July 2010


Last night, we had some delicious fresh Cod tacos with homemade escabeche, or pickled jalapenos. To continue on with the tradition of delicious, fresh summer fare, here’s a recipe for a great cool down summertime special.

Ceviche is the more widely known name for fish that has been marinated in citrus and served chilled. It is popular in Spain, Central America, and other tropical regions where fish is a staple in the diet. Other forms of marinated fish include tartare and Poke, both popular in Hawaii as a cool way to beat the heat. Any kind of fish can be used, but for what we’ve got around here, I like to stick with the Pacific Snapper, some great local Oregon Bay Shrimpmeat, and Scallops.

Scallop, Snapper and Shrimp Ceviche with Mango and Avocado

3/4# Sea Scallops, sliced horizontally

3/4# Snapper fillet, sliced on the bias, thinly

1 Champagne Mango, small diced

1 avocado, firm, diced.

2 stalks mint leaves, minced

1 bunch radishes

1 bunch parsley, minced

1 sweet yellow onion, minced

2 fresh tomatoes, chopped

1 chile, seeded and minced

4 cloves garlic

1 carrot, finely chopped

juice of two limes

celery salt

pepper

1/2# fresh cooked Oregon Shrimpmeat

Take your fresh seafood (except for the shrimpmeat) and combine in a bowl. Incorporate the fresh herbs and vegetables, garlic, etc., and add the lime juice. Season with celery salt and pepper. Mix all ingredients gently, and put it in the fridge to sit for two hours. The lime juice will effectively cook it, using a process called acidulation, to kill surface bacteria and provide a safety net for eating raw or undercooked foods.

After two hours, take it out of the fridge, stir it, and incorporate the cooked shrimpmeat. The fact that it’s cooked means that it needs no additional bang from the lime juice to deem it safer to eat.

Grab your favorite bag of tortilla or plantain chips and a cool glass of iced tea with some fresh mint, and use the ceviche in place of salsa for a fresh and delicious way to keep cool. Garnish with fresh parsley, sprigs of cilantro, or simply eat plain. Enjoy!

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So many people have mothers who can make a dinner out of anything. Can of mushroom soup, peas, a bag of Funyuns, and mashed potato flakes? No problem. Midwestern Casserole.

Grape Jelly, Ketchup, Beef, onion, and a forgotten jar of cranberry sauce? That’s a recipe for Swedish Meatballs.

Can of Tuna, Tortilla Chips, Corn, Cream Cheese, Broccoli, Ham, and Paprika? I don’t know what to do with that, but I bet someone’s mom sure does.

One of the measures of proficiency in the kitchen is being able to create a meal out of ingredients that you have lying around. It happens in restaurants every day. That’s why we have the “Specials” Sandwich board out front. Veal Piccata didn’t sell well last night? Turn it into Vitello Tonnato for tonight’s new menu item. It’s all about opening up a fridge, and being able to see the possibility rather than say to yourself, “Why is there nothing to eat in here?”

***

My first year in Culinary School, the dreaded final exams were upon us. We were given a hotel pan full of ingredients tailored to the strengths and/or weaknesses of each individual student, and given four hours to come up with an appetizer, main plate, and dessert of presentable quality. We needed to utilize every item in the box. In addition to the ingredients found in our box, we would have access to pantry items such as herbs, garnishes, etc., but the end result was a full meal that was presentable and tasted good.

Some people got simple boxes. In one, there were three chicken thighs, slab bacon, thyme, a carrot, and fresh raspberries. Another held a Pork loin, basil, rice, eggs, a cinnamon stick, some chicken stock, and prosciutto. Simple enough.

I was the outspoken student of the class, surprising nobody who knew me at or around that point. In my box were these ingredients: what looked to be wild Mushrooms, Alfalfa Sprouts, Onion skins, Fennel tops and Celery Leaves, Cornmeal,  Figs, Chives, two Oxtails, an Apple, and a Pomegranate.

