Category Archives: food

First Photo Essay By John John: Dinner Prep Ritual

We were getting food plated for dinner.  John John was super antsy, due to hunger and being almost 3 years old.  He found my phone.  He touched buttons until he found a photo app.  He took pictures.  I let him because, even if an iPhone was ruined, at least dinner would be served.  Little did I know that he would capture everything so beautifully.  I’ll be happy to remember dinner this way forevermore.

From plating to being seated at the table, I give you John John’s first photo essay:image image image image image image image image image image image image image image

Dinner Time Stay-cation

The experience was akin to an International Cafe commercial (Anyone remember those? “Jean-Luc!”).  Sitting at the dinner table with my family – imagine it:

I’m holding a bowl of soup up, inhaling the rich scent, looking through the gently curling steam at my loving husband, chef and creator of this amazing dish.   The buttery-richness of homemade stock mixed with kabocha squash.  Every sip brought the soft focus back to this dinner time pastoral, blurring out the loud and fussing toddler just out of frame to my left, probably throwing food on the ground and shouting no or something like that.  Another sip.  I look out the sliding glass door to see the fading colors of yet another beautiful sunset.  The perfect end to what must have been a perfect day.  “Honey,” I didn’t say because I don’t call anyone that, “this soup is perfection.  Every swallow is like going on vacation.”  I actually did say that second part.  And it was true.  So rich and sumptuous.  So yummy.

That’s when I learned that, in addition to kabocha squash and chicken stock, the soup also had an entire stick of butter in it.

Whatever.  I don’t care.  Calgon, take me away…

Like Father Like Son

We ate soboro chicken last night – the closest thing to comfort food in my world and Japanese to the core.  Chicken and egg with flavorings of shoyu and dashi and sesame oil, some mirin, garnished with a piece of nori.  The added bonus is that it’s incredibly fast to make, so we were able to sit down to a family meal.   John John has been really excelling at his use of the fork, so this may have been his first experience eating soboro with one bite having many flavors combined: chicken, egg, peas, seaweed.

“I’m so glad John John can grow up in a  world that knows seaweed,” I sighed.

And immediately realized how empty that sounded.  But seriously, growing up in Newhall, CA,  I’ll always remember when ‘sushi’ was a disgusting foreign dish with raw fish – if anyone knew what it was at all – and I was teased for the rice balls with seaweed in my lunch box: “Seaweed? Ewwww!!  Gross!!”  That’s when I felt the need for lunchables, but back to this post.

“Can I have hot sauce?” asked John.  I looked at him askance.  “Is that wrong?” he said.  I gave him some, because who is to say what is right and wrong with all of the mixing of flavors in the world.  If there can be Korean Tacos, John can eat hot sauce on soboro.  “It’s good,” he attested.  I’m too set in my ways when it comes to this comfort food, so passed on using the condiment as much as I do love it.  But John John pointed to the mostly empty dish of hot sauce.  “Mo,” he said, and signed “please.”  I put some on a piece of chicken and he ate it.

“Yum,” he said. “Mo!”

“Can you say, ‘please’?” I asked.

“Pess,” he replied.

He ate the rest of his meal with hot sauce.

Starter

20141209_145919

This is day two of the seed culture for a wild yeast starter. I’ll use it for baking bread. I had one for several years in Bushwick. Once it gets started, it will need weekly feedings of flour and water, and it can live indefinitely. This is my first in California.  The bubble at the top right is air produced by yeast activity. It’s alive.

Tomato Sauce

sauce recipe

Tomato sauce recipe.

tomatoes

First I cook the tomatoes in their own juices. This was when I took them off, after about thirty minutes.

garlic and tomato

Pass the tomatoes through a food mill to get rid of most of the skins.  Fry the garlic, add the tomatoes and other ingredients .  Cook on low for an hour and a half.  I let it cool and freeze it in deli pint jars.

freezer

They are organic early girls.  They were a dollar a pound at the market, I asked the guy if he’d take five bucks for ten pounds of ones that were soft or split, but no mold, and he agreed.  I made this the day after.

Breakthrough

coffee breakthrough

It’s not much to look at, but this is the second morning in a row.  I’ve had a breakthrough.  Since 2009, I’ve been making espresso mostly every day, and trying to draw anything, a rosette I guess, in the milk.  I am the type of person who enjoys struggling without instruction.  What I learned is that you can draw by pouring the thin milk from greater height, and then zooming in and pouring the foamiest milk closer to the surface, zooming out and pouring the thin milk again.