Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cape Cod Summer.

That last post got me thinking, & going back through my summer sketchbook, back to this past summer's family visit, to Cape Cod. & about my family. Yes this did indeed happen on this blog last year. I am apparently quite the creature of habit. So my family, we gather in a little house by a lake in the woods in Brewster, Massachusetts during the summer months, & we spend a great deal of time in the water & in the sun, & being us, we eat things.
Meals on the deck (this happens frequently):
Mum's Famous Panko Fried Cod, Purple Beans & Snap Peas & Basil from our garden, sauted with olive oil & garlic, a broccoli cheese casserole (cause hey, you can't leave your fridge in Noho full of those things while relaxing on the Cape for a week, can you?) & "yummy crusty bread" from the Underground. Good way to arrive anyplace, right? Mum never disappoints with the fried fish thing.
Owen reading with Stella on a summer evening.
No visit would be complete without a visit to Clancy's & drinking white wine with Gramma at the bar. Here it is in all it's glory, the Fisherman's platter. Yes, Owen & I both ate one. Yes we did. & A Fried Oyster appetizer, too.
Owen, Grilling On the Deck.
& Owen & Mum, On The Porch, With Wine & Cigarettes. Oh Summer.
Now that Ali & I have been to Cali & back, & now that it's SO FREAKING cold & time for roasting ducks & not grilling on decks, I like to remember these warmer times. Here's to surviving another winter, & getting back out there on the lake in about six months.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Cali Part Three: Family Drinking & Mall Culture

At this point in our trip, I can say truthfully that we were losing our minds.
Here's what that looks like, Cali-style:
A Pair Of Chicken Dinners:
Part A: Old School Chicken, Carrots, Potatoes & Peas with Gramma, Grampa & Cousin Amy (following pinto grigio at 5 pm in the hot tub as went our Corona custom)
& Part B: Chicken, Onion, & Green Pepper Sandwiches at Uncle Bob's House, aka The Diamond Family Bar. With Top Gun (Ali, was it Top Gun? Now I'm blocking out the details?!) & copious amounts of scotch. Yup, weird night. Thank Christ it included the adorable puppy Bailey!
What could follow up a night of drinking at your family's own personal bar better then a truly old fashioned day of SO-CAL MALL CULTURE. Oh yes, the Diamond sisters meet a GIANT MALL. In the desert.
In short, our visit caused us to become addicted to Jamba Juice & Ross Dress for Less (actually, these are both re-addictions for me, I acquired them living in San Francisco & have been coping with the withdrawal ever since).
When Liz & Ali drove a red Ford Mustang convertible through the Hills:
to drink smoothies in flavors such as Green Tea Matcha & Pumpkin Pie & purchase discount Marc Jacobs scarves, gigantic Le Sportsac totes & sequined dresses of no brand name whatsoever but still beautiful,
(thank you Ali, I stll remember that is one of my Christmas presents)
So I mentioned Romano's Macaroni Grill? Same mall as the smoothies & shopping, 4:45pm on the dot, Diamond Cousin Reunion.
This type of crap food still makes me angry, but on the other hand I haven't had dinner with all four Diamond grandchildren in about ten years, so maybe I'll let this one go (Cousin Erin seems to have become a grown-up now, who knew?).
However, I must mention the following: that the waiter drew on the table with a crayon, offered the house Chianti as his wine selection, took his half hour break during our dinner, & served me a glass of wine I had ordered approximately 45 minutes before after the check came. Did I mention the food was crap? & Really quite expensive? How do places like this shithole get away with these shenanigans? Are we really that stupid as a food culture? (yes yes I know I know) (I guess I haven't let it go but REALLY?! In ten minutes with $3 I could have made better food for four with ten dollars I could have had better wine too) But anyway,
Seafood Linguine & Loster Ravioli, aka Mediocre Food & An Excellent Family,
(love&thanks Ali, Gramma, Grampa, Amy & Erin)
We did have one truly great meal, Ali & I, & eventually, I'll end this saga on that note.
Hint: Deep Fried Zucchini & Carne Asada. & That meal carried us through LAX & home again.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Bunny & Root Vegetables.

