It’s Not What You Look Like When You’re Doing What You’re Doing, It’s What You’re Doing When You’re Doing What You Look Like You’re Doing

Instead of fulfilling my patriotic obligation by whipping myself into a shopping frenzy worthy of Todd Palin in the Sudafed aisle of the Anchorage Piggly Wiggly, I have instead been a near shut-in, toiling away on this infernal device making CAD drawings in advance of an upcoming show. It has been fun, in its way, since the steep learning curve offers plenty of satisfaction; increasing fluency is its own reward. The resulting drawings are even more exciting, and I can’t wait to get the hundreds of little pieces milled so I can paint them and put them together. It’s been a while since I learned to do something new at this level, and it feels good.

I’ve been cooking, but taking time off from this has been most enjoyable. There will be plenty more to write about in 2012, but I thought I’d put up some pictures of recent meals to assuage what is no doubt a mounting and febrile panic on your part that I haven’t been getting enough to eat. To which I say, “Smelts! With caramelized turnips and leeks!”

There has also been a trip to Chicago, where I made a pretty nice Christmas dinner, but apart from a few phone pics on Twitter I didn’t bother to document it. It’s been happening a lot lately, especially when there is company; the photography gets in the way of both cooking and enjoyment.

Before we left, I made my famous Korean chicken wings again, except they were thighs. Just as good, and with even more meat. I could eat these every night.

Seared scallops and polenta made another nice dish, with a messy but lubricious brown butter pan sauce:

And more seafood: damn good panko-crusted fried calamari with a wicked sauce of Greek yogurt, capers, relish, yuzu juice, and mustard:

Finally, a cold and congealed gravy puck left from roasting a chicken (and some of the meat from same) gave me inspiration to make pot pies. Roots from the garden, leftover creamy celery root soup, the gravy, herbs, frozen peas, and garlic gave some serious body and flavor to the filling, and the caps of crust of course dressed up what is just a big steaming pile of leftovers into something positively luxe.

Next year I’ll get back into this writing thing, I swear. It’s been a nice break, after almost six years of pretty steady posting.

6 comments to It’s Not What You Look Like When You’re Doing What You’re Doing, It’s What You’re Doing When You’re Doing What You Look Like You’re Doing

  • CAD? You are a renaissance man… is there anything you can’t do?

    Everything looks delish & been meaning to congratulate you for your Charcutepalooza score – well deserved. I’d hate to make that choice!

    Agree that the blogging and photographing tends to split the experience of being with friends & getting lost in any creative endeavor. I always think of posting after the event and I’m not that into it to re-stage the action. Maybe if blogging paid better…

  • you are a brilliant, passionate, talented, sincerely good man – and i’m honored to know you peter barrett. this much i know is true.

    happy new year to you and yours…

  • El

    CAD. You *are* a masochist.

    Parsley root is the most divine soup item ever; personally, we can’t get enough of the stuff and I often eye the real parsley just to rob it of its root.

    good luck with your show prep and happy 2012!

  • I vote for lubricious to replace unctuous in the Food Bloggers Dictionary.

  • Peter

    Christine: Do it to it.

    Jackie: Sometimes I’m just not willing to disrupt the flow of the evening. There’s a lot to be said for living in the moment sometimes, unconcerned with posterity.

    Claudia: And to you.

    El: I have some parsley root that’s just begging to be dug up.

    Marisa: I like it too.

Yours Truly



I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

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