with food, there’s always something new

Regina’s Table

via Amazon

via Amazon

As a Midwesterner, I cherish good weather–the sun, light, flowers and leafy trees. I love farmer’s markets with fresh produce.

This season, when I shop the markets, I’ll tuck a copy of Regina’s Seasonal Table in my canvas bag.

Written by Indy-based chef and restauranteur, Regina Mehallick:
“Regina’s Seasonal Table focuses on Midwestern USA’s bounty and recognizes the joys of eating seasonally. The 124-page book includes more than 100 beautiful photos and four seasons’ worth of good eating geared toward the home cook. Recipes include Indiana watermelon with prosciutto de Parma and Gorgonzola; Seared beef tenderloin bruschetta with roasted peppers and red onions on Asiago bread and arugula salad; and Ruby red trout with wild rice succotash and Pernod sauce.”

Usually, I don’t like or recommend cookbooks by chefs, but this cookbook is different. Although the recipes are for restaurant-quality presentations, Regina Mehalick speaks to the home cook.

Perhaps it’s because she didn’t start out in a commercial kitchen. She cooked at home for her husband and family, then went to culinary school. Perhaps it’s because she cooked professionally and studied in England and Scotland where in she learned to appreciate balance on the plate.

The instructions are straightforward and homey. As implied in the title, the recipes are organized by seasons, starting with Spring. Chef Mehallick is respectful of her audience and doesn’t overload home cooks with recipes requiring excessive numbers of ingredients.

Chef Mehallick came to Indy in 2000 and opened her restaurant, RBistro, in 2001. It was a dark time in Indy’s food scene and she was a leader, promoting seasonal, local cuisine.

Now she’s graced us with a beautiful, practical cookbook using our food and our ingredients.


Written by Susan Gillie

April 14, 2009 at 3:34 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Joy, Sorrow and Glory

This was a special week. Yesterday was Easter; at sundown last Wednesday, Passover began. An oppressed people freed from bondage by plagues. The son of God, idolized like a rock star, jailed, foresaken by friends and fans, then executed and, eureka, brought back to life.  

No matter what you’re religious persuasion, you  have to admit Passover and Easter are great stories And with all good stories, food is front and center. It’s all about suffering and victory. It’s Matzo and the Host.

This blog has gone through suffering and now a resurrection and victory.

I haven’t posted in ages and a few weeks ago we shut down completely. All seemed lost. It’s a long story, but my blog was bundled with a couple other blogs on Bluehost. Our relationship deteriorated. (I’m being nice. Andrew said” I’m sorry about all this, but bluehost totally f* us all and I’ve spent hours in crisis/fixit mode.”)

The blog came back to life. Andrew switched most of it to WordPress. Then we set about retrieving the domain name. I signed up with godaddy and Andrew transferred indieats and redirected traffic. Type in and you’re directed to

Now I’m on my own. It feels invigorating but scary.

I’ve been reading, reading, reading about WordPress. I have two options: or is safe, affordable (free) but limited. offers more creativity, but more work and expense.  For now, I’m sticking with It’s in my price range and comfort zone.

I’ve wanted to change the direction of indieats and this is the time. While the blog started as a lark, there’s so much to say, so much to do and so much to cook and eat.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing my vision for the new indieats. See you soon with a brand new look and brand new posts.

Written by Susan Gillie

April 13, 2009 at 12:03 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Recipe Redo

Time for Super Bowl. “Economizing” is this year’s theme, everyone’s doing hummus and salsa. Michael Ruhlman’ s getting preachy about “POT popcorn.”

Skip the trends and go with this idea. Green Goddess dip. Pull out your retro recipe, revamp it and wow friends and relatives.

I’d been thinking about Green Goddess dressing lately when Amanda Hesser, food writer for the New York Times wrote about it. In her column, Recipe Redoux. she pairs a classic “true food” with a chef’s spin, providing culinary history along the way.

Hesser pulls out a 1948 update and contrasts it with a trendy sauce slathered on lamb. I prepared the recipes. Both veered from this diva’s panache in ways that are disappointing.

