crispy pork salad.

•May 28, 2014 • Leave a Comment

 

 

crispy pork saladThis recipe isn’t super revolutionary or anything but its something I invented and one of my favorite things to make these days. I buy precooked carnitas and throw it into a hot skillet with chopped jalapeños, onions and garlic, and any type of savory steak sauce like Worcestershire, bbq sauce, or this fancy Pepper Plant Chipotle thing I just found. While thats getting nice and crispy I heat up some black beans and corn, and toss that with butter lettuce, fresh chopped tomatoes, cilantro and huge slabs of avo. I toss the salad with Girard’s Champagne Dressing and tabasco, which is a very important detail. I plate the salad and then dish the sizzling shreddy pork pieces over the top, drizzle a little more Champagne dressing over the top, and a squeeze of lime. Its spicy and fresh and packed with summer-y flavors, mouth watering and super easy.

xo j.

 

buy it with thought, cook it with care.

•April 13, 2014 • 1 Comment

I found this in an online message board about food that I follow. It’s a poster made by the U.S. Food Administration in 1917 in order to promote conservation during WWI. I think its kind of awesome, and very worthy of a place on my kitchen wall.

 

fewd

 

xo j.

lord give me the strength.

•April 9, 2014 • 1 Comment

martini

 

 

I’ve already decided on my first post-baby meal: pf changs bbq spare ribs and a giant, ice cold dirty martini with olives. because I like my booze to punch me in the face, and fruity sweet drinks just taste like juice for children and I don’t have time for that. this is the only item on my “cannot have” list that I’ve craved, a list that includes soft cheeses, cold cuts, sushi, and other equally delicious things.

when I was younger and more poor I taught myself how to make the perfect martini, because the bars in San Francisco like to charge $12 for them and anyways I prefer to drink alone, in my robe, with my cats. here we go:

a chilled martini glass

the best vodka you can afford, I like Stoli because its only medium expensive and doesn’t burn my nose hairs when I sniff it

dry vermouth

stuffed green olives

martini shaker filled with ice

 

pour a hefty pour of vodka into your shaker, I err on the side of “more” because you can always top off your glass later. add a splash of dry vermouth. add a tiny dash of olive juice. shake that up and let it sit for a second, so it can get really blendy and cold. strain and pour into your chilled glass, and garnish with between one and seven green olives.

drink this on a warm California evening with your feet in a pool. drink this on a first date with your future husband and really impress him with your sophistication (true story). drink this on your couch and watch Real Housewives (Vicki Gunvalson prefers hers with blue cheese-stuffed olives, btw).

or, you know..let me make you one and drink this at my house, so I can smell your mouth. September is FAR.

xo j.

 

spring forward: green stuff

•March 25, 2014 • Leave a Comment

 

 

EDOC8200

 

aaaaaaaaaaauuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugggghhhhhhhhhhh yyoouu guuyys pregnaaaanccyyy isss disssgussssttiinnnggg aaauughh.

 

I haven’t wanted to cook or eat much of anything for the past 3 months. morning sickness is real and it is not joking around. a few times just opening my refrigerator and smelling the inside of it sent me running to the bathroom. I could write a whole post about how to stay alive when everything makes you barf (see: tums, oranges..thats kind of it) but the idea of writing it makes me want to barf, so it will have to wait.

this has been rough and its getting me down. one of the things I miss the most is the feeling of being hungry and enjoying what I’m eating. I don’t want to eat a steak, but I want to want to eat a steak, if that makes sense. I’m looking forward to cooking again soon, once the first trimester Vomit Olympics is over, especially since spring is approaching and all the tastiest, tiniest and tenderest stuff is starting to bloom and grow.

so, green recipes! my minty pea soup is one of my favorites, I have dreams about cella’s avocado mousse tarts, and greune sosse goes with everything. a few vibrant green recipes on my list to try this year:

grilled bread with lemony pea masharugula with roasted salmon and new potatoes. fresh green bean, walnut and feta salad. cucumber/honeydew/lime/mint sangria. tartine of peas, pickled onion, and egg. artichoke spinach pizza with white beans. nettle pesto pasta. are there any green-hued recipes that you would add to this list?

so. until this baby decides to stop trying to kill me and my unrelenting nausea finally goes away, I will continue hoarding recipes. and once I feel up to it I will storm into my kitchen with a whole arsenal of new ideas. barfing aside, I’m feeling super grateful and hopeful and ready for all the newness coming our way. new blossoms on the trees, new recipes to try, a new tiny mouth to feed.

xo j.

jawohl! glühwein!

•December 30, 2013 • 2 Comments

gluhweinthe German people are having a love affair with this hot mulled wine, a love affair that is deep and real. people drink it at lunch, in the christmas markets, at bus stops and in movie theaters. I even saw a large group of police officers standing in a circle drinking glühwein together, like ON duty. this is warming, spicy, citrus-y, when you inhale the hot wine-fumes the scent hits you like a holiday punch in the face.

3/4 cup water (or orange juice)
3/4 cup white sugar (or less to taste)
1 cinnamon stick
1 orange
10 whole cloves
1 (750 ml) bottle red wine

In a saucepan, combine the water, sugar, and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer.

Cut the orange in half, and squeeze the juice into the simmering water. Push the cloves into the outside of the orange peel, and place peel in the simmering water. Continue simmering for 30 minutes, until thick and syrupy.

Pour in the wine, and heat until steaming but not simmering. Remove the clove-studded orange halves.

Serve hot in mugs or glasses that have been preheated in warm water (cold glasses will break.).

j.

German breakfast!

