Posts Tagged ‘party’

red cabbage and chestnuts

December 5, 2009

To explain why I ended up combining chestnuts (Wikipedia wants me to call them sweet chestnuts or marrons with 2 “r” or, in American, Spanish chestnuts; all in order to avoid confusing them with lesser, inedible kinds) and red cabbage, I will first introduce my childhood red cabbages. At home, red cabbage contained a few cloves, perhaps bay leaves, allspice, in fancy moments some apples, and some smoked pork of the bacony kind. I sort-of liked red cabbage but it was certainly not my ultimate favorite.

At the age of four, I learned to be careful with food away from home: The kitchen of the Weberhof on the island Juist (at the time best described as a seaside vacation kindergarten, where I was supposed to have fun while my parents went on an old-instrument museum trip), bluntly introduced me to the culinary side of homesickness (my present addiction to home-cooking may still be a late compensation for the loneliness of those four weeks).

Regarding North-German red cabbage, there was every reason for my reluctance: (more…)


crayfish season

August 9, 2008

Every time the eyes see something unexpected, I mean really out of context, the human mind does curious things until it catches up. Years ago, a bobbing tiny dot very far away on a narrow and ruler-straight Dutch forest path gave me a magnificent jolt of prehistoric panic until I, milliseconds later, put dot and logic together and thought “person on a horse, advancing.” A motorway collision between two black Volvo station wagons of the 900 series left one of them neatly balancing on its side. It took me minutes after passing the site to figure out what I actually had seen there: no mystic over-sized black box but just one of Sweden’s most common cars on its side.

We have a little old door in our garden that leads to a small, damp and dark room which houses the pump of our freshwater supply. I have to go there occasionally because the garden hose has its faucet right there – watering the flowers involves an act of creep and crawl: the door is a step down and indeed very tiny. The pump room is occupied by a colony of shiny, dark brown spiders of a kind hitherto unknown to me, of which I actually have the suspicion that they don’t really belong in Sweden. (more…)

three-tastes party chicken

April 13, 2008

A great way to entertain a bunch of standing, balcony-invading, chatting, newly arriving and otherwise not organizable guests is to place a baking tray full of chicken bits in some strategic location close to the drinks. In order to avoid big or unwieldy pieces I don’t do it the cheap way this time, which would be chopping up a few whole chickens. Robin likes chicken wings; I find that they often have too much crunch in relationship to the meaty part. I buy a lot of chicken drumsticks.

I preheat the oven to medium high, 360-370 F (180-190 C). I pour an appropriate amount of salt over all the parts and mix them by hand. I press some garlic over two thirds of the chicken bits and mix again (I do wash my hands before and after). Then I make three heaps, two with garlic and one without. (more…)

traveling rijsttafel and spice pounding

December 16, 2007

In his famous and entertaining short story The vessel of wrath, W. Somerst Maugham depicts the eating habits of a comfort-loving Dutch Contrôleur of the Alas Islands as follows:

“Like all good Dutchmen in the Far East he began his lunch with a small glass of Hollands gin. It has a musty acrid flavour, and the taste for it must be acquired, but Mr Gruyter preferred it to any cocktail. When he drank it he felt besides that he was upholding the traditions of his race. Then he had rijsttafel. He had it every day. He heaped a soup-plate high with rice, and then, his three boys waiting on him, helped himself to the curry that one handed him, to the fried egg that another brought, and to the condiment presented by the third. Then each one brought another dish, of bacon, or bananas, or pickled fish, and presently his plate was piled high in a huge pyramid. He stirred it all together and began to eat. He ate slowly and with relish. He drank a bottle of beer.”

In spite of the fact that this is one of my favorite passages in literature, it must be said that, for the person who has been devising eight or ten different combinations of spices and ways of preparation, scooped everything on to separate dishes and managed to keep them warm until the moment of serving, the feat of, after a glass of genever, being able to stir together a huge pyramid of rijsttafel without it spilling over the edges of the plate, is totally lost. In fewer words: Mr Gruyter’s rijsttafel-stirring is a horrible crime, no matter how much pleasure he had in eating that pile of food. (more…)

hamburger and ice cream birthday party comparisons

December 4, 2007

One birthday party for my son was planned as a spooky hamburger party. The spookiness was professionally taken care of by my daughter, who decorated the whole house with plastic spiders, beetles, bats and other cheerfulness, and tied my old cast-iron coffee mill securely up with fake spider webs. They also dressed up appropriately. There is a picture of my son standing in a black cloak, scythe in hand, at the window by the door with a reproachful frown on his face: the guests were late.

I had to organize the food. No wacky home cooking allowed, what shall the other kids think. (more…)

explanation of the blog header picture

November 27, 2007

What we can see on the header bar of Tilman’s kitchen corner is a very small section of a September 2006 oyster orgy, which was not, in fact, prepared in my kitchen at all.

Place of action: a sunny deck in the remote rural west of Virginia (not to be confused with West Virginia).

Participants: a bushel (!) of fresh oysters, a huge bowl of freshly cooked large shrimp with southern-style herbs, another big bowl of fresh crab cakes, champagne, other wine and assorted spirits and asides, and fewer guests than originally announced.

As a consequence of this combination of circumstances, the party got on for four days, with all sorts of oyster variations imaginable chasing each other, under the general motto “another day, another pile o’food,” as our dear hostess, party-participant and crab-cake-cooker said on another occasion.