Sunday, January 12, 2014

Struggling to be a decent person, chapter MMCCXLV

That's persimmon, not bell pepper.
What I learned from the winter salad greens with persimmon vinaigrette and Mt. Tam from Cowgirl Creamery Cooks is just how much better Fuyu persimmon is when diced very small before it's tossed in a salad. I’ve added persimmon to salad in bigger pieces, but tiny is the way to go. The little cubes are crunchy and bursting with sugary juice -- the pomegranate seed effect, but without the irritating seeds. That's all I learned from this salad. I think the purpose of most salad recipes is not to be original, but to get you to make salads. 

The Cowgirls’ cottage cheese pancakes recipe planted in my mind (accurately or not) an image of light, fluffy, cheesecakey pancakes and I planned to make them on Friday morning. But when I went upstairs to cook them I discovered Mark had eaten the cottage cheese that I had been saving for this purpose. It's a special person who can easily resist lemon pie, apple cake, bourbon cocktails, sugar cookies, gumbo, peanut butter cookies, creme brulee, clam pizza, French onion soup, Dungeness crab, and 1,022 other renowned delicacies, but is helpless before a carton of Clover cottage cheese. That’s my man. He’s always been a fool for cottage cheese and in the past I’ve found it endearing but at 6 a.m. on Friday morning I was intensely irritated because I wanted cottage cheese pancakes.

You can yell at your mate for unwittingly eating up all your earmarked cottage cheese, but it’s sort of lousy p.r. for your personality. I was so mad about the stupid cottage cheese that it took an act of will to gently close the refrigerator and stomp back downstairs to fume in the solitude of our bedroom where only God and I were witness to my rottenness. My thoughts went something like this: That was MY cottage cheese/JFC I’m selfish/but I really wanted those pancakes/What a spectacularly petty person I am/why couldn’t he have asked if I had plans for the cottage cheese?/all those people who haven’t liked me over the last 47 years? Onto something. 

After about 20 minutes the fever broke and I was so glad I’d chosen the route of solitary fuming because I don’t actually begrudge Mark a bowl of cottage cheese and in the fulness of the morning decided to buy cottage cheese on a regular basis because it’s such an easy way to make him happy. Pettiness and selfishness only become definitive statements about who you are when you succumb to their power. They’re feelings, they quickly pass, and you should lock yourself in a room until they do. I wish I could tattoo this on my brain.

Later that day, I made the Cowgirls’ creme fraiche, lemon and ginger granita. I’d never before made granita and it was probably a mistake to start with a cream-based version because it wasn’t icy, pure, and crunchy like I imagined granita.  It was more like an undistinguished lemon ice cream with a chalky texture.

That’s a wrap on five recipes from Cowgirl Creamery Cooks. I wanted to finish this post with an eloquent summary review of the book, but don’t have the steam tonight. Tomorrow. Meanwhile, on the stove bubbles the chili for chili spaghetti from Roy Choi’s L.A. Son, the next book on the list.


  1. "Pettiness and selfishness only become definitive statements about who you are when you succumb to their power."

    I love your little meditation/stream of consciousness report on the cottage cheese. Thanks for sharing that. Sadly, there are a few people in my life who have made pettiness and selfishness the hallmarks of their personality. Good to be reminded that it is easy to fall into and takes real effort to rise above.

    1. Have you read the book Hyperbole & a Half? She writes about the struggle, but with hilarious cartoon figures. I just read it last night, by complete coincidence.

    2. How funny! I just discovered Hyperbole and a Half (the Web site) about two days ago.

    3. Hyperbole and a Half is so funny. Her post on being a responsible adult is ageless, not mention it became a meme

    4. Did not know there was a Hyperbole and a Half book out. I've seen some of her comics online. She makes me think of Maria Bamford, if Maria Bamford was illustrated by Ralph Steadman.

  2. You should have hidden the cottage cheese way in the back of a vegetable drawer; most men I know don't root around in the fridge. (I think Clover cottage cheese tastes salty; I prefer Knudsen. Guess the Cowgirl one is way expensive...)

  3. Yay LA Son! I am interested on your take. I am definitely filing away the "fume in solitary" advice, but I still want to know how cottage cheese pancakes taste.

