Monday, November 16, 2009

Birthday Feast

Yesterday was my husband's birthday.  We celebrated with a feast last night.  I made sure to include all his favorites - what he likes to call the trifecta (lime, cilantro, and jalapeno) and chocolate.  Most of the produce ingredients came from my garden which made me really happy.  Ever since I realized my honeydew plant was actually the long-lost tomatillo plant I thought never grew from last season I've been inundated with tomatillos, so it was good to use some.

I slow-cooked a big hunk of pork butt (actually a cut of the shoulder) with onions, garlic, and cumin, then seared it off in the broiler and made an amazing green-chili/tomatillo/lime/cilantro/pork drippings sauce that was totally outrageous.

I served the pork with some chipotle-cheddar mashed potatoes and grilled onions.  Definitely a winner dinner.  :)  I think my husband's favorite were the brownies with home-made double chocolate ice cream though.  It was devoured too fast to even get a picture.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Chez Jacques: Inspirational

I just spent my wonderful afternoon off from school looking through "Chez Jacques: Traditions and Rituals of a Cook"  I love this cookbook.  I think it's probably my favorite of all.  It isn't about the recipes, although the ones I've tried are definitely fantastic.  It's really about the deep love of food, how food infuses life and makes it richer.  The pictures in the book aren't just of food but paintings which Jacques has painted (not only is he one of the most accomplished chefs in the world but a good painter) and pictures of him spending time in his environment.  These last are the pictures I love the best.  One shows him sitting with a friend by a stream with some wine and a picnic.  They have the wine bottles tied up in the stream and their feet dangling over the edge and it just looks so peaceful and comforting.  I would love to spend a day by a stream with a friend, great food, and some chilled wine.

The pictures demonstrate a concept that I've been thinking about a lot myself lately - how food, friendship, culture, family, and the environment all intertwine to enrich life.  It makes me want to go out and hunt mushrooms in the woods, or sit on a lake by myself and fish, or cook comforting French food with my husband.  It also makes me wish that American life was less stressful and more about the things I mentioned above.  We spend so much time running around, working, stressing out, and don't devote the time needed to create deep friendships, to become close with our family, to enjoy nature, or to really taste our food.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I've noticed that since starting a garden (a picture of some summer bounty is on the left) my food philosophy has changed quite a bit.  I find myself thinking seasonally much more than I used to.  This might sound a little hokey, but I almost feel like my body and mind are a part of everything and if I listen closely enough to myself, I find that I crave the foods that are in season.  In the summer I want fresh salads, fish and seafood lightly prepared, crisp white wine.  In the fall I start craving stews and thick slices of bread and dark red wine.

In the spring I planted eggplants, melons, tomatoes, squashes.  Now with my fall garden I'm eagerly waiting for my leeks, shallots, winter squash, and radicchio.  I like the feeling of changing with the seasons.  It feels very natural to me and comforting somehow.  I wonder where all this comes from and how my body keeps track of seasons.  It's strange because I live in this hot desert and it doesn't even resemble fall right now but I want the fall food anyways.  Regardless of where it comes from,  I'm going to embrace it.  I'm thinking leek and zucchini soup and roast for dinner.  And maybe some Pinot Noir.

Summer Party

A few months ago I catered a small party for a friend. The food was a pretty big hit. I did tostones with chicken and mango chutney, goat cheese balls, hummus, herb dip, flat-bread with swiss, ham, and onions, and skewers of veggies, chicken, and beef. I wish I would have taken more pictures - I thought it was a really pretty setup.  I think the two favorites were the ones above - the goat cheese balls and the tostones.

Monday, November 9, 2009

My Element

I just finished reading a book, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything It's about finding your personal passion, or your element.  I've been on a hunt for my element for many years.  After reading this book I realized that I'd already found it years ago, but I've been trying to get away from it for some reason.  My element is food.  Hence the name change on this blog (it used to be A Food Affair).

I don't know why I tried to deny my passion for food.  I guess part of me wanted something sexier, more refined.  I wanted to be a painter or a novelist.  Chef just didn't seem to command respect in the same way.  There's no fighting it though - I keep coming back to food.  I am happiest in the kitchen.  I don't know if this passion was something I was born with or if it was developed over the years.  I see now that fighting it will only make me miserable.

Thus the re-birth of my food blog. I hope to have many new food adventures to share.  I hope you enjoy coming with me on this journey, as I re-connect with my passion for food.