Question: What do you eat as a side along with Roast Duck & 40's of Olde English 800?
(Yup, more from our pre-Thanksgiving/Harvest Moon dinner. )
Answer: The Bunny & Veggie Course, obviously.
Quartered Rabbit roasted in butter & garlic with Butternut Squash, Scarlet Turnips, & Yellow Onions (all Western Massachusetts locally grown, if you care about that sort of thing), Wilted Broccoli Rabe in olive oil, & Owen's homemade Last Minute Dinner Rolls.
Helpful tip from EnD: Several times during the course of the day in which we made this meal, it was pointed out to us that rabbit is not a complete food. Very deficient in amino acids or something, damn you vegan animals that aren't cows. Who knew everyone knew this fact? So, if on a wilderness adventure, I urge you, cook a duck, too.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Roast Duck & A Triad of 40's.

A little pre-Thanksgiving get together at our house with the always fabulous Izaac
Roast Duck & three 40's of Olde English 800
(thank you Izaac),
Under a Theatrical Harvest Moon.
Roast Duck = Marinated in Soy Sauce, Cheap Red Wine (thank you, Carlo), Olive Oil, Sesame Oil, Fresh Rosemary, & Chopped Garlic, Roasted with Stuffing of Bread, Onions, Garlic, Pumpkin Seeds, Slab Bacon, & Duck Liver.
& we cooked other cute little animals in the course of this meal, also (sorry bunnies).
Yay chilly dramatic November weather & Meat n' Beer fests with friends.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cali Part Two: Grilled Cheeses at Old Spanish Missions, Burger Arguments, & BACON.

In which Gramma drives us to Riverside, & we get lost & end up at the city limits with the auto parts stores, & we eventually arrive at the Mission Inn, see some parrots, & eat grilled cheeses in Mum's (allegedly, Gramma tells these stories sometimes) favorite lunch spot, Simple Simon's.
Grilled Cheeses In Old Spanish California, After Being Lost In The Urban California Desert.
At some later point, we had this burger conflict. First, Grampa Diamond is self-admittedly terrible at grilling. Only burgers he is good at. This makes him a burger crazy person. I, as an adult, have formed my own burger preferences, & mine include Hellman's mayonnaise as a must & Sriracha as yes yes please & crazy additions as hells yeah what have you got? As you can see here. Sooooooo...I wanted my mayonnaise, some chopped jalapenos, & a sliced perfect avocado & whoah was I shot down. Oh families. PEOPLE FROM BROCKTON, MA DO NOT PUT FING AVOCADOS ON MEAT. END OF STORY. I forget this.
(Note, Ali, a burger girl is anyone is, did agree with him, so I give his taste buds the benefit of the doubt).
Anyway, I present,
Grampa's "Perfect" Burger.
To comfort us from all this terrible family burger conflict, Saturday morning breakfast. The most essential one, the Platonic ideal of breakfast, why bacon smells good like nothing else to me, & why I can never be a vegetarian.
Breakfast with Bob
(Fried Eggs, Bacon, Thomas' English Muffins, Always & Forever).
Coming up: We find our perfect Liz & Ali restaurant after almost dying of depression in a giant California mall, we purchase sparkly discounted things while drinking smoothies, have a more odd than even usual for us family evening, & a moving & memorable in emotional terms but so upsettingly bad foodwise Anthony Bourdain would cry Macaroni Grill experience. Seafood Linguine. Shudder. All coming up next. Stay Tuned.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Cali Part One: 3000 Miles From Cheezits to Red Snapper

