Exciting News: I Sold a Cookbook!

March 31, 2011

I have some very exciting news I want to share with you. I’ve just signed a contract to write my first cookbook! I’ve already written a food history book (Cookie: A Cultural History, which contained some recipes), but that is tied up in the logjam that is a university press and isn’t out yet. I’m hoping that will see the light of day next year. In the meantime though, I’ve signed with Adams Media to write No-Pot Cooking or The Parchment Paper Cookbook (title is still not definite!). If you haven’t visited my other blog, NoPotCooking, you can click over there and see what it’s all about. The concept is no mess, easy cooking, all done in parchment paper. Perfect for small kitchens, busy people, and those who really hate washing dishes! I’m SO excited to be working on this. It will be in stores later this year (I’ll be sure to let you know when once I have a firm date).

This project is the reason I have been so slow to post lately. It was a rush to get it done so I had to cut back on everything I’ve been doing to get it done. I’m very excited about it and will be sharing more details as I have them.


Martha Mondays: Apple Pie

March 29, 2011

In honor of Martha’s new pies and tarts book, Pru from Perfecting Pru has chosen apple pie for next Monday’s project.

More on Puerto Rico

March 29, 2011

Things are finally slowing down here so I’ll have more time to blog. I threw up some Puerto Rico photos the other day but didn’t have time to write anything. San Juan is a beautiful city, with narrow cobbled streets, old forts, and Spanish architecture. One thing we did that was off the beaten path was follow directions in a guidebook to find a place that sells limbers. Limbers are a frozen juice, like a popsicle. They come in plastic cups and are sold from a window inside a hallway in a residential building. You wouldn’t have a clue it’s there unless you knew to look for it. In the photo, Mr. MarthaAndMe is standing outside the building. You have to go in a doorway and then go up to a barred window to order. They have a list of flavors, but seemed to be out of most of them. We ended up with passion fruit, grape, pina colada and one other I can’t remember. You aren’t given a spoon or straw and have this cup full of frozen juice. We sat across the street with a view of the harbor and tried to eat them. Mr. MarthaAndMe suggested squeezing the cup to get the juice to pop up a bit. Great idea – until we realized it made the cups crack and soon we had juice dripping everywhere. It was a complete disaster. It tasted great though!

We drove through El Yunque, the rainforest and it was beautiful. The other very special thing we did was kayak in the bioluminescent bay at night. We went to Fajardo (there are two others in PR as well). I don’t have any photos yet –  we took some with a waterproof disposable camera that I haven’t had developed yet. We arrived at 8 when it was getting dark. We didn’t shove off until about 8:30 or so. You have to walk through the water to get to about knee high water then they have you climb into sea kayaks (2-person). You kayak through a mangrove forest for about half an hour (quite an adventure in the dark!) and come out into a bay. As you turn into the bay, you notice that when you dip your oars in the water, the water seems to glow an eerie blue.  We paddled out to the middle of the bay and the guide tied all of our kayaks together and tried to talk about the phenomenon but one of the other guides was intent on squirting Teen Martha with a water gun and getting the other teens involved so we ended up not hearing much. You could put your hand in the water and swirl it and the water was electric blue when you moved it. They then put a tarp over our kayak and encouraged us to splash water on our legs. The droplets glowed like blue diamonds. It was absolutely amazing. It was really the highlight of our trip.

In the photos I posted earlier, I showed paella we enjoyed as well as a photo of Teen Martha with a pina colada. These were both taken at Barrachina, the place that claims to have invented the pina colada. The night we were there, they had flamenco dancers performing.

As for the shopping, it wasn’t great. Most of San Juan had tacky souvenir shops. There was one fantastic place that sold hats, but Mr. MarthaAndMe did not buy one. We found some galleries and some artisan shops, but I really didn’t buy much. There were two nice shops by El Yunque where I bought some things. When I got home, I realized nothing I bought cost over $12 which is incredible.

In photo #1 you’ll see a shell bracelet, a bar of soap, a leather case with leather dominoes, and a three dimensional sculpture of a San Juan scene. Photo #2 shows a little painting that has some shells glued on it and a watercolor print of a San Juan scene. You’ll also see a bowl with a basket edging, a bookmark and a Christmas tree ornament. The kids and Mr. MarthaAndMe got t-shirts. Teen Martha bought a tshirt dress and a beautiful white cotton embroidered top that was made in Ecuador. Dude Martha also bought a hat. One strange note is that all of the women’s clothes were tiny. Teen Martha could not find much that fit. Even an XL looked like a small to us. I did not understand it at all.

Photo #3 is a piece of aluminum that has been etched and painted and mounted on wood. We saw a lot of these, but almost all had the 3 kings in them and I’m not big on religious icons. We finally found this one.

Lemon Pudding: Martha Mondays

March 28, 2011

Thanks to Sara at Sassy Suppers for picking Lemon Pudding for today’s project. Mine did not set up enough. It was quite thick when I took it off the stove (I brought it to a simmer as directed), but after I added the lemon juice it was thin. I hoped it would set up in the fridge, but it was more like lemon soup. Oh well. It was also quite lemony. Even if it had set up, I’m not sure anyone here would have eaten it.  Oh well. I’m hoping it worked for others.

