Sunday, March 9, 2014

A man and a lady and a sweet sweet bread

About a month ago I went ahead and fell in love. whoops. didn't see that coming--and glad I didn't, because normally I would have ran like hell. but there is something about him that makes me want to stay perfectly still, with a lot of gratitude, and even more wonder.



(side note: he would tell you, first that it was more than a month ago, and second, that we are together because he is notoriously good at 'wooing': that he can sweep any gal off her feet and then, when she realizes what has happened, hesitates. bales. sad face. this time that is not happening. in this case--the 'wooing' is mutual...)

Staying still is the last thing we are doing. our first roadtrip together is tomorrow (god help him); and after much pondering about just what is wrong with my little bachelorette suite that makes him so restless, I have shifted and given away furniture to make room for a desk he can work at...and, more significantly, and long term, started looking for a new, more accommodating place. his toothbrush is here, as well as his own toothpaste because he doesn't like mine. and for the first time in about four years there is butter in my fridge. real butter, and real cream, and until he made an omelette the other day, there was bacon--well, house cured pigs face from the new Salted Brick, but still, it was pork--now I love all of those things and would have them in my fridge for life if I could eat them without feeling like dying after...so instead I will have them in my lactose-intolerant, vegetarian fridge for life for this unexpected love.



I am nervous, and excited, and as I said, grateful. I am also listening to his records in a home I am reconsidering staying as long as I can in, planning our trip and much more, and baking banana bread that I cant really eat without feeling like dying after. its a banana bread for him, because, as the charmer says, he is my man and I am his lady. because, suddenly, things have become less about me, and more about us.






gentlemen's banana bread

a banana bread for kids, to me, says chocolate chips; for foodies, black and white sesame seeds to replace the classic-grandmas-house-comfort of walnuts or pecans. a gentlemen's banana bread, though, now that requires something rich, dark, and whiskey laced...

1/2 cup each butter and coconut butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar (the darker the better; I used coconut sugar, which tastes like demerrara)
1/2 cup raw sugar
4 whole eggs
4 egg yolks
1/3 c spiced whiskey (alternatively, if you were low on spicebox like I surprisingly was, you can use regular whiskey, plus 1/2 tsp each cardamom and cinnamon, and 2tsp vanilla--or a sprinkle of vanilla bean powder)
2 cups mashed banana (approx. 6 bananas)
1 cup sourcream
1 1/2 cups each whole wheat and spelt flour
2tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350; grease two loaf pans.
beat the heck out of the butters and sugars until light and fluffy. incorporate one egg at a time, then all 4 yolks. beat in whiskey, bananas, and sourcream until smooth and frothy. combine dry ingredients separately, and then mix the whole lot together. pour into prepared pans and bake for a really long time, 75-90 minutes. this is especially masculine when served not in the morning, fresh out the oven, but later in the evening, toasted, with a whiskey, neat, and cigar. maybe some cream. and a fireplace. in a leather chair. enjoy.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Rolling with it

We all know about "balance": the basic concept of yin and yang. Work and play. Pride and humility. Strength and softness. A balanced diet. Balancing on ones hands, or feet for that matter. When we have balance we are healthy and steady, sure, capable, but open to learning. And we are not stressed. So basically, I am completely out of balance.....

Which is to say I am completely stressed. Ironically, I find balance to this by being relatively unproductive towards relieving that stress--in other words, I am uber relaxed about being stressed. Full circle: I am completely balanced.

Look. I could go on writing in this very confusing fashion, or I could be straight up with you: I am holding steady at completely uprooting myself from the life I have created here, seek out a new and not-entirely random adventure in a country that I do not speak the language but long for the food and sun, and settling here for time enough to start my own business and agree to a relationship on more than one level. Ok, so that was still relatively vague. Balance.

Let me try again. With salad rolls.

Salad rolls are a spring/summer meal, right? Served cold, with crisp, watery vegetables like cucumber and soft lettuces, they are picnic portable and fun to dip as most summery things are: bagna cauda (fancy Italian veggies and dip), chips and salsa, toes and more in the lake...but not very winter friendly. In the winter we crave digging in not dipping in. Hearty, rich, starchy, and--most importantly--hot meals. Hot rice noodles in hot laksa. Not cold rice noodles wrapped in cold rice paper. That is an imbalance. But it is about all I want to eat these days.

