Archive for category Food
So much going on; so little I feel like posting a word about.
Today I present a cheat post. I made soup for somebody, and they asked me for the recipe. I hate being asked for the recipe. I don’t hate it because my stuff is secret. I don’t hate it because it takes time to write something up. I hate it because it always makes me feel like a disappointment, because I don’t really have useful recipe information.
I have one friend who likes to watch me cook and try to write down a recipe for herself while I do it. She’s always asking me “how much” of something I used, or she gets distracted and misses a few steps and comes back and wants a recap. I just want to throw things at her (but I rarely do), because what I want to scream is “I DON’T KNOW!” which sounds pretty Alzheimer-y, since I just did it 5 minutes ago.
But I am usually working to feel, look, taste, or smell in the kitchen, so I am not paying attention to what I am putting into the pot, and the amount of it, I am busy focusing on what is already in the pot, and how it is changing based on what I do.
I rarely bake, because I don’t like recipes, and with baking, they are a lot more important.
Anyhow, I typed up something about the soup I made, that they requested a recipe for, so I might as well post it here too.
I don’t like cream of mushroom soup, and never have, so this soup was not designed to be a cream-less cream of mushroom soup. I just wanted a mushroom-y soup.
I don’t cook with recipes and pretty much every thing I make is different each time I make it, because I try to use fresh ingredients. I design my menu around what I find at the grocery store, rather than planning my shopping list based on my menu.
So, I might know I’d like to make mushroom soup, go to the store and not find any mushrooms I think are fit to use, but usually I find mushrooms, it is just that the varieties that look best (or the price points) change which ones I want to buy. The qualities of the ones I end up coming home with, change what seasonings I use in the soup, since I am trying to enhance certain flavors.
So, the mushroom soup I made the other night, has the same basic idea as all my mushroom soups (mushroom + liquid blended together = soup), but the flavor nuances are totally different.
The other night was about a pound of crimini mushrooms (basically the common white mushroom, but slightly more flavorful), and one large grown up version, the portobello.
I sauteed a small amount of diced onions and 4 minced large garlic cloves in olive oil. I cleaned, sliced, and salted the crimini mushrooms, then tossed them in with the onions and garlic and drizzled more olive oil over it all. Stir it up a bit then put a lid on it and turn it to low to sweat the mushrooms down.
Then I added some fresh rosemary. I don’t know how much, I do it until the pot smells like mushrooms and rosemary, but not so much that it just smells like rosemary. I can’t smell the onions at all, because I really do use a small amount, to enhance flavors but not make it at all onion-y. I could still smell the garlic, but it isn’t overwhelming the scent of mushrooms. Mostly it smells a lot like mushrooms.
Then I took it off the heat and begin adding chicken broth, which I often do from a box, but I happened to have made chicken broth from scratch recently and still had enough left. I use an immersion blender to pulverize the mushrooms, and blend it all together into a thickened soup. I add the broth a little at a time, until I get the soup consistency that I want. I cook it in a much large pot than the amount of soup I want, so that I can do the blending without as much mess. It could be done in a blender too, but I have an immersion blender, so I don’t need to pour stuff into a blender and then back into the pot. I totally ❤ immersion blenders. I take it off the heat before I do this so that I am less likely to seriously injure myself when I splatter soup all over me. I always splatter soup all over me while using the immersion blender. Once it was the consistency I wanted, I sprinkled in a little paprika and covered the soup and put it back on low heat.
I chopped up the portobello into little cubes and in a pan and sauteed those with olive oil, salt, and a little bit of garlic powder. I often do this with a bit of bacon too, but didn’t for this particular meal, because it wasn’t a *”fat” Tuesday.
Then I stir that into the soup, so that there is more variation in texture than the blended up soup mixture had on it’s own.
That’s about it. I do a bazillion other variations on it.
* The friend I was cooking for does WW and has a weekly weigh in on Tuesday morning. There is traditionally much extra “healthy” eating on Monday to prepare for weigh in, and then Tuesday is celebratory gluttony. When cooking for this person, I try to make point friendly meals most days of the week, and make meals on Tuesday night that would leave the meeting leader rocking back and forth in a corner muttering gibberish.
One of my many happy things about being back in the Los Angeles area, is the food. I missed the restaurants, but I also missed the produce and the ethnic markets fiercely.
Lately I’ve been enjoying garden bounty: Squash from one person with an overflowing garden. Lemons from another with heavy trees. Tomatoes from a friend who is growing more than her household will eat.
It is such a wonderful thing. Because it is fresh, the flavor and nutritional values are higher. Because it is free, the financial benefit is awesome. Because it is what is available right then, it forces me to think of ways to make use of them, which often leads to meals I wouldn’t normally think to shop for.
Most of all, for me, food is so much about caring. When the ingredients are gifted to me through my network of human connections and interactions, it ties me to the positive. As I cook, I think of where ingredients came from. I think of whom they are going to feed. I think about ingredients loved by people I love. I think of the last time I prepared a dish, and who I fed that time, or of whom I would like to feed with it. I follow the threads in my mind as I chop and mix and sample.
