Monday, July 11, 2011

Epic It-Feels-Like-Saturday Rooftop Feast

What an epic day, thanks to Miss Morgan. (Dear, START A FOOD BLOG. :*)

We started off at the Renegade Craft Fair - I feel like that will need to be a separate post, because I have so many beautiful cards and crafts and wonderful treasure finds. But alas, they have not yet been photographed or scanned, so that will have to wait until tonight when I get home.

Here's a snap to keep you tided over until then:

We spent the rest of the day recovering from the overload of people and crafts and crowdedness with an EPIC rooftop feast. Joan invited us into her beautiful home (full of crafts and found objects and art) and we assembled a buffet the likes of which has never been seen.

Clockwise from left: cheese plate with 5 kinds of cheese + white nectarine + orange, caprese salad, wine with swedish fish "ice cubes," and homemade guacamole.

Clockwise from left: toasted brie with apples, walnuts and honey; salami; cured salmon with peppercorns; smoked salmon; basil.

Heading up to the roof.. (+semifreddi's sour batard!)

First plate (of many):

Miss Joan enjoying the sun:

Aaand last but not least me & Morgan each wearing one of Joan's beautiful handmade wood-burned earrings. This girl is amazing - from what I could gather, her parents are woodworkers and toymakers, so she works with a lot of recycled and organic wood and other interesting found objects. So inspiring! Keep an eye out for her work under the name Sentient Salvage, coming soon.

I couldn't believe how inspired I felt by Joan's home - she's lived there on and off for about 7 years, and you can absolutely feel the love and warmth she has infused into her home. So many different art pieces and hangings and knickknacks, and yet nothing felt cluttered and everything was very clean and tidy and easy to maneuver. Definitely a house made for comfort. I am inspired to nest more in my own home! I always have this vaguely anxious urge for flight, to not get attached to anything or anyone. But we become attached to people and places whether we want to or not. Why NOT nest in my own home, regardless of whether I'll be there for a month or a year or a decade? It's a hard mental block to get around, but I think it'll ultimately feel really good.

I've already got three new projects going:
  1. Rearranging my bedroom so my bed is diagonally in the corner by the window (love sunlight on my bed in the morning!)
  2. I found a white nightstand down in my garage, and am going to paint it sky blue and buy new knobs and replace my wobbly stack of milk crates with an actual bedside table. Plus it's got doors and two shelves, plus a drawer. Perfect! And free!
  3. I have an old oval mirror that's pretty chintzy, but I was thinking of stringing some ribbons or wire across it and making it a necklace or earring display. I love mirrors.
Feeling pretty inspired (although exhausted from everything) and ready to craft...

Friday, July 8, 2011

Music Music Everywhere

Here's a playlist of what I have been listening to recently (Google Reader folks, click out to the real page and you will see the handy Grooveshark widget below):

And to follow up on that Single-Girl Meals post, last night I made:
  • open-face toasts made from buttered (earth balanced?) rosemary-potato bread
  • with slices of cherry tomato on top
  • and sharp cheddar cheese melted on top
  • plus a small bowl of raspberries
  • and a glass of limeade.
I ate it before I thought to take any pictures. Because it was delicious.

Seafood Fair Day!

I love my job.

I love my job.

Did I mention I love my job?

Today at work was the second day of Google's "Think Global, Catch Local" Seafood Fair. The courtyard outside my building teemed with speakers, signups for volunteer events, and most of all FOOD (with hungry Googlers bearing down voraciously).

Here we go, bear with me if you can:

Summertime Citrus Halibut Ceviche with Brioche Crouton and Micro Cilantro
Caught by Johnny Le on "The Le"

Fritto Misto! with Lemon Aioli, Romesco and Bagna Cauda
Anthony Russo and Steve Fritz
Monterey and Half Moon Bay

Local Dungeness Crab Louie W/ Lemon & Tabasco Condiments

Abalone Ceviche Shooter with a Mock Pineapple Mojito (the abalone was a little too tough for me but GET A LOAD OF THAT PRESENTATION!!)
Caught by Fisherman Doug Hayes on "the Adventure Boat"
Pillar Point Harbor, Half Moon Bay

Clam pizza from Pizza Politana (sounds like a bad double entendre, sorry!)