I knew it was coming. My attitude did not lend itself to buckling under the pressure, but I had no ideas for any recipe other than the Oxtails, which I knew had to get on the fire as soon as possible to allow maximum time for the oxtails to braise. Utilizing the knowledge gained in our studies over the semester on various cuts of meat, I recalled that I needed to trim the excess fat off of the oxtails, sear them, and then create a braising liquid that was flavorful and would lend itself to the rich flavor of the oxtails themselves.

To the pantry for some fresh thyme. In a pan, I caramelized my meager vegetables to a deep brown and added a bouquet garni, and set it to simmer for a half an hour. When it was done, I went back to the fridge for a ladle of demiglace to bulk up the flavor. In a separate pan, I seared the oxtails, and then married the stock and the meat, pushing it into the oven to forget about it for an hour or two.

In the meantime, I made polenta with the cornmeal, poured it into a sheet pan, and let it set for searing off right before service.

I looked back at my box. Figs, the apple, wild mushrooms, sprouts and the Pomegranate. Oh, that damned pomegranate. What was I going to do with that?

The figs and apples were easy enough. I sliced the figs in half, peeled, cored, and sliced the apple, and caramelized them in a simple syrup and a lot of butter.I made a pastry shell and set it aside to firm up, and an hour later, rolled it out for a fig and apple tart, which went into oven number two.

At my work station, the sprouts and pomegranate chided me. They prodded me. They impelled me to wrack my brain to come up with something that I could fabricate to make a dinner. What ran through my head?  “Who the hell puts sprouts on a menu?”

I cracked the pomegranate. If you’ve never used one, there are a lot more seeds in there than one would think. Cups. Hundreds.

I put some in a blender and strained it. Nope. This would not be enough juice to reduce down to a sauce for the tart. Hmm. There was no way that I could leave them whole, was there?

Sprouts and Mushrooms. Ah, mushrooms. I debated for a long time what to do with them, and as the oxtails were coming out of the oven to rest, I figured I’d just use them as a garnish on top.

I set up my pan on the fire, and threw a pat of butter in. I sliced the mushrooms and into the pan they went over a low to medium heat. A couple stirs, and I could forget about them for a while.

The oxtails, in the meantime, were resting on the back burner. I pulled out the meat, defatted the liquid a bit, and let it reduce down. As I checked on my mushrooms, they were still tough. My exposure to mushrooms had been moderate, but I had never dealt with them under the gun, nor had I anticipated the problem that arose when they failed to become tender. Wasn’t that what mushrooms were all about? Being tender?

I pushed them off to the side in the pan, and brought out squares of now firm polenta to sear. I deglazed the pan with some white wine, and scraped all the little bits of flavor off the bottom. It wasn’t really hot enough to do so, but I did anyway, because as my deadline approached, it became quite apparent that I was getting a little absent-minded over certain things.

The pan was now hotter than I wanted, but I threw in the polenta anyway. It sizzled and crackled, and within three minutes, it was ready to flip. Upon flipping, however, I noticed that the black and brown bits had flecked themselves rather unappealingly over the golden brown surface of the polenta. It wasn’t going to be the most pleasant looking of dishes, but it would have to do. I could always drench it in sauce.

When it came time to plate, the mushrooms still weren’t ready, but the plate had to go out. I started with a dab of the sauce from the oxtails, then put the polenta on top. Straddling the disk, I balanced the oxtails on top of that, and put a spoonful of the mushrooms and a sprig of fresh thyme sticking up from the blob. I dressed it with sauce, attempting to salvage flavor and aethetic points, and then I looked back at my box.

Pomegranates. Sprouts.

Damn.

The maroon jewels were already shelled from the pomegranate rind, so against my better judgement, I sprinkled them around the edge of the plate. I put tufts of sprouts along the rim. Bad choice.

My plate, looking more languid by the minute, was brought to the panel of tasters. They took one look at it, and then read over the list of ingredients on my black box.

“Tell us what was in your box.”

I listed them.

“And tell us what you did here.” (Pointing to the plate with the butt end of a disappointed pencil)

“Well, I have braised Oxtails in a Demiglace with Sauteed Wild mushrooms over seared polenta with… pomegranate.”

