February 1, 2013 § 19 Comments
So, a couple of weeks ago I had this whole plan in my mind wherein I was not going to make or eat any sweets until Valentine’s Day. Not because of any January, ascetic, resolution-y type of reason. I steer clear of food resolutions in general, and cleanses peeve me. They rub me the wrong way, I guess because I feel like they’re a reflection of our national dysfunctional relationship with food. I know they’re not trying to, but to me they send the message, “you can shove whatever you want into your body without paying attention all year long as long as you spend 2 weeks in January consuming nothing but juiced vegetables and wheatgrass,” or whatever. Which you can’t. You should eat cleanly all the time, and it should and can be incredibly enjoyable, and then also leave room for some good clean fun here and there (like nachos, hehe).
Anyhow, pardon the brief tirade, that’s neither here nor there because the real reason that I was going to forego all sweets for any number of weeks was to create a giant buildup to a Valentine’s Day treat to end all Valentine’s Day treats. In spite of my usual relaxed attitude toward the holiday of love, this year, for whatever reason, it struck me as a fun idea to use it as an excuse to make something billowing, and chocolatey, and gooey, and basically hopelessly, ridiculously rich.
And, I suppose I still may, but a couple of things conspired against me in the last few days to send my plans into a tailspin. First, my dear husband told me that he was going to be out of town on Valentine’s and the surrounding days for a consulting project he’s working on. Insert sad face, but that hitch could be overcome by postponing our Valentine’s celebration until he returned. But the second problem is, I lost my taste for chocolate.
I know: What???!!! Right? It’s completely ridiculous. Who goes from being a devotee of chocolate in all its most intense forms, mousse, sorbet, midnight dark bars, dense flourless cakes, to being slightly put off by the very thought of it? Who???? Sadly, me.
December 8, 2012 § 13 Comments
I’m back. Phew.
I think 3 1/2 days at a time is my new favorite way to be in Boston. In 3 1/2 days I can cram in almost all my favorite things (friends! colleagues! Bread products! Riding along the river on a classic Dutch commuter bike that is beautiful but also insanely heavy!) and avoid the majority of the things that drove me slightly batty when living there.
But now I’m back, and in my kitchen banging out some semblance of meals including, a) some very awesome homemade pasta with butter and anchovies last night, and b) cauliflower with harissa cream several times. The latter (at least for the purposes of this conversation) is the more important by far.
Perhaps you have not been waiting with bated breath for this cauliflower, but I have!
I’m not even sure why I love this cauliflower so very much. I just do. I love the dark, charred frill that develops on the edges of the golden roasted cauliflower florets. I love how the minute pocks and crevices of the cauliflower make the perfect surface for catching the sauce.
I love how incomprehensibly soft and mellow the garlic cloves become, and the wrinkled skin the olives develop. I love how they all work together, if you carefully assemble a forkful with one of each, and how they are equally delicious each on their own if you can’t be bothered with focused bite construction. « Read the rest of this entry »
October 12, 2012 § 13 Comments
Well dear friends, the distillery, which after a flurry of ad hoc focus group testing with friends who are roughly in our target market and/or have clever things to say about names is now officially named Vikre Distillery, now has a Facebook page. As of yesterday! And you know, if that doesn’t make something real, then what does, really?
In the non-Facebook version of life, also known as reality, the distillery is still very much in the process of becoming extant. But, we’re making a lot of progress and have found all sorts of amazing help, willing ears, editors, math-checkers, connection-makers. Though so far, the number of people who have offered their services as first line taste testers outstrips the numbers of any of these categories by far. Leaves’em in the dust. No contest. (Gee, I wonder why.)
By day, I find myself bopping between meetings and then back to focused data coding. By night I continue to stare pensively at data with a furrowed brow breaking only to fill mason jar upon mason jar with vodka and herbs, trying to come up with our ideal gin blend and aquavit flavor profile, etc. etc.
Joel crunches and recrunches numbers, and perfects powerpoints, and pamphlets, and makes a lot of phone calls. I’m glad I’m not doing that part. I have a weird irrational quasi-fear of calling people.