Some things have happened since my last long ago post, mostly spring & summer & hence gardening & nightswimming & long evenings outside & much less internet. Also some family happenings, & what says family history memory the most?
Yup, food (which shapes our lives, etc.).
My dear sister & I flew on a plane to California in October.
Being us, we ate things. Lots of things.
Through the Sky to Dallas & LA.
Airports, airplanes, drive-thrus, & our Gramparents' House: Cheezits in the air, Starbucks' Iced Caramel Macchiatos, a Blimpie's BLT sub in Dallas, "El Potato Burrito" @ Miguel's Jr, Grampa's Famous Stuffed Shells back on Eureka Street.
So we knew we were home, in that sense of being at home in one's own past,
Grampa's Roast Beef & Sides, AKA The Taste Of My ChildHood.
The meal that I thought of first when we planned the journey. The smell that still means "FOOD" to me. Roast beef covered in pepper & onions, whipped mashed potatoes with tons of butter, canned peas, steamed carrots.
I think this meal is why I like to eat, why I learned to cook. So I could produce this feeling myself. I still can't cook this right though. Better maybe, but not right.
A classic shopping adventure with Gramma, to a (at least to me) fabulously insane California mall restaurant, The Elephant Bar.
The Elephant Bar, where two girls from Massachusetts meet Americana + Sushi.
Seriously. We split a tempura shrimp roll, & then I had ahi tuna over brown rice with seaweed salad & smoked tofu, & Ali enjoyed mac n' cheese & coconut shrimp. All presented in a completely over the top fashion with oddly low lighting as befits a fancy/trashy mall restaurant. According to Gramma, the bar was also an excellent place to meet men. We unfortunately did not get a chance to check this out theory.
Although the Elephant Bar was a tough act to follow & Although I am 32 & Ali is 27 we will always be "the kids" to our grandparents, one night they actually let us cook dinner. This was a very difficult trip in many ways while it was also perfectly wonderful in others, & in one of our worst early moments we found a grocery store we liked, the delightful Henry's, & it saved everything. Shows what food, & the option to purchase the food you want, will do to save a situation. We took many, many a trip to Henry's to enjoy the lovely cashiers who did not look at us & our outfits like we were crazy freaks like pretty much everyone else in Corona, & buy very cheap but delicious California white wines to drink in the jacuzzi & avocados & tomatillos & chilis & lemons & grapefruits & other amazing California things. What can I say? We like to eat in our family. Those first bags of groceries we brought home from Henry's were a turning point.
On this particular night: Red Snapper, with Asparagus roasted with garlic & olive oil, Baked Potatoes, & Salad with excellent California tomatoes & bermuda onions.
I will admit I caved under pressure so this is my mom's classic recipe for baked fish with butter & bread crumbs (my Grampa's favorite, always), usually as we are from Cape Cod done with cod. & I never make baked potatoes & had to actually ask Ali how to do it. But Oh well I wanted Grampa to like it. At least I snuck in the asparagus, kind of controversial in that house as not a pea or a carrot.
Us two transplanted Massachusetts girls spent ten days in our second childhood home, & as you have noticed, it was complicated. Stayed tuned for the rest, Family & Food & Feeling, here we go.
& Red Convertibles! & Shopping! & Pumpkin Smoothies!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I Tried To Make A Pretty Food Drawing, & This Is What Happened.

I made a truly beautiful, garden greens based dinner last night, & tonight attempted to draw it, in the usual fashion employed on this blog. Somehow, something went wrong. I've been trying to confine my collage side to this sort of thing, but I don't know, maybe forced separation never works. I started drawing *seriously* again because I felt like at DnD I wasn't taken seriously because I just glued shit together, so I started this drawing blog/collage blog nonsense. Of course, in my life as an artist, this is maybe the 300th time I quit collage, tried to draw like a *real* artist, got bored with that, collaged more, decided my collages were stupid, started trying to look like a RISD graduate again. Oh but wait, RISD painters hate the illustrators anyway, so what the fuck am I trying to do? Trying to figure out the conflict between people thinking my drawings of plants are pretty & only being happy gluing scraps of paper together in the midst of a big mess. Why do I care what people think? Because I have a very expensive prestigious art degree & yet work in a grocery check out aisle for crap money? Naturally low self esteem? You tell me.
Is this an art blog, or a food blog anyway? Collage or drawing or watercolour? Or just mine? I really do love to cook, but I was never able to apply myself fully to truly practical tasks, I was born a fine artist.
That's a lot of talk for one picture. So here's how it is.
The Meal: Napa Cabbage Egg Rolls with a sesame chili dipping sauce, Saag Paneer with white basmati rice, served on a bed of green leaf lettuce (spinach, napa cabbage, lettuce all from yesterday's first major garden harvest at our garden).
The Drawing:
"I need freezer space for party/CRACK." 6.8.2010.
I guess my true colours just came out.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Napa Cabbage.

