Food Recipes

FEATURED BOOK & FOOD RECIPE REPORT: Summer Solstice Strawberry Crunch Cake


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Summer Solstice Strawberry Crunch Cake

Dorothy’s New Vintage Kitchen: Published: Jun 21:2023


Strawberries. Sweet, luscious, red through and through strawberries. They herald the summer season of fruits, and do so delightfully as we move to the longest day of the year.

Happy Summer Solstice! Here we are at the longest daylight of the year, which means twilight here until nearly 9:30 p.m., tons of fireflies, and I’m loving it. My granddaughter caught one on her first try a couple of nights ago, and I remembered catching them and putting them in a canning jar when I was a kid. Of course, on the longest day, that means chattering of the birds really early as well, but their music is indeed welcome after a long winter.

Celebrate the season with strawberries

My grandson requested a strawberry cake, not just any strawberry cake but one that would remind him of those summery ice-cream creations with the strawberry and crunchy cake-like coating. It was a tall order, but I came up with a lovely dessert that pleased everyone.

Always something special on Sunday

      My mom loved making cakes. She worked hard all week, and on the weekends would fuss with at least one lovely dessert for Sunday dinner. Often cream puffs, or a pie, but she loved most making beautiful frosted layer cakes, topped with mounds of buttercream or her favorite seven-minute frosting, They were always lovely to look at, and a flavorful treat.

Childhood memories

      During strawberry season, she would make a wonderful cake using the wild strawberries that grew by our home. They were tiny little gems, the size of your pinkie nail, and picking them was quite tedious! But their flavor was beyond anything the commercial growers could produce. Precious as they were, I think my mom thought tossing them in a cake would be the best way to extend the harvest to all seven of us!

The elusive recipe

      I could not find her recipe for this cake in her box, so I set about experimenting. While there are a few wild strawberries around here, not nearly enough to consider using in a cake, so the farmers market would have to do. This year, the strawberries are the best I’ve tasted in years, so I was hopeful. 

A slow start

      My first attempt was a failure. I just used my mom’s yellow cake recipe and tossed in chopped strawberries. The cakes fell in the middle, drastically, I’m assuming because the strawberries released too much liquid. I cried, but just for a few moments. Now, this became a challenge.

So, now what do I do?

      I looked in a few cookbooks, not much there, and then on-line, and the recipes were all over the place. Many used strawberry Jell-O, which I immediately rejected for its artificial flavors. A lot of them started with a cake mix, and for the same reason I passed them by as well. I noticed some of the scratch cakes called for making a strawberry puree and reducing it to concentrate the strawberry flavor. This sounded reasonable to me, since this would reduce the amount of liquid the strawberries exuded. Maybe my cake wouldn’t fall.

Daughter, the baker, to the rescue

      Then I called my daughter, who loves to bake as much as her grandmother did, and she told me that if I wanted to ramp up the flavor, I needed to add some freeze-dried strawberries (not dehydrated), which are sometimes hard to find, but she told me where to look. She said to add twice as much as I thought I should. As for making it taste like those ice-cream treats, she said to pick up some of those strawberry flavored wafer cookies, and they would be great sprinkled on top or in the filling. I actually found some made with real strawberries! Cream cheese frosting seemed to be the way to go, so I decided to use my white chocolate cream cheese frosting and add some more of the freeze-dried strawberries. OK, I had a plan.


A few changes, here and there

      I adapted a recipe I found from Life, Love, and Sugar baking site for the cake. This called for making the puree. I used a non-fat yoghurt rather than the sour cream because that is what I had on hand. I also used oat milk rather than dairy, and cake flour rather than all-purpose. To enhance the strawberry flavor more, I added a cup of pulverized freeze-dried strawberries to the batter as well as to the frosting. Some of her reviews said the cake was quite dense. To further lighten, I separated the eggs and whipped the whites to fold in at the end. 

Did it taste like my mother’s cake? Nope, but it was bursting with strawberry flavor and delicious, and maybe my memory is a bit off after all this time. Did it taste like a strawberry ice-cream bar? You bet it did, and everyone was delighted with the flavor and texture. I will definitely make this cake again, but only when the strawberries are in season.

Great minds and all that!

      A final, humorous note: This morning, as I was finishing this post, I spotted a very similar cake on my friend Terrie’s wonderful site Comfort du Jour! The cakes could have been twins to look at, but vastly different in flavor! Great minds and all that! Her twist, and of course there is always one, was to create a Strawberry Daiquiri Cake, and by the looks of it, and some trial and error, she definitely succeeded in creating the flavors she wanted with rum and boozy strawberry daiquiri syrup to soak the bake layers. Take a cruise over to see her luscious cake, with much more detailed instructions than mine! I even forgot to take a photo once we cut the cake!

Summer Solstice Strawberry Crunch Cake

  • 3 cups of chopped strawberries
  • ¾ cup sour cream or yoghurt, or plant yoghurt
  • ¼ cup milk, or plant milk
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups cake flour
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¾ cups unsalted butter or vegan butter
  • 1 cup pulverized freeze-dried strawberries
  • Pink or red food coloring, optional
  • 1 ½ recipe white chocolate cream cheese frosting, below
  • About 8 oz. strawberry wafer cookiesmore or less
  • 1 cup more chopped fresh strawberries, and a few to garnish

      Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare three 8” cake pans by buttering, flouring, lining with parchment, and buttering and flouring that as well. Set aside.

      First, make the strawberry reduction. In a food processor, purée the berries until they are smooth, about 1 ½ cups. Slow boil over medium heat until thick and reduced by half. Let this cool.

      Combine the strawberry reduction, yoghurt, milk, egg yolks, and vanilla in a large bowl.

      In the bowl of your stand mixer (or a large bowl if beating with a hand mixer) combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. On the lowest speed, add the butter a tablespoon at a time, making sure it is incorporated before adding the next piece. The mixture will start clumping together like beach sand. Add the freeze-dried strawberries. This is going to start smelling really good just about now.

