Posts Tagged ‘Cathy Erway’

When Blogs Beget Books

The Art Of Eating In

Because for years I worked at an internet company, and then moved to my current job where I’m employed by the internet division of our company, I assume I can be forgiven for not constantly keeping on top of the latest blogs, trends and memes.  When you spend 8 hours a day on the internet for your job, the last thing you want to do is come home and surf the internet a whole bunch more.  In fact, it’s a wonder I ever started this blog in the first place (2 years and counting!) since it obviously requires a fair bit of my spare time be devoted to the blasted internest, but it’s all about food, so it’s a labour of love to me.  I never fell for Myspace, I didn’t fawn over Facebook and even though I have a Twitter account, I find it to be of very limited value.  I guess you could say that in some respects I’m a bit of an internet rejectionist, since I have little time and patience for it as a medium.

That being said, it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I’d even heard of Cathy Erway or her blog, Not Eating Out In New York.  I think I may have browsed over to a link for a recipe on her site once, but by not making myself aware of the context of her writing, I didn’t find it interesting enough to follow.  I only recently heard about her book The Art Of Eating In through a recipe on Serious Eats, of all places.  In fact, the post was the impetus for me to finally test out that whole no knead bread thing.  And even though I wasn’t absolutely blown away by the no knead bread (I think I just like traditional bread with sourdough starters better) I was intrigued enough to seek out the book and add it to my reading list.

Now it should be noted that to date I’ve not found any blog to book treatments that have tickled my fancy, because for the most part a lot of these bloggers’ stories do not resonate with me.  I think I’ve made it quite clear how I feel about The Julie/Julia Project over the past few years, and though I know many people who love it, I never got into The Pioneer Woman Cooks.  Now, if that Hunter Angler Gardener Cook guy wrote a book (he hasn’t yet, has he?) then I could possibly get myself engaged, but generally speaking, it’s just not happening.

As such, it should come as no surprise that I didn’t find The Art Of Eating In immediately riveting.  It’s not bad when considered as a kind of social experiment (in fact, it reminds me of that The Year Of Living Biblically guy crossed with No Impact Man) but I found that the book spent more time meandering around how the whole not eating out in New York idea impacted finding and keeping a romantic interest more than anything else.  Certainly it was neat to read about the act of participating in all sorts of community cook-offs and underground supper clubs and broadening of horizons through foraging and freeganism, but overall I did not find the story to be all that compelling.  The recipes on the other hand were definitely worth reading, and I’ve earmarked several of them to try in the next little while, particularly the smoked tobacco and coffee infused dish from one of her supper club parties.

Perhaps it struck a bit of a chord with the bit of poor girl left in me, but the idea of constantly eating out (in any city) seems ridiculously extravagant to the point of almost being insulting.  Because of that perspective, I might be a little biased when considering the idea of giving something up that for most people is an unimaginable luxury.  Several times whilst reading the book I’ve wondered if I would have found it a more page-turning read if I’d been following her blog for any length of time beforehand.  Truthfully, I think it’s doubtful, but if there was one thing about the book that explicitly pleased me, it was the way it spurred on a number of people to challenge themselves to a week of not eating out, via the gauntlet that was thrown down over at HuffPo.


The Resurgence Of No Knead Bread


I’ll be honest.

I’ve been categorically ignoring the whole no knead bread trend since I first heard about it back in 2006.

It became quite the internet sensation at the time, died down and now seems to be making the rounds again, due at least partially to Cathy Erway’s new book about not eating out for 2 years, I assume (which includes her riff on the recipe).

As someone who loves cooking and food as much as I do, I can say with alacrity that I’ve often thought of no knead bread as the lazy person’s shortcut, aka baking for dummies.  If you asked my mother, she’d probably cluck her teeth and mutter something under her breath about it being the cowboy way.  Beyond that, even though I start by mixing 90% of my breads in a stand mixer for at least part of the process, I can’t imagine giving up the interaction with the elementalness that is bread just to make life “simpler”.

But, when I saw Erway’s recipe for parmagiano, peppercorn and potato no knead bread, I made an exception and decided to try it.  At the time I had no knowledge of what made her recipe differ from the standard no knead bread, so I followed everything to the letter except for 2 things.  I subbed in a cup of whole wheat flour to surreptitiously improve its healthiness and instead of cracked black peppercorns, I mixed up a blend of 5 different ones that I’ve had lurking in the kitchen, including Muntok, Sarawak, Malabar, Tellicherry and Moula peppercorns crushed in a tea towel with a mallet.