation here, do you?  Basically, this is a delicious zuppa di pesce that begins with a sofritto (onion, parsley, and garlic sautéed in oil), plus tomatoes, plus vinegary water.  And then you add your fish.

It comes from the era when people didn’t like to have large chunks of garlic and vegetables in their sauce. Hence you’re asked to strain this sauce. 

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Artist's Notebook

To paint a canister

Laura and I bought some vintage canisters on ebay for me to use as painting and drawing subjects. We thought they would make a great image for Antique Recipe Roadshow. As soon as I got them, I put two of them on my kitchen counter and got out my watercolors. I often paint little watercolors of subjects I’ve never painted before just to get my first quick impression down.

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Antique Recipe Road Show

Hamantaschen with poppy seeds?

Amy asked:

My mother had a terrific recipe for hamantaschen that she made for many years while I was growing up. It was the cookie crust one, not the yeast-dough type. However, she took to experimenting with new recipes she found and ultimately we can’t find our favorite. Do you have one that will remind me of childhood? And while my mother used to fill them with prune or apricot jam, my family loves poppyseed filling. I have a bag of poppyseeds in my freezer waiting for instructions on how to turn them into something luscious.

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Masher

Vegetables in the Front Yard

A couple of years ago, my family moved to a smaller house on a small plot of land, the events of which are chronicled in my book The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken. Even if you haven't read the book, you can probably guess why we'd do it. Partly the influence of Italy, where people live in smaller spaces. But surely even more it was that search for that slippery ideal known as simplicity and less stress. Can't say for sure that we've achieved it. That's another post. Or maybe another book.

In the meantime, son number two ran into my office today, the first day of spring, and threw a clump of flowery weeds and its muddy rootball at my feet. He giggled and ran out. It was a seven-year-old's prank, and he was delighted with himself. I picked it up and was taken by the wonderful smell of spring's wet earth and envious of children who get to spend time messing around on the grass.

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Hands On

Hands On from Istanbul

image Tijen writes:  “I took this photo in August 2006, in a village called Zavotlar, near the Armenian border of Turkey.

“I love watching old women, making bread or doing any work in the kitchen, related to food. We have a lot to learn from them. I especially liked this lady. She was so peaceful, quiet and friendly. It was a wonderful day, spent with three generations of women baking bread and having freshly baked pastries with “kasar peyniri” a cheese made by the same family, along with freshly brewed turkish tea.”

- Tijen Inaltong, Istanbul, Turkey
www.zeninthekitchen.blogspot.com

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Not to be Forgotten

Quince

To make paste of quinces

To make paste of quinces: first boil your quinces whole, and when they are soft pare them and cut the quince from the core; then take the finest sugar you can get finely beaten and searced, and put in a little rosewater and boil it together till it be thick; then put in the cut quinces and so boil hem together till it be stiff enough to mould, and when it is cold then roll it and print it. A pound of quinces will take a pound of sugar or near thereabouts.

The English Housewife, 1615
Gervase Markham



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Nancy wanted to paint quinces. Of course she did. Just look at them so beautiful and sexy and weird, cousin of the apple, odd woody fruit, inedible raw, transformed utterly by cooking to become fragrant, rose colored, and sweet.

Quince is hardly used anymore in the U.S., but we think it is primo territory for “€œnot to be forgotten.” I hope more farmers will grow them and bring them back.

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Masher

On Technology

Foodies of the world love to gripe about the horrors of globalization and modern technology:  nectarines from Chile, corn syrup, plastic packaging.  Yes, I agree.  But globalization has also brought some benefits, including a lot of international knowledge and a passion for preservation.  It's made people rally around old recipes and food history.  The Internet seems to be one of our best tools. 

Let me give you one example:  Years ago, I received an email from a woman named Marialuisa Schenone--same last name as mine--from Genoa, Italy, home to my dad's grandparents.

She'd stumbled across my web site and decided to write me.

"I know where your family comes from," wrote Marialuisa.  "They come from the village Lumarzo where all persons are Schenone."

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Artist's Notebook

To Draw a Quince

To Draw a Quince…
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...first I sketched a lot of them quickly in watercolor from above, just to get the feel of their shape.

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Page 13 of 13 pages    « FirstP  <  11 12 13

Jellypress is about Nancy and Laura having fun with what they love: old recipes, art, and ideas--as we find them in our modern lives.  We met...read more »

Quince
Yes, all the artwork on Jellypress was done by Nancy. Go to the Jellypress Art page

The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken: A Search for Food and FamilyTo find out about Laura's search for a long lost family recipe, click [ What's a Jellypress?


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Not to be Forgotten

Not to be Forgotten
Cool old recipes

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In which we mash it up


Antique Recipe Road Show

Antique Recipe Road Show
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Artist's Notebook

Artist's Notebook
Nancy's art thing


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Our Books

A Thousand Years Over a Hot StoveA James Beard Award winning book that tells a history of American women through food, recipes, and remembrances. Recipes and illustrations from prehistory to the present day.
To learn more, click [here].


The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken: A Search for Food and FamilyLaura's memoir about a search for a recipe, happiness, and mythic Italy--with many unexpected adventures along the way.
To learn more, click [here].


Walking on WalnutsIn this culinary memoir, Nancy Ring combines funny and poignant stories of love and work with warm remembrances of a family that celebrates food with gusto and cherishes memories with passion...
To learn more, click [here].







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© 2007 Nancy Gail Ring. All fine art images appearing on jellypress.com are protected under United States Copyright Law. No art from this web site may be downloaded, frame-grabbed or printed without written consent.