    1. I will make the cottage cheese pancakes. L.A. Son is a very funny read. I have my doubts about the recipes.

    2. Roy Choi is scheduled to be on Top Chef this week, FYI.

  4. By William Carlos Williams:

    I wanted you to know
    I have eaten
    the plums
    that were in the icebox
    and which

    you were probably
    for breakfast

    Forgive me
    they were delicious
    so sweet
    and so cold -

    1. I doubt even William Carlos Williams could have written a good poem about cottage cheese.

    2. Ah, Jennifer, you are so wonderfully funny.

  5. Oh my, you are wise, even if you don't realize it. Not only did you fume in private, but the fuming led to an epiphany regarding keeping cottage cheese in the house. Brava! I put cottage cheese in pancakes just for the protein boost. I didn't know there was a particular recipe I should have been following. I await the report on the recipe. Persimmons in salad? Hmmmm, if I ever see any of them in the store, I will try it. The only way I have ever eaten persimmons that I was crazy about was persimmon pudding. It's fabulous. By the way, just trying to be a better person makes you one.

    1. That's so true, the last line of your comment. A very soft, jelly-like Hachiya persimmon would be a disaster in salad -- that's the kind my mom used to make into persimmon pudding. You have to get the fuyu persimmons and the one I used was very ripe, but not jelly-like. They're great in salads. I've been using them alternately w. apples in the kale salad I make all the time.

    2. You have educated me again, so thanks. I will have to look for some fuyu persimmons. Still eating those kale salads, huh?

  6. I just remembered Nora Ephron made a pancake with one beaten egg and 1/3 cup of ricotta .. delicious and high protein. (I don't think she cheated and poured maple syrup over it.)

  7. My daughter has been known to eat the mozzarella balls I buy for pizzas, with semi-calamitous results. I recently started using that grocery list app I was telling you about (OurGroceries) and now I tell everyone in the house to add to it, and if they didn't put something on the list, they should ask before using it. But you know. People raid the fridge and eat what they want. It's quite sweet that Mark can't resist cottage cheese.

  8. Annette Kitts1/14/14, 7:51 AM

    Cook's Country has a great recipe for Cloudcakes, a pancake with a lot of buttermilk and sour cream. They're very light, fluffy, and tangy. I know they're not cottage cheese pancakes, but if you ever find yourself without the cottage cheese again and need an alternative...

  9. Melvil Dewey1/14/14, 1:05 PM

    LA Son! We just made Choi's chicken piccata last night, and it was terrific, although we had enough sauce for about three times as much chicken as was on hand. That was kind of a nice problem to have, because then we poured the sauce over our rice, our bread, anything handy. Every time I dip into the narrative part of the book I'm gripped and entertained, so eventually I will have to give it my sustained attention. Can't wait to make his fried ribs. That recipe really looks good. And the red-onion marmalade. And the short-rib stew. I could go on.

  10. LOVED reading this. Made me happy, thank you!

  11. my husband looooves cottage cheese. there are times I have used it as a "side". He'll eat it with anything. There was a time....way back in our pre married days we lived across the street from a fruit and veg corner market kinda thing in North Vancouver, and every Sunday one of us would go across the street and buy a fresh container of cottage cheese to go with the cantelope that we had ripening on the counter all week.

    It's adictive if you haven't tried it.

    Cut cantelope in half, width wise
    Hollow out, discard the stuff (I'm only writing this cause there people out there that really need instruction on everysimplelittlething)
    Replace the hollowed out part with a 500ml container (that's the middle size for all you non metric people) of cottage cheese. Dump Half of the cottage cheese in one, half in the other one. Pile it on.
    Then sprinkle whatever spice mix is on hand on the cottage cheese. I've used ceasar drink mix (a.k.a. jazzed up celery salt), Greek mix from club house is good. I've got an interesting bacon,basil parm, dry dip mix that tastes good on just about everything other than it's intended purpose. Really pile on the spice also.
    Serve with a fancy spoon stuck into the cottage cheese. Fancy spoon in a float spoon---one with a long handle, or a grapefruit spoon works also to get the cantelope out. The spoon is really the key. A regular itty bitty teaspoon just doesn't work right. Ambiance isn't right.
    When one is presented with one of these the first thing you do is smoosh all the spice mixture into the cottage cheese, Really mix it in there
    ...Each spoonful should have fruit and a glob of cottage cheese. It helps to have another container of cottage cheese in the fridge trust will be adding it to the huge hole that has been created.

    This is really good with fancy bread like raisan cinnamon that has been toasted.
    Ohhh it also helps to be sharing a morning paper while digging away at the cantelope, in bed on a sunday morning.

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