An everlasting batch of yogurt

January 14, 2013 § 2 Comments

yogurt marinated salmon

We’re off another work trip – turns out that on your way to being rooted in a place you sometimes have to do a good bit of traveling (as my mother pointed out, “you’re on an adventure, and no good adventure happens without a long voyage or two”).  We’re back in Seattle to get trained on some of our specific equipment for the new distillery, and to bring the equipment back with us.(!!!!!)

So, training by day, dissertating by night, and not a lot of time in between for cooking or writing.

However, I have something else fun for you.  Something I’m quite excited about.

My clever friends at Food52 started a new column a couple months ago, and I am hopelessly in love with it.  It’s called halfway to dinner, and the idea behind it is something that I believe in so strongly it makes me want to pump my fist in the air, or some other such psyched up behavior.  The idea (the same as that underlying Tamar Adler’s brilliant book An Everlasting Meal – if you haven’t read it, do.  Amazing.  Inspiring.  And more.) is that if you cook one thing, the leftovers of that thing can bleed into the next meal, and the remainders of that one into the next, and that if you have a few everyday ingredients around and just a bit of creativity, you can usually put together something wonderful for dinner, or even stretch it into dinners for a week.

I wrote and photographed the column for them for this week, stretching a batch of plain yogurt into six different meals.  So, I hope you’ll go over and check it out for a bit of dinner inspiration from yogurt marinated salmon, to Turkish yogurt soup, to yogurt dumplings.  And, of course, check out the other examples by other great cooks while you’re there.

yogurt soup

Winter vegetable fattoush

December 29, 2012 § 30 Comments

fattoush winter vegetables 1

Hello there!  ‘Tis really and truly the season, isn’t it?

I feel as though it’s been days since I’ve gotten to bed at a reasonable hour, drunk anything that didn’t come from a just uncorked bottle, or eaten a meal that didn’t end with cookies.

And it isn’t even New Year’s yet!

Which is terrifically fun.  Obviously.  Though is it horribly dull of me to say I’m ready to get back to our quieter everyday routine?   What can I say, I’m a cancer.  Home and hearth is where my heart is.

Plus, I’m looking forward to putting my shiny new Christmas gifts to use!

My family tried (and semi-succeeded) in going mildly minimal on gifting this year.  That is to say, we gave presents that were things people needed (socks!  Oh my gosh, I love socks!  And I’m not even saying that in a sarcastic voice.  I reeeeaally love getting socks as a present.  Somehow I always need them.) or that were really high quality and would earn their keep with use.

fattoush parsley « Read the rest of this entry »

Grilled chorizo and flatbread with charred vegetables

August 9, 2012 § 14 Comments

Ok, I’m going to come out and say it.  There’s a certain point every summer at which I start to get a little annoyed by the sheer bounteousness of summer produce.  I mean, I love it, I really do, but it’s just so freaking beautiful and abundant.  It’s kind of like that person you know who is really smart and talented and beautiful and then they’re nice on top of it, and and eventually you’re like, “come on!  Can’t you at least be neurotic?!”  I get a little bit that way about summer vegetables.  (Please tell me this doesn’t make me a horrible person, though, clearly, I have issues.)

We put summer produce on sun-soaked a pedestal, cooing over it and the way it needs only a little sprinkling of salt, maybe a drizzle of good olive oil.  We rhapsodize perfect garden tomatoes or fresh sweet corn like we do our first love.  And it’s all true, and completely deserved.  Fresh summer produce is miraculous.  It really would be a shame to do much more than serve it in a minimalist state, an ode to the garden.  And the essays that have been written on the subject, well, I have nothing to add to them that hasn’t been said. « Read the rest of this entry »

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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Parsnips and dates with tahini-yogurt

January 31, 2012 § 24 Comments

I am going to start by saying that as a general rule, it is not a good idea to substitute ingredients for one another based on color.  At least, don’t do it all willy-nilly.  Sure, sweet potato bits can stand in for cubed butternut squash pretty well, and many leafy greens are swingers, changing partners and taking one anothers’ places at will.

But, you may not always get that lucky.  At least some small morsel of thought is required.

A cautionary tale: one of my very dearest friends lived along with my self and eight other fairly hapless souls in a large, elegantly dilapidated house on the edge of campus our junior year of college.  We all shared a kitchen and subjected each other to our culinary experiments, and dirty dishes, at will.  My lovely friend (who is now an excellent cook, so let that be a lesson in perseverance) produced a wide variety of extremely, um, innovative foods, many of which were about as edible as a chocolate truffle rolled in glass shards.

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Kale avocado and persimmon salad

December 17, 2011 § 4 Comments

My lunch has left me fixating on leaves.  It’s similar to when you think too long about a word and after a bit you aren’t sure whether it actually is a real word because at that point it sounds too weird to you.  I do this relatively frequently with the word ‘which’. It’s awkward.

Anyhow, as I ate my lunch – this unabashedly leafy salad – the fact that we eat leaves became odder and odder to me.  Leaves, people!  I started to feel like maybe I was confused.  Maybe I was a manatee or giraffe or some other animal that grinds away pensively at greenery.

