Cold Potato Soup or Vichysoisse

Several years ago I splurged on a hefty cookbook/treatise entitled The Art of Eating, by M.F.K. Fisher, a 50th Anniversary Edition, which includes 5 of her published books: Serve it Forth, Consider the Oyster, How to Cook a Wolf, The Gastronomical Me, and An Alphabet for Gourmets.  Boy howdy! (as they say in some parts) the perfect gift for your MFK Fisher fan.  I knew she was an icon in the foodie world, had read reviews praising her work, and don't remember if that was all it took, or if there was something more urging me to buy the weighty tome.   So glad I did.  One nice thing about this wonderful volume, a feast of accumulated experience, wit and challenging opinions on food and eating, is its very size.  You can dip and taste at random, sampling here and there, for quite a long time, and then go back for more.

Which is what I've done.  And until our current Cook the Books Club selection, How to Cook a Wolf, I had not read straight through any of the individual titles.  This particular book was written during the World War II years, and is a fascinating glimpse of the life and cooking challenges then, with shortages, rationing and hard economic conditions;  keeping an upbeat attitude with a wolf at the door.


Italian Plum Cake and Mysteries of Life

There are books, wonderful books, well-written, which I have enjoyed and appreciated, yet if asked later about the story line, I might only be able to tell you about a bit of food.   Plum Cake, case in point, from the recent and excellent novel by Donna Leon, The Golden Egg.

As one reviewer, Ms. Goring at The Herald, stated: "We find ourselves once more in the company of Commissario Guido Brunetti, a gentlemanly, bookish policeman who never takes a short cut if it would impede his ruminations on life."  A domestic tragedy, and mystery involving the death of a local boy, a deaf-mute, his neighbors believe.  Things are not always what they seem on the surface, and Paola, Brunetti's equally bookish wife, refuses to let things alone.  She encourages her husband to find out more about the sad-eyed young man, and why he died.

And she bakes her family a fabulous Plum Cake.  Her son equates it with God.  I don't know that I would go that far.  Though God did give us plums.


Hawaiian style - Poke, rhymes with okey dokey

Poke is a local treat, usually made with raw ahi tuna, though other fish are used as well, mixed with some type of seaweed, green onion, and various spices.  The secret ingredient is often roasted kukui nut, also called candlenut, which together with Hawaiian salt, make up that special flavor combination known around here as Inamona.

With a handy Kukui (Candlenut) tree in our back garden, I decided to go through the process of making my own inamona.  I had gathered a basket full and let the nuts brown in the sun for several weeks, as per directions found online.