      Slowly add the strawberry mixture, a little at a time, also on low speed, and scraping down the bowl. You can add food coloring here if you want a deeper color. I didn’t bother because I was looking for flavor not color, but it is your cake!

      Beat the egg whites to very soft peaks, then gently fold into the batter.

      Divide among the prepared cake pans and pop in the oven, setting the timer for 25 minutes for the first check. Bake until that ever-present toothpick comes out clean.

      Let cool completely. In the meantime, crush up the wafer cookies.

      Make the frosting, below. To assemble the cake, place on cake plate and add some of the cream cheese frosting to the top of that layer, along with a half cup of the fresh chopped strawberries. Add a nice layer of the cookie crumbs on top, them repeat with the second layer, place the last layer on, and frost the entire outside of the cake. Get as fancy as you like, and garnish with a few more pretty strawberries.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

      This is 1 ½ recipe of my usual frosting, with freeze-dried strawberries added. Make sure all ingredients are soft and at room temperature.

  • 2 ¼ bricks cream cheese, room temperature
  • 12 oz. white chocolate
  • 1 ½ sticks butter, room temperature
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 cups 10X
  • 2 cups freeze-dried strawberries, pulverized

      In a double boiler, melt white chocolate. Set aside to cool slightly. 

      In the stand of an electric mixer (or use a hand mixer) beat together cream cheese and butter, both softened at room temperature. 

      Once nice and fluffy, add the chocolate and vanilla extract. Sprinkle in confectioners’ sugar and the strawberries.


Local strawberries, sweet and juicy, and red all the way through. Ah, the season is just too short!

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English History

ENGLISH HISTORY: Four Villainous ‘ Victorian Women ‘ Accused of Murder Debut Novel ‘ The Tumbling Girl ‘ Set in London


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Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: June.25: 2023:

#AceHistoryDesk – In this guest article, author Bridget Walsh covers four Victorian women who were accused in high-profile murder cases. Her debut novel, The Tumbling Girl, is the first in a series of crime novels set in Victorian London.

A Victorian woman

During my PhD research into Victorian domestic murder, I became particularly interested in cases featuring women murderers, not least because of the huge amount of press attention they received.

These four women, whether guilty or innocent — I’ll leave you to decide that one — all have something to tell us about the position of women in the 19th century.

1. Madeleine Smith – Death by chocolate 

Madeleine Smith was a respectable middle-class young woman living in Scotland and ripe for the marriage market. She became engaged at the age of 20 in 1857 but was faced with a tricky dilemma: for the past two years, she’d been carrying on a secret love affair with Emile L’Angelier, a lowly clerk whom her family would not approve of. What was worse, she’d written Emile 198 letters, some of which made no secret of the fact she’d had sex with him and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Despite her desperate pleas for him to destroy or return her letters, Emile was having none of it, so Madeleine made several purchases of arsenic, ostensibly to kill rats. After visiting Madeleine in secret on several occasions and enjoying a cup of hot chocolate made by her own fair hand, Emile fell violently ill and eventually died. The autopsy revealed 85 grains of arsenic in his stomach: enough to kill 40 men. 

The jury took just 22 minutes to return the particularly Scottish verdict of ‘Not Proven’. Essentially, they believed in Madeleine’s guilt but felt the prosecution had not provided a sufficiently strong case to prove it. Madeleine walked free.

2. Christiana Edmunds – Death by chocolate (again!)

In another chocolate-themed murder, we come to Christiana Edmunds, the most vexing of things to Victorian society: an unmarried woman. She developed a passionate affection for the married Dr Beard; accounts differ as to whether or not he returned her interest. Her first attempt to secure Beard for herself was buying his wife a box of chocolate creams which she injected with strychnine. However, Mrs Beard did not die. With the finger of blame pointing firmly at Christiana, she bought several more boxes of chocolates, laced them with strychnine and then returned them to the sweetshop as unwanted. 

She tried — and failed — to poison Mrs Beard a second time and also offered poisoned sweets to children on the streets, thereby causing the death of a four-year-old boy, Sidney Barker. The miracle is that more people didn’t die. She was found guilty in 1871 of Sidney Barker’s murder and received the death sentence, which was commuted to life imprisonment due to an alleged history of insanity in the family. Christiana saw out the remainder of her days in Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum, dying there in 1907.

3. Adelaide Bartlett – Death by chloroform 

In April 1886, Adelaide Bartlett was tried for the murder of her husband, Edwin, the first time someone had been charged with death by chloroform. This was unusual enough in itself, but the case attracted huge press attention because of Adelaide and Edwin’s highly unconventional marriage. Edwin favoured a platonic union, although Adelaide did fall pregnant early on in their marriage, presumably not by divine intervention. Given that, among his many medical maladies, Edwin suffered from rotting teeth and possibly tapeworms, Adelaide may have been grateful for his absence from the marital bed. 

Whilst Edwin may have had little physical interest in his wife, he was delighted to surround her with male friends. One of whom, the Reverend George Dyson, was encouraged to kiss Adelaide in her husband’s presence. Edwin even went so far as to bequeath Adelaide to George, in the event of Edwin’s demise. Adelaide was clearly viewed as a possession by her husband, to be passed from one man to another, with very little say in the matter. 

Initial charges implicating the Reverend Dyson in the murder were dropped at the start of the trial, and Adelaide was tried alone. Edwin’s autopsy revealed a significant quantity of liquid chloroform in his stomach. Adelaide admitted her husband had been keen to renew sexual relations with her, which had prompted her to wave a chloroform-laden handkerchief in front of his face to make him pass out. After a sensational trial that laid bare every intimate detail of her relationship with the Reverend, Adelaide was acquitted, largely because the prosecution couldn’t prove how such a large quantity of liquid chloroform had got into Edwin’s stomach without causing any damage to his throat or windpipe.

