Wednesday, April 10, 2013


I read a short essay about Andre Soltner in The New Yorker (Sadly, you have to subscribe to read it on line.)  in which he is quoted: The molecular cuisine has some good things about it but I--I count my my cooking by the looks of satisfaction on the faces of the people who have eaten my food. 
Yes. Indeed.
I think a lot of the Adria stuff is interesting although foam always looks unpleasant to me. Interesting but not what I want for a meal. It might be a fun meal. And I think fun is a good thing. But I've seen too many chefs messing with food in an attempt to seem hip. Somewhere there's a chef "building" a salad of micro greens with tweezers. I've watched chefs pick at food trying to make it look better. It's good to make food look beautiful but it's best to make it pleasing. I don't think you should remember the chef. I think you should remember the food. Restaurant work is all about pleasing people. It's not always possible but you should be trying. I too often feel like chefs are so busy making a name for themselves that they forget they're feeding people.
Still not cooking much. But Mimi brought me some ham and cheese croissants from my favorite croissant place. The next morning I made one of my favorite breakfasts. Poached eggs on top of the heated ham and cheese croissant. Honey tangerine. Coffee. Pleased.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

About That Asparagus

Debbie did bring me asparagus from the market. And I did eat it in curry. And it was crazy good.

My presentation could have been a little better but the smell of curry was overwhelming and I needed to eat. 
For no obvious reason I've been remembering a dish I cooked for brunch at a restaurant in NYC. It was latkes with eggs any style and pork loin. I don't remember if there was an apple-something or sour cream on the plate although that would have made sense. I do remember wondering if the person who created the plate was being funny or ignorant. Either way I got a craving for latkes.    
Conveniently Debbie got me spring onions. I intended to get pork loin but they didn't have any and I saw a small steak prepackaged. I cooked the latkes in the afternoon. I cooked a bunch. Not the best plan because they are one of those things that are best right out of the pan. But I thought I might like some for breakfast and I never feel like cooking that early in the morning unless there is someone else around.   

I like the outside to be crunchy and the inside to be like mashed potatoes. 

Debbie also got some chard. So that was dinner. I cut the steak in half. And I had Cowgirl Creamery Creme Fraiche. The next morning I had half of the half a steak, scrambled eggs, latkes and grapfruit. And I had a version of the dinner the next day with the remaining quarter steak.  

Here's a flavor tip to never try. As I was making breakfast I passed my pomegranate juice over the eggs, which were still sitting in a bowl waiting to be cooked. It wasn't a lot but it was enough to make me wonder if I should toss them and start over. I hate wasting food so I cooked them and they were OK. But it was not  a thing I would repeat. 
The market is just starting up and I'm already having too much fun. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Someone at EA asked me if I ate a lot of processed food and I said yes. Later I realized we meant two different things. At the time I was always exhausted from the commute and the job. I got a lot of food from Whole Foods deli and carried it to work. It was food made by someone other than myself. Processed is more often used to describe food made in factories and frozen or canned or shipped to a chain location where it is served. I don't really eat that kind of food. I remember at the time saying something about the deli but she had already confirmed her opinion that I was fat because of the bad food I ate. I remember her seeing a container of mixed fresh fruit on my desk and looking confused. Ah well. 
I thought about it the other day since I'm only beginning to come out of my post Mom soup-a-pal-ooza. I've been eating lots of delivery and sandwiches and yogurt and popcorn. 
The Bay Area has so many local purveyors of great prepared food. The other day I noticed that Aidells has started making meatballs. I grabbed a package without looking too closely and got the Teriyaki, which I ate with rice. I had also purchased some Pasta Shop tomato sauce thinking they were a more traditional Italian and I had some dried pasta from a Christmas food basket Kristina had sent. So I got the Italian version and tossed all of that together and added a bunch of arugula and had enough for a few days. Technically all processed food but also local and of a pretty great quality. 
In my perfect world I'd make jars of tomato sauce every year with tomatoes, onions and herbs that I'd grown in my garden. I'd make my own hand rolled pasta. I have done and it's not that hard. And of course my own meatballs. But I don't live in that world. 
There's a local company that makes fantastic tamales. Also good when I don't want to cook. And I use their chips to eat hummus. Processed food. 
When I was younger and had the strength and stamina to cook all day at a restaurant I often resorted to eating other people's pre-cooked food. I've never really lived the completely home made life of my dreams. It's not always a bad thing. 
I am snapping out of my can-not-cook doldrums. Debbie says there's great asparagus at the market and she may bring me some. I'm already thinking curry.

Friday, February 22, 2013

I was going to write ...

