Friday, July 19, 2013

Food

My foodography includes seasons of vegan eating, convenience eating, ethnic eating, vegetarian eating, happily married eating, pregnant eating, Mama eating and now.... I just eat. Anything and everything that looks and smells delicious.

I have always loved eating food for its own sake and in its natural state. My Mom grew up in California and raised us on lots of whole foods. She cooked and baked too, but I remember meals of avocados, squash, artichokes, mushrooms, asparagus, cabbage- just with a quick sautee' or steam and maybe some butter and salt. Grant still teases me that my ideal meal is often just a bunch of sides.

I think my Mom raised us that vegetables were not arm candy for the entrée. They weren't an afterthought or a filler- they were brilliant and should be left alone with their own goodness, with a little salt to bring out the flavor. Vegetarianism was an easy lifestyle for me and 13 years later, I still wasn't tired of veggie goodness. I wasn't that good at cooking other things however and didn't know much about experimenting with spices, heat or seasonal options.

Then, SWF vegetarian anthropologist meets SWM meat and potatoes economist and the food universe imploded into a black hole of food to consume while camping, traveling, moving, and drinking. Food as afterthought. Neither of us really liked to cook so we didn't really. We loved having dinner parties, but usually threw an assortment of things on the hibachi or tossed some sort of pasta with fresh vegetables. A few loaves of bread with olive oil, chips and salsa, crudité platter- a dinner for kings and queens. We met a guy who owned a wine store around the corner from our place in Denver- that was probably the first food-ish thing we did together. We sat around the wine shop in the evening and acted like we belonged there... worldly, experienced and would never drink any f***ing Merlot.

Our time in DC was different. We started making friends that had *kids* and actually stayed in and COOKED. I will never forget bowls of thick hot potato soup with no less than five ramekins of options for toppings at our first dinner with friends. Inbetween conversation about politics, music, and traveling our friends were blowing on plastic spoons before putting soup in the mouths of their hungry baby bird children. The babes weren't at a separate table, eating separate foods. They were noshing on bacon, sharp cheddar cheese and dark rye bread. That recipe for potato soup is still my go to recipe for feeding a crowd- it is my ultimate comfort food. And that idea of how to combine family and food was the beginning of something very important for me.

By the time we moved to State College, I had discovered that cooking was fun. I got subscriptions to Vegetarian Times, Food and Wine, and started scouring used bookstores for cook books. We decided to have "Soupy Saturdays" a fabulous idea that never materialized but in our heads was a full day with a farmers market trip for local ingredients, veggie prepping, hot stove stirring, amazing soup dinner that probably ended with sex on the kitchen floor. We never really had even one Saturday with no plans and I still have the thick green and blue stoneware soup bowls that I found at a kitchen store in Annapolis, never used. And every time I pack them up and move them to another home I remember the vision for our romantic soup dinners.

My pregnancy with Purslane was the end of my vegetarian season. I was so sick the first three months and by the time food was even something I could think about again I was willing to eat whatever would stay down. Also, the Bradley classes we were taking to prepare us for a natural birth encouraged as much protein intake as possible. I got many a stink eye/encouraging word from Carla about my measly protein numbers and decided to explore the world of meat to expand my food options.

I have never looked back. Meat is so good. Especially bacon.

Cooking has become a huge part of my life. Because I am late to the game, I am learning techniques and methods and philosophies about food that are blowing my mind. Did you know there was a magazine (and TV show!) called America's Test Kitchen where every recipe includes step by step instructions and explanations about how every flavor and sauce and coating and rub and temperature and mouth feel etc etc etc is CREATED??? In other words, it is a textbook for cooks like me. Who have a general idea of what they hope the end product will be, but are more prone to skip lengthy preparations and merge steps together assuming they know more than whoever wrote the recipe??

I also love having Pursy in the kitchen with me. The "why" phase she has solidly planted her three year old bottom in is actually super helpful when I am working through a new recipe.

Pursy, I don't know why we are supposed to spoon the bread flour into the measuring cup instead of scooping it like we do with the all-purpose flour. I just don't know why. But we will look it up on the ATK website and find out.

I plan to start a new regular post on my blog with recipes we are trying that week. For example, right now I am really into Asian noodle dishes. This week I am making a cold Soba noodle salad dish with cucumbers and ginger, another night will be vermicelli with carrots, bell pepper and chicken with a peanut sauce. Am stocking up on mangoes and plain yogurt for lots of ice cold lassis. If you follow me on Instagram and are already familiar with how much I love taking pictures of food, it is only going to get worse...

What are you cooking right now? Are you experienced, novice, curious, apathetic??





4 comments:

  1. I would say I'm a novice but curious cook. I would like to get better but mostly stick with what I'm comfortable with. Until we have guests. Then I like to whip up something I've never made before because it's always more fun to cook for other people. I am a better baker. Unless it's pie. I need to work on more pies. - Jules

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    1. There has got to be a specialized cookbook out there for a thousand ways to eat a veggie burger. ;) I have been impressed with the recipes you make gluten free. That takes creativity, especially for someone who bakes. I agree that you need to work on more pies...am too far away to enjoy trying them but would love photos!

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  2. I love your food photos! Headed to a bread-making class about sourdough starters this morning and can't wait to learn how to do it! Do you guys do a CSA? It forces me to be adventurous in types of fruits and veggies and figure out how to use things I've never seen before, but are always amazing because they are in season. I think you would like it! Also most of the farms have fun events for families and I could see Pursy loving the visit-the-fields-and-animals days...

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    1. We have a local farmers co-op that offers an a la carte option in addition to the CSA- this is perfect for me. With two babes to feed who cannot live on kale alone, being able to choose what I have to work with that week is much better for me. We get the same local fresh produce,cheese,and meat but I can select my quantity or choose other things that fit better with recipes I want to try that week. We also have a killer farmers market 3 blocks from our house every Monday from June-October. The babes love it and I usually end up with some surprise purchases depending on what their little fingers can reach on the tables...

      How was the sourdough class??

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