Yard Fresh Pt. 30

May 15th, 2014

My kitchen is being remodeled by my friends at St. Johns Design Build. Yeah, yeah, yeah!

I haven’t done one of these since last summer! Holy shit time flies. Lately I’ve been wishing that there were a way to expand time to fit more of the best of life in. I don’t necessarily want the days to be longer I just want to be writing, sailing, cooking, loving, swimming, travelling and on and on and on contemporaneously somehow/someway. So that each would be enjoyed fully but a different part of me would be present for each. I’ll go do some more drugs now. Sorry.

So, I’m getting my kitchen remodeled! Finally. My super talented friends at St. Johns Design Build (they don’t have a website yet but once they do I’ll shout it out here) — Brian McVay, Clarence Jacobs and Rude Graves — are kicking ass doing a complete overhaul. Things that I’m really looking forward to: the original fir floor being sanded and finished, my new-to-me kick-ass professional-style Dynasty gas stove, sweet-ass tiling by Rude, old bleachers made into beautiful new cabinets and drawers and shelves by Clarence, a bar, maple chopping block peninsula, paperstone counters and all sorts of other magic by Brian and crew. Life is sweet. I’ll put up some photos of the progress in the next several weeks.

In the meantime, near and dear friends in the neighborhood are happy because I’ve been using their kitchens more and I also have a funky little interim kitchen in the back of my house in the utility room with a hotpot, rice steamer and toaster. It works and it’s actually been fun to have some cooking restraints. It’s like camp cooking, boat cooking etc. — pushes you to be creative and work in new ways with what you’ve got.

It’s been a really fun spring so far and I hope you’ve been doing well too. I just finished writing the Tasty Brunch Book proposal with John (now it’s with our agent, next to the designer), I’m working on all sorts of food-plus projects at Hawthorne Books, working on a still secret book project, little here and there on my novel and Food Lover’s Guide to Portland 2.0 review copies go out NEXT WEEK and it publishes in three short months. Madness. In the very best sense of the word.

Here’s what I’ve been eating. What have you been cooking and eating?

Miso, bacon, fish sauce, broccolini spaghetti. Really good.

Mission Street Food's Braised Sausage with my friend Kalera's kraut, Reverend Nat's Hard Cider and house German sausage from Western Meat Market on Lombard.

Miso rice with homemade kimchi.

Rice cooker steamed Dover sole in homemade miso/ginger/lemon sauce with asparagus.

Nettle'ing with Jess. Made all kinds of dishes with them. Morel nettle risotto, sauces, tea yada yada. Love nettles.

My haul.

Found this huuuuuge morel in my backyard. Was too waterlogged and gone to eat but still had...

The last of the dehydrated/foraged ones from last spring. Have been making a lot of risottos with them. My friend Jess, different Jess, took these from the Mother's Day risotto I made for her and Rich with red-veined sorrel from the yard and my homemade plum wine. Tasty.

Racked and then...

Bottled the plum wine. 100 bottles this year from the Brooks plum tree in my front yard.

Also bottled last year's dandelion wine and started this year's. Make it every year with my friend Michelle and her daughter...

These guys!

Dinner becomes breakfast. Spag and eggs. One of my favorites.

Still cooking from the Toro cookbook. Forever and always. Toro's piperade and boquerones over pan-fried polenta.

For our first kitchen remodel meeting/party made a big batch of kimchi fried rice and it, of course, became breakfast the next day. So good.

Cook and eat something good tonight!

Yard Fresh Pt. 29
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Yard Fresh Pt. 1

Yard Fresh Pt. 26

March 20th, 2013

Surprised it took me so long to finally tackle Tom Yum soup. I made mine with a lot of galangal, ginger, lemongrass, lime and fish sauce and kept it simple with just prawns. I made it when I was sick with a dumb cold and it made me feel better right away.

I’ve been eating out a lot lately but that’s not because I haven’t wanted to cook I just want to see people and be out and about and, of course, there is so much good food to be had in Portland. I’ve also been pretty busy and it’s been nice to turn off the mind machine and let others cook sometimes.

That said, I’ve still cooked a fair few tasty things lately and I’m very happy that more foods will be coming from my garden sooner than later. I’ve planted my peas and this weekend I’m going to get more veggie beds ready and start some seeds indoors. A lot of herbs are coming up now too — oregano, mint, sorrel, fennel and then some. Please leave a comment here and let me know of anything you’ve recently cooked, eaten or planted that you love.

Some of what went into my Tom Yum soup. From top left Thai basil, Thai chiles, kaffir lime leaves, fish sauce, lemongrass, galangal, ginger.

Really simple Spanish braised beef with mash from Claudia Roden's The Food of Spain. Warmed me right up.

Quick salad with Toro's tapenade, anchovies and a garlicky citrusy vinaigrette with broiled cheese bread.

Planted sugar snap peas a few weeks ago but none have come up so planted another round this weekend.

Took this a few weeks ago -- red-veined sorrel, oregano and mint popping up in the garden.

Ham, egg and cheesy breakfast. Top of the morning.

I made a batch of Choi's Kimchi and it turned out great.

And then I made kimchi jjigae with a jar of it which I order all the time and have never made. Really good.

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Yard Fresh Pt. 1

Tender by Nigel Slater

March 19th, 2012

I've had this Nigel Slater's cookbook Tender for about a year now and I'm really looking forward to cooking more from it this summer.

A peek inside...

When I first started writing about food professionally in 2003 I turned to Nigel Slater and his writing in The Observer and I loved his voice. A lot of food writing can wax poetic and favor form over the content but Nigel Slater’s writing never does. It’s honest and I’ve really enjoyed reading him over the years. If you haven’t read his memoir Toast I recommend it. It’s a wonderful book and I had fun reviewing it for Culinate way back when. (While putting this post together I learned that a film based on it starring Freddie Highmore and Helena Bonham Carter aired this past Christmas on BBC1 and at the Berlin, Taipei and Warsaw Film Festivals. Can’t wait to see it!)

I purchased one of Nigel Slater’s newest cookbooks — Tender — pretty soon after it hit shelves last spring in America and I’ve enjoyed cooking from it ever since. (It was published in two volumes in the UK in 2009; in the US by Ten Speed Press in 2011, the second US volume Ripe comes out this April.) The book is part recipe and part narrative — giving you background into Slater’s London home garden that he broke ground for in early 2000 and maintains with his partner.

Chapters are based on ingredients sourced from Slater’s garden and cooked in his kitchen so it’s homespun and inspiring and feeds right into my Yard Fresh ways. I love this book and I hope that you will too. Here are some of the tasty foods that I’ve cooked from it lately…

Thinly sliced roasted potatoes with butter and thyme.

Beer braised beef stew with homemade applesauce and roasted potatoes.

Stew and potato leftovers with one over-easy for breakfast.

This cauliflour cheese mustard soup is so good that I got a few friends to make it in the same week. Really.

Cabbage sausage soup with a few other bites on the side.


Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch

by Nigel Slater
pub. date April, 2011
620 pages
$40, Ten Speed Press
www.nigelslater.com