Saturday, November 10, 2007


Myra is the main cook for her family, day in and day out, but everyone contributes to meals and, in particular, Ginny is who brings veggie variety from their year-round garden, her blessed challah and her ever-fresh salad dressings to the table. This novel is, in its lesbian way, a hedonistic delight and that applies particularly to foodies. With that in mind, Myra is going to share her recipes for some of the dishes already mentioned in excerpts from Ginny Bates. These are tried and true. Take one to your next potluck -- it might just land you the love of your life.

Myra saves and freezes the chicken livers from the hens she roasts or cuts up for frying until she has about 16 for this recipe. Or you can buy them fresh, of course. Feeds -- oh, who knows, depends on what else is served and how much people gorge themselves on this appetizer.
1 pound chicken livers, cleaned
4 hard-boiled brown eggs, peeled and cooled
2 tablespoons schmaltz
1 Walla Walla or Vidalia sweet onion
2 tablespoons Myra's mayonnaise
Pinch of fresh thyme
1 tablespoon nonalcoholic sweet sherry
Freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt to taste
Chop the onion and sauté in the schmaltz until tender. Add the chicken livers and cook until done but not hard and still pink in the middle.
Chop the eggs coarsely in a food processor. Add the livers, onions, mayonnaise, salt and pepper and pulse until well-blended but still has texture. Transfer to bowl and add thyme and sherry, mixing well. Taste to see if you need more salt or pepper. Chill for several hours before serving.

Helps you find the love of your life. Feeds 4-6.
3 pound organic chicken
4 large organic brown eggs
2 12 ounce cans of evaporated milk
3 cups white flour
2 tablespoons corn meal
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large bottle of canola oil
Freshly ground white pepper and kosher salt to taste.
Cut up the chicken into as many pieces as possible. Set aside the liver for freezing and later use. Save the rest of the giblets in another bag for freezing to use in making stock.
Season chicken pieces with salt and white pepper. Break four eggs into a large bowl and whisk thoroughly. Add cans of evaporated milk plus an equal amount of water (about 1.5 cups of each). Place the chicken pieces into the milk until covered and refrigerate overnight.
Fill a large Dutch oven with canola oil and heat to frying temperature.
In a large dish with a lip, sift the flour with the corn meal, garlic powder, cayenne, black pepper, and a little salt. Lay each piece of chicken in the flour dish and coat thoroughly.
Set each piece into the hot fat with tongs. After 15 minutes, the wings will likely be done and may float to the top. Remove and drain on brown paper. Continue frying until all the pieces are done, perhaps another 5 minutes. Remove one minute after they look completely done to you.
You will probably have to fry in two shifts because not all of the pieces will fit into one Dutch oven at a time. Serve at room temperature. Don't tell anyone your secret recipe until it's time.