“We’ll just move on from the pomegranate. It looks like discarded Mardi Gras Confetti. Did you realize that the mushrooms you used are actually mushroom stems?”

Oh, no. All my plans died at that moment. I realized what they wanted me to do. Mushroom stock with the polenta. Fig Bordelaise with the Oxtails. Pomegranate sorbet with Apple Strudel. It was all based around competencies, competencies that most of us had forgotten under pressure. That was the most important lesson that I could have learned that day. It wasn’t about the end product. It was about using your knowledge, but more about using your confidence in the kitchen to put together the pieces of the puzzle to make a fully realized piece of art.

I use the metaphor of the plate as canvas quite often, and perhaps too much, but it’s true. Start with a white plate. Your blank slate. With your meal components in hand, paint the picture. Great art has balance, whether it’s in the composition of subject matter for photographs or the contrast between light and shading in a woodblock print. You even hear people speaking of abstract artists and the balance that their paintings carry. With paintings that have gone on to become exhibited in galleries, you don’t hear, “Oh, there is too much red on this side of the painting.” It’s because they’ve practiced, and tucked away somewhere, there are hundreds of works that lacked that. When my instructors made the comment about the Mardi Gras confetti, I finally grasped what the whole balance thing was about.

A Well Balanced Plate

Garbage Plate. It even says it right there.

Garbage Plate. It even says it right there.

***

When I watch Iron Chef, I think about that day in my culinary career. I also realize that you can’t do everything in an hour, but that’s just the magic of television. The rapid fire challenges on Top Chef (I’ve heard. Never seen the show) test the mettle and quick thinking of those who have been in the kitchen for years. They know what to do in the blink of an eye. I’ve slowly been testing myself over the years to figure out if I’ve still got the eye for culinary creativity. I might be slower than I was in the past, but I think I’m more deliberate and careful about what goes on my plates. For the most part, I want it to be artful, have color and health, and taste good. I just want it to have balance.

First, I need ideas. I need inspiration. Something food related that I can go after and enjoy, or have my curiousity piqued with. There are a few things, but I welcome ideas from anyone who reads this for things around the area pertaining to food, restaurants, cooking, new trends, or things that you’d like to hear about. Here are some things around the area that have caught my attention:

1) Gooseberries. I haven’t worked with gooseberries for a long time. The last time I saw them, as a matter of fact, was in the tiny town of Mabel, Minnesota sometime in the mid ’90s, when we went on a hike through the back 40 of a family friend. From what I can remember, they’re difficult, tart beyond belief, and not terribly hospitable or forgiving. Challenge? Yes. Recipes? Not yet.

2) Just picked up a book from the library- The Food of a Younger Land by Mark Kurlansky. Yeah. That Mark Kurlansky. In the industry, great writer, wrote the books Cod, Salt, and The Big Oyster. All of these are important books to me that have contributed to my inquisitive nature over my food, where it comes from, how it got here, and why I use it the way I do. The subheading for the book is “A portrait of American food- before the national highway system, before chain restaurants, and before frozen food, when the nation’s food was seasonal, regional, and traditional- from the lost WPA files.” Any other recommendations?

3) We got jam in the mail. From the lady’s mom back in Connecticut. Maybe I’ll write about jam, home canning, preservation of foods, etc. (if you haven’t, check out Handmade’s post on canning your own food, with references to everyone’s favorite children’s book on canning, Robert McCloskey’s Blueberries for Sal: http://psoutowood.wordpress.com/2010/07/15/canning/)

Yeah, I know I’ve done it before, but it’ll be different this time. Really.

4) Grilling. I know I haven’t done much about grilling, but I haven’t grilled all that much. I look to those interested to provide me with some inspiration. I can grill almost anything, so long as it’s vegetarian or fish. Recipes, ideas, etc. are all welcome.

5) ____ of the week. Beer of the week. Recipe of the week. Fun food fact of the week. What would you like to see?

Coke Machine, Now with Pepsi!