Hesser recounts the origins:

 The Green Goddess salad was made famous at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco in 1923 as a tribute to George Arliss, the star of the play “The Green Goddess.” Descendant recipes vary, although most, including James Beard’s in “American Cookery,” rely on a foundation of tarragon, anchovies, chives and scallion. Some include garlic, parsley and chives, some sour cream. In a recent version by Ina Garten, found on the Food Network Web site, she replaced the tarragon with basil. The salad remained green, so no harm done. The bottled Seven Seas version of the dressing, so popular in the 1970s, went the way of moon boots as ranch and balsamic dressings elbowed their way onto shelves. Now produced in limited quantities by Kraft, it’s sold at places like the Vermont Country Store — purveyors of “the practical and hard-to-find” — for about $7.50 a bottle.

I went to Lost Recipes by Marian Cunningham, and found the original. (You can find the recipe online at Saveur) and whipped it upBloomfield describing Green Goddess as 

“a bit like a Caesar, don’t you think?” she asked after tasting it. A lot like a Caesar — and probably related, as Caesar salad was also popular in California in the 1920s. “It’s very strong, but it goes really well with the romaine, which is sturdy,”

I made the original and tossed the salad. Other than the anchovies, it didn’t taste anything like a Caesar. I like a sturdy, hardy salad and I’m no whimp when it comes to full-fat flavors, but it was too much. I mixed a tablespoon of the dressing into a vinaigrette and started over. Hmmm. pure joy.

Times change, tastes changes and Green Goddess dressing as a salad dressing is over. But the flavor is wonderful and the color pure and cleansing. So I thought, what about a dip.

I took the orginal, tweaked a few things and came up with Green Goddess dip. If your body is craving cholorophyll and vegetables after all the fatty, sugary indulgences of Christmas, this is it.

The changes I made:

  • I added more parsely and chives. I like Green Goddess green, green, green.
  • I used fresh tarragon. You can use tarragon vinegar if you want to save money and time.
  • Instead of anchovies, I used fish sauce. Fish sauce imparts a more subtle anchovy flavor. Besides, you save money and time.

Green Goddess Dip

  • 6 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 4-5 tablespoons chives, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons tarragon vinegar (or 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, finely chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp-1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • Black pepper to taste

Finely chop herbs and place in a food processor or blender along with lemon juice, vinegar, sour cream, mayonnaise and salt. Blend until the mixture is a deep green. Just before serving add the fish sauce (to taste) and black pepper.

Serve with chips, pita bread or fresh vegetables.

Varuation: Substitue cilantro for parsely and lemongrass vinegar for the tarragon vinegar.



Written by Susan Gillie

February 1, 2009 at 4:36 am

Posted in bloggage, food as fun

Update: the dozen down to two

The Sustainable Dozen is down to two.  Chuck Hasselbrook and Karen Ross are serious candidates for Undersecretary of Agriculture.

Food Democracy Now! has created a list of 12 candidates for the crucial Under Secretary positions that will stand up for safe, healthy food, clear air and water, animal welfare and soil preservation.

Tap on Food for Democracy’s website and learn about Chuck Hasselbrook and Karen Ross. Although FfD’s enlisted the help of the usual celebrities–Michael Pollan, Alice Waters, Wendell Berry and Marion Nestle–there are serious and unrecognized foot soldiers in this movement.

We all love swanning around the IMA dreaming about what is possible, or schmoozing at a Farm-to-Table event, but now’s the time to roll up our sleeves and go to work.

As they say,

Be the Change!

Written by Susan Gillie

January 23, 2009 at 3:57 pm

Posted in food as power

The Sustainable Dozen

This week Barrack Obama became President. While we’re all waiting for the first family to plant a victory garden on the White House lawn, there’s other work to do.

Food for Democracy, a grassroots organization, needs your help. They’ve compiled a list of qualified, committed candidates for Undersecretary of State. Go to their website and sign the petition urging the President to nominate one of these people. Right now, they have 60,000 signatures, but they need 100,000.

Click and sign for a better future. Email your friends and encourage them to sign the petition.

The Sustainable Dozen

Gus Schumacher: Former Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services at the U.S. Department of Agriculture; Former Massachusetts Commissioner of Agriculture. Boston, Massachusetts

Chuck Hassebrook: Executive Director, Center for Rural Affairs, Lyons, Nebraska.

Sarah Vogel: attorney; former two-term Commissioner of Agriculture for the State of North Dakota, Bismarck, North Dakota.

Fred Kirschenmann: organic farmer; Distinguished Fellow, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Ames, IA; President, Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, Pocantico Hills, New York.

