Monday, July 2, 2018

Salads and some writing news.

I opened the book. Reread what I'd done. Got all mooky and distracted. Printed out 20 pages. (That was fun.) Decided to write a food blog. HA! I've been trying to think about some kind of food blog thing I could write in the daily project form but ... nuthin so far.
We have Zion Farms in Hood River. Every summer we wait for the first delivery to the local grocery store. I have shared loud joy with total strangers when we find the first Zion Farms delivery. It's really simple red leaf and green leaf lettuce. They also grow arugula. There were years when I'd grab leaves of Zion Farms out of the bag and munch on them for a snack. They are so fresh, so tasty and they last a long time.
Last year I wrote about not being able to eat Zion Farms at all. I made salads that I couldn't finish. I put it on sandwiches that I couldn't eat. It felt bad in my mouth. It was not the lettuce because it was happening with other foods. I blamed it on grief and hoped it would go away.
And (happily) it did.
My goal with salads (generally) is to have as many vegetables as possible and a protein. One of the first salads I made this summer was unintentionally yellow.  I ate a version of it over and over.

And then I saw a salad on the FB page for our farmer's market for a roasted carrot salad. I saw something similar in a cook book Kristina gave me for my birthday: How to Eat a Peach. I decided to try something. I used purple, yellow, orange (and one white) carrots. I was going to use powdered cumin but (much to my dismay) I didn't have any. I did have  whole cumin and a mortar and pestle, which may have been better. The smell of grinding cumin is really nice. I put olive oil, the cumin, smoked paprika, shallots, garlic, chili flakes and a little salt on the carrots and roasted them for about 45 minutes, just until they were soft to the fork. Then I piled all that on the arugula in a bowl. The heat from the carrots wilted the greens slightly. I added goat cheese and topped it all with pistachios.  

It was goooood!
I also worked on the book some more. Printed out another 26 pages. The biggest surprise ever is that I like my book. I am still in the beginning. It may get harder a I go along. But I like it. And I like working on it. I am also still trying to figure out how to use this new writing energy to blog. Today I'll swim and shop and not have time to write. I am sad about that. I think that's a good sign. Heh. 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Cauliflower Soup And Other Plans

So. I have been cooking more. But lately I haven't been feeling well. I have some kind of crud. Sore sinus, sore throat, cough. The symptoms come and go and change in prominence. Often it impacts my energy and appetite.  I had big plans for the holidays but most of them didn't happen.
Even before the holiday food I had a plan for cauliflower soup. Simple plan. Roast the cauliflower. Start with my olive oil, chili flake, shallot, garlic routine. Add chicken stock. Blend. Add half and half and butter. Eat. But nothing is simple when your body doesn't cooperate.
My Christmas Eve dinner plan was orange, fennel and pomegranate salad and triple cream. I managed to get the salad made. It was really good. But I only managed a few bites of each. No wine. Christmas was supposed to be a steak, polenta and green beans. I got the beans cooked. That was it. I baked a potato and ate a few of the beans. No wine. HoHoHo. I wasn't even that bummed. I just didn't feel well.
I don't even remember when I put finally put the cauliflower in the oven with a few cloves of garlic. I love the smell of things roasting. But then my energy flagged so I put it all in the fridge. Days later I pulled it out. Skipped the starting ritual. Blended it all with stock and cream. It is really good. I thought about adding cheese but decided I like it the way it was. It probably needed more blending or even a pass through a strainer or a food mill but I didn't mind the wee bits of cauliflower. 
Years ago I had an amuse bouche at a French restaurant. A demitasse cup of cauliflower soup with truffle oil. I've been trying to recreate it ever since. This new soup was close. I have some truffle oil but I didn't add it.
The roasted garlic was so good that I plan to roast a bunch and keep it in a jar in the fridge. 
I don't even remember the New Years Eve plan. I think scallops were part of something but I never ordered them.
I don't follow any rules No collards and black eyed peas. When I was young the mommie used to eat an onion sandwich and drink buttermilk every New Years eve. I have no idea why.
I slept a for many hours the last two nights. And I woke up with a fair amount of energy. I've been cleaning and cleaning. I made a sort of stew with things I needed to use up from the refrigerator and (finally) some polenta.

