Wednesday, May 30, 2007

enraptured

breakfast at ferry terminal market.
lunch at the french laundry. 

Friday, May 18, 2007

redemption

When I was young, my mom was a hostess at Sizzler, and then Golden Corral, a Sizzler knock-off. We went there for "special occasions": report card time (my straight A's, my sister's straight C's), Mother's Day and Father's Day. My dad would always remind us not to fill up on the salad, save some room for the all-you-can-eat roast beef. I didn't develop a meat-tooth until much later in life, and I was obsessed with the salad bar. So many different kinds of things that we never had in our salads at home; I wondered if other people ate these kinds of things, and I just didn't know it: cubed ham, cubed pineapple, canned beets, 3-bean salads, and cottage cheese. After much experimentation, I discovered the perfect combination. A bed of spinach (the only green that can stand up to the weight of the other ingredients), cubes of boiled, pressed turkey, sliced, raw button mushrooms, hard-boiled eggs, baco-bits, sunflower seeds and croutons. Lots and lots of thick ranch dressing. I would eat two of those while the rest of my family stuffed their faces with baked potatoes and carved meat until they were sick. My very last meal with both of my grandparents was a Sizzler meal; a little filipina lady served up iced tea refills, and she reminded me of my mom (not present at the meal). My dad left no tip, and shrugged his shoulders when reminded of it.
"They get paid", was his reply. I thought of someone shorting my mom in the same situation, so I slipped $10 on the table when everyone was leaving.

After a week of disappointing meals: a blah $125 dinner at Union, Domino's Pizza, and crappy tartines, I craved a Sizzler salad, a meal that wouldn't disappoint. My newer, adult version of the Sizzler still contained the requisite spinach (now organic), sliced button mushrooms and sunflower seeds. I also added a perfectly ripe avocado, barely hard-boiled egg, crispy (fake) bacon and (fake) turkey, and slices of fresh tomato. I even made Hidden Valley ranch dressing from the pouch, adding Best Foods Mayo and (soy) milk. Lots of sea salt and fresh black pepper. I was afraid I went a little overboard, but the tomato and avocado made up for the crappy hippy substitutions. I'm eating another one tonight.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

more to life than meat

i talk about meat an offal lot. i really love meat. i want to raise it, kill it, butcher it, cook it and eat it. i want to be a part of the cycle of life. don't get me wrong, i'm not hating on the veggies. i spent the morning in the garden, planting tomato starts that have been flowering on my windowsill. i trying making like a bee and using a q-tip to pollinate the flowers, which may or may have not worked. between third and fourth grade, i spent summer in oklahoma "pollinating" my mom's vegetable garden, catching crawdads and playing with my pet catfish. seriously, i made my mom buy me a live catfish at the farmer's market. he lived in a kiddie pool with some bluegills i caught (mom used to take me fishing, too). i would dig night crawlers out of the compost pile to feed them, and taught the bluegills to jump out of the water for worms. i would put on "fish shows" at the family barbecues. (when i came back from camp, they had unlearned that particular skill.) i also caught tadpoles and kept them in the pool which my mom promptly pickled and jarred. good on sticky rice, she said, but i digress.

butter lettuce from our garden was the only lettuce other than iceberg i had ever tasted. i couldn't understand why they were so different, and why we couldn't have butter lettuce all the time. the thought of lettuce made of butter really appealed to me, but it's still my favorite lettuce (and on my menu right now). i haven't been to my garden in two weeks and it's out of control. favas and orca beans (my term, i think they're technically called calypso beans), radishes, spring onions, beets and huge heads of lettuce. the micro greens have turned to macro greens, due to neglect. and i planted the tomatoes, although it seems a little early. i'm really excited about the Mexican Midget tomato plant. i imagine it sprouting fat, juicy little luchadores. i guess my thought process hasn't changed much from lettuce made of butter...
i also planted Black Krim tomatoes. they make me think of a Yugoslavian woman in a babushka, picking tomatoes as dark as the black sea. and Beaver Dam peppers? just plain funny.
i've harvested beets, pounds and pounds of kale, snail-laden leeks and one beautiful head of cauliflower. i wish i had some chickens or quail. i wish i was a farmer.