Day 4 of the Studiola

Writing retreat reality check: You wear the boyshorts from Goodwill that are too small, not flowy dresses. You struggle to get comfortable in your own skin, and sometimes that translates into long drives, or phone calls while you pace the room, march up and down the sun-glinted cars on Magazine Street, oyster shells crunching under your feet. Sometimes it involves apartment-hopping–it seems all of your friends are in transition–and sometimes you hop all the way back to Baton Rouge, where you need an extra serving of support and love and high quality caffeine from your new favorite coffeehouse, which you discovered just weeks before this whole Nola Studiola thing began.

And, it’s hot. Hot in a way that prompts the sorts of smells you haven’t smelled since that week long backpacking adventure in Zimbabwe when you were twenty—with the guy who perpetually lost pencils in his dreads.

Week 1: Fruit: Blueberry    Vegetable: Corn

Dinner, I call the “Overdue Check” (name, courtesy Tyler RE Smith) with its companion cocktail, “The Giving Tree.” (recipe and name courtesy of Smith).

It’s named “Overdue Check” because it’s really a dish of meat and potatoes that any idiot can make, but I used 3 distinctly payday-priced ingredients: Delmonico cut steaks (rib section of a cow, specifically the Longissimus dorsi muscle, not rib eye delicacy, but fatty and loose), bakery-baked pumpernickel round loaf, and cucumber liqueur. Ok, fresh herbs and blueberries are payday quality depending on where you get your paycheck from.

Food stuffs:

Delmonico steaks!

Salt, pepper

Several cloves of garlic

fresh basil

fresh chives

fresh mint

new potatoes

a big white onion

pumpernickel round loaf


blueberries (I used frozen ones from the market two weeks ago.)

ears of corn


cucumber liqueur (I used Thatcher’s)


Eating part:
1. Slice new potatoes and one white onion. Toss with oil into a baking pan. Stick it in the oven! They will take about 40 minutes. I was high maintenance about them by accident and transferred them to a skillet to saute a bit at the end, after 35 mins. Mostly out of impatience. It was 11 pm! When’s dinner?!

2. Start a pot to boil so you can throw in the ears of corn asap. Monitor. I used a flat saute pan (others are still packed) and rolling the ears every once in while worked just fine.

3. Start the Delmonico steaks: salt, pepper. I banged on them a bit with my knuckled fists. Steak feels like a nice, decadent, devil-may-care culinary response to the unrelenting heat of a New Orleans day. It’s like saying, “Oh, yeah semi-tropical heat? Well, f you too!” Sear on both sides for two minutes on each side, then bake at 430 for 10-15 minutes. Cut and determine your blood level appeasement.

4. Pumpernickel bread: slice, dress with smashed garlic, (my garlic press is still packed away–use your hand again and smash it under the side of a knife on the counter! Lots of aggression built up after a day schlepping stuff in the wet heat of the day.) chopped basil, chives, butter, and a handful of frozen blueberries. Don’t smoosh the berries. Let them sit there, with their stupid expectant faces on the toast, and place on a baking tray. Have them join the tater gang in the oven for about 8 minutes–depending on how crunchy you like your toast.

Drinking part:
I usually start this first. But you have to be careful because if you are searing plus baking steak, you don’t really want to be drunk; these steps require a certain level of attention to detail, you know? Maybe just hold off and reward yourself once the steaks are done, ok?
1. Muddle the mint if you know what I mean. Otherwise, cut it up and smoosh it around in the glasses–use short glasses, a.k.a. “lowballs”.
2. Pour half vodka, half cucumber liqueur into a short glass, a.k.a. “lowball”. Who needs a jigger? It was a HOT day, and you are pissed at city heat!
Descriptions of those who tasted this:
Mellow cool pool sway green breezy airy light verdant and strong a heavy cool hand on my forehead
Onward, Studiola summer.

About alison barker