Those are a few starter ideas. With that to get minds-a-poppin’, I’ll leave you with what I saw this afternoon. After going out for a mid-day meal of a grilled portobello sandwich and wasabi grilled cheese at the Hole in the wall known as Bleu Bistro, we walked up John Street in the direction of 15th. Right next to the tiny Ethiopian place we’ve eaten at before, there was this amazing Coke Machine sitting, bolted to the fence behind it. Clearly not a high trafficked area, it had been tagged and vandalized, but placing a hand to it, the motor still ran with the chill of a thousand tiny gnomes fanning each can. Looking closer, I noticed something interesting about the two buttons all the way to the right. In a tutti-frutti script, they seemed to read- MYSTERY!

How could I say no to that? My lone dollar I brandished, and stuck it into the oddly placed bill collector. Look at it. It’s right in the middle of the machine. How odd. I received my quarter in change immediately.

Hmm…So far, so good. Now, which button to choose? I chose the top one.

K-THUNK!

Oh, my! A beverage was dispensed! In a can! And it was cold? What beverage, you ask? Why, it was just what the Dr. ordered!*

* The Dr. apparently ordered MYSTERY!

I’m the first one to talk about going to the market, eating locally and finding the products that are in season, but here’s a thing that many of you suffering through heat waves may not have picked up on: It’s cold in Seattle. While everyone else is posting their facebook statuses of “Another 100 degree day here in (name of your city), it’s 70-75 degrees here at best on most days.

Our summer began on July 5th. We had a heat wave of low 90s for about a week, and then, the temperature dropped down to the 60s and 70s once again. The sweatshirts that I put away for the summer came back out of the steamer trunk, and I was forced to shiver my way through brisk Seattle mornings in order to make it down to the market, where I braved the winds of Elliott Bay whilst digging my hands in and out of frigid fish ice for hours on end.

I sit here now on a morning where the mercury has barely broken 65 degrees, my chilly toes tucked under my knees as I sit in front of the computer. This weather confuses me.

How can there be so much bounty during the summer months without the weather in town to back up all the wonderful things that you can do with these products? This should be the time of year when we make salads, eat fresh berries, or savor the sweet, refreshing crispness of an apple or peach. Instead, I sit, bundled on top of the down comforter that still has yet to come off the bed for fear of another cold night in the Pacific Northwest.

Last week at the Market, I stopped at Alm Hill Gardens, a little farmstand from Everson, Washington. Everson is located in an idyllic setting, a tiny pocket of Washington State just over the border from Canada, where I’ve been told magical things happen in the garden. Alm Hill is always the first farm to have tulips before the spring, and during the summer, they have weird looking yet familiar vegetables to fill a fridge. That corner of the United States is where an abundance of seeds and bulbs are harvested for Home and Garden stores across the country, and it stays green almost year round. When it’s snowy, the valley looks like Switzerland. In the Spring, the acres upon acres of tulips evoke a Holland or Belgium. With Summer comes an even deeper appreciation for all things verdant, as the fields burst with berries, green garlics, and variegated greens of all varieties.

This week, they had the chard and green garlic, some translucent yellow onions, and few hundred pints of berries for sale. With the cold snap that we’ve been experiencing off and on in the mornings, the berries must be incredibly sweet and sugary, but we’ve had at it with the berries for the past couple of weeks, taking advantage of fresh fruit while it is warm. The only thing that looks appealing in addition to the staples that I picked up were the bags of second run berries. “Perfect for Jaming [sic]”, they read. Although it’s cold, even I know that it isn’t jam season just yet. I chose the chard and green garlics. (Yeah, they’re garlic spears, but these were not quite as straight-stalked as the others, still falling in curlicue tendrils out of their twist tie bouquet).

With chard and garlic in the backpack, I trudged my way to the bus stop, and made the ride up the hill to the home. I made sure to catch the bus that let me off right outside my house, because I didn’t want to walk the four extra blocks from the 49 bus in the cold. As it happens on many nights, I came home hungry, and put the backpack on the counter, sweeping the cutting board out from the drawer in one smooth motion.

Down below the cutting board was the pan. Next motion, out with the pan and onto the stove. As the right hand closed the door to the cupboard, it drew up to the burner, flicking it on to medium.

