Cathy Erway has long been an advocate of what many New Yorkers would find insane: not eating out in New York. In fact, she has a fantastic blog dedicated to just that, Not Eating Out in New York.
It's a scary thought for many, but eating in for a week isn't as serious as it sounds. It can take getting used to, and the supermarket music might not be that great, but even the most stalwart restaurant foodie might impress him or herself with a week's experimentation. Where to start? Last week, Michael Pollan spoke on the radio about what to buy to eat. He advised, "Simply don't buy food that has been advertised," a sign that it's been over-processed. As a strict adherent of all that Pollan says ("Eat food. Not too much. And mostly plants"), I decided to stick with this theme throughout. Of course, you don't have to be as dorky as I am on this. But another benefit to eating at home is all the money you'll save — and homemade bread tastes much better to boot.
Day 1: Sunday
Let's start with Sunday. After sleeping in, food shopping before brunchtime will build up your afternoon appetite. Buy some beets, a bunch with the greens attached, ramps (since they're in season) eggs, a box of pasta, crème fraiche and, if you trust your market, a pound of clams. Pick up a bottle of white wine, seltzer and OJ. Once home, flip the oven up to 400 degrees. Lop the beet roots off their stems. Wash and wrap each in foil, and toss into the oven on a baking sheet.
Beat an egg and a cup each of flour and seltzer with a fork. Chop your ramps down to half-pencil logs and add to the batter, with salt. Ladle them into a pan of sizzling olive oil one scoop at a time, until you've got a stack of silver dollar rampcakes.
At some point in the day, measure about three cups of flour and two teaspoons of dry active yeast and salt each. Mix with water until the dough just comes together; cover bowl and hide in a warm corner for the next 16 hours or so. Also, remove your roasted beets from the oven and refrigerate in their foilpacks.
By dinnertime, you'll have scrubbed and soaked your clams in cold water. Cook some pasta, al dente, and get a pan going with garlic, ramps and chopped beet greens from the bunch. Add some white wine and, when it boils, toss the clams in all at once and cover. Five minutes later, peek inside. If the clams have all opened up, you're in good shape. Pour the pasta with some of its starchy cooking water in, a scoop of crème fraiche, and toss the dish with parsley, seasonings and a few glugs of olive oil. Dinner's served.
Day 2: Monday
Have leftover rampcakes for lunch, but instead of the same way, fry an egg over-easy to top it along with a splash of soy sauce. Take out the dough and roll it around on a floured surface. Form into a ball, cover with a towel, and let it sit for a few hours. Since you're in the kitchen anyway, pour a couple cupfuls of dried black beans into a pot and cover with cold water.
From farm to table: the path your spuds take is a long one indeed.
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Get drunk with local beers, it's the right thing to do.
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Now that you've eaten your fill, it's time to fake your way to a beach-ready body in three short weeks.
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