Nov. 13, 2020: Firing Up the Virtual Stove Again

image courtesy of Gabriele M. Rheinhardt via pixabay.com

It’s been six years since I posted here. It doesn’t seem that long. The name of the blog, “Comfort and Contradiction: Food as Muse” refers to our often complicated relationship with food, and yet, for my work, at least, it’s also a muse. Funny for someone who hated eating for so many years.

My Instagram account (@devonellingtonwork) is used for my cooking and baking, the cats, the garden, decorating – home and hearth stuff, rather than marketing my writing. I do some marketing there, but for me, Instagram is more personal and more about fun.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a full-time writer, publishing under multiple names in fiction and non-fiction, an internationally-produced playwright and radio writer, and I write articles and all kinds of copywriting for a wide range of clients. I consider myself the “Anti-Niche” when it comes to writing. My main business website is Fearless Ink. The main site for my fiction is Devon Ellington Work, which has links to other sites that focus on individual series, etc. My main blog about the intersection of writing and life is Ink in My Coffee, on which I usually blog most weekdays. I spent most of my professional life working backstage in theatre and film production, including Broadway.

When I worked in theatre, I baked every Sunday morning, and brought it in to share before the matinee, to give the company something to look forward to. When I lived in San Francisco, many years ago, working in theatre, I gave a monthly dinner party, on the first Monday of the month. I’d cook a meal from a different country, and the guest would bring the wine. I lived in a studio apartment, and yet managed to have 20 dinner guests at these monthly gatherings. It was wonderful. Here on Cape Cod, I’ve given numerous Twelfth Night Parties from anywhere from 6 people (when I first moved here and didn’t know anyone) to 60 people. I’ve done all the food for author launches for friends of mine, baked for house tours, cooked meals for sick neighbors that just needed to be heated up. As I state on my pinned tweet: “I feed people with food and words. I believe art can change the world.”

I walk my talk.

I originally wanted to share cooking journeys here and work on my Heritage Recipe Project, where I took the recipes handed down and tried them, reworking as necessary, to make them work today. I will still do some of that, but this blog will range all over the damn place.

If you’re looking for recipes without context, you are not my audience. There are dozens of sites that have just the recipes. They are more suited to your needs.

If you come on here to whine or berate me for context because all you want are recipes and you want me to change what I do for your convenience, I will call you out for your bullying and block you. As I said, you are not my audience, so please move along without being an ass.

We’ve lost 241,069 fellow citizens to the Corona pandemic as of yesterday, according to the CDC dashboard, and likely, it’s been underreported. There hasn’t been a federal plan to fight the virus all year. The current Sociopath would rather see us die than do anything, because he’s bored and acts like a spoiled child.

There’s more food insecurity than ever, and the days of running out to the grocery store for “just one thing” are gone. We have to plan, it often takes at least a half a day to get the grocery shopping done and everything (including ourselves) decontaminated when we get home. We need to do more with less.

Our food safety regulations have been rolled back, and we can’t trust that what we buy at the store is safe. I’ve had various health issues all year, and have developed more food sensitivity and allergy issues that are directly tied to these issues.

Food is political. Control a population through their access to food. Corporations control too much, and more and more of our food is poorly processed and GMO. I used to be able to grow flourishing plants for my garden from vegetable seeds grown at the grocery store, even if they weren’t marked “organic.” This year? Sure, plants came up, but they never produced anything edible. The seeds were sterile. There’s also far too much economic segregation when it comes to food. Everyone, regardless of employment, social status, income, home situation, should have access to healthy, delicious food.

If you want more information about the politics of food and how corporations are manipulating so much of the market, I recommend the work of Marion Nestle.

I cook a lot. I experiment with recipes and ingredients. I have to eat healthier because of this year’s health issues. I have to find what ingredients make my body work best. It’s personal, but perhaps sharing some of that will help others.

There are also times when I know something will make me feel lousy a few hours later, but it’s something I’ve always liked, so I eat it anyway and then pay the price. I’m doing less and less of that, but it still happens. Sometimes the moment of pleasure as you eat it outweighs the consequences.

