Wednesday, August 31, 2005

childhood food memories meme

how fun, i've been tagged by cookiecrumb at i'm mad and i eat to participate in a meme dealing with childhood food memories...specifically the top five childhood food memories i miss. or rather missed. which would be all childhood memories since it seems to me that i pretty much missed out on the all those carefree childhood memories. i was expelled from the womb at about the age of seventy and have been doing a pretty good imitation of bette davis in "baby jane" ever since.

blessedly, i do not have any actual autobiographical photographic evidence of said times, but here is a dramatized, made for tv representation of the aforementioned epoch. race, gender and location all changed to protect the identity of the innocent.
The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

so, back to the meme at hand, which is: name the top five childhood food memories i miss:

1. "soft rice". martha stewart re-dubbed this as "japanese risotto". even martha couldn't take the tarnish off of this hardcore asian peasant dish which is really just what the chinese call congee. a very soupy, thick short grain rice porridge (yes, porridge)with miso and cabbage and an egg cracked in and stirred up to thicken the mess at the end. the proportions were probaby about 1/4 c. short grain rice to 2 cup water and 3 T. miso and 1/8 cabbage and 1 egg. i got this every time i was sick, so you might imagine i have a sort of love-hate relationship with the stuff.

2. "hungarian goulash". my fathers specialty. i have no idea where the name came from since i've since learned that the actual hungarian goulash bears absolutely no resemblance to the hamburger, italian sausage, elbow macaroni in a tomato sauce slop that i happily slurped up and still fondly dream of. what can i say except "upstate new york"?

3. "rabbit stew". yikes, i know, i know. poor little bugs bunny. but i can't tell you how darn tender that stewed rabbit leg was. the meat just fell off of the bone, and the veggies that it came with (potatoes, onion, celery, carrot, a bit of tomato - yummy). too bad it turned out to be my pet rabbit oscar to whom i read bedtime stories in his hutch at twilight (and you ask why i became a vegetarian?).

4. dinty moore "beef" stew. honest to god my brother and i used to fight over the stuff. even though we both agreed that it smelled exactly
like the canned horsemeat (kalcan, i recall) dogfood our giant one-eyed german shepard used to eat. this comes in at a dead heat to the canned hormel "tamales", but much ahead of the underwood "deviled meats" line.

5. "meatloaf". i put that in quotations since it was a japanese version of the american classic. for sure there was some groundbeef but as for the rest, well, at least she tried.

and now for the hard part. the rules. did any of you read "the rules" when it came out - that little handbook about how to manipulate a man into that thing that they say us females desire the most - no, not a maid or a big, furry, friendly rotweiler - but rather a mate.... but anyhoo, here are four people i shall forward this meme to:
1. brownbreadicecream
2. simply recipes
3. obachans kitchen balcony and garden
4. asian vegan

and here is the next step, which smells very strongly of a chain letter: it is to remove the blog at #1 from the following list (which is the uppermost link from hence this meme came) and bump every one up one place, adding your blog's name in the #5 spot; link to each of the other blogs for the desired effect,whatever that might be. fingers crossed i get a dollar in the mail sometime soon....or an autographed picture of shaun cassidy...
1. pumpkin pie bungalow
2. once upon a feast
3. belly-timber
4. i'm mad and i eat
5. bunnyfoot

brownie bite cookies and blog day '05

it has come to my attention that today is blog day 2005. a day in which we bloggers share five new blogs with links to encourage our readers to do a little exploring. so here are five blogs (all of which are new to me since i've only been blogging for a short time now) that i really enjoy checking out. here they are in no particular order: tokyotimes i love this blog written by a dry-witted brit observing the latest trends, news, and cultural dissonances of the japanese life. and back to northern california, i enjoy checking out cookiecrumb at i'm mad and i eat. lots of great photos of local produce and seasonal dishes never fails to get my mouth watering. obachan's kitchen and balcony garden back to japan for an eclectic blog by a self-titled obachan (meaning middle aged lady) - lots of interesting recipes and food ideas that blend east and west in her little kitchen in kotchi japan. brownbreadicecream the title bar reads "singapore vancouver des moines tokyo" and that pretty much says it all about this multi-cultural non-native tokyo dweller. i love stopping by to read up on her lastest musing on life in japan, pictures of edward the dog, and her ever patient salaryman husband. finally, if you haven't been to nordljus you really must stop by. keiko creates the most amazing confections i've seen outside of a pastry cookbook and wields her camera with envy inducing skill. just beautiful. now, back to our regularly scheduled feature:

you all must think i'm a cookie-scarfing maniac living in a garbage can somewhere on sesame street west, judging from all the cookie recipes i post. and -gasp- they are not even close to being vegan - unless somewhere along the way butter and eggs got themselves expelled from metallic, mechanical robotic cows and chickens (scary mid-fifties science fiction type thought). in fact, i've been wondering if i should change my blog description from "mostly vegan" to "cookie and pizza freak". well, i blame my man for this. and more. much, much more. you see, he likes cookies. and he will not even taste the ones without the barnyard ingredients, for which i can hardly blame him since i also despise dry and puffy lowfat cookies almost as much as the oily and greazzzy vegan ones. plus, i don't really like cookies all that much anyway. i'll choose a salty greazzzy bag of chips over a cookie any day.

