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Archive for September 2008

Auld Lang Syne

Today is the last day for Crawford’s Bakery. After 21 years in business, they’re closing shop on North Capitol Street across from Methodist Hospital.

There’s plenty of media coverage. Even though we’re in the midst of an historic presidential race and ominous economic meltdown, Crawfords made front-page of yesterday’s Indianapolis Star.

Not everyone is weeping, though.

A friend and colleague of mine worked for them, right after she’d graduated from CIA (Culinary Institute of America).

She told me, “when I interviewed, I saw bags of flour and sugar, and thought ‘what a great deal.’ They were all mixes. Here I am, right out of CIA pastry program with mixes. Worse, I wasn’t allowed to decorate much less touch the cakes.

“No, they stuck me on the fryer, with the doughnuts. “

“After a while they let me work with the gingerbread man cookies. Not the whole gingerbread man, mind you, I was only allowed to put on the eyes, noses and buttons.”

“When they decided to expand, they wanted to teach me how to make sandwiches. I felt degraded. I wanted to say, ‘you do no real baking, nothing is from scratch, nothing is of any quality and you want to teach me how to make sandwiches? I stuck it out for a year and left.”

“I don’t blame them. The owner was a nice man. It was my fault. Lesson learned. Now I manage my career. When someone wants to hire me, I look closer at what’s going on. I look at the bags to see if they’re flour or a mix.”

In Indiana, we have a bad habit of rolling around and remorsing over a past that never was. Crawfords is a perfect example, medicore bakery, mediocre sandwich shop.

So today, pick up some free food and watch the ceremony as the Fire Department hauls off the last doughnuts. Shed a tear for Mayberry.

Then, Indianapolis, move on.


Written by Susan Gillie

September 30, 2008 at 1:28 pm

Posted in Uncategorized


 We’ve all been so busy fussing with vegetables, we forgot about chocolate.


Chocolate: The Exhibition is an entertaining, educational look at the origins and history of chocolate. Developed by the Chicago Field Museum, in cooperation with the National Science Foundaton, the exhibition runs from October 4th to January 4th of next year at the Indiana State Museum.

South Bend Chocolate Company is sponsoring the Indiana tour.

Written by Susan Gillie

September 20, 2008 at 6:23 pm


What is it about late August/early September that makes sitting in front of a computer so difficult? Living in the Midwest, we cherish our summers.

Feral Swine

Anthony Bourdain, bad-boy culinarian and host of No Reservations, went to Spain to kill a pig. Wincy, mincy Michael Pollan, author of Ominivore’s Dilemma, trekked through the woods in search of a boar.

Now’s your chance to get in on the action. Michigan has a wild pig crisis. Seems the Ted Nugent God/Guns/Guts crowd set up their own wild-game hunting preserves. The mean little piggies escape, “reproduce like rabbits,” roam in packs and tear up the neighborhood. Farmers describe them as “four-legged vacuum cleaners.”

Time to git your gun and head up north.


I work on the IUPUI campus, a culinary wasteland. Although the student union recently opened, it’s airport-terminal food, pretty packaging, boring, tasteless food. With the economy in the tank, six bucks for cardboard sushi just isn’t cutting it anymore.

In this week’s Washington Post column, Cooking for One, Joe Yonan devises fresh salads with noodles and grain to offset sandwich fatigue. Taking inspiration from a Heidi Swanson 101 Cookbook recipe he creates simple, tasty recipes like Spicy Almond Soba Noodles with Edamame and Cous-Cous Turkey Salad.

It’s easy to take the ideas in the article and improvise. I have packages of asian noodles (I always think I’m going to make spring rolls or Pad Thai) that fit nicely with a basil/tomoato salad.

Off to work, enjoy the day.

Written by Susan Gillie

September 18, 2008 at 3:06 pm

Posted in bloggage

Summer Vacation

Last Sunday kicked off Going Local Week. Don’t think I haven’t been doing anything (I have) or that I sneaked off to eat Gummy Sour Vampire Bats (I did), but writing for the cause is hard.

Not that buying and cooking delicious food is a curse or a cross-to-bear,  it’s not, but it’s a lot like writing What I Did on My Summer Vacation. You know, I went here, I bought this, I made that, it was all delicious. Maybe it’s because I am on vacation.