Right hand switches to panhandle. Left hand switches to Olive Oil. Right hand rotates the pan slowly as left hand gives two swirls around the pan. Right hand puts pan back on the burner.

Now bend down to get an onion, the most dangerous of mincing vegetables. I say it is the most dangerous of mincing vegetables for a few reasons.

1) Tiny pieces. You need to cut them into tiny pieces. This, for many people, is a daunting task. They cut the onion in half and then butcher it with the slow method of cutting that nobody, not even Vince of Slap-Chop fame, would be proud of. The easiest way to do it, and the way that yields lovely little dices, is to cut the top and the root off, slice it once vertically, and then slice them 3/4 of the way, both vertically from top to root, and horizontally. You’re left with what looks to be the beginning of those Onion flowers that they serve you at your local neighborhood ChiliAppleFriday’s, but, you know, a little more reserved and portion controlled than that. Then, with your finger in the old standby claw method (where the danger comes from), you slice the attached matchstick looking pieces into dice. Is there a correlation between dicing and a six sided die?

Sidebar: As I am writing this paragraph, I can’t stop thinking about that onion thing. I’ve never had one. Is it just like a giant, beer battered onion ring? It’s one of those creations that simultaneously fascinates and disgusts me. I call this feeling disgastination. Just for a moment, if we will, let us take a look at the marvel that is the Onion flower.

Come on. You know you were thinking about it, too.

2) The tears. If you manage to cut an onion and remain in full force, digitally speaking, there are still the chemical repercussions of your onion reaction to deal with. Everyone will tell you that they have a way to combat these tears. Here is a short list of ways that I’ve heard will help, but in truth, do not.

  1. Wear Goggles- This does not work because it is dumb.
  2. Hold Matchsticks, matchheads out, in the corners of your mouth- This was allegedly started because people believed that the phosphorus in match heads, when inhaled in small doses, would counteract the vapor coming off the onion. If you breathed in through your mouth, you’d get the match scent. In through the nose, the matches were below your nasal passages, so they would go up your nose. I don’t know what they were talking about, but according to the hit show “Breaking Bad”, Phosphorus is found in the striking surface of the matchbox. Also, that show teaches us not to do drugs, I think. So just to recap- Match theory-Busted. And don’t do drugs.
  3. Buy diced onions- You are lazy.
  4. Rinse the onion before chopping- Where does your flavor go? Are you going to dip  your flavorless dish in the garbage disposal to sop up the flavor you lost? No? Okay. So don’t do that, either.
  5. Leave the skin on before you chop it- As a barrier to all the vapors getting up to you and clogging your head with salty tears of defeat? No. Do you like bits of onion skin in your onion? They burn in the pan and make your dinner look rustic. Don’t do that.

There’s no way I’ve found that really works, unless you get a fresh onion. Get one that hasn’t been deadheaded. That’d be one that doesn’t have the papery skin on the outside. For some reason, they seem less pungent and less aromatic that way. I haven’t seen them out here, but if you go to a farmstand and they have the really shiny onions, get those if you really want to make an attempt to not cry while you’re cutting onions.

So now, I’ve chopped the onion, and it’s in the pan. Slice a couple of cloves of garlic. Toss those in as well.

From my bag, I pull out a bunch of chard, slicing the stems and rough chopping the leaves. With the green garlics, I discard the rough stem ends, and whittle the pieces into 3/4 inch bits. Those go in the pan. So do the bits of chard.

Salt, pepper. Another splash of oil. A secret blend of herbs and spices known to the world as the amazing packet known as Saizon Goya. Let the chard leaves wilt.

Out of the freezer comes the packet of Morningstar fake meat crumbles. They’re actually quite delicious, and the only thing that I’ve found that mimics the texture of ground beef and gives enough body to stand up to the fixins already in the pan. Now, a note about this.