Our kitchen table, May 2010:
One half a gigantic Napa Cabbage from our garden, next to its other half, soaking in salt for kimchi.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A 2nd Vegan Spring Dinner Party (Grills & Gardens).

The rules, as always, go as follows: 1. no pre-planning of the menu. 2. spend little to nothing on ingredients. 3. Be wildly decadent & excessively creative anyway.
The themes for this occasion? The grill Owen & I had bought the night before & hadn't had the chance to try out yet & the beginnings of our garden produce & a delightfully hot, midsummeresque late May evening.
The menu: 1. Mesculin Salad with Radishes & Silvered Almonds, & a Fresh Herb Vinegrette.
2. Garden Greens & Pickled Radishes: Spinach & Napa Cabbage sauted in kimchi juice with picked radishes & a vidalia onion.
3. Shit On The Grill: Vegan Sausages (only for Rin will I consume a vegan sausage), & zucchini, corn, & green peppers.
4. Beer, Wine & the Latest Issue of Cosmo.
Finally, this meal was almost entirely fregan, composed mainly of free things from my work or things we grew or made.
Spinach, napa cabbage, radishes, dill, cilantro, & Mesculin mix = garden produce.
Zucchini, green peppers, corn, oranges, olive oil, silvered almonds= free from work.
Onion, garlic, sausages, shallot, & white wine vinegar, plus condiments = purchased (mostly from the asian market or Deals & Steals).
Kimchi & salad dressing=homemade.
Cost of meal= maybe $2 or $3 a person. Not a bad way to live.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Garden Food Begins: Lettuce & Radishes.

Within the last few weeks, our garden plot has suddenly started to produce real food. Weird. Seeds are rather magical that way. You put some very tiny things in the ground in early April, & suddenly so much gorgeous food is free.
We start with lettuce, oh so much, we are actually swimming in lettuce right now, Salad City, this is from our Mesculin patch, begun from some seeds acquired from the Lost & Found at work, planted in a small plastic pot in the living room way too early when I had garden spring fever & forgotten, they mysteriously turned out very well & now are a whole glorious row in the garden...& then there is the green leaf, the red leaf, the butter crunch, the red boston...yup, we got lettuce.
& radishes, here shown being pickled in the liquid from some previously homemade kimchi. Soon we will have black radishes, too.
& the garden is really starting to step up the pace...spinach, huge insane napa cabbages (more kimchi in progress right now in the kitchen), dill, cilantro, basil, the broccoli just started flowering, the first strawberry turned red, the red chard doubles in size every day...you get the picture. WAY more local then your produce, no matter where you buy it (co-op in-joke). & yesterday we bought a tiny grill for our downtown Noho backyard. Meat is being grilled as I type this. YAY summer.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Impromptu Stuffed Mushrooms.

