Friday, October 30, 2009

cooking at the "man spa"......

Gotta admit to having a great morning.  Went to the chiropractor's this morning.  Dr. Avi
is a wonderful, young, talented, ex-ice hockey playing jock and there are times when being
in his office is sort of like hanging out in a men's locker room.  Love listening to the conversation
when no one realizes you're in the massage chair in the inner office.  But this morning was the best.  There were 3 or 4 guys in the office when I walked in, sitting around and chatting with each other.  The fun started when I heard one of the guys say that his wife asked him if we was going to Dr. Avi's "man spa" again today.  I chuckled to myself because the term "man spa" hit the nail on the head.  Guys relaxing, talking, and all the while, getting the kinks taken out of their backs, necks, legs, and heads.  The chatter took a decidedly interesting turn when a man's voice, unknown to me, started talking about his marinara sauce.  He had a Brooklyn accent, and was recounting in some detail his love for simplicity, and his recreation of his Sicilian mother's Sunday dinner marinara sauce.  Nothing but the basics:  crushed tomatoes, garlic, salt, basil and olive oil.  All cooked for hours while the family went to Mass and eaten when they returned home.  There were at least three other male voices chiming in with enthusiastic "yeahs" or personal variations on the simple theme of marinara sauce.   After about 20 minutes or so, I strolled out of the massage room and asked if anyone had tried knitting.  The doctor turned on me.  "What do you think we are!" he snapped.  The Sicilian said he knew a bit about sewing, but that knitting was out of his league.  And another one of them offered the opinion that cooking was seductive and demonstrated a man's more sensual, passionate nature, whereas knitting was for sissies.  I asked what kind of tomatoes the Sicilian recommended and he replied that you could try some fancy San Marzano's, but that he personally always followed his mother's lead:  Progresso crushed tomatoes.  Said you can't beat 'em.  And who am I to argue.  All I know is I'm going home to try the simple marinara sauce from the man spa in the slow cooker and I'll let you know how it turns out.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Do what they say.....

Well, Steve Heimoff (, whose wine blog I read regularly, says Tom Wark ( whose wine blog I read often, says that you gotta blog daily if you want people to check out your blog.  What the heck.  I'm the new kid on the block when it comes to blogging, so I guess I'd better try it out and see what happens.

My newest book, the Gourmet Vegetarian Slow Cooker (Ten Speed Press), comes out in March, and as winter approaches (ok, as much "winter" as we ever get in southern California), I've started work on book #6, a slow cooker soups book.  Perfect timing.  Last night was a simple little potato, onion and cream soup that I loved.  It's great to get up in the morning, look around at what's in the fridge or the garden, and figure out how you might make a soup out of it.

I remember standing in front of the Vitamix demonstration counter at Costco a few months ago, looking for all the world like Gomer Pyle, USMC, with my mouth open, muttering "gawwwllly" as the lady wearing the attractive hair net shoved a whole carrot, a tomato, some garlic with the skin still on, a celery stalk, a jalapeno pepper, some onion and a piece of avocado into the blender and churned it into "soup" in about two seconds.  Nothing cooked, nothing chopped, just a bunch a stuff all mooshed up into what actually turned out to be pretty good.  (I kept thinking of Lucy and the Vita-meta-vegamint commercial.)
And then, wouldn't you know it, I bought the tune of more money than I care to divulge at the moment.

All in the interests of producing a good soup.  (BTW, I went into Costco again last week and the same lady was making a sorbet out of cucumbers and melons in the Vitamix.  Still damned good.)

It's no wonder that I'm on a soup quest here.  Let's see what I can come up with.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

New Gourmet Slow Cooker Blog

Hi, my name is Lynn Alley and I'm the author of three books on slow cooking, The Gourmet Slow Cooker (Ten Speed Press 2003), The Gourmet Slow Cooker Volume II (Ten Speed Press 2005), and the new, soon-to-be-published Gourmet Vegetarian Slow Cooker (Ten Speed Press 2009).  I also contribute regularly to the Wine Spectator online and have written for many food and wine publications over the years.  I thought I'd use this space to post some recipes, some pics, and some ideas on all sorts of subjects related to food and wine.