Myra: Okay, boychik, here's the secret to soup. You need a magic stone that you drop into a pot of hot water...
Gillam: Nuh-uh.
Myra: I guess we're past that stage, eh? Well, then, here's the magic triad to remember: Aromatics, entropy, and reduction. Can you remember those?
(Gillam rolls his eyes.)
Myra: Good hot soups begin with aromatics. That means garlic, onion, carrots, and celery except I don't much like celery and I don't use it unless Ginny makes me.
Ginny (from other room): I don't make you do anything, Myra Josong.
(Myra and Gillam giggle.)
Myra: So, you need to unleash the flavor of aromatics, and you need a means of distributing what you unleash. First we cut up our popular trio -- some of Mama's garlic, crushed and minced; a nice big onion, diced; and a coupla carrots, cut the coins at an angle and you have more surface area to interact with the soup, see? To unlock their door, we'll use heat. Get a big, thick-bottomed pot -- the more area on the bottom, the better (hush, Ginny) and if it's thick, it holds heat longer. (I mean it, Ginny.) Put it on medium high for the time being. Now, to distribute the flavor, we're going to use a lubricant, because they -- honest to god, Ginny, I can't work with you going off like this.... The oil we're pouring into the bottom of the pan will distribute the flavor evenly into the rest of the soup because oil doesn't mix with water, it just coexists with it, in a way. The order is, onion, carrots, then garlic. Garlic gets bitter if it's cooked at high heat too long. I use a mix of canola oil and a little butter because there's nothing that beats the flavor of butter, but canola oil can go to much higher temperatures without breaking down or burning like butter does, it's way more stable. We cook the onions, see, until they get clear. Now we add the carrots. As they cook, the onions keep going and eventually they are going to caramelize, which is a controlled burn of the sugars in the onion, and that's going to give a savory sweet underflavor to the soup. Once the carrots start getting golden, we add the garlic and turn the heat down. If we were going to use mushrooms in this soup, now is when I'd add a little bit more butter along with them, because mushrooms and butter go together like dykes and justice. All right, I'm turning the heat down. Take a whiff of this.
Gillam: Smells like dinner already.
Myra: Yeah, the aromatics get you ready to eat. Okay, so the next stage involves entropy in various forms. Do you know what that means?
Gillam: The evolution of the universe from a state of matter to a state of energy?
Myra: Good enough. We want this soup to become not raw pieces of matter, but a food that will be easily converted into energy. That's really what cooking is all about, a shortcut to the conversion of ingredients into energy for our bodies. So, we've got all these veggies and this big piece of cod we want to be in our soup, and we need to nudge them in the direction of entropy. First, though, we got some lovely brown residue in the bottom of our pot from the onions and carrots caramelizing. We want to convince that sweet brown sticky flavor to let go of the pot and come into the soup itself. We do this by breaking the caramelization. The best way to break is by using an acid. Can you name some cooking acids?
Gillam: Uh...citrus juice?
Myra: Excellent. Or vinegar. If this was meat or chicken, I'd use some kind of vinegar, like red wine or balsamic, to break the caramelization. But since this going to be a fish stew, I'm going to use lemon juice because we love lemon with our fish, right? I pour a little bit into the pot -- stand back, look at that steam! Slap the lid on to catch all that flavor. While it's doing it's thang, let's cut up the veggies that are going to take the longest to cook. What do you think those might be?
Gillam: You've got more carrots out there, how come?
Myra: 'Cause they're a main ingredient as well as an aromatic. So yes, carrots, and potatoes too. Potatoes will be not just a main ingredient, but also a thickener because they're in the starch family, and starches thicken. We'll cut these into similar-sized chunks. We need to add liquid to our soup, now, because otherwise everything will burn before it breaks down, we want it to cook slowly enough to break down and get tender. I'm using fish stock which I've already made, that's another lesson, how to make stock. But you could just use water. It's going to get full of flavor, even plain water, before we're done.
Gillam: Like in the real stone soup.