Vietnamese Crunchy Sand Dabs in Lettuce & Herb Wraps
Caught by Captain Steve Fitz F/V "Mr. Morgan"
Half Moon Bay

Miso and Tamarind Black Cod Lettuce Cups with Forbidden Rice, Pickled Vegetables, and Crispy Won-Ton (unbelievable!!! really light and delicately cooked)
Caught by Josh Churchman on the "Paulo"
Half Moon Bay

But perhaps the most revelatory moment for me was when I stopped by the Hog Island Oyster Co booth, fueled by a stubborn unwillingness to actively dislike any food I haven't tried about 80000 times. The first oyster I ever ate was at my old boss's 4th of July BBQ. Having an old man going "Eat this! Eat this!" without actually explaining to you what it was, and ending up with a mouthful of fishy, gluey oyster did not exactly leave a good impression.

Since then, I've eaten oysters once or twice, but have never seen what all the fuss was about. UNTIL TODAY. Turns out the guy working the booth was someone I went to high school with (and I definitely didn't remember, but he remembered me :/) and he instructed me to take one of the oysters, put a little bit of mignonette sauce on and a squeeze of lemon, then tip the oyster into my mouth and chew. And it was MAGNIFICENT. A rush of briny saltiness, the tartness of the lemon, the herbal mignonette sauce. I ate two before the awkwardness of the high-school encounter drove me away. But I could have eaten 20!! HA! Another picky food habit falls by the wayside. (But so help me God, I will never like bleu cheese.)

Aaannnddd finishing it off with a goat milk ice cream sandwich from Oakland's very own La-Loo's.

Today is the best day.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Dad's 2010 Birthday

It's always so hard to get good presents for people, especially when you're in the mid-20s no-man's-land of money where you are earning enough to get by and even live nicely, but you're not sure how long it's going to last. More often than not, I find that unless you're going to get someone an iPod (or books, knowing my friends) it's often more fun for everyone involved to do 1 of two things:
  1. Assemble an awesomely creative gift basket based on something you already know they like and maybe want to learn more about.
  2. Design an experience that you know they will love and will be relatively low-cost.
So for my dad's birthday last year, of course I set out to create a painstakingly-crafted themed cookbook for my dad, using my bookmaking skillz (of which I have fewer than I'd like) and zero time to work on it. I willfully ignored the 2 unfailingly-successful types of birthday gifts.

Admitting failure as his birthday came and went (sorry Dad!), I went with Strategy #2 and gave him this cookbook and a certificate entitling him to one dinner, chez moi, cooked from that cookbook with yours truly at the stove.

The date: July 2nd, 2011.
The location: my house (speed-cleaned!)
The menu:
  • Roasted garlic with Laura Chenel goat cheese toasts
  • Blanched green beans with mustard-cream remoulade
  • Herbed polenta with sauteed cherry tomatoes
  • Seared ahi tuna
  • Rhubarb-raspberry tart
The photographic evidence:

The verdict:
  • I may have preferred the dessert to the meal... :P but Dad enjoyed himself thoroughly and a good, yummy time was had by all.
  • Limeade is the perfect summer dinner accompaniment.
  • Baking with a pyrex pie dish instead of a tart pan at LEAST doubles the cooking time necessary for a custard to set.

What an awesome experience! And I don't even have TOO many dishes to do.. the worst have been scraped and are soaking. I'm tired of being scared off by dirty dishes :)

Yours in deliciousness and (mostly-)successful experiments,

Hella Leftovers

In my typical roundabout, backwards way, I'm going to post what I made with the leftovers of last night's dinner before I post about last night's dinner. I'm awesome.

Last night I made seared ahi tuna for my dad as part of a very, very, very, very belated birthday present from last year. I'll post all about that in a sec, I promise. So today, I'm left with this big ole hunk of perfectly seared, sushi-grade tuna (the guy at Berkeley Bowl looked at me like I was going to throw the tuna away when I said I was going to sear it. Shut up, fish-man, shut up) that I paid almost $20 for so there's no way I'm gonna let that puppy go to waste.

I flipped through all my Bon Appetit and Food & Wine magazines (it's too hot for the heavy weight of a cookbook on my lap) and finally stumbled upon this recipe for Soba Noodle Salad with Salmon and Asparagus, from Apr 2011. Now, I don't have salmon. Or asparagus. But I do have tuna and green beans (also from last night).

Definitely a good use of the leftovers. Only thing I'd say is that adding some kind of citrus (lime, lemon, etc) would have made this a bit better but whatever. I didn't have any on hand.

