Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Please, Go See It!

Me and You and Everyone We Know

I cried my way through it. Tears of joy.

And make sure you read Miranda July's blog entry about going to Cannes:

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Eating Everything in the House

I hate the feeling before going on trips that I need to eat everything in the refrigerator before I leave. I cannot shake the "there are people starving in Armenia" guilt that my parents very thoroughly instilled in me at a young age, and it is what keeps me plump -- I HAVE to eat everything on my plate or else, uh, someone else won't get to eat the food that was on my plate? I don't know. I think it is more guilt about having wasted the money to buy the food in the first place, and then further guilt for the farmer's wasted labor in growing the food, the wasted water and soil and truck fuel to transport it to me, the wasted packaging and PLU stickers.

Anyway. We stupidly went to Costco and Trader Joe's last week to load up on food in an attempt to save money before the trip to Italy by eating exclusively at home. While great in theory, this actually meant that in a week's time, Andy and I will have been forced to consume:
- 1 giant package of portabello mushroom caps
- 1 giant bag of sugar snap peas
- 6 red, yellow, and orange bell peppers
- 1 giant bag of spinach
- 1 family-size vat of Total yogurt
- 1 bag of new potatoes
- 2 large red onions
- 1 half-gallon of milk
- 1 gallon jug of retsina
- 8 limes
- 1 cup of tzaziki sauce (we had this the other night -- as much as I love Total brand products, it's better to make your own.)
- 2 giant pieces chorizo

Not to mention all the other food that has been hanging out in the fridge that we don't want to throw out -- the 4 different cheeses, the eggs, the lime simple syrup. So far I have been impressed with the healthfulness of our eating, but it also kind of seems like we're eating the same thing every night, just cut up differently and with different spices.

If anyone has a good idea for a way to use up another pound of snap peas within the next three days, please let me know ASAP.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Death by Tuna

Oh, did we have a lot of tuna this weekend. On Saturday we had tuna steaks at Naomi and Doug's, with a nice little salsa of orange and cilantro and peppers and various other good and healthy things in it. Also salad, and also -- best of all -- loads of wine, loads of gin, and TWO HELPINGS of vanilla ice cream with strawberry rhubarb sauce on it. Such summer happiness!

And then the next day of wedding madness: Janine's bridal shower with more food than I can even begin to remember, mostly brought by her Pennsylvania relatives and the remainder supplied by Fresh Direct. On the way over, Siobhan and I stopped at Cake Man Raven's new place in Fort Greene to pick up a red velvet cake. They didn't sell whole cakes day-of -- something to bear in mind for the future -- but we got 6 pieces, which was about the equivalent of a cake and a half. And was it GOOD.

Then Jonah and Louisa's wedding. I will just try to remember as much as I can about what we had:


- Champagne
- lots of nice wine like Quivira
- mojitos
- white wine sangria that was not sweet, with tarragon leaves and white peaches
- lychee juice with vodka
- this delicious Welsh sparkling water

Passed hors d'oeuvres:

- duck empanadas with this frothy tamarind-coconut sauce
- chicken curry samosas with peanut sauce
- mini cheeseburgers
- polenta squares with chive cream
- crudites with creamy pesto dipping sauce
- spicy cheese crackers
- pesto grilled shrimp
- I think we missed the beet tartare thing
- feta and endive salad in little crispy cup

- corn soup with chive oil and guacamole and crispy cheese stick
- grissini
- Israeli couscous salad with peppers and radishes
- field greens salad
- multi-bean salad with edamame, green beans, fava beans, and wax beans -- this was so beautiful and so green, I must re-create it at home [plus Fava Beans remind me of the fantastic and fresh fava bean cassoulet that I had at Park Kitchen in Portland last month]
- panzanella with tomatoes and many types of squash
- skewers of tuna, chicken, or grilled veggies with various sauces

- multi-layered chocolate mousse thing with a silver-leafed chocolate shell, raspberries, blueberries, and raspberry sauce