4. Florence Maybrick: Death by fly-paper 

At the age of 18, American-born Florence Chandler married James Maybrick after a shipboard romance. He was 23 years her senior and the marriage quickly proved to be a mistake. James had a number of mistresses and Florence also sought affection elsewhere, most notably with Alfred Brierley. Learning of the affair, James threatened divorce. 

On 11th May 1889, James was found dead. His body contained small traces of arsenic, but not enough to prove fatal, and he was a well-known user of arsenic as an aphrodisiac and tonic, a more common practice with the Victorians than you might realise. When the Maybrick home was searched, it was rumoured to contain enough arsenic to kill at least 50 people, although the prosecution argued that Florence had laboriously soaked the arsenic from fly-papers and given it to James. 

Despite her openly conducting an affair with Brierley, Florence attracted huge public support with the total number of signatures across various petitions numbering nearly half a million. She was found guilty of James’s murder, but her death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.

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Food Recipes

FEATURED FOOD & RECIPE REPORT: Chicken OR (Mushroom Medallions) in White Wine Sauce with Wild Mushrooms


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Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: June.23: 2023:

#AceFoodDesk says here’s another recipe of ‘ Chicken OR Mushrooms ‘ for those ‘ Meat OR Non-Meat Eaters with Kindness & Love XX A&M says enjoy….

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Chicken (or Mushroom) Medallions in White Wine with Wild Mushrooms

Dorothy’s New Vintage Kitchen: Published: Jun 20: 2023

We have three options here, including two vegan: local chicken but more heart healthy than my mom’s original, mushrooms replacing the chicken, or tofu replacing the chicken. All delicious, so take your pick.

My mother’s version of this dish used a whole cut-up chicken or thighs, all parts skin on and bone in, lots of butter, and heavy cream, not heart-friendly by any means! If this is on the menu now (the past week birthday request), I make the heart-healthy version, with local chicken, but it is just as delicious with portobello mushrooms or tofu as the star.

Let’s bring this into the 21st Century

       To lighten this up, I used some local boneless, skinless chicken breasts from the farm down the road, full of flavor, organically raised, with a traveling carbon footprint of just a couple miles. To save even more saturated fat, I subbed light coconut milk for the heavy cream and olive oil for the butter. It is still creamy and tastes very much like the original, and pleases the meat eaters in the family.

Play with your herbs

      You can swap out the herbs for others you like. Mom often used sage or her favorite Bell’s Seasoning, which is quite nice here. It is still sold in its little hard-to-open box. I like it best with rosemary and tarragon, and sometimes fennel seed if I also have a bulb on hand, but it is always about what strikes your own fancy when cooking, or, what is growing in the herb bed.

Fall in love with your local mushrooms!


 I was lucky and found some lovely local mushrooms for this dish recently and it was a really nice mix. They were every bit as beautiful as the commercially produced ones they sat next to at the co-op, they were a bit more expensive, but they weren’t shipped from across the country, and that’s plus for me. You can use anything you love from shiitake to regular button mushrooms, it’s all good!

      Another handy dish that is finished while the pasta cooks, but lovely enough for company, and there’s a vegetarian option following that uses tofu.

Chicken Medallions in White Wine with Wild Mushrooms

  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into medallions, OR four large portobello mushrooms, same 
  • 2 tbsp. flour, *Wondra if you have it
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 lb. wild mushrooms, a mix if possible, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 sprig of rosemary, whole
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2/3 cup homemade mushroom stock, below, or other stock 
  • 2 tbsp. fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp. fresh minced tarragon or 1 tsp. dried
  • ½ cup light coconut milk, or a little more
  • 1 lb. whole wheat penne or other pastaor brown rice

      Prep the vegetables, reserving any mushroom stems, as well as enough onion to make two tablespoons minced for the stock. Combine stock ingredients, below, and let simmer while you make the rest of the dish. This isn’t essential, you can use whatever stock you have, but if you have this little bits, why not put them to work? Cut the chicken into medallions, and set aside.

      Put pasta water on, or prepare brown rice. I like it both ways.

      Season the chicken medallions with salt and pepper and dust with the flour. Heat a large skillet over medium high and add the oil. When shimmering, add the chicken chunks and brown lightly on both sides. You don’t want them fully cooked yet. Remove from the pan, cover them, add a bit more oil to the pan, and toss in the onion and mushrooms, seasoning them as well. 

      Continue cooking until the onions have softened, and everything has started to take on a bit of color. Add the garlic, star anise, and rosemary sprig, and continue cooking for a minute or so, until fragrant. 

      Sprinkle just a bit more flour over all, mix everything up, then add the stock and white wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up any brown glaze; let this reduce a few minutes. Toss the chicken back in, along with the tarragon and parsley, and continue to cook, uncovered, another five minutes or so, until the chicken is cooked through, then stir in the coconut milk and remove from heat, covered. Taste for seasoning.

      Drain the pasta, reserving a cup of liquid, and plate it. If the chicken mixture needs to be loosened, add some of the reserved pasta water. Fish out the rosemary spring and star anise, no one wants these! Serve chicken over the pasta (or rice) in a large bowl or platter, and garnish with fresh herbs.

  • Wondra flour is that old time precooked flour in the funny round box that your mother probably had stuffed in the back of the pantry. Because it is precooked, it browns much quicker than raw flour and is great in browning a thin protein you don’t want to overcook, or to make a quick roux for gravy.

Mushroom stock:

  • 1 oz. dried mushrooms 
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp. minced onion
  • 1 star anise
  • S&P
  • Any other vegetable trimmings on hand

Combine everything and simmer for 15 minutes. Let sit until room temperature, then drain.

Vegetarian Options

This dish is easily adapted to a pressed, extra-firm tofu, that you have baked to firm it up even more. My instructions for Baked tofu here. Or you can use large, meaty portobello mushrooms in place of the chicken, just cut them into desired size, remove the gills (add this to the stock) and proceed as with chicken.


Mom’s Chicken with Mushrooms in White Wine. Very tasty, and saved for a birthday treat now and then. The little swaps above still result in a dish with a very similar flavor profile, also quite satisfying.