Myra: Exactly. I'm putting in four cups, we'll adjust the amount later, that's a good starting point for four people. And once the stock is in, we add the long-cooking veggies and our first bit of salt and pepper. This is just to make sure there's a little bit of seasoning going in at each stage, just a bare pinch. We cover again and let it simmer for, oh, 15 minutes or so.
(After fifteen minutes)
Myra: Let's check how things are going.
Gillam: Yum, smells good.
Myra: Yeah, look at how much more tender the root veggies are. Okay, now we add the green beans and the squash, again cut into the same-sized chunks. The squash in particular is going to release the large amount of liquid it holds in its tissues. Now is when we think about what kinds of herbs we want to put in this. Ginny can teach you more about herbs than me, but I do know that for seafood, thyme and marjoram are both complementary.
Ginny (from other room): And dill.
Myra: And dill. So you go get a couple of sprigs of each of those from the upstairs deck while I cup up the spinach and cod.
Gillam (returning): I brought some chives, too, is that all right?
Myra: Sure. Never can have too much onion, in my opinion.
Gillam: Margie wouldn't agree with you.
Myra: Margie didn't want cooking lessons. Okay, the thing about herbs is, the longer they cook, the more they release their flavor, and we've got a way to go, so I'm only going to use a pinch of each of these. Except the chives, they can all go in. Stir that in, then take a clean spoon and get a taste -- blow on it, make sure's cool enough before you eat it. I'll take a taste too. What do you think? What's missing?
Gillam: Well, the fish, it's just like veggie broth at the moment. Uh...maybe more salt? And some kind of kick? I don't know.
Myra: Yeah, you do know. It does need salt, but we'll add that with the cod. As for a kick -- let's try some pepperoncino, just a pinch because it's going to diffuse throughout the soup and you don't want to overpower the herbs. We're now at the reduction stage. We want the cooking to go on, but we want the broth to get concentrated, so less liquid is carrying more flavor. I'm going to leave the lid off and let the steam escape. Let's leave it for five minutes.
(Five minutes later)
Myra: Doing okay, but I'd like to see it get thicker, and there's a few ways of doing that. You can spoon out some of the hot hot broth into a cup, mix in a tablespoon of flour until it's smooth, and add that back to the soup. Or you could use cornstarch, but I hate cornstarch. In our case, I'm going to take my slotted spoon here and mash one of the potato chunks up against the side of the pot. See how it crumbles? All that potato debris will spread throughout the broth and thicken it a little. Here, you do it now. Do about a third of the potatoes that are in there.
Gillam: This is fun.
Myra: Now, for a bit of color and a slight shift to the flavor, I'm going to drop in a few of Ginny's sun-dried tomatoes. Again, not too much because I don't want tomato to take over the fish and veggie flavors. Stir that in for me, will you, angel?
Ginny (now in the kitchen): I'm going to make a simple bibb and mozzarella salad to go with this. And some dry toast. Are you done with the cutting board?
Myra: Yeah, just shove all that into a bowl.
Gillam: Why are we putting in the cod so late, if it's a fish stew?
Myra: Because fish cooks really fast. And, I just had an idea -- instead of salt, let's add a teaspoon, maybe, of red miso. That will help it thicken and add flavor, but miso is very salty, so we won't add salt in addition to that. Here it is, spoon some of the hot broth into this cup. Now add the miso -- little bit less than that -- and mix it completely in the cup. Add that back into the soup.
Gillam: Wow, it makes an instant difference. Oh, god, I'm getting so hungry.
Myra: Good sign. All right, one more taste test before we put in the last items. What's your verdict?
Gillam: The salt is just right. And the spiciness. I'm not sure -- maybe more of one of the herbs?
Myra: That's my boy, you've got quite a palate. Marjoram or thyme?
Gillam: Uh...thyme, I'd say.
Myra: Go for it. Just a smidgen.
Gillam: It needs more green, the color is too monochromatic.
Ginny: Now that's my boy!
Myra: The spinach will do that for us. Time to add the cod, again in big chunks, spoon it gently down into the soup. Then lay the spinach in a mound on top -- it will cook down, don't worry about it. Put the lid on and let's set the table.
(Ten minutes later)
Gillam: Wow, look at how gorgeous it is! Those strands of dark green from the spinach. And the cod is all cooked.
Myra: Not just cooked, but releasing its juices into the stew.
Ginny: Salad's ready, bread is on the table.
Myra: Margie! Come on down, dinner's being served.

