September food magazine round-up

R* and I are off for a long weekend at the beach in Montauk on Long Island. Reading magazines on the beach is one of my favorite things, all the better if they are about cooking.

Before this month's magazine collection gets all sandy and forgotten at the bottom of a beach bag, I wanted to do a quick round up of what's in the mags so far.

When I saw the cover of September's Everyday Food, I let out a disappointed sigh standing at my mail box. The cover promised "Foolproof Family Favorites" but I have plenty of pancake and spaghetti, chocolate chip cookie, and meatball recipes, thank you. I scanned through the magazine, not expecting much, but then I saw their "In Season" section about plums: honey-roasted plums, chicken with plum chutney and a plum upside down cake. Of all of this months food magazines, the plum upside down cake the thing I am most likely to try.

Everyday Food also has a quick story on what Italian Seasoning is and how it can be used. The idea of all that dried, green stuff mixed together never appeals to me, but I have been known to shake Italian seasoning into a sauce in a pinch. I'm interested to see Martha Stewart's Everyday Food experts have to say about the green stuff. The magazine also has a section, "Have you tried molasses?" Well, no, I haven't tired molasses, Martha, but I'm not sure I want to make molasses-glazed turkey breat and acorn squash. I'm a bit of a turkey once a year kind of guy, but we'll see.

September's Real Simple has a very Everyday Food-ish tear-out section promising "6 basic recipes, 30 meals: a tear-and-save booklet. The promise of some real simple during the week recipes to solve my "daily dinner dilemma" was enough to make me spend $4.50 to pick this one up at the newsstand. I love the philosophy of learning how to make these 6 basic things well, including golden chicken and pork cutlets with roasted tomatoes, and then adapting and expanding on these to make, for example, chicken curry or pork with apple slaw. I'll try a couple of these recipes by Sara Quessenberry this fall.

Domino, more of a home decorating and entertaining magazine, made me laugh: trying to convince me that oysters "should stary in a leisurely lunch". They feature the grippy gloves, reproduction 19th century platter, hors d'oeuvres forks and everything else you'd need to buy to do an oyster event at home. No thanks, with more months with Rs in their names coming up, I'll head right to Oyster Bar in Grand Central and leave the shucking to the professionals. They also suggest using parsley as a centerpiece: leave it in the rubberband and just stick a few bunches in a bowl or a vase. Anyone ever do that?

The best food stuff in Domino is a two page spread on Alice Temperley's stable turned into a kitchen in London. The kitchen is modern and bright, but not steel-y or minimal. I'm tearing those pages out for inspiration the next time (gulp!) I might re-do a kitchen.

Another dream kitchen is on show in the September issue of Martha Stewart Living. Martha gives us a "first look at Martha's NEW kitchen" in Bedford. The space is 750 square feet -- 100 square feet bigger than my entire apartment -- with nine feet ceilings. The best article in this issue, though, is the Courtyard Cocktail Party, complete with recipes for Lillet cocktails, tortilla espanola and leeks in vinaigrette. I wish I was invited to that party, helped at French General in LA.


Happy Birthday, Julia Child

The more I learn about Julia Child, who would have turned 94 today, the more odd specifics I find that we share: both of us are over six feet tall. We both liked hard boiled eggs, beer and mayonnaise (Hellmans for me, homemade for Julia) for lunch. We both moved to New York City after graduation to work in advertising and we'll both admit to occasionally using the toilet as a garbage disposal. We're both Americans with strong ties to Europe, partnered to artistic guys. Julia occasionally asked her husband Paul to help her take photos of her food; R* often does the same for me.

Today, under the leadership of Champaign Taste, some food bloggers are cooking up Julia's recipes to remember her today. I have to admit I've never tried one of her recipes, have only seen a few episodes of one of her later shows and I don't own her famous volumes on Mastering The Art of French Cooking (yet).

While I've never made any of her recipes, there's still a little bit of Julia in my Brooklyn kitchen.

