Month: October 2014

Coffee as ritual

I have 3 cups of coffee in the morning because that’s the amount my press makes.. the first I enjoy, the second I zone out on and don’t remember, the third can go either way..

The element of mindfulness and “be here now” is full on in the beginning… but as soon as I’m fully awake, its game on and I’m thinking about the day rather than the moment…

So the second cup suffers…. the WTH factor kicks in when its realized that cup two is gone with no recall of the event.. which sucks me back into coffee reality.. most of the time..

The ritual aspect of it all needs some refinement to enhance focus.. the grinding, almost boiling and measuring are good.. along with timing the steep till pressing.. its ok, quiet, pleasurable, routine and nearly mechanical… which works since I’m not fully awake or functional..

Maybe a new cup…. something serene and hand made, contemplative and artful rather than my current “let the stress begin” cup with attendant logo…

A table cloth and cut flowers are asking too much… besides that I’m a guy and live like a bear with soap and some furniture..

Breakfast takes a minute… I’m never convinced I’ll live first thing in the morning.. Which means, I sneak up on breakfast when its safe to do so….all Chi in place and red ta go…

A scrambled “just woke up” reality is no time to scramble eggs there is a risk that dimensions will align and then the day gets scrambled….

So..coffee first, just to test the water.

The cigarette thing needs to go… sucking on burning plant material seems a very un-zen way to start breathing again

Coconut covered chaos…

Or Ladduu depending on how sticky it is…

100_9224

Cooling it overnight makes it less gooey… which I didn’t do.

Medjool dates were added… which was major over-kill, since they tend to be a stand alone thing… but I like over-kill.

The rest of the dates are going to be chopped up with coconut and almonds and rolled up in little balls.. not that it’s needed, I just want to see whats what….

The last few days dinner has been all about cheese and crackers or foccia bread and anything I can put on it with minimal effort..

Except for a pizza and that bruschetta incident…. or the plain ramen noodles, because I like plain noodles now and then.. and it was “now” then..

I still have cheese and crackers, so I’m hiding out till they’re gone.. then its back to actually cooking…

Assuming I’m not busy packing.. I have a flight to take shortly sooooo, that needs tending to.. despite a loathing of planes, plane food, security check points, buying new Tshirts, socks and boxers etc.. actually I like the last three.. it beats doing laundry..and they’re ready to go in a suit case….

Logistics and bureaucratic hurdles..unngh

I can hardly wait till excitement replaces that OMG induced knot in my stomach..

Steamed cod..

The cod finally made it onto the dinner roster…and steaming was the preferred treatment..

I tend to like fish firm and flaky as a general rule… except for civiche and gravlax..

There was just salt, dill and lemon involved but that’s all it takes for cod…

It was a happy event since fish is high on my preferred food chain but I lack opportunity or motivation to indulge often..

How did we as a species manage to actually poison oceans? Unbelievable..

Diawali…. Hindu festival of lights

My GF works with Indians and its Diawali so its kind of a big deal and she had her first taste of ladduu, dahl and various homemade Indian foods.. At which point she sends me recipes.. since I tend to like… anything basically.

This time it was a recipe for ladduu… which is in progress as we speak..

100_9217

Its a lot like Mexican dulce de leche.. but different since coconut is involved, other types of Ladduu use dates and sesame seeds… so I’m thinking some fun is in order…

I did two half batches… one following the rules, the other not so much….

First batch coconut, caramelish goodness….

Second batch I kinda added bits from another recipe which was dates…. Then it went sideways.. if dates are good then raisins must be as well, especially if they’ve been soaking in a melange of spices and rum for over a month or so..

Good move… just a couple of tablespoons.. not an overwhelming glop.. you still want to get that coconut caramelish thing…

Which worked out..

And I was happy about it because, last night I was mashing together coconut, nuts, dates and dried fruit with a mortar and pestle figuring out a calorie dense snack to take on the plane… because I hate planes, airport restaurant, airplane food and pretty much everything about it… I do like picnic baskets and bento boxes though.. but just don’t know what the rules are on a plane.. one can suppose cutlery is out… but whatever..

Ladduu will make a nice addition to the hoard….

Meet the new lunch, same as the old lunch

The expedient lunch, everything was close at hand, which dictated the whole event..

I didn’t feel like thinking.. because I’ve put in enough thought for the day..and that sort of thing needs to be kept in check..

100_9214

So lunch was Zen…. or at least a few minutes to zone out…

The cod needs to be dealt with later… prolly steamed, dilled, capered and lemonized.. with a salad…and maybe bruschetta of some ilk..

I read a rant earlier today about artisanal toast that nearly killed me…. http://kitchenette.jezebel.com/artisanal-toast-is-apparently-a-fucking-thing-now-1584472659

She was impressively deranged.. but right none the less..

I almost feel guilty….given bruschetta has points in common with artisanal toast..

What saves me is that it hasn’t been hipsterized into the void.. and still counts as food rather than some sort of quasi elitist statement..

It’s working class food.. not a $7 entree that dummies over pay for… even though they do.

500 Cook books and nothing for dinner.

I actually do have 500+ cook books and dinner isn’t really an issue.

But reading a chefs blog piqued an interest in figuring out what exactly my goals may be…

I’m not a chef.. and have no illusions about my skill set. I couldn’t handle a full kitchen and staff.. don’t wanna.

I read cook books, how people do things fascinates me, the whole notion of culture and technique determining use of ingredients is a world of exploration..

Besides you can’t riff on a classic if you don’t know what a classic is..

