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It’s Chicken Wing Friday! Time for something new though looking back on my last two chicken wing posts, they’ve been Asian of some sort. Chinese, Japanese and now Thai. Huh. It makes sense, as these are flavors that I love, and they do say to cook what you love. One of these days I’ll choose a different part of the world for inspiration but for now, this is what you get. This idea sort of came together over the last two weeks. You see, it’s been a bit crazy in Chicago with a certain sports team. Consequently, I’ve spent a lot of time in bars eating some pretty mediocre bar food and some especially forgettable chicken wings. Mediocre hot wing after mediocre hot wing, I longed for something different, something to mix it up. Then I came home from a particularly stressful game, opened my refrigerator and a tub of green curry paste with a fondness for flinging itself off the shelf with great force made its presence known. Ok, I got the message. A green curry chicken wing was in the works. Hot wings with a Thai twist.

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Every year, I participate in a wonderful community garden program, The Peterson Garden Project. It started 6 years ago when I came home from drinks with friends at half price wine night. Dangerous. I was scanning through my twitter feed and saw someone post that she’d just bought a community garden plot in the city. I didn’t even know we had that so completely intrigued, I clicked on the link to learn more. The next morning I saw the confirmation in my inbox. In general, I don’t mix pinot and online shopping but I was thrilled. I’ve never been much of a gardener beyond the herb boxes on my back porch but I am a cook and an eater and the thought of growing things tickled me to death. I started perusing seed catalogs and downloading plot planners like a kid making Christmas wish lists.

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It’s that happy time of the year where, if you’re lucky, leftover Halloween candy rains down upon your head. I don’t get many trick-or-treaters to my city apartment; in fact I get zero; so I don’t really have to deal with the conundrum of figuring out exactly how much candy to buy every year. So many unknown factors build up to one big question: how many kids? Weather factors in, certainly, and that can be very unpredictable in some parts. Neighborhoods also age – what might have been an endless stream of kids one year, can turn into a trickle as those kids grow up and become too cool to knock on doors for candy. The struggle is real, my friends because god forbid you run out of candy.

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The season is winding down for my little community garden plot, yet it still continues to surprise me. I still get a nice handful of tomatoes every week and the basil, giant and bushy all summer, is still showing a little life. The massive kale, surprisingly productive peppers and chilies and other hearty herbs will go strong for a few more weeks at least. To my delight, the beans I quickly planted in late August are doing quite well with a few nice bunches of green, yellow and purple beans just in time for the close of the garden. Typical. Over the weekend I looked at the bowl of tomatoes I’ve been collecting, bright orange cherries and slightly larger golf ball size red ones, and thought pasta. I probably let them sit a little too long so this had to happen fast. It was time for an end of the season sauce.

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As the weather cools and I can turn on the oven without heat blasting myself out of my kitchen, I get the urge to bake bread. The feel of the soft, silky dough between my hands, the long slow relaxing rises, the heady aroma that overtakes my apartment are delightful sensations that serve as a reminder to slow down. I love baking bread. I’ve made many wonderful loaves in my tiny kitchen but today I wanted something different, one particular memory that I’ve been pushing about for some time. Finnish Pulla.

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What do you do with miso? It seems like every recipe uses a teaspoon and you’re left with this big container to languish in your fridge for months. Years. I am in a unique position in that I have 3 kinds of miso languishing in my fridge right now. Three kinds! White, red and brown, in fat stubby containers that get pushed here and there, slowly accumulating a questionable amount of refrigerator debris (aka “crud”) on the lids. It’s a wonder I don’t have yellow miso too. Not sure how I missed out on that one. These containers are always in the way yet I hesitate to throw them out. Why? I think that someday I’ll find a use for them. It’s a curse.

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So I’m slow off the line on this one. We’re nearly a third of the way through the month and I’m just getting around to reminding you about Unprocessed October, something I’ve been doing for the last 5 years. To be fair, I’ve been a bit buried, both literally and figuratively. My house is a maze of laundry; dirty, clean, folded and unfolded. My kitchen and dining room are piles upon piles of ingredients from consulting projects I need to organize in some way. There is a half open suitcase in my entryway that’s been there for two days and rather than unpack it, I’ve been stepping over it. I just can’t deal with that right now. I’m a traveling whirlwind and the Cubs are in the playoffs leading to extra innings and 3am bedtimes. But even with all that, I’ve been pretty good about sticking to my Unprocessed vows. With one notable exception. I was in Palm Springs last weekend and driving back to LA to catch a flight, we had to stop at In & Out Burger. We had to. We were tired, hungry and c’mon. It was In & Out. I console myself with the fact that the fries start in the restaurant as actual potatoes and the burger patties are hand formed right there. Can I make that burger at home? Kenji says I can so I’m saying it’s ok. A stretch but whatever, I’ll take the pass.

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