My daughter, Darcy, and I have been saving our euros for more than a year and, in a few weeks, we will fly over the Atlantic to spend a week in Paris. Darcy is a terrific traveler and I think I am, too. I paid the plane tickets and she found us an apartment, in the 11th arrondissement, for just around $600. So, maybe it isn’t George V, but it will be a place to sleep, make coffee, eat a baguette in the morning and watch CNN at night.
We have both been watching our weight (well, actually eating less, since watching wouldn’t do much good for us). For me it is just two meals a day, one of which must be a salad, usually a Caesar, that includes two small heads of romaine, my own Caesar salad dressing, my own croutons (which I make and keep in the freezer) and a little freshly grated parmigiana Reggiano. For Darcy, who lives in Phoenix, dieting means no sugar and few carbs.
Mostly, I have been really good. But last weekend, I cheated a bit. I spend almost all day Saturday at Foodstock, a first-ever festival at Wesleyan University in Middletown. The free event was sold out (I had made a reservation when Priscilla Martel told me she would speaking, along with Faith Middleton, Ruth Reichl, Eric Asimov, Molly O’Neill, Amy Bloom, who is a professor at Wesleyan, Raymond Sokolov and Dorie Greenspan, along with lots of others).
At noon, there were food trucks on campus and I had a foot-long hot dog. That night I went for dinner to friends in Old Lyme, and Peter Cove, in honor of Cinco de Mayo, made an arroz con pollo with green olives, chorizo, chicken (of course), tomatoes and a salsa verde. He also served kale with sesame seeds. I baked a strawberry-rhubarb crisp and brought sea salt caramel ice cream that got raves. The next day I drove to Canterbury and took an old friend to dinner at Gus’s in Plainfield, where she ate eggplant parm and I picked chicken parm.
Now I am back to my “two meals, one must be a salad” diet. But my friend gave me more rhubarb, so I am doing another crisp with Deb Jensen’s recipe.
To make rhubarb: 2 pounds rhubarb, washed, trimmed at both ends and cut into 1-inch pieces. Place rhubarb into a bowl and add one-half to one cup of sugar, 2 tablespoons cornstarch and, if you like, one-half teaspoon of pure almond extract; stir together. To prepare strawberries: Buy one pound of strawberries, remove leaves and part of the core. Wash them in a colander, halve the berries and put them in a bowl. Add some sugar, toss them and let them sit on the counter for a few hours (or overnight in the fridge). To make a crisp, use the following recipe.
Deb Jensen’s Perfect Crisp Topping
Yield: makes around 5 cups (put the rest in two small freezer bags and save for another two crisps)
1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup oatmeal (rolled oats)
1 cup walnuts or pecans
1 cup almonds or pine nuts
1 and one-half stick butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add all ingredients into a bowl and mix together with nice, clean hands. Place the rhubarb and strawberries in a buttered oven-proof glass or ceramic gratin (8-by-8 inches or a 9-x-2 inches) and top with enough crisp to cover. Bake until rhubarb bubbles, about 30 minutes.
I think I mentioned not too long ago that I am not into dips. I am not into crackers, either. Now that I think of it, if I could only have a couple of things on a deserted island, cheese wouldn’t be one of them, either. Then, again, that was before I tasted Raisin Rosemary Crisps with brie with mushrooms. I tasted the crisps when friends brought them to my house. Loved them. So a few weeks ago, at Trader Joe’s in West Hartford, I bought some more, along with the special brie. Perhaps these two things I would want on that island in the middle of the ocean.
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