Ratatouille Ribeye

Stopping by the farmer’s market, I picked up a bag of veggies. After that, it was off to lunch at Oceaniare with my friend Cheryl Pleak-Copeland who handed me a big bag of her tomatoes. Arriving home was another bag, a gift from a neighbor, hanging on my doorknob.

Until last summer, when the movie came out, I hadn’t thought about ratatouille in years. I remember it as gaggy, part-and-parcel of the 70’s pantheon of bad taste, plaid polyester pants, white belts, ‘ploitaton films, Donny and Marie.

Going through dozens of cookbooks, I found all kinds of ways to cook eggplant stew. This recipe is my spin on the classic.

High Season

I have so many tomatoes. Heirloom tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, Cherry Tomatoes and regular old, I-don’t-know-what-they-are-tomatoes. They are all local, some traveling 10-feet from my kitchen window. It’s best to wash them, put them on cookie sheets, sprinkle on a little salt and sugar and let them slow cook in the oven at a low temperature. 

It seemed a waste, though, and instead Going Local turned into sauce week. Some tomatoes became Italian sauce, some became Mexican salsa, others are destined for an experiment in making marmelade. The ripest, more flavorful tomatoes were sacrificial lambs to the gods-of-aspic.

I cannot say enough about Tomato Aspic. Maybe because it’s made at peak tomato season, using the plumpest, ripest tomatoes.

Chop up the tomatoes and cook in a saucepan for 20 minutes along with bay leaf, peppercorns, finely chopped onions and celery, garlic, salt and water. Strain the mixture and add a seasoning base of cider vinegar, lemon juice, sugar and salt. As the mixture cools, add unflavored gelatin and pour into mold(s).

The recipe’s from The Gift of Southern Cooking by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock. Anyone who loves local, seasonal food should own this book.

Slow, Slow, Slow

Friday evening, Erin Morgan and Laura Henderson hosted a Slow Foods function at their yoga/pilates studio, Invoke. Laura conducted a slow-flow class, followed by a conversation with local farmers and a picnic-style dinner from Goose the Market.

Check out the latest issue of Urban Times and read Laura’s article on local foods.

Written by Susan Gillie

September 6, 2008 at 3:06 pm

Posted in bloggage

Ratatouille Ribeye

Ratatouille Ribeye is a culinary tromphe l’oeil, a vegetable replacement for hearty beef. As delicious as it is by itself, it’s even better with a few lamb meatballs.


1. Roast vegetables. Thinly slice 2 medium-sized zucchini, 1/2 large onion and 1 cored, cleaned red pepper. Slice orange-gold tomatoes in thick (1/2 inch) sices.  Place vegetables on a cookie sheet and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Slow roast in oven (200 degrees) for 35-40 minutes.

2. Prepare stew. Chop up the remaining 1/2 onion and 4-6 medium sized zucchinis. Saute in 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. When vegetables are translucent, add 1/2 cup of water or chicken stock, 1-2 finely minced gloves of garlic. Stew while other vegetables are roasting.

3. Combined stewed and roasted vegetables. Add 1-2 teaspoons of fresh thyme, salt to taste and simmer over low heat.

Eggplant Ribeye and Onion Rings

Cut thick slices of eggplant and onions (9 1/2 inch). Soak for in buttermilk, refrigerated for 1-2 hours. Roll eggplant and onions in Panko breadcrumbs (or seasoned flour if you don’t have Panko) and deep fry or pan fry until golden. Sprinkle thyme or oregano on eggplant. Salt onion rings and eggplant to taste. Place on rack to drain.

Mediterranean Potatoes

Wash and dry small fingerling potatoes (4-6 per person). Cook in 2 quarts of near-boiling chicken broth. plus 1-2 cloves of smashed garlic for 8-10 minutes. Drain potatoes and drizzle with 1/4 cup of lemon juice and salt to taste.

Plating Ratatouille Ribeye

Spoon piperade onto plate and layer 1-2 slices of eggplant. Garnish with onion rings and potatoes.


Written by Susan Gillie

September 6, 2008 at 2:36 pm


was supposed to hit New Orleans. Instead, it struck San Francisco. (Thanks,

Written by Susan Gillie

September 3, 2008 at 2:22 am

Posted in bloggage


Written by Susan Gillie

September 3, 2008 at 2:20 am

Posted in bloggage