Mark Ritchie: current Minnesota Secretary of State; former policy analyst in Minnesota’s Department of Agriculture under Governor Rudy Perpich; co-founder of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Neil Hamilton: attorney; Dwight D. Opperman Chair of Law and Professor of Law and Director, Agricultural Law Center, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa.

Doug O’Brien: current Assistant Director at Ohio Department of Agriculture; worked for the U.S. House and the Senate Ag Committee; former staff attorney and co-director for the National Agriculture Law Center in Arkansas, Reynoldsburg, Ohio.

James Riddle: organic farmer; founding chair of the International Organic Inspectors Association (IOIA); has served on the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Organic Advisory Task Force since 1991; appointed to the USDA’s National Organic Standards Board, serving on the Executive Committee for 5 years and was chair in 2005, Board of Directors. Winona, Minnesota.

Kathleen Merrigan: Director, Agriculture, Food and Environment M.S./Ph.D. Program, Assistant Professor and Director of the Center on Agriculture; Food and the Environment, Tufts University; former Federal Agency Administrator U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service; creator of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, mandating national organic standards and a program of federal accreditation. Boston Massachusetts.

Denise O’Brien: organic farmer, founder of Women, Food, and Agriculture Network (WFAN); represented the interests of women in agriculture at the World Conference on Women in Beijing, China in 1995; organized a rural women’s workshop for the 1996 World Food Summit in Rome, Italy; received nearly a half million votes in her 2006 bid to become Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture. Atlantic, Iowa.

Ralph Paige: Executive Director, Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund; served as presidential appointment to the 21st Century Production Agriculture Commission; participates on the Agriculture Policy Advisory Committee for Trade; the Cooperative Development Foundation; and the National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education & Economics Advisory Board. East Point, Georgia.

Karen Ross: President of the California Winegrape Growers Association and Executive Director of the Winegrape Growers of America; awarded the Wine Integrity Award by the Lodi Winegrape Commission for her contributions to the wine industry. Sacramento, California.

Note: As of today, more than 78,000 people signed the petition. Indiana needs to put it over the top!

Written by Susan Gillie

January 22, 2009 at 2:31 pm

Posted in food as power


This month I celebrated a milestone birthday. I turned sixty.

A few days before the big event an old friend, David W., sent me this picture. Judging from the hair style, and the state of the flower-bed in front of my partent’s house, the picture was taken in the Sprng of 1968. I was a freshman in college and 19 years old.

Miss Full-of-Herself thinks the world is hers to conquer. When I look at it, I laugh. To paraphase the late Beatle, George Harrison, that was six or seven lives ago.

What I see is a girl who doesn’t know how to cook. She’s never had real mayonnaise or vinaigrette. She’s never eaten an artichoke or tasted fresh tarragon. She doesn’t know that tuna is a great big fish and thinks it’s something that comes in a can like Chef Boyardee ravioli.

In a very short time this young lady is going to fall down the rabbit hole into the wonderland that is cooking and eating and sharing good food.

It will be a lifelong adventure.

Written by Susan Gillie

January 21, 2009 at 6:26 pm

Posted in food as adventure


Happy New Year! Sorry for the long absence, but a bad bout of illness during the holidays, followed by a burst of cooking endeavors is my excuse.

Feast of the Epiphany

Trying to stave off the horrible intestinal/sore throat flu raging through Indianapolis in early December, I succumbed at an inappropriate time. The weekend before Christmas, I knew I’d lost. Food didn’t look good, didn’t smell good, didn’t taste good. When I woke up on Christmas Day, the bugs had seized my throat as their territory. December is when I clean out my freezer in preparation for the new year, so there wasn’t any food made chicken stock. Campbell’s and Mrs. Grass became my new best friends.

After 500 bowls of chicken soup and gallons of orange juice, I hobbled through the holidays. The good news–I don’t have to worry about shedding the 5 to 8 lbs. of end-of-the-year flab. The bad news, I didn’t get to eat any of the good stuff–no cookies, no succulent meats, no nuts, no chocolate.

Don’t feel sorry for me, though. While I was shivering on the couch, I spent my time reading “Christmas Around the World.” If I couldn’t indulge in Christmas (or New Year’s) at least I could still read and dream about them.

Published in 1937 by IDEALS it’s a romanticized, idealized fantasy of Christmas:

“In this book describing the Christmas customs of many countries, we join the world-wide fellowship that Christmas has produced and so realize in our experience something of the ONE WORLD that is implied in the angels’ song:

Glory to God in the highests, And on earth peace, Good will toward men.

