April 23, 2013 § 10 Comments
This is about as typical of a weeknight supper as you get in our house. Roasted fish plus roasted veggies. Bam! Done! Thank you very much. Of course, the ways you can change this up are infinite with different spice rubs or sauces, different types of fish or veggies. We eat salmon most often, caught by our friend Dave who fishes commercially in Alaska. But, this time I had some cod.
I roasted it very simply, but then fancied it up by adding a pistachio and herb pesto – which was nothing but my way of saving the wilting ends of a couple bunches of herbs and the remnants of a bag of pistachios. Roasting a lemon or two with the carrots not only lends flavor to the carrots, but it also emboldens and rounds out the juices of the lemon. The arugula I tossed in at the last minute, to lightly wilt it. Easy peasy lemon squeezey (literally in this case, ha!).
Vær så god!
February 7, 2013 § 18 Comments
Even when you’re a northerner through and through, and you cherish each of the four seasons, there are times when winter starts to wear on you. Just a little bit.
There are times, when it’s been a while since the snow cover has been refreshed and a while since the temperature has been above single digits, and it starts to feel drab and dreary and repetitive. It loses its luster the way snowbanks do as they get trampled over and sprayed with dirt.
But then, in the midst of all that, you may have a morning where you wake up to hear the cheery whistle of a songbird, “twee-ooo,” letting you know that it may get up into the teens today, and suddenly the world feels a little more alive. Then, the clouds may roll in and blanket everything with 4 or 5 inches of fresh powdery snow, and the world feels a little more clean. And hopefully, on such a day, you’ll decide not to go cross-country skiing on the groomed trails, even though you have a 50 km race you were supposed to be busting your butt training for, and instead go tromping in the woods, playing tag with the dog, searching for animal tracks, and making snow angels, and then you’ll remember why winter is gorgeous and magical.
Even the most wonderful things need paying attention to, or you’ll forget how very wonderful they are. « Read the rest of this entry »
October 3, 2012 § 18 Comments
I’m convinced that if food knows you’re afraid of it, it will, most of the time, rise (or is it sink?) to meet your expectations, and give you plenty of trouble. This is why, for example, you must be firm while rolling out a pie crust, even as you use a delicate touch, and why souffles are best made after 10 pm, with a generous glass of wine by your side.
I’ve feared a wide variety of foods in my time, but one by one, I have try-tried again, building up my nerve and feel for things, and I’ve eventually conquered most of them. Fried foods, though, have definitely still got my number. I feel a vague internal cowering even now as I think about searing bolts of grease splattering everywhere, and me screaming and running like a peasant in front of a hord of visigoths, trying to get away from the oily conflagration that could, in my mind, easily start out of nowhere in a split second, as soon as there’s more than about 2 Tbs. of hot oil involved.
I’ve never actually had any mishap remotely resembling that (I’m much more liable to shave off my fingertip or set a cake ablaze), but it still scares me. Suffice it to say, I don’t do all that much serious frying.
Even less so because I’ve never had much cause to. I love the results enough to slave away over improving my bread, even my radicchio experience I’m willing to work at, but on the whole I don’t like fried food. I don’t like the taste, so why bother?
I know I’m kind of weird, with this. I know that my general dislike of fried chicken, fried fish, pakoras, tempura, even French fries puts me at odds with most of humanity. It’s not a problem with the fat content or anything, cream being pretty much my favorite food group. I just don’t care much for the flavor. « Read the rest of this entry »
June 12, 2012 § 13 Comments
Do you all already love risotto? I feel like most people do. Like it usually comes naturally. I’m pretty sure I’m the odd duck in this one, but for me, well, it took me a while to hit my risotto stride.
When I first heard of risotto back who knows when at this point, I was immediately enticed by it. It looked like the rice version of creamy macaroni and cheese or maybe the rice version of pasta Alfredo. My impression of it was that it was a bowl of super cheesy, creamy rice. And how could that be anything but delightful? Right?
The first time I ever actually tried risotto was at the dinner we went to to celebrate my college graduation. It is a well known fact that a college graduation merits a celebratory dinner at a snazzy Italian restaurant wherein the graduate also gets to choose the wine. At least, I felt it ought to be a well known fact, and made sure our plans reflected this.
I wasn’t actually the one who ordered the risotto. I ordered lobster ravioli because at that time lobster ravioli was my culinary grail. The ultimate in fancy food (I don’t think I’d ever actually had lobster before that, come to think of it. What a dinner of firsts!). It was one of my best friends who came along and who ordered a vegetable risotto (she was being vegetarian at the time, I believe). I was delighted with her choice because it meant I could steal a few forkfuls.
May 7, 2012 § 141 Comments
When you think about it, it’s remarkable, really, just how many opportunities we have every day to do something new. Much of the time it doesn’t feel like it. Our days follow patterns. We have baskets full of habits and well-worn ruts that we comfortably cruise along in.
And actually, a certain amount of repetition and stability in your life turns out to be really important and healthy. Which makes perfect sense. Nature is full of rhythms and patterns. We reside within them, and if completely rhythmless we feel jostled and jarred and seriously uncomfortable.
But if we don’t keep our eyes open to all the myriad of tiny dips and swerves within the patterns, it can be easy to feel trapped in some sort of mold that looks a lot like same-old-same-old.
I forget sometimes, that I’m the one making the decision to walk down the exact same street to get to the subway every time I go, when in reality, there are dozens of paths that run there. The destination is the same – rhythm – but I can switch the route up – discovery!