Yeah. I could not really partake of the tuna at the wedding -- any more than one bite of Andy's -- because it was just all too much, and it was SO HOT, and more than anything fancy or nice or delicious, what I really wanted was a nice big glass of Diet Coke. They had that, too.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Carbohydrate Haven

Last night my vegetarian friends Betsy and Ian came to the Have for dinner. When out of town guests come here, they do not expect to find the New Culinary Capital of Connecticut. Oh, no. They expect to find ... nothing. I do love the food in New Haven and stunned everyone in the Bay Area by being homesick for it. One of the things I was most homesick for was what we had for dinner last night -- MASHED POTATO PIZZA from Bar!!!! Just even the thought of it makes me want to dance around a little bit because it is soooooo good. Others (notably Abigail, Andrew, and Kelsey) disagree, but that is because they have no taste buds. Just kidding. It is because they are sane, more likely.

The mashed potato pizza is best when you add bacon bits to it -- everything's better with bacon -- but because of the vegetarians in our midst we just got it with extra garlic, which is the next best thing. Mashed potatoes with thyme, slightly browned on top from the wood oven, plopped randomly over the mozzarella-and-red-sauced super-thin crust.... there are few things more sublime. It's squishy, creamy, crunchy, and chewy all at once. I might need to get another one for lunch today.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


Another hated food of mine, green pepper, is evidently not the favorite of many actual chefs, either.

"Other ingredients are almost universally snubbed by chefs. Green bell peppers, that staple of chili and the catered crudité, are possibly the most-loathed ingredient."

Cooking Meme

I stole this off Cindy's blog because it was kind of the inspiration for my own new blog here. Everyone I know is tired of me talking about food all the time, so I decided that in order to remember-through-repetition what I have been cooking and eating, I'd start this. This food meme thing asked a lot of questions that I have some difficulty answering, which is what makes it a good questionnaire.

What is your first memory of baking/cooking on your own?

My first real memory of cooking anything at all is of the time I tried to make peanut butter cookies by myself out of this "Kids in the Kitchen" cookbook. I ate more than half of the dough before baking them and got so totally sick that to this day I can't eat (or even be close enough to smell) peanut butter cookies, peanut butter pie, peanut butter any-kind-of-baked-good. Aside from that, I also remember being about the same age (around 9 or 10) and obsessed with recreating the Orange Julius. I finally figured out that the secret ingredient is vanilla extract.

Who had the most influence on your cooking?

I didn't really have any cooking tutelage or mentoring while I was growing up, and in general preferred to stay out of the kitchen completely. When I graduated from college I knew how to scramble an egg and how to make toast, and literally that was it. I learned how to cook from cookbooks -- specifically Help, My Apartment Has a Kitchen! by Kevin and Nancy Mills and The New Basics by Sheila Lukins and Julie Rosso. Later I branched out into cooking recipes from Gourmet and Food and Wine -- they assume a relatively novice cook and provide ample instructions.

But in terms of my own cooking philosophy -- adapt and substitute -- that all comes from my dad. He used to make something called Bachelor Special for my sister and me for dinner. Usually it involved browned hamburger, a can of cream of mushroom soup, some leftover rice, and a can of Veg-All, with plenty of salt and pepper. It sounds truly revolting, but every now and then my sister and I will confide a hankering for the dish to each other. The best part about Bachelor Special is that it tastes pretty good no matter what you throw into it, kind of like meatloaf. And so the lesson of making do with ingredients on hand was impressed upon little me.

Do you have an old photo as 'evidence' of an early exposure to the culinary world and would you like to share it?

Sadly, no.

Mageiricophobia - do you suffer from any cooking phobia, a dish that makes your palms sweat?

Yes. Or, at least, I would want someone more experienced than me in the kitchen when dealing with:

  • oysters
  • sushi
  • a pineapple that needs to be peeled and cored
  • a whole fish that needs to be scaled and deboned
  • any spiky and/or spiny fruits or vegetables -- I always feel like they are totally impenetrable

What would be your most valued or used kitchen gadgets and/or what was the biggest let down?

