Saturday, March 7, 2009

the dinner files, jan-feb

my job has been sucking my lifeforce since the beginning of the year, and ridding me of all motivation in my day to day life. a list of things i've ceased doing include, but are not limited to: blogging, being nice to people, making friends, sleeping well and finding joy in life. this, of course, needs to stop. i mean, there are seriously at least 50 amazing dinners i have failed to share. here's a brief catch-up:

ultimate vegan mac and cheese. they all say it, but i win. my recipe takes every ingredient ever used in a vegan mac and cheese - cashews, nutritional yeast, soymilk, potatoes, you name it. and it's perfect.

some lavash wraps w made, with marinated/fried tofu & homemade caesar. he has a knack for recreating our favorite restaurant dishes in a way that deems said restaurants completely unneccesary. this one ruined pure luck for us.

mediterranean pizza night! sounds fun, right? i had a loooong work day and was being a real bitch. w knows that the only thing to do in this situation is to make pita pizzas. then popcorn.

asian dumplings, obviously w's creation. some sort of tvp/cabbage filling with wonton wrappers in a sour broth. i also ate the mushrooms, which is a barometer for the overall success of a meal. if you can disguise the taste AND texture of a mushroom to the point where i will eat it, you've done some serious food science.

tofu henge. our favorite midnight snack is buffalo tofu (bufftoes) with celery and homemade ranch. this is the one and only thing that i consistently make better than his majesty. the presentation, however, was all him. this snack always reminds me of my friend kk, who used to work at a pizza joint that was frequented by one of our favorite cavs players, z. ilgauskas. he ordered the "buffalo toes," and drank like 15 sprites.

homemade "feta" revisited, this time in stuffed tomatoes.

beautiful valentines calla lillies. and beer.



Saturday, February 7, 2009

amuse bouche

on my first trip to the LA library, i spent about 45 minutes trying to find the cookbooks. 6 floors?! apparently, cooking is filed under "science and history." i guess that makes sense. every book i had planned to look for was already checked out, so i reached a little - after all, there are entire books devoted to garlic, to stone fruits, to booze.

i like to read cookbooks like storybooks. i like to hear the author as a writer, as a personality, i read them cover to cover. as previously stated, i'm no chef - more an appreciator of food!

w was so sweet to gift me a copy of the produce bible by leanne kitchen, my favorite of the library's offerings. can i tell you how much i love this book? the bitch breaks down every fruit, vegetable, nut and herb known to woman. divided by type, she explains how to source, choose, store, compliment and prepare all of the classics, along with every oblong green spotted thing at the bodega that's never labeled but's always 2 for $1. plus, she includes a brief history for each item. seasonality, nutrition information and the fruit/veg/nut/herbs history is also addressed.

i do have one criticism of the book, and this isn't veganaziism: some of the recipes she included stray too far from the star ingredient. it makes sense to include spaghetti with arugula and chili in the arugula section - the arugula shines, is complimented. bacon breakfast muffins, however, are not the best use of shallots. seriously, do you know how much better one could honor the shallot?

while the recipes are not particularly useful to me, the wealth of other information in the book makes it one of my favorites.

consider endive. have you ever braised or fried these babies?

and the humble potato. i've made homemade pierogies before, but never thought to accent them with various mustards, lemon and dill.

other cookbooks were never able to make me actually prepare squash. when i read their history, i simply had to eat one.

besides, ain't vegetables pretty? no need to over cook, over season, over think.

just amuse your mouth . . .


Saturday, January 17, 2009

sensory memory

there's really nothing like narrowly avoiding catastrophe to make you start to enjoy the little things in life. take, for example, grilled plantains with a squirt of lime. i was in the mood for dessert last night, which is rare for me. w, his mouth feeling a bit better, had cooked up a melange of semi-firm foods, including spicy black bean burgers, roasted beets and baby chickpea cutlets with some inventive sauces.

fried 'nanas was a delicacy i often enjoyed back home during the summer months at one of my favorite restaurants, johnny mango. cleveland weather is truly volatile, and i savored those 40 HOT days a year i could meet my friends on their patio and split a pitcher of margaritas. johnny mango was my favorite place to be. though my midwest sensibilities attributed this to the booze and plantains, i realize now that i loved this place because of the time spent there with friends. i've been missing my home base friends a lot lately, and that snack actually made me feel tequila-drunk on the memories.

i'm happy to be enjoying 350-some days of perfect weather a year, but margaritas will never taste the same.

Friday, January 9, 2009

the new year soup

a happy new year, it was not. in fact, it was the scariest day of my life.

w was hit by a (presumably) drunk driver while riding his bike home from work on new years eve. he doesn't remember being hit, he doesn't remember getting home. he doesn't remember big chunks of the following day in the er. the amount of blood was incredible.

he's home now, back at work tonight in fact. broken nose, fucked up hand and leg, scary-level concussion. scary scary scary. every night, i wake up ten times, hover my hand over his mouth or on his chest, just making sure...

the past week, i've been completely overwhelmed with love and admiration for this person. we're so close, and imagining my life without him is impossible.

after the first couple days, he was ready to cook. it had to be something soft - his palate and teeth still ached. this is the first lentil soup that ever brought me to tears:

watching him chop up the vegetables, stir, season. watching this precious man, who i feared i could lose only days before, i could only cry.

i am so thankful, and i know that this year is going to be special, every single day of it.