Some Puerto Rico Photos

March 25, 2011






Dude Martha's new BFF: an iguana

View of mountains fro hotel

Grounds of Rio Mar Beach Resort

Old San Juan, viewed from a fort

Spanish architecture in Old San Juan

Beautiful beaches

El Yunque rainforest

Teen Martha’s 1st Pina Colada (drinking age 18)

Martha Mondays: 3/28

March 22, 2011

Thanks to Sara at Sassy Suppers for choosing Lemon Pudding for next Monday!

Puerto Rico

March 21, 2011

Hello everyone. Sorry to have been gone for so long. I am in the middle of a giant, short deadline project, came down with the world’s worst cold/sinus infection and in the midst of it all, went to Puerto Rico for a few days.

Red snapper

It was our first visit there. I’ll put up a post with photos of what we did later this week, but wanted to share the food now. Overall, I was not a fan (sorry PR!). A lot of the food is fried and much of it was bland. There is a lot of seafood, but I didn’t have anything that really wowed me.  The whole red snapper was probably the best thing we had. It’s cooked whole though, which I’m not a fan of. Served with fried plantains. It was moist and very fresh.

We ate lunch at a place recommended to us where we ended up sitting at a


counter. Like most restaurants, we had to point to what we wanted since we couldn’t pronounce the Spanish and our server didn’t understand the English. I had mofongo (mashed green plantains) stuffed with chicken. That was pretty good. It came with rice and beans of course. And some whole pieces of plantain.


Another adventure was dinner at a Spanish restaurant (Barrachina) where Teen Martha and I shared seafood paella. I enjoyed it, but there were pieces of shell throughout, making it hard to eat.

Many restaurants outside San Juan are in kiosks on the beach. We ate at two of these places with mixed results. At one of them I ordered crab stew, which is made with a land crab. I really did not care for this. The crab tasted very earthy and pungent to me – it


definitely tasted like a land crab! It was served with mofongo and a little salad that was cute, but came with bottled dressing.

For breakfast one day, I had what is called a mallorca, a yellow dough with ham and cheese inside. I enjoyed this, but like everything, it was just bland. I needed something – mustard or a sauce to bring it to life.


One local item I wanted to try but we did not is lechon, whole roast suckling pig. We saw numerous tents on the roadside selling this, but I could not bring myself to eat at them (hygiene concerns). On our last day we asked the concierge where to go to enjoy this. She was less than helpful, first saying you would not eat it for dinner because it has been on the spit all day and gets old (which I think cannot be true since I’ve been to pig roasts and it does take all day for that pig to cook). She then recommended only 2 places that were each an hour away. So that didn’t happen.

Overall, the food was just not a hit for us. We had fun though and I’ll share what we did in a later post.

Martha Mondays/Sick

March 14, 2011

Hi everyone. I’m down for the count here and could not get the project done. If you made it, please post results in comments. I’m sorry! I wanted to but have been too sick to cook for two days.

What Do You Have Too Much Of?

March 8, 2011

I’m tied up with a new project I should be able to tell you all about very soon, but it means my Martha cooking time is limited. So I thought I would take a moment and reflect upon a growing problem in my kitchen. I am overrun with jellies/jams and mustards.

Here is the current list:


strawberry jam

wild blueberry jam

apricot jam

orange marmalade

lingonberry jam

grape jelly

fireweed jelly

strawberry rhubarb jam

salmonberry jelly

apple pie jam

strawberry vanilla jam

passion fruit jelly

guava strawberry jelly

peach jam

damson plum jelly

rhubarb jam

blackberry jelly


store brand yellow

Grey Pouopn country style Dijon

honey mustard

sharp hot

sharp and creamy

sweet hot

Rayes (a Martha’s Pick I haven’t used up)

Weber’s (a  local horseradish mustard)

Gulden’s brown

stone ground

sweet apple mustard

Clearly this is out of control, but the thing is we do use all of it.  Admittedly, I have a problem because I like to buy jelly on trips (damson plum from Cape Cod, guava, passion fruit from Hawaii) but people also give me inordinate amounts. Everyone in this house has an individual mustard preference, some requiring different mustards for different things, but I also tend to end up receiving a lot of mustards in gift baskets. And I just can’t bring myself to throw any out.

What is your kitchen overrun with?

Pappardelle with Creamy Chicken Sauce

March 8, 2011

This recipe is from March Everyday Food.

1 tbsp olive oil

7 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces

salt and pepper

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 garlic cloves

2 c heavy cream

1 lb pappardelle

Cook chicken with oil after seasoning with salt and pepper. Cook for 7 minutes. Add onion and cook 6 min. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add cream and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook about 15 minutes until it coats the back of a spoon. Season with salt and pepper.

Boil pappardelle. Reserve 1 cup cooking water. Add to sauce and toss pasta with sauce.

Ok, so that is Martha’s recipe. I used chicken breasts and substituted broccoli for half. I also added Parmesan cheese because pasta without cheese is like air without oxygen. This was good. I haven’t used pappardelle in a long time and I do like it. It definitely needed cheese though!

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