I love my cheapo bamboo spoon/spatula things from the Chinese market. I am also a big fan of the rice cooker, the citrus squeezer contraption (so much easier than the reamer for big juicing projects), and the Microplane grater. I am forever in debt to my boyfriend for buying me a Cuisinart food processor in a moment of tears and frustration involving 10 pounds of carrots and a hand-cranked food mill. I love our wok, too, and my medium-gauge strainer. I use my ice cream maker all the time -- something I bought with confidence despite my hatred of kitchen gadget clutter. The best thing I own, though, is my Shun Japanese chef's knife. That one little thing has changed the way I think about prep work forever.

Things that I thought I would use more include my cast-iron pan (I don't fry enough stuff), my Springform pan (though it does come in handy sometimes), and any of our THREE little stovetop espresso makers. We need to get rid of those.

Name some funny or weird food combinations/dishes you really like - and probably no one else!

Well, I love Krinos taramosalata from the jar on pita, crackers, whatever. Actually I love cod roe on anything. There is a great Japanese restaurant in San Francisco called On The Bridge that makes cod roe cream sauce for spaghetti. It is so amazingly salty, rich, and delicious.

What are the three eatables or dishes you simply don't want to live without?

I take this to mean staples that I always have to have in the house, as opposed to favorite foods of all time.

  • aforementioned taramosalata
  • tortilla chips
  • coffee

Your favorite ice-cream

There are too many! Mocha Lace from Wentworth's in Hamden, CT; Indian Pudding and Grape-Nuts from Ashley's in New Haven; red plum sorbet from Mio Gelato in Portland, OR; Lemon Cream from the Washtenaw Dairy in Ann Arbor, MI; Coolsville Sundaes from Burgerville....

You will probably never eat...

Head cheese. Or "Thousand-Year-Old Egg".

Your own signature dish

The dish I seem to make most often in our house is Tofu Taco Salad, but that's not my signature dish -- it is the brainchild of Suzanne and Julie, who entered it into the Pillsbury Bake-Off a couple of years ago. But in terms of something that I love to make and everyone who eats it later craves, it's the brussels sprout slaw with bacon and apples that comes out at Thanksgiving. Just thinking about it makes me want some Right Now.

A common ingredient you just can't bring yourself to stomach

Bananas. Bitter greens, including broccoli rabe.

Which one culture's food would you most like to sample on its home turf?

French. I have had so much "French-inspired California cuisine" and "French -- with a twist!" food that I really want to go to France and eat somewhere that is truly, classicly French, just so that I have a baseline for comparison.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Hot Dog Slush

Footage captured by ESPN confirms that some hot dog slush did spill through Kobayashi's fingers and pieces of liquid bun spouted out of his nose, but footage shows time had already expired.

Blessed Excess

It is too embarrassing to list everything that I ate this weekend; I am just letting it go and being happy that I had such a wonderful weekend of delicious foods and relished it all with great friends. There was no mindless eating -- I was totally mindful of every bite of the ice cream (Ben & Jerry's Oatmeal Cookie Thing at their factory one day; Herrell's Kentucky Bourbon Vanilla and Cinnamon-Nutmeg the next) that I had for lunch two days in a row. Mmmm. [I really can't believe that Cold Stone Creamery dares to show its face in Northampton, Mass., though. They completely ripped Herrell's off with the smoosh-in concept. And now every other ice cream cup you see in the garbage there is from Cold Stone. Awful, I tell you. They will get their karmic comeuppance.]

So today I am to eat right for real. Small portions! Vegetables and fruits! A diet based on food other than dairy and meat products! Starting off with:
- a Balance trail mix bar
- iced coffee with skim milk

I am now trying to decide where to go for lunch that I can load up on veg.

ETA: Okay, so maybe I will just wean myself off the meat slowly, then, instead of shocking the system with all veg all the time. Lunch was half a chicken curry salad wrap and a giant vat of iced tea. I'll eat the other half tomorrow with the TAB (!!!) that my nice co-worker Scott found for me in New York. The chicken sandwich had a lot of nice fruits and beans in it, at least!