As saccharin as the stories are, in other parts of the world Christmas is a season, not just a day. When the veil of temporary misery lifted and my appetite returned, I decided I’d celebrate the Feast of Epiphany.

Epiphany is the “real Christmas.” Western Christianity celebrates it as the pilgrimage of the Wise Men and homage to Baby Jesus; Eastern Christians celebrate it as Jesus’ baptism. What the day brings to a foodie like me is a lot of latitude, creativity and a better chance to cook food I like than December 25th.

I opted for the Eastern version. Grilled lamb, bulghur pilaf a peasant salad of greens and hearty bread pudding.

Greek Orthodox bishop at the Great Blessing of Waters on Theophany, releasing the cross off the Glenelg Jetty, South Australia, for one of the swimmers below to retrieve.

Greek Orthodox bishop at the Great Blessing of Waters on Theophany, releasing the cross off the Glenelg Jetty, South Australia, for one of the swimmers below to retrieve.

Too bad we celebrate just Christmas Day in this country and not the whole season.

For 2009, I’m thinking about a trip to Mexico. Afterall, they celebrate Christmas all the way to Candlemas–February 2.

Written by Susan Gillie

January 21, 2009 at 6:18 pm

Posted in bloggage

Thank you, Alice

Tonight, Alice Waters shared her passion with me, my friend Ruth Holladay and 598 other guests.

Famed restauranteur and food activist, Alice Waters, came to Indianapolis and spoke to a sold-out crowd at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. She shared her thoughts, joys and long, illustrious experience with the audience.

Ever the “teacup personality” described by David Kamp in The United States of Argula, she started out languid. Very, very slow.

I arched my back and sunk into the seat.

“We have to listen to this for a whole hour?

Then I saw them, the boots. Alice Waters was wearing cowboy boots, or rather, cowgirl boots.

I got it. Part of her is sing-songey-little-girlish dressed in drapey clothes. But her feet, clad in “no b/s” boots, tell us she has an iron-clad will.

Two words I’ll take away from this night. Seduction and compromise. That’s what Alice Waters told her audience. When people, or the system, wander in a direction you know is wrong, seduce them with food and kindness and love. Her advice to cullinary students-don’t compromise. Thirty years ago options were limited, now there are choices.

Thank you Alice. And thanks to the IMA, donors and IVY Tech culinary students for making this such a memorable night.

Speaking of shoes, Renee Wilmeth of our favorite Indy foodblog, FeedMeDrinkMe, had on the best pair of pumps I’ve seen in a long time. They were so good, I thought they might be vintage. But no, they were brand new.

Written by Susan Gillie

December 2, 2008 at 11:09 pm

December is

exotic fruit month.

Center for Disease Control

Think Kumquats, Sapote, Ugli fruits, Pepino melon, Cherimoya.

Written by Susan Gillie

December 2, 2008 at 4:46 am

Posted in food as absurd


I decided to feng shui my house and thought getting rid of clutter could enhance the chi. Then I watched one of those home improvement programs and found out the real problem.  I needed to fiip my kitchen.

Mark Bittman posted a Thanksgiving recipe on his blog, but his readers weren’t interested in turkey. They wanted to know how a professional food writer could cook in such a bad kitchen.

My kitchen is much worse. Bittman whines about bumping his shins on the dishwasher. I’m the only dishwasher and I’d kill for a garbage disposal. I’ve no counter space and one tiny cupboard.  I won’t even bother describing the wallpaper

My stove is a “vintage” Hardwick with a double oven. The burners are scary, but the bottom oven heats accurately and evenly. The top oven is too hard to keep in working order so I use it to store my Lodge frying pans..

My kitchen, like Mark Bittman’s, has a big window with a great view. I’d love to have a fancy kitchen, but don’t need one to cook well.

What I need is a better work flow, so I switched furniture. Out of the kitchen came a shelf and a small, drop-leaf table. In came the big, bulky dining room table which now functions as counter and prep space.

The worst space waster in my kitchen?

The microwave

On the off chance that I have to use it, it’s now in a side room.

What’s the one appliance I’d love to have? 

A hand-washing station

It blows my mind that people spend thousands of dollars on granite counter tops, then skip a hand washing station.

What’s wrong with home-improvement/kitchen design hustlers? How did they miss suckering homeowners into shelling out another five grand?

Written by Susan Gillie

November 30, 2008 at 8:19 pm

Posted in bloggage