Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A New Cave for Jeff

OK, so I've mentioned before what a blast Jeff and I had grokking about, and after a few more visits, he has finally moved up to the Metroplex from down by Waco. I assisted he and his family during move-in, and we spent the next night and day eating, walking, unpacking, shopping, and arranging. It was incredible to be in someone else's place being cooked for in a VERY primal way! As such, I'm happy to share some of Jeff's handcrafted meals. These came from the Primal Blueprint's Quick and Easy Cookbook, if I recall correctly.

Jeff's Pork Stir Fry Stuffed Portabella Breakfast

The Return of the Bento

Once upon a time in a kitchen far far away, I began a blog to showcase the bento boxes that I thrived on. Much of my life and beliefs have changed, but some things remain the same: I love food and I love bento.

Bento boxes and all their little toys and cups excite me and make lunch that much more special. Though I'm certainly not afraid to dump good ingredients into a bowl and happily devour, there is something entirely special about cracking the lids of an artfully arranged, delicately balanced little lunch. Bento boxes allow for a sort of break in your day that removes you from the sit-and-scarf catches of 30 minute work breaks. They seem to be something of a culinary breath. 

Admitedly, I've not been attentively documenting or sharing my bento boxes with you so much anymore (sorry, if you need emotional support let me know), but I'm leaning to change that. Please, enjoy my bento. 

Kabocha pumpkin with cinnamon, Kale Avocado Salad
Egg salad and Sardine stewed in tomato sauce

As I ate this, I began to realize something. As a normal part of my life, I make a lot of things from scratch. I don't think about it, I don't make an effort to do it. I have simply become a person that does this. The egg salad was made from eggs that I get directly from the chicken farmer locally, made with my homemade mayonnaise, and included chives that I grew and pickles that I had fermented and chopped into relish myself. Crazy? It seems to be regarded as a little bit crazy. 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Ode 002: The Radish

In order to allow move on to important upcoming posts, I have a similarly important one to finish up on. This is my second Ode!

The radish: Crispy, refreshing, and bright when raw, cooling and juicy in salad, is a doppelganger of vegetables. It has the ability to suggest qualities of potatoes, water chestnuts, nuts, jicama, and potatoes-- but only suggest, and not emulate. The radish feels no need to hide his true identity, unlike many superheroes.

Red radishes, black and icicle radishes, Daikon and Mu-- they are so unexplored in Western culture, and I vote we change that, stat.

The classic little red radishes, (the "Oh-I've only-had-radishes-raw-in-salads" Radishes), begin our venture into the unnappreciated world of these coolly hot little roots. If you get a good radish-- really fresh radishes, from a good enough place-- they are NOT all that spicey. They still have a whisper of a bite that makes them interesting, but nothing eye watering. Try slicing them into coins and eating guacamole with them. Awesome. They can also be sprinkled around a roasting chicken or added to the roasting pan of veggies. The larger ones, quartered, and the smaller ones, halved or left whole, roast dry beautifully with seasalt and cayenne. They transform into something magical and silky when cooked in a wet environment and topped with butter and herbs.

The larger radishes, like black, watermelon, and icicle, have a very important place in my heart, and my kitchen. When you get out the mandolin (the one your mother gave you, with the melted edge), and slice these guys thinly, you are borderlining ceremony, for something spectacular is on the horizon. Toss these with olive and coconut oils, chili powder, sea salt, and black pepper. Now, bake them at 400 degrees on a pizza stone or something, 10-15 minutes on each side, until they crisp up. If you let them burn, they are bitter-- if you undercook them, they are soft-- but if you cook them JUST right and let them cool, they rival any kettlechip. They're done when they've gone black (but not carbon) all the way through.

Last but not least, we come to two gargantuan varieties: Daikon and Mu. Daikon is used grated in Japanese cuisine to add a cool aspect to salty grilled fishes for a refreshing palette cleanse. Without Mu (a monster, melon looking radish) we wouldn't have kimchee or kaktugi-- travesties, both! Daikon also works into chips as mentioned above, but tends to yield slightly softer results. Kiriboshi Daikon is a shredded, dried daikon, awesome to use in dishes to add texture and a mellow nutty sweetness. For radish kimchee, cube Mu (or daikon) and lots of green onions. Puree lots and lots of garlic and ginger with fish sauce, salt, and korean red pepper flakes. Put both vegetables and puree in a jar and shake like mad until evenly coated, then leave on the counter for about 5 days before chilling for another 5. Kaktugi! Like magic!

And with that, our second Ode. Tell me, have you yet to embrace these humble little beings? Tell me a radish's tale.

More to come, don't you worry.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day Snack

IMG_8365 by CaptainShen
IMG_8365, a photo by CaptainShen on Flickr.
Mom + Park + Snack = Awesome day.

Check out our spread!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Forage: Episode Two, and: A Little Instructional, Plus: too many punctuation errors in this title.

IMG_7714 by CaptainShen
So, on a morning sprint not too long ago, as the little town of Denton stretched its bright and strange eyelids, I found some mulberries. They were scant and the tree a tad sickly, but they did a good job of reminding me of one of my favorite pickin' trees elsewhere in Denton. I returned home with a LOT of them, only having picked a little of what the tree had to offer (of course I left the red berries to ripen for later pickings!). 250 grams, to be exact-- uh, minus the handfuls I threw back during picking.

I hoped on my bike after prepping my Foragin' Bag. It is imperative to truncate the 'g' on 'Foraging' when prepping your Foragin' Bag. It just helps you, you know, get in the mood or whatever. The following is just little stuff for a casual picking-- nothing too hardcore.

Bandana/Cloth* (to tie into bags to carry/clean up, whatever)
Ziploc Baggies
Hard Container (for dainty items)
Small Scissors
Small Flashlight
Of course, its good to have a guide-book and familiarize yourself with your area (really, if you start eating strange mushrooms and throwing back unknown berries, it is NOT my fault). On a simple casual outing you can expect to come back with the ubiquitous green onions and chives (a bit grassy by this time of year), dandelion greens (best picked before the yellow flower appears). Certainly with a little more romping you can find delightful little mulberries, wild blackberries, and pears. I've even seen wild asparagus and what I THINK was wild carrot (it was too young to tell).

Be careful, guys, and happy eating.

*I believe that bandanas are absolutely necessary for anything you do, ever.