I understand that many of you have known about my philosophy on food, and on food substitutes from the vegetarian diet. 99% of the time, I can see using meat in a dish. However, if you know more about me than that, you might also know that I’m not a huge fan of red meat. I don’t usually go to a restaurant and order a steak. It will be fish, pork (although it’s hard to find a pork in a restaurant that is as succulent as they make it out to be, to pork’s sad discredit), or some kind of other interesting meat. Red meat in general has never left me feeling satisfied after eating it. It has only left me feeling bad. It’s heavy, doesn’t have the most pleasing flavor to me, and with all the things that people are doing with other meats these days, it’s fast approaching chicken as the meat that is the most boring one for me to work with. With that in mind, for something like the dish I’m describing, (which is tacos in case you have not yet guessed), these vegetarian crumbles fit the bill, and I like them, so there.

So then, those go in the pan, along with a fresh diced tomato, and then we let it all sit for a few minutes to bring the fully cooked crumbles up to temperature so that the dish as a whole will be delicious and filling while warm and satisfying on a not so warm night.

We get some cheese out, grate it, bring our friend Paul Newman’s salsa to the table, and then we enjoy some delicious tacos. The best thing about tacos is that you can put anything in there. Unless, like the Andyman so skillfully does, you strive for authenticity, there is little worry that you need to adhere to someone’s great grandmother’s recipe. It’s a pan full of flavors that go well together, and it tastes good. Today’s burritos, tortas, tacos, etc. do not taste like they came straight from Michoacan. When they do, it’s amazing. When they don’t, it’s your own creation, and it’s stuff in a shell of corn that tastes good. At our house, we call it tacos. It’s a good blend of something summery and something that will keep my toes, still cold, at least above the freezing point.

If I’m working hard all day, I  don’t have the time to sit by the stove and make a rich, layered molé. What I do have time for is to shop for all of the ingredients that make up groovy flavor profiles that I can be proud of as a home cook, home cookin’ meals like I do. The tortilla is the canvas. I merely paint.

Halibut Cheeks, Escabeche, Squash Blossoms, and Oven Roasted Tomatoes

We’ve been back from the East Coast for a couple of weeks now, and with a few stutter starts on posts, I’ve decided to compile all the short beginnings into one post. Here goes:

1) A few days after we got back, I was introduced to some of the lady’s friends whom she had met at the census. She invited them over for dinner for friendly conversation and good food. I had figured that we could trot out some old pescatarian favorites, like the shrimp and pears with fennel.

No, she said. They were vegan.

NEW CHALLENGE! How do I create a vegan meal with little or no animal products? No problem. I took the shrimp out of the main course, served it over rice, and didn’t add any yogurt to the curry used to coat it. It seemed to work, but without the cooling effect of the yogurt, our palates were set afire.

Also, as previously visited in a post, I went to Marigold and Mint down at the Melrose market, and made a salad with heirloom tomatoes, nasturtiums, a tiny head of tom thumb lettuce, pea pods from the madre’s garden back in Connecticut, fresh basil, a little balsamic, some olive oil, and some other stuff that I forget about. Here’s a picture:

See? It's a tiny head of lettuce, and all those other things I said.

So I made that salad, and they brought over some vegan bratwurst with vegan cheese, which I didn’t try. However, What I did make was a kind of raw pie, where I did a mixture that was half date puree and half pulverized almonds, with fresh strawberries on top. If you ever need a simple recipe that doesn’t have to be quantified as vegan, but just tastes good anyway, this is it. It was gone. Very quickly.

Moreover, that thing over to the right of the regular salad? That’s a vegan coleslaw. With Tofu something mayonnaise. And you know something else? It was pretty good, too.

2) Bisquick. The thing about bisquick is, for those who don’t cook, it’s amazing. All you really need to do, and all you should want to do, is make shortcakes all the time. As it is a favorite in our household, we make it often, and now we’re coming into berry season, so that means a lot of delicious shortcakes are coming our way. For the 4th of July, we had friends over to watch the fireworks over Lake Union from our roof. There was wine, and snacks, and for dessert, I did my patriotic duty and made shortcakes with strawberries and blueberries. The shortcakes were actually red, white and blue! Can you believe it? No. Neither can I.

