May 23, 2014 § Leave a comment
Today the rain came back. The weather has been so fine in Seattle this spring. When the sun shines my productivity slows to a crawl and I am swollen with gratitude that I don’t have to be indoors. Perhaps I ought to be indoors, but I lack the willpower to plant myself in front of a computer or a stove when it’s 70 degrees outside, and the birds are chirping, and it’s still sunny for hours after dinner. Our cupboards have become bare, because how on earth could I have spent any of those precious sunny minutes in a grocery store? Children, eat this leftover macaroni and cheese and these adorable petit peas from our freezer and then let’s go outside. Yes, you can have a popsicle.
But now it is raining and I will spend this day indoors. I have had a hunk of pork shoulder in my fridge for a few days that I kept meaning to roast but, you know, I was distracted. The sun was shining. This morning I realized that this roast was destined to become shreddy, tangy pulled pork. A dinner that will evoke the sunny days of the past week, but would never have been possible without today’s rain. « Read the rest of this entry »
May 5, 2014 § 1 Comment
I wonder if I would get so excited about rhubarb if its season was in August, if it had to compete with luscious tomatoes and sweet, meaty melons? It’s a much tougher sell than those later season jewels. For one thing, you have to cook it. And it’s tart as heck, so you have to dose it with sugar. The leaves are poisonous, so those need to be tossed away. As I write, I’m beginning to wonder who even considered rhubarb as an ingredient in the first place? It must have been a cook long long ago who had endured a horrible winter … When the spring thaw finally came that cook spied bright pink stalks radiating from the soil. She was drawn to the rosy glow of the rhubarb plant and nibbled a leaf. It tasted horrible and she felt ill. Looking around for something else fresh to pick, she saw absolutely no other options. So, she returned to the rhubarb and broke off a stalk and chewed on it. It was awful – tart and astringent. Desperate for any fresh produce that wasn’t kale she brought the rhubarb into her kitchen, took down her sack of sugar and went to work… « Read the rest of this entry »
April 2, 2014 § Leave a comment
At my house, chicken thighs spent years at the bottom of our poultry totem pole (…your family doesn’t have a poultry totem pole?). Chicken breasts are lean and kind of fancy, the kids clamor for drumsticks, and we all love wings. Chicken thighs failed to make an impression. UNTIL.
March 18, 2014 § Leave a comment
When I was a kid my mom and I went grocery shopping once a week at the local Giant. As I write, I realize what an inhospitable name that is … Giant Supermarket …. but that is where we went once a week, usually on Sunday. My mom had a grocery list that sat on our kitchen counter and we would add things to the list through the week. By Sunday, our list was long and we went to the store with a plan. Lunches, dinners and breakfasts for five days. One big shop, time efficient and cost effective.
Now I am the main provider of meals for my family and my approach is very different (‘approach’ sounds too intentional). Life happens, and I find myself at a grocery store nearly every day of the week. It’s the opposite of time efficient and cost effective, it is time sucking and expensive. « Read the rest of this entry »
March 3, 2014 § 2 Comments
Yesterday my husband gave me the gift of BBQ from Kau Kau, his favorite source for roasted meat in the International District. Sweet man. I ate the Roasted Pig right away (I don’t know why they don’t call it ‘pork’, but neither do I anymore). To eat the roasted chicken also, in one sitting, would be unseemly. So I tucked it in the fridge, anticipating the leftovers. Today at lunchtime I realized I had every ingredient I needed to make a fine chicken salad, even celery. Twice blessed by roasted meat. « Read the rest of this entry »
February 10, 2014 § 3 Comments
In my last post I described the comfort I find in frying chicken, and a before that I waxed rhapsodic about brown butter. Now let’s turn to food with a lower fat content. Here is a recipe that is virtuous and delicious: a wild rice salad. It took me a long time to overcome my reluctance to cook with whole grains and I still stubbornly refuse many whole grain alternatives that I know are good for me. But I have embraced salads made with chewy, nutty grains like farro, barley and wild rice (which is actually a seed). These dishes make sense to my mouth in a way that whole wheat pasta never will.
January 30, 2014 § 6 Comments
As Superbowl fervor has grown and game day snack recipe ideas are trumpeted across the land, I cannot get my mind off of chicken wings. I have no idea how football and chicken wings became so dearly intertwined, but they certainly are and we have been hearing about wings nonstop for the last month. How could I not fall prey to this tempation? Two weeks ago I made a batch of chicken wings that was very well received. They were marinated, baked, then broiled and they were a fine, healthful rendition of hot wings. But my itch, it was not scratched. My true desire was to fry wings. So inconvenient, so smelly, so time consuming. Today, as I type I have a slight sheen of grease on my forehead, my hair smells like fry oil, and I have a smile on my face. Beside me sits a sheet tray with row upon row of beautiful fried chicken wings, cooling. I haven’t even eaten these wings yet and I know it was totally worth the trouble.
Sometimes we cook to relax, to recall, or to meditate. For me, frying chicken is all of those things – the ultimate in comfort cooking. You need to stay right there, stand by your stove and watch the oil bubble and the chicken turn golden. You can’t walk away and help the kid get that thing down from that place, or write an email. Must stay with chicken. The sound of the gurgling oil is kind of mesmerizing, and when you lift the chicken from the pan, if all has gone well, it looks just like store bought. I find that strangely satisfying. For years my husband has tried to talk me out of frying chicken at home. We have a few very decent fried chicken joints in our neighborhood, why bother going through all of this effort? Our little house smells like a fry basket by the time I’m done, and we have to open the windows, and close off the bedrooms. But I will not be dissuaded. Where is the love in fried chicken that somebody else made? Accept this chicken as a token of my love, light a scented candle and quit yer moaning. « Read the rest of this entry »