I don’t have a good camera right now, just my inexpensive phone camera, so my own photos will be marginal. I hope to get a new digital camera at some point next year and take better photographs. Also, the lighting in my kitchen is lousy – those eco-friendly bulbs aren’t any good for setting up good photos.

I will ramble, be personal, share ideas. It’s one way to do things, not THE way to do things. I will refer to the garden blog sometimes, Gratitude and Growth, when it’s relevant. If I can offer shortcuts or alternatives, I will do so. I will try to give you options, solutions, inspirations to try things on your own.

I am not affiliated with other authors, products, food distributors, so if I mention that I liked something or it worked, it’s not because they’re paying me to say it. If I do ever get something for free to try out in order to write about it, I will make that clear when I write about it. I can’t imagine I’ll get important enough to be courted by companies to write about those products (although I have written copy for products in the past, for THEIR sites, as part of my freelance copywriting career). But any connection I have with something I mention will be clearly stated.

At this point, I plan to post once a week, probably on Fridays. And yes, post more regularly than I have in the past. I think six years is far too long between posts, hmmm?

I’m putting together some ideas for next week, With so many of us not going elsewhere for Thanksgiving and cooking at home, I have some ideas on how to put together your own smaller Thanksgiving feast, what to do with leftovers, and, if it’s your first time cooking, some ideas to give you confidence.

Eggplant Mushroom Marsala on egg noodles. Photo by Devon Ellington

I’m sharing something I cooked last night. I don’t particularly like mushrooms, but I was craving mushrooms, and it’s important to listen to your body. So, I made an Eggplant-Mushroom marsala from one of the Moosewood cookbooks – specifically the MOOSEWOOD RESTAURANT FAVORITES cookbook.

For obvious copyright reasons, I can’t post the recipe, but it’s on p. 218.

If your library is up and running, either open or doing curbside pickup, I first found this cookbook in my local library system and liked it so much I wound up buying it. I’m a big fan of test-driving cookbooks from the library and then buying them.

I didn’t have marsala wine, and the weather was lousy. I didn’t want to run out in a pandemic for just one thing, so I looked up substitutions. Dry white wine was recommended, and I had some Bay Moon Sauvignon Blanc in the fridge, so I used that instead of the marsala, and it was lovely.

It does take a good bit of time to do all the chopping, but I chopped everything except the garlic before I turned on the stove, so I could just add things as I needed them. I also saved the seeds from the pepper – supposedly this is an organic pepper. We will see if it’s fertile or sterile.

Why wait to chop the garlic? (And yes, I use fresh garlic. I think it tastes better). When I took an online class recently with one of my favorite chefs and teachers, Jeremy Rock Smith of Kripalu, I learned that garlic loses flavor about ten minutes after you cut it. So if I’d cut it as I read down the recipe list of things to chop (which took me about 45 minutes to do all that chopping), by the time I finished and put it in to the pot, it would have lost its potency.

So, I chopped everything else first. As I heated the oil in the pot, I chopped the three cloves of garlic, and then could add them directly in to the pot with the previously-chopped onion and bay leaf and salt.

It was quite lovely, and there are leftovers, which I can use over pasta or rice or even potato if I wanted, or just serve it as a side with fish or chicken (I stopped eating red meat a few months ago, and have seriously cut back on pork, too).

That was last night’s cooking adventure.

I plan on cooking and baking this weekend. I will share the results next week, along with suggestions for Thanksgiving.

With all best wishes for health, safety, and making each meal a joyous experience,

Devon

Published by devonellington

I publish under a half a dozen names in both fiction and non-fiction.

5 thoughts on “Nov. 13, 2020: Firing Up the Virtual Stove Again

  1. It is the right time. Thank you. 🙂

    I have one of the Moosewood cookbooks, as well. Good stuff in there. One I can recommend is Tasting the Wine Country by Sharon O’Connor. Even comes with a music CD.

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