A typical night 'round here of, lots of random crap in the kitchen, what do we do with it? i.e. we live off of free crap from work & buy very limited groceries, etc. This particular night: we had packages of semi-damaged white mushrooms in excess. I was given the challenge of making them Stuffed Mushrooms. I searched the kitchen for possibilities.
Therefore, into a mixed bowl, & then into the Cusinart (oh you, my favorite appliance!) went sweet red peppers, a yellow onion, fresh thyme, garlic, almonds, the mushroom stems, gruyere, parm & chive stale croutons, & olive oil. Plus, salt, pepper, & a splash of white wine.
So that was my side. Owen also made his famous fried chicken, this time buffalo style. Good meal. Those mushrooms were damn good cold leftover the next day, also, breakfast, lunch, snacks, etc.
I realize in the writing, the base sense of this recipe comes from Fedde, cooking in the kitchen back on Barnes Street, Providence, circa the end of the 90's. So cheers, lady, & god damn, taste memories are strong ones, 'cause now I'm back in that kitchen, 20 years old, eating those mushrooms.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

First Glimpse At The Garden.

Welcome to April in Massachusetts, when the seedlings of leafy greens first start emerging in the soil. Our community garden plot, as of right now.
All of these were planted from seeds during a brief dry gap in a very rainy afternoon a few weeks ago. I'm in love with the moment when the baby plants first get their adult leaves, i.e. when they go from being generic sprouty green things to suddenly having leaves completely recognizable as red russian kale, or spinach or whatever.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Vegan Spring Dinner. (Ramps & Fava Beans).

Ramps! Fresh Fava Beans! Omg! Spring!
Rin & Dan came to dinner recently, bringing with them ramps (baby leeks), fresh fava beans, & purple garlic. Yes, another Liz/Rin Iron Chef challenge, i.e. other than those ingredients we only used what I had in a relatively bare pantry, which helpfully did include sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes) & pinenuts.
Rin made a ramp/potato/sunchoke/garlic mash (it was amazing). I simmered some summer squash, fava beans, pinenuts, a yellow onion, & garlic in olive oil & pinot grigio, & we ate this on the side. (Rin won this challenge). Throw in two bottles of cheap pinot grigio & the new issue of Cosmo (50 Things To Do With Your Breasts!), & it was a good time.
Sorry for the long hiatus here. Taxes, baby plants growing, work, life, etc. Spring is not a time of year when I like to spend a lot of time on the computer. However, I'll be back soon for fiddleheads! & dry aged beef & kimchi & some of our recent projects.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Saint Patrick's Day, Corned Beef, Cabbage, Beer, & All That Stuff That One Does.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day from EnD. Whatever that means. On one hand, I hate fake bullshit forced holiday crap (mostly as experience at work, i.e.last Mardi Gras) but on the other hand, I love love love bullshit holiday crap too, traditions, decorations, colours & most of all foods. What can I say? I love being festive. Whatever the random holiday, I can get down with it.
& Most importantly, Stop & Shop had a really good sale on corned beef, & I scored some free cabbage & potatoes from work. CORNED BEEF & CABBAGE=SOLD. I had none of the traditional seasonings on hand, so when boiling the corned beef added to the water some dijon mustard, some wasabi paste, peppercorns, garlic, red wine & an onion. Later came the cabbage & potatoes. Worked out pretty excellent.
3.14.2010: Corned Beef & Cabbage (not St. Patrick's Day but it was a rainy Sunday & what the hell do we care). The potatoes (yellow) sat in a nest of cabbage leaves with tons of butter (Irish butter!). It was lovely.
3.15.2010. The next day happened to be my day off. Hence thinly sliced corned beef & cabbage sandwiches, with Hellman's (the only mayonnaise as far as I'm concerned) & good whole grain dijon mustard. Condiments! I love them! It rained again (hello March in Massachusetts), so a hearty sandwich in the kitchen was cozy & awesome.
still 3.15.2010. The broth created from random refrigerator contents turned out to be so good we wanted to save it. As another chilly rainy March day progressed (I love these raw New England spring days really, but they do make me want warm food) it seemed clearly soup was next. The C & B stock plus dry white beans were combined & then we searched the pantry & fridge & came up with sweet potatoes, a package of frozen mixed veggies, garlic, an onion, & white rice. To which was added more corned beef & cabbage. EXCELLENT white bean stew, some of which is now still living in the freezer. YAY LETFOVERS.
3.16.2010. One more night of leftover corned beef, in a tandoori curry sauce with a free scavenged from work red bell pepper & an eggplant, over white rice. I thought this meal was a good knod to the current U.K., myself.
What is the moral of this tale? LEFTOVERS. I am nearly one half Irish, & I can tell you being Irish is about getting drunk & making really good use of leftovers. So for St. Patrick's day, I ate a $4 cut of corned beef for four days, & ate well. oh & I think I mentioned beer in the title of this post? We did recently purchase a 30 rack of PBR, so that was indeed drunk during the creation of these meals. I'm actually too white trash Mass Irish to afford actual Guiness, you know. I work in a godamn grocery store, people (like a good Irish giorl from downtown New Bedford).
What have we learned?
Less than week until spring. I bought more seeds today...green zebra tomatoes, basil, purple beans. What do I love more than cooking & drawing food? Cooking & drawing food that I grew...look forward to Eating & Drawing & Planting in the future.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Steak. Need I Say More?

