Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My New Fridge

As you can plainly see, the space for the fridge in our kitchen was not made for this behemoth. Josh removed some molding and we made it work. I think cleaning behind the old fridge was almost as gratifying as loading up the new one.
There are two reasons I love this fridge. #1 the long meat/cheese drawer. Don't you hate it when your lame drawer takes up valuable shelf space? You can only stick really really short things under it and you forget they are there because you can't see them and one day you're like, "What is that smell? Oh, it's this unidentifiable thing that was in a baggie under my cheese drawer for 10,000 years. Darn."

#2, the bottom freezer. You know, you pull out your produce drawers and your like, "How does cat hair and my hair and dust bunnies and ... is that a bug ... get under these drawers?" My theory is that you create an eensy-weensy vortex of air every time you open the fridge and everything on the floor in your domicile gets swept up in there. But with the bottom freezer, no more! The only thing under my freezer drawers are little ice crystals. Ha!

The capacity is amazing. And a good thing, too, for I am returning to work this year after two glorious years raising my son (read: watching Mexican soap operas) full time. We need some serious capacity for the huge soups and stews I will make on Sunday to get us through to Friday so that I don't have to kill myself every night. Gone are the days when I can stick a roast in for 2.5 hours in the middle of the day! Well, unless that day is Sunday and we aren't eating it until Monday, reheated.

I have a feeling I will have much more to say about this working-mother-frustrated-chef thing very very soon.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Lumpia, Part II

After my enlightening conversation with the pediatrician regarding the fact that one can hide veggies in food, *gasp*, I made more lumpia. Half meat, half veg in each one. I didn't let it marinate with enough soy sauce, though, so the flavor wasn't as strong as my previous batch.

And guess who noticed?

I slaved over these things for hours. And this time I did not cook the meat before stuffing and that made it so much easier. That might have had something to do with the flavor? You think? Well, His Royal Highness, the Mighty Refined Palate, Sir Sam, spit them out. Now I have 40 lumpia in my freezer.

Why, yes, Sam is learning the periodic table of elements. He has gotten far beyond the alphabet and really needs a challenge.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Things that look good, but aren't. Parmesan flan, for example. Sounds delicious; looks lovely. Tastes like gunk from between your toes, mitigated by the lovely tomato-basil topping. Topping? I tend to think chocolate sprinkles with that word, but it works here, technically.

And then we have the deception I engage in to get my son to eat vegetables. Recently we had a doctor's appointment, and I asked about vegetables. I was looking for assuaging. I was looking for something like, "Don't worry, lots of kids do this. A year or two without a single vegetable won't kill him. He will not die of scurvy or other weird 16th century sailor diseases. It will all even out by the time he is 10, provided he eats vegetables then." I got nothing of the sort. Instead, Dr. S told me that I can hide veggies in many things, like pizza! So I screamed, "I don't need recipes! I have a blog about food! I am a veggie-hiding genius! He doesn't eat them!" Only, I screamed that on the inside while smiling and thanking the doctor on the outside.
I took this beautiful cauliflower and I made a puree and called it "cauliflower yogurt." Sam always asks for yogurt, honey and O's for dinner. I was happy to oblige. Unfortunately for me, this particular veggie has a distinctive smell that alerted Sam to its non-yogurt-like nature. He refused to try it. I did what any mother would do and proceeded to mix 1:1 puree to yogurt, and gave him O's thinking that they would dull the cauliflower taste even more.

This was the reaction. As in, "Get this out of my mouth! What have you done to my beloved yogurt? You can't fool me, you witch!"

Josh and I happily ate it with our dinner because it was soooooo good. I opted for no O's in mine.

Cauliflower puree:
1 head cauliflower
1-2T unsalted butter
2-4T creme fraiche
1/4-1/2 cup cooking water
salt and pepper to taste

Add cauliflower to pot of boiling water and cook until soft, but not mush, 8-10 minutes. Drain, reserving some cooking water. Puree cauliflower with everything else, adding just a bit of water to start and adjusting for your desired texture.

Creme fraiche makes life worth living, so add a lot!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Let's Talk Salad with Fruit

Well, last time I talked about wanting to eat bread and muffins because of cool weather. Then summer arrived! I have been making lots of salads this summer, and in them, fruit! I know this is not revolutionary. We have been seeing fruit in salad for many summers now, but it seemed too odd to me. Until now. I still can't go with strawberry or watermelon, but I did some peach and plum recently. The verdict? Delightful. It all has to do with the Universal Salad Equation:

Creamy+nutty/meaty+acid+sweet+tart/bitter+x = Good Salad

Avocado fulfills creamy, as above - that, or a nice cheese. I think if the cheese is a bleu it counts as umami, i.e. the x factor. You must have nuts. I have decided that they positively make a salad. Actually, you can use beans instead of nuts, getting a similar effect. If you candy nuts, two parts of the equation are taken care of. Lemon can function as the acid in the dressing. The sweet can be a little fruit, caramelized onions, honey in the dressing, something. The greens will give you tart/bitter. I like arugula for almost any salad - it goes well with fruit ...oooooh, and beets. For bitter, radicchio will do the job - another item I discovered for myself this summer.

I find that I can barely stand a salad without nuts in it these days. Which reminds me of the Sarouhans. My family used to go to the Sarouhans' house around Christmas every year, or every other because I guess we alternated hosting. E, the head chef at the Sarouhans, would put out the same hors d'oeuvres every time: salted peanuts, and an orange-yellow-nutted cheese log with crackers. There might have been something else, but that's all I recall. Right before she served the salad, E would dump the leftover nuts in it. I thought her behavior was downright malicious and I avoided each and every nut in my serving. Now, I totally get it.
I put this salad on a homemade pizza with goat cheese.

The fruit must be sweet. These were organic plums, so I felt good about them, but not very tasty, so at the same time every bite made me mad. I don't think it's full plum season anyway. I seem to recall that plums are more August - late and into September. I think. Last summer I found an awesome plum purveyor at the Lake City Farmers Market. He had several varieties of plum hybrids. So good.

Speaking of farmers markets, I just really want a European market experience. I realized this when I read French Women Don't Get Fat, and then recalled my experience in Spain when I lived there so many years ago. I was initially appalled when I was told to be careful of touching the produce in Spain. What would happen, I wanted to know. I need to choose my fruit; surely the vendors won't pick good ones. Oh, how wrong I was. Here and now, as there and then, I want to be asked, "When do you want to eat these? I will give you these for today and these need two days. Be sure to have a nice glass of champagne and some cheese alongside. " Instead I get to pick my own and maybe they ripen and maybe they don't; maybe they are as tasty as the sample, and maybe they are mealy. I know we like to be independent here in the States, but ... but ... I want to be helped at the farmers market. Handing me a bag does not count as helping.