April 25, 2013 § 4 Comments
Before we get to risotto, I have a few little announcements to make, housekeeping style. I trust the risotto can wait a couple moments, even though it is not known to be the most patient of rice dishes. But anyway, as I mentioned a little bit ago, this here little blog is undergoing a spiffing up process. It’s like Five and Spice is going on Project Makeover! That’s not a real show is it. Extreme Makeover? Anyway, that’s beside the point.
The point is that some major, and (so!) exciting renovations are happening, led by the (brilliant) ladies of Wooden Spoons Kitchen. In order to make it all work, starting sometime on the later end of tomorrow (Friday) the site will be down for a while. It will stay down over the weekend while the magic happens in the background. Then on Monday morning it’ll be back with its brand new look and also at a new URL. Instead of being at wordpress.com the site address will be plain old fiveandspice.com (took me long enough to make the change, right?! Some weird Estonian company or something had snagged that URL, I think in hopes of getting me to buy it from them. But when their lease on it expired, I snapped it up. Take that!).
I’ll have the old site set up to redirect, so old links will all still work and whatnot, but just know that henceforth you’ll be able to look for me at that new address. Now this is important (hence the bold typeface) if you subscribe by email, that should keep working without interruption (at least in theory. Fingers crossed.) but if you subscribe via an rss feed/reader type of thing, you will have to resubscribe. But, this should be easy enough, right? You did it once! I bet you can do it again. (I, on the other hand, have no idea how to subscribe to an rss feed. I am a luddite. This is why other people are in charge of moving the site over, and holding my hand, and talking to me in reassuring voices the whole time.)
So, with that taken care of, let us turn to the risotto. « Read the rest of this entry »
April 19, 2013 § 25 Comments
I’ve started thinking a lot about love lately. To be more specific, I’ve thinking about love in the face of an uncertain, sometimes scary world.
That sounds dour, doesn’t it. I can’t help it for the moment. Adjusting to this new idea and identity of becoming a parent coupled with feeling that uncertainty acutely, especially because of the madness of the weather and current events and all that stuff, it leaves me really wondering how I’ll do. I struggle with love, you see, because I can be, well, an anxious person sometimes. I’ve been strongly affected by watching loss and sadness ever since I was very small, and somewhere along the way I just stopped trusting that there was benevolence in the universe.
And when you don’t trust, you armor yourself, guarding yourself against strong attachments because of the fear that something will happen, and you’ll be left bereft. But then (thankfully!) there are people in my life who mean so much to me, Joel, my family and community, Squid (so she’s a fur person not a person-person, but she counts), that my love for them handily bursts through any shields I have raised to try to protect myself. This is wonderful, but it’s also frightening.
I’m sure that baby, when he or she comes, will be the same. Except better/worse. I mean, let’s face it, I love our darn dog so insanely much I feel like I would be destroyed if something happened to her. How the heck am I going to handle the amount of love that comes with having a baby????
This little one makes my day
Because the world is uncertain, and mostly out of our control. We can set up all the plans and safeguards we can imagine, but we still can’t protect ourselves or others from absolutely everything. And dwelling on that sort of thing, my friends, is how you make yourself anxious (you know, in case you were wondering).
In the past 5 or so years, after I had noticed myself stuck in this sort of pattern of thinking, I started trying to work on it. Meditate or pray, I’ve been told. Journal. Develop the habit of thinking of yourself as lovable; this allows you to love others. Make note of things that you are grateful for, new things every day. « Read the rest of this entry »
September 22, 2012 § 16 Comments
I think I have mentioned it before (yup, I have – just checked), but there was a lucky day once when I was home from college on winter break when I got to cook with the Norwegian food writer, cook, and TV personality Andreas Viestad. Ok, it’s not Anthony Bourdain or Jamie Oliver, but for me it was pretty dang close. Even better, actually, being the cooking and writing obsessed Scandophile that I am.
He was giving a book talk and signing at our church, accompanied by a cooking demo. Our family friend and cookbook author Bea Ojakangas recruited my mother and me along with another friend to help with the food preparation.
I’m pretty sure, when it comes down to it, we were asked there more for our Norwegian language skills than our cooking skills, but I wasn’t concerned, I still felt special. From the experience I took away some cooking pointers, a minor crush, and a signed copy of Viestad’s cookbook.
It’s a beautiful book. One I have loved as much for the beautiful landscape pictures that reminded me of all my childhood summers in Norway as for the simple, flavorful recipes. After break, I brought the book back to share with my college housemates as I excitedly told them about getting to cook with the cute Norwegian chef. Soon, everyone in our house – boys and girls alike – referred to Viestad as the “cute Norwegian chef” rather than by name, and a number of recipes from his book had become regulars in the rotation of our household meals (we cooked for each other and ate together 5 nights a week). « 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 15, 2012 § 32 Comments
I have waited for almost a year to get to eat this gratin again. Waiting, waiting, waiting for it to feel reasonable to purchase some summer squash. Finally I cracked because I just couldn’t wait any longer. I wanted my gratin!