I feel like things are better. I think about food. I make plans. I do cook.
No big plan for tonight. I think I'll have the rest of the soup and maybe a grilled ham and cheese sandwich if my energy and appetite hold up. Mandy gave me some small bottles of champagne. There will be wine.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Saved by Soup

For most of the year I did not want to cook. I did not even want to make a sandwich or a salad. I wasn't enthusiastic about eating and didn't enjoy things that I had previously enjoyed. I just assume this kind of thing is about grief and try not to worry about it. But the cooking thing was bugging me.
Ironically I started pushing myself to make soup. Ironic because for the past few years cooking for the mommie meant making soup. If I put a protein, a veg and a starch on a plate she's freak out. It was just too much food!!! If I put the same things in the same amounts in broth she'd eat it with no fuss. It was just a bowl of soup. I feel like this was residual diet mentality. And yet she always had room for desert and a handful of after dinner M&M's. Soup became annoying and limiting. And now it's a path back.

People say that cooking for one is too hard. I don't feel that way. I probably put more effort into cooking for others but I'm pretty good at making myself a meal. I think a lot about the time of year and what's available. I don't eat many salads in the winter. I don't eat as much warm food in the summer. I read recipes and think about them. I like cooking.
My method with soup is almost always the same. First olive oil with chili flakes. When the chili flakes start to crackle I add shallots and cook them until I see some color, then I add garlic. Ingredients might shift a little. I often add bacon after the oil and chili flakes. I forgo the shallots and garlic if I make something like potato leek soup. I roast things like squash to bring out the sugar rather than boiling them in the both. The mommie didn't like spice, garlic, kale, chard. When I started making soup again it took awhile for my habits and instincts to kick in.

Now I'm making one or two soups a week. My Instagram feed is full of soup. There are times when I don't want to cook. I still feel a bone deep level of tiredness and apathy. I don't always push myself. But once I'm in the rhythm of cooking I'm fine.  This is a craft that I put a lot of energy into learning. It's a way I express myself. Every pot of soup is me being engaged in life.
And then we eat.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Two Books and a Problem with My Mouth.

I'm reading two books with food themes at the moment. It wasn't intentional. I keep a small book in my Baggallini because I spend time waiting for people to pick me up and my Baggallini isn't big enough for most books. I have another book by the chair in library or the chair in the living room or the bed depending on where I was reading last.
The current book on the go is one of the Persephone books. I really like the idea of reprinted books that would other wise disappear and they always do such a beautiful cover liner with a matching book mark. I'm reading Kitchen Essays by Agnes Jekell. She wrote these little essays for the Times. It's apparent that she isn't really doing the cooking. In the first essay she begins the recipe with instruction to 'your cook'. The recipes are written as paragraphs and the time the lamb should be cooked begins at 4 and goes until dinner time.
Dinner time?
The current book by the chair is Maman's Homesick Pie, which is a memoir by the Donia Bijan who also wrote The Last Days of Cafe Leila. I just finished the latter. I grabbed it on a whim when I was in Bellingham and wasn't expecting much. I was so wrong. The writing is strong, direct and evocative. Food drives the narrative in both books and in the memoir there are recipes. The first recipe is for tea and includes warming the pot and warming the cup. It's a very tender account of her parents exile from Iran and her own love of the smells and flavors of Persian food.
I am more engaged by the second book. The writing in the first one is almost impossible to follow. It's old old old style. I find it amusing but I'm never anxious to pick it up.
I often find food writing tedious. Too many adjectives. Nothing is revealed.

