December 31, 2007

desert depot lunch counter

Kelso Depot sign
Originally uploaded by foodnerd
The mayhem of work (and everything else) finally stopped, primarily because I left town to visit my parents for the holidays, then headed to LA to visit the husband's family en route to the honeymoon in Hawaii. Hot damn.

So posts will be sporadic while we're traveling, but I have every hope of posting lots of stuff about kalua pig and poke and shave ice real soon. I have been poking about on the various hawaiian foodblogs looking for tips...

Anyway. While in California we took a long weekend to go camping with friends in the Mojave Desert, which was awesome -- I love this particular bit of desert, and always find it relaxing and refreshing just to be there. We did a couple of really great hikes, one up a wash to a steep climb to a rockface, and another up a pair of big cinder cones. And by camping, I mean sleeping in a tent cabin with a wood stove and a ceiling fan and electricity to run the toaster oven that hedge brought along for cooking cornbread. For dinner the second night we had ribeyes grilled on the cast iron pan over the fire, with sauteed chanterelles foraged by a friend from the Bay Area. Really roughing it, you know.

On the way home, we stopped in Kelso Depot to check out the new visitor's center. They've restored the old early-20th-century train depot building, and installed a bunch of pretty nice natural history exhibits and restored the upper rooms where depot and railroad staff lived, and set up some historical displays. It's worth the time if you are in the Mojave, and the gift shop has some very good botanical guides and a field guide to scat and tracks, if you're nerdy like us about your hiking.

And the point of all this, at last, is just to show you a cool photo I took outside the depot building, of the sign for the depot lunch counter which has been restored to its 1924 glory (considerable) and is just aching for a good line cook to bring it back to life. Really -- the park service is advertising for a concessionaire to put the lunch counter back into service. I am irrationally fond of this picture, and will probably blow it up, frame it, and hang it in my kitchen so i can think happy thoughts of the desert whenever I see it.
Posted by foodnerd at 08:27 PM | Comments (0)

December 20, 2007

pear celery walnut salad

We didn't have many fresh vegetables of the non-root variety, but i really felt the need for a salad. What we did have was a bunch of pears that were about to go overripe.

So i sliced up the pears, sliced up some celery, and chopped some walnuts, then drizzled the works with sherry vinegar, olive oil, salt & pepper.

Holy cow. YUM. Even the tallasiandude, who was monumentally struck by the weirdness of this food, thought it was tasty and snarfed half of it right up.

pear, celery & walnut salad

Posted by foodnerd at 11:09 AM | Comments (0)

December 12, 2007

fresh winter mushrooms

we were at the 88 market last night acquiring ingredients for our next social-cooking adventure, and my eye was caught by a package of fresh winter mushrooms. These look just like the common dried chinese brown mushroom, with cushiony tops with lots of pale cracks, and they smelled nice, so i bought them to see what they were like.

They are intoxicating. I've not even opened the cellophane of the package, but they are perfuming my whole kitchen with the most incredible rich, savory smell. I keep getting up from the computer just to go downstairs and sniff them again. I want to roll around in that scent, to wallow in it and become one with it, it is so delightful.

I have an email out to the mother-in-law to see if there are any special recipes for these treasures, as it seems somehow wrong to treat them the same way as their dried brethren. If any of you have any suggestions, please do let me know before Friday, when they will be cooked one way or another. I may have to go buy another package, to tie them up in a mesh bag and hang them in my office or my clothes closet so i can smell them every day.

Posted by foodnerd at 02:13 PM | Comments (0)

December 11, 2007

comfort food

I went to the Korean market to buy kimchi, because we were completely out, and this household does not run smoothly without kimchi for the spicy ramen that functions as security blanket and default nourishment for a stressed-out tallasiandude, and for the tofu kimchi bokum that is my most favorite treat.

And while i was waiting in line, clutching my big jar of kimchi and my plastic box of spicy garlic cucumber pickle, I didn't go even 5 minutes before i was overcome by the most intense craving to run home immediately and scarf down delicious kimchi and pickles with steaming hot rice. (Clearly I have gone completely native.)

And it didn't stop there. Tallasiandude looked longingly over his ramen bowl at my hot rice, fried egg, and kimchi deliciousness. He made some for dinner that night. And we both had more for lunch yesterday. The craving appears to be bottomless right now for plain hot white rice, eggs over easy, super-fermenty kimchi (some thicker pieces have bubbles you can feel on your tongue), and salty garlicky cucumber pickle.

I figure it's the weather -- it's finally gotten really and truly cold, and there's ice everywhere -- and the fact that we're both tired and sick and struggling to recover.

Posted by foodnerd at 11:04 AM | Comments (0)

December 04, 2007

back in the saddle

we're having people over tonight, so i am cooking for pleasure, hurray! tonight's menu is fennel-orange-radish salad, stracotto (aka italian pot roast, with red wine and tomatoes), and either chocolate fallen souffle cake or cinnamon poached pears. Tallasiandude is agitating for cake. :-)

Fennel-orange-radish salad, aka happy summer sunshine on a plate

Trim a bulb of fennel, slice in half the long way, then slice very fine; a regular size fennel bulb is usually enough for two salads or one giant lunch salad. Slice up some red radishes. Supreme some oranges, usually one per salad unless you have giant navel oranges: slice off the top and bottom, then slice off the peel in vertical strips, making sure you get all the grody white pith off. You'll lose a few microns of pulp, but it's worth it. Use the paring knife to cut out the individual sections of orange, pith & membrane free. Cut the sections in half. Combine the fennel, radish & orange bits on a plate. Drizzle over some olive oil and a splash of mild rice vinegar, grind over black pepper and sprinkle with salt. Or, you can make an actual dressing with the juice from the bowl you cut the oranges into, a bit of vinegar, the olive oil, and salt & pepper, but i find it's easier to just drizzle things over the salad.

Posted by foodnerd at 04:09 PM | Comments (0)