Friday, April 30, 2010
Recipes. I think of them as the sheet music of cooking. (Sheet music I can actually read). But as far as my every-day cooking goes, I don't use them. That's how I play piano. I never read music, I just look over the chords and wing it. I play by ear and I cook by taste. I've been told that playing music by ear is a talent most people don't have, and I think that cooking without a recipe is also a talent, but one that is easier to learn than looking at "F#m7" and knowing what piano keys to put your fingers on. If people concentrate on ingredients of foods they like, and know what those ingredients taste like separately, they can combine them (I'm gonna be cheesy here) in a symphony of flavor! Example: I know that I love balsamic vinegar. You can't go wrong with balsamic. I know I find chicken to be pretty flavorless (maybe just Bronx chicken) and I know that when you put balsamic vinegar on something hot, its water evaporates and you are left with a kind of glaze. Put it on chicken while its grilling? You get balsamic glazed chicken. Throw that on some good Italian bread with mozzarella and roasted red peppers and you have a great sandwich. Do you need to search through recipes to make it? No. It's science mixed with common sense.
I'm going on and on about this because I just spent 5 hours going through cookbooks, Saveur magazine, and websites trying to find some recipe that would impress Mike. I got so frustrated thinking of all the pans I would have to wash, the tools I don't own yet, and the grocery list that would make it impossible for me to make it up five flights of stairs with the bags, that I decided to go with one of his favorites, the aforementioned sandwich, which has all of 5 ingredients. Match that with some cheap wine and an easy brownie mix for dessert, and I have a happy boyfriend. And I'm happy because while I'm writing this I'm enjoying the cheap wine.
Back to cookbooks.
I have lots of cookbooks, and food magazines, and I watch food shows constantly. I think, "Wow! I'm gonna make that Tom Yum Goong!" It's the initial excitement that soon wears off when I realize that I really don't want to run all over Manhattan to find ingredients for some Thai recipe that calls for 1.Galangal (??) 2.Kaffir Lime Leaves, 3.Prik Pao. If I lived in a Thai neighborhood? Sure. But the Bronx ain't no Thai neighborhood.
Another affliction that I'm, uh, afflicted with, is my lack of "food heritage". Mike is Italian, French, and Irish. He loves Italian food. He can drink like the Irish, and (Ahem) loves like the French. (Sorry mom.) I, on the other hand, while very mutt-like, have a family that didn't retain its national heritage or its food. My dads side is Croatian and Polish, and the only things we retained from those regions are good looks, olive skin, and great legs. My moms side has been in the U.S. for hundreds of years. The things I consider to be my food heritage (mom side) are beans and cornbread, pie, and various meats. Very American. And tasty. My dad is a good cook and always had me cooking something with him for dinner. We would grill everything. Meat, fish, vegetables, pizza, anything that could be grilled was grilled. That's why I have a hard time with this whole apartment living thing. I grew up in a grill based world. And I'm really glad for it because It's tasty and healthier than, say, poaching your fish in butter or something. And it takes skill to get a steak just right, a skill which I pride myself on. Speaking of food heritage, the last time I was visiting my dad in L.A. I was telling him some things I like to make. I said, "One of my favorite things I made recently was chicken with a Chile Verde sauce. You know, tomatillos." He gave me a strange look and said, "I never taught you how to use tomatillos!" Like he was upset that I have my own food brain. It was funny, and I came to realize that a lot of my favorite ingredients like bell peppers and chorizo, are not things he would ever make. I've grown up, I guess, into my own food-person.
One thing I have not grown into, however, is the use of fruit with meat. It's everywhere, and it's popular among the high-end types, carrying their Dolce and Gabbana bags, (55 gallon $2000 dog crates) and "lunching" at places I could only dream of affording. I love a fancy restaurant as much as the next girl, but I don't want my sauteed pork cutlet on a bed of seared figs and some kind of reduction. Separate? Sure! Applesauce with my pork? No problemo. But uppity food is as unappealing to me as uppity people. Plus I know that a bugs favorite place to have sex and lay its eggs is on figs. It's true. Ask the USDA.
My friend Brian and I used to talk about the finer restaurants in L.A. and began referring to their "plating technique" as "Tall Food". They pile everything up in the middle of the plate to create a sort of tower. Some gratin-type thing at the bottom, 3 asparagus tips as a kind of foundation, 2 ounces of a fancy meat, and some micro greens at the top. Want to impress your mother? Tall Food. Then take her out for a hamburger so she's not still hungry.
Am I too negative about food? I go back and forth between wanting cheese pizza and wanting something ridiculously expensive or high-end. If I was rich, I might not be so negative about the fancier things. If I was rich, I would have a platter of oysters sitting here by the computer to eat at my leisure. I would sear fois gras in the salty tears of the sturgeon who's eggs I would be eating on toast points. I picture myself laughing hysterically during all of this.