Yup, still working my way through the winter drawings. oh, spring, one more week until you're here. Did I tell you I started my first seeds today? Arugula, lettuces, red russian kale, spinach, mint, just the begining. But that's what's to come.
From the winter archives today? Steak. Always a classic here at EnD.
12.27.2009: Steak seared in a frying pan, green beans, mashed potatoes. I think this may have been our first real meal following the swine flu incident of 2009.
12.28.2009: the leftovers, on toast, in a cream sauce.
(we heart heart leftovers).
3.1.2010: & on the first day of March, full circle from early winter, more seared steak & garlic cheesy mashed potatoes after a hike up mt. tom.
We actually ate steak for the rest of the week, 'cause the Big Y had a REALLY good deal on it, but I can't draw everything, can I?
Peace. I love rainy March days. They hold so much possibility.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Ode To Brussel Sprouts.

On several occasions this past winter, such as here & here, we bought one of those huge stalks of brussel sprouts (because they are so beautiful! remember my first one of the year last fall? plus are a way better deal then loose brussel sprouts generally) & hence had brussel sprouts for dinner over a series of nights, because a) brussel sprouts are freaking delicious & b) we like to make really good use of all available food & spend as little money as possible.
12.17.2009: Brussel sprouts & bacon. We ate them out of the pan just like this.
12.18.2009: the next night we did the same thing (because it was so fing tasty the first time) & added it to a box of mac n' cheese, & some additional blue cheese.
12.30.2009: the last of them, with a couple of chicken breasts & some dried lemongrass, served over coconut rice (i.e. coconut milk powder added to basmati rice in the rice cooker).
In conclusion: brussel sprouts totally rule. Sometimes they get a bad rep, but trust me. Yum. In fact, those brussel sprout stalks are so awesome, they are definitely going in our garden plot this season. oh yeah, I forgot, YEAH SPRING YOU'RE ALMOST HERE!!!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Dinners at 133 #2: Spicy Sauce & Sausage.

The next installment of the winter dinners series.
11.30.2009: Spicy Spaghetti Sauce with Sausage, Over Cappellini.
The last day of November, a day I did not work, it was a classically damp chilly November day, & I walked a lot in the mist, & as a remedy for the crap weather, on my way home I went to Deals & Steals & Serio's Market & State Street & acquired cans of tomato paste & cappellini noodles & fresh italian sausage & garlic & shallots & jalapenos & red wine & made this & Owen came home earlier than expected & we actually got to eat dinner at a normal hour. & I used my Christmas napkins for the first time, in honor of the arrival of December.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Dinners at 133 #1: Tuna Steak, Curried Sweet Potatoes, Couscous.