Some days are awful and I throw up my hands, convinced this was the worst idea in the known history of mankind (worst, no exaggeration) and that it will all be a miserable failure. Other days are bright and happy, full of hope and new connections and small successes and a sense that we can make things happen. These things go like that.
Anyhow, progress, progress, progress. Each little step, on any sort of day, is progress. « Read the rest of this entry »
August 19, 2012 § 27 Comments
Was I the one grumping up a storm and hemming and hawing over what to do with the sheer quantity of summer produce around? Me? Well, I take it all back! Every word of it! It never happened. I never said it.
Now I’m like all those guys in all those movies, running after the train as it pulls out of the station, crying, “waaaaaiiit!!!!” Because my true love is on that train. Except, the train is actually summer. And my love? Sweet corn polenta.
In a long line of obsessions, sweet corn polenta is my latest. It has taken over our diet in the last couple of weeks, just as sweet corn season is winding down (sad face). Kimchi tacos are still at the tippy top of my favorite things ever list for the moment, and a most exciting delivery of delicious treats from a friend in Hawaii has skyrocketed passion fruit ginger jam up to join the tacos in first place. (I may become totally open to genetically modified foods if someone can figure out a way to create a passion fruit plant that will generate fruit in northern Minnesota. Anyone?) But, sweet corn polenta is breathing down their necks. « Read the rest of this entry »
June 25, 2012 § 20 Comments
Joel left on Friday to go to Ethiopia for a week for work. At the end of this week we’ll be meeting up in Norway to visit my family and to have a little vacation time. But, until then, it’s just me and Squid holding down the fort. The fort that looks suspiciously like our apartment. Hmm.
Already I’m eating weird. It’s what I do when I’m eating alone.
I can definitely identify with the people I speak with who tell me they don’t cook or have stopped cooking because they are by themselves. It happens all the time. It can be really hard to stay motivated. My problem, I’ve come to realize, is not that I don’t enjoy cooking for one. I actually like cooking for one just fine and don’t mind fiddling with recipes to scale them down. But, I hate eating alone.
For the longest time I thought I was an introvert. Wrong! Actually I was just shy. Terribly, terribly shy, for many years, though much less so now. But, I get much of my energy from being around people. Apparently I always have. It should have clued me in long ago when my mother told me about how even as a tiny child I was perfectly content to play all by myself, but only so long as there was someone in the room alongside me doing their own thing. Somehow, it still took me until just a few years ago to actually make the connections.
Anyhow, I feel the same about meals. So much of eating is communal for me, when I’m by myself I sort of forget that I need to eat. Probably because of that underlying dislike of eating alone. So, then when I suddenly remember that I probably do need to eat something, my blood sugar is already a little too low and the hanger is building. I still pull myself together enough to cook, but I slap together all manner of ridiculous thing.
May 29, 2012 § 18 Comments
The last of our guests left this morning, and I’m left with that funny feeling of slight relief and slight let-down after a big event and lots of social time. The apartment feels remarkably quiet and empty, and I have a lot of work to catch up on.
If you mapped out the trajectory of the contents of our house from Thursday through now, you would see how it arced parabolically, from the two of us (well, three, if you count Squid) to five, to fourteen(!), to nine, to four, and down to just two again. And now one, actually, as I sit at my desk at home with my reflections and the puppy for company.
The weekend was nothing short of epic. The belated Syttende Mai party topped the charts (I’ll tell you more about it later when I have both my photos and thoughts in order), but we did a great deal more excellent eating and exploring on top of that. Also, can I just say that Minnesotans (former Minnesotans included) make the best house guests! Sure it’s still work, but every time you turn around, someone has done the dishes for you or even gone ahead and scrubbed your stove top.
Anyhow, the odds and ends of a dozen delicious meals are sitting in the fridge, and I’m partaking in the joy of leftovers. Today, I’m particularly loving this pea puree. Its sweet pea flavor and sateen texture are so fresh, so spring, and oh so very, very green. Preppy green. The green of chinos that one might pair with a rather pink polo shirt and a cardigan draped over the shoulders.
