• food,  local

    Tomato Season is Here

    Yesterday our CSA box included an abundance of heirloom tomatoes. I love the way they look, the poetic names they have, and–most importantly–how they taste. Here are some of the varieties we received: From top left, going clockwise: Black Krim, Garden Peach, Red Zebra, Green Zebra, Roman Candle, Sun Gold Savor this last bit of summer.

  • booze,  coffee,  food,  recipes

    Plummy Rum Blackberry Buckle

    When stone fruits are in season, I can’t help buying them in bulk. The problem is that they don’t last very long. Even at the rapid rate I gobble them, I can never finish all of the purchased peaches or plums. The solution? Bake with them, of course. This “buckle” cake is delicious either as a dessert with ice cream or whipped cream, or with coffee for breakfast. Plummy Rum Blackberry Buckle (try to say that 3 times fast…) Modified from a Bon Appetit recipe 1/2 cup whole, unpeeled almonds 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted…

  • coffee,  desserts,  fiction,  food,  wine,  writing

    Treats for the Soul and Stomach

    Tonight I have Critique Group. I am lucky to be a part of a group of five fabulous women writers who get together every other week to weigh in on one another’s projects. We are bold: we blog and send our work out into the world for publication. We are brave: we read one another’s manuscripts without the shine of extensive revision (we put the “rough” in rough draft). And we are hungry: hungry for a place in the literary world, yes, but also physically hungry. We show up, exhausted and starving, after our various day job in the worlds of law, motherhood, sales, and office administration. Often one or…

  • coffee,  food,  local

    Go Ahead, Call Me a Cheesehead

    A new food magazine, Edible Madison, threw its launch party on Saturday. Edible Madison is a quarterly publication that celebrates the local foods of Southern Wisconsin and the people who grow, produce, and prepare them. Free copies of the debut issue can be found at various locations around town, including Ground Zero Coffee and Fromagination cheese shop, which is where the launch party was held. While chatting with writers, farmers,  and small business owners, we snacked on a delectable variety of Wisconsin cheeses. Some of my favorites were the soft lavender and honey Driftless sheep’s milk cheese from Hidden Springs Creamery, Spanish Manchego-style Gran Queso from Roth Käse in Monroe,…

  • fashion,  food,  vintage

    Mad Men in Madison

    This year, my birthday happens to coincide with the premiere of Season 4 of Mad Men. Happy birthday to me. I am more than a little obsessed with the AMC series. I’m not sure if it’s because of the multi-layered plot or all the fantastic 60’s fashion and interior design. I think it might be the latter. Anyway, I’m having a premiere party to celebrate the occasion. There will be martinis and cheese straws, deviled eggs and pigs in a blanket. My husband and I haven’t picked our our attire yet, but you can be sure we’ll be inspired by these photos. All photos from AMCTV.com.

  • food,  local,  microbrews

    Pairing Chocolate and Beer

    I first discovered that chocolate and beer taste good together at a Notre Dame football tailgate. I was a college student, and happened to pop a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup into my mouth, followed by a sip of Milwaukee’s Best Light. I’m happy to report that I’ve moved up in the world. Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a chocolate and beer tasting led by chocolatier extraordinaire Gail Ambrosius. We tasted single-origin chocolate from different parts of Central and South America, paired with  microbrews from Ale Asylum, Lake Louie, Furthermore, and New Holland Brewery. Midwestern craft beer and chocolate from the tropics may seem like an unlikely combination,…

  • food,  local

    World’s Best Farmers’ Markets

    Saveur magazine has named the Dane County Farmers’ Market (DCFM) as one of the World’s 30 Best Farmers’ Markets. The market that takes place on Madison’s capitol square every Saturday is right up there with Paris’ Rungis Wholesale Market and Kyoto’s Nishiki Market. So here’s a big, bright bouquet of sunflowers (from, of course, the DCFM) in celebration of such an honor.

  • food,  local

    Canning: How Not to Poison Your Family

    Have you always wanted to learn how to can vegetables, but you’re afraid of killing your family with botulism? (Fun fact: the word “botulism” comes from the Latin word “botulus,” which means “sausage.” Um, gross.) Fear no more! If you don’t have a cool mother-in-law, grandma, or farmer friend to teach you, the Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition (MACSAC) has got you covered. They are offering classes on food preservation for $25 (check out MACSAC’s website). They will also offer classes on freezing and dehydrating for $10. And for those of you who don’t know your turnips from your rutabaga (which includes me), there will be a “Cooking with…

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  • food,  recipes

    La Furia Roja:
    on the Plate & on the Field

    In honor of Spain’s world cup win, I’m posting a Spanish recipe today that uses fresh ingredients in season right now (or just around the corner). And, like La Furia Roja (the “red fury”), as the Spanish national soccer team is nicknamed, the dish also happens to be red. I varied the recipe a little bit from the traditional version, based on trial and error. And I added vodka. Spanish Pisto Lots and lots of olive oil 1 medium white onion, chopped 1 cup chopped, seeded tomatoes (or 1 can diced tomatoes if you don’t have fresh) 3 cloves garlic, diced (you can toss in some garlic scapes, too, if…

  • food,  local

    Focus on the Farmer: Mushroom Magic

    Since farmers’ market season is now in full swing, I’ve decided to start featuring local farmers from time to time on my blog. On Tuesday evening, I ventured to the East Side Farmers’ Market and, while I was there, picked up half a pound of the best shiitake mushrooms I’ve ever had, from Herb’n’Oyster farm in McFarland. What struck me about these mushrooms was not only their rich, woodsy taste, but also how gorgeous and clean they were. I don’t usually think of mushrooms as being pretty, but the displays of oyster and lion’s mane mushrooms reminded me of roses or coral. Kari and Joe, who run Herb’n’Oyster, can be…