Do we really eat leaves?  The red bursts of the poinsettias decorating coffee tables at this time of year, those are leaves.  On my run yesterday I chased some last oak leaves as they fluttered down from the trees (I find chasing after falling leaves to be one of the most elating and gleeful activities.  It always makes me feel like I’m 4 or 5 again).  They weren’t that dissimilar from the foundation of my salad (well, apart from being dried out and brown, which my salad distinctly wasn’t).

It was a disconcerting moment.  Particularly because a not inconsequential portion of my diet is made up of leaves.  In fact, I love leaves.  In the summer, I eat salad like it’s my full time job.  In the winter, I eat a lot of greens as well, but usually in sauteed or braised form, which renders them far less leafy looking.

Perhaps that’s why I was having trouble with the concept of leaf-eating.  As mid-winter bears down on us, salads do tend to seem incongruous.  Cool, refreshing, light, not exactly what you’re looking for when you want rib stickiness, something to warm you from the inside out.

But, there are exceptions.  Salads robust and hearty enough to deserve a place on the winter table.  And, in spite of my perplexing ruminations while eating it, I do believe this is one of them. « Read the rest of this entry »

Beet Tzatziki

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.)

« Read the rest of this entry »

Mushroom-falafel!

June 1, 2011 § 41 Comments

Mushroom-falafel!  (Yes, the exclamation point is necessary there.)  It doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, I’ll admit.  But, what was I supposed to call it?  Mushlafel?  Falafshroom? See? Those are even worse sounding.  But, like the kid with the weird name who is so awesome that by the end of the year all the other kids also want to be named Kermit too, this mushroom-falafel is so fabulous it straight-up owns its name.

I’m a little embarrassed that I get as excited as I do when I make something really good.  But, I do.  I get quite delighted with myself, in fact, and can’t wait to share how delicious said really good thing is.  This dish definitely falls into that category.

It started with a falafel craving.

One of the most unfortunate things about having discovered an intolerance to a sprouting inhibitor enzyme (besides not being able to eat almonds, but I’ll save that complaint for another day) is that I no longer eat falafel because of the chickpeas.  It’s a huge loss because I used to practically live off of falafel.  I was obsessed with the stuff.

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Cardamom-yogurt chicken and curried eggplant

April 14, 2011 § 14 Comments

Okay, so I’m sick of these April showers already and would be quite happy if we could just get on with the May flowers.  How about it?  Not that I can complain that much.  We had a beautiful spring weekend last weekend, and the flowers are, in fact, coming up.  In the arboretum where I go running, there are happy little crocuses nosing their way up under the oaks, and some of the hillsides are so covered with bluebells it looks like the sky accidentally tripped and fell down there.  But, nasty weather has descended upon us again, and therefore I feel it is necessary to whine immaturely.  Whine, and get to roasting and stewing things. (Oh, of course now since starting this post yesterday, the rain has moved off and it’s beautiful again.  Well, I’ll take it!).

Which brings me to another, only very tangentially related, point.  Why are so many of the world’s most delicious things brown and lumpy and generally unphotogenic?  Sure most vegetables and fruits and berries are beautiful and colorful, but all the stews, and roasts, and curries, and sauces, and many soups out there, well, they’re not exactly getting phone calls from scouting agencies looking for beautiful food models.  And yet, they taste amazing!  You don’t care what they look like because their deep, full fragrance and flavors wallop you over the head (the good kind of wallop), and you stop looking and just eat. « Read the rest of this entry »

Cucumber and yogurt salad with lemon

July 12, 2010 § 5 Comments

Some friends and I have a “band” that we started last year, known as The Muddy Gospel Band (we have also considered calling ourselves The Iran Contra-dance Affair, but I’m not sure that’s actually funny to anyone else).  Those quotation marks around “band” are key to understanding our level of professionalism and talent.  (Though we did do a single recording session last year, orchestrated by a sound technician who also happened to be a finalist in the International Beard and Mustache Competition, natural category.)  I mean, I don’t want to shortchange us, we’re all decent to excellent musicians and singers, but our method of practicing is approximately this:  randomly get together every couple of months, share supper, then grab some beers and sing your way through old gospel songbooks, Gillian Welch’s, and Dave Rawlings’ albums, finally end with some quality Bob Dylan.

Our four part harmony is not spot on; we crowd around a computer screen to read what the lyrics to the song we’re singing are; our mandolin player only knows 4 chords (er, that would be me); but the experience is always transcendent.  The stress, the anxiety, the conflict that seem to come with the territory of participating in this wonky world of ours, become transparent, wispy, insubstantial.  They float away like dandelion puffs on the breeze of our voices.  Every day, when I listen to the news or browse headlines online, I’m bewildered and saddened by our collective insanity and  apparently bizarre priorities.  Each time I share a meal or sing with friends, I rediscover some things that are true and good, and find a new little foothold to balance on.  Our Muddy Gospel practices have both, accompanied by lots of good old-fashioned belly-laughs.  “I don’t know what tomorrow brings.  It’s alive with possibility.  All I know is I feel better when I sing.  Burdens are lifted from me…” (that’s from “Method Acting” by Dave Rawlings – seriously awesome song) « Read the rest of this entry »

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