Winter weather, summer meal. There is the balance. That, and what you put in them. While currently obsessed with these Vietnamese finger foods (cant pronounce them in Vietnamese, but long for them as much as I do the sun on my skin...), I have experimented with all sorts of wintery fixings: pickled pumpkin (sneaky hint of kaffir lime, blows your mind every time), lemongrass roasted beets, sweet potato shaved and tossed in sesame oil and warm spices, heartier greens like lacinato kale, even toasted sprouted buckwheat groats. Carmelizing peanuts in a bit of honey and dried thai chilis with shallot and rice vinegar is money: sweet salty fatty nutty bits of crunchy business bite by bite. And toasting dressed Yuba skins until they are crispy is pretty much the ultimate contrast to soft rice paper and cabbage. I made my own Yuba today. That's another story. Its a good one. Its about patience. But this is (still) a story about balance.

And here is the conclusion of this seemingly random tale. My ma has always said that I am black or white--no grey. High or low. Happy or sad. I like to think that I have found my grey area by trusting that my black will lead to a white. By rooting down to rise up. By rolling with it in any direction as much as you focus on a path. By rolling up some root vegetables in an out of season dinner.

Do you see the connection? Between salad rolls and my life? Maybe it would have helped to have pictures. Sorry about that. But you see, the more random and silly this story seems, the more perfectly it balances my calculated, seriously stressed state. I feel better already.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Sum- thing special

I m not a big fan of Christmas. Or pants. Hence, my ideal Christmas is spent in a long-ish shirt (in case the neighbors can see in the windows), with no midnight mass, red/white lights, carols, candy canes, no tree/garland/boughs/holly/anything pine scented other than my wintry backyard, or st nic, but with plenty of dim sum and old school hip hop.

A photo journal:









 


...I did get gifted some new leggings. They are perfect in every way...except when you don't want to wear pants...
love

also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCvr8sevyLk

Monday, November 25, 2013

infused

My heart is pretty full. With round two Thanksgiving coming up (I celebrate my favorite holiday with Americans, too), I have plenty to be thankful for: the people in my life who seem, moreso than ever, to share the same morals/ideas/understandings/desires/inclinations, who are accepting and inspiring, and as full of love as my own heart. I simply share my life with these people, or I work alongside them, whether cooking for and coaching the kids at my "real" job, or teaching yoga. My family has always been amazing, but as I--or I suppose we all--grow older, we reach a new level of intimacy and love that comes from seeing eachother as seeing eachother simply for the persons we have become, rather than the roles we once filled for eachother: mother/daughter/aunt/uncle/cousin/grandma. Yep. My heart is as full as my sisters heart is "fucking big"...if you do not get this reference, you missed a damn fine party at a certain wedding this past august...



Currently I am sitting on my floor of the neatest bachelorette pad I have ever lived in (thankful!) drinking gin and sage infused sake with sparkling wine (thankful!!); it is 3:00 on a Monday afternoon (THANKFUL!!!). Mondays are my Saturdays, so stop judging (that means you amazing family;), my only full day off between working at Neurvana and teaching yoga. And what would really stand out in this paragraph to my amazing family is not that I am drinking in the middle of the day, but that I am sitting.

I stand. A lot. Working as a chef you are on your feet your entire shift, which is not often a standard eight hours. Working as a yoga teacher you are on your feet (and hands, and head) while you teach, and while you practice, which is integral to your teaching, and while you are "showing off" at random moments in the day (as my much loved friends call it...). I bike to both jobs. I dance in my kitchen. I don't like to sit. I do like to make neat drinks, write about them, and then stand on my hands after having a few of them...

Todays cocktail was inspired by kinfolk magazine--well, actually, a picture on instagram, and a lovely new addition to our crew at the youth center, a belly dancing herbologist, who has me drinking nettle tincture and "wild woman" coffees (espresso blended with egg yolk, coconut oil, and spices), both of whom are endless sources of inspiration these days. Between them and this recent discovery, I am in infusion mode: experimenting with and loving using herbs with healing properties to play with flavours so that my midday cocktails seem, well, healthy-ish....



Ok, so sage and ginger just sounded neat, and the woodsy/spicy/sweet combination is spectacular. But I have also been playing with dandelion root and camu camu for immunity and vitamin c (snuck some into the kids "straight up orange juice" the other morning--bwah hahahaha!!), turmeric for my standing vs sitting aches and pains, tea bags in the honey and oil for my granolas (more about that soon;) and green tea in broths to antioxidant load my noodles; licorice root for digestion, nettles for my very tired adrenal glands, chamomile and holy basil to calm the fuck down and sit....

