Saturday, December 03, 2011

Food incompatibility: the Q & A

And her word is law.
Q: Hey, where've you been? Basking in glory of seeing Make the Bread, Buy the Butter chosen as one of the notable 2011 cookbooks by Pete Wells of the New York Times?

A: Actually, yes, I was basking for a day or two. But then I plunged into a self-pitying funk.

Q: Seriously? You couldn't bask for more than a day or two? Anyway, tell me about this funk.

A: Like all funks, it's hard to explain.

Q: Try.

A: Well, the other day I did a radio interview and the interviewer said, more or less, "It seems like you do all these great experiments with food and your husband and family aren't into them at all. That must be hard. I could never be in a relationship with someone who isn't into food. Tell me about how that works. . . "

And I thought, wow, what a bold and intimate question! Can I answer this on the record? I did, though, because it's something I think about all the time.

Q: Well, what was the answer? What is it like?

A: Food incompatibility? It's not a deal-breaker, but it's pretty rough. That very night, with that interview still on my mind, I made this great dinner. Really, it was great. I made the fregola sarda with caramelized butternut squash from Food52. I made Dorie Greenspan's beet salad with "icy" onions (delicious), and I sauteed the shiitake mushrooms left over from Thanksgiving in a lot of butter (ridiculously delicious.) Then, for dessert, I made Dorie's long and slow apples which are AMAZING and to accompany this genius apple dish, I baked the cardamom-honey madeleines from a lovely book called Maman's Homesick Pie by Donia Bijan.

A respectable dinner, no? But to hear the sighs of my family members, you'd think I was trying to pass off roasted toad with hemlock sauce. They were all joking and grimacing over the beets, two of them wouldn't touch the mushrooms, and then no one would eat the cardamom madeleines except me. And suddenly I felt very sorry for myself. Couldn't at least one of my children love food?

Q: I'm sorry, but in the scheme of things, this is a pretty trivial sorrow.

A: And that just makes it worse. Thanks a lot. Because not only do I feel bad about the actual thing, but I feel bad for feeling bad.

Q: It might help if you tried to sympathize with your husband. For someone who doesn't care about food it must be hard to be married to YOU.

A: Hey, who's side are you on? But you're right, of course. Poor him. When we were first dating he told me he would like to take all of his nourishment in the form of a pill. And now he has to eat homemade salt pork and lots of kale.

Q: What're you going to do about this funk?

A: I decided I need more family buy-in. So I'm going back to an old plan, which is to let other people in the family choose the cookbooks. We'll do a rotation. My husband has chosen All About Roasting by Molly Stevens, which I just purchased on Saturday after hearing her speak at Omnivore Books. (She was terrific.) Owen chose The Mozza Cookbook by Nancy Silverton and flagged about 15 recipes. I was pleased with that choice and hold out hope that one day he will be an enthusiastic eater. Then Isabel chose The Best of the Best from California. We bought that book together a few years ago because we both think this series is hilarious.

Q: Why?

A: Let's see, is might be the cake that contains a can of fruit cocktail. Or maybe the chip shot chicken that involves rolling chicken thighs in nonfat sour cream and crushed barbecued potato chips.

Q: That recipe sounds like the worst of the worst.

A: I asked Isabel if she wanted to reconsider the book when I pointed out all the recipes that contain Cool Whip and she said, "Your blog readers will like it because you can make fun of it." I'm not so sure, but I told her she could choose any cookbook, so any cookbook it is. And, to be fair, all the recipes she flagged look quite delicious. I'm particularly excited about the Milky Way cake.

Q:  On another subject, any dishes you've cooked lately that you want to tell us about?

Cheese + chard = very happy marriage
A: Yes. I made the best chess pie ever form Nancie McDermott's Southern Pies (thank you Steven). and it has permanently supplanted my old recipe. The shallow tart of chard and cheese from Nigel Slater's Tender is excellent.  His carrot and cilantro fritters are also tasty, though they need quite a bit more flour than he calls for if you want them to hold together. The cocoa-cumin tri-tip roast from Eat Good Food is superb.

Q: So, have you finally broken free of that enslaving CSA?

A: YES! I'm done. I missed being able to choose my vegetables and I hated the waste. Oh, one more thing -- I'm doing some guest blogging here this week. I can't answer half the questions -- I have no idea how to make condensed cream of mushroom soup from scratch to use in a casserole -- but I'm doing my best.

Owen and friend borrowed my camera. Not sure what this means. 
**Correction. Owen just told me what the photograph means: He is a cereal killer.


  1. That is Sophie's favorite cereal and available at Costco so we eat a lot of it. Drive on cooking for your ungrateful family, you are influencing them more than you realize. Happy Holidays to you and yours :)

  2. Congratulations on the NYTimes award, Tipsy! On some community sites here, I just posted the Times notice along with an Amazon link to your book and seemed to get some action; a few people told me they bought the book right away "based on the blurb."