Makes four loaves. Takes at least three hours to make, in stages.
9 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup wheat germ
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 ounces dry yeast
1/3 cup honey
3 cups warm water
2 organic brown eggs plus 1 egg yolk separate
1/2 cup canola oil
Poppy or sesame seeds (Myra doesn't like caraway)
Sprinkle yeast in 1/2 cup warm water to activate it. Beat in remaining 2.5 cups water, 5 cups flour, oil, honey, 2 eggs, and salt. Dough will now resemble a cake batter. Let it rise in a warm spot, covered, for 30-60 minutes.
Punch down the dough. Add the rest of the flour slowly, kneading, until the dough no longer sticks to your fingers. At this point, separate the challah (see below for explanation). Cover bowl(s) with damp towel, set in a warm draft-free spot and allow to rise again until it has doubled in size.
Punch the dough down again. Shape into strands and braid. Place loaves in well-greased loaf pans. Beat the egg yolk and brush over the loaves. Pat on poppy or sesame seeds. Let rise for another 30 minutes while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake 30 minutes. Can freeze for future use.
Note: Separating the challah is a special mitzvah for women done when the bread dough quantity is above a certain amount, as in the above recipe. At the point when separation is indicated, the bracha is below is recited.

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, asher kidshanu b'mitzvosav ve-tzivanu lehafrish challah min ha-isah.
You are blessed, Lord our G*d, Sovereign of the world, Who made us holy with Her commandments and commanded us to separate challah from the dough.

After the prayer, separate a kezayit (approximately 1/2 ounce) of dough and dispose of it in a respectful manner. Ginny would do this by burning it in a piece of foil under the broiler, wrapping it in more foil, and throwing it away. It should never be eaten. Ginny would not eat challah which had not been separated. She usually called in the children to say the bracha with her for separation.

Can be a main dish with brown rice. Serves 4.
1 lb. thin Chinese green beans
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon hot Thai oil (or may substitute nuoc mam plus pepperoncino)
1/4 cup finely chopped Walla Walla or Vidalia sweet onion
1/2 cup chopped roasted cashews (or another nut if you'd druther)
Freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt to taste
Wash green beans. Cut ends off beans but otherwise leave intact.
Put beans in skillet with just enough water to lightly steam them; drain water while they are still crunchy and bright green.
Melt butter in skillet. Add Thai oil and minced onion. Sauté with beans until beans are coated and caramelizing slightly. Add salt and pepper. (Oils may already be very salty.) Served topped with chopped cashews.

Serves 4. Double recipe if Ginny is eating. Allie points out that the main part of this recipe is CATCHING the fish and CLEANING them. Point taken and appreciated.
4 good-sized fresh filets
4 cups coarse-ground cornmeal
1/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
2 brown eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/3 cup white flour
1/8 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
Juice of two lemons
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons canola oil
Kosher salt to taste
Lightly salt the filets on both sides. In shallow bowl, mix the corn meal, parmigiano, and chopped parsley. In a second shallow bowl, combine flour and pepper. In a third shallow bowl, place the eggs, and in a fourth shallow bowl, place the lemon juice.
Dip each filet in this order: Lemon juice, then flour, then egg, then cornmeal.
In a large cast-iron skillet or on a griddle, heat the oil and butter together. Add fish in a single layer. Fry over medium heat for 5-7 minutes or until brown. Turn the fish and fry same amount on other side until fish flakes easily. Drain on brown paper.

Kids will eat these anytime. Serves 4.
8 medium carrots
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice or 1 tablespoon frozen OJ concentrate plus 1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Pinch of nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt to taste
Pull carrots from the garden. Have Margie wash and peel them.
Cut into elongated thin coins. Put into a skillet with just enough water to steam them, covered.
When carrots are tender, melt butter in skillet with them. Add orange juice and zest. When Ginny isn't watching, add 1 tablespoon brown sugar. Add in nutmeg. Stir until carrots are coated. Cook on medium heat until butter/juice mixture caramelizes. Add salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Ginny eats salad at two meals a day. She grows fresh lettuce and other organic veggies all year round. This is not something everyone can do -- she has the luxury of climate, private land ownership, and freedom from wage-earning. She does make a decision to prioritize eating healthy, but equally important is her luck, and she's very aware of her privileges.
She believes if folks are given the resource of fresh, healthy veggies, most of us will eat the recommended amount each day. She's certainly converted Myra over to the practice. One of her secrets is making fresh salad dressings to go on bulk, raw greens. A teaspoon of dressing is enough to turn a big bowl of lettuce into a sensory delight.
She refers to bottled dressings as high-priced crap. How can you keep oils (which are volatile) stable over long periods of time on a shelf, especially when mixed with acids? How on earth can processed herbs maintain their flavor and effectiveness? The short answer is, you cannot -- not unless you disguise/distort the product with other chemicals.
Ginny believes in a 3 to 1 ratio of oil to acids. Her oils are fresh, bought frequently in small amounts and stored in the fridge because they begin to go rancid before you can taste the difference. Her acids are likewise fresh and chose to carry maximum flavor. The herbs are picked at the last minute (NEVER use dried herbs, Ginny says) and added in. But, she warms her dressing before adding it to a salad, because warm oils emoliate and taste better.
Ginny leans toward vinaigrettes. Margie prefers honey mustard, Myra sticks to her mayonnaise (die-hard goyishe, says Ginny), and Gillam likes either nut-oil-based vinaigrettes or cream dressings. All of these follow, with lots of room for you to invent and explore.