© Copyright 2023– or current year, The New Vintage Kitchen. Unattributed use of this material is strictly prohibited. Reposting and links may be used, provided that credit is given to The New Vintage Kitchen, with  active link and direction to this original post.

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Book Reviews By Ace ♣

FEATURED STORY BOOK: Meals4One: On what it means to nourish ourselves & others.


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Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: June.23: 2023:

#AceBookDesk – Two years ago, I made myself a meal I often think about. It was an iteration of a ragù recipe, one I had pretended to learn watching my friend Isacco cook for me in Schaerbeek, the Brussels neighborhood where we both then lived.

A messy dollop of pasta and sauce on a square white plate.
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Isacco’s ragù was one of my favorite meals in the world, but I hadn’t learned anything as he stood over his pot and enunciated every single word of the recipe with special emphasis.

When Isacco gave me instructions, I nodded amicably like a trained tourist, but I wasn’t paying attention. I was instead looking outside, as Youcef, our 8-year-old neighbor, chased pigeons in the street.

As I heard the tomatoes sputter in Isacco’s pot, I regarded Schaerbeek’s sloping hills, walking up which my calves would tighten pleasurably, through which I had learned to claim this part of Brussels as a temporary home.

I looked out at its Turkish bakeries filled with mountains of simit; a large Romanian church a short distance away that housed the city’s young and foreign on its steps. I often sat there, eating half koftesandwiches and stuffing the remaining half into my bag. I told Isacco this, proud of my resourcefulness, but he scolded me, asking me to eat better. “Now, consider this ragù!” he said, sternly, demanding my attention back to his stove.

When I cooked the ragù at home in Delhi, I had been away from Brussels for almost five years, and it had become stripped of any original instructions, weakened by the pandemic’s disruption of lived lives and linear time.

My life in Brussels, once a map drawn inside my head that I would trace before I went to bed, had been stamped out by the pandemic’s large, monstrous presence. Like the rumbling metro I took to work in the city’s center, the Moroccan cafés in which I studied, surrounded by older men watching National Geographic while they drank tea, the cues I had for Isacco’s recipe, any hints at fragrance, had long since faded away.

But I cooked the ragù anyway, adding carrots and celery to hot oil in a pan. I added red onion, lamb mince, Guntur Sannam chili powder, cumin, sour Indian tomatoes.

Because I had them in the fridge, I dropped in cooked red kidney beans. I added some red wine from the fridge and drank the rest. I watched the pot with these things cooking, played music videos on my phone, and texted my sister. I remembered Isacco’s puritanism and was joyful to disobey it. I stirred the pot and congratulated myself, as if this was the point of cooking this dish, to disobey the process I had been taught—to infuriate the memory of my friend.

I stirred the pot and congratulated myself, as if this was the point of cooking this dish, to disobey the process I had been taught—to infuriate the memory of my friend.

In two hours, the mince turned to its edible form: somewhat swampy but aromatic, but also nothing like it was supposed to be. But that didn’t matter; the world outside had ceased to exist, and I only had myself to feed. Despite its imperfections, I ate the ragù on pasta, in between bread, and once with white rice. I ate consistently and happily for three whole days.

The first time I cooked for myself was also in Belgium. It was in Leuven, a town outside Brussels where I rented my first flat in Europe. I had just moved into it with Chiara—then a new housemate, soon to be my best friend.

I had responded to Chiara’s post for a housemate on a university Facebook group, where we talked without stopping, moving quickly from polite questions about our origins to cheeky judgements of others in the group, arranging to live together in less than 15 minutes. She told me about her plans for the year—a holiday in Rome to visit her grandmother, a road trip through Armenia to see friends. “We’ll have fun!!!!” she typed to me, including me in her plans automatically, even though we hadn’t met.

In my first days in Leuven, with no one to bicker with on the street, nobody to turn into imaginative anecdotes, I wilted and shrank.

Everything was so lacking in animation and friendliness that it froze me from within. In no time, first-world pleasures like boxed wine and IKEA visits had become as limp as they were imposing when I hadn’t known them in Delhi. I meandered in the town’s center, sitting under bleached, imperial churches, eating bags of fries and looking inside them for the things that my flashy, overpowering aspiration had promised, searching for the liberty that I thought lay in this continent of the free.

But however I felt, I had Chiara.

And even though we had just met, we had become belted together at the hip as people do when they fall in love. In our first months together, we talked for hours, and went to parties linking arms, making jokes, and leaving together, as people called us to stay. We thrilled to each other’s stories, telling about our friends using only first names, turning our parents into caricatures, pushing carts around the supermarket and making sweeping anthropological statements about everything we saw.

I had Chiara, and she was always cooking.

We went diving inside dumpsters to find expensive chocolate that she turned into frosting; we met Italians on street corners from whom she managed to source bottles of sundried tomatoes and olive oil. Our shelves were always full, unlike the other students we knew. We had tall, slim bottles of oil that she was precious with, good tomatoes that she used more freely, pistachios no one was allowed to touch, and grains, her absolute penchant, that she turned into majestic salads, colorful and entirely out of place in my otherwise greasy life. While I still remember everything she cooked for us in those initial months—a sandwich with provolone and sundried tomatoes, a pasta with yogurt, and small green beans—I was disappointed in the fervor, the emotional wringing, that surrounded our kitchen. I had expected a carefree life, answerable to no one. I desired the hardened emancipation and uncaring banter that I thought defined the lives of young white people in these frozen, faraway places I had dreamed of.

When Chiara and I met on Facebook, I scanned her photos—of her friends leaning against one another, sitting on the street drinking from cans in London, of European teenagers scouring cities that we thought so grand, so universal in the metaphors of their youth. “These guys have it all, dude” I wrote to Vans, my best friend back home, with a link to Chiara’s photos. They lived much like we did in Delhi, but with special sheen. I painted them with the coated appeal, that particular authority that I attributed to whiteness through my young life.