•December 22, 2013 • Leave a Comment

germanbreakfast

 

 

one of my favorite parts about living in Berlin so far are the German breakfasts. my mom would make this for breakfast sometimes and it was always so tasty! a big cutting board heaping with cheeses, cold cuts, lox and patês, sweet and savory jams and spreads, a little yogurt, sliced fruit and veggies, soft boiled eggs with mustard…..all of these tasty little bits and bites.  everything is fresh and no two bites are the same. served with a basket of  hearty rolls and strong, milky coffee. sometimes we lament the lack of bacon, but not for long.

j.

cooking for Gisie.

•November 21, 2013 • 2 Comments

I wrote this several months ago, but it felt too sad to post until now. Plus things have been crazy (we moved to Germany, which is a whole other thing). But now I think it feels ok to post this. Who knows if anyone besides my mom will read it. That would be ok, since this is mostly for her anyway. So here, a little love letter to my sweet Auntie Gisie, and some thoughts about the last time I had the honor of cooking for her.

—————-

A few weeks ago my mom and I traveled deep into the humid green hills of Missouri to see my aunt, my mom’s sister, Gisela. She and her husband Don live in a beautiful house that he built for her with his own two hands. Theirs is clearly a very beautiful love story. It took him three years, and every nook and cranny is to her specifications. Most notably, the view from her kitchen sink: she wanted a precise view through specific trees, over the tops of the forests and the hills and into Arkansas. From there she cooked the most intricate meals of anyone I know, especially considering the culinary limitations of living in the rural Midwest. She made her own compound butter, ground her own cinnamon, and made complex consommés from scratch. Her pantry is organized by region and cuisine, and her collection of cast iron pans are always carefully seasoned and rubbed with oil. We had arrived with bags of groceries, and when I asked Don where to put the fresh ginger he said, “Well she has a special bag for ginger in the freezer, you can put it in there.” My Aunt Gisie is the original foodie in my life.

She would come visit us in California usually once a year and most of our activities revolved around cooking and eating. She wanted as much fresh seafood as she could eat before returning to landlocked Missouri. Oysters, fresh anchovies, octopus, muscles, salmon and scallops. We would host her and cook for her and it was so much fun.

This time though I was cooking for her in her kitchen. The sacredness of Gisie’s kitchen felt like church and made me a little bit nervous. But I had my tasks and frankly I was grateful for the distraction. Cooking for Gisie this time was going to be very different. She has cancer and she is in a lot of pain. Walking is hard, talking is hard, sleeping is hard, eating is hard. Her appetite is close to non-existent. Every now and then she’ll get a specific craving for something, and Don will carefully make it for her. Knowing how particular she is about cooking, he’ll bring the garlic into her bedroom to ask her if he’s chopped it finely enough, or if the bread has soaked up enough milk for the stuffed peppers. She still has every cabinet and drawer and counter top of her kitchen memorized, and she’ll direct him to the specific sauce pan or the specific dry rub she wants him to use. She will eat what he’s made with so much gusto, and then fall back into a period of poor appetite and breath-taking physical pain.

Watching Gisie struggle to eat is weird, sad, and foreign.

So when we visited I hoped she’d be hungry and wanted to make her things that I knew she had always loved. I wanted her to taste the sense-memory of her full and colorful and delicious life. So I made a Vietnamese soup with homemade broth, rice noodles, lightly sautéed shrimp, bok choy, mushrooms, garlic, fresh ginger, sesame oil and lots of fresh lime juice.

The next night I made seafood linguini, with shrimp, fresh calamari and small scallops, and a simple butter, garlic and white wine sauce. I didn’t know how to slice the calamari so I brought them, whole and tentacle-y and dangly, into her bedroom, showed them to her and asked her how she would slice them. She was right, of course, and they were perfect.

Both nights I brought her dinner on a little tray, and held my breath. Gisie is not one to sugar coat things, and if she didn’t like it she would have told me so. But with the first bite she closed her eyes and cooed “Oooh Julia”. She described the flavors, and found some flavors I didn’t even know were there. She detected licorice in the pasta sauce, and basil in the broth. Propped up in bed on one elbow, she ate hungrily and drank the broth straight from the bowl. The first night she asked for seconds, and the second night she asked for a small glass of wine, her first in months. “This pasta just screams out for a little chardonnay,” she said. She sipped, eyes closed and exhaled “Ahhh..yes.”

This was a bittersweet glimmer of the Gisie we love. As her body fails her, her joyful spirit is still there. She loves life more fiercely than anyone I have ever known. After she finished her soup the first night I brought her empty tray back into the kitchen, held my face in my hands and cried for her. Seeing her enjoy food so fully made me sad, because I knew what was coming. She was still here in so many ways, but was being taken from us slowly, and that felt incredibly cruel. Her happiness over that steaming bowl, her savoring the chardonnay, only shone a light on how much I’d miss doing this with her. She’s still here, she’s still here. How can we be mourning?

Before we left we froze some meals for them, piled their counter top with fresh fruit, gave long hugs, I gave Gisie a kiss right on the lips and she said, “Thank you, mein baby.” Food and cooking, in this case, was a language of love, a means of anxiety management, a way to channel our sadness in a situation that felt totally scary and out of our control. When my mom and I got sad or nervous, we’d take to Gisie’s kitchen, furiously chop something, clean something. There are those really huge and pivotal moments in a persons life when you find yourself totally at the mercy, no amount of money can be paid to change anything, no phone calls to make, no strings to pull. When all you have is your heart, when all you can do is show up and say, “I can’t change anything to stop your suffering, I am suffering with you, I am here, I love you.” That and, of course, go make a soup.

————

Food is not the same without love, Gisie was not the same without food, and we will not be the same without Gisie.

xo j.

 
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