I don't normally make any kind
of New Year's Resolutions. I find that they
almost always take the same course and by the
end of January they've been thrown out the window
with every other good intention with which I
entered the year. Let's face it, making empty
pledges to lose weight, cut back on drinking
and stop smoking so many cigars have about as
much chance as surviving until March as pledges
like being more relaxed when I drive and spending
less money on useless crap.
So, with that in mind, my "resolutions"
for 1999 were far more attainable. In fact,
I'm not even sure that they're resolutions at
all. It's sort of like the "sacrifices"
I made during Lent when I was what could conceivably
be called a practicing Catholic. Instead of
giving up something I liked or loved (like hockey
on tv or sleazy gore flicks) I always took the
easy way out and either gave up something I
never liked (candy, for instance) or something
that I hated doing (shaving, etc.).
But back to my resolutions. If
we can call them that. Is it a resolution if
you pledge to see at least one movie in a theater
each week? Is it a resolution if you decide
that you aren't reading enough and promise to
dive into all those books sitting unread on
the shelf outside your office? Is it a resolution
if you desire to become more adventurous in
your culinary pursuits, tracking down some rabbit
every now and then, or getting around to that
pheasant a friend gave you?
Resolutions or not, I've really
only kept one of them, and that's the reading
one. And, frankly, that isn't even true, because
the book I'm reading is a new purchase, not
one of the many half-read or unmolested volumes
sitting within reach. But man is it a good one!
Having never read an issue of Vogue --
when I want sleazy confessions or an insulting
"Is Your Man Fill in the Blank" quiz
I reach for the latest Cosmo -- I wasn't
familiar with the writings of Jeffrey Steingarten,
NYC-lawyer-turned-food-writer. But after diving
into his book The
Man Who Ate Everything (Random House,
1997) I'm wondering if I shouldn't get a subscription,
just for his column! Ah hell, I'll just stand
in Borders and read it.
Unlike most food books, Steingarten's
work is infinitely enjoyable and immensely readable
-- dispensing with the type of snooty chatter
that dooms most collections of essays on the
subject, the author lets us know right off the
bat that he's one of us. In fact, his laugh-out-loud
intro got me thinking right away...what are
my own food phobias? Though I couldn't agree
with many of Steingarten's own admissions (swordfish,
Greek food, refried beans), I realized that
my own proclamation of liking "everything
except for beets" was a bit of a lie.
The beets thing does hold true,
though I've been told that a well-prepared dish
of pickled beets would likely change my tune.
I simply can't get the image of a dish filled
with oddly-colored canned beets glaring up at
me from my mother's kitchen table. Who knows?
I turned the corner on liver and onions a few
years ago (just try and stop me from ordering
it at the diner!), so could beets be far behind?
there's cilantro, an herb that's achieved some
degree of fame recently, especially in nuevo
Mexican cooking. Some cookbooks try and disguise
it by calling it fresh coriander or Chinese
parsley, but you can't fool me -- I can taste
(and smell) those green, soapy little flakes
a mile away.
And finally, while I've overcome
most of my picky eating habits from childhood,
there's still one thing my mother makes that
simply scares the hell out of me -- The Zodiac
Jello Mold Salad. If you grew up in the 60s
or 70s you know EXACTLY what I'm talking about.
It's that round, jiggling, gelatinous mound,
usually lime green in color, flecked throughout
with an inexplicable melange of shredded vegetables
and...raisins!? Ah hell, I'm gettin' a little
quesy just thinking about it.
Liver with Bacon and Onions
1 lb. baby beef liver
Bisquick or All-Purpose Flour
Salt and Pepper
1 tbsp. oil
1/2 lb. bacon
1 medium onion, sliced
Fry bacon first and remove from
pan and set aside. Tent with foil to keep warm.
Trim skin and membrane from liver and cut into
1" x 4" strips. Season Bisquick or
flour with salt and pepper. Season liver pieces
with salt and pepper. Dip liver in Bisquick
or flour, then dip in milk, then in Bisquick
or flour again. Heat oil in pan and fry over
medium heat about 5 minutes per side or until
at desired tenderness. Set liver aside and keep
warm. Placed sliced onion in pan juices and
cover, steaming until soft. Uncover pan and
cook until golden brown. Plate the liver and
top with onions and bacon. Serve with mashed
potatoes. Serves 4.