When we met, I was also—as Chiara was quick to note and I hardened to admit—a dependent, high-functioning drinker.

I spent most of the days between bottles of beer, glasses of dusty-tasting wine from boxes, and eventually, shots of vodka with new colleagues at the bar where I worked. Before I left Delhi to move to the Northern hemisphere, I had just lost a friend—a beautiful boy who existed with the vigor of those who live to fight the sadness in their bones. He was a loud talker, an enthusiastic hugger, an awestruck storyteller. And one autumn morning, as if making a cataclysmic joke, he had taken his own life.

Like my friend, many of the boys I grew up with were fledgling addicts. They depended on frequent escapes to battle familial pressures, seeking the anonymity that came from burying ourselves in the city’s destructive nooks. My own drinking was limp compared to the boys I knew but it was still persistent. It awakened now and then on crutches, becoming lively and lit up when stoked. When my friend died, it made me feel dispossessed. I needed to get away, not to get better, but to be wrecked as usual. I needed to get away, to be without surveillance. I needed to wring free of love, concern, and scrutiny, of anything that kept me moderately afloat. 

When I arrived in Europe, it seemed logical to forget, to drown in drink, to get high when the opportunity presented itself. Wasn’t this the point of this place? I thought. Supposed emancipation? No parental concern? Wasn’t this where people lived footloose from societal rules?

To nurse my stewing addiction, I found people who cared little about me and saw me as a number at the table. I tolerated their bad quality chat and racialized mockery, and I surrounded myself with them. Chiara hated these people, and was constantly enraged at them being my primary company. She would cycle through the large, open bars where we sat, shouting “Vive la France!” or singing the Dutch national anthem to provoke comical inter-European rivalry. She pushed casseroles into my bag, roaring at me about when I would be home, knocking at the tables of my companions with her bike handles and long, green coat.

Like Chiara, I hated these people. But I was safer with them, I thought. I could hide here, I could be half a person. Since half of me was always filled with drink.

Every time I returned to our flat, Chiara would be at the door, cradling a meal like an American housewife. She filled it with people that would soon be our friends—Neapolitan couch-surfers playing loud classic love songs on a plastic synthesizer; a duo of tall, poetic boys from Galway who had what they considered an embarrassing obsession with daal. I would wait by the door, sniffing the air when she buzzed me in. “Try this,” she would say, pushing a ladle filled with roasted vegetables, stewy sauces, and buttery bits of bread into my mouth before I entered. “Good, no?” she would ask, and I would nod. It always was, but I didn’t want it. I wanted to be alone, unwanted, uncared for, but here was Chiara in her big maternal apron and her Doc Martens in the kitchen, always waving a scent over the stove, never leaving me alone. 

Like Chiara, I hated these people. But I was safer with them, I thought. I could hide here, I could be half a person. Since half of me was always filled with drink.

One day, I returned to our flat to a kitchen scant of Chiara. I was especially sour from drink, shrunk from being bullied by the people I was out with that night. I opened our cabinet and ate rapidly from a jar of pesto that Chiara had cooked for our friends. I spooned it into my mouth, I smothered crackers with it. I finished it quickly, relishing its fattiness, greedy with spite. When Chiara found me in the kitchen, we erupted into our first big fight. That night, she was inconsolable. By bringing my drinking inside our kitchen, I had broken her spirit, her keenness to build a home for us. And I had done it because I thought a home wasn’t what I wanted, that all I wanted was to be forgotten, to be entirely ignored. That night, we were equally aghast at one another, united in uncanny affection, but also in mutual confirmation. In that moment, neither of us got what we imagined we would from the other when we first met.  

The next morning, I cleaned, and left for my bar job as Chiara shouted from the shower, telling me she was leaving for Rome. When I returned that day, anything I had neatened was reversed into dynamic disarray, but with no sign of Chiara. The blandness of our cheap IKEA furniture, the poor views we had outside our windows—without her, all of this suddenly stood out.  

When I walked into the kitchen, bare for nourishment, I picked up a pink Post-it that had fluttered to the floor. sry it said, and I walked to where it had been stuck to the fridge door. Lined on the door were more yellow and pink Post-its with messages for me to read. I opened the fridge and saw that Chiara had stacked small boxes with little things, all half- prepared. Small aubergines salted and dried; a jar of chunky marinara; thin slivers of pink pork, marinated, ready to be put in the pan and in between bread for a snack. I made myself a cup of hot water and lemon, and heated a couple of pork slices, smoking half a cigarette as I ate them from the pan. I removed the Post-it that Chiara had stuck on the fridge, and read them in her voice. Don’t Be A Dickhead they said. Just Cook For Urself.

A year ago, at my paternal grandmother’s funeral, people praised her cooking. In crowded rooms on a summer day, relatives described her hospitality in the kitchen. Men came to announce their validation for her cooking as she lay in an icebox, dressed as a bride, bereft of her own identity even in death. “What sambhar! What daal!” they crowed as she lay there in her blue silk sari, sucked of life. “What sweets she would make for us all!”

By bringing my drinking inside our kitchen, I had broken her spirit, her keenness to build a home for us. And I had done it because I thought a home wasn’t what I wanted, that all I wanted was to be forgotten, to be entirely ignored.

The praises were especially perplexing to me because they were untrue. My grandmother was a terrible cook, disinterested and mischievous. She cooked because she had to, often dishing out swampy rice and burned vegetables, leading us to depend on nearby dhabas for food, birthing in everyone in my family a huge reliance on toast and eggs, on fried rice from the Masala-Chinese stall outside our house. I remembered my grandmother from the times she stole sweets she was forbidden, the time I emptied her pillowcase to find scores of toffee wrappers stuck between its layers, the grime sticking to the sheets. I thought of her in the kitchen, at the onset of her dementia, staring at the fire on the stove, watching its colors change as her brain turned to dusty grain. I wondered then why these others couldn’t admit to her poor housekeeping. To them, if a woman did not decorate the world with cuisine, did she not exist? 

To them, if a woman did not decorate the world with cuisine, did she not exist?

