Culinarily Adjacent FAQ: On Picking Up Heavy Things, and Putting Them Back Down Again

About 8 months ago we got married, which means that (accounting for vacations and lazy days) we’re coming up on 6 months of weightlifting, seriously, as beginners. After the honeymoon, with so much free time left over from NOT WEDDING PLANNING, we re-examined our lifestyle and thought it could use some more cross-training. I suggested some light weight training. Salt Boy inhaled everything reddit had to say on the subject, and came back with a plan. For more background and info, read as much of that link as you can.

We work out Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays, in the evening after work. We start with 30 minutes of cardio (usually elliptical) to warm up before lifting. I really like Zombies! Run!, interspersed with bubblegum pop music during my cardio, but to each his own.

Then we do whichever of the following workouts we didn’t do last time (alternate).

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What to Eat in New York When You’re Sick


Salt Boy has laryngitis. Which probably means I’ll have it soon. I’m laying in a big batch of soup and sorbet, just in case. I’ve put a lot of thought into mitigating the symptoms of cold and flu season, since I basically get everyone’s colds. Here’s the game plan.

Step 1: Embrace Delivery Culture

I’ve been known to order california and cucumber rolls just so I can ingest them with too much wasabi dissolved in the soy sauce. Plus it often comes with Miso Soup. There’s a place across the street from our apartment that will hand you a quart vat of chinese noodle soup with bok choi, roasted pork and wontons. The Thai places will often sell you Tom Kha (spelling may vary), a soup made with chicken, coconut milk, lemongrass and galangal, which is rich, tangy and creamy but contains no dairy (important when phlemmy).

Step 2: Things to Make at Home

The Ginger Chicken Soup

Go to Trader Joe’s. Buy mirepoix, garlic, lemons, boxed organic stock x2, ground ginger from the spice aisle, noodles, and a pack of chicken breast. Or have forethought and have this in the house already at time of illness.

Pro tip: Trader Joe’s will sell you a cheater quart container of already-diced mirepoix. It is made for “I’m sick and I need soup.” We pop one of these in the freezer once a month or so and it holds up remarkably well for soup purposes. You could do the same with minced garlic, fresh lemon juice and chicken breast if you take your sick-preparation really seriously.

Sautee mirepoix plus at least 4 cloves of minced/crushed garlic in a pot with olive oil. Deglaze with 2 units of stock. Add bay leaf, at least 2 lemons worth of juice, and at least 2 tablespoons of POWDERED ginger. Adjust with salt and pepper. If you like, add noodles. Also if you like, sous vide some chicken breast and add the shredded chicken breast to the bowl at time of service.

Influenza Sorbet 

(Lazily adapted from Jeni’s Splendid. She has a delightful cookbook out now.)

I should remember to make a quart of this every November, and then it’s just there when the inevitable virus strikes.

Combine 2 cups orange juice, 1/3 cup lemon juice, 2/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup honey, 1/4 tsp powdered ginger, 1/8 tsp cayenne, 4 tbps bourbon, 1/4 tsp xanthan gum in a bowl. Stick blender into submission (until everything seems combined). Chill for 2 hours. Spin in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. If you have no ice cream maker, make granita: pour the mixture into a wide baking dish and put it in the freezer. Set a timer for 30 minutes and scrape with a fork every time the timer goes off. Stop when it reaches a consistency that you like. Alternately, freeze in ice cube trays and then pulverize in a food processor. Pack it back in a freezer-compatible container and freeze. Administer medicinally when “needed.”

Plum Torte for the End of Summer

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It’s the end of the summer, you can spin the light to gold…if it’s not drizzling. The leaves haven’t turned yet, but it’s noticeably cooler. Suddenly there’s a (laughable) pumpkin spice version of every imaginable product. The farmer’s market is full of decorative gourds, but I’m not quite ready to embrace all the apples.

So plums then.

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A Bowl of Cherries


It’s three weeks into the farm-share season, and we are settling into the rhythm of cooking with massive or minuscule quantities of unfamiliar or unexpected ingredients. We were out of town last week (but that’s another post), so we bequeathed our share  to another couple of foodies we know. Upon our return we checked in to see how they fared, and the response came back: thanks for the veg, we made some lovely things, but we couldn’t handle cooking this way every week…and you can have your kale back.

It really is a lifestyle, and not to be taken lightly.

This week began our fruit share. Last year we bought a vegetable share only, and all summer I remember looking longingly at the table of fruit, to be collected by my other comrades in veg. Now it is my fruit! Week one: 2.5 pounds sweet cherries, .65 pounds sour cherries, and one small bottle of raspberry apple juice from Red Jacket Orchards. That’s a lot of cherries, people.

I had plans for these cherries. In fact I had been anxiously awaiting them for weeks, ever since discovered that maraschino cherries were originally beautiful and were never meant to resemble the red-dyed monstrosities you find in bars nowadays.

