Aug 28, 2008

Manayunk, at Last

I finally went to Manayunk.

How many years have I known about Manayunk's renaissance? Twenty years? Sad. Anyhow, John and I needed an excuse, and so we found one. We need a doorknocker. And a new mailbox. So we thought we'd check out Restoration Hardware, which happens to be located in Manayunk. Our babysitter was available on Saturday so we tooled on over.

Manayunk is fairly funky if you ignore the Pottery Barn. And the Restoration Hardware, which did have predictably acceptable door hardware. I fell in love with Artesano Iron Works, just under the big bridge on the west side of Main St. In fact, I have a terrible crush on a copper-topped table and chairs there. Their furniture is made of reclaimed lumber from Colombia. It's very heavy and square but has ornate ironwork on some of it, so some of the pieces look like treasure chests. The big old bridge, resplendent with arches, looms over the shop.

The best thing about Manayunk isn't the shops or the restaurants but the edginess of it, real edginess, not manufactured by a "loft" condo developer. The Manayunk Canal drifts dankly by, as you sip your California Dreamin' IPA at Manayunk Brewery and Restaurant. You can see people walking up on the railroad trestle high above the Schuylkill River next to the canal. A couple of kids jump into the river from that height, which surprises you.

After supper you walk along the Schuylkill River Trail, narrowly avoiding getting slammed by bicyclists. Across the canal, young men play a pickup game in a weedy city basketball court. Beyond the river, cars rush by on the Schuylkill Expressway. The sky turns pink and gray as you walk along. It's a Saturday night in late August. You walk in towards Main St. , where two tired women sit on a bench. There are more "For Rent" signs at this end of town than there should be. You see a sign for the SEPTA station and so you look for it. The tracks are elevated, and rise above the length of Cresson St., dwarfing and dominating the shops. Under the tracks you find The Cresson Inn, "Where the Real Yunkers Drink." All two of them. Edward Hopper, where are you now?

You could be "down the shore," but no, you're in Manayunk. It's hard to think of a more bittersweet place to be at summer's end.

Aug 24, 2008

Did You Know Vincent Price Wrote a Cookbook?

Why yes, he did. Of course he did, or I wouldn't have asked you if you knew that he wrote one. Silly!

Here is a lovely review of it. I don't know why we should be surprised that a scary person wrote a cookbook. I mean, look at Rachael Ray--she has written several, much to the dismay of these people. I know I've put that link on this blog before, but I just can't help myself. Whenever I'm a little down in the dumps, I like to get my fix from the "Rachael Ray Sucks Community." Seriously, there are some fine epithet-hurlers on that site.

You ask, "What's been happening in the Dream Kitchen lately?" Right now we are awash in peaches. I made Peach Crumb Cake the other day for a playdate, the kind of playdate where you want the mom to come over too, not the Please Drop Your Kid Off and Go Away kind of playdate. Everyone liked it. Then we've been just slicing the rest and eating them with waffles or mixed with melon. Will eats them whole with the fuzzy skin, which he doesn't mind. He's very fussy about food, with certain notable exceptions, peach fuzz and now ants. Yesterday he squashed an ant, washed it, and ate it.

I've been saving watermelon rind in the freezer with vague plans of making watermelon pickle, but now I'm wondering if freezing the rinds first will be disadvantageous in some way . . . I don't want to sweat over a hot stove making a condiment that has the texture of leather. Any thoughts out there?

And the answer to my last blog post's stumper is "sregoob ergo."

Aug 20, 2008

Okra Alert

Hello dear faithful readers and those just stumbling upon the Dream Kitchen accidentally in the middle of the night in your far-flung Scandinavian countries and rural Asian outposts. I've been soooo busy with my MFA, laundry, kids, and compulsive Facebook status checking, that I've neglected this blog for months.

BUT it looks like I'll be advertising on here, details of which I can't reveal right now, due to a confidentiality agreement I just signed, so I'm trying to revive my readership before that starts. I was approached by (NAME OF ONLINE ENTITY HERE) just as I was thinking of throwing in the towel. I can always use a little cash to pay my tuition, after all.

So. We got okra in the CSA last week, which is historic. Never before in the history of our various CSA memberships, have we been graced with this quirky veggie. Should I make gumbo or fry it, I asked myself? That's all I could think of, but neither seemed satisfactory. I don't make much soup in the summer, and I don't really fry anything, ever. After consulting the vegetable goddess, Deborah Madison, I learned that it's very tasty grilled, which is exactly the permission I needed.

I grilled them whole on skewers, and also grilled some mild onions and green peppers. I cooked some basmati to go with the veggies, and added a little lemon juice and sesame oil to the rice. My boys always like to put some tamari on rice, so we had that on the table as well. You're wondering, "Come on. Did the children actually eat okra?"

Not really. I wanted to put as attractive a spin on the okra concept as possible, and for boys their age it's paradoxically best to make it sound as gross as possible. The soup my sister in law made two weeks ago had "pond scum" on it (pesto) which they loved. I'm not even going to tell you what I called these slimy treats, but maybe you can guess.