another dinner, cropped

Is it possible to be in love with a camera lens?


Don’t get me wrong, I’m quite happy in my relationship. But I have a bit of a crush on this lens. Money well spent, says I. Get ready for more macro!


Tonight’s dinner comes from Jonathan Waxman and his A Great American Cook: fettuccine with red onion marmalade and mushrooms. I’d wanted to make the mole pork shoulder, but it’s so hot here I couldn’t deal with the idea of standing over a stove browning meat for an hour.

Much better to stand over a stove caramelizing onions and reducing wine for an hour. Me = clever.


Also a bad idea when it’s this hot: drinking red wine. First of all, it’s tepid. Second, I don’t actually like most red wine all that much. Third, alcohol makes me sweaty; I know you needed to know that.

So I ended up trading my red wine for Brian’s hard cider. Because if I’m going to deal with the alcohol sweats, it’s gonna be for something good.

I thinly sliced a couple of red onions and cooked them slowly over low heat in a shit ton of butter. Waxman says his book is recipes from his home kitchen, but he uses restaurant amounts of butter (at least in this dish). And I? Have no problem with that, because butter fucking rules. When the onions were soft and golden, I added a cup of wine and let it cook down to a jammy glaze.


I would tell you more about the wine, but it didn’t have a grape varietal listed – it was simply called “rosso.” It came from my well-stocked wine collection of bottles that people have given us as gifts or left here during parties. We pride ourselves on our selective accumulation of wines about which we know nothing.

When the marmalade was done, I took it off the heat and stirred in a handful of fresh herbs. There would have been more, but my lemon balm has grown to mutant proportions and is cutting off the sunlight to the other plants in the patch. Does anyone have ideas for what to do with 200 cups of lemon balm? Let me know.


The garlic – I appreciate that Waxman is not shy with it – went into the pan for the mushrooms. Which, I confess, I did not wash by submerging in a large bowl of water although instructed to do so by the book, which highlights the fallacy that one shouldn’t wash mushrooms by pointing out that it rains in the forest.

If rain falls on a mushroom in the forest but no anal foodie is there to worry about it, does it absorb any water? That will be the subject of my morning meditation.

Anyway, I didn’t wash the damn mushrooms because in heat such as this, one must economize one’s movements. And I didn’t feel like seasoning the mushrooms with my sweat. Too hard to control the salt level that way.


While the garlic gently sauteed, I hacked up the mushrooms, wiping off the bigger clods of dirt with a paper towel. As you can see here because of this damn new camera lens, which picks up all my flaws and plainly shows some remaining dirt.

I can’t stay mad at it, though.


As they cooked down, I added a splash of sherry to the mushrooms and tossed to coat them and make sure the garlic was well mixed in. I also put a big pot of water on to boil for the fettuccine and then promptly went to sit on the couch next to the air conditioner, because do you know how hot it gets standing in front of the Power Plus burner when it’s on high?

I’ll give you a hint, it’s REALLY FRICKING HOT. Good thing we’re not in the middle of a heat wave!

To think, I was going to make something from the sandwich chapter to keep it simple and cool, but I nixed that because making a sandwich seemed like a cop out. If it’s 96 degrees next Thursday? Get ready to read about a goddamn sandwich on Friday morning. I mean, really, who doesn’t like a sandwich? Freaks, that’s who.

Once the pasta was done and drained, I tossed it with the mushrooms and marmalade and heaped up a couple of bowlfuls.

another dinner

I can report that this is a much softer dish than you might think. With all the onion, wine and garlic, you might expect something really assertive. Maybe it was the quality of my ingredients, but this was quite a gentle bowl of food: earthy mushrooms, a rather delicate sweetness from the onions and wine and a hint of herb in the background.

Sadly, I only ate two forkfuls of it, since by the time I was done with dinner – which took less than an hour, definitely below average for a Smackdown – I was so overheated that I couldn’t bring myself to eat a warm dinner. And this was in my air conditioned apartment; it’s not like I was cooking outside over an open fire. Oh, well. I’ll just fill up on cider.

Now if you’ll excuse me, this lens and I are going to spoon.