The cuisines of dominant-caste Hindus, like the families I am born to, depend on the labor of women to keep their cuisines afloat. They are made up of rituals so obscure, recipes so complicated, that they act as a maze in which the oppression they espouse becomes codified as culture, and the abundant appetites of dominant-caste men and families become the normalized, nationalized ways in which to eat. In these cuisines, deviance from method and hierarchy is often punished, with the knowledge that even fleeting disruption will illuminate the discrepant cruelties that are held sacrosanct within caste-owned food. When these foods are documented, labor in the kitchen is romanticized. To put a meal together requires the work of several women, farmers, porters, workers, many of whom go hungry because of the hierarchies in cuisine. This hunger is often neglected and ignored.

As at my grandmother’s funeral, the passing of my other grandparents led my distant relatives to question my fertility and familial abilities. The passing of a generation awakens the need for another one, and at every funeral or wedding, I was interrogated by assemblies of aunts and uncles about plans to create a family into which these people could insert legacies of exclusion. I had lived abroad, I worked the job I desired. Now what else did I want? they asked. How many children? When would I have them? Most importantly, what will I have them eat? 

In the summer of 2022, one year after my grandmother died, I moved into a flat by myself in the neighborhood I grew up in. In India, I hadn’t yet lived on my own. I had been raised in a family and community woven together like tight bamboo. Nothing—the pitch of my voice, my dialect, my opinions, my appetite—was formed without other people, some welcome, others invasive presences in my life. In the last few years, I desired solitude almost constantly, even though I was the kind of person never found alone. “I wish I could be underwater,” I wrote several times in my journal during the pandemic, weighed down by the incessant communication that defined our times in isolation. I became fatigued by my performances for those that I loved, the expectations of my family, the needs of my friends. I wanted to be shrouded in quiet, to be able to hear myself think.

When I moved in, it was daunting to have a flat that reeked of me. My books, three jars of honey in the condiment cabinet, my shelves painted a messy blue with no one to combat my choices or tell me otherwise. In my first month there, I was overwhelmed by everything my flat lacked: shadows of my dog who had just died, my father darting across rooms and dusting furniture in a sleepless haze, my sister sitting with bad posture, eating fruit from a bowl on her belly on the couch. I wilted here too, under the tedious expanse of myself, my naive dreams laid bare in this brightly lit flat.  

And then I had to cook—in this place, on my own. There was no one else’s appetite or desires to determine, nobody with demands to concede to or disobey. Just myself, searching inside me for what I wanted to eat. Unlike outside in Delhi, where I always knew what kebab I wanted and which samosa stall had fresher oil, my palate had little identity in domestic spaces. I was raised to eat in alliance with other people, nodding along if someone offered me toast and butter, reaching my arms out when I sensed raw mangoes being salted in the kitchen, agreeing casually when asked if I wanted a second garlic naan. 

A week after I moved into my flat, I bought the book Real Fast Food by Nigel Slater. Even though he was beloved in Britain, I was only mildly familiar with Slater’s work. In the subcontinent, after all, it was only the shouting white male cooks who made their way to our bookshelves and screens. For decades, we made way for the schmuckery of these men, consuming them in post-colonial malaise. But when Real Fast Foodarrived, I read it like a short novel, sitting on the divan and weeping stupidly at words like “haricot” and “warm tomato salad.” I was used to cookbooks consisting of mountains of ingredients, of meals being large affairs. When I cooked Indian food, the smallest number I cooked for was four. But the book suggested that I could cook for myself. Meals for one. It advocated gentle ease as a way of making myself a meal.  

But the book suggested that I could cook for myself. Meals for one. It advocated gentle ease as a way of making myself a meal. 

After I got Real Fast Food, I stocked my cabinet with what it needed: tomatoes, beans, salt, meat, and some basic spices, perhaps considered lavish for a British pantry, but automatic in mine. As I stuck postcards around and brought out my grandfather’s things, Real Fast Food proved to be a suitable companion; I could get into the kitchen and spend 20 minutes there. Then I could paint walls and unpack crockery, I could set up lamps and stack shelves. The meals I cooked were short respites from the larger ordeal of setting up the house. It seemed fitting that in this house full of me, I had this book. With it, I shared what I didn’t with my family. A devotion to warm fat on crusty bread, a deep obsession with vinegar, and buttered, fried beans. 

In Delhi, an “akeli ladki,” or a woman alone, is called a “khuli tijori,” an open casket of jewels. This phrase, often used when talking about sexual assault and murder, works in the favor of the person who steals from the tijori. What kind of fool, the metaphor seems to suggest, would leave a mountain of diamonds untaken? If there is an uncloaked opportunity lying around, what fault is it of men when they collect the loot?  

When I was 10 years old, I heard about the man who shot a woman in the head because she wouldn’t serve him a drink. It was a story I would remember for the rest of my life, but I remember watching the news with my father sometime in early 2001, as he ate a plate of rajma chawal on the cold floor, occasionally burying his head in his hands. The man, Manu Sharma, who was rich and powerful, had killed bartender and model Jessica Lal when she refused to bring him a drink after hours. To the man with the gun, it was a breach of the natural order he was raised on: A woman had denied him hospitality and refused to yield to his pleasure. And for this, he thought, she must die. 

A decade after she was murdered, her case resurfaced, and gossip about Jessica Lal crowded our screens. What was she doing in the bar? Why did she work a job like that? Was she married? Why not? And why didn’t she just serve him that drink?

Like many women, I inhabited the city on my own as Jessica Lal did. I stood on street corners eating kebab rolls and throwing their foil wrappers at lingering boys who asked to join me. When my friends and I went to drink around our university campus we carried big sweatshirts to wear over our clothes, the angrier ones of us lining the sides of the couches we sat on, ready to fight off any incoming threats.  

