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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Thai Curry Noodles, Quick ‘n E-zee

December 13, 2011 § 7 Comments

Some days are built around creating expansive dinners….Carefully selecting ingredients in the morning, chopping and dicing them while listening to public radio in the afternoon, cooking at a leisurely pace into the evening.  Those are very special days (and most of them are in my past, before motherhood).  I’ve always believed that the meals I cook reflect the mood that I am in when I cook cook them – relaxed and mellow days result in dinners that come together effortlessly and taste great. This doesn’t bode well for most of my family’s evening meals.

Lately, I spend my days in relative leisure.  Nonetheless, the hours between when I pick my kids up from school and the e.t.a. for dinner can get ugly.  The time that I imagine I will spend crafting a home-cooked meal of  splendor ends up being spent teaching my 6 year-old the ins and outs of the remote (when is she going to lean this invaluable skill, Dear God?!?) and making snacks and more snacks for my famished 8 year-old.  More than once I’ve asked myself what I am trying to prove.  Clearly, generations of women have been able to put three squares, homemade, from scratch, on their family’s table each day.  But maybe that skill has been bred out of us. I was raised on Stouffer’s and I turned out just great.  Still, I persevere.  Even though my family would probably be better off with a quickie dinner followed by conversation instead of marathon dishwashing, I persevere.  Once in a blue moon I come across a meal that is both delicious and quick and satisfies that end-o-the day big time hunger.  The blue moon shone on me this week, and I have a new favorite weeknight go-to dish. « Read the rest of this entry »

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