On a lighter note, It's time to start making dinner for my Italian Frenchman who should be home soon. He's going to be glad that we're having those balsamic chicken sandwiches with mozzarella and red peppers, and not apricot prune stuffed pork medallions with a pomegranate reduction atop a poached quail egg. I'll be glad too. Not because I wouldn't want to make the fancy crap, but I've been drinking that cheap wine and I don't know that I could poach an egg right now.
Monday, April 19, 2010
We also found headstones with the names Coffin, Self, and T.B.A. which were amusing.
And now the next thing I have to look forward to is my mom coming to visit. She came out last year when we moved to Brooklyn and I've only seen her once since, when we went to Florida for Mikes graduation. It's weird to not see her very often since we had live in the same city for so long, but it was time for everyone to get out of AZ. I'm glad we did. It's always nice to have her visit, and I'm glad we have a guest room this time. I'll probably take her to visit Herman Melville. And I know while she's here my floors will be spotless. That's what moms do.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Tibbet was very interested in watching the CNN coverage about the vote on the health care reform. She told me that even though it doesn't affect her, she likes to keep up with current events and that Buddy should really take more interest in these things. She had me make a sign for her to pose with so she could look back on this historic day and remember sitting on the folding chair. She would also like everyone to know that despite popular belief, Siamese cats are very into politics.
TABASCO AND "THE BOZ"
Two new things have appeared on my bookshelf since Monday. They are a bottle of Tabasco sauce and an action figure of Brian "The Boz" Bosworth. Mike brought him home from his dads house on Sunday. "The Boz", who was known for his radical hairstyles, apparently wasn't much of a player. He got thrown off teams for steroid use, bad conduct, and general douchbaggery. So we like to display him in our living room, tackling a bottle of hotsauce.
Monday, March 22, 2010
- Wait For
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Then as I was watching McMoop I noticed the buildings behind him. I can see between 2 buildings to another building, all separated by that weird area that's always gated and closed off so no one can walk there. It's probably because people would dump all their trash or do drugs down there or something, but I started thinking about canyons. The buildings kind of make a canyon, and I thought about how if I could walk through these I might end up in some beautiful land, or maybe the building canyon is a beautiful land where pigeons feel like eagles and the canyon walls are full of homes where people feel safe from murderous tribes (gangs). Kind of like this one:
Friday, March 12, 2010
Our new place is much bigger, cleaner, and quieter than the last one. I unpacked almost everything in one day but left the rest in the guest room. Next week I have to get all that stuff put away because my best friend is coming to visit and we're getting our 2nd bed next weekend. And a couch, finally!
Writing about moving is boring so I'll change the subject. Lately I am once again obsessed with metal-detecting and relic hunting. I have off and on been obsessed with this and unfortunately should have made more of an effort to get into it when I lived in AZ. There is not much in the way of open land and ghost towns out here in which to easily find things and I kept putting off getting a metal detector. Now I really want to start doing this but I don't know where I would do it other than Van Cortlandt park, and you need a permit to hunt there. It's free, but there are lots of rules. I just want to go out and find crap! Check out this website that I've been reading for a while and maybe you'll see why I am interested in these things. Or not. I'm a history nerd you see. And I think maybe I'll spend part of my tax return on a cheap metal detector. Here is something I found without the help of modern technology. Its a "C".
Who knows what its from or how old it is, but it is old and it is a C. And that's good enough for me.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
What is this thing in my soup?
The white thing with the hot pink edge.
It wasn't meat. It wasn't a vegetable. It was some kind of firm gelatinous salty thing. It wasn't tofu, either. And why the hot pink? It didn't taste bad. It just tasted like broth. Still, I only nibbled it and then made Mike try it so he could also be confused.
It is of Japanese origin. I still have it if you want it.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
So here are the things I like about my hood.
1. Franklin Avenue Shuttle. It is across the street and from there I can get anywhere. I literally have to walk across the street to get anywhere the subway goes, anywhere metro north goes, or anywhere any of those other trains I've never taken go. Plus it's got a pretty interesting history, which you can read about here. That page also has info on some of the other things I'm including.
3. The "Public Elephant". That's what Mike and I call it. The Public Elephant is a government office which can be held by anyone willing to run, but usually goes to an elephant. This is Brooklyn's Public Elephant. He is the finest one yet and has lowered tusk tax by 5%
6. The hallway in our building. It is sooooo ugly since they painted parts of it gold. Mike was coming in one evening and overheard this conversation between a little girl and her mom.
Little girl: "Mom, why did they paint those things gold?"
Monday, February 15, 2010
We moved to Brooklyn in a lovely area called Crown Heights. (Not so lovely but I love it.) It's a quick walk to the alternate universe called Park Slope. To those not familiar with Park Slope, it is the land of women pushing strollers, women reading Oprah book club books, women spending too much of their money on expensive organic baby stuff, lesbian bars for the women who like women, and men who don't make as much money as their women. We go there for dinner sometimes because Crown Heights is a little short on good food. And it's just a little scary.