Girl Hunter : Reconnecting with Our Food

It was unusual in the city to see a whole pig roasting on a spit. It was summer and, sitting in the passenger seat, driving along Broadway with my Mum, I saw a whole pig being roasted right on the sidewalk in front of a pub. I craned my head back frantically, not sure about what I’d just seen. I told everyone I knew about it, all equally astonished as I. When I told my grandmother in Fiji about this odd sight she said, “It’s the way of life.”

I’ve been contemplating that memory and, in particular, thinking of my grandmother’s words since reading Georgia Pellegrini’s new book, Girl Hunter. There is a moment in the book in which Georgia visits Yellowstone National Park and realizes the sad irony of people observing nature from their cars and behind fences; cameras ready for action. She questions if nature has become “the last great zoo”, living off the land simply a romantic notion but unrealistic.

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Celebrating Julia Child with My Life in France

Today is Julia Child’s birthday; she would have been ninety-nine years old. This year also marks the fiftieth anniversary of Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Julia Child taught people so much through her cookbooks and television shows; she constantly inspired. I bought her autobiography My Life in France about two years ago and I loved reading it as well as looking at her artist husband Paul’s photographs, which greatly adds to the reading experience and charm (especially their own holiday cards and that were depicted in Julie and Julia).

My Life in France covers the period from when Julia first went to Paris, France, tagging along with her husband who had been offered a job to run the Visual Presentation Department for the United States Information Service (USIS) in Paris. Determined to be a better cook – years later, Paul would tell an interview that “Her first attempts were not altogether successful”; growing up, she had had “zero interest in the stove” and was not encouraged to cook – she enrolled herself at Le Cordon Bleu and the rest is considered history.

Click after the jump for more images and info.

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Slice ‘n’ Bake Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies (GFCF)

I hadn’t really planned to post these cookies until I was on Apartment Therapy/Kitchn and saw, to my astonishment, shortbread cookies that looked like the chocolate chip cookies I made with Carrie’s (Ginger Lemon Girl) recipe. It was an entirely different recipe but the texture looked just the same as these gluten-free cookies. When I adopted Carrie and made her chocolate chip cookies, you may recall this:

I doubled the recipe once and my measurements must have been a little off, as I ended up with a dough that was pliable and suitable for rolling for cut-out cookies. (It must be said, though, that I often eyeball some ingredients such as honey and sometimes my sense of a particular measurement can be a little more or less than the actual measurement.) I rolled the dough into logs and chilled them in the freezer for about 15 minutes, before slicing and baking in the oven for the same amount of time. What resulted was a cookie with a delicate and soft, sandy shortbread-like crumb. They puffed a bit, but did not spread since there was no baking powder used, I imagine. The cookie itself was mildly sweet; most of the sweetness came from the chocolate chips. No xanthum gum was used. I replicated it again, that time writing down the measurements (in weights) and they’re beautiful.

I’ve made those cookies again and again. I love that I can freeze the logs of dough so that there’s always something whenever someone needs their chocolate chip cookie fixing or just wants to munch on a cookie with substance. I had a log of cookie dough in the freezer for up to two weeks and they were still good. I’m sure it could have lasted even longer, perhaps a month.

The first time I doubled that recipe, I used cup measurements but I don’t generally fill the cup all the way to the top, sometimes I don’t even level it. I like and prefer preciseness to a scientific degree, though I won’t deny that I can be romantic and intuitive as well: a pinch of this, adding something until I feel it’s the right amount. I usually use a spoon to measure the flour into the cup, gently shake it to slightly level it off and it’s generally just short of the very top; it’s not packed – not exactly a scant cup but it isn’t what Fannie Farmer would call level either. I don’t sweep.

Anyway, I was able to replicate it again,  remembering how full I measured the cup. Now I know that a visual memory of how full the cup looked is not an entirely accurate picture since it doesn’t account precisely how much flour could be in the cup but it’s good enough for me. After spooning the flour into the cup, I’d measure it on the scale, write down the number of grams, and proceed with the next.

Now every time I’ve made these cookies with the weight measurements, it’s been the same cookie: same consistency, same texture, every time.

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