... about my funny looking pancakes. There's a picture of them taken at Mom's house on Flickr and I feel like I used to be able to put a picture from there into a post but I was unsuccessful. I was able to add it as a post. It's below this one. I didn't realize how blurry the TV screen was looking at it on my phone. So I fooled around with the blog template and it's better but not exactly what I want yet. I keep having the same experience over and over as I play with my web stuff. A program tells me it can't do what I'm asking it to do but it doesn't say why. I got the Kristina picture more or less where I want it. I got the share buttons back. But now all the side bar stuff is at the bottom.
The thing about my funny looking pancakes is that they come out that way because I cook them in a pan and the batter spreads out and meets creating a flat line at the intersection. So they're round on one side and then triangular-ish on the other. If I'm very careful and make small enough pancakes I can avoid this but I am not always careful. I want a griddle. On my stove. Or at least this one. But I don't make pancakes often enough to justify buying one. Mom has one but it's on top of the cabinets and I couldn't get up there.
I never feel like making them in the morning. It's another thing I will do if there is someone else around. At Mom's I made the batter the day before. A double batch. I put a bunch in the freezer for her. I do that for myself sometimes. I made them last night. I ate a couple as I went and made one slightly larger with the end of the batter. It was nice and round. I ate it. I now have three containers of pancakes in the freezer.
I can't stop tweaking the template. But I have in fact written about my funny looking pancakes.

Happy Martin Luther King/inauguration pancakes.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Mommy Food

The beet and artichoke salad with black been soup.
I think I do a fair job of cooking for one but I am always more inspired when cooking for someone else. Maybe inspired isn't the right word. It's just that there are days when I don't want to cook but if someone calls and is coming over a switch gets flipped. I want to cook for them. These yearly extended visits with Mom always mean lots of cooking. But cooking for Mom is limiting. All she wants is soup. I can put a protein, a carb and a veg on a plate and she'll go on and on about it being so much food! I can put those same three ingredients in broth and she might have seconds. No matter how she protests about the amount of food she always has room for desert. And several sweet snacks during the evening. She isn't interested in trying anything new and once thought a roasted beet and artichoke salad was "too weird".

She loves the soup I make. She praises me and tells everyone how great my soups are. Meanwhile I'm thinking of all the things I might do if I were not so constrained.

Her thinking is bent from years of dieting. She binges and purges. She's been on so many liquid only dietsin her life. I remember her sitting at the dining room table sipping from a can of some liquid diet thing. She doesn't purge much anymore but she talks endlessly about how fat she is. She really isn't. After I'd been there a month people were telling her that she looked like she was losing weight. She checked and had lost a few pounds. She wasn't happy because it was only a few pounds.

I do like knowing that I'm feeding her good food. Then the holly-daze began and there were cookies, candy and such.

When she's here we go to Debbie's Mom's house for dinner and lament our lack of leftovers the next day. This year Mom invited friends and I cooked. She wanted sweet potatoes with marshmallows. Not my thing but I made them. I insisted on mashed potatoes and gravy, which was a fight because it was "too much". I made green beans and brussel spouts. Mom made cranberry sauce and a mince meat pie. Her friend brought a cranberry salad. I bought a legless turkey because I wasn't paying attention in the store but it worked out. We had versions of the dinner for days afterward, which more than made up for our leftover deprivation. I had enough turkey to freeze.

A few weeks later my cousin decided to come visit on his birthday. He intended to take us out for dinner but I didn't want to miss my opportunity to cook for him and his partner and brother (also my cousin). I roasted a beef tenderloin. Made mashed potatoes, asparagus and biscuits. I made an apricot and cherry upside down cake, which I try to do every year because it's Mom's favorite. It was fun and appreciated. 

I baked fewer cookies than I usually do but I made several different kinds and we had fun distributing them to Mom's neighbors. I insist on good food for the actual holidays. We had clam chowder on Christmas eve but I got sick on Christmas. We had Campbell's chicken noodle that night. I crave that soup when I'm sick. Made me sad though. I had purchased  scallops, which I tossed in the freezer.

Debbie sent us her caramels and brittle and a variety of caramelized nuts rolled in cocoa powder. Mom bought me a box of Sees. Mom used me as an excuse to buy a lot of stuff. I don't actually like boxes of mixed truffle candy that much and I can't eat much sugar in the coarse of a day. I'm really only interested in chocolate. But she buys it all "for me" and eats most of it. I think she did gain weight but really, it's the holidays. I am always annoyed by diet talk but during the holidays I am completely intolerant.

I made the scallops for New Years eve with pancetta, mashed cauliflower and asparagus. I made cinnamon rolls at some point and waffles and pancakes. When January arrived we were back to soup. I left her with a freezer full of soup, chicken stew, macaroni and cheese, spinach lasagna, pancakes, waffles, corn muffins and biscotti.

She really never liked to cook and now she hates it. She makes very good whole wheat bread in a bread machine and she makes good blueberry muffins. Every Sunday she made us poached eggs on English muffins and Morning Star sausage. She took me out a few times. I had more iceberg lettuce in three months than I've had in decades. I had a pretty great hamburger at Five Guys. Great is a relative term because if I had to choose between five guys and not fast food type burger I'd choose the latter but it was OK. They pile so many French Fries in the bag it's impossible to finish them. Interesting experience.

I've been home for two weeks. Haven't cooked more than a scrambled egg. I've been eating delivery and sandwiches. It's been good. But it's been cold and I find myself craving red bean and kale soup. Ah well. Soup is good.