Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Pulpy, slushy, oozy, all its delicious embonpoint

Writing Up an Appetite is going on a summer hiatus, but not before we thank all of our wonderful readers, everyone who took the time to leave comments or to share our posts, and especially our guest bloggers from the past eleven months. Below is a list of all 46 Writing Up an Appetite posts so far, listed by author. In them you will find not only yummy recipes but creative inspiration for your writing, ideas for cooking for and with children, and more than a little memoir and nostalgia.

May your summer ooze with pleasure.

"Talking of Pleasure, this moment I was writing with one hand, and with the other holding to my Mouth a Nectarine – good God, how fine. It went down soft, pulpy, slushy, oozy – all its delicious embonpoint melted down my throat like a large beatified Strawberry."  ~ John Keats




Our Fantastic Guest Bloggers

Tuesday, May 15, 2012



From our strawberry patch.
We should have fruit soon, if the rabbits don't nibble them clean first.



Vegetable-ready. This summer will be the first time in a long while that we try for a garden.



Simple and basic.

It doesn't take much to whip up some chocolate goodness.*

And there's plenty to share.

Potential. It's everywhere. In the first signs of the season, in the rich soil overturned, in an uncomplicated recipe that yields the best dessert. A pinch of willing, a scoop of desire, a cupful of determination; that's my strategy for tackling summer projects.

The berries.
The garden.
(That novel.)

What are you cultivating over the next few months?

* My version of Lisa's Poor Man's Cake. Click here for her post and the recipe, then pass it on.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Eating Then and Now

This is one of my favorite recipes. Look here:

Mediterranean Potato Pitas

A good bunch of cut up potatoes
Olive or Canola Oil in a large pan
Onion and garlic to fry 'em up
Some fresh ground pepper, some salt

Give it all a good and tender cooking, stirring to keep the potatoes even and fine, but before they're too soft, toss in sliced black olives and button mushrooms. Let it simmer for a minute or two, then add a lot of fresh spinach. Fill the pan with fresh spinach and let it cook down. Covering the pan helps steam it a bit. Sir it up and add more spinach until you run out. Give it another good stir and drop in two eggs if you made a lot. If you were feeling nervous, only add one. Check your taste buds and toss in some basil and oregano to boot.

When the eggs are blended and cooked, and the potatoes are nice and tender, take the pan off the heat and throw in gobs of crumbled feta cheese.  Stir it up. Stir it up.

Now you need pita pocket bread, cooking spray, shredded Parmesan cheese and a baking sheet. Stuff the pita pockets with the potato filling and let them make merry, laying each out on the baking sheet with a fine dusting of cooking spray and Parmesan cheese. Place them under the broiler just long enough to turn the pitas a warm, golden brown.

Serve with a generous helping of tzatziki sauce.

This was my first recipe, seventeen years gone and I still cook it up to warm my husband's belly. The first time I made it for him was at two-thirty, early, on a Sunday morning, after dancing and drinking at our best goth-industrial club on the far east side of Madison. We smelled of clove cigarettes and the cool, unnamed scent that radiates from fog machines. I was tired, keyed up and hungry. So early in the morning, I cooked as if on a dare.

The last time I went to that club I felt my age surrounding me like a helpless aura I couldn't shake. I was married with two kids and years past thirty. I could still dance the hours through, but the morning comes faster now with eager faces pulling at the sheets. Meals like this are done with more respect to time and energy. They're planned ahead, thought out, and served with a cold glass of 1% milk.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

What Do April Showers Bring?

by Lisa

Was April the cruelest month for you?

Mine wasn't cruel, but it was definitely a stormy whirlwind of missed deadlines and too many balls in the air, too many irons in the fire, too many cooks in the kitchen, or whatever other cliché that comes to mind. I'm guessing your April wasn't much different. And now it's May (!), and rather than feeling caught up and ready for a new month, I'm looking at an overdue list that is nearly as long as my to-do list (and my want-to-do list must wait a while longer).

It's time for some kitchen therapy.

"Never had there been such...making of car-cakes and sweet scones." Sir Walter Scott, The Bride of Lammermoor 
Nothing helps me to focus on the moment, appreciate what I have, and get my hands back into life's pleasures better than taking the time to cook or bake slowly, with intention. No phones. No email. No music, even. Just me and ingredients and the promise of creating from scratch with nearly immediate gratification.

The yellow tint to the milk is from an early version of the scone recipe, below, where I tried to use part olive oil, part butter. Edible but not publishable. Don't try it at home.
Take scones, for example, a food of humble origins that has risen to posh status, the ingredients for which almost everyone already has on hand. As I was trying to think of clever groan-inspiring titles for this post, I learned that "scone" is a favorite word of punsters (see Scones and Sensibility , by Lindsay Eland, or Alexander McCall Smith's The Unbearable Lightness of Scones), and that the title "A scone by any other name" is far from original (like me, are you curious as to the difference between scones and biscuits?)
Scone: A large round cake made of wheat or barley-meal baked on a griddle; one of the four quadrant-shaped pieces into which such a cake is often cut; more generally, a soft cake of barley- or oatmeal, or wheat-flour, baked in single portions on a griddle or in an oven. Also with defining words, denoting varieties of this cake, as butter scone, potato scone, soda scone, treacle scone; brown scone n. one made of whole meal. drop-scone n. (dropped scone) one made of a small portion of batter dropped on the griddle or on a tin and baked. fried scone n. one in which the ingredients are made into a batter and fried. (Oxford English Dictionary)

The history of scones goes back at least six hundred years (see the fascinating Food Timeline site for origins and recipes), so when I use my fingers to "pebbalize" butter into soft, sifted flour, I imagine myself connected to cooks from centuries past, putting their hands in barley meal and shaping rounds or squares or triangles to be baked on hot "girdles."
"We lay on the bare top of a rock, like scones upon a girdle." Robert Louis Stevenson, Kidnapped

The following recipe is adapted from instructions for "How to Make the Perfect Scone," with some help to convert grams to cups and Celsius to Fahrenheit. This version combines simple ingredients with fresh berries and uses no added sugar, unless you choose to sprinkle some on top.


Here's wishing that April showers bring May flours for us all.

Simple Strawberry Scones
  • 2 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 7 tablespoons cold butter, cut in small pieces
  • 2/3 cup milk (or cream or half and half)
  • 1 cup diced fresh, firm strawberries (or half diced strawberries and 1/2 small blueberries)
  • milk and sugar for topping (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Add the cold butter pieces to the flour mixture, and use your clean, dry fingers to rub the butter into the flour until the butter pieces are no bigger than tiny peas. Trust me: this feels good.
  4. Add milk or cream, and stir mixture very lightly until almost combined. You don't want it at all to reach the stage of batter, and there will still be some unmixed flour. Add the evenly berries, and use floured hands to fold them in and gather the entire mixture together into a big, soft lump.
  5. Transfer mixture to a floured surface, and gentle pat or roll to a thickness of about 3/4 inch. Cut into ten to twelve rounds or squares. If you wish, brush the top of each scone with milk and sprinkle with sugar.
  6. Bake scones on a baking pan or stone for 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned.
Step 7: