Category Archives: Cooking

Evolution

I started this blog four years ago. I spent a long time trying to come up with the name, and chose Fresh Era for two reasons: because I was invigorated about big life changes and because I was really learning how to cook.

I’m pleased to realize that even though I’ve jostled through three apartments and three jobs to a place where I’m tethered by a mortgage, a boyfriend and (the biggest surprise) a kid, I still feel like the title applies.

Home

My house was built in 1900 (in a neighborhood that’s seen hard times I didn’t weather) but I’ve never lived so wholly in a place, or experienced such depth of humanity. Last weekend I ate El Salvadorean food with former peace corps members to my right and Hells Angels to my left. The next morning I waved a paper fan from the back of a local Baptist church I should have been embarassed to even enter; African drums playing just outside the door. I can only comprehend a tiny fraction of Baltimore: past, present and future. But even on its worst day, I still feel a warmth and light that is new and hopeful.

Heart

Questionable advice from someone who met their boyfriend on Tinder: You can’t always get what you want, and the internet might not be helping you find what you need. I got lucky and fell into someone who fits that bill (honest, eternally patient, not afraid to dance in public)…  in a package I could easily I have refused. My plans did not include former-delinquent racecar drivers and their rambunctious 5 year olds. In the last 18 months I have been to a three racetracks, a gymnastics party and PTA meetings: on purpose!  Luckily, I love a meaty challenge. Dig in.

Hearth

My first month in France I had one pot, one knife, a few plastic utensils and some leftover yogurt cups. I miscooked chanterelles (it was fun!), learned how to cook anything on a stovetop, ate an unidentified cheese every weekend, and came back to the States with my own cooking style and some snobby ideas about the price of wine. You can expect light, veggie-heavy, fresh and spicy when eating at my house. Unless I’m tired–then you can expect egg and cheese sandwiches.

Era

This time four years ago I was living on my friend’s basement futon. I miss that. I miss the costume parties, the poorly conceptualized booze parties, and the total inappropriateness of being 25 and single in America.

But we’ve already been there and all of this—weddings, promotions, family vacations, ailing grandparents, creakier joints and sensible shoes—keeps us guessing, and keeps us fresh.

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What I Learned about Persimmons

IMG_0951This is a persimmon.

There are persimmons trees on the slope above my grandparents’ graves, which are beautiful while you’re looking across the cemetery and down to the river. They are not as beautiful when mashed onto the bottom of your shoes, and making the car smell atrocious.

So when a coworker of Indian heritage gave me a bag with six plump, orange fruits and a few persimmon chocolate chip cookies, I was skeptical. These were Fuyu persimmons: in season until February, sweet but light, and not as crotchety (harsh when unripe) as the American persimmon.

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Pistachio O o O

I’m back in France! And eating unpasturized dairy! But until next Friday rolls around, you’ll have to read posts about what I did in the United States.

Just like the “every country has its fried dough” theory, most cultures have their chosen nut products. America has peanuts and pecans, a lot of African countries use ground nuts in soups and stews, and much of Europe fills everything with hazelnuts. In Turkey your chocolate comes with pistachios, Greeks lean on walnuts heavily for their pastries, and when  I think of pine nuts, I think of Italy.

But I’ve only ever consumed peanut and almond butters in the salty spread category. Pistachio butter’s time had come.

Caution, guys.

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Late Summer Tomato and Chevre Galette

This post is a lie. Yes this is more of a tart than a galette, but must importantly… it’s not the end of summer. I REFUSE TO SUCCUMB! Even though the leaves on the maples along the trail and starting to show red around their edges, the crickets are the only sound in the late summer morning air, and the tomatoes are fat and fire-truck red, I insist that this season can last forever.

But just in case, I’m gonna cook lots of things with tomatoes and corn.

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What are Crowder Peas?

I have a problem. Among the piles of mini green peppers and the baskets of tennis ball-sized tomatoes at the market last week, there were a few quart bags packed to the Ziploc with little greenish yellow beans. “Crouch peas,” was what I thought the vendor said, and she told me how delicious they are simmered for hours with salt, pepper, some butter and maybe some smoked meat. Despite having a very-low paying job and an intercontinental trip coming up, I apparently also have very low resistance to buying new food. Five-dollar mystery beans for dinner, anyone?

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Bmore Diaries: Luigi’s Italian Deli

I would never fit in at a party in Hampden. When I drove down with my sister after work to get sandwiches at Luigi’s Italian Deli for a free movie night downtown, we were the only people in the near vicinity wearing shirts… and two of only a few not wearing very, very worn-in jorts. But a very dense hipster population apparently doesn’t get in the way of awesome sandwich shops and massive rich-people wine-and-cheese warehouses.

The restaurant is set up on the first floor of a townhouse off 36th street, and down the long hallway lined with assorted pastas, olive oils and cookies, you’ll find a small counter and case stocked with imported meats and prepared salads. The jars on top are full of cannoli shells ready to be filled, which oddly enough all are labeled with Simpson’s characters. It was almost like being in my great-grandmother’s house, only the people serving dinner had much better mustaches.

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Kimchi Adventures

BRING ME THE KIMCHI

The massive grocery store a half a mile from my parents’ house has had a rough life. It’s been a Giant, a Fresh World, and an All Green. Recently, it reopened as “FoodValu,” which is the third incarnation of “huge Asian and Mexican superstore with only half the store dedicated to regular American processed stuff.” Continue reading