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Saint Sustenance

Updated: 2014-10-05T00:01:47.763-04:00


A Very Good Idea


My friend, artist David Horvitz, has an amazing website.

"thing for sale i will mail you"

You can buy all sorts of amazing things from him, but he just added a new one I thought I should mention here.

"If you give me $30 I will buy $30 worth of cookies and give them away to people I find in the street. I will send you an email with the details of where I bought the cookies, and the exact minute and date I started giving them away and the exact minute I gave away the last one."

So far one person has purchased this.

I think this is what I want for my birthday.

Prized Condiment


With my chutney quickly gaining fame within about a ten block radius, I realized that I should finally get around to cementing my recipe, especially being that I was down to my last jar. So on Wednesday, I dug up my notes and cooked up a batch. Too bad it takes about three months to mature...
My chutney is cobbled together from a few different recipes and is good on almost everything. This is a condiment that elevates a grilled cheese sandwich to a very special occasion. Also recommended on roast chicken, veggie burgers, and stuffed into prunes to be wrapped in bacon and called devils on horseback.


My Apple Chutney

2 lbs. apples (I use Cortlands)
1 lb. onions
3 small red chiles (I actually used 6 Thai bird's eye chiles-- we shall see if it's too hot)
1 c. raisins (jumbo Thomson!)
2 1/2 c. brown sugar (I prefer dark)
2 TBSP. grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp. powdered mustard
1 1/2 TBSP. salt
2 tsp. ground allspice
2 tsp. ground cloves
2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. turmeric
1 1/2 c. cider vinegar
1 1/2 c. malt vinegar

Chop the apples, onions and chiles finely (I use a food processor). Transfer to a large, heavy bottomed pot along with all remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and simmer, stirring occasionally and gradually diminishing heat, until thick, about one hour. Ladle into sterilized jars and seal. Makes about 6 - 250mL jars.


Greasy Goose Salon


Friday, February 29th, 2008
7pm @ Cagibi, 5940 St-Laurent

The Greasy Goose Salon Series #1

Featuring talks by Bartek Komorowski,
Camilla Wynne, Katie Mathieu,
and Jenny Lee Craig.


Greasy Goose website

This Just In (Victorious)


"Your application has been accepted.

Pork Club meetings, officially called 'Meat Happenings', will be held once a month. The next one, Meat Happenning 3, will probably be held sometime at the end of February. I will keep you posted.

I too have tried this applewood-smoked bacon chocolate bar and I would echo your assertion that bacon and chocolate are best enjoyed separately.

I await receipt of your membership dues."


