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Archive for October, 2009

Entitled? Hardly.

When Amanda and I first started talking about a food blog (more specifically our husbands started talking about us doing a food blog and we were evaluating how we felt about the endeavor) we wondered what entitled us to put fourth our ideas about food.
We’re not chefs.
I am terrible at creating my own recipes.
When people say things like “oooh, you cook… wow, I could never do that” it strikes me as crazy. Only because I see cooking as following a set of directions. I think some people believe they can’t cook because they don’t enjoy the process (much like when I was studying art and people said “ooooh, I could never draw/paint/take pictures, etc. when in my mind it was only because they didn’t particularly enjoy those things which led them to not pursue it). I think I am over-using parenthesis here but you get the idea. If you like something, like the process of something, you will do it. (Positive reinforcement is always a plus, so if you like eating and you have someone in your life who makes the effort to get in the kitchen- by all means encourage them, it will be worth your while!) Back out of the parenthesis. I digress, again.

Making food happen on an everyday basis is not easy. If I lived in France I would go to the market everyday. If I lived in North Dakota, I would choose recipes out of the cookbook and write down shopping lists to get from the grocery store every week and then implement the planned recipes. I, however live in Southern California where there is abundant fresh produce all year. I subscribe to a CSA box. I entertain. I cook six nights a week, usually for two people but quite often for six. I have not even fully bridged the idea of leftovers. I put ingredients in the freezer (like beans and meat) but not usually full meals. Most importantly to me, I make lists. They usually look like this:
Refrigerator List
In my mind though they look like this:
French Menu
The idea is to take what is in the fridge and make a list. That way, you have something to start from when you begin your research. Most of the time for me, that doesn’t happen until about 5:48 when I start to think about what to make dinner. I usually don’t have any meat thawed and want to make something from just the vegetables and the pantry staples I have on hand.  The process starts by typing a couple ingredients from my list into Epicuious.
Let me be truthful: it doesn’t always work out perfectly. Take a night last week when my list read as above. To me, it read: burrito/enchiladas. I had leftover tomato soup that was more like a tomato sauce when mixed with some ancho chili sauce, tortillas, leftover yellow rice and black beans from the refrigerator. It wasn’t groundbreaking. It turned out more like a casserole:
Burrito Cassarole
The recipe is not worth sharing (it came from my head). Husband ate willingly though without compliment, so I knew where I stood.
My point is this: that we all cook. Or try to cook or want to cook or have ideas about cooking, that’s why we’re here. I’m just like everyone else- except that I seem to love it just a little bit more than the average person. So, I hope to share with you, as time passes how I cook. I hope to interview other people who cook in different lifestyles. We’re all people but we all eat.
Let’s do it together.

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Slip Slidin’

You know when you can feel something slipping away and it just makes you want to tackle it and look at it squarely, just long enough to be sure that you can fully comprehend its moving on?  Think high school crush drifting away, think tattered flannel shirt in the Goodwill donation box seen from the rearview mirror, think leaving your long-time apartment or selling your long-time car… or bike… or, well, anything that can sometimes drift off without your full awareness.  There is something about passing that makes us (read: me) reflective and downright nostalgic.  Sometimes I feel that way about seasons.

Coast HighwayFeeling that fall was indeed peering around the inevitable corner but not yet sure that we had soaked up all of summer, Amanda and I set a date to have dinner.  Outside.  Where we live, many evenings are suited to this type of activity but for just that reason is often taken for granted.

On the set Sunday Amanda had everything neatly prepared when we met at the house.  We cruised down to the water where the locals were taking the last sip of a sunny day, shunning the slight hint of coolness of the air with swim trunks and bare shoulders.  There was no sound to the uncorking of the wine as it melded with the slow crushing sound of the waves.  From a picnic basket sprung a beautifully sky colored tablecloth.

The Table

Husband started a fire and the next thing I knew there was the most amazing grilled tomato bruschetta on a plate, just for me.

DSC_1355

Followed by a smokey pork tenderloin and succulent corn on the cob deceptively clad in charred husks.  Everything tasted simple and flavorful like summer and subtly smokey like the outdoors.  We talked about the ocean.  We drank wine.  And I knew.  I knew then that it was okay that summer was passing.  In fact, as I write this, fall is passing just as quickly.  But in those moments set aside, is when experiencing food can remind us to be still.  To be present.  The wind falls leaves.  The tomatoes are gone.  The beach is no longer as welcoming.  The idea remains: that we must make or take or bring or knit or uncover the moments that remind us that this is the experience we can take with us, to the next season.

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Farmers' Market and Mountain

Sure to get foodies throwing heirloom tomatoes, this article from the NYTimes Freakonomics blog is the first in a series by James McWilliams on farmers’ markets. His thesis: The notion that farmers’ markets build community is a myth. McWilliams cites historical precedent for the inevitable evolution of merchant/seller relationships, particularly close ones such as those between growers and patrons at farmers’ markets, into hard-nosed, and, often combative, business exchanges.

This seems pretty obvious to me. The power of a local market to create community is uncertain. If you aren’t likely to make nice-nice with your Rite-Aid pharmacist, you probably aren’t any more inclined to build a meaningful relationship with the organic food grower from whom you buy your weekly produce.

McWilliams’ post does get me thinking about the perceived value-added by shopping at local farmers’ markets. Removing from consideration any larger concerns such as the reduction (or not) of one’s carbon footprint, what is the net positive gained by shopping local? Is the value simply access to higher quality produce and handmade products (enough for me)? Or, does there exist the possibility that something else can be created? Something that may challenge McWilliams’ thesis?

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