Monday, November 28, 2011

Did I dream this book?

Update: Metafilter found it. The Decadent Cookbook is found as well.

On first read this book, purchased from the dusty shelves of Community Thrift several years ago, appalled me. Chapter after chapter of recipes for things that should never be eaten. Women, rare birds. Wolves. Unspeakable things.

There were two male authors with obvious pseudonyms. It was published by a small press, a paperback. A wolf on the cover, with a green-skinned apple between it's teeth. It looked innocuous.

The conceit of this assumed work of fiction is that the authors sought ever more fantastic dining experiences, and they recorded their feast preparations.

What book you ask? No idea. Maybe the title contained "omnivore" and perhaps not. The clever pseudonyms have flown my grasp. It is not on the stack by my bed. Not on the three shelves of cookbooks, the ones I can'y bear to have too far from the kitchen table. Nor on the ceiling-tall shelf of books less-about-food, or on the built in shelf of books by the window with their spines protectively turned in. Not at the bottom of the stairs where I banished my books about museums and art and culture, and how those things inform community.

Where are you strange book? Not listed in my Goodreads. Not captured in photos of bookshelves. Added in and then apparently removed from lists of favorite books in online dating profiles. You inspired this dinner for 21 in my studio flat, and this one which sleeps 'til spring, and this one under the lemon tree, but I didn't give you a peep of credit.

Nary a trace of you on the Internet in searches of words and images and books. Amazon has not a whiff of you, Citations contains nothing. Omnivore Books and Kitchen Arts & Letters fail to have their bells rung, though both listened with great kindness to my increasingly unbelievable pursuit.

Do you yet exist, book? Did you ever? Are you lost on a beach, or in the seatpocket? Did I leave you in a cafe or on a nightstand? Who did I pack you off with? Who still needed convincing, after my wooing them with a thousand tiny dinner dishes? Whose nightstand are you on now?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

An informal banquet

This week I have made myself a challenge: for my birthday I'm planning a champagne potluck.

The bubbles isn't so challenging, but i was inspired by the rabbity Chinese new year when making invitations, which led to noticing a thin china plate with a red rim, and then sifting through every single dish at Goodwill to build a mismatched set. Chinese restaurant plates, heavy diner ware with red rims, celadon, ornate dragon plates. A heavy swath of polished cotton in blood red for the table, a dozen achingly fragile milk white Japanese teacups with saucers no larger than their lips, mismatched champagne coupes in cup sizes from A-DD. I showed the manager the giant pile and asked for a deal, then every piece was just 99 cents.

My bed is covered in cookbooks, and I'm thinking the menu needs to be French and Chinese. Harder than I thought it would be. Everything family style. Would love it to be of San Francisco and with now ingredients. Make pate with star anise? Buy Peking ducks to serve with biscuits and marmalade? Very orderly stacks of steamed asparagus and wild mushrooms? Congee with Smithfield ham? Wintermelon soup?

Chinese banquet menus are deadening to me, I think because I balk at the shark fin soup recipes. I love the flavor variety, the attention to presentation. In part, I'm using this as an excuse to explore what's intimidating and unfamiliar to me about Chinese cuisines. Recent experiences at Mission Chinese Food Shanghai Dumpling King have me thinking, and fading memories of Firecracker and Jai Yun make me want to play with ingredients and techniques.

Much inspired by the Fat Duck cookbook, but in a mildly grossed out way. Too weird, too fussy. I'm looking for a gentler cuisine.

A pile of clementines with leaves on seems just right. Maybe I need to be reading Simple Food and thinking Chinese ingredients.

Celebrating With Friends
The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking
Food & Wine Best of the Best Vol 12
Country Cooking of France
The Fat Duck Cookbook
The Picnic Book, Nika Hazelton
A Cook's Tour of San Francisco
Foods of the World: The Cooking of China
Pei Mei's Chinese Cookbook Volume II
The French Menu Cookbook, Richard Olney

La Bonne Cuisine
The Food of Asia (Periplus)

I'll get around to dragging down all the Julias, but I haven't yet. Thinking Charlie Trotter Vegetables might be of use too.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

We are each whole ecosystems.