I haven't written on this blog for three years. The original idea for the blog was to reveal the way I think about food and cooking, maybe blow away some assumptions about how fat people think about food. Or not. Maybe just develop my thinking about something that preoccupies me.
Food in the books by Bijan often begin with smell. My nest smells like peaches and bacon at the moment. Peaches because the last ones from the market took four days to ripen enough to try and a week to have any flavor. Now they are redolent and compete admirably with the smokey salty smell of the bacon I cooked for breakfast. I know there will not be any more peaches all too soon. Although they started late so they may keep coming for awhile. Peaches define my summer.

This summer has been odd. There's a problem with my mouth.
We have great lettuce in the Hood. It's only available for a few months. It comes from Zion Farms. I've been known to eat it with no dressing.  Not this year. I do OK in the morning with my yogurt, honey, peaches and berries. But in the afternoon I'm hungry and nauseated at the same time. I've had to send bags of rotten salad fixings to Mandy's pig. I just don't get it together. If I do get it together I can barely finish. The food feels bad in my mouth. This bad feeling doesn't seem to happen if someone else cooks. At least not as much.
I had hoped that the trip to SF might call me back to food and it sort of did. Yesterday I made this big plate of beauty and enjoyed it.   


I don't know what's wrong with my mouth. Maybe just more grief stuff. 
Maybe the books and the trip are calling me back to cooking and eating. It feels like it's taking an act of will. I want to write more. Not necessarily about food. Just write. And I want to cook more. 
These are the things I love so it shouldn't be this hard. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Awhile ago (actually months ago) I realized I had everything I needed to make a BLAT. I had precooked some bacon. I had really good Pine Street multi-grain bread, Zion Farms lettuce, garden grown tomato, mayo and an avocado. I took the picture and saved it all this time. I had thought I might write about how classic things are classic for a reason. And/or you see BLTs everywhere but you're more likely to see a BLAT in the west where the avocado rules.

A BLAT is fat on fat on fat and it's so good. But I've been worried about eating fats because ... of the bleeping gall stone. So lately when I've seen the picture buried in my photos I've felt like I should just delete it. 
For so long now I've fooled around with what I eat when trying to manage what I've called my stomach aches. I have believed it was about sugar. If I ate enough protein I could eat an amount of sugar. Never too much but some. I knew fats were in the mix but I just wasn't sure how. Since the bleepin gall stone showed up I've been eating like someone with an eating disorder. I've been so hyper vigilant and careful. I'd eat the same thing two days in a row and one day I'd feel fine and the next I'd get sick. I'd get frustrated and eat something I felt sure would make me sick and be fine. I'd eat really carefully and feel like crap. I'm not sure I have a clue what works anymore. 
And, after tomorrow,  I imagine it will change again.
But that BLAT was good. 
It is a classic. 
And I hope to eat another some day.   

Monday, August 4, 2014

Lemon Cucs

Jane found lemon cucumbers, which makes me so happy. They don't taste like lemons. They taste like cucumbers. They're just so dang cute. This is one of my favorite salads in which everything is local except the cheese and the olives. It would have been served by olive oil and balsamic but when produce is this fresh I love the flavors. And half way trough I thought I could have sliced in some shallot, or red onion. Next time. 
Although I love my aqua farm the herbs aren't growing big enough to add. I have wee tiny basil but I thought I'd give it a bit longer to grow. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014


I've never been sure what to do with this blog. I post pictures on Facebook of stuff that I'm eating. Maybe I should post them here first.
Just before I left SF I found The Better Bean Company. I am particularly fond of their black beans. I noticed they were made in Oregon but when I got here I couldn't find them. Last week (or the week before) I went to The Farm Stand  for the first time and there were my black beans. I made this salad with chopped garlic, yellow bell pepper, celery, shallot (might have used red onion if I'd had one), corn and tomato. Squeezed the juice of a lime into it. The beans come well seasoned  but I love cumin so I added a bit more.The greens are from Zion Farms, which does not seem to have a web page but I love them.