On Pork


I have been required to write an essay on the subject of pork in order to gain entry to the mysterious and exclusive Pork Club presided over by the eminent Bartek. Should my essay be deemed acceptable, I will be charged the very reasonable membership fee of one key lime pie.I am a relative newcomer to the altar of pork. This isn’t to say I haven’t always liked pork—bacon was the last meat I enjoyed before commiting to eight years of vegetarianism, during which I often tried to emulate my enjoyment with dishes like vegetarian sweet and sour “pork,” and since my return to the world of meats I have oft enjoyed various parts of the pig. However, I hadn’t become a worshipper until the past few years, perhaps just because I hadn’t been exposed to any truly transcendental pork. I can’t say what is was in particular that first caused my conversion, but in all likelihood it was applewood smoked bacon. Supermarket bacon has absolutely nothing on this stuff. It is thicker, far more flavourful, sweet and smoky, and leaves your house smelling deliciously of applewood all day long. Unfortunately, this delicacy is not (yet) available in Canada, but it is of such a quality that I would gladly drive the two and a half hours to Burlington, VT, to procure a pound or two. At first I liked the idea of making a BLT out of it, but have found that, since my supply tends to be so limited, I prefer to enjoy it unadulterated, perhaps with a side of pancakes, but alone will do just fine, too. Im fact, I have become such a champion of one Vermont brand in particular that recently a friend brought me his last three slices, raw and wrapped in tinfoil, to a book reading we were both attending. My conversion to ham-lover occured much more recently. I had always been averse to the insipid pink slabs offered on Easter Sunday and tried to avoid it at all costs. Now, though, I can’t tell you what lengths I wouldn’t go to for Col. Bill Newsom’s Aged Kentucky Country Ham. It is salty-sweet-smoky-tender and absolutely perfect. Unfortunately, the only place I know to get it is at egg, the fantastic Williamsburg breakfast joint, where one is always faced with the dilemma of whether to order the ham or the candied Dines’ Farm bacon. Fortunately, both can be had as sides. But how often can I make trips to Vermont or New York City? Not often enough, to be sure. And though I love to cook, I am much more a baker, and my years of vegetarianism left me rather clueless when it comes to cooking meat. I have never roasted a chicken or broiled a steak. But as of this summer, I do make a killer rack of barbeque ribs. It took an experiment or two and the melding of a few recipes to perfect, but success was eventually mine. There was most notably one blunder, that being my purchase of six lbs. of smoked pork ribs resulting from a combination of my meat-purchasing ignorance and the inability of me and my Hungarian butcher to properly communicate. Thankfully, my father conceded to take the smoked ribs off my hands and taught me to transform them into a delicious baked bean dish, and in the meantime I elsewhere bought my proper fresh ribs in time for my dinner party. But ribs are not to be confined to special occasions or even the summertime—a barbeque is not even a strict requirement and these could (and likely should) be enjoyed even in the depths of winter. (And if one had happened to can some peach pie filling earlier in the year, a real feast might be had—if one had happened to do so.)Since my rib-induced confidence boost, I have made a few more forays into pork cookery, poking around Porc Meilleur looking for chunks that appear manageable. They provide me with the lardons necessary for the transcedental penne with lardons and crème fraîche I was introduced to in Paris. My weakness for novelty tends to work very well with my love of pork. I recently purchased Mo’s Bacon Bar from Vosges Haut-Chocolat in Manhattan. The bar, composed o[...]

Go Ahead and Mock Me


I would advise you to chew carefully, to consider utterly the taste and texture of what I am about to offer. You may be about to get an idea of how the king felt when he had that dainty dish set before him of four-and-twenty blackbirds baked in a pie. It certainly wasn't what he was expecting, nor will you be without surprise. For if I have put before you a slice of mock apple pie, you will shortly be tucking into a flaky crust encasing a filling so redolent of apple pie that you may choke when I reveal to you that it is in fact totally devoid of apples, and actually made of Ritz crackers, sugar, lemon and cinnamon. That the modern world adores fakery is certainly no secret. Fake meat, fake breasts, and fake Louis Vuitton handbags are just a few examples of North America’s romance with artifice. So why don’t we love the mock pie? It mostly resides nowadays in the realm of novelty-lovers and April Fools’ Day tricksters, hardly the position for a pastry with such a rich history. How can you mince around wearing your Calvyn Klyne perfume without a single thought about the perilous downslide into the tomes of History that the mock pie is taking? Trouble is, even a fake can be faked. A good portion of the recipes using the word “mock” in their title are nothing but reduced-calorie concoctions, which for the most part would fool no one if you tried to fob them off as the real thing. Another misuse of the term is for pastries that don’t actually require rolling a crust, as in a recipe for Peach Mock Pie that is merely a peach crumble baked in a pie dish, as if baking a proper pie was really such a difficult thing to do. That said, whipping up an apple pie wasn’t always such an easy task.Consider a life without apples, for they were not always so readily available. In fact, sweet apples are not native to North America but were brought over by the first English settlers, who packed with them both seeds and cuttings on their voyage across the Atlantic. The fruit subsequently began to flourish in what remain the country’s greatest apple-producing states of the East Coast, but by the mid-nineteenth century had yet to be cultivated in the West, which was still in the throes of its ‘wild’ period. Apples were, for the most part, off-limits to all but the wealthiest. I do not believe it to be mere coincidence that the very same year that mock pie was invented, a shipment of four bushels of Washington apples sold in California for $500, which would have been a fortune at the time. It was thus in 1852 that a group of pioneer women so yearning to provide their children with the apple pie they missed from back east somehow summoned the inventive genius to mix soda crackers with brown sugar, water, citric acid and cinnamon in the hopes of replacing the apples in a pie. In the first known publication of the recipe, it was christened California Pioneer Apple Pie. At just about the same time as the invention of the mock apple pie, two gentlemen from Iowa were on their separate ways to make their fortunes growing apples in the Pacific Northwest. Their wagons were loaded with seedlings, and they apparently made the journey subsisting mostly on dried apple pies. These two were not, however, about to make the pioneer women’s invention obsolete. This was still a time before cold storage and radiation. Contrary to what the modern supermarket shopper might believe, apples do have a season. To keep apples the whole year round they needed to be stored in a single layer on a bed of hay with no fruit touching the other. For this reason apples were mostly dried. Crackers remained cheaper and easier to store in barrels. The mock pie endured.The soda crackers in the pie became Ritz crackers in the early 1930s when a recipe for Mock Apple Pie began to appear on the box. It was the Great Depression, and apples were once again a luxury for those not lucky enough to live on an orchard, which is not to say [...]

