Wednesday, December 10, 2008

At Last

Moving is a terrible thing. I've just done it, and let me tell you, it is one of the most psychically stressful things you can do in this life. After two weeks of packing and unpacking, I was ready to keel over and sleep for several days at least, but I couldn't rest until I felt a sense of my home being my own--that strange assumption of self that a place takes on after a while. I knew I would feel it when it happened, and so it did, as I cooked breakfast two days ago.

It wasn't the first time I'd cooked in my new kitchen, but it was the first time I knew where everything was--a big difference. I had eggs from my parents chickens and I'd gone to the farmers' market to stock up on basics. I brewed some coffee with beans from my roaster down the street, scrambled the eggs with some sweet little tomatoes, a little tarragon and onion, and toasted some bread. (An entirely local breakfast, what a pleasure!) Out the kitchen window I could see my neighborhood birds chatting on the berry bush. And as I walked into the dining room with my plate, I discovered the morning light, great big shafts of it, beaming in from the terrace onto the table. I sat and ate in the glow of sun, watching the birds and feeling, at last, that it was good to be home.

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Monday, November 3, 2008

Autumnal Initiations

It's officially fall here, and nothing says fall on the east coast like apple picking, i guess.  so i got on a train and met some friends up by croton falls to meander through an orchard or two and see what LA could never offer me.

there she is, old outhouse orchards.  full marks for autumnal decor.  

i stumbled upon these guys while we were getting our apple picking bags.  cinnamon cider donuts.  in a dream world i could have eaten one million of them.  realistically, probably close to twenty five.  unfortunately, i ended up with one due to a lack of small change.  it's basically exactly what you want to eat at an orchard on a slightly brisk afternoon.  

as far as i can tell, no one is better at placing small, white ramshackle buildings in remote settings than the east coast. 

the ceremonial first bite.  there was a good amount of variation between the apples that we tasted, although they didn't tell us what kinds they were which was frustrating.  in general, i was underwhelmed by the quality.  none of the apples had the explosive sweetness or flavor that i was expecting, and some of them were pretty mealy.  but what they lacked in quality they made up for in quantity.  by the end of the session i estimated that i had eaten more than ten whole apples in less than an hour.  i was then informed of the incredible amount of fiber that apples carry in their skin, which became problematic for me later that evening.

on the whole I would say my first apple picking was a success, although next year i think the apple to cider donuts ratio needs to be adjusted.  at least a dozen cider donuts, please.  and a glass of milk. 

 And here is the rest of it.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

NYC Field Report: TJ IN BK!

So I'm a little late on the follow up, but now I can write to you having visited said TJ store four times! The verdict: it can stay. I was definitely setting myself up for disappointment considering all the negative feedback I had heard about the manhattan location, but I have to say that the BK store is the best I've ever been to. Here's why:

1. It's huge, which means it has the space to carry crazy items that even this TJ slut hasn't seen, like ready-made chicken
tenders (!!!!!!!!!!!)
2. It has an expanded bread section with what seems to be better bread than the LA locations.
3. They have recruited half of brooklyn to act as cashiers for the other half that is shopping, thereby making the extremely long line move surprisingly fast.
4. Their produce section, traditionally the achilles heel of the Trader Joe's empire, actually resembles something you would see in a full scale grocery store. The quality is still the same but the selection is much better.

That's it, folks. For those of you reading in Cali this may seem like a stab in the back, and in many ways it is. But think of it as a stab in the back with one of those fake, retractable knives, because the TJ on burbank and white oak will always be my number one jam.

p.s. here's a link to someone who was allowed to take pictures. me and my camera were politely uninvited...

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Augustian Pleasures

Somehow without me knowing it October is around the corner, but since I live in LA, I haven't a care for seasonality; it's still the tail end of summer here, and gosh darn it, I'm gonna write about a clambake.

I attended my very first clambake at the end of August for my cousin's 50th birthday, and I can't think of a better way to celebrate a milestone like that than burying a bunch of seafood in a sandpit. Although kind of an elaborate and time consuming process, it's also a mightily efficient way of cooking for a lot of people--instead of slaving away in a tiny kitchen over a hot stove, you get to sit in the sun, get everyone involved, and clean up a rather fun mess of lobster carcasses and corn cobs at the bitter end. Oh, and a lot of beer bottles.

Below, a photo essay on The Clambake (many thanks to Jeff & Co for throwing this shindig...)

The raw materials: two styrofoam coolers of seafood. Welcome to New England.

Someone has never seen a lobster before... Especially a live one.

Covering the sand pit with a tarp. The boat is full of seaweed my cousins slashed out of the ocean with a hunting knife. The seaweed went on top of the cookables...

...Like so. Corn, sweet potatoes, beets, lobsters, crabs, steamers. And an egg: nature's timer. Once it's cooked through, the tarp comes off and it's time to eat.