A while ago, someone told me "I love you." For the first time. In an email.

I said this, approximately.

Thank you for your email. It's nice, and hard, to know more about how you feel. I don't really understand you motivations for sharing what you've said. Your words are both generous and prickly. One way I hear it is "I love you, but I'm not going to do anything about it for a number of reasons." Your letter feels like a confession, an admission. It seems like something you needed to tell yourself. What did you need me to hear?

I'm not like coral, my darling. I don't die when I am touched. Big pieces of me change all the time. Broad swaths of the reef of me have died a dozen times. Humans aren't as fragile as you think. We are each whole ecosystems of intent and passion, of hunger and desire and generosity. I don't think you're as fragile as you think either. I'm glad you understand so much about how your heart and time and body work, and I find all the rules you've crafted around it amusing and exasperating.

You will fall in some big love and learn a thousand things, and so shall I. And whole forests of me will die off a dozen more times, and there will be thirty more versions of me, and all of them always will have been the same. But stronger. All of this is good. Sometimes I might even make you dinner.

I love you means many things. It is nice to hear from you. I hear it with your generosity. I don't remember when, but you got tapped into my friend family (the family I choose) at some point. Thanks for being someone who inspires me, who makes me feel more alive, and who keeps me in touch with what's important to me. Seeing you, in whatever context, will always feel like coming home.

Be well, sweet you. Give yourself permission to go after the things you most desire. Leave off all the 'but' and 'and' and 'wish.' Chase what you most desire until your lungs, your everything, is screaming. I love you for your hunger and your generosity, and those true parts of you don't exist in a city or a body or year. They're invincible qualities.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Platinum and pinkening quince.

Thanksgiving feels like a lifetime ago. Fava vines are now greening the back fence. The Meyer lemon tree bounty has me in a perpetual state of mild anxiety, afraid the splayed branches will fracture under the weight of the fruit. The herb boxes are repotted and lush. The dishes, silver and linens in the photo above are packed in newspaper, deep away. A pot of pinkening quince slices from that November day are long gone, eaten with sour yogurt for several post-feast lunches.

The landscape of my heart is changed, too. My drifts of cookbooks feel like dead weight. Dinner parties have grown few and far between. Was it winter? Was it stress? What stays on? What did I let slip?

My bed is now covered in same colors as last fall's harvest table. The tropical orange, Caribbean turquoise, tanzanite blue, and acid yellow linens that were on my bed burned too bright. The crazy quilts are packed away. Now my bed is made of platinum and pencil gray linen, pale textures of aquamarine and a dove gray felt wool blanket with worn satin bindings. I'm composing a story to embroider on the blanket. Maybe that story starts with Thanksgiving.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


I woke at dawn. Mauve, foggy, longing to spin a paddle and drag myself through the waves. Pissed at engineers for their willful ignorance of human existence. For the cruel mythologies they write about life and communication. Ethics, gentlemen. Ethics. Your lives and the platforms you build should not be strangers. Where is the Hippocratic Oath of platform developers?

By ten, I was out of bed. Kimonoed. Down the stairs to finally fetch the Sunday paper.

Strong Ritual coffee in the press. Last of the brown sugar guava jam on toast. Languishing guavas out of their white paper sack and into the worn eggyolk yellow Le Creuset pot. Brown sugar guava jam for the new year. Sean Hayes is singing about true things.

I'm re-potting myself.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Makers Faire 2009: Homegrown Village

This weekend, May 30-31, 2009, I'll be at my 4th Maker Faire, with a booth all of my own. I'll be testing out Kitchen Talk, a concept where I answer food questions. Here's how I described it:
As part of the Homegrown / FarmAid project, Rachel offers a know-it-all / reference librarian/ Car Talk style booth to answer any kitchen question participants raise. From marmalade to deglazing, from canning to grinding your own flour, this unabashed food nerd will answer all your DIY food questions and solve your "my yogurt tasted too sour" problems.