Onions and cucumbers came from the CSA last week, and my daughter requested a cucumber salad. As I prepared it I thought back two summers to being in New York City, when a different CSA delivery led to a different cucumber salad. It was prepared by a dear friend as we worked together in the kitchen to create a feast from CSA items and food treasures collected at a nearby market. I know this is part of why my daughter wanted the salad too, because of her memory of that NYC salad, and because the friend was extra on our mind because she had a birthday this week. Every future cucumber salad will always remind both of us, of that one, and no other will ever be quite as good, because some food moments are so right.
With my bounty of tomatoes I made gazpacho, which is pretty much a perfect summer treat. It makes some use of the lemons as well. Lemons can be used pretty much daily in cooking, especially during the summer, which is the perfect time for multiple salads. Anything to stay cooler.
I’ve been cooking on the grill a lot lately, even things I wouldn’t normally cook on the grill (like banana bread). This is because it is fuck-all hot and I don’t want to heat the kitchen up further. The rest of the tomatoes I slow cooked into a delicious tomato sauce using the grill. I suppose all this unattended cooking out there could eventually lead to my house burning down, but whatever, in Southern California I can survive without housing longer than I can survive without food.
Half of the tomato sauce is in the freezer waiting for another use. The other half, I simmered ground and seasoned lamb patties in. Those I served over portabella mushrooms, stuffed with a mixture of spinach, goat cheese, extra garlic, basil, and pine nuts (and cooked on the grill, of course). The abundance of squash has been sliced up, lightly salted, spritzed with ACV and grilled. Everything gets grilled.
The heat has been leading to a desire for cooler and more refreshing cocktails as well. I brought home mint the other day so the bartender could make me mojitos. The peels from the cucumbers for the cucumber salad, I used to flavor vodka overnight, along with mint sprigs. Then that made cucumber mint spritzers the next night.
The heat wave finally broke yesterday, after a week of evil yellow ball in the sky trying to kill us all weather. It is still summer though. It will still be a grilled dinner tonight with refreshing cold side dishes and beverages, just with less lethargy and overheated misery.
Today was good. Indy continued on her road to recovery, so the weight on my shoulders from yesterday, eased. It was kind of a rough night, and I will probably be spending a second night downstairs, but, really, things are MUCH better. Still, rough night equals not enough sleep, which is just no fun.
Watson’s playdate got canceled, but I was able to get somebody else to bring a good natured Golden over for a romp on the deck. She was a little too good natured, and she didn’t do enough reprimanding of Watson being a booger, but still it was a fun evening, and included sharing a bottle of wine with her owner. Plus, the Golden got Indy extra alert and best of all created a bunch of wagging, which had been missing since surgery.
Red fox sighting today! So cute. I’ve seen foxes a couple of times before in the area, but today was the first daylight one. Actually, my mother saw a fox while walking Watson today, and then we all saw one from the back deck. I don’t know if it was the same fox, but it seems likely. It’s about the right time for kits. I wonder if there is a den nearby, filled with cuteness.
Lamb burgers with feta cheese for dinner. Lamb is good food. Perhaps I could lure a fox with some of it.
I also have some fresh strawberries in the house and have been experimenting making whipped cream with liqueurs. Last night was Disaronno and tonight was Grand Marnier. This also led me to thinking I was to try making a Limoncello ice cream this summer.
Thunderstorm tonight, time to find out how Watson feels about thunder. Hopefully he’ll be as easy going about it as all my other dogs have been.
Tilapia has become quite the trendy fish lately. I see it on more and more restaurant menus. I hear people talking about eating it. I see it in “regular” (i.e. middle class) grocery stores at prices far above what it used to sell for.
I have never eaten it, and don’t have any desire to. I’m not saying I won’t ever eat it, but I certainly won’t be making the choice to order or buy it myself. This is fairly odd, because I am generally an adventurous eater who is up for trying almost anything once.
Tilapia used to be a “trash” fish, very cheap and found in markets in lower income neighborhoods, and I never saw it on restaurant menus. Now, that isn’t what I have against it. Lobster used to be a trash fish too, and I quite enjoy lobster.
I feed my own dogs (never the fosters) a raw food diet. Now London was kind of known for eating anything and everything. He never want off his feed for little illnesses, he has only ever turned down food when he was literally dying. He also ate a door, a remote, a box of tampons (including the box, but carefully removing the wrappers), a Costco sized bottle of Liquid Advil, and the list goes on.
Because a lot of what is great to feed dogs are odd cuts of meat that don’t often make it to the typical middle class white bread American table, I often shopped at ethnic markets or markets in poorer areas in order to find things like chicken feet, and lamb heart and the like. I like to give the dogs fish, especially being a husky and a husky mix, which as originally bred consume a lot of fish for protein source, but I don’t feed it all the time because of the expense. The dogs always looked on it as a special treat, and London was especially fond of salmon.
Then one day I spotted tilapia in the market. It was below my protein price point for dog food, and I quickly bought a package to take home to the dogs.
I prepped their food bowls that night and plopped them down and both dogs dug in.
Then both dogs spit out the tilapia and stared at me, “What the fuck is this shit?” No amount of coaxing or refusing to offer them anything else would convince them to eat it. They carefully ate all the other things around it, and left behind the tilapia in disgust. They think cat turds covered in kitty litter is the best treat ever, and they outright refused to eat tilapia.
So yeah, whenever I see it on a menu, or hear people talking about making it, I always just think of it as the one thing that London totally refused to eat.
It just isn’t appealing to me.