All of this flying, eating out and not running is taking its toll. When I’m home, I just want some California fresh greens and a nice workout. I’ve cooked quite a bit recently but didn’t have time to document it: 10+ lbs of pulled pork, cole slaw and potato salad for our housewarming/beer tasting earlier this month and 8 lbs of pork shoulder, sausage and bacon for a triple pork ragu for my family a few days ago.
On one of my trips to the grocery store to load up on supplies for my cooking marathons, I picked up some arctic char. Unfortunately, it was artificially colored but I was not in the mood for a white fish salad. I sprinkled some creole seasoning on top and pan fried it in a little butter (skin side down first). I served it over a kitchen sink salad of mixed greens, apple (the last one from our CSA box), carrots, garbanzo beans, avocado and orange with sesame soy dressing.
For my first time cooking arctic char, it was perfect! Moist and neither over- nor undercooked. Unfortunately, I have no tips…I just took it out when it looked cooked.
When I cook, I think of my mom. She loved to cook and took joy in feeding others. In addition to cooking for my family and volunteering at a soup kitchen, she spent over twenty years lovingly preparing snacks for 2-5 year olds at a local Catholic preschool. As early as fifth grade, I remember helping her write the month’s snack menu; I even worked there as an aide for a few summers in high school. When she passed away, they created a garden to honor her:
I grew up when a little junk food wasn’t a big deal because we expended most of that energy riding our bikes, roller skating and running around the neighborhood. One of my favorite things she made was what she called space balls: honey nut cheerios covered in melted marshmallows and peanut butter. On special occasions, she dipped these balls into chocolate.
We had friends over for dinner on Monday and went to a potluck at my cousins’ on Wednesday; I didn’t have much time to prepare dessert but I was feeling nostalgic. These peanut butter rice krispy treats take about 5 minutes to pull together, about as much time as I have after work.
This scotch ale was Joel’s pick. We are quite proud of our third batch of homebrew: it has nutty caramel flavors and a robust finish! We debuted this, as well as our Berserker Breakfast Stout, at our housewarming and I believe it was well received by friends and family.
Yes, lamb again! I saw this recipe for hearty lamb ragu in Food & Wine and had been craving it for a while. Unfortunately, I travel often for work (since the beginning of the year its been almost a few days a week). On the few days I’m home, I like to spend time with friends and family…I also try to squeeze in a little exercise…which doesn’t leave as much time to cook at home as I would like.
Last Sunday, we got home early from Lake Tahoe so I had some time to make the ragu for the following day. My only adjustments were to add two stalks of diced celery and to swap the pancetta for bacon. On Monday, we had a few friends over for dinner and served the lamb ragu over some whole wheat pasta. Since it is asparagus season, I sauteed some with garlic and butter as our veggie. The next night, we had another bowl of lamb ragu with sauteed cabbage, spinach and garlic on the side. It was amazingly good!
Next time, I would probably add some tomato paste for some extra tomato punch. Lamb chunks aren’t cheap but I would probably add an extra 1/2 lb of meat just to make the ragu a little more meaty.
I’ve made this soup before…but this time I tripled the mushrooms (brown, white & portabello), added potatoes and prosciutto (because I needed to use it) and threw in a dollop of sour cream. The prosciutto didn’t add much but it also didn’t make it bad. I love this soup!
On Thursday, I bought a Le Creuset 7.25qt dutch oven and a 9×12 deep lasagna pan. They’re not cheap and I definitely thought about these purchases for a long time…but then I realized that like my mom’s vintage pyrexes, these will last me a lifetime. Can’t wait to use my pretty orange vessels!
I got the meat grinder attachment for my KitchenAid mixer recently so thought I would try to make some northern thai sausage. However, I haven’t bought the sausage stuffer attachment yet so instead of sausage links, we made sausage patties. Two pounds of boneless chicken thighs resulted in two batches of sausages for several meals. Read more…
It has been years since I’ve made canh chua though I have never made it with traditional Vietnamese ingredients. When I first moved to SF from the East Bay, I had Filipino roommates who made a similar tamarind soup (sinigang) with the same Knorr tamarind soup base packets. Sourcing ingredients for their version was a whole lot easier than my mom’s version.
Last week I was craving soupy rice during a trip to 99 Ranch and picked up everything I needed for a “traditional” Vietnamese canh chua (at least in my household):
- Bac ha – a spongy celery-like vegetable I’ve never cooked with before; thinly sliced 3 pieces
- Ngo om – a green that I’ve also never cooked with before
- Okra – about a dozen sliced in half
- Tomatoes – 2 large tomatoes quartered
- Catfish – 2 steaks…definitely would use more next time
- Shrimp – 1/2 lb…put it in later next time
- Bean Sprouts – 2 fistfuls
- 1/2 can of pineapple (I’m too lazy to cut a fresh one myself)
Thanks to Wandering Chopsticks for the inspiration and guidance. I used the Knorr packet but used the recipe to understand which ingredients I needed. Normally, I would have called my mom to ask her. Sadly, she’s not around anymore so I have to rely on the internet.
I served this over white rice with a side of our first batch of overly-salted Thai chicken sausage (next post coming soon). The picture isn’t the best because I was hungry!