The first time I ever had charred shishito peppers was at Umi Sake House in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood, and it blew my mind. A friend had ordered it to share, and when it arrived, I definitely looked at the small pile of peppers with a great deal of skepticism.
Peppers? As an appetizer? Wouldn’t that, you know, hurt to eat? But you guys, it… well, it does hurt. Sometimes. I wouldn’t lie to you. This is a place of honesty and trust, after all. But mostly, the peppers are an insanely addictive combination of sweet and bitter, with just a small dose of heat. Except for sometimes, like I mentioned, when it is a large dose of heat. But they always seem to be the minority, and in any case I think it just heightens the experience when you have no idea if you’ll come across a “surprise pepper” that lays on the napalm inside your mouth. Does that not sound great to you?
No? Just me?
This is hardly a recipe, but I do love a good sardine sandwich. Sardines?!, you say, barely able to disguise the look of utter revulsion on your face. The oily fish that comes in a tin, complete with spines???
Yes, sardines! I respond. And don’t you dare say a single thing against tinned fish, you mook! Then we breakdance battle, and after I completely wreck you with my triple-headspin-windmill combo and you weep a little, I’ll invite you over for a sardine sandwich so that you will truly understand just how wrong you were to ever doubt the majesty of the humble tinned fish.
Happy 2017, everyone! Welcome to a new year, a symbolic time that promises many things but that in reality probably won’t differ much from December 31st of this past weekend, aside from the fact that we’ll all be scratching out the inevitable “2016”s on our rent checks to hastily scrawl in “2017” instead. Turning an accidental 6 into a deliberate 7 will be messy, but by god we’ll do it.
But despite the unceasing and apathetic forward march of time, let’s all embrace the wise words of Bill and Ted and be excellent to ourselves and to each other. Imagine me embracing you in a hug right now— and imagine it being very awkward for added realism, if you will.
No, I don’t mean baking hobbits. I mean a bake inspired by the merry little Halflings. If you know me at all (or in the very least, follow my silly little posts on Instagram), you know that I read Lord of the Rings every year. And every time I read it, I’m tickled anew by Samwise Gamgee’s fixation on procuring a good ale and some hearty fare. I mean, he even whips up some lean rabbit stew out in the middle of a field after growing weary of their monotonous diet of lembas bread. A hobbit after my own heart, that Sam.
So I got to thinking, what would Sam make if he did have the provisions? Probably something a lot like this dish: assorted vegetables and sausage tossed with fresh and dried herbs, a bit of butter, and all roasted until golden brown and fragrant. And seeing as how Frodo and Bilbo’s birthday is later this week (September 22nd!), it seemed as good a time as any to make it.
I don’t fry things very often because for whatever reason I am completely inept at it. But once in a while, I’ll come across a recipe for something fried that sounds so appealing that I’ll shove aside my fry-aversion and just go for it. These zucchini patties — zucchini fritters, really — called for me to do just that.
These are like potato latkes, but made with zucchini and onion instead. How could I resist? Potato latkes? Delicious. Zucchini? Also delicious. This is an obvious win.
Halloween is coming!
Okay, it’s still a month away, but it’ll sneak up on you. Like Christmas always does, but way spookier and with much tackier decorations. Speaking of, have you ever really thought about what you’re buying when you buy Halloween decorations? You’re spending money on things to make your house look like actual garbage: cobwebs in a bag, bloody rags, maybe some rubber severed limbs. It’s pretty bizarre, all things considered, to have a holiday where you actively try to make your yard look like you’re some kind of mass murderer with a poor sense of body disposal.
That said, I do love Halloween. What better excuse to put together an amazing costume that represents who you truly are inside? Perhaps Batman, or Beetlejuice, or a sexy Spongebob Squarepants.
But even as an adult, the thing I love most about Halloween is the candy. Or rather, all the candy that goes on massive clearance the day after Halloween, muahahahahahaaha. And the king of all candy? KIT KATS.
I am into corn in a big way. I eat little Del Monte cans of whole kernel sweet corn straight from the tin with a spoon. If I weren’t so keenly aware that it’d be very weird, I would even offer it to guests as a dessert. (“Annnnd to cleanse your palate, a can of corn with a spoon in it! Wait, where are you going?”)
Luckily, there are more socially acceptable ways of feeding your guests (and yourself) corn instead of just eating it from a can like some kind of animal that has access to a can opener.
What better time to partake in corn than in the summer, when sweet corn is at its golden peak and ahem, really, really cheap?
I sometimes become incredibly homesick. I don’t know if it’s so much that I miss Texas, but rather that I just miss all the things that were a given back home. I knew where to go to get my favorite broccoli pasta, where to go to get a good banh mi, where to go to get the perfect fajitas, and so on. All the things I miss are decidedly food-related; even the people I miss have some kind of food memory attached to them — Niko Niko’s with Jessica, sushi with Meredith, dim sum with my siblings, and you get the idea.
The ultimate food memories, of course, are linked to my mom. I was one of those lucky kids who always had a homecooked dinner every night, something I definitely did not appreciate enough back then. That’s a major perk to having restauranteurs as parents, I tell you what.
BLUEBERRIES BLUEBERRIES BLUEBERRIES. The best berries (second only to the blackberry) and whenever they’re in season, I stock up with pints and pints of it. The best way to enjoy blueberries is to shovel them into your mouth, without shame or decorum. But another excellent vehicle for blueberry delivery, if you need to eat in a manner that is more socially acceptable, is the blueberry galette.
Golden, crispy crust and sweet, warm blueberries oozing out here and there — what’s not to like? Better yet, if you’ve got as much of a delicate hand as a herd of cattle, fret not because galettes are supposed to look messy and wild. It’s rustic.
The downstairs apartment is apparently undergoing renovation, so as I write this, my floors and walls are shuddering from all the banging, thumping, and mysterious mechanical sounds that make me think maybe a Transformer is trying to build boat with its fists in good ol’ #203. Good grief.
Anyway, that has nothing to do with cornbread. I don’t even have a clever segue planned. Speaking of boats… No. Nothing of the sort.
But cornbread! You’d think having grown up in Texas that I’d wax poetic about how Southern cornbread is unbeatable and that these Northerners just don’t get it right, and et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But you’d be wrong. I grew up eating a lot of the stuff when I lived in Houston, and I loved it then as much as I love it now. But up until recently, the best cornbread I have ever had was from a barbecue joint in Seattle. I mean, the actual barbecue was… not exciting. But the cornbread! Holy shit!
And now that experience has been dethroned by the little slices of cornbread heaven I had in… Vancouver, Canada. I know. But I had another Texan with me and we both agreed that this was the best cornbread, A+ cornbread, 5 stars, 10 thumbs up. So obviously, this is now a true fact: delicious cornbread can be found anywhere. Even in your own home!