Elotes (Mexican street fair corn) salad

July 27, 2012 § 23 Comments

I’ve been meaning to make this corn salad for a ridiculously long time, ever since Joel first told me about the amazing grilled corn he used to eat when he lived in Mexico.  As far as I could tell, he couldn’t bring it up often enough, it was that good.  And from his description, I believed it was exactly as delicious as he remembered it being.

Elotes is grilled corn smeared with mayonnaise, rolled in crumbled cheese and spices, and spritzed with lime.  If you ask me, that hits pretty much all the most important food groups and flavor categories.  It sounded like something I wanted to be able to shovel into my mouth by the forkful.

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Buttermilk peach smoothie

July 24, 2012 § 9 Comments

We are nearing August.  The air, thick with fresia, mosquitos, and humidity begs for laziness and simplicity.  I can partially oblige.

Simplicity.  Simplicity often has such beauty to it.  So much can be contained within so little.  Like a haiku.

A haiku:

Peaches, golden orbs

Buttermilk, kissed with maple

Blend until frothy. « Read the rest of this entry »

Spicy chicken salad

July 20, 2012 § 14 Comments

A while back, I was walking with one of my younger brothers and having a conversation.  We were ambling past a variety of food stands and restaurants and the conversation went something like this:

Brother: Oh, they’re using the old sriracha trick.  Classic move.  Nice.  And sriracha mayo, that stuff is so good.  I swear, sriracha makes anything delicious.

Me: Seriously.

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Korean pork and kimchi tacos

July 17, 2012 § 38 Comments

“They say it’s your birthday, dadadadada, and you’re gonna have a good time da-da daaadada…”

Yup, it’s my birthday.  Which means I get to eat and drink and do and say whatever I please, right?  As long as it is lunch with a friend, lots of iced coffee, going to meetings, and hopefully nice things, I guess.

Birthdays somehow don’t have the same extreme importance or conjure the same desperate hope that they once did.  I remember when I was young being quite unable to sleep the night before my birthday.  My little body simply couldn’t contain the intensity of the excitement for the coming big day.  Of course, my birthdays no longer include pouncing on my parents at 6am to get my presents, crazy themed parties (ranging from “makeovers” to “5,000 things to do with stamps” to “the Wild West”) with friends, or secret hopes of having a Barbie Cake even though I knew we would be be having Norwegian birthday cake, no other option (and I was secretly glad for that as well).

After childhood ebullience, I also went through a phase of bemoaning my birthday.  Not in the “woe is me, I’m getting older” sense, but rather moaning produced by a teenage angst-filled haze of mopiness.  “I’m not special, nobody’s special.  Everybody has a birthday, it happens every year.  Thousands of other people have their birthday on this day too.  This is stupid, leave me alone…But can I have some cake?”  That sort of thing.

Now I’d say I neither eagerly anticipate nor dread my birthday.  I enjoy it.  It’s my birthday.  But, I’m inclined toward keeping it simple.  Low key cookouts with friends, baking my own cake, and no presents please.  Well, unless you really want to. 🙂  But, on the whole I selfishly prefer giving presents to receiving them.  It’s selfish, because I am always so thrilled and grateful to receive a gift I never quite know how to respond, and then I get embarrassed, and I don’t like being embarrassed (who does, really?). « Read the rest of this entry »

Warm chard salad with bacon dressing and roasted chicken

July 14, 2012 § 17 Comments

We’re back!  And more than a little bit woozy in the head with jet lag, one moment feeling perfectly energetic but practically cross-eyed the next.  We’re very happy to be reunited with our darling little bundle of fur who, quite adorably, almost went into shock upon seeing us again and spent at least half an hour doing nothing but pressing up against us to lick our hands and knees while making tiny, excited whining noises.

But, otherwise it’s a little hard to be back from such a lovely vacation.  While we were in Norway, most evenings we found ourselves bundling up in parkas to stay warm in the late night sun.  Back in Boston, we practically can’t go outside until the sun has gone down and the stifling heat begins to dissipate.  I have to admit, I prefer the arctic circle version of summer.  Here it does smell of sticky, muggy, blossom-filled memories of summer camp nights, though, which I kind of like.

There’s a lot to catch up on.  But, I’m reframing my long to-do list as a record of all the neat things I get to do rather than have to do, and by golly, I think it’s actually working to help to keep the no-more-vacation-slump at bay.

A slump that would be easy to slip into, that one, as our trip was quite filled with happy days and nights spent with family and friends.  There was plenty of rain but also several endlessly sunny days.  There was the ever gorgeous scenery, and of course I got to fill up on all my favorite foods:  hotdogs with lefse, skolebrod, boller, waffles, and enough ice cream, berries, and smoked salmon to sate even the most ravenous troll (if only trolls would prefer such things to goats and hapless humans!).

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A glorious mess – curried carrots with carrot top pesto

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.

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Italian mushroom and celery salad

June 21, 2012 § 23 Comments

First, the bad.  My hometown was ravaged by horrible flooding in the last two days.  Just torn apart.  A torrent of rain developed overhead and wouldn’t budge until it had dumped 7 inches, 9 inches, 10 inches of water in some places.  The wall of water rushed down the hill toward the lake taking out huge chunks of roads and sidewalks, dumpsters and bridges with it.

Perhaps you even saw it on the news yesterday.  I know the story about the seal that was swept out of the zoo by a river of water and was found stranded on the highway received a lot of attention.  Many of the other zoo animals – the little barnyard animals in the petting zoo – drowned.  I spent half the day in unremitting tears about this.  Unfair is not nearly a strong enough word.

It’s horrifying to be reminded how powerless we are. It’s  also probably really important to be reminded.  These extremes may be the new normal, and it’s time to be truthful about the fact that we are not remotely in control.  And perhaps the best we can do sometimes is bond together, lend a never ending supply of helping hands, and cope.

All my family and friends there are fine, though.  Thank heaven for that.

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Salad of avocado, bacon, grilled peaches, and sweet onions

June 18, 2012 § 26 Comments

We stole away to New York City for the weekend.  Just a day and a half.  A hiccup of a trip lengthwise, but packed full enough to have been a long happy sigh.

Two of our dear, dear Boston friends are natives of the place – well, one is a true native, but the other did live there for a long enough sojourn to have gone native – and basically ever since we’ve known them we’ve been trying to plan a time for this jaunt.

It became an imperative to fit it in this weekend, though, before we must part ways.  At least for now.

The two of them are as excited about sharing beautiful, delicious, made-with-care food as we are, so our day and a half was structured almost entirely around that.

We visited as many of their favorite places and tasted as many of their favorite foods as could be squeezed into our packed agenda.  We ranged around every corner of Manhattan and tried a little of Brooklyn on for size as well. « Read the rest of this entry »

Summer squash and rice gratin with salsa verde

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.)

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Lemony risotto with shrimp and peas

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.

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