It felt like both a very short and very long week with the 4th of July holiday smooshed into a Tuesday. We debated about keeping Charlotte up for the fireworks this year. She’s two and a half, so she kinda knows what they are, but a 10:30 start time is also pushing it way past her bed time. At 10:15, though, we could see in the monitor that she was still rolling around (quietly but awake) in her crib. Instead of venturing outside and down to the river front, we opted to bring her out and let her see some of the show on TV. It went OK – she liked the fireworks, but she didn’t get quite the majesty and splendor of seeing them for real in the sky. We’ll have to try again next year.
What I’m eating and reading this week:
Weekly Menu Plan:
Sunday: Lobster & cod cakes (from Cooking For Jeffrey): We originally made a few weeks ago and froze the leftovers. They reheated beautifully when my parents came to visit.
Monday: Thai-style pork stir fry with spinach and bell pepper
Tuesday: 4th of July cookout with burgers & brats, kale & broccoli slaw, and watermelon
Wednesday: Sun-dried tomato and spinach fettuccine Alfredo (from Cookie & Kate’s Love Real Food)
Thursday: Chicken and black bean quesadillas
Friday: Pan-seared salmon with roasted broccoli, mashed potatoes, and Ottolenghi’s cauliflower cake
Saturday: Creamy shrimp pasta with sun-dried tomatoes and asparagus
What I’m Reading and Loving This Week:
Out of Line: A Life of Playing With Fire
By: Barbara Lynch
Barbara Lynch is a Boston food icon; she’s at the helm of some of the best restaurants in the city. She’s a chef who has grown her footprint with an expanding number of excellent restaurants at the same time as I was coming up through school and my early professional years (and not making nearly enough to eat there). She came out with a cookbook, Stir, which helped tide me over until I got to eat for real in her restaurants. So her autobiography was one of books I was most excited to pick up this summer.
The book seemed a little rough and tumble initially, both because her calling is as a chef not necessarily a writer and because she got a bit of a rough start in her childhood and early years in the kitchen. I wasn’t aware of her Southie roots, a neighborhood in Boston that’s known for Irish working-class communities and connections to Whitey Bulger. While this background is interesting and rounds out her backstory, the book really gets rolling once she starts describing her path through different kitchens in the Boston restaurant world.
Throughout her stories of life in the restaurant world are more interesting and well-done vignettes about her friendships, professional challenges, and parenting. A few themes that I especially liked were the importance of female friendships; her story highlights the abundance of talent among women chefs in Boston in a duh way rather than an in-your-face way. She also has some unconventional aspects to her relationships and parenting styles. It’s interesting to get insight into how she navigates her personal worlds without a tired narrative about having it all (she’s pretty unapologetic about the time and energy she dedicates to her restaurants).
She’s a self-taught chef, and I loved the references to some of her favorite culinary texts that shaped her own education. Books she specifically mentions include:Waverly Root’s Foods of France, Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and Alain Ducasse’s Grand Livre de Cuisine.
One of my favorite quotes from the book is:
“After Food & Wine named me one of its Ten Best New Chefs, Gordon Hamersley, who’d won the same honor earlier, told me, ‘You can play this two ways: either get overwhelmed by the press and fail, or take this award and ride it.’ I was definitely ready to ride.”