I first had it last summer when I was home visiting my parents. It was my mother who suggested making it, and I thought it sounded fine. Though, how exciting could a summer summer squash gratin really be? Zucchini and cheese struck me as tasty, but in no way revolutionary. Just kind of summery comfort food. (Eep! That was in no way intended to be a dig at comfort food! I love comfort food! But you’ve got to admit, it’s not exciting, per se. That’s kind of the whole point.)
April 27, 2012 § 18 Comments
Life is grand friends. Really grand. I can’t stop beaming with pride from every cell of my body, and it’s because of this.
It’s a sourdough loaf. It’s the little things, you know. Isn’t she a beauty? Perfectly crackly hard shell of a crust, spongey chewy interior crumb, those lovely blistered gashes and bits of charred flour. I would shell out good money for a loaf like this, wrapped nicely in brown paper, at a bakery. But I made it myself!(!!!) And I am fit to burst with how excited I am about it.
It came out of the oven just after 11 last night because that’s when it appeared ready to bake, and well, I haven’t stopped smiling goofily about it since.
April 3, 2012 § 20 Comments
Were I a poet, I would write odes in celebration of cardamom.
Actually, now that I give my bold statement a little thought, were I a poet, I would probably have much more profound and brooding things to write about. For example, what a sparrow isn’t.
(This is an actual discussion that Joel and I once had, after hearing a pair of essays by a husband and wife one of whom is a poet and the other a novelist. What a sparrow isn’t comes up as a poetic theme. Later on a walk, I asked Joel what he thought of when he imagined what a sparrow isn’t, and he launched into a long musing exploration of the fluttering energy each little life on this earth has and the vacuum that could be left were it not there and how this might change the overall universe. Then he asked what came to my mind when I thought of what a sparrow isn’t. “An elephant and a beach ball,” I replied. Joel writes poetry. I don’t.)
March 16, 2012 § 33 Comments
This is where I am right now: it has been quite a week. Actually, to be perfectly honest, and for lack of a better way to put it, it’s been a pretty terrible week. It could have been a worse week, and for that I’m thankful – that it wasn’t worse – but, it has still been the sort of week where, at the end of it, you need a really effing huge (and I almost never use fake expletives, so you better believe I mean this) glass of wine to salvage any vestiges of sanity and good humor you may have hiding somewhere.
The week before was a rough week, but it was merely busy. It was just work. I can handle work stress with a tearful breakdown only every couple of weeks (crying is how I seem to let emotions out. Any emotion. Happy, sad, angry, stressed…It’s not convenient, but it’s how I work.). But this week it got personal as well.
March 6, 2012 § 19 Comments
My father, who is both a wonderful person and a wonderful eater, and one of the most truly consciously healthy people I know, has been having to make some dietary changes lately to try to figure out some minor allergies. That’s putting it mildly. By “some” changes, I mean he’s doing sort of the mother of all elimination diets. Even things like rice and potatoes, which are usually allowed in elimination diets are o-u-t, out.
If you’re exceptionally noble and self-possessed, I suppose you could see the good in such limitation. The strict form of the sonnet can give rise to even more beauty and creativity than free verse, and all that la dee da. But, overall, it has got to pretty much suck. Perhaps even with a capital S. That’s how I would feel about it, I know.
January 6, 2012 § 26 Comments
Let’s take a moment to reflect on couscous, shall we? My family, as I recall, seems to have discovered couscous some time part of the way through my tenure in high school. I don’t know how my mother stumbled on it or decided to purchase it, all I remember is that she served it for the first time for supper one day (alongside pork tenderloin and acorn squash if my memory serves me correctly, which it tends to when it comes to meals), and it felt like the epitome of novelty.
I was certain we were eating something flashy, exotic, new, the food equivalent of getting the first version of the iphone, right when it came out. And this fit in lockstep with my budding epicurean ideals – which back in high school, I’ll admit, were more about the appearance of sophistication and taste than anything else. High school. Jeez.
Back then we just ate the Middle East brand couscous with the spice packet mixed in. That was fancy enough for us. (to extend the iphone metaphor: my phone gets internet!!! Oh my gosh! It totally doesn’t matter that it can’t seem to actually make phone calls most of the time…) But, as couscous has completely mainstreamed, I think most of us have come to expect a little more in the preparation of this tiny noodle. « Read the rest of this entry »