This time last summer, R* and I we're stuck with our half renovated kitchen. Steve, our contractor would show up, work for a few hours, disappear for a week. Each night R* would come home to see what work the contractor had (or hadn't) don't that day. He patiently wrote notes on paper plates and taped them to the spots that needed work.

I like to think that Julia and her husband Paul went through something similar when setting up her kitchen in Cambridge. According to the Smithsonian, where their kitchen is now displayed, "While she mapped out the functional principles, Paul brought his sense of design to arranging the kitchen's elements."

R* and I also collaborated on designing our new kitchen. In searching the web for inspiration for paint colors and fabric for the project, I found descriptions and pictures of Julia and Paul's Cambridge kitchen. Their kitchen had a blue and green color scheme with Marimekko tablecloths.

I pulled an all-nighter last summer and spent the whole night searching for color, fabric and fixture ideas for the kitchen. I fell in love with this Marimekko Suma Blue print. While Julia and Paul might not appreciate the busy urban pattern (or would they?), the blue and greens in the fabric and glass backsplash tiles are very similar to the colors Paul picked for their cabinets.

Early on in our kitchen design process, I had dictated that there would be no blue in the new kitchen. My mom's kitchen was always decorated in blue and my pre-renovation kitchen was also blue, but that's just what we ended up with. Our Benjamin Moore Blue Ice walls might be a bit colder and more contemporary than the colors Paul picked, but I bet they would appreciate the update. I wish we had enough wall space for her famous peg board storage. Someday.


Don't miss the August issue of Gourmet

The September magazines are making their way to my mailbox. This means there isn't much shelf-life left for the August issue of Gourmet and I'm telling you: get it while you can.

I usually throw away these special supplements away as soon as I can, since they are almost always just an excuse to squeeze in a bunch more ads along with some tepid advertising content -- a bunch of cartoons and some car and vodka ads. This is so not that.

This handy subway-reading sized supplement has 15 stories and essays from excellent writers, no all of whom usually specialize in food writing.

Here are some quick quotes from my two favorites in the supplement:

"The coffee shop is the ultimate sensational way to start the day . . .
Everyone is polishing off this , and washing it down with that. It gives one

"Please do not underestimate the charm of the doily or the dearness of the
five-minute egg sitting innocently next to the toast. Or the heartbreak
of a dish of butter or the hope of a dish of marmalade. I will complement them

from "Sunny-Side Up On the Love of Breakfast" by Maria Kalman

I didn't recognize Kalman's name, but I should have. She drew the New Yorkistan cover for the New Yorker and illustrated the new version of Elements of Style. In the Gourmet supplement, she created an "ode to breakfast" that reminded me of the attention to detail of Clotilde Dousiller, the weird wit of Wallace Stevens and the detailed drawings found in Alison Bechdel's Fun Home, my other favorite read of the summer.

I was more familiar with Ann Patchett, author of Bel Canto. Patchett writes about escaping to the Hotel Bel-Air, "staying in my room and frustrating the housekeeping staff," looking for true anonymity and a space get some work done. At the Bel-Air, she says:

If you don't feel up to a very fancy meal you can slip off to the bar where the
waiters are friendly, the pianist is charming, and the food is very bad.
If you accidently slip up and order the chicken pot-pie do not, under any
circumstance, eat it.

from "Do Not Disturb" by Ann Patchett

The supplement also introduced me to Junot Diaz and a series of still life photos of "what remains" after eating by Laura Letinsky. These photos inspired me to post a photo of my own dirty dishes.

Megnut has a post about these "steel-trap brains turned to the subject of food" at the 92nd St Y event that launched the supplement.

Congratulations and thank you to Philips and their ad agency Carat for funding this supplement. When R* and I soon go searching for our flat screen TV, we'll keep this in mind :-).

[Links] Building Houses Out of Chicken Legs

Don't miss Matt and Ted Lee's book review in today's New York Times. The book explores African-American women's food history.

I never knew chicken was referred to as the "gospel bird" before. Since I found out about Holy Spirit Soup, I've been interested in religious names for food.