Posts Tagged recipes

FOOD & MEMORY

Like many people, I have a file folder full of clippings and handwritten recipes. Despite my professional inclination toward classification,  it has no organization at all, so that when I want to find a recipe I once made back in 1994, I need to sort through the entire unruly pile.  The question is: why keep this stack of ephemera at all when there is no shortage of beautiful websites devoted to conjuring the perfect recipe in an instant?  I could spend all day on sites like Gojee, My Cooking Diary and FoodGawker,  but I can’t quite get myself to dump my pile of papers that serve as tangible memories of what I’ve made over the past 25 years.  Represented there is the vegetarian nut-loaf phase, the risotto phase, the experimental holiday dinner phase, among others.  If I had the time, I suppose I could scan them into Evernote, or at least put them in a binder – it’s on the list.

My friend Forest, who is always a source of inspiration, found a beautiful solution to bridging the gap between the analog recipe card and the digital recipe database.  When his grandmother –  the matriarch of a large family – passed away last year, there was some discussion about who was to receive her much coveted recipe box, full of meticulously handwritten cards containing the key to so many dishes she was known for.  Forest took on the project of scanning and organizing the cards so that anyone in the family could have access to Ruth’s recipes, and through the process has started experimenting with making foods he hadn’t had since childhood.  All he has to do is prop up his iPad in the kitchen and he can scroll through the culinary history of his family.

We have gotten together a few times this year to try some of these vintage gems that call for ingredients that are so not 2011.  When was the last time you used Karo syrup?  This fall, we tried our hand at making seafoam candy, something that Forest remembered fondly from childhood particularly because the making of it is like a wacky science experiment.  Our attempt, however, was a failure when we let the sugar and syrup overheat and suddenly it was a sticky inedible mess.  I kept meaning to try it again with the girls, but never got around to it and I was left wondering what it would be like if it actually turned out.

On Monday, I received one of the best DIY holiday gifts ever.  I came home to the little box pictured above filled with salted caramels and seafoam candy from the kitchen of Ruth Evashevski. The caramels were to die for and the seafoam was better than I even imagined it could be.  I can’t think of a better way to honor a beloved grandmother than through preserving her recipes this way and actually making them!

Which of your grandmother’s recipes do you still make?

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The Recipe Project

Hi there.  It’s been awhile.  A month of no posts, to be precise. Sigh.  But a lot has been happening:  kitchen cosmetic experiments,  window farming trials and tribulations, computer mishaps, terrariums.  All to be posted shortly, I hope.  But in the meantime, I wanted to share this link to The Recipe Project.  I have always had a soft spot for One Ring Zero – how can you not love a band that features the accordion in their line-up, as well as instruments like the claviola, theremin, and the cajon?  The latest in their concept album series has them partnering with well-known chefs to put their recipes to music.  Holiday gift, perhaps?

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Ritual Eating: Ramadan Break Fast in ‘Edible Manhattan’

A Ramadan break fast

Breaking the Ramadan fast (Photo by Joshua Kristal)

My friend Joshua Kristal is a great documentarian of rituals. Apart from being an artful event photographer, Josh has a talent for insinuating himself into exclusive gatherings, inner sanctums, and auspicious occasions, where he manages to capture people committing acts of community (see for yourself at his blog).

He also knows a thing or two about shooting food. And in this month’s issue of Edible Manhattan, you can see his beautiful photo spread capturing the communal and culinary ritual of breaking the fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The shots were taken last year and show a family on the Lower East Side preparing and enjoying a feast after the daily fast. The accompanying text, written by John Kearney, includes welcome suggestions on where to get traditional items and ingredients, and some great history on Muslim settlement in New York—I love the bit about the immigrants in Little Syria who brought over laban cultures by soaking cloth in yogurt, drying it, and carrying it in their pockets. It’s a lovely piece that conveys the giddy, ecstatic pleasure of breaking a fast among family and friends.

By the way, Ramadan began August 1 and continues until August 29.

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PUNCHFORK: Cooking with Algorithms

A watched pot never boils, eh? Well, a friend just hipped us to a website that’s sort of like watching lots of pots boil except fun and visually irresistible.

Punchfork is a recipe aggregator that uses social data — tweets, Facebook shares — to determine what recipes are trending in real-time. Or, as its mission statement puts it: “Bringing algorithms and analytics into the world of cooking and recipes.”

Punchfork homepage

Drawing from a current roster of 32 websites and blogs — from blue-chip publishers like Martha Stewart and Food Network to blogs like Smitten Kitchen and Cannelle et Vanille — Punchfork displays recipes on its homepage in a lush grid of photo links that refreshes continually and grows row upon row as you scroll down. Each recipe gets a 1-100 rating based on how much it has been “talked about and shared on the web.” There’s also a heart icon for registering your love for a recipe.

The presentation is elegant and super appealing; perusing all those beautiful food shots after dinner tonight, I got hungry all over again. You can sort them by what’s trending, what’s new, and what’s top rated, as well as look at the collected recipes from a particular publisher.

Punchfork recipe page

When you click through to a recipe, you’re taken to an internal Punchfork page, which at first struck me as a cheap ploy to steal one more page view before sending me to the original recipe. But in addition to telling you how many people tweeted or shared the recipe on Facebook, the recipe page lists the ingredients used and organizes them based on Punchfork’s own taxonomy (if you want the recipe preparation, you have to click to the original source). And that taxonomy makes searching for recipes by ingredients a very satisfying experience.

The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company was founded in May 2010 by Jeff Miller, a Silicon Alley entrepreneur and angel investor (he’s a backer of Forkly). The site also lists as an advisor Akimitsu Sano, the founder and CEO of the Japanese site Cookpad, described as “the world’s largest recipe community.” Asked recently on Twitter about the origin of the name “Punchfork,” Miller replied: “Two syllables, sorta catchy, memorable, easy to spell, .com domain name was available. That’s about it :)”

Works for us. We’ll be keeping an eye on Punchfork, a great discovery tool for recipes that’ll only get better as the list of publishers gets bigger.

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