Thursday, February 7, 2008

Behind the times and cooking like a chef

I haven't been able to blog in a while partially because the longer I go the more I think I have to say and therefore the more time I need to be able to complete a posting. Its tough to find a balance between wanting to share everything that excites me in the kitchen or on the road/trail, but it simply cannot be. I was running last thursday evening on the club run for SRC and was discussing blogging with Craig. We were talking about the idea of writing the story in your head instead of being fully part of the moment. He wanted to know if I found myself narrating during, say, a race. I think its interesting that sometimes I do, but not in the way that one might think. Instead, as I told him, I use it as a way of telling myself a story and convincing myself of an outcome. For instance, when I was running Mad City 100k last year, I wrote these silly one liners in my head and funny punchlines that at the time I thought would be perfect cliff hangers or hooks in my blog. Really what they were doing was convincing me to keep on moving. It is interesting because instead of it being a detractor from the experience it is in essence a big part of the experience. I also discussed the idea of what to blog? I basically blog about the things that stick with me. Which is why sometimes I blog a lot and sometimes I blog a little. It is also dependent on how I feel. This past week I have been feeling weighed down and melacholy, it is harder to find the sharpness of mind to make a good blog posting. Its just one of those weeks when I feel like I have so much to fit in my brain that I end up completely unable to do pretty much anything at all....

that said, over the past week(ish) I have made some delicious meals. As I have said before, alot of my recipes are written in a very "lazy" fashion. My measurements are not precise, cooking times not exact, etc. I am reading this book called Heat by Bill Buford and it is his journey inside Mario Batali kitchen, etc. I just read a section talking about recipes and chefs. He says and I completely agree that cooking is alot about feel. You measure with your hands and your senses. You feel the right amount of ingredients, you get to a place where its hard to say x+y=z. There is so much more to consider. And that is how I write my recipes. I write my recipes like I read recipes, I look at the ingredients, techniques used and relative temperatures and then I improv from there. Recipes are not exact to the food that inspired them either. Especially restaurant cookbooks you are starting with the creation and then trying to dissect it into units, ingredients, etc. My biggest advice to people when they want to get into cooking is to follow recipes, yes, but also try to learn how to feel your way around a kitchen. Just because a recipe says it, doesn't mean it is going to turn out the way you enjoy or the best way. Trust yourself in the kitchen.

Steamed veggies with rice noodles and peanut sauce

On thursday when I was running with Craig, all I could think about was how much I wanted Thai food. I was trying to think of places (and there are many) that I could go have a good bowl of veggies and noodles. When we got done running, I decided instead to just make it my own self, after all...who can customize a dish better for me than me? I headed off to whole foods and what I created was delicious.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 - 2 cups rice noodles cooked (according to package)
1 package baked garlic teriyaki tofu (I like Wildwood brand)
1/2 cup broccoli
1/2 cup cauliflower
3-4 bok choy leaves
1 medium carrot
4-6 tablespoons Roasted Garlic Peanut Sauce

garnishes:

scallions (about 1 stalk)
peanuts, chopped
cilantro, 2 tbsp

Directions:
Steam the veggies. Cook the noodles. Toss the sauce with the noodles and warm through. Add veggies, cook until warm. Plate and put garnishes on top to desired specification.


Grilled Asparagus and Halibut with Romesco Sauce

I am pretty sure that most people know how to grill asparagus and halibut to their own specification, so I am only going to post the Sauce recipe. This sauce is awesome. I also prepared some simple roasted blue and red potatoes with garlic. I chopped them small, so they were crispy and melty all in one. This was my first time eating fish in over 6 months. I made this for my mom so she could share in the joy :) It was nice to be back cooking fish, after all in school I was the fish master and astonished even my instructors with my ability to cook it so well.

Sauce:
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 clove garlic
1 jar roasted red bell peppers (12 oz), drained
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
t teaspoon Smoked Spanish Paprika (normal paprika will work, but you lose the smoky flavor which makes this sauce pop)
3 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:
In a food processor, chop the garlic finely. Add the roasted peppers, almonds, vinegar, and paprika and process until chopped. With the machine running, pour in the 3 tbsp oil and process to form a course sauce. This sauce should be served at room temp and is great on fish, new potatoes, as a sandwich spread, on grilled veggies etc.




Vegan Posole
Posole is chilis step sister or something like that... in a Cinderella kind of way. Chili wants to keep Posole locked in the house doing chores because it is so damn tasty. I made this for my uncle last night, though it is one of my specialities since it was what I was in charge of making for my Bauman College showcase. I haven't made it in a good long time and it was absolutely delicious. I had made some ancho chili paste (second picture) which gives the posole its kick and a deep deep flavor. It is so flavorful and delicious.


Recipe is forthcoming....

3 comments:

  1. Devon, you need to add food photography to the list of things you love and do well - part of your dream job? Yum and wow.

    As for the blogging - you touched on things I also think about a lot in your discussion with Craig. I think it's great that you let it add to rather than detract from your actual moment. I really hate when I narrate what I'm doing. But long before blogging, even as a kid, I would narrate certain moments. "The girl walked up the driveway, hot and lonely on a sweltering day, with absolutely nothing to do." I know. I'se weird.

    So for me, I have to be careful that I don't take myself out of the moment in my haste to try and describe it before it's done. Oh - I think artists and writers and photographers all have a hard time "turning it off." You know? They are constantly critiquing, measuring, assessing... It's not a bad thing but it's there. Okay, sometimes it's a bad thing.

    So, clever punch lines and cliff hangers are totally cute - you're onto something!

    Thanks for sharing even through the blahs-- I think these in between months, with colds and flus and lack luster training going around -- have been sort of creatively squelching everyone!!

    I loved your last sentence. Trust yourself in the kitchen.

    :) See you soon on paradisiacal Orcas Island!

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  2. Talk about cliff hanger...no recipe for the second meal? You're killing me! Oh well, it can't be better than the "oriental" ramen I just whipped up (I know...it's bad, but sometimes I just can't resist some fatty noodles with MSG)

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  3. Kendra- I would absolutely love love love to be a food photographer as well. I enjoy the whole process.

    I was the same as a child, narrating everything...maybe thats why I studied creative writing in school. It is as you said both a positive and negative. I have found that with ultrarunning I have had more ability to turn it off or utilize it than have it as a detractor, thank goodness for that. I do sometimes have to roll my eyes at myself though...

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