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cake1

No, really! Completely free cake! Read on.

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cover

You don’t need a physical copy to read Mrs. Lincoln’s Boston Cook Book. I first fell in love with the digital version here, on Google Books. I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to curl up with it in bed, which is difficult to do even with a laptop, so I ordered a copy from Alibris. The one I got was printed in 1912, falling apart (I sort-of fixed it with packing tape), and contained a clipping from another book tucked between its pages (“Miss Olive Allen’s Tested Recipes,” which turned out to be an ad for Crisco).

crisco

Unfortunately, it had a disappointing lack of penciled notes in the margin. I did so want my old cookbook to have penciled notes in the margin.

It’s obviously been used, though; some of the pages are a little grease-spattered and wrinkly, and it has that general air of being heavily thumbed through, even more than you can chalk up to its being 100 years old. I started at the very beginning and have read straight through page 475 so far. (OK, I’ll admit I skimmed some of the recipes for cold jellied fish soup and stuff like that.)

Why do I love a 100-year-old cookbook?

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The most beautiful green and yellow wax beans you've ever seen, admit it.

The most beautiful green and yellow wax beans you've ever seen, admit it.

I have become a total vegetable gardening dork. I’m obsessed. I order catalogs, I baby my plants every chance I get, I snarl at my children if they get too close. It’s sad. My husband actually said to me the other day that I’m not a dork until I start taking pictures.

See above.

Those are my first ever pole beans. They are, as is true of everything that you grow with your own hands and eat fresh off the vine, a revelation. Who knew green beans could be almost juicy? I’ve eaten some of them straight up, but I have enough now that I can play around with them and use them in recipes.

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Ever had a garlic spear? No? Well, what’s keepin’ ya? The immature head of elephant garlic, they have a mild, sweet garlic flavor when roasted or grilled. I hear they’re great sauteed as well. Anything you can do with asparagus, you can do with the spear. Serve them alongside grilled meat or fish! Toss them in pasta! Pull them off the grill and nom them up one at a time until you have to figure out another side dish for the rest of your guests!

Here’s what I did!

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strawberry rhubarb and peach crumble

strawberry rhubarb and peach crumble

Or, how I am becoming my mother.

Exhibit a) Going to the grocery store so frequently I’m on a first name basis with most of the checkers.

Exhibit b) Frequent employment of illogical logic to the ultimate frustration of my mate.

Exhibit c) Halving (at least) the sugar content of every recipe.

It used to drive me bonkers that my mom would cut the sugar in our cookies, and add back in things like wheat germ and brewers yeast. I suppose I should be thankful that she at least had the sense not to replace the semi-sweet morsels with the abomination that is the carob chip. The sweet tooth that was so deprived as a child such that I would apply sugar to my unsweetened cereal like lake-effect snow in Buffalo has, probably as a result of my mother’s efforts, mellowed and refined. And as a result, I find most baked goods to be (gulp) Too Sweet.

Enter Crumble.

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sammich1

Step 1: Before you leave for work, tell your husband, “Man, I’d love meatball subs tonight.”

Step 2: Return home after work; express delight when a plate like the one above is put before you.

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Apricosmo

We’ve all been there, ladies. It’s cocktail hour — really, really cocktail hour — and and the shaker is already full of ice and vodka and some sick m*****f***** has gone and drunk all the cranberry juice, and you realize the only thing  for it is to rip open a juice box and get creative. This is one of those moments.

The Apricosmo

4 shots vodka or tequila
2 shots Cointreau or Triple Sec
2 shots apricot nectar
1 shot lime juice
Maraschino cherries

Fill a shaker with ice and add all liquid ingredients. Shake well. Strain into martini glass, with two maraschino cherries. Enjoy.

Me + dessert generally = epic disaster, but this was a dinner party, dammit.  It was the right thing to do.

Kheer 1

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Just because I like to make things a little more difficult for myself.

Vidalia Onion Relish

Dice a sweet onion (Vidalia or Walla Walla – if you’re using a regular yellow onion, up the sugar in the recipe).  Combine with 1 Tbsp lime juice, sweet paprika, 1 teaspoon sugar, and a pinch of salt.  The longer you can let the flavors combine before eating, the better – I recommend overnight.  Prepare for vicious onion breath, and make sure that if you eat it, you also feed some to anyone you plan to make out with later.

Vidalia onion relish

Cilantro Chutney

Toss 1 bunch cilantro (stems and all!  Technology FTW!) into your food processor.  Squeeze in the juice of half a lime.  Add a medium-sized shallot, a clove of garlic, a hefty pinch of salt, and a liberal sprinkle apiece of cumin and cayenne.  Start running the food processor and drizzling in olive oil until you have a good emulsion.

Cilantro chutney

I threw the Indian-themed dinner party in part because one of the guests I expected is a vegetarian and I wanted to have a robust main dish for him to enjoy (hence the vegetable curry).  But he didn’t even end up coming to the party – probably because he was at home reconsidering his inexplicable decision not to eat delicious, delicious meat.

Chicken tikka masala 1

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