It’s a little-known fact, but meal planning is made so much easier when friends call up and offer to bring you a dozen soft-shell crabs and help you eat them.
Normally I flour and fry crabs and make tartar sauce, because that’s how Milo loves them and it’s hard to argue with the merits of that preparation. But this time around I had a hankering for Malaysian flavors, and a quick rummage in the fridge produced everything I needed to make a convincing, if utterly inauthentic, facsimile.
August means that the good stuff starts showing up in quantity out in the garden. It’s the season for all the shiny tomatoes and peppers, and fat potatoes, and glossy eggplants in white, lavender, and midnight purple. The basil is rocketing skyward. Even in this year of half-assed planting and rodent ravage, there’s still a ton of food out there. It makes dinner so effortless.
Pulled pork takes time. The essence of great barbecue is a long, slow smoking that infuses the meat with deep flavors from both the smoke and the spice rub, and then sets it off with an unctuous swaddle of tangy, sweet, spicy sauce (whatever type you swear by; I’m not getting into a fight about it). But it can’t be hurried.
Except that it can. I’m not saying it’s every bit as good as the slow version, but it’s damn good nonetheless. And you can make it in two hours if you have to.
When it’s hot, it’s hard to cook. But the cravings of children (besides ice cream, that is) rarely correlate with the ambient temperature. So it was that I ended up cooking the other night, albeit as little as possible.
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.