From knowledge gained from Top 10 restaurant kitchens, 30 feet of cookbooks, countless hours in the kitchen section of thrift stores, running the composting program at Burning Man, and getting fired from two bakeries, Rachel brings her DIY ethic to food.

No burning kitchen questions coming to mind? Ask about the most environmentally reasonable way to drink beer. Or how to whip up ceviche from scratch when you're stranded on a desert island. Or where to find fresh Montmorency cherries.
And I wrote up a new bio:
Rachel Weidinger loves saving the world, binder clips, canning jars, the ocean, and her tiny home in San Francisco. I am a marketing generalist with a fondness for the internet--especially social media. I have worked with nonprofits and social enterprises since 1998. When not writing or covering the walls with post-its, you can usually find me in my kitchen making marmalade or pies. My bookshelf has been sorted by color since 1999 and I read voraciously, no matter the hue of the spine. I am a partner in Stowe Boyd's /Ground project, on localism as a global movement.
Come visit me. I'll be demoing Third Date Eggs Saturday and Sunday at 11am, Apricots in Heavy Syrup Saturday at noon, and Preserved Meyer Lemons (and Naya's Eggs) Sunday at noon. Otherwise you can find me at the Kitchen Talk booth.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Fiddleheads in spring mud.

One spring, I will host a dinner deep in the forest.

A dozen guests, formal attire, candles, white table cloth, old silverware. I'll serve wild boar and venison, fiddleheads and ramps, piles of buttery mushrooms. Our shoes will get muddy. It's possible that we'll sleep in the bushes.

Maybe I'll do this spring dinner with Iso Rabins.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Forty margaritas on a taco safari

1.75 litres of Cazadores Gold
3.5 cups of Grand Marnier
2 quarts backyard Meyer lemon juice (about 30 pounds of lemons)
10lb ice.

4 dozen half pint Mason jars in original boxes
One rolling suitcase, the sort that is the max size for fitting in an overhead bin
40 cocktail napkins

For Garnish:
One lemon
2 shallow lidded containers of rim stuff (one 1/2 c salt, pther 1/2 c sugar with 1 tsp fresh thyme mixed in).

Instructions: Mix liquids in Meyer lemon margarita cocktail recipe from above link.

Fill half pint 42 jars completely with ice. (Reserve remaining 6 jars, and bring with you. Pour margaritas into jars and screw on the lids.

Stack boxes of margaritas in suitcase with those 6 extra empty jars, one lemon, and 2 shallow lidded containers (one 1/2 c salt, other 1/2 c sugar with 1 tsp fresh thyme mixed in).

Throw suitcase in Zipcar, drive across town reeking of tequila, return Zipcar to lot by hotel, dash two blocks to hotel, scoop up 40 #09ntc peeps, shepherd them and the very heavy suitcase to Powell BART. Arrive at 16th St BART, brief Taco Safarists that we might get busted by cops, and head to street corner.

Pass out 6 empty jars rimmed with fresh lemon, and give those people instructions to dip jar in either salt or sugar, pour in freshly shaken ice margarita, and pass on now empty jar to new person with salt/sugar/pass on instructions.

Repeat until everyone is happy.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Made this week.

  • Handkerchief pasta with fiddlehead ferns, morels and ramps (x2)
  • Panna cotta from @davidlebowitz
  • Lucca ravioli and meat sauce
  • Standing lamb rib roast and lamb shoulder with lavender salt over baby savoy, baby artichokes and baby carrots
  • Ricotta cheesecake with red walnut and matzoh meal crust and candied blood oranges
  • Stewed strawberries and rhubarb with matzoh strudel
  • 3 batches @davidlebowitz Amaretti with varying ratios of apricot kernels:almonds
  • Flaming Cyanide Ice Balls (for the Flaming Dessert-Off, with Erin) Home canned Blendheim apricots, brandy, amaretti, and Erin's Meyer lemon ice cream and sorbet.
  • French breakfast radishes with sardine butter
I think spring is here. Report on amaretti findings to follow.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Concisely, a summary of all I know.