Here's my approximation of my recipe, serves 2:

1-inch-round bundle of soba noodles (make a circle with your thumb and forefinger about the size of a quarter... there you go.)
1 Tbsp olive oil (ish)
1 Tbsp soy sauce (ish)
1 Tbsp rice vinegar (ish)
a squeeze of honey
a drizzle of sriracha
green beans (leftover)
1 green onion (medium)
6oz seared ahi tuna (leftover)
sesame seeds (for garnish)

1. Boil the noodles until edible but not falling apart. Drain, rinse in cold water until cool. Set aside in a cold water bath.

2. Whisk the next 5 ingredients together. Add salt and pepper to taste.

3. Chop green beans, tuna, scallion.

3. Drain noodles. Add dressing, toss. (To your taste with the dressing - I'm usually a less-dressing kind of girl but I liked it WAYYY better with more dressing. Also salt!!)

4. Add green beans, tuna, scallion. Toss. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

5. EAT.

I imagine this would keep for a few days in the fridge. Like I said, I found the dressing a bit boring - if anyone has a better one, let me know!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Single Girl Meals

More often than not these days, I end up at home after a long day wondering what I should eat. I don't have a roommate, I haven't stockpiled any frozen homecooked stuff for a while, and going out all the time tends to lose its magic.

I spent the first five months of my job being so exhausted from work and commuting that I would jump at any opportunity to go out and try a new place. And hell, I'm certainly in the right place for that kind of lifestyle. But after a while, it started to feel... empty. Places I would have raved about suddenly felt like thy had terrible service, dry food, and were too hot or too cold or too crowded or too loud. What happened?? Dining out always makes me feel like a princess - but suddenly i was wishing for my dad's roasted chicken, and ripe tomatoes with just salt that doesn't cost $12 a plate, and homemade soup.

The problem isn't that I don't like cooking, or can't think of things to eat. Here are my problems:
  1. Ingredients don't usually come in single-serving sizes, so I end up with more of don't-eat-this-by-itself things like sour cream and cilantro than I know what to do with. Seriously, what am I going to do with a whole freaking bunch of cilantro??
  2. Most recipes aren't written or intended for single-serving meals, and halving or quartering the recipe often ends up being awkward and difficult.
  3. I hate doing dishes with a fiery, burning passion. (This means that I cook once and my kitchen remains a war zone of steadily-evolving dish-creatures for the next month.)
So: what are my solutions??

Amanda Hesser (in Cooking for Mr. Latte, a froufy but great book of vignettes about her life, marriage and cooking) has a whole chapter about what to cook when you're home alone. And some of the recipes are great, like Truffle Egg Toast (although when am I really going to buy truffle oil?) and Single-Girl Salmon. But what I really want is a cookbook or a website or something that tells me - what the hell do I use all these random leftover ingredients for? And how do I avoid doing dishes at all costs? AND, most importantly, how do I keep my fridge from going to mold without being wasteful?

Well, I've grown up with a certain ethos, and going to a big college and working at a big company have kind of cemented it for me: No one's gonna do it for you, so you gotta do it for yourself.

Here's what I've been eating:
  • Greek yogurt with honey (Fage is the best, and getting the single-serving sizes is perhaps not the most cost-effective but it removes the dish factor and means I don't have to think about how long the open container of multiple-serving yogurt has been in the fridge for and if it smells weird. Shut up, I am neurotic. Maybe since my parents never throw anything away? The whole cheese drawer at their house has evolved into an entirely different breed of mold. BUT I DIGRESS.)
  • Pre-cut carrots sticks and celery sticks from Whole Foods + peanut butter.
  • More peanut butter.
  • Eggs & toast.
  • Fruit.
  • Annnnnddd.... that's about it.

Here's what I WANT to be eating:

And also these things:
  • Soups!
  • Homemade fresh spring rolls.
  • Anything with eggs, poaches especially
  • Summer fruit cobbler
  • Interesting vegetable and cheese sandwiches
  • Eggplant!
  • So much roasted garlic that the whole building has to evacuate.

So here goes:

I, Devora, do solemnly swear (from this weekend forward, where the looming spectre of my dad coming over for dinner means that I have to actually CLEAN MY HOUSE) that I will try my best to set aside time for cooking, will cook in bulk so I can freeze things and will figure out single-serving recipes where I can, will use the items in my pantry instead of just buying new food and will ENJOY the freedom to eat whatever I damn well want without anyone else to worry about. AND I also swear that trying is good enough, and not to be mean to myself when I just order some goddamn Chinese food and sit on the couch watching 30 Rock without pants on.


PS ALL I WANT IS TO TRY GOOGLE+. How is it possible that I WORK for Google and can't get a Google+ invite?? RAGE.