Tag, I'm It!


This morning I awoke to find I'd been tagged by Anthony at endless banquet. I thank him for choosing me and thereby forcing me to post--clearly a task I've been much neglecting. Here are the rules:

  1. Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.

  2. Share 7 random and/or weird things about yourself.

  3. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.

  4. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

This is really random.

1. In 2007 I had the honour of having my first recipe in print in a real live book. In addition to I don't actually have a copy myself yet, but the book is called Lost in the Supermarket: The Indie Rock Cookbook. The recipe is for millionaire's shortbread.

2. For my birthday last year I received a really beautiful gift from a junkshop in Portland, OR. It was an old panorama egg made in Czechoslovakia. A panorama egg is a hollow eggs made from sugar and decorated with royal icing, featuring a little scene inside. They were generally made as Easter gifts for children but are rarely seen these days. This December I decided to revive the art and made my own.


3. My late grandfather swore that we hailed from Ingria. I assume this is true.

4. I was a german hairdye model.*


5. Once, working for one of France's foremost pastry chefs, I accidentally weighed salt instead of sugar for his ice cream recipe. Needless to say, he didn't ask me to come work for him in Paris.

6. In December, I had the longtime dream fulfilled of visiting Tubby Dog in Calgary, Alberta. I regret to inform you I did not possess the courage to try the hot dog with peanut butter, jam, and Captain Crunch, but I did have a really good one featuring mustard, relish, sauerkraut, banana peppers and nacho cheese.


7. I made the worst Lady Baltimore Cake in the world this summer, and I didn't have the heart to post about it. The post remains half-finished.

Okay. On to the next suckers. Except I don't know seven blogs at all. Four will have to suffice.

  1. Diamonds

  2. Sic Transit

  3. Steph in Paris...

  4. Ghost Pine Fanzine

*For a tv show prop.