One day, in my first year at university, I sat in a restaurant eating a brownie with my friend. Near us, two men took out a small knife to brandish at a woman who refused to take a photograph with them. “Husband hai kya?” they asked her, smiling, as they played with her long hair and tried to hold her hand as she ate a piece of cake. “Do you have a husband?” When she replied that she did not, one man become dumbstruck and childlike. “Then what’s the problem?” he said, his weapon flailing around in his left hand. “If you don’t belong to anybody, why can’t you belong to me?”  

Even as I had seen many women threatened in the same way, I remember this one clearly. She stood her ground, and caught my eye across the café as a measure of stealthy security. Both of us knew that one moment of provocation, one raised voice, could cost her life. When the men finally left, the woman ordered another piece of red velvet cheesecake. She sliced it slowly and licked the frosting on the back of her spoon. She took a picture of it with her phone. And then one of herself, her phone flipped so her camera flickered in the light, her painted nails coyly covering her mouth. When she got up to leave, she stopped at the table where my friend and I sat, and flipped her hair before she looked our way. “Kitni variety hain a aaj kal?” she said, throwing one look at our single dismal brownie. “Isn’t there so much variety of cakes nowadays?”

As soon as she walked out the door, my friend and I, embarrassed, ordered two more pieces of cake. One rainbow-colored affair with frosting and a sprinkled donut with custard bursting out of its rims.  

These days, I think about the various meals for one that I have watched women eat in my lifetime. I have cheered silently watching young students strut to cigarette stalls and ask for their preferred brand, rattling their bangles at the vendor to get his attention if he dared entertain the gangs of smirking boys smoking raspberry-flavored straights near them. I think about women bolting inside the Delhi Metro’s women’s compartment, and opening up boxes of parathas, or snacks stored away from tea-time at work. I watch them sigh into their boxes, as they eat in the solace of safe transit in the city; preparing for the several duties that will face them when they arrive home. 

I also think about katoris filled with forbidden things, like pickles during a menstrual cycle, and sweets stolen during times of mourning, when widows are disallowed any inkling of pleasure. I think often of Annu Aunty, a momo vendor in Delhi’s Taimur Nagar, who I spent a week with when I interviewed her for work one winter. Like most people, I defined her through the labor she performed, her ability to churn out thousands of momos a day for the students who flocked to her stall. 

What I didn’t write about was Annu Aunty’s evening snack, which she ate every day when she finished work. I left out what she made for herself, for her own pleasure: a chutney-cheese sandwich, heavily buttered and fried in a pan, which she ate at her window, near a sea buckthorn plant from her native Nepal. 

One day during the pandemic I walked under my building to smoke a cigarette when I spotted Vimla Aunty, my 75-year-old neighbor, shuffling in a corner, hiding behind a tree. I stubbed my cigarette so I could chat to her, noticing that she ate hurriedly from a small bowl, as she came out of her hiding and sat on the bench close to where we stood. When I asked her what was in her bowl, she grinned, bringing it under a street light, showing me the large scoop of ice cream she ate topped with peanuts and thick waves of chocolate sauce. “Chocolate ice cream” she said to me in whispers, even though no one was around. “Unkay Bina,” she added, giggling. “Chocolate ice cream, without my husband. Chocolate ice cream. Only for me.” 

I don’t like to give my current position of oneness a sitcom-like gleam. I do not consider it so permanent as to be radical and I don’t think of it as so fleeting to entirely dismiss it altogether. I cannot pretend that emancipation is what I desire, or that in our worlds, it is possible at all. More than anything, I like to regard it, to look at it from the outside. To recognize it, to exercise my right to sometimes think, cook, and eat alone. Besides, how alone am I when I cook for myself? When I make a peanut-chili oil and drizzle it on noodles like my cousin Arya, or when I add dahi to my qeema like my friend Dr. Masoodi, thinking of her feeding the birds as she cooked. I like it this way, when the economy of the kitchen belongs to other people. A hot sauce left by my best friend Vani when she discovered an endless penchant for fermenting; a 25g jar of honey made by an artistic man I have a crush on, which I refuse to let anybody else eat. 

The kitchen is a memory keeper, crowded with recipes and prompts from the people of my life. But what is mine is the choice to get it right or fuck it up. When I cook for myself, I am “underwater” in a way. I am genderless, childless, a person without any hinges. I am, fleetingly, nobody, or whoever I want to be.

The kitchen is a memory keeper, crowded with recipes and prompts from the people of my life.

By now, I have cooked for myself several times. What I cook most is fried rice with eggs, green onions, and a mixture of dark and light soy sauce. I like the idea of bringing something sad out of the fridge and giving it new life. I cook my eggs separately, and don’t skimp on the oil, submerging the voice in my head that always tells me I don’t deserve to eat. I often cook very quickly, almost manically. I eat quickly too, sometimes as I cook, spooning the crusty bits of rice out of the hot wok with a spoon. Sometimes I stand back and inspect the incongruency of my process, like an artist looking at a canvas, amazed and satisfied with all this sudden disarray. I imagine someone lofty calling my kitchen a crime scene, and it makes me laugh. But it doesn’t matter; I have only myself to feed. The world outside has come back to life. But here, it is still just me. 

I find that domesticity, because it is stored in the bodies of women, is often considered an instinct. It is thought of as something supernatural, automatic, and easy to perform. But it is an education, I thought, as I stacked boxes in correct order and distanced my potatoes from my onions, so they wouldn’t sprout and rot. It is, among many things, labor, and memorialization. It is hard work, lived and learned.

Now, when I cook, it is after I have read Rebecca May Johnson’s Small Fires, which teaches me to focus on my gestures. I avoid the need to text her every time I am moved by how she recalls action. Instead, I slice a malta orange. I watch my hand dip into the cut-glass box with chaat masala I stole from my mother and watch the masala emerge, tucked into a small steel spoon. I watch myself take the cluster off a head of garlic, I watch myself heat butter and mix honey in with it to put on toast. I watch myself. 

In these gestures, a new person emerges, a person that understands sensory preferences, who can witness herself move. I have never known this person. I like her. I tell her about how I always thought that pleasure belonged to someone else. 

