January 19, 2010

It’s been a dreadful few days of computer drama. All self-inflicted, actually. Somewhere in my brain, I decided I needed to back up my data, photos, and who knows what else resides on this machine. And from there, into the land of software updates I ventured, only to take down computer, network, and ultimately, my sanity.

It’s still not completely fixed. I can get connected while sitting in one room of the house – neither the kitchen nor my studio, mind you. It’s like the olden days before wireless.

So, other than melting down over technology, I’ve been enjoying a quiet week of cooking from other food sites, using what was available in the pantry and freezer. Eating other people’s food. Food52 is the most amazing resource. It’s my go-to site when I’m deciding what to cook, because I know those recipes have been made in a kitchen like mine, by a cook like me, and they never fail to impress, expand my imagination, and solve the “what’s for dinner” question. Returning from eating gloriously (fattening!) food in New York, I craved simple tasty vegetarian fare.

Here are a few highlights, and links to some fantastic blogs, as well.

Borrachos – an amazing recipe from LastNightsDinner, a friend from food52. This easy, tasty bean recipe has been fantastic. Because Dennis isn’t much for jalapenos, I just open a jar of my pickled jalapeno slices and spoon a generous helping right into my serving of the cooked beans. The tomatoes melt away and the beer provides a nice hoppy undertone.
We had burritos the first night – one of Dennis’ favorite ways to enjoy beans. Breakfast for me was a bowl of these drunken beans, topped with a poached egg and some sriracha. And one night, I served the beans in bowls garnished with toasted ancho chili strips, avocado and creme fraiche.
I tried my hand at making corn tortillas, something I was quite good at the last few times, but this effort was a total failure. The beans, however, shine through everytime. For this particular recipe, I used Rancho Gordo Santa Maria pinquito. A tasty bean that makes me want to say Toothsome. (what a great word)

We both adored Macaroni, Cauliflower and Cheese from TasteFood. Another food52 contributor, Lynda’s twists on classic recipes are spectacular, as you can see in this simple, tasty dish. I made a full recipe, divided it into four gratin dishes, and froze two. It was the perfect dinner for Dennis when I was off in New York.

Dennis and I took a field trip to a Thai grocer in Silver Spring. What a great place – my only regret is eating lunch before I went! The food on the carryout side smelled great. A very helpful guy helped me gather all the ingredients to start cooking from Andrea Nguyen’s Asian Dumplings.

And a few other ingredients, too, the most intriguing, perhaps, is the Black Sweet Soy Sauce. I first heard of it through the fun blog Big Girls, Small Kitchen. These up and coming food world stars, Phoebe and Cara, have been around food52 and I got to know them there, and on Twitter. There was a great shout of Hooray! from the Twitterverse when their book deal was announced. Their recipes are spot-on – easy, tasty and always inventive. I made their version of Pad See Ew, and we loved it, and when Dennis tossed some chopped peanuts on top, we loved it even more.
So, New York was absolutely fabulous! Perhaps my favorite moment was walking out of the hotel into a sea of teenage girls. Yes, indeed, Nick Jonas was pulling up just around the corner. What a hilarious, noisy experience.
The baby shower was delightful, especially getting to see the gal pals from Martha’s Vineyard Weekend twice this year! Wow! (We missed you Kathleen, Carole, Ellen.) Jessie glowed. Seriously. What a gorgeous mother. Driving to and from Where-The-Hell-Are-We-Is-That-Really-Belmont-Park-OMG-and-Flushing-Meadows-Too?, Long Island, was — well, just was.

Other highlights – meeting the glorious YummyMummy for a good talk about this world of blogging. She provided great ideas and insights in her inimitable hilarious way (read her blog for some hardy belly laughs and great recipes, to boot.) We pinky-swore to go to BlogHer this August in NYC. Can Not Wait.

The food in New York was just fantastic. Our dinner at the Fatty Crab was exceptional – especially the Crispy Pork Belly and Pickled Watermelon.
The lobster rolls downstairs at the Brooklyn Flea were OutOfThisWorld.

Momofuko Ramen. YES.

No food trip to NY seems complete these days without a stroll through Chelsea Market, especially when it’s full of people and musicians and children. Beautiful fish market. Superb Italian market (fig vinegar!) Eye candy everywhere.
Dinner at Landmarc – luscious roasted marrow bones, a sharp frisee salad, highly acidic and a great counterpoint. The Union Square Greenmarket, even in the cold of January, offered gorgeous mushrooms, root vegetables, some yummy pretzels and a loaf of sour rye that made me immensely happy. Lunch at Union Square Cafe – yes, the service really is that good. And the food was perfection, as was the company, reconnecting with a mentor/friend from a million years ago.
So, to wrap up a few days of eating other people’s food, I asked Dennis if he would go with me to a class taught by Patricia Jinich at the Mexican Cultural Institute.
An evening of tamales sounded pretty darn good to me, but I had NO idea! They were spectacular. Three types – veg, chicken & beef – taught in a breezy, charming way, making it all look so easy and approachable! Yes, I will have a tamale party this year!
For now, it’s back to the kitchen. Presuming I can overcome these technology burps, here’s what’s coming up. Jim Lahey’s No-Knead bread. The Asian Dumpling experiment. And making bacon.

6 Responses to “Eating Other People’s Food”

  1. Kathi D

    Condolences on the computer snafu! That is misery indeed. I'm glad you're keeping your strength and spirits up with all that great food.

  2. Winnie

    So sorry about the computer troubles! I once crashed my blog when I inserted a line of code where it was not supposed to be…got it fixed and will never do that again. Hope all is back to normal for you soon. All those meals look fantastic…glad you had fun in NYC!

  3. Anonymous

    thanks for passing on the mac n' cheese with cauliflower recipe! we just had it for dinner and it was really delicious. cauliflower never tasted so good!
    Chris and John in Maine

  4. christine

    Hello! I found this blog in foodista and followed it here. This is a lovely blog and nice review. By the way you can place more foodista widget in your past and future blogs so that other foodista readers can follow and see your blog too. Just search for a related recipe or food in Foodista and use its widget. Place it at the end of your blog and you are all set. I hope to read more from you. Cheers!

  5. MrsWheelbarrow

    Hi Christine, Your comment is so timely. I've made a list of To-Do's and one of them is getting my foodista mojo going (that and a few other similar aggregating sites.) Thank you for the virtual assist! – Cathy


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