February 17, 2012 § 24 Comments
I was thinking of calling this butternata, which, to me, makes it sound like it is a sonata of or about butter, which sounds bizarre and wonderful. Don’t you think? But, I didn’t want to mislead anyone. There is no butter involved here – though a generous hand with the olive oil more than makes up for that – except of the ‘nut squash variety.
And, speaking of butternut squash, have I told you about my friend and the bulk squash episode? I probably have already. But, I consider us all old friends here now, which means you’re going to have to listen to my stories, whether or not you’ve already heard them, and laugh and gasp and nod in all of the right places. I can’t wait.
We have a friend who, one fall when he and his wife lived near us, tagged onto our CSA to buy a bulk order of winter squash. And bulk was what he received. I’m not even quite sure how many pounds of squash he ordered, but it was on a magnitude you’d usually associate with a grocer’s. Joel is piping in, “it was probably, like, a hundred pounds. At least.”
January 24, 2012 § 12 Comments
English is a language with a lot of great idiomatic phrases, so I take slight umbrage at the fact that there is no good taste equivalent for the saying “I could see it in my mind’s eye.” At least, I don’t think there is. If anyone out there knows one, will you please share it with me? I would use it all the time. I would probably drive everyone around me to drink, I would use it so often. (So maybe it’s actually good I don’t know such a phrase. It prevents the need for an intervention – for my overuse of it, or for the induced drinking problem in those who are sick of hearing it, I couldn’t say…)
It’s how I think about recipes, ingredients, and cooking. I think many people who cook a lot do. I imagine ingredients and preparations and I taste what they would be like in my mind’s mouth (ergh, see, that sounds ridiculous) before even cracking open the cupboards in the pantry. And, when I see a dish of some sort, I do the same thing.
August 9, 2011 § 8 Comments
We drove to Washington D.C. and back last weekend. We weren’t even there for the weekend, really. We left at 6am on Friday to attend a wedding that evening (which was really lovely, but also set in a stately, picturesque, and totally un-airconditioned – read 105 degree – church, and the ceremony was not a short one.).
We danced into the night and had the requisite midnight snack of soggy, greasy pizza in slices the sizes of our head (does that happen to you too? I always find I’m starving by the time a wedding is over because I’ve been dancing the last 3-4 hours since dinner), went to sleep, and then dragged ourselves out of bed at 6:30 the next morning again to drive back up to Boston.
We listened to far too much news on the radio, which always winds up making me upset and dour about the state of the world. And we listened to Paul Simon, which made me feel better. And we just generally spent way more time in a car than one should reasonably spend over the course of two days.
The full throttle approach to the road trip was my fault. You see, I had decided that since we were going to be driving through an area ever so vaguely in the general proximity of Brooklyn, we needed to make sure that that happened before 2pm on Saturday because I was going to go to Smorgasburg, come hell or high water.
August 6, 2011 § 13 Comments
If you are like me, you have been existing for years in a sorry state of existence in which the only vegetable mixed into a tzatziki sauce is the cucumber (which isn’t even technically a vegetable, oh, and I suppose garlic is, but anyway, we’re not going to go there). No more! This limited viewpoint is about to come to an end. Come with me into a brave new world, and allow me to introduce you to beet tzatziki, a delightful gem of a spread/dip/salad/midnight snack…
Backing up just a bit, I, oddly enough, have my recent packed schedule of research focus groups to thank for this discovery. You see, I have somehow become one of my department’s experts in focus group moderating. I don’t even quite know how it came about, I just know that now I not only do my own focus groups, I help out with those of other research projects as well.
I seem to have an affinity for it, especially focus groups with kids. (The secret? I find if you just stare at people expectantly for long enough, they’ll get uncomfortable and start talking. No, but, actually, I think the most important thing is being genuinely interested in what people have to say. It comes across.)