New Zealand, Otara Market..


First stop off the plane we went to Otara market… which involved Thai chicken on a stick…and a latte from some guy that works hot air balloon events in the US who regaled me with stories of getting lost between Havasu and Reno..  The moral of the story being…..never trust GPS or free White Russians

Second stop involved vindaloo beef which had a warning sign on it due to spice content, and apparently was deemed risky for Europeans, but Arizona people aren’t European.. or prone to bland anything.. we wanna sweat while eating ice cream

Its all a blur of steamed buns, fried dumplings and goat curry for breakfast….

Not to mention Thai chicken curry pie….


All is well on the dinner front…

I tried getting a photo, but its not happening, given low light, the bubbling cauldron of a crock pot and a whole lot of steam..

My interest was else where… mostly having to do with a “can I eat it now” scenario….

Tonight it’s all about chili’s and making use of a generous and varied supply…

First round battle being chili Colorado because the freezer needs emptying and I feel special…

I go mid-range on the heat because at some point it mostly burns and kills the flavor…. which is kind of pointless..

Keep it simple, cheap beef, salt, onion, garlic, cumin and chilis.. corn tortillas on the side or tortilla chips mushed into the bowl..

Tomatoes were also involved for some reason.. which may be negligence rather than planned… But its still good and I don’t really care..

The chili it’s self is chunky rather than smooth since I don’t wanna let cook for two days nor do I want to use a boat motor on it much less clean it afterwards.. besides which texture is good regardless of edicts handed down by CASI and the various chili gods in human form…

My dinner and they can hush..

I was a CASI judge a time or two and did learn a few things… dial back on cumin and drink as much beer as possible between judging entries.. cause it could get unpleasant given sundry secret ingredients. yak fat or whatever…zebra cheese..zombie parts, I dunno, it was generally secret..

A dirty, dirty, shameful secret… we never knew who’s entry we were judging.. which is just as well, because reprisals might have been an option..or at least choking someone a little…

Not that it wasn’t fun….. with a few WTH why is this sooo amazingly bad moments.. Mostly it was cumin or yak fat.. the next big flaw was using sirloin or NY strip… Ummm..NO

Chili is best made out of the cheapest, toughest stuff you can find… it just tastes better…personally I like cheek meat which I get at a carneceria.. because most of my caucaziod brethren are kinda squeamish.. so they don’t sell it at Safeway..

Their loss… besides I like the guy at the carniceria better..


Coconut covered chaos…

Or Ladduu depending on how sticky it is…


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..


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..


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….

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 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..

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..


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

egg poaching tech…

It cost $1.. and I like poached eggs


So it seemed like a good idea at the time.


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..

Things that drive the neighbors crazy..


Nopal cactus with flowers…. you can eat the fruit which is called tuna in Spanish… I cant remember what it is in English, and just barely remember its prickly pear in Meraicn… which reminds me its called cactus pear… so my memory isn’t totally shot.

I hijack cactus for the fruit in season…. and the pads whenever… which are then basically frenched and added to eggs, burritos or whatever…

My caucaziod brethren think its insane, but brown folks get it and make suggestions cause its a staple.. they even help harvest or get inspired and grab some too..

Especially if its in their front yard.. which I’ve been known to invade… with permission.

I like free food.. mushrooms, fish, crawdads and basically anything that can’t hide or run faster than me.. I really like coastal areas because there’s more free stuff than you can imagine.. crabs, mussels, sea veg.. barnacles and God knows what.. Which appalls any number of people… till they try it.

Personally, I’d rather pry dinner off of a rock and cook it then an there rather than go out to cafe effete and pay 20 bucks.. besides its just better and way more fun..

There’s a trip to NZ in the offing, upon arrival I’ve been promised eels and coast line…maybe a pig hunt because I tend to like getting into the bush and treating it like my own personal 7-11.

Living in a desert is limited… there’s more food than you’d think but most of it bites, stings, has thorns, causes hallucinations or is poisonous.. you have to poke sticks with a stick to be sure its not a snake… then get it, before it gets you… but you get a meal and a snazzy hat band out if it..

I’m ready to go…