Friday, May 23, 2008

Chicken Dinner

Such a yummy dinner, last night. I thawed the whole chicken from the CSA, cut off its head and feet and proceeded to cut the thing in appropriate pieces. This is not something I do very often, but it didn't go too badly. I used the back and neck to make more broth for the freezer.

The rest I soaked in buttermilk, then dredged in a mixture of crushed cornflakes, coconut, and salt. I baked it at 400 for about 30 or 40 minutes, until it was crispy and cooked through. Served it with a homemade sweet-and-sour sauce (which runs circles around that sickly red stuff they serve in Chinese restaurants), and some steamed bok choy tossed in Mirin wine.

Oh, that chicken was good! The meat was tender and juicy, the crust was crusty, nutty and sweet. The whole thing was perfect with banana daiquiris. Sort of a tropical meal, even though the weather is cooling off.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


The bushes I planted 4 or 5 years ago have produced berries for the first time! I'm really stoked about this - I love blueberries, but they are so expensive. I planted 4 bushes and have been waiting patiently to see if they would produce.

This picture is of the biggest plant. Two others also have a few berries growing. One has no berries, although it had a few flowers this year. Still, it looks healthy and I think it will grow some eventually. There are not a lot of berries yet, but that's okay. It'll happen.
I've picked a few and they taste great. This morning, I put them on my cereal. What a lovely feeling.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Long Weekend

Memorial Day is coming up and we've had the weather for it. It's been hot!

But, the Bay Area being what it is, it has already begun to cool off. Still, I think we'll have some pleasant weather for parades and cook-outs.

No cook-outs for me this year, though. This weekend (Friday through Monday) I'm feeding my science fiction addiction and attending BayCon, the SF convention in Santa Clara. I'm workshopping my book, looking for feedback from people in the Industry.

What's that? You're concerned that food will be a challenge at the convention?

Boy, are you ever right about that!

I could take my lunch. The problem is, meals at these things tend to be great opportunities for networking, or just plain socializing. What's an aspiring writer to do?

Eat lots of salad, I guess. And try to pretend it doesn't bother me if the ingredients were grown in South America or China, using lots of chemicals. I will do my best. I plan on researching the hotel and finding out if they have any Real Food on the premises. It is the Bay Area. I have hope.

This Saturday, however, we are deserting the convention for the A's. This will be my first baseball game of the season and I can't wait! Excitement is tempered, sadly, by the horrid report in last week's paper about the state of the food facilities at the coliseum. I'm not sure I'll be able to enjoy my hot link and beer.

Things like that make me want to take over all the food production and make sure it's clean. There really is no excuse for poor sanitation.

So I have a strange and exciting weekend coming up, one where food is strictly a side issue. But for me, it's always important, and I'll be on the lookout for the Best Food I can find.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Holidays and Cookbooks

I did have a post last week, but Blogger ate it and I didn't have the energy to write it again. In fact, I've learned my lesson: write all posts in Word first, then copy into the blog. Anything to reduce stress!

Whatever that entry was about is long gone from my mind, so I'll start with something new. I got a new cookbook for Mother's Day!

It's nearly impossible to give me a cookbook as a gift and not make me happy. This one is Food to Live By and it's put out by Myra Goodman of Earthbound Farms.

First of all, the pictures are fantastic. Not just the food - there are wonderful pictures of the farm in Carmel, including cute little kids on field trips discovering that food grows in the dirt! The cookbook was very popular with everyone gathered at my house yesterday. My daughters had to look through it page by page. In fact, I just got of glimpse of it - I didn't get to sit down with it until everyone went home!

Obviously, I haven't tried any recipes yet. But they all look wonderful - lots of salads of course, but also a chapter on meats and one on pasta and another on vegetables, and dessert, too! There's also an entire chapter on raspberries, which made me want to run right out and plant a few bushes. I may do that, anyway!

So what did we do for Mother's Day? I like to cook - you knew that - but it's often a problem for my daughters, who like to cook, too. Since, as Mom, I'm not supposed to do anything, I was told they'd bring the ingredients and we could all cook things together! I thought that was a great solution, because I love sharing the kitchen with my kids and grandkids.

It was hectic and crowded. Lots of "excuse me, I need to get in that drawer" kind of thing, but we all had fun.

I made the Cheeseboard Collective's wonderful oat scones and had them ready early, so people could munch while they worked. While Lydia made a gorgeous fruit salad (we put the grandkids to work washing and slicing strawberries), Gloria and I made the Cheeseboard's Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins. Gloria zested and juiced the lemon and mixed it with the sugar, yogurt, and cream, while I mixed the dry ingredients.

When all that was done, Lydia made Strawberry Bellini's. This took a lot of attention from everyone, since my ancient blender decided to go on the blink, and we tried to figure out what was wrong. We ended up using the immersion blender. I love those things, but they aren't great for large batches.

But it all worked and they got the strawberries pureed and strained and mixed with cold prosecco and poured into wine glasses. Oh, they were good!

Cahlil, the almost-12-year-old, whipped up some cream for the salad and then made scrambled eggs - he's got the food bug, too! I fried up some bacon and brunch was ready.

A great time. I sent the leftovers home with the kids, saving two oat scones for Rick and I. I forgot to send the leftover whipped cream with the kids, so I'm going to make little "nests" on a baking sheet and freeze them. They'll be great for future desserts!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Spring cooking

Ah, fava beans. Aren't they great?

We had some last night, just mashed like they were potatoes, with a smidge of butter, cream, and salt. I served them as a side with pork roast and a salad.

Now frankly, I think the best way to have them is pureed with garlic and salt and served on crostini, but I didn't have any. Crostini, that is. I have no bread in the house at all, which puts me in a mild sort of panic. But we're heading out of town for a couple of days and I don't have time to make more. I'll get to it on Sunday, I promise.

I've been busier than usual, so cooking has been reduced to using the leftovers stored in my freezer, although I am still getting the CSA veggies every week and that gets me in front of the stove once in while. Hence, the fava bean fun.

Oh, and the peas! I love peas, always have. I remember chasing them around my plate as a child, making sure I got every last sweet morsel. My CSA is very generous with peas and I find, these days, my favorite way to eat them is raw, on a salad. Crunchy and sweet!

We also got the World's Best Strawberries in the box last week. They don't get any more perfect than those were, although I'm hoping for more that will be just as good. I made a sweet sauce with the last bit of my raw whole milk, a touch of stevia, and some cornstarch. Just mixed it together and microwaved it until it was slightly thick. I served the sauce with the sliced strawberries and a few amaretti cookies. A wonderful, light dessert!