For the Love of Porridge


Do orphans love porridge? Doubtless any orphan worth his salt would kill for a bowl of such steaming goodness. As Dickens taught us, orphans are traditionally fed gruel, which is not at all the same thing as porridge, though they may be related. Gruel is essentially a very, very thin porridge. This thinning tends to devalue the dish. If you watered down another of your favorite foods, the result would be equally unpalatable. Imagine soaking a piece of delicious cake in a pot of water, or stirring three cups of water into your poutine. No, it simply wouldn’t do. And yet, I had to be certain. I had to try it for myself. I found a recipe for gruel on my favorite new website, Mr. When I relayed the recipe to a friend, she told me it is also a good formula for glue or paste. I was obviously taken aback—only second graders eat paste! But her story checked out. The recipe I found for flour paste was almost indentical to that for gruel. Of course, the glue recipe contains no salt, as you’re not expected to attempt to eat it, though one wonders how much a meagre teaspoon of salt can elevate glue to a meal. Somehow, pondering this question rather turned me off the idea of whipping up a steaming vat of gruel, and I procrastinated on the task for as long as I possibly could. The idea actually made me feel a little nauseous. But the time for me to perform finally came—and I botched it. It’s hard to say what went wrong. I suppose it was foul vanity which led me to believe that a dish perfected by evil orphan-starving nuns or foul-smelling charwomen would be a breeze for yours truly to make. I learned my lesson, though, for I concocted no gruel. I boiled my cup of water. I mixed my two teaspoons of flour with my teaspoon of salt in a little bowl. I dripped water upon it, forming a paste, and I added that back into the pot. But no semi-fluid consistency was reached. Instead, I made the most vile little flour dumplings in a tasteless water-broth saltier than the very sea. So dejected was I that the pot was left carelessly on the stove to fester. I tried with all my might to muster the courage and the thirst for knowledge to make another bold attempt, to make gruel and make it right so that I might truly know the orphans plight. But I simply could not find it within myself. After all, I had much juicier topics than gruel to pursue on the subject of porridge. I was sitting at the local coffeeshop discussing the merits of porridge and also of some South African malt cereal, when a friend happened upon the scene claiming some pretty scandalous porridge facts. “Truly,” he began, “porridge was nearly banned by the clergy on account of the belief that hot food in the morning was too stimulating and caused morning erections. Thus, cold cereal was born.” Well, you can imagine I did all I could to try and substantiate this story with thorough internet research. As badly as I wanted to believe this amazing tale, its teller was also the man who told me about the woman in India with the x-ray vision and the Russian toddler who could lift a car with one hand. As it turns out, his story wasn’t quite true, but it did contain some verifiable elements. After all, people’s diets are often influenced more by fad, religion, suspicion and prejedice than actual nutritional value or savor. This is no less true for porridge. In the Middle Ages, some foods—oats among them—were classified as coarse, the eating of which was thereby believed to coarsen the character. Similarly, that horses enjoy oats has long prejudiced people against their consumption by humans. Pliny, for instance, much maligned the Germans for their devotion to oaten delights, which he considered only fit for the animal population. In fact, oats were at one time considered a weed not even fit for beasts, simply because they are heartier than most grains. At one tim[...]

On Publishing One's Failures


I had a bad feeling about it. Granted, the recipe for Sally Lunn bread came from what is currently my very favorite cookbook, The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook. I have executed quite a few of their recipes now, to great success. Indeed, many of their recipes, particularly the Creamed Corn, have garnered major accolades. But the one recipe that went terribly wrong for me was their Sweet Pie Crust. It was dry, difficult to handle, and stuck to the pie dish in a way I've rarely seen a dough do. The recipe for Sally Lunn was my second foray into the "Bread Basket" section of the book, and I wasn't without misgivings. Besides my unsuccess with the pie dough, the bread recipe seemed too miraculously simple. Sally Lunn is a rich white bread, referred to by the Lee Bros. as the challah of the South. One loaf contains 7 TBSP. of butter and three eggs, as well as 1/3 c. of syrup, be it sorghum, cane or molasses (or golden syrup, as I used). Now, in no way do I purport to be anything close to an authority on bread-baking, but I've done it enough times that a few things seemed odd to me. First off, the dough is not kneaded at all before the first rise, which is supposed to only take 35 minutes. This seemed an awfully short time to me, which I found it truly was when the dough had scarcely risen after resting for the allotted time. It remained the sticky, unkempt mass it was when I covered it with the dishtowel. After it had rested about an hour, not yet having risen to double, I turned it out onto the worktable and had a hell of a time punching it 30 times, when with each slap of my fist I would come away with more dough stuck to me. I scooped it all up into the pan (which certainly doesn't require an entire tablespoon of butter to grease it), let that rise double the allotted 12 minutes, then baked it. Well, it wasn't a total disaster. I mean, it's edible, though it would be an exaggeration to call it sliceable. I used it to make the Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwiches from the Lee Bros. book, and I had to discard about 3 slices that just fell apart. It struck me as rather an odd choice for grilled cheese, being so sweet and dense, but perhaps that's just a matter of taste. And perhaps really Sally Lunn isn't quite like this. I wonder what went wrong between the Lee Bros. and me...The pimento cheese, I must mention, was really delicious and made a superlative grilled cheese filling, despite whatever unsavory memories the word conjures up for me of the foul pimento-studded baloney I was served as a child at school. This was something entirely different and delicious. And I couldn't resist sprinkling a little smoked hot paprika on each sandwich. I don't know if Southerners would approve, but it was certainly good. I would recommend something pickled on the side, as well.You may ask why on earth I chose to follow as recipe I was fairly certain wouldn't work. Fact is, I like to always give the recipe the benefit of the doubt the first time around, lest it disclose to me some secret shortcut or alternate route I never would have discovered otherwise. Alas, this is not often the case. Next time, lacking an adventurous side and undesirous of danger, I think I will stick to Greg Patent's Buttermilk Loaf, which I made last year (revealing, perhaps, with what shameful infrequence I address the task of making bread).More on Greg Patent, one of my favorite American bakers, later on...[...]