So today I am thankful for sitting. For relaxing. For things steeping their flavour and goodness into my food and drink. For the sun that is shining in the notoriously grey winter sky of the Okanagan. I am thankful for being able to stand on my hands, and for the love, support, and jokes of all the amazing people steeping their goodness into my life-- who wish they were midday drinking with me...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

wordless

I hope these pictures can say what I am not taking the time to write....




















you see, instead of writing I have been reading old cookbooks--like this one--and new ones--like this one--eating a lot of fish tacos and noodles and desserts. and yes, back in the g-nola biz. Now, to get back in the writing biz....

Thursday, July 18, 2013

This tamarind around

Spring has sprung and gone. The heat has made it quite evident that it is officially summer in the Okanagan; that, and the end of asparagus.

I suppose asparagus season is shorter than Spring the season, but it is quite climactic. I mean, for a month the story of my dinners is based on the slender green veg, until one day, as I sense the tragic end is near, I buy a ten pound box and cook it in all of my favorite ways until its officially gone (and I am officially done with it until next year). Each season I fall in love with a different asparagus dish: one year it was steamed and tossed with shalloty vinaigrette; grilled/roasted with shavings of dry cheese and lemon; in a pilaf spiced with cardamom and the like with a spoon of yogurt; scattered with basil; shaved in a salad with nothing but cilantro and chives; always, every year, with a poached egg on top. This years feature asparagus meal: jazzed up with tamarind. I think I ate the last ten pounds worth this way...




Tamarind is bright, brighter than any lemon or lime, sold in pulp form and found in curries and laksas, looking, in its uncooked form, like a long, brownish orange, friend of ginger and turmeric. But it is not a root, it is a (very un-sweet) fruit. And it does wonderful things to asparagus.

I find myself using the delete key more often than usual while writing this post, trying to find a way to describe how this seemingly odd flavour combination works. I mean, both are strong, recognizable, flavours that somehow compliment rather than combat eachother in a dish. Sure, bright lemon brings asparagus to life, but lemon is subtle, whereas tamarind is bold, yet it has the same effect. Tamarind kicks asparagus with a hit of tang, and asparagus responds with a lively grassiness much like the fresh coriander sings in a curry. With a rich coconut or lentil background, the two are at once balanced and flipping all over the place in your mouth. This is dinner and a show. No editing necessary.

This is the recipe that inspired this seasons favorite asparagus dinner:
http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/red-lentil-dal-with-tamarind-and-asparagus?crlt.pid=camp.Je7K0F5JJtHP


 


And this is this seasons favorite asparagus dinner:


Asparagus in Ginger Tamarind Broth
Serve this with long slurpy rice noodles...next Spring!

1 Tbsp tamarind pulp
1 small knob each ginger and galangal (or one medium knob ginger); grated
2 cloves garlic; thinly sliced
1 shallot; thinly sliced
thai chili, fresh or dried, to taste
as many prawns as you can eat; peeled and deviened
as much asparagus as you can eat, sliced if quite fat, broken into sticks if thin
1/4 cup full fat coconut moo
fresh coriander

Gently soften ginger/galangal, garlic, shallots, and chili in olive oil or peanut oil. Fry prawns, quickly, just to turn pink, then remove and set aside. Add the tamarind and smush in to break up. Slowly pour in 2 cups of water and stir to fully loosen the tamarind. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer until reduced to 1 1/2 cups liquid. Return prawns to pan, add asparagus, and as it turns that bright shade of green, stir in the coconut milk. Pour over rice noodles and top with fresh coriander. Jazzy.


Note: seriously, wait til next spring. Out of season asparagus is just a bad idea.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Promise Post

Hi. Its been awhile. So long that it has got to the point that I have so much I want to share that I don't know where to begin. Kind of like when you cant decide what movie to watch because there are so many hot new releases (as they call them in the arts section of most newspapers) you have yet to see, that you end up staying home and watching one you have seen before--an old favorite, reliable and satisfying. Or when you are terribly hungry and you have a fridge full of goodness, but cooking time puts you at risk of your stomach eating itself, so you have cornflakes--an old favorite, reliable and satisfying. That's what this post is: a big bowl of cornflakes while watching Ferris Bueller: an old favorite, reliable and satisfying...at least for me. (actually, for me the movie would be Before Sunset, but I wasn't sure if the reference would catch. Definately cornflakes, though.)

It is that familiar "promise post" telling of other posts to come, full of witticisms and photos and food. They are coming. I promise. I've promised this before, and likely will again, with a few timely pieces in between.

We will talk soon.
I promise.