Tag Archives: recipes

Recipe (with reservations): Gozo

Gozo: Made from pounded manioc that's reconsituted like polenta, but so much denser.

The Internet does not yet know all. In part, I’m adding this post because searches for gozo do not produce recipe wisdom. So far, this manioc-flour specialty of the Central African Republic has failed to catch on among cosmopolitan American foodies.

I’m making gozo for an Africa-themed dinner party. It’s been years since I subsisted on this ball of food that is essentially the national starch of CAR. Continue reading


Recipe: Raccoon goulash

Paprika-spicy and tender meat in a rich, dark-red broth. Ozpörkölt. Ish. Serves at least eight.

Now chilled and gelled, coon goulash leftovers.

1 small (10 lbs.) raccoon
4 slices bacon Continue reading

Recipes for Poor Folks: Miso Soup

Once again, Need drives me over to Invention, plops me down and makes me like it. I am poor — which fact the ATM informed me, yet again, just as I was about to get some money for lunch. I abandoned the plan and rode my bike home with my mouth hanging open to catch the snowflakes.

Thoroughly chilled, I looked in the fridge. Nothing. I grit my teeth, I girded my loins, I spit. Really? Nothing? No. A fiction. First of all, there are so many condiments a person could live on those alone for a week. Second, I have greens growing in the garden, miso paste, and always some dried noodles. I’ve eaten it a million times before, but still it always feels like Invention pulled magically from an empty fridge.

So this is what I eat when I am cold and poor and lazy. Miso soup, which, to quote M.F.K. Fisher, “can be stretched this way or that and made country-simple or town-elegant.” (Naturally I have been reading Fisher’s thoughts on thrift — still standing, sturdily! — How to Cook a Wolf.)

Boil a bowl’s worth of water with a piece of kombu. Add a handful of bean-thread or rice-stick noodles. Give them a couple of minutes. Add a handful each of fresh spinach and frozen corn. If the noodles are done, pour the soup into the bowl. Mix in yellow miso paste, maybe 1.5 T for a bowl, but to taste. Add sesame oil.

Two recipes for masochists: How I learned to love the pain and the heat

Smokey the Bear changes his tune: Bring on the fire!

Smokey the Bear changes his tune: Bring on the fire!

In the Central African forest where I used to watch gorillas, a certain machismo reigned in camp. We were inclined to manifest it by working double shifts, dusk to dawn, tracking the animals. Or by putting a little duct tape on our scratches and going back to work in the swamp. Or, in the classic manner, through our capacity to endure hot sauce.

At the edge of camp grew a hot-pepper bush, brought in by some sainted soul. The chilis were tiny, red and hot, like bird’s-eye peppers. I learned that if I stuck one in my cheek as I left in the morning, it would keep my mouth entertained and the hunger at bay for a long while. I grew to love them, and the dried red chilis that are the ubiquitous table condiment in Central Africa. As we ate an awful lot of beans and rice, spice was our salvation. When I left the forest, I wanted to make sure I had a good supply of those special dark-red chili flakes, and I decided they’d make a good present for my loved ones. (People expect arts and crafts when you come back from Africa, but the forest I lived in wasn’t the crafty part. It was the thick, leafy, uncivilized part. I suppose I could have brought raw teak logs, except for the 35-pound weight limit.)

I emerged from the forest and found my way to Bangui. The morning of my flight back to New York, I hired a local guy to go find me a big bag of dried pili-pili flakes at the market.

He came back with a bag full of fresh peppers. Something like a Scotch bonnet, but hotter, if possible. How was I supposed to get this into the U.S., I asked him? He shrugged. I paid him. I took the bag. I figured I might as well carry it until someone took it away.

At some point, I became aware that crushed-pepper juice was leaking through my skirt and onto my thigh. And it was becoming uncomfortable. This is how hot the peppers were: By the time I got onto the plane, an hour or two later, I had to get burn dressings from the flight attendant.

I was prepared to surrender the peppers on reentry, but I suspect the customs dogs are more interested in cocaine than hot peppers. I landed in a tiny apartment in Midtown with peppers still in grimy market bag, and thanked my hosts by smoking them out of their home with enough capsaicin to kill a Texan.

If you dare, you may recreate the sauce … Continue reading

Recipe: Honey-mushroom pierogi

Honey mushrooms are named for the color of their caps, not the taste. Because “liver mushroom” just doesn’t sound as nice, does it?

A few days ago I cooked them in chicken drippings and added a half-bottle of wine, and they just added a thick umami flavor to a dish of barley, pine nuts and greens. This time, sauteed in butter, essence of liver said a very loud hello. Before you turn away from my post in disgust, I should say that the translation of liver from one kingdom to the next changes the experience. In its animal form, that smooth, dense meat with a musky iron flavor is unbalanced and overwhelming—though I love it. Liver’s honey-fungus form is lighter, more moderate, with a bite to it. But not delicate.

You could always use some other mushroom, if you’re frightened.

On dumplings (following up from my last post): The ‘tubes got a lot to say about pierogi dough. Doughs of sour cream, cream cheese or potatoes; doughs with no eggs or three. My Polish grandma always made ’em straight from the box, so she was no help. I’m posting this one so you’ll know it’s good.

Recipe: Honey-mushroom pierogi. Continue reading