Ginny makes this at the last minute, not ahead of time and saved in a jar. You can add any kind of spice or herb to make it a particular cream dressing -- such as dill cream dressing to go on cucumbers. Serves 2.
2 tablespoons buttermilk, fresh yoghurt or cream (buttermilk and yoghurt will make a more sour dressing)
2 teaspoons red wine or balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt to taste (add to the salad after dressing)
Fresh herbs as desired
Mix in a cruet and shake until frothy but not whipped. Just that easy.

Used as a sandwich spread or as a condiment for various veggies, like steamed cabbage or asparagus. She makes her regular mustard and honey mustard dressing separately. Mustard flour is made from pre-ground seeds and can be kept in a tightly-sealed glass jar for use in making dressings. It is quite hot, though after preparation and sitting in the fridge for a while, it loses a little pungency. It will not be that freaky French's yellow. Keeps about a month in the fridge. Makes 1/4 cup. Quadruple the amounts if you want enough to store in a jar.
5 teaspoons mustard flour
2 teaspoons honey (experiment with different flavors of honey, see which you prefer)
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Mix everything thoroughly in a bowl and allow to sit at room temperature for two hours before eating or transferring to a jar with a tight lid.

This is Margie's preferred dressing on salads. It's not the same as Ginny's honey mustard. Especially good on spinach salads. Makes about 2 cups.
3/4 cup Myra's mayonnaise
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Ginny's regular brown mustard
1/2 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
Freshly-ground black pepper and kosher salt to taste
Cook the vinegar and honey in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until the honey dissolves. Cool and put in a mixing bowl. All other ingredients and whisk until smooth. Chill at least one hour before using. Store in a glass jar suitable for pouring and shaking with a tight lid.
VARIATION: Add in 1/8 cup walnut oil or use balsamic vinegar instead of cider vinegar for an interesting flavor variation.

Used for tuna, mahi mahi, swordfish and shark, in particular. Marinade also good for grilling vegetables. Amount suitable for 4 steaks.
3 tablespoons wheat-free tamari
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
6 thin slices of ginger
Pinch of fresh marjoram
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
Pinch fresh dried mustard
Juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon pepperoncino flakes
Wash steaks in saltwater. Remove skin. Mix ingredients in a baking dish and set aside small amount in a ceramic bowl for using later. Lay steaks in single layer and cover. Refrigerate and marinate 1/2 to 1 hour, turning at least once. Bring fish and extra dish of marinade back to room temperature while preheating grill.
Grill (or broil at least 4 inches from flame) about 5 minutes per side, basting with extra marinade often. Turn once.

Used as a sandwich spread or as a condiment for various veggies. This can be quite hot and needs to sit in the fridge 4-5 days before use. It will not be that freaky French's yellow. Keeps about a month in the fridge. Makes 2 cups.
1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
1/4 cup brown mustard seeds
4 teaspoons mustard flour
1/4 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 shallot, finely minced
8 sundried tomato halves
1 cup good-quality nonalcoholic white wine
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Soak the sundried tomatoes and mustard seeds in the wine overnight. Combine this mixture with the rest of the ingredients in a food processor and grind to a paste. Transfer to a glass jar with a tight lid.

