Ad for Mitchell's ice cream sandwiches

From the “Why haven’t I heard of this before” department comes the ad below, for Mitchell’s ice  cream sandwiches. Chocolate chip or double chocolate cookies embrace your favorite scoop of any of Mitchell’s mouth-watering flavors (including my favorite – baby coconut).  Another reason to go to the Mission – as if you needed one!


First tomato!


It’s all by itself for now, but it’s a start. Quite a few green grape-sized Sweet 100s are on the bush, and if the summer remains as generally warm during the daytimes, August will be good to me!

The debt that came to dinner

It’s hard to solve a problem when you’re thinking about it the wrong way. I love the TV news footage of Bachmann and her fellow Rs talking about how family’s can solve their spending problems like adults, around the dinner table. Only one problem…

The debt ceiling debate in Congress is not like having a family discussion around the dinner table about how to spend a strapped budget. It’s like a wealthy family talking about how to pay off a huge credit card bill. You see, someone in the family let a krazy uncle in Afghanistan have temporary charge authority. (And he still has it). The person was probably thinking “Oh what can he possibly spend it on, they don’t even have a Tiffany’s in Kabul.” To add insult to stupidity, the same person (it is strongly suspected) gave charge powers to acquaintances in Baghdad, met on a Persian Gulf cruise twenty years ago who telegrammed that the holidays were near and they just had a few “wants.”

Now, huge though it is, the family can well afford the bill. The discussion isn’t about whether to spend, or what to buy, because honey, that card has already been rung up.

The discussion is about where to get the money.

“How about we cut the pay of all our household staff for a few months and stop tipping the waiters at bars and restaurants? That will add up!”

“Yeah! They don’t get much anyway – maybe they’ll hardly notice! Nina’s illegal anyway, it’s not like she can complain.”

“Maybe we just write a check on the main account? It’s not like that’s going to break the bank. Even if it did, look what happened the last time we broke the bank, we got richer!”

“I know – let’s do both!”

A delicious mistake – my Genoese pan dolce


I wanted to try a recipe from an old Saveur magazine article on a food writer’s search for the “genuine” Genoese pan dolce alto which is a traditional yeast-leavened Christmas bread of the Italian riviera.

By a lucky happenstance, my rendition of the dough turned out to be way off the mark. I knew it was, since the directions and pictures accompanying the recipe showed the dough being kneaded by hand, and formed into a traditional round before final rise and backing.

My dough, and I followed proportions I thought, exactly, was too soft to form a ball in the mixer and I could tell the amount of additional flour to make it stiff enough to remove from the bowl was going to make it a very different recipe. I decided to go ahead with the recipe as given, and I just let the mixer knead the dough, then added all the spices and candied fruits and let it do a final knead.

I scooped the very loose into a square ceramic container and let it rise. It was quite cool in the house and the final rise took about four hours (my yeast may have been a little weak). And the dough was still quite soft when I popped it in the oven.

I worried it was going to be a failure and wondered if the problem was in the recipe conversion from metric to English (the recipe in Italian would almost certainly have given flour as a weight not a volume, anyway) and I waited for it to brown in the oven.

Well, it turned out looking totally unlike the round bread that had been pictured, but instead I ended up with a sweet brioche-like loaf, stuffed with fennel seeds, cardamom and candied grapefruit (home made by Shmoopy!) and it is just delicious! More of a fresh and dense panettone I would say. Better than any of the store bought panettone, that’s for sure.

I’ve got to bookmark that magazine article and note that it is a very soft dough to be risen and baked in a dish. Squisito!

Apricot jam torte…for Queer Sci-Fi Friday

A friend over in the Duboce Park neighborhood hosts an occasional Sci-Fi Friday. It’s more a friends-and-food event than a serious sci-fi movie watching thing.

Layer cake, being "marniered" prior to stacking and slathering with the apricot jam.

Last week I wanted to take advantage of fresh local apricots, and decided on a dessert. Rather than my usual apricot tarte, I opted to try a layer cake – a rectangular three-layer white cake with my own apricot jam, layers sprinkled with Grand Marnier and the whole thing wrapped in a whipped cream icing!

It turned out well, but my white cake was a bit on the heavy side — either I didn’t sift the flour enough, or I just should have used on of the many-many chiffon cake recipes that calls for whipping the egg whites and folding them in for loft.

Looking down, apricot jam now slathered!


None of that seemed to detract from everyone’s enjoyment of the company, or the movie: the very non-Sci-fi “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

Eat your queer fruits!

Shmoopy read an article in the NYT the other day that reported from a study done of the various foods favored by people who either lost of maintained weight. They included several of my go-to snacks, and some surprises.

Peanut butter (a surprise, there)


Nuts (another surprise)

Milk – no matter what the fat content)

and any fruits and veggies.

No revelations but it goes to suggest that its portion size and avoiding carb-laden fat-laden items such as french fries, that makes all the difference.