Collecting the goodies:



corn (and how!)

sweet potatoes,

and of course, lobster.

People didn't have to be told to get in line...

and who would mind waiting anyway, with a view like this?

My idea of a perfect meal: simple, deeply comfortable, and shared with those you love. not a bad way to turn 50, if you ask me.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

NYC Field Report: Prologue

We now officially have an NYC branch of baddiefish, which means two cities for the price of one. It also means this little boy has a lot of eating to do. Like, probably close to 100 miles of eating. Maybe more.

I'm not going to pretend I'm not scared. I'm terrified. The first thing I do in a new city is try and get a handle on the food scene, and with the number of restaurants in the New York area that task can seem a bit daunting. So, with this first post I'm going to stay close to home and report on something I have a lot of experience with: Trader Joe's.

I had heard about the Craziness from various people-- insane lines, competitive shoppers, always running out of things-- but I never truly understood until now. While I haven't experienced the Manhattan location first hand, I have been working down the street from the new brooklyn store and let me just say, the place is HUGE. It used to be a bank, so that gives you some sense of scale. People whisper about it on the street. I saw one of their trainees on the subway the other night and people were looking at her like she was Jennifer Aniston. Even I was not immune to her siren song and literally had to stop myself from shouting across the train, "What's it like inside? Will they carry Go Lean CRUNCH!?" This is all new for me. Good groceries were never more than a car ride away, and you could do huge shops because you had a car to put things in (and a kitchen with a pantry.) Now all that's changed, and after lugging three full grocery bags across town after work I am beginning to understand the goldrush that is Trader Joe's in Brooklyn. You better believe I'll be there opening day, pick axe in hand, ready to report on all the bloody madness... And here is the rest of it.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

hippy happy!

Today is njr's natal day--hoorah! I for one am very glad he was born. To celebrate, we made a fete this past weekend featuring some of the best things about parties in august--BBQs, swimming, and ice cream cones. Although my photo-taking was compromised by a certain forgetful member of our tribe, (sirrah, i'm clearing my throat in your direction) some documentation exists of our mediterranean-inspired repast.

The menu was as follows:

guacamole & chips
white sangria w/ peaches & mint

green salad of lettuces, cucumbers, & tomatoes
duo of quinoa salads: beet/carrot/celery/dill & shitake/zucchini/corn/basil
chicken kabob w/ cucumber yogurt dipping sauce
steak kabob w/ parsley lemon dipping sauce
vegetable kabobs: red onion, peppers, tomatoes

do-it-yourself ice cream cones featuring scoops ice cream!

I lugged a fair amount of veggies and herbs from our parents' garden (aka rancho puesta del sol) including avocados, tomatoes, giant scallions, beets, cucumbers, parsley, basil, lemons, squash, and the largest zucchini i've ever seen. such wonderful raw materials make cooking easy and elemental--everything is flavored with little more than fresh herbs, lemon, and some good olive oil. i am not one to follow a lengthy recipe, so this is my favorite way to cook--riffing on some simple ingredients prepared with a minimal amount of fuss. i thought i'd post the recipe for the beet quinoa, as it has made a number of appearances at recent parties and everyone seems to adore it. plus it looks amazing in a bowl, all bright crimson textures with little green flecks of dill.

serves 6

1 cup quinoa, rinsed
3-4 beets, cooked and diced
2 carrots, diced
1 celery heart, diced
1/2 onion, diced
2 cups chicken or veggie broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon lemon
olive oil

bring broth to a boil and add quinoa. simmer about 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes, then transfer to large bowl. in a frying pan, sweat onions until translucent, then add carrots and celery, plus some salt and pepper, cooking until softened. add these to the quinoa, along with the beets, dill, and lemon. stir well, taste, and add a bit of olive oil if it seems dry, plus additional salt and pepper. serve at room temperature.

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we've been baddie

It's true. No amount of apologizing will remedy the fact that there has been a sad lack of posts as of late, and no amount of excuses will get back those (probably) millions of readers who have already turned away, dismayed and saddened by the laziness and ineptitude of the baddiefish management.

I'm here to tell you that I'm gonna turn this old ship around--stolen computer be damned! Today I will write about cookies! Lots of cookies! And not just any cookies--a special sneak peek of cookies I photographed for a friend whose cookie company website will soon be up and running, featuring some of the photos below! (Details and website to follow in the near future...this is but a sneak!) I hope they make your mouth water with anticipatory delight! They taste about a million times better than they look, by the way--for every cookie I photographed, I ate 5 more of the same. Some would even say I was paid in cookies. Please email me if you are interested in buying some from my fine cookie-purveying friend. They make an excellent hostess gift, client appeasement offering, co-worker birthday treat, etc.

oatmeal blueberry

chocolate chip cookie present

lemon pistachio

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