Application 1: Maraschino Cherries (using sour cherries via thekitchn)
Application 2: Amaretto Cherries in syrup inspired by dessert at Esca in NYC
Application 3: Invite people over, put a bowl of cherries in front of them. And a bowl for pits.

If we get more sweet cherries next week (and I suspect that we will), there will be sweet cherries in bourbon, cherry preserves, and cherry shrub…you know, shrub, for cocktails.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA or Farm Share) in NYC

Last year, we signed up for a CSA for the first time, which was a bit of a stretch, because we weren’t living together yet. There was a clear division of labor: Salt Boy paid the fee, and Sugar Girl provided the labor (schlepping the resulting veg to and fro, and 4 volunteer hours over the course of the summer).

For various reasons, mostly involving compatible subway lines and minimal volunteer hours, we chose the Prince George CSA. We paid approximately $350 at the outset (to fund the farmer). That happened in early March, though some places want you to pony up by Jan or Feb. The vegetable onslaught began on June 10th, and I think I remember that it continued through early November. It’s something like 18-20 weeks of vegetables. There are still pickled (canned) carrots and kirby cucumbers in our hall closet, so you could argue we haven’t finished with the CSA yet.

Summary: pay your money before the season starts. Collect veg once a week through the season. Volunteer to work behind the check-in table for two two-hour blocks. Go home happy. Also, learn to work with new, tasty, fresh ingredients.

How much would you pay for a large reusable shopping bag full of veg at Whole Paycheck? If I run the average weekly share through the Fresh Direct website, it comes out to $20-$30, and you know the organic stuff at NYC prices is going to ring up at an even higher weekly cost. Although the volume varies from week to week, we were mostly vegetarian by the end of the summer and could never finish the share by the time the next pickup rolled around.

Here’s a listing of CSA’s in NYC.

Here are the ones we’re thinking about:

Chelsea CSA (Stoneledge Farm): 24 weeks of vegetables, 20 weeks of fruit; 1/2 hour walk or 16 minutes with a subway ride; pickup on Tuesdays 4-7; Standard veg share is $530, standard fruit share is $250; volunteer 4 hours per veg share, 2 hours per fruit share. Other stuff: coffee, honey, maple syrup.

Merchant’s Gate CSA: 22 weeks of veg, 20 weeks of fruit; $335 for a veg share, $240 for a fruit share; 4-6 hours total volunteer time; pickup at 417 West 57th Street (at 9th ave),  pickup Wednesday 3pm-7pm; other stuff: eggs, milk, yogurt, cheese.

Prince George CSA:  $360 for a veg share of 22 weeks, $200 for 20 week fruit share, pickup at 28th Street between 5th and Madison, pickup Thursdays 3:30pm-7:30pm; four hours volunteer time; other stuff: eggs, honey, maple syrup, granola, ground beef, chicken, butter.

We’re still deliberating on whether to stay with Prince George (where we were pretty happy) or try one of the others. Stay tuned for the gripping conclusion: which CSA will provide us with too much kale and zucchini?!

Pork #1: German

For reasons not worth going into*, our kitchen is currently filled with a borderline-ridiculous quantity of slow-cooked pork shoulder. While the bounty is on one level quite wonderful, on another level it’s totally insane. We’ve eaten it as omelette, ssam, fried rice, and pizza and we’re still less than half done. Thus, a chronicle of the remainder of the pork, as an education to others: may you learn from our mistakes.

Tonight, Sugar Girl was wishing for some Hallo Berlin, a German sausage place on 9th avenue. I thought back to our usual order from there: spicy sausage sliced into small chunks, covered in tangy sauce and served with sour cabbage. After a survey of our refrigerator, surprisingly bereft of other ingredients, I came up with this pork, mushroom, and onion dish. It’s a bit stewlike, as the inspirations were sauerbraten and vindaloo, but drier, faster, and easier:

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While it’s often difficult for young urban couples in dense living quarters to have a pet, we have managed it. Say hello to Sparky:

Starter, dough, and finished product

Isn’t he cute?*

We bake a loaf of sourdough about twice a week off the little tyke, using a no-knead recipe adapted from the famous Sullivan Street Bakery one that subs him in for the yeast. Admittedly this is all the result of a certain amount of tinkering, but I think the quality of the product and the ease with which it is produced speak for itself.

We use 90 grams of a 125% hydration starter culture (that’s Sparky) along with 560g of flour (bread if we have it), 400g of water, and 12g of salt — that works out to 75% hydration. Mix (we use a stand mixer) until integrated, then cover in plastic and leave for 18-24 hours. Proof for two hours on a cornmeal-covered cloth; at 90 minutes, preheat your oven to 475 and put a dutch oven inside it. When the proof is done, put the loaf in the dutch oven (shake around a bit to make sure it’s not folded over on itself), cover, and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the cover and bake another 15. Remove from the oven and be happy.

*The story of how he came to live with us is one I’ll leave to in-person retelling, if only because I basically can’t get over the way Sugar Girl longingly says “Puppy?”