here is the most recent cookie recipe in my arsenal...adapted from something i found on the allrecipes site. they are very chocolatey without being too sweet. depending on how long you cook them they can be slightly crispy on the outside and soft inside, or if you flatten them out a bit and bake a little longer they can be nice and crispy. everyone i've given these to really like them. heck, i even like them.

brownie bite cookies
1 - 1 1/4 cups butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 Tablespoon vanilla
2 cups flour
3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups semi sweet chocolate

cream together butter and sugar. add eggs one at a time, then vanilla. sift the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt) and incorporate into sugar butter mixture. fold in chocolate chips. drop by heaping teapoon fulls onto a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.
to veganize: replace the eggs with 2 egg equivalents of ener-g egg replacer, or the egg replacer of your choice and replace the butter with margarine or non-hydrogenated shortening (or a mix of the two, which i prefer).

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

i'm back....

some of you may have noticed that i've been quiet lately. well, that's because i've been away on vacation somewhere in the beautiful pacific northwest. i decided that the fog and the city life were starting to wear me down like an old bald tire, and decided to spend a week swimming in this river:

and foraging on berries:

and enjoying many beautiful flowers:

and the best part of it all is that i've returned in time to enjoy what i hope is the beginning of our true san francisco summer. no roiling vats of fog pouring over twin peaks in a diabolical onslaught. no roaring winds. no jackets. no knit caps. only the sweet stench of the sewers whispering their summer lullabyes.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

sopa azteca

yes, that bowl is indeed empty. this crude, crumbly, humble pottery is one of my favorite relics from my time in mexico. somehow the ornate talavera pottery with its bright colors and showy designs just didn't turn my crank once i returned to the u.s. not like this stuff. i suppose it's because it's more representative of what i view to be the "real" life of mexico. in other words, my life in a conservative cowboy town high up in the desert: the mercados crammed full of hanging pig carcases, stinky vats of lard fried pork skin, piles of avocados at 15 pesos a kilo, fresh rounds of crumbly cheese with flies buzzing around, stands with old ladies selling freshly squeezed juices, and, oh yeah, how could i forget the "onion boy". he who strutted around in a wife beater and battered cowboy hat, gratuitously heaving sacks of onions over his head just to show off the perfect triangle of his finely sculpted physique. how many unnecessary onions did i buy, let rot, then go back for more?

so.... rough clay pottery plus onions minus onion boy plus summertime plus bumper crops of tomatoes equals what?. isn't it obvious? it equals the sum of all creation: soup. hot, steaming bowls of tomato-based soup to fortify us during the pinche cold and foggy san francisco summer. this is one of my favorite soups and very, very easy to make. be sure not to skimp on the garnishes as they really make the soup shine. speaking of garnishes i also have a great recipe for vegetarian green posole. maybe i'll post it if this damn fog doesn't clear up soon.

Sopa Azteca

4 cups vegetable stock
3 large or 6 small tomatoes, roasted and peeled (either broil or roast over open gas flame)
2 large cloves garlic, peeled
1 small white onion, peeled and chopped
½ - 1 teaspoon chipotle chili (use either canned, chipotles in adobo sauce, or soak dried chili in boiling water for 20 minutes – remove seed and veins unless you like it really hot)
4 epazote leaves (optional – may substitute ½ t. oregano)
1 tablespoon oil, plus enough to fry the tortillas
4 corn tortillas (or 1 cup crumbled store bought tortilla chips)
sliced avocado
1 lime, cut quartered
Mexican crema or sour cream
crumbled queso fresco or mild feta cheese

cut the tortillas into Frito-size strips, fry in hot oil until crispy, and drain well, set aside. in a large saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer. meanwhile, place the roasted tomatoes, garlic, onion, chiles, ¼ of the tortilla strips, and epazote in the blender with just enough broth to allow the blades to turn, and puree. if you have the time and the inclination (try it at least once to see if this extra step is "vale la pena" for you - i generally skip it), in a separate saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon oil, add the puree and cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes. add the simmering broth, cook another 15 minutes; add salt to taste.

serve the soup with the fried tortilla strips (or, more likely, store bought chips) in the broth and pass the cheese, avocado, lime, cilantro and crema separately, to be added by each diner. the addition of these garnishes, especially the lime and chips really makes the dish, so don't skimp!

by the way, here is a picture of the dreaded fog - just in case you don't believe me...

Thursday, August 11, 2005

infused vinegar

pretty, no?

this is the latest of my experimentation with infusions: onion-infused vinegar. the red onion gives the vinegar a beautiful pinkish watermelon-ish tint and a nice wallop of onion flavor, minus the bite. and so easy! just dice up some red onion (i whole red onion for one small jar of white vinegar), bring the vinegar to a simmer in a saucepan, add diced onion and pour the contents of the saucepan plus a pinch of salt into a large jar and let sit for a week or two. strain out the onion and store in a tightly sealed jar.

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