Yesterday my friend Jim had free tickets to the Lions' pre-season game. Though I am fighting off a cold of some sort, I was glad to accept Jim's invitation to join him. Earlier, though, my parents had decided to come to Michigan for a somewhat impromptu garage sale at my sister Anna's. Nicole and I did a quick cleaning of the basement and filled a couple boxes with stuff for the sale and Nicole took Hyatt and Smokey (to hang out with their canine cousin--or possibly niece--Molly, not to sell!) down to Anna's bright and early in the a.m. for the sale. Jim and I joined the sale in progress later in the afternoon. The sale was mostly a bust, though we had fun passing the afternoon outside. For my dad's birthday, Anna made a pretty spectacular boston cream pie, not to mention a post-fast feast of chicken, lentil soup, and fatoush. We non-fasters ate with equal gusto.
Before Jim and I got to Anna's, Nicole and my dad ran to the farmer's market near Anna's that tends to have give-away prices, especially late in the day. Jam as many ears of corn as you can into this big bag for a buck. That kind of thing. N. went a bit overboard, but I have to admit her purchases have resulted in a fun Sunday. After all, what's better than cooking on a Sunday? Nicole likes freezing stuff, so she's made stir-fry kits with onions and various kinds of peppers. She's also done a couple bags of blanched green beans, ready to be steamed and eaten. Nicole also got a peck of banana peppers for one dollar (!), so I'm marinating pepper rings for a version of my dad's pepper salad. Tonight, eggplant parmesan, as soon as Nicole gets back from Costco with the fresh mozzarella. I've got the slices of salted eggplant draining in the colander right now.
A day of cooking comes a day or two after finishing Frank Bruni's Born Round, a memoir that I loved. You might know Bruni as a restaurant critic at the NYTimes and if so you'll probably appreciate the book's later chapters which give insight into the funny and high-stakes relationship between restaurants the elite media that can make or break them. My favorite parts of the memoir came earlier, though, when Bruni describes growing up in a food-obsessed, extended, Italian family. He walks readers through holidays when his grandmother and mom would spend weeks planning, shopping, cooking, and trouble-shooting humongous meals. Every detail had to be perfect. Meals were about quality and quantity, almost in equal measure. Throughout, Bruni describes his struggles with his weight, with body image, and with several eating disorders. His bizarre career trajectory alone makes the narrative interesting, but if you can relate to a familial life centering on food or if you routinely go to more than two or three stores to buy ingredients for a meal, then Born Round is a must read.
Nicole's home. Back to the parmesan.