The Daily Dish: Fruit Roll Ups

fruit roll ups

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Kids are crazy for fruit roll-ups and you won’t believe how incredibly easy they are to make. Kids love them, and they’re perfect to pack along on any movable feast. I have found that peaches, mangos, and most berries work best (avoid bananas, melons, or citrus). They are, of course, best in the season that the fruit is growing in, but frozen fruits work well, too.

Yield: about 5 pieces

Ingredients
2 cups pureed fruit
1 to 2 tablespoons honey

Directions
Heat oven to 200.°

In a small mixing bowl, stir ingredients well to combine. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper or a Silpat mat. Ladle puree onto baking sheet and spread into a very thin (about 1/8 inch) circle, about 8 inches in diameter. Repeat with remaining puree. Place in oven 5 to 6 hours or until dried but still flexible. Cool and wrap in plastic.

(Courtesy: Yankee Magazine)

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Annie B. Copps is a senior editor at Yankee Magazine. Annie oversees the magazine’s food coverage, both as an editor and as a contributor of feature stories and columns.

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The Daily Dish: Kitchen Basics

stock pot

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My kitchen doesn’t need anything super fancy. But I do have a few essentials that make cooking easier and more delicious.

  1. A large stock pot is a must for making soups. Soups are great because they can be frozen, then can be easily prepared during the week when time is precious.
  2. Heavy sauce pans or dutch ovens are what I use for roasts and braises.
  3. I love a cast iron skillet for high temperature searing, delicious stove top roasting—and it will last you a lifetime.
  4. For pasta lovers like me, a 14″ diameter skillet is a must. You can toss the pasta with the sauce just before serving. It’s also a perfect pan for quick-cooking meats and skillet-braised vegetables, Italian style.
  5. Another essential is a great glass of Bastianich wine.

Buon appetito!

Book review: Cleaving by Julie Powell, sequel to Julie & Julia, has plenty of spice

Meat on display, and as a metaphor for life, in Cleaving by Julie Powell.

Julie Powell must certainly have considered cooking her way through volume two of Mastering the Art of French Cooking as the follow-up sequel to her wildly successful Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously.

Some writers would have done just that. It would have been a predictable next move, maybe, but one that came with a fair guarantee of readership by the legions of Julia Child fans – many of whom have been Child devotees since WGBH’s groundbreaking cooking series, The French Chef.

But instead of cooking her way through Mastering (Volume Two), Powell apprenticed herself at a butcher shop in upstate New York. It was a bold, creative, and decidedly unpredictable move, and I applauded her courage and lack of orthodoxy. Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession was my book club’s March’s pick, and we met last week at Cornerstone Bookstore in Salem to discuss it in detail.

I was, I rush to say, keen to discuss Powell’s descriptions of dismembering steer and disemboweling pigs with the group, fellow food lovers all. But, if speaking honestly, it must be said that we all were more interested in what else Powell writes about.

What else she writes about is sex.

In Cleaving, Powell writes candidly and in detail about her highly charged affair with “D.” She writes about her troubled marriage in a tone that oscillates between indifference and agony. She writes revealingly about the emotional and psychological troubles of a life she complicates to the extreme.

It was a racier book than anyone in our group had anticipated. What it had to do with Julia Child – the reason at least some of us voted to read the book in the first place – was tangential at best. And as discussion within the group began, thoughts of Julia or, indeed, of butchery in general, fell quickly by the wayside.

There was a little of this at the start: “I was amazed by what it takes to cut meat.” And this: “I liked the parts where she went to other countries and connected with people over the meat.”

But the tempo of the conversation picked up considerably when we turned inevitably to the subject of sex.

“I read the whole thing,” one member volunteered immediately.

“I finished it ahead of time,” said another.

“She hooked me right at the beginning,” said a third.

Sex manages to strike those chords. Not that we spent much time on the specifics of the acts, but we did delve into what the acts meant and how we related to them.

One woman related, with startling clarity, the merits of “a love that hurts.” Another zoomed into page 22, where Powell describes her grandmother’s lifelong feeling of pointlessness, something that was passed down from generation to generation, and her mother’s “bone-deep unhappiness or discontent.”

It wasn’t a pretty story but, frankly, neither is sex nor love nor life all the time. I found Powell’s book refreshing exactly because it did not have an ending all tied up in a bow. In fact, members of our book club disagreed on what exactly the ending of the story was. We read the same last pages, but our interpretations of those pages varied widely.

I say that’s a good thing.

Because a perfect thing, a perfect, pretty thing, is boring. Powell’s story, and how it strikes chords within our own, is life. It’s complicated. It has texture, and ridges. It’s coarse. And rough. Sometimes that’s just what you want. And sometimes that’s what you get, whether you want it or not.

Cathy Huyghe writes the WGBH Foodie blog. Read new WGBH Foodie posts every weekday, in which Cathy explores myriad ways and places to experience good food and wine.

Wintertime Hideouts

Looking for hot food, warming drinks, and a cozy atmosphere?

These venues fit the bill. Our top three choices for wintertime hideouts are below.

Green Street Grill

The Green Street Grill in Cambridge

WHAT: Neptune Oyster
WHERE: 63 Salem Street, Boston
WHY: As big as a shoebox (18 seats). Food is almost as good as the atmosphere, especially if you’re having the Neptunes on Piggyback appetizer or the Vitello Tonnato sandwich. North End-worthy Italian wines on the list too.

WHAT: Green Street Grill
WHERE: 280 Green Street, Cambridge
WHY: Drink may be the most fanciful cocktail place in Boston, but Green Street is still the best for artfully made cocktails. The bartenders are professionals who take the business of putting together good drinks very seriously. As for food: lots of braising and grilling going on – time to warm up! — plus fun snacks if you’re just hanging out.

WHAT: Hungry Mother
WHERE: 233 Cardinal Medeiros Avenue, Cambridge
WHY: Southern cuisine, French twists, all kinds of homestyle charm. Killer cocktails and fantastic if tiny draft beer list too.