Fragrant Noodle Soup with Tofu and Sweet Pork

March 30, 2012 § 2 Comments

Last weekend I did something that I hadn’t done in a decade (such a shame).  I boarded a plane alone.  That plane took me from Seattle, over the clouds, to the desert.  It was my first trip to Arizona, a place that may be the exact opposite of the Northwest in March.  Green, wet evergreens were replaced by looming red rocks and dusty scrub.  Instead of low, heavy clouds there was vast blue sky.  And that blazing sun. I expected to feel sad to say goodbye to the sun and to return to a certain fate of months more of rain and gray in Seattle.  But when the plane descended through the clouds we were treated to an amazing view of Mount St Helens (I think).  And in just another moment we were over Lake Washington and my very own Seward Park, a dense forest right in the middle of my Emerald city.  Oh crud, I realized.  It’s happened. I’m a Seattleite.   Next thing I know I’ll be buying rain pants.

The truth of the matter is, I’ve adjusted to the constant drizzle and Seattle’s eternal spring that spans from February to July.  With that weather come many traditions I could not easily let go of: digging in our soggy garden, late afternoon fires, and big bowls of steamy soup.  Of course, I will still complain about the weather.  Because I’m cranky like that. « Read the rest of this entry »

Food From Far-Off Lands

March 20, 2012 § 3 Comments

I love most types of shopping, but I particularly like shopping that presents a challenge.

This could be choosing a paint color that my husband and I agree on, or stalking treasure at Goodwill, or finding a butcher block that is the exact same height as my kitchen counter (I know it’s out there).

Another scenario that thrills me: roaming around a grocery store that is stocked with food from far off lands.

There are risks, both to my pride and to my palate.  If the market is small I might get awkward attention from regular shoppers – a grumpy stare from an old man, or a smile from a woman who wonders what the heck I’m going to do with the unfamiliar ingredient that I’m holding in my hand.  I usually wonder what the heck I’m going to do with that ingredient, also.  Sometimes it turns out that what I’m going to do is make a dish that tastes perfectly awful (I can’t seem to make pickled gooseberries work for me).  But more often, I’ll take home an armful of inexpensive, lovely foodstuffs and learn a thing or two about a thing or two.  And I thought you might want to learn, also.

Introducing Food From Far-Off Lands, wherein I explore a foreign food market, ask embarrassing questions to patient store clerks, and present recipes for you to try at home.  If you visit the stores that I write about, you get to skip the ’embarrassing questions’ part.  You will stride into the store and ask with authority: ‘Where are the salted duck eggs, Madam?  I am using them for tonight’s noodle dish. Thank you very much.’ « Read the rest of this entry »

Fried Rice With Everything Nice

March 13, 2012 § 1 Comment

In a recent post I went public with my vow to use the food that I have on hand.  I promised to waste less, to depend on my wits and create memorable meals with the dregs from my fridge, yadda, yadda, yadda.  Alas, alack! One look in my over-stuffed refrigerator reveals that I have some work to do.  But I’m not giving up, and I have a delicious solution.  Fried rice is the perfect vessel for those little bits of leftovers.  Truly greater than the sum of its neglected parts.

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Strip Steaks Cooking On An Open Fire, Raindrops Falling On Your Nose

March 6, 2012 § 3 Comments

Pemco Insurance has a clever slew of ads on Seattle city buses that speak to the individualism of Northwest types.  My favorite: ‘Blue Tarp Camper, we’re a lot like you … a little different.’  They also address Socks and Sandals Guy and 4-Way Stop You Go. No You Go. No You Go. Guy.  A friend of mine recently quipped that Pemco needed to create an ad for the Cold Drizzly Night Griller.  I am loathe to camp under a blue tarp, I will never wear socks with Tevas, and I know the driver to the right always goes first at a 4-way stop.  But rain does not stop my impulse to cook over a fire, I admit it.  Occasionally my husband and I get to use our big, cheery yellow patio umbrella to shield us from the sun, but it’s been much more handy as a shelter to keep the coals dry while we grill steak in February.

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