Monthly Archives: June 2009

Chefame Chefayou!

chefame menu
Several months ago, some of our friends started a new project called Chefame (pronounced chef-a-me, don’t be like me and pronounce it chef-fame for months like I did. I felt a little silly when I finally figured it out). The gist of the project is that they gather up amateur cooks with skills (or real chefs on their nights off), take over a restaurant kitchen on a quiet evening and throw a big, old dinner party. It’s sort of like the supper clubs that have been sweeping New York, but with a unique Philly twist.

chefame amuse bouche

Scott and I went for the first time on Monday evening (it was the third Chefame). The event was held upstairs at the Dark Horse on Headhouse Square. We had no idea what to expect when we arrived, but happily, my favorite wine expert was there, with his wife and some friends of theirs, so we sat with them at a long table in the corner by the window. Over the course of three hours, we ate seven courses and talked about everything from cameras (David and I were both sporting our Nikons) to reality TV to whether or not I should cook for a Chefame at some point in the future (all signs point to probably).

chefame first course

The food ranged from pretty darn good to seriously amazing and I recommend that you Philly folks go to one of these if you have a chance. They’re fairly inexpensive for large meals, this one was just $35 for those seven courses. Drinks are not included, but the bar offered a handful of very reasonable booze deals.

chefame second course
chefame third course
chefame fourth course
chefame fifth course
chefame sixth course

I survived my first live tv appearance

Yesterday morning, I got up an hour and fifteen minutes earlier than normal. As I showered, I wasn’t feeling nervous exactly. I was more focused on going over lists in my head of things I needed to bring with me and the points I was hoping to make. I started to freak out when I couldn’t get my left contact lens to settle happily on my eyeball, but Scott (playing the role of most helpful partner ever) ran to CVS to get me some eye drops while I waited for the car. We got to the studio with all props accounted for and time to spare (during which I got my contacts situated).

The actual segment was really, really fun. I had a great time chatting with Michelle Buckman and I could have talked so much longer about canning (it felt like it was over in a flash).

For those of you who missed it yesterday or who don’t live in Philly, here’s the link to where you can watch it online. My name is outrageously misspelled, but everything else about it is terrific.

Alley walking and TV appearances

red, white and blue
On my way home from work each afternoon, it is my habit to enter my building through the side door. You get to this door by walking down an alley that dead-ends into the building. In addition to serving William Penn House, this alley also serves as service entrance for a couple of restaurants and the local wine and spirits shop. It’s a strange half block, devoid of people unless they have some specific business there and often cluttered with a few random objects (it is also where some of the cooks and dishwashers from the restaurants take their breaks). Every day, I look at that red door, next to those blue and white swatches and think that it would make an interesting picture. Today, I just happened to have my camera with me.

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In other news, Food in Jars has been getting some nice attention recently. My canning classes and I were featured in Daily Candy last week. And tomorrow morning, I’m going to be appearing on Fox29 at 8:40 am, talking about home canning. If you’re in the Philadelphia area and will be around a television tomorrow morning, please tune in. Hopefully it will be available online and I’ll be posting it if it is!

Urban Gardening

garden plot, angle view

In the last seven years of living in my apartment (seven years! where did the time go?) one of my primary complaints has been the lack of outdoor space. I’ve longed to be able to have a little patch of earth adjacent to my home, in which I could grow a few things and in which I could experience the weather without having to shower and dress.

This summer, I’ve satisfied part of my longing. Thanks to a quirk of life that put me in the right place, at the right time, talking to the right person, I’ve found myself with a 4 x 8 community garden plot for the low, low price of $25 a year. It’s in no way adjacent to my living space, it’s actually a good mile and a half away from home, and yet I am still totally delighted by it. I’ve planted tomatoes, herbs, cucumbers and a variety of squashes and I’m hoping to harvest something delicious very soon. It’s a quick bike ride down to the plot and I visit it several times a week (we’ve had a really rainy June here in Philly, so I haven’t had to water all that much).