Most vinaigrettes will keep for two weeks in the fridge in a tightly-sealed jar.
3 parts oil to 1 part acid
Add fresh herbs as desired
Add freshly ground pepper and kosher salt after salad is dressed
Cut or grind herbs as necessary. Shake together at last minute

Okay, you want more details than this, right? Here ya go:
OILS (Buy in bulk if you can, store in glass or ceramic containers with air-tight lids in the fridge, buy small amounts and discard if not used in a month or less):
Extra-virgin olive oil
Nut oil like walnut, cashew, or hazelnut (not peanut)
Sunflower oil
Sesame oil, but only for Asian dishes and in small amounts because it has such a strong flavor
Drippings, such as goose or duck fat, a small amount added to the other oil
ACIDS (Squeeze at the last minute or use organic vinegars stored in glass containers in the fridge):
Citrus juices (key lime, lemon, orange, grapefruit, tangerine/tangelo)
Wine vinegar (red or white)
Cider vinegar
Sherry vinegar (nonalcoholic, either dry or sweet depending on which you need to balance)
Balsamic vinegar (also very strong in flavor, invoking the savory sense, so use in very small amounts and not for everything)
HERBS/ADD-INS (Fresh, not dried, herbs whenever possible):
Celery salt
Grated ginger
Minced garlic
Minced onion, scallions, or chives
Nuoc mam
Nutritional yeast
Sesame seed
Sundried tomato

Myra feels about mayonnaise the way Ginny feels about salad dressings: There's no reason to eat the crap that comes in jars at the store. Commercial mayonnaise uses poor quality oil, relies on non-food chemicals to maintain preservation and viscosity, and it is so organically retardant that you'd have to leave raw chicken laced with such mayo out in the blazing sun all day for the salmonella to have a chance against the Monsanto Minions of the mayonnaise. Myra makes their weekly allotment of mayonnaise. It's wonderfully fresh and light-tasting, and it spoils everyone who tastes it for any kind of substitute. The neutrality of real mayonnaise makes it very versatile for other uses. For example, adding raw garlic to mayonnaise turns it into aioli sauce.
Further, she whips it by hand. She says using a food processor will result in a much higher incidence of "failure", when the emulsification doesn't occur and the whole mess has to be thrown out. Having stroke by stroke control of the whisking keeps you in touch with the process and flavor. But, to be honest, the main reason she whisks is because the forearm, wrist and hand muscles it develops are much appreciated by Ginny. Hence the name.
Myra won't allow Miracle Whip in her house and doesn't think she could be friends with someone who uses it. She'd try, but she's doubtful.
This recipe makes 1.5 cups of mayonnaise, which will keep about a week.
2 large organic brown egg yolks (Note: This is where having access to healthy, organic eggs becomes crucial. Commercial chicken farms and egg producers are hotbeds of salmonella. The eggs used in homemade mayonnaise will NOT be cooked, so you'd better be sure they are coming from a source you trust.)
1.5 cups extra-virgin olive oil (the highest quality you can buy)4-5 teaspoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon sugar
Pinch of cayenne pepper
A few teaspoons of hot water to thin it when done
Use a ceramic or stainless steel bowl, no plastic. Choose a bowl that's conducive to whipping.
Separate the eggs. Myra saves egg whites in the compartments of an ice cube tray, freezing them for future use in egg-white omelets or other dishes.
Beat yolks, salt, sugar, cayenne and 1 teaspoon lemon juice until very thick and pale yellow. Call one of the kids to come help you. Add about 1/4 cup of the oil, literally drop by drop (it's that finicky), beating all the while. You keep beating while the kid drops in the oil.
After the oil has been added, beat in one teaspoon each lemon juice and hot water. The mayonnaise should begin to ribbon at this point, which is a good sign that emulsification is working. Add another 1/4 cup oil, this time 2-3 drops at a time, while beating vigorously.
If it seems like you are stirring around a solid puddle instead of an emulsification at this point, you're screwed; start over. If it's working, however, beat in another teaspoonful each of lemon juice and hot water. Add 1/2 cup oil in a VERY fine but steady stream, beating constantly.
Mix in the remaining lemon juice and a teaspoon or more of hot water. Slowly beat in the remaining oil. If it seems too thick to you at the end of this, add a little more hot water.

1 comment:

shadocat said...

Recipes! Yay! I can testify---I took that fried chicken to an event once, and the crowd went WILD.