As I mentioned, I'm cleaning up my winter sketchbook archives, & in the process of doing so, I found a lot of sadly ignored drawings, just everyday dinners, no grand plan but usually delicious, & always with a story behind, so here you go, what we ate here at 133 this winter, on the nonholiday, nonspecial occasion work nights, Part One:
12.5.2009: Tuna Steak with Curried Sweet Potatoes & Couscous.
This was a snowy night last December, the first of the winter I believe, & Owen drove me home from work on his break because it was snowing so hard & then went back to close, & I started cooking while enjoying the indescrible coziness of cooking dinner for someone you love while it's snowing. Some frozen tuna steaks, seared in a pan with garlic, & sweet potatoes simmered in a can of coconut milk with a jar of Thai curry paste, over couscous. Some smoked mozzarella grated on top. owen returned from closing at work. We ate while the snow fell. SNOW DAY. (doesn't winter seem so much better now that it's nearly over?)

Southern Style: Black Eyed Peas Two Times.

In light of the coming of SPRING (oh spring! hooray!) & the potential of future drawings of gardens & flowers & fresh beautiful vegetables, I'm attempting to work through my winter sketchbook archives, so I can enjoy spring as a fresh start unburdened by images of cold weather food.
It's been nagging me that my recent New Orleans post contained no southern food. Oh yes, there will be southern food in the coming months, oh oh oh fried green tomatoes & fresh okra & summer squash casserole & tomato/vidalia onion sandwiches oh YES,
but in fall & winter, there were spicy blacked eyed peas.
12.7.2009: with andouille sausage, (frozen) okra, jalapenos, & collard greens, with a side of garlic cheese grits. I usually use frozen peas, because one cannot apparently get fresh black eyed peas north of Virginia & I prefer frozen to canned. Throw everything in a big pot with a chopped onion & garlic, simmer, add a lot of bourbon. Cheese grits = cooked grits mixed with chopped garlic, grated cheese, & an egg, & baked covered for about 45 minutes. Yum.
& then last September, on one of the first chilly September nights, over rice with bacon, okra & sriracha hot sauce this time. Same basic concept, same generous amounts of whiskey. I usually choose sausage, but wow, with bacon, wicked good.
Being formerly married to a Mississippi girl has some perks. Growing up in Massachusetts has others, like comfortably employing 'wicked' as an adverb. But right now I'm daydreaming about garden plots & soil & tiny baby plants & mint juleps in the sun on my front porch...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Origin Recipes, Part One: Tuna Casserole.

The cover of this month's Bon Appetit advertises tuna casserole, eggplant parmesan, & chicken curry, which happen to be the first three important things that I learned to cook, & that taught me to love to cook. Looking at the cover, I started thinking, y'know, in the vein of food memories...& why Bon Appetit knows me so well, & what it all means...
To start, we go way back, way way back, to like me at ten or eleven, playing with the kitchen, with...Tuna Casserole...
Begin with a classic roux, butter & flour, then add 1/2 & 1/2 & white wine for a cream sauce. I also add chopped garlic at this stage.
(yes, you made already have noticed this is definitely a different version then the white trash classic, but's that why this is so good, do with it what you like).
To the sauce, add grated emmenthaler swiss cheese (my preference), frozen peas, chopped roma tomatoes, & a can of solid white tuna. Do that cool thing with melted butter & some crushed saltines or ritz crackers (the best way to go). Drain noodles (I generally choice elbows or shells but this time it was pappardelle).
NOTE: like any great recipe, this one lends itself perfectly to variations. Add whatever the hell cheese, veggies, crackers...etc, that you like. Don't even add tuna. See if I care. But be warned, my mom once added chopped canned clams instead of tuna, & at least to an eight year old, that shit is GROSS.
This is a messy fun kind of dinner. Pour yourself a glass of that cheap white wine you were cooking with & let your cat enjoy what's left in the can of tuna.
Combine sauce with noodles, cover with crushed cracker mixture, & more grated chesse, & baked for about an hour, uncovered for the last ten minutes so you get a nice crunchy top.
BEST LEFTOVERS EVER, especially with sriracha in your room late night with your kitten after dancing.
this is memory food,
Mum cooking this in our apartment on Orchard Street in New Bedford when I was little, me starting cooking as a teenager on Seamans Lane in Brewster, cooking this for myself in my first apartment on Medway Street in Providence at seventeen, Burns cooking me the Mississipi version with chips & sour cream on the night George W. Bush was (sort of) elected the first time in 1999, cooking this on Burns' last night in San Francisco on Cabrillo Street at twenty-two, & then eating the leftovers cold myself & wondering how I was gonna survive alone, at twenty-three on Burgundy Street in New Orleans that first winter when it finally got sort of chilly, at twenty-seven in the Prospect Street apartment in Noho when I started eating meat/fish again, & most recently for Owen in our house on South Street, at thirty-one, 11.23.2009.
Oh Yeah, this meal is a deal breaker with me. You are a vegetarian or think canned tuna is gross, I probably won't fall in love with you. Just sayin'.
Next Up: Eggplant Parmesan.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mardi Gras, Kind of Sort of. (My New Orleans Nostalgia Post).

