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 »

Grilled corn with smokey peach butter

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.

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Marinated beef kebabs with salsa verde

June 28, 2011 § 7 Comments

Having lots of pots of herbs growing on our little balcony has allowed me to develop another brand new obsession.  Salsa verde.  I’m telling you people, this stuff is magical.

Imagine someone walking out to a lushly growing herb garden and snipping a bountiful spray of fresh herbs from each patch.  Then, grinding them all together into an emerald green paste, with some garlic, capers, and anchovies because, you know, why not?!

The result is a massive wave that breaks over your taste buds in a spray of woodsy, grassy, briny, garlicky flavor.  I’ve been racking my brain, and I don’t think I can think of anything else I’ve had in quite a while that packs so much beautifully blended and balanced flavor into even a tiny bite.

I discovered salsa verde when making a riff off of the summer squash gratin from Sunday Suppers at Lucques, by Suzanne Goin.  My mother and I cooked it up while I was at home, with a few tweaks and the addition of a hefty amount of extremely good Italian sausage.  It was seriously delicious (though it had too much bread-crumb action sprinkled throughout for my taste).

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An even better broccoli (grilled with pickled shallots)

May 24, 2011 § 20 Comments

Wedding season has begun around here, and it’s going to progress with a vengeance.  It’s possible that I can count on one hand the number of weekends we’re going to be home this summer!  Not that I’m complaining.  I love the opportunity it brings to see friends that you rarely get to see otherwise and to spend more time with those you do, raising toasts with them and cutting a rug on the dance floor.

However, at these kinds of events I have a terrible habit of getting nostalgic for the present.  Wishing that every day were spent with friends from all over gathered around us.  I suppose it’s not unreasonable to wish for this.  But if you get too nostalgic for the present, you actually miss out on it!  So, I’ve been trying simply to bask in it, and soak it all in instead.

This weekend was especially great because the wedding we went to was in this area.  This meant we got to have dear friends staying with us at our house, there to spend the precious in between moments with us.  The moments of of not doing anything in particular, or groggily grabbing a morning cup of coffee, or watching the bird building a nest on the neighbor’s roof.

And of course, when we weren’t off at wedding related events, I couldn’t stop myself from cooking up a storm and feeding everyone until we were all ready to burst.  It can be such fun to have a full table.  The camera stayed tucked away in the corner though, so I’m going to go ahead and share something else with you.  Something that I cooked last week and pretty much haven’t stopped thinking about since.

I believe at some point last year, I claimed that I had made the best broccoli ever.  A bold claim, but I felt fairly convinced at the time that it was (at least mostly) vindicated.  I should have known better.  I don’t actually believe in the idea that we can have never ending growth and progress, including in the area of cooking.  I think some things are best left unimproved.  They are already great.  But, it turns out broccoli still had a couple of notches left for taking it up.  Back then, I had only made the best broccoli ever yet.  But now, now I would say that I have made the best broccoli ever…Okay, fine, ever yet.

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