3) Grilling. We went over to a friend’s house a week ago for dinner. With al the berries that I have been picking up from the market, I’ve taken to making desserts such as the afforementioned shortcakes, cobblers, and crisps. It just so happened that I had a Strawberry/Rhubarb crisp that I could make, and so I did. We had some shrimp in the freezer, which we thawed out, and I made a relish with sungold tomatoes, ajvar, melted onions, a splash of red wine, and some dried chiles. We tried serving it on a loaf of seeded baguette, but the bread was a day past its prime, and it ended up being too hard. I fought through it, as some of the moisture had seeped into the loaf, but in retrospect, it probably wasn’t the best thing to do.

In addition, we had roasted corn, cevapçi, (little lamb, pork, beef sausages with a lot of garlic), a lovely fresh salad with baby english cucumbers, fresh tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella, and lots of fresh summer melon. Top it off with the fact that we were in someone’s backyard out of the drone of overhead flight patterns, honking cars, boats and sirens from downtown. We were shaded by Japanese maples and bookended by a home garden and a little stream running through the backyard. After dinner, we all relaxed, and took a dip in the hot tub. I haven’t been in a hot tub for years, and after a long week at the market, during the crazy traffic pattern that is summer at Pike Place, a wall of water jets on your back is pretty much the best thing that anyone could hope for.

What else?

Oh, it’s taken me a bit of time to get back into the swing of cooking at home. I love to do it on a nightly basis, but occasionally, the motivation to cook is dwarfed by the aftereffects of a long day yelling and cutting fish. Fortunately, on the seventh day, God invented Sandwiches.

Here’s a shameless plug for a product that I really like, with a short story attached to it:

I’ve mentioned before the thing about the sandwiches. I’ve also managed to talk about my love for homemade or hearty breads. In the week leading up to the trip to Connecticut, I was sitting at home when I got a text from the lady. She told me that her mom was in adamant denial of the existence of a 15 grain bread. We hadn’t been able to find it at the local grocery for a couple of weeks, but she asked me if I were able to find it, would I bring a loaf out?

Of course I would.

And of course, I forgot.

When we got back, though, there was something else that caught her eye. One day I came home to find a loaf of Dave’s Killer Bread in the fridge. This bread had seeds, grains, crumbs, everything. We made grilled cheese with it, and it toasted marvelously. It has held up to every test we have given it, including my most recent adventure, the duck fat grilled cheese.

The label is filled with faux propaganda (“Say No To Bread On Drugs”), until you go to the guy’s website and read his story. On the back of the bag, it says, essentially, that he loved two things- drugs, and bread. People make mistakes, and this is his shot at redemption. I’m totally down with that. If you go to his website, he really doesn’t gloss over much of anything, but I really appreciate the work that it must take to reinvent yourself from the life that you’ve lived, and turn it around, making a successful go of it. If I had read the story (http://daveskillerbread.com/), I’d be more inclined to buy it solely out of personal support, but did I mention that it tastes delicious? Oh, because it does. Bold statements by Dave about himself. Really well rounded story.

That's right. It has that many grains.

Moreover, when you say you make killer bread, you’d better back it up. I think he did. Without further ado, I give you proof, everyone in the world, that there is bread with not just 15 grains, but even more than 15 grains. 19 grains just isn’t enough. 20? Keep going. This bread has 21 grains. And it looks very good. If you can, be in the Portland/Seattle area, and buy some of this bread. It is a bread that excites me.

So I guess that’s about it. I mean, I made some food. I ate some food, and I got to share it with a bunch of people. I’ve been attempting to cook dinners and things at home, and hopefully, I’ll be in the Christmas spirit soon enough, so that I can give and give and give, and fill the stockings of hungry children around the apartment with delicious puddings, fishes, and sauces in that ancient tradition, whilst singing “Merrily, We Roll Along” and sauteeing some vegetables on the stove. I’ll leave you with a particularly healthy dinner that we had just the other night. All that needs to be considered when you purchase your food is “Can you cook it, and do you have the energy to make it grand?” I don’t know about grand, but I tried to make it taste good. That’s all I can do, and I think I am content with that.

This is Roasted Ivory King. And green leafies, the leafiest of the leaves.