Sidelined with injury, I’m not going to be cooking a whole lot for a few days, so I thought I’d put up something about the vinegars’ progress. It’s been a very satisfying endeavor so far, and I encourage everyone to give vinegar-making a shot. It couldn’t be easier, and the rewards are many. My first post about it can be found here.
Month: February 2011
Winter break found us in Vermont, where the weather cooperated wonderfully; after some fluffy flurries, the sky cleared and the mercury surged. Traveling farther North this time of year may sound counterintuitive, even masochistic, but the rewards were many. Bright sun and above-freezing air made for wonderful cross-country skiing through the silent woods, on the frozen brook, and around the meadow. A bracing breeze offered a perfect balance to the warm sun, and the cloudless sky was a resplendent cerulean vault. There’s not much better medecine for late-winter malaise than being vigorously outside celebrating the season’s beauty and low-friction environment. And such exertions make for serious appetites.
A friend sent me a link to this tirade about “foodies” in the Atlantic recently. I get the point, but the piece is so full of strawmen, surmise, and hyperbole that it robs itself of any real impact. I guess that’s not surprising, since The Atlantic continues to employ embarrassingly sloppy corporatist hack extraordinaire Megan McArdle as their Business and Economics editor. She’s so bad that she actually almost cancels out the brilliance of Ta-Nehisi Coates. Evidently they envy the New Republic’s plummet into ignominy and uselessness and are keen to follow.
I remember being in China with a group from college for six weeks; at the time I was a vegetarian and couldn’t get over the nerve of the so-called carnivores who would recoil in horror at half the dishes put before them. That squeamish hypocrisy is absolutely a legitimate target for scorn and mockery. Plus, they ate all our broccoli and tofu because beef tendon? Eeeeew! And pompous, bombastic gluttons like Jeffrey Steingarten are just that. (Also, if he needs a week of afternoons to plan to make ribs, dude is as out of his depth as McMegan).
You know how Coldplay sounds like diet Radiohead? That’s how regular bacon tastes compared to the miso-cured version; miso bacon is deeper, tangier, creamier, and has much more umami. The enzymes in the miso soften the meat while the salt and sugar firm it up; the result has a different density and is more sensual. The profound flavors of the miso add overtones to the meat, giving it a haunting complexity. It’s so very good.
Friday I went down to
have make lunch with for Claudia and her Mom and friend, and on my way home I stopped at the good fish market there and picked up some things. Among those things were some beautiful sushi-grade yellowfin and opah and a small container of ikura. Other treats went in the freezer for another time. After the impromptu free catering gig, this stop was an excellent idea; there’s not much that I find more inspiring than gleamingly fresh seafood like this. I was most cheerful as I washed the rice.
The last couple of days have marked a change; the sun is higher and warmer, and things melt quickly when it hits them. There’s still a ton of snow all over the place, but even a thick coat gets greatly diminished by a few hours of sunlight; a half-assed morning shoveling makes for immaculately snowless paths by afternoon. Thoughts turn to seeds, and compost, and mulch. And dinner. A smidgen of foresight led to the welcome presence of some ground turkey defrosting in a bowl of water come dinner time tonight. That foresight did not alas extend to the other several items on the shopping list which I somehow managed to lose between the house and the store, but such is life.
Some bakers delight in churning out dozens of different kinds of bread from multiple cookbooks, ranging far and wide in their study and pursuit of great bread. I am not one of those bakers. I began with the recipe and wild starter that Andrew gave me, and have slowly been changing it and making it my own based on lots and lots of attempts and modifications (and accidents, the importance of which to any creative process can not be overstated). And I’m now at the point where I’ve got my master recipe, which I can adapt into many different shapes and flavors without altering the basics much at all.
I’m busy, so I have a backlog of posts that I want to write but haven’t found time for yet. This is something from a few days ago, and illustrates a principle that may be my very most favorite of all kitchen truisms: that charcuterie and a well-stocked pantry and freezer can make seriously high-quality food appear as if by magic in next to no time at all.