‘If you are careful,’ Garp wrote, ‘if you use good ingredients, and you don’t take any shortcuts, then you can usually cook something very good. Sometimes it is the only worthwhile product you can salvage from a day; what you make to eat. With writing, I find, you can have all the right ingredients, give plenty of time and care, and still get nothing. Also true of love. Cooking, therefore, can keep a person who tries hard sane.’

John Irving, The World According to Garp (1978).

(With gratitude, via Stowe)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Greetings visitors from Beth's Blog & Fast Company

This is my humble blog about a much beloved kitchen. If you're looking for more about how I rock nonprofit technology you might prefer:

If you made it to this blog it'll be abundantly clear that the way to my heart is indeed my stomach.

I twitter personally at @rachelannyes (mostly about food, and often about saving the world.)

Looking forward to meeting you...if you want to talk nonprofit tech email me, or catch me on Twitter.

{Wondering what the flutter is about? Lovely Beth wrote up a list of great women in nonprofit tech in Fast Company.}

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Resources for learning about slow.

Snipped from the Twitterverse...

agenthandy Asks:
what's good intro book/site 4 #slowfoodmvmt? some1 said they didn't want 2 go 2 Alemany due 2 not knowing if was "local" !!!
View Tweet

rachelannyes Replies:
The Jungle Effect, Plenty, and Full Moon Feast have influenced how I think about food a lot this year. I find Carlo Petrini...
View Tweet

..hard to read. Vandana Shiva's Manifesto on the Future of Food+Seed is concise, inspiring. Reading Andrews Slow Food Story now.
1 day ago · View Tweet

Finally, my very own dot com implosion.

More on why I'm putting this in the dot com implosion pile. I think this is still a big ripple of the 1.0 bust. We'll see some more museums and cultural institutions fall in the next few years.


Last night on a whim a bought a Rosca de Reyes from Bakery la Mejor. No sign of baby Jesus yet. I'll update as tiny-things-baked-into-this-sweet-yeast-bread-ring developments emerge.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Temper, temper.

A friend asks:
Am considering a cookie recipe printed in today's Chronicle food section which involves dipping baked cookies in chocolate melted with 1/2 T of shortening both to help the chocolate set and to prevent it from melting. Because of that, I presume that they don't mean butter. If you were employing this method, what shortening would you use?
My response:
I would omit that addition because it is silly, and follow some other instructions for--instead--tempering chocolate. There are more and less simple ways to temper chocolate, depending on your level of patience. Tempered chocolate sets well, doesn't bloom (the whitish surfacing of coco butter), and is the proper thing to do with dipped things you want to be pretty. Adding shortening or butter would mess up the balance the chocolate maker has already established in cocoa/fat/sugar. In Ohio, people add paraffin wax to the chocolate that buckeye candies are dipped in. This is beyond silly and--rather than eating wax--Ohioans should learn to temper chocolate.

Monday, November 24, 2008


My crew has a Thanksgiving wiki. Here is what I contributed to the menu, a contribution I have edited eight times to date.

Rachel (Thanksgiving menu philosophy: We likely all have sentimental dishes. Bring that dish. I am apparently extra sentimental. Don't cook? Ask and we'll make it.)
  • Six Pies: Montmorency cherry pie, Walnut pie, Sweet potato pie, Shaker Lemon pie, Pumpkin pie, Ollalieberry pie
  • Four Sides: Farro with porcinis, Homemade applesauce, Roasted butternut squash with sage, Broccoli Gratin
  • One Bread: Parker House Rolls with Cranberry Butter from the NYT
  • Chestnuts to roast lazily afterward
  • Board games
All of this brings me great joy.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Great fabrics from Cicadia Studio on Etsy.


Smitten by this, and other lovelies on Etsy from Made With Love By Hannah.

Dreaming whilst drinking.

A spoon I'd rather like to have.


From Magdalena Bors, via Apartment Therapy