Mardi Gras. It happened. Recently. At some point. It definitely happened in New Orleans. & oh yay the goddamn Saints won the motherfucking Superbowl. oh shit. But we here live in Massachusetts. Rural Western Massachusetts. I used to live in New Orleans. I still had mixed feelings about Mardi Gras, even when I lived there. Even more so here, obviously. But I do like to be festive. & hells yeah I like to party, hard. But even I have a problem with partying in the face of all logic, i.e. a lot of people died & everything was underwater, but god forbid we forget this party. Is that strength or weakness, I still don't know. But I do know is, people in New England playing at Mardi Gras in over-priced grocery stores for white people are losers. My current place of employment, therefore, rather ruined Mardi Gras for me this year. (NEWSFLASH: NOLA don't need a Co-op right now. Even one with a yoga space & a police station.) But it still means something to me. Last year Rin & Sarah K. & I made ridiculous cupcakes from discount post-Valentines Day cake accessories & drank Coconut Malibu Rum & read Michael Pollan's books for Mardi Gras. (besides the Wendy's King Cake Fex-Exed from NOLA party, which is entirely an other story).
This year I did this:
As I mentioned, for some reason my stupid work celebrated Mardi Gras. That didn't go well, so there was free king cake, several days later. One Thursday night, we gazed at it admiringly, next to a pitcher of rose petals (Valentine's Day was a failure at work also so we are making rose petal tinctures from the excess) & some shots of Jameson we had before, obviously, dancing. & again thanks to my work , we have beads, so semi-Mardi Gras. right?
This is what we ate on actual Mardi Gras. We are trying this new thing where we spend very little money on food yet eat very well, i.e. use what you have, so well yeah I wanted to do something classically southern, instead we made black bean chili from some free dry black beans & very cheap ground beef from the Big Y with these very odd (also free) Garden of Eatin' Ginger Tarmari tortilla chips.
& then, the work king cake, which taste-wise kind of sucked, turned into french toast with real local maple syrup, so y'know a perfect new england/new orleans compromise...
...& in conclusion, this drawing is a tribute to the New Orleans I remember & also a challenge for me. I've been getting more & more illustrative around here, & this is step back to sense/memory/feeling. New Orleans=clear blue red brown muddy green mustard yellow, & slopping streets, crumbling buildings, smell of the river, & all the weird beauty of the Bywater. The Bourbon Street purple green gold glitter mardi gras shit I could also take or leave. But the shotgun houses, proximity to the Mississippi River, riding my bike to race trains every morning, that abandoned church on St Ferdinand & Royal (I think) that shit haunts me.
Remember DnDnD2K09?
That barely scratched the surface.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Almond/Raisin/Sunflower Bread = February Solution.

Overcast Chilly Damp February Day. Yeh. So ....Make Bread?
2 Loaves, My Kitchen. (well, it is Ash Wednesday).
Owen/Adam/Dr/Homemade Bread/Cheese.
Yup. It worked. Sort of. Still playing Merriweather Postpavilion & hoping for spring.