Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Homemade Life: So far, we like this store

Back when I was cooking through How to Cook Everything Vegetarian my sister voiced a complaint about Mark Bittman: "I don't want cream soup with fifty variations. I want him to tell me which is the most delicious so I can make THAT one."

Basically, she doesn't want a department store, she wants a boutique. Molly Wizenberg's Homemade Life is a boutique -- small, spare, exquisite, expressing a very specific and personal culinary aesthetic. I love that kind of shop, and I love this kind of book.

Night One of Homemade Life: big success. Wizenberg's sliced spring salad -- radicchio, endive, avocado, cilantro, feta -- was straightforward and excellent. Elegance and clarity are hallmarks of Wizenberg's prose, and also of her recipes. Here's a strange story. Isabel hates cheese. She picks cheese out of her burritos, barely tolerates it on pizza, and will not touch a quesadilla. While eating this salad she mistakenly bit into a chunk of feta and said, "What is this cheese? I love this cheese!"

Feta. She loves feta but can't stand Monterey jack?

Owen didn't eat any dinner, but that is hardly news and I am willing myself not to care. 

Dessert: yogurt cake. See photo at top of page.  This recipe, first posted on Wizenberg's blog, was how she met her future husband. A friend of his was searching for a French yogurt cake recipe, stumbled on Orangette, etc. "It may be simple, but to me, it borders on the magical," Wizenberg writes. 

It is indeed a lovely cake. I didn't find it magical, but this isn't my boutique.

Night Two of Homemade Life: Owen did eat the dinner, which consisted of arugula salad with chocolate and pistachios.
There was a more substantial meal planned, but stuff happened. The chunks and shards of chopped bittersweet chocolate married surprisingly well with the arugula, though arugula is better alone. Or with feta. For dessert: white chocolate coeur a la creme, which was delicious, but would have been even more incredible without the chocolate. If I ever open a boutique, there will be lots of vanilla and nuts, very little chocolate and it will all be milk.
In other news: 

-I owe wrap-up reviews for Milk and Fat, both of which were wonderful.

-Have completely lost track of our April food budget.

-The bees are coming on Sunday. 

-There is also this Slate piece that I recently wrote about the cost of cooking vs. buying various basic foodstuffs. I don't resemble the woman in the illustration, though I do covet her purse.


  1. I came across your blog thanks to the Slate article, which I totally loved. Your project is something I've only dreamed of starting, let alone sticking to/completing. Now I can live vicariously through you, and wish for the oodles of patience it must take to work through such a task. Keep it up, I will be religiously reading!

  2. Your piece is the number-one most emailed article on Slate right now (see right-hand sidebar) and one of the top most-read. Congratulations! Go, Tipsy, go.

  3. Way to go on the Slate piece!
    And I am withering in jealousy that your family considers salad to be "dinner." Maybe another female in my family would tip the balance. Or maybe it's a California thing.
    Is there a preferred dressing for the first (feta) salad? I haven't gotten Homemade Life yet but it's on the list...

  4. Just found your blog from your article on Slate. Great story! I just tried making jam and the whole canning process for the first time last week. I loved the process and now I'm dying to make lemon marmalade.

  5. That was a great article. It's nice to have my suspicions confirmed.

    And that lady is pretty handsome. She looks sort of like Humphrey Bogart.

  6. Your Slate article could be the best thing I've ever read on the web. I finally want to fulfill my life long fantasy of baking my own bagels. Kudos!

  7. I thought the radicchio was radicchiously bitter, but that yogurt cake was super. Puddin' in the mix is not as good as yogurt in the mix.

  8. I just ordered Molly's book and will seeing her speak at a conference next month. The cake recipe does sound good and I just made my first batch of yogurt the other day ... I'm thinking this cake may be in my future!

  9. Found you via Slate, and will keep coming back to your blog -- LOVED your slate article! I can't wait to try the Bagels, Yogurt, and Granola recipes you recommend! Thank you for your great writing style, and fascinating information! Best, Ida