Its fun to me, no ingredient or idea is safe, and I will plunder any culture to make my dinner… nothing I do is “normal” its all about lets do this for breakfast… which could well be and has been a Greek salad and steamed cod..no pancakes, no captain crunch, no eggs and bacon…. mostly because I don’t like pancakes or captain crunch and “bacon” ain’t what it used to be..

I do write stuff down (recipes) but its a medieval system that presupposes knowledge of proportions.. and is basically an ingredient list with no measurements…

“Bill you should open a restaurant”

UMMmm..NO..I’d lose my mind and NO you can’t have it your way.. NO I won’t do an all you can eat pancake breakfast.. just NO..

Which is a good way to go broke in a tough business..

At best maybe I’d aspire too a bistro type operation with four tables and a menu board.. and “NO you still can’t have it your way” policy.. if you want it your way go home…

All of which tells me I’d be doomed from the start…

Except.. I can bang out pizza like a mad thing and its killer.

Which is prolly my culinary niche..

OK realistically, it is my niche and I don’t get tired of it..

Baking is a close second….

My GF is a big advocate of us doing something together.. Shes a baker and second in command where she works at a bakery in New Zealand, shes also a chef and seems to think I put out “amazing” food..

She’s decided I’d enjoy charcuterie seminars and artisanal, European baking classes…in New Zealand, which is sort of like kyptonite to my non-compliant food tendencies… both require discipline and a fair amount of precision… besides I have a thing about bread and salt cured hams..

Not to mention the ever so obvious….

So OK, Besides all that, its interlocking skills, charcuterie=house produced pepperoni and since the ovens are up and running anyway, the slack time can go to baking real bread…

And I don’t have to deal with food hipsters and poseurs, who can’t tell chicken from turkey..

Long story short, cooking is like playing music.. Improvisation can be amazing and a joy to do, but you still need to know the scales and practice, practice, practice..

Keep it simple.. and do what you do for the sheer pleasure of it..

Every one needs a Jade bowl..

I found my jade stash while rummaging through the shop… and it seems there were a goodly number…

100_9149

I sort of go for the camo greens because I think its funny.. in that juxtaposed ironic kind of way…

Elegant shape and material meets house on wheels Jeeter sensibility’s..

It’s my idea of a joke.. and a visual mnemonic to remind me about things seldom being what they seem…

But my sense of humor is sort of out there…..

A kid who’s mom my son was dating asked me for something to take to show and tell…

So I gave it too him… told him the story and off he goes….I got a panicked phone call from the school an hour later… which was expected.

Seems a museum grade fossil sino-hydrosarus the size of a dinner plate caused quite a stir.. and I’d handed it over to a 8 year old.

I thought that was funny too… and amused myself for the rest of the year sending him off to school with even more arcane bits and pieces.. including ancient Roman coins, amber with bugs in it or stuff that fell from space….

Seems he learned a lot……

Starting the day…

Actually I’d skipped breakfast…

I don’t have to burn up body mass today, so no sense loading up on energy with no outlet..

100_9211

There was some lamb out that needed to be dealt with… and that was kinda the motive.. it might look like a lot of food, but its not…

I do the “small plate trick” to fool myself into thinking there is more than there is.. then fill said plate with a little of this and that.. for dietary diversity.

I was mostly after the poached eggs, and the rest was obligatory mostly because I don’t think a one item breakfast is very smart…or exactly healthy.

Mostly I opt for rolled oats and dried fruit.. but I’m out of oats and every bit of fruit in the house is soaking in cheap rum…

I don’t drink, so why exactly is a mystery… other than I happen to like flavor profiles that take ones breath away..

Subtlety is not something I strive for except in conversation with someone close to me and even then there are OMG moments

Unpacking, sorting, repacking and annoying myself.

This is Berto… hes a South American stalker dog given to chicanery and connivance.. in a classic pose

100_8820

His favorite pastime aside from sock theft, boxer theft and burrowing into anything, including but not limited to a 50 lb sack of potting soil, shopping bags etc..

Is faking an injury for food, sympathy or to make me look bad..if not all three at once… Which seems to be his notion of a trifecta.

Lately he’s discovered climbing… first onto the couch.. then the back of the couch.. then finally to the shelving above the couch..

Where he then rearranges things to suit himself in a pile preferably on the floor and replace them with a select few items of his own choosing… like my socks, boxers and a T shirt that I wanna poke with a stick…

And I thought I had issues….

It’s like living with a furry federale, I can’t make a move without getting hit up for La Mordida.. be it food or personal favors.. pet me, brush me, amuse me… I want some of what you’re eating.. which I should maybe do more of, so he’ll get to fat to cause problems..

egg poaching tech…

It cost $1.. and I like poached eggs

100_9206

So it seemed like a good idea at the time.

100_9207

But… the whole experience was “meeh” and produced something like a no shell soft boiled egg.. which was OK, but not amazing..and stuck to the little cup thingies..

So its back to the slotted spoon trick…

I’ve been on a poached egg and toast for breakfast kick lately, which is neither photogenic nor exciting.. hence the lack of posts..

And working my way through the freezer is sort of a chore because, I’m not a big carnivore.. what’s a weeks worth of beefy, porky or other critter goodness for most people…. is a month or two if not longer for me.. plus its an accent rather than the main event..

Except for cod, salmon and other non-mammalian critters.

Or pizza which is its own food group and I’m missing it in a way I’m not diggin….

But the freezer contents need to be dealt with… I’m thinking “lamb” curry or “lamb” and barley pilaf…

It’s just not all that pretty to look at… well maybe, I dunno, it depends and whatever…. I’m not a food stylist so, therefore have no clue..