    I've started reading it straight through, cover to cover, and find it a real treasure. Thanks!

    And I think your idea of a family buy-in is a great idea. I mean, we all have to eat so, at some point, something's gotta give. Good luck!

  3. Having everyone pick a book sounds like a good strategy. I hope it works! It's hard to have something that you put so much effort into go totally unappreciated. My husband complains that I'm so busy trying new recipes that I rarely cook the same thing twice. I figure, if I have to do the cooking, I should at least find a way to do it that's fun for me.

  4. Is there any milk in the chess pie? The directions mention milk but it's not in the ingredients list. Thanks!

  5. Is there any milk in the chess pie? The directions mention milk but it's not in the ingredients list. Thanks!

  6. Anonymous -- That's weird! Must be a mistake in the reprint of the recipe. In the book there was no milk and I used no milk in the recipe and it was fabulous. Just omit the milk.

  7. Thanks, Tipsy!

  8. Great interview, and I laughed out loud at Owen!

  9. i can't stop giggling about the cereal killer thing. so funny. and nice upholstery on that chair. and i think you should mention that your non-nuclear family, i.e. your sister and father, who both live nearby, are enthusiastic eaters of pretty much anything you cook. that counts for something right? maybe you should let them choose a book!

  10. I feel your husband cannot tolerate onions. The flavor, odor and the after effects on his personal plumbing mean they are vegetable non grata in our kitchen. Can you imagine never cooking with onions? Yes, I sigh longingly over caramelized onion tarts.
    The condensed cream of mushroom question reminded me of a call to the Splendid Table. Lynne suggested making a bechamel or veloute sauce to replace the condensed canned soup in casseroles. I think she may have suggested starting with dried mushrooms and adding some of the rehydrating liquid to the sauce for flavor as well as chopping up the mushroom bits.

  11. I understand your funk completely! I don't think men are, in general, as adventurous about food. I cook many things that the two men in my family don't want to eat just because they have never eaten it. Here's my suggestion. Cook one thing that everybody likes, then cook the rest for you. No guilt! I also get less snide remarks with this method. You are educating them about food whether they realize it or not. One day they will say something that surprises you. Love the book, love the blog!

  12. I too feel your pain. Now when I try a new recipe I don't even say what's in it. DH will order things in a restaurant that he would turn his nose up at at home. Acceptable vegetables are brussel sprouts,mushrooms, brocolli and potatoes. DD will eat salad and corn but not the brussel sprouts or the mushrooms.She won't eat pork except for sausage and bacon. I could go on and on but it would just make me tired. I end up making the same things over and over until I can't take it and surprise them with something and hope for the best. Good luck your kids are already more adventurous than mine.

  13. Please don't be in a funk. I almost faint at your ambitious cooking and absolutely LOVE your blog. I guess a lot of families operate this way and one reason is that women do the cooking almost entirely, freeing those who come to the table to grouse and moan and generally take it all for granted. Let 'em take over the daily-ness of it for a few months (any fool can make a meal or two) and see if they aren't more amazed and grateful.

  14. I sympathize. I love to cook and my husband eats it. However, when I say "What do you want as your birthday meal? Chicken Kiev? Beef Wellington?" his standard answer is "Tater Tot Casserole."

  15. I'm so happy you are going to do the Mozza book. I actually pre-ordered it along with your book, and the two came in the same box. Guess which one I read first! (Which is weird, because I am a pizza fanatic and have been practically holding my breath to get my hands on Nancy Silverton's pizza dough recipe.)

    I sympathize about your family. My husband's favorite kind of food is Bob's Big Boy hamburgers. He is nice about it, though.

    But the thing I really must share here is that when my daughter was about five, she came running in to the kitchen from the living room where I had inadvertently left the TV on, and asked, "Mom, what's a 'breakfast killer'?" I, flummoxed, said I didn't know. She said, "Or maybe what they said was 'cereal killer'."

  16. I think the old Jack Sprat rhyme is apropos here, isn't it?

    or perhaps the old adage: Be careful what you wish for...

    Just suppose THE HUSBAND liked to cook also and you had to argue over who would cook and elbow each other in the kitchen and be rivals..My husband does not like to decorate/furnish a house so I can do as I please...sometimes I DO wish he'd at least notice if something has changed........

    would THE HUSBAND really like to just eat pills???

    as for the cereal killer, your blog may eventually be featured in the biography of a world famous comic.....

  17. Yes, indeed... Cereal killer. I laughed out loud, too!

  18. My uncle swears that one of the main reasons he and his ex-wife got a divorce was food incompatibility. He did all the cooking for their family (including 3 kids) and mainly cooked Chinese food. She didn't cook, but strongly preferred non-spicy, non-ethnic food. She would have loved the tatertot casserole. He said they had small fights everyday about food.

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