Recently, I witnessed one of my favorite meals for one, cooked by my aunt in her flat. She lives alone, escaping the years of matchmaking that she went through when we were children and she was a young woman, when we lived together. When mustachioed uncles would come to the house as potential suitors for her, my sister and I, in our practiced routine—me crying uncontrollably, her glaring at them with her hands on her hips—would drive them away.  Through our theatrics and her determination, my aunt got what she wanted, and what no one else understood: to grow older by herself, and to be completely, and entirely on her own.  

In her meal for herself in her flat, I watched her blacken daal and add cut cabbage. I saw her pour an unmeasured amount of rasam powder into a pot of simmering water, nowhere close to a boil. Unlike me, who used everything I did to politically posture, my aunt—the first queer, opinionated person I knew—had no interest in curated rebellion. But here she was, cooking in a bizarre sequence, disobeying every culinary and societal rule that either of us knew. 

“You don’t have to, like, burn it, you know” I said lazily from the couch as she cooked. 

“Oh no?” she asked. “But it’s done now, what to do?” She smiled at me, and did a little jig to illustrate she didn’t care. She joined me on the couch, her meal in a bowl, all kinds of techniques overruled. It was a kind of mush, like my ragù, but it had come together anyway. “Come,” she said, as we sat down to watch Outlander on her TV, digging her spoon into her bowl enthusiastically. “It is Sunday. Let us do what we want. Let us give ourselves a treat.”

Sharanya Deepak is a writer and editor from and currently in New Delhi, India. She is a co-editor at Vittles Magazine. She is currently working on a book of essays. You can read more of her work on her website
Editor: Krista Stevens
Copy editor: Peter Rubin
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Global Warming & Climate Change

ARCTIC #ClimateChange Report: New evidence that polar bears survived 1,600 years of ice-free summers


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Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: June.17: 2023:

#GlobalWarming & #ClimateChange News Desk – New evidence indicates that Arctic areas with the thickest ice today probably melted out every year during the summer for about 1,600 years during the early Holocene (ca. 11.3-9.7k years ago), making the Arctic virtually ice-free.

Posted on June 16, 2023

As I argue in my new book, this means that polar bears and other Arctic species are capable of surviving extended periods with ice-free summers: otherwise, they would not be alive today.

Money quote: Here we show marine proxy evidence for the disappearance of perennial sea-ice in the southern Lincoln Sea during the Early Holocene, which suggests a widespread transition to seasonal sea-ice in the Arctic Ocean. [Detlef et al. 2023: Abstract]

The Lincoln Sea discussed in the new paper is withing the LIA, between Greenland and Ellesmere Island, as shown below.Wikipedia image

Last Ice Area and Lincoln Sea

An illustration of the Last Ice Area in the Arctic, which is currently covered in perennial ice (2-4m thick) that does not melt out every summer (Moore et al. 2019) from the press release for a paper by Newton and colleagues (2021):

The short animation below shows sea ice thickness from 1979-2022 in the Arctic at the height of summer within the Last Ice Area was ca. 2.5-4.0m thick, which is thinner and less extensive than it was in the 1980s (when it was 4-5m thick or greater). In other words, perennial ice is not gone yet.

Loss of thicker September sea ice from 1979 to 2022…

Note that I have masked out sea ice < 1.5 meters in order to emphasize the decline of the (relative) thicker ice. Data from PIOMAS. You can compare this animation with a more realistic version here:— Zack Labe (@ZLabe) October 11, 2022

Figure S5 from the Detlef paper (below) shows that reduced sea ice during the early Holocene was widespread, with evidence for seasonal ice in the Barents, Beaufort and Laptev Seas as well as NE Greenland and the Lincoln Sea between northern Greenland and Ellesmere Island. 


Evidence from several sources indicates that the Eemian produced conditions even warmer than documented during the early Holocene and they lasted longer, as explained in the excellent summary by Leonid Polyak and colleagues (2010). During the early portion of the Eemian at least (ca. 130-120k years ago), summer temperatures were about 5–8 degrees Celsius warmer than today and the Arctic was virtually ice-free. At about 120k years ago, there is evidence from Finland and the Norwegian Sea off Norway that a cooling event lasting 500-1,000 years broke the long stretch of warmth (Helmens et al. 2015).

Posted on June 16, 2023

Not only did polar bear survive these two extended periods when ice-free summers prevailed, but the Eemian warm summers came only about 10,000 years after the bears arose as a unique species. This makes polar bear survival through the Eemian even more impressive than most scientists acknowledge. The polar bears’ ability to store excess energy as fat in the spring and metabolize it later when needed must have been fine-tuned by natural selection during this challlenging time (Crockford 2023).

The fact that polar bears survived both extended periods of ice-free summers means that their computer-generated prediction of extinction in a slightly warmer world are groundless. 


Crockford, S.J. 2023. Polar Bear Evolution: A Model for How New Species Arise. Amazon Digital Services, Victoria.

Detlef, H., O’Regan, M., Stranne, C. et al. 2023. Seasonal sea-ice in the Arctic’s last ice area during the Early Holocene. Communications Earth & Environment 4:86.

Helmens, K.F., Salonen, J.S., Plikk, A. et al. 2015. Major cooling intersecting peak interglacial warmth in northern Europe. Quaternary Science Reviews 122:293-299.

Moore, G.W.K., Schweigher, A., Zhang, J. et al. 2019. Spatiotemporal variability of sea ice in the Arctic’s Last Ice Area. Geophysical Research Letters 46(20):11237-11243

Newton, R., Pfirman, S., Tremblay, L.B. et al. 2021. Defining the “Ice Shed” of the Arctic Ocean’s Last Ice Area and its future evolution. Earth’s Future 9(9):e2021EF001988.

Polyak, L., Alley, R.B., Andrews, J.T., et al. 2010. History of sea ice in the Arctic. Quaternary Science Reviews 29:1757–1778.

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram:  and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and comment thank you