I saw all that love

Most mornings, Scott and I leave for work together. We’ve developed a nice little rhythm, in which we ride the elevator down, walk about the back door and then kiss good-bye at the corner of 19th and Ludlow. This morning was no different, although we overslept (I turned my alarm off instead of hitting snooze) and so were running a bit later than normal.

We kissed and parted, Scott heading north to the Comcast building, while I crossed 19th Street and continued down Ludlow. As I was stepping onto the curb on the other side of the street, I noticed that my path was going to intersect that of an older man. I slowed to let him pass, and as I did, he said, “I saw all that love. It’s a good thing.”

He said this while walking, a big, happy smile on his face. By the time I could rattle my brain into speech mode, he was gone. I walked to work, grinning myself, marveling at how a stranger’s comment could turn our mundane, routine little kiss into something joyful and special.

Fork You Live this Saturday

If you’ve been meaning to come out to a filming of Fork You Live for a while, this Saturday is the time to do it. After this one, Fork You won’t be making another appearance at Foster’s until next November (although I’ll be there throughout the summer, teaching canning classes – there are still spots in the the pickles, peaches and tomatoes classes). We’re taking the next few months off because Scott’s working on a project, I’m busy canning and we’re getting married on September 26th.

We’ll be making appetizer-y food this time around, including a savory mushroom pate, a flatbread with asparaugs and caramelized onions and summer-y bruschetta.

Getting to the bottom of the stink

My grandmother Della spent her life being terrified of smelling bad. She was born in 1915, when daily bathing still wasn’t a common practice and effective underarm deodorants was nothing more than a glimmer in some R&D man’s eye. As a teenager, she shared a bed with her own grandmother, a woman who would spend the moments before sleep farting in a most musical and odorous fashion. Della took to painting on a little strip of perfume under her noise each night before going to bed, in an attempt to ward away the fumes.

When I knew her, Della never smelled bad. Each morning she showered, powered, lotioned and perfumed herself into a cloud of fragrance. She brushed her teeth multiple times a day and stashed rolls of Certs in every handbag she owned. And her apartment always smelled fresh, clean and welcoming.

Ever since inheriting her apartment, I’ve felt responsible for maintaining a space that always smells pleasing (although, on occasion, I’ve settled simple for unoffensive). However, recently, there’ve been some singularly unpleasant smells wafting from the bathroom, a stink that deserved the kinds of wiggly lines only seen in Peanuts cartoons. Unfortunately, even after scrubbing the bathroom from top to bottom (including swabbing out the inside of the toilet tank) and treating both drains with a cocktail of baking soda, lemon juice and boiling water, the funk remains. I actually began to wonder if the lady next door had died in her bathtub and was slowly decomposing on the other side of the wall (I saw her two days ago, tottered towards the elevator with her cane and badly dyed hair, so that theory is thankfully untrue). I know it’s morbid, but when you live in a building such as ours, it’s not an impossible thought.

Then, last night, as I was leaning down to spit out my toothpaste, I noticed that the smell was stronger. Toothbrush still in hand, I bent down again and poked my nose towards the drainage hole on the far side of the sink. It offered a sewer-like stink. I straighted up and cheered, delighted to have found the source (I tried to get Scott to come over and check it out, but he declined). I’ve since discovered, in my recent cleaning process, a whole world of moldering stink has been hiding in there. I’ve doused it with a number of cleaners and this weekend am planning on getting in there with some scrubbers I’m improvising out of rags and chopsticks.

It’s an exciting life I lead, isn’t it.

Fork You: Beer here

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Goodness, it’s been, what? Two and a half months since we posted a new episode of Fork You? Scott’s had a little break from his most recent writing project and so decided to use that time productively to get a new episode up for your viewing pleasure. We filmed this particular show during Philly’s Beer Week and made sure to include at least one bottle of brew in every recipe. The brisket recipe I demo in this one is my preferred way of braising that particular cut of beef and is amazingly flavorful. While we’re not exactly heading into the season for slow braises, I recommend that you bookmark this one for the fall. It’s that good.