Backroom Bakeshoppe


It's not entirely easy to give directions to my "bakery," which is essentially a bakesale in a backporch in Montreal's Mile-End neighbourhood. There is a minor maze of alleys to navigate, but hopefully people notice the sign.We opened last summer and stayed stubbornly open almost until December, shivering by the space heater in the uninsulated shed. After a many-month stint in Asia, my partner, the record vendor, has returned, and we reopened last week.The menu:Popcorn BallsPeach Pie BarsCaramel-Filled BrowniesLemon TartletsToday is our second day opened this week. Yesterday I made Lemon-Cranberry Bars. Today I awoke at the rather offensive hour of 8:30am to concoct a recipe I'd been meaning to try clipped long ago from the back page of Food & Wine.Double Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter FillingACTIVE TIME: 45 MIN TOTAL TIME: 3 HRS MAKES 24 CUPCAKES3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (not Dutch process)1/2 cup boiling water1 cup buttermilk1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda1/4 teaspoon baking powder1/4 teaspoon salt1 1/2 sticks plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened1 1/2 cups granulated sugar2 large eggs, at room temperature1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract1 cup creamy peanut butter2/3 cup confectioners' sugar1 cup heavy cream8 ounces semisweet chocolate, choppedPreheat the oven to 350° and position 2 racks in the lower and middle third of the oven. Line 24 muffin cups with paper or foil liners. Put the cocoa powder in a medium heatproof bowl. Add the boiling water and whisk until a smooth paste forms. Whisk in the buttermilk until combined. In a medium bowl, sift the flour with the baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat 1 1/2 sticks of the butter with the granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs and vanilla, then beat in the dry ingredients in 2 batches, alternating with the cocoa mixture. Carefully spoon the cupcake batter into the lined muffin cups, filling them about two-thirds full. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until the cupcakes are springy. Let the cupcakes cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then transfer them to wire racks to cool completely. In a medium bowl, beat the peanut butter with the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter until creamy. Sift the confectioners' sugar into the bowl and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Spoon all but 3 tablespoons of the peanut butter filling into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch star tip. Holding a cupcake in your hand, plunge the tip into the top of the cake, pushing it about 3/4 inch deep. Gently squeeze the pastry bag to fill the cupcake, withdrawing it slowly as you squeeze; you will feel the cupcake expand slightly as you fill it. Scrape any filling from the top of the cupcake and repeat until all of the cupcakes are filled. In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a simmer. Off the heat, add the semisweet chocolate to the cream and let stand for 5 minutes, then whisk the melted chocolate into the cream until smooth. Let the chocolate icing stand until slightly cooled and thickened, about 15 minutes. Dip the tops of the cupcakes into the icing, letting the excess drip back into the pan. Transfer the cupcakes to racks and let stand for 5 minutes. Dip the tops of the cupcakes again and transfer them to racks. Spoon the remaining 3 tablespoons of peanut butter filling into the pastry bag and pipe tiny rosettes on the tops of the cupcakes.MAKE AHEAD The cupcakes are best served the same day they are made, but they can be refrigerated overnight in an airtight container.Recipe by Peggy Cullen This recipe originally appeared in April, 2004.These turned out really well, though I do wish I'd used a chocolate with a lower percentage of cocoa. The 72% I had was too bitter. 60% or 65% would be better. I also spr[...]