Same with cooking. We need to eat. Pretty darn regularly, in fact! And it’s easy to find ourselves making the same things over and over again. Of course, I’ll be the first person to sing the praises of old weeknight standbys (did somebody say spaghetti?!). They’re lifesavers. But, it’s also remarkable to me just how very many things I’ve never made before, or techniques I haven’t tried. Even with a decent number of years of cooking under my belt. « Read the rest of this entry »
March 28, 2012 § 12 Comments
I am a coveter of ideas. I’m not proud of this. It may, in fact, be a death knell of sorts for creativity – how can you be original when you’re wishing you had someone else’s idea? But it’s awfully hard not to covet it when someone has a really great idea.
It mostly happens when it feels like an idea I potentially could have had. I hear it, and the idea just. makes. sense. And my instant reaction is, “maaaaaan (in a kind of nasal, whiney internal voice), why didn’t I think of that?”
Or perhaps even more covetable is a realization of an idea that I actually have had, but mine simply hadn’t had enough time to gestate. A little premie of an idea still in need of some incubation and maybe a little knit cap. It’s inspiring to see someone else’s version of the same idea, well nourished and fully fleshed out into practice. Inspiring, and a wee bit annoying.
March 13, 2012 § 9 Comments
Hi! Hi guys! I’m still here. I’ve just been AWOL for a week because of some major project deadlines that required working evenings and weekends (and listening to this song too many times – it gets so stuck in your head! Thanks SNL.), and that have left me with about the mental fortitude of a barnacle. I thought the project was going to be done yesterday. Wrong. We now have a couple NEW deadlines! Yippee!
But, those will just have to wait for a moment because I have a sandwich to share with you, and it is a smashing one.
A bánh mì is a Vietnamese sandwich with any variety of fillings. Given that my office is in Chinatown, I learned about bánh mì some time ago. On every corner there is a shop selling dirigible-sized baguette rolls filled with meats and pickles for $2. But, though I salivated every time I saw someone else gnawing their way through one, I could never bring myself to buy my own. Call me a street food wimp, but I was a wee bit sketched out by the meat and my thoughts of where it might come from.
I averted my eyes, and hustled past all the signs advertising massive, cheap sandwiches. But then, then fate intervened and brought the world Bon Me, the grand solution to my sandwich qualms.
November 21, 2011 § 5 Comments
Yes, vindaloo with parsnips and halibut sounds, well, weird, for lack of a more graceful word. But it tastes really quite amazing. So, you should give it a chance.
It’s alternate name is fish-nip-aloo, which, of course, really makes it sound awesome.
Actually, I rather like the name fishnipaloo for the dish. It’s quirky. It sounds a bit like the name of a Bollywood dance, and that fits this particular curry incredibly well.
July 29, 2011 § 6 Comments
We were just talking about drinking, so I figured it was time to move on to smoking, right? (And then we can talk about the really interesting vices…joke.) There’s only one type of smoking I can get behind, and that is the smoking of meats. Fish in particular. I don’t know how to do it myself, and therefore I choose to picture it as an esoteric mystical practice, kind of like a druidic rite, in which slippery pieces of fresh fish are enveloped in wafting clouds of smoke, amidst some hand waving and muttered incantation, and then they come out rich and flakey and salty and as delicious as candy (if candy were rich and flakey and salty, which, perhaps, more of it ought to be).
I have met a man who owns a shop that sells smoked meat and fish, I’ll call him ‘Eric the smoker’, and he makes the most unbelievable smoked salmon and whitefish. It’s pretty hard to believe anything that good could be legal. (His pate is in a class of its own as well. Mine is not bad, though.) At his shop they also sell posters with heavy woodblock prints and funny slogans. My favorite is “Fish: The healthy smoke.” (My other favorite is “Cheese: the adult form of milk.” I own both.)
Admittedly, some nutritionists may argue that smoked food is not good for you. Smoking meat can produce some carcinogens that you then ingest. But, allow me to go on a little scientific
rampage tangent, and just point out that these carcinogens have only been shown to be carcinogenic in lab animals. Now, if a chemical that you apply to skin or something of that sort is carcinogenic in lab animals, we should take it seriously. And, we should take it seriously for food too, but with a caveat. You see, these carcinogens are produced by the cooking process, and humans are the only animals that naturally eat their food cooked. Growing evidence points to the possibility that we’ve been doing so for a loooooooong time. In fact, it may be what allowed us to evolve into humans!
July 15, 2011 § 2 Comments
In spite of having a substantial dose of the type A in my personality, planning is not one of my strong suits. Particularly not the detailed kind. When I plan, checklists, and spreadsheets, and timelines usually fail to make an appearance. Instead, I make a broad sweep through the general idea of what’s going on, or what I’d like to have happen, and then I have a tendency to assume it will just fall into place.
I have been known to forget to order chairs for an event, or to reserve a room for a meeting, or assign tasks to people. Sometimes I think it’s because I don’t try hard enough. That if I were more patient and focused, I would be able to keep track of details.
But really, often it’s not for lack of trying that I don’t plan adequately, it’s because sometimes it simply doesn’t even occur to me to think about the things I miss. I try hard, but they never make even a cursory appearance in my brain. It has a bit of the same sticky mental feeling about it as the way, no matter how hard I think about it, I can never spell guarantee right on the first try.