Cornbread and Pork ChiliPork Chili & Cornbread
october 10, 2013


More tomatillos in the CSA box this week, so more pork chili. This time, a double batch. We've been using this reicipe since it ran in the San Francisco Chronicle, back in the fall of 2002. Pork, tomatillos and beans are the main ingredients. We like to eat it with Deborah Madison's Buttermilk Skillet Cornbread, from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyonep. 647.

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San Francisco Chronicle

Dan Dan Noodles
september 19, 2013

This is the second recipe I'm using from the SF Chronicle's spread on Asian noodles. Cold ramen, sauce and a few sliced vegetables should be just the thing for an easy weeknight dinner on a hot evening.

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Buy the book

Curried Chickpeas and Squash
july 9, 2013

I love Indian food and I love to come home to dinner bubbling away in the crockpot, so that I can pull off a homemade meal quickly after work, school, camp, baseball, soccer or whatever else comes between me and the stove. 

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Buy the bookIndian Greens, Dal and Rice
july 3, 2013

I am really lucky, because both my kids love to eat dal. As tiny toddlers they could never get enough rice and chickpea soup at dinnertime. Now that he is in Kindergarten, my son and I share a weekly buffet lunch at the restaurant next d0or to his speech therapist's office. He loves to serve himself out of the buffet, I love to order dal from the kitchen. 

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SalmonCakes
 
 Salmon Cakes - april 26, 2011

I've been struggling with pan frying cakes and patties of all varieties for a long time now.  They never turn out right - sometimes they stick, sometimes they fall apart, sometimes they burn to a crisp. But tonight I asked my husband for advice, knowing that he has a tendency to remember everything he reads (but nothing I say) and that he read Russ Parson's How to Read a French Fry a thousand years ago when it first came out.  Parson's book is all about kitchen science, and  I seem to remember it deals with sticky patties.

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SpicyAsianSlaw
 
Spicy Asian Slaw - february 26, 2011

In the past couple of weeks we have eaten at least five cabbages. Winter, or spring in some places, is cabbage season. They are beautiful in the garden, gathering dew with dusty hues of plum, pale and bright green. And they are great in salads of all sorts, stir fried and steamed. But sometimes I'm just not sure what to do with them all.

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HowToCutAnOnion

Quick Eggplant Chicken Curry and How to Cut an Onion - august 19, 2010

We came home late from school, again today. I started Sesame Street at 5:00, hoping to have dinner on the table by 6:00 and finished by 6:15, which seems easy enough, since the kids either gobble it down or don't eat at all. Today's scheduled recipe was eggplant curry, using leftover chicken from tuesday's paella. But, I hadn't salted the eggplant beforehand, and now twenty minutes of letting salty eggplant sit and drain into the sink seems like an awful waste of time.

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Spicy Shrimp, Cilantro Rice, ZucchiniSpicy Shrimp, Cilantro Rice and Zucchini
july 18, 2010

My daughter has a dirty mouth. Today at preschool she said "poo-poo head." She ran around and around the table. She hid under the table. She ignored the parent-teacher. She was so naughty that the story she wrote was confiscated, and when she and a co-conspirator told a different teacher they didn't care about their bad behavior, they lost their show-and-tell privileges.

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MietteCake

Birthday Crab Rolls - july 2, 2010

My daughter turned five years old yesterday, and what a celebration it was. She had presents from her Grandparents in the morning , singing and candle blowing with a fake cake at school in the afternoon, then dinner with real cake and more presents in the evening. Tomorrow she has another birthday bash (to which we seem to have invited over seventy guests) and still more presents arriving in the mail from her other Grandmother.

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TortillaSoup

Tortilla Soup for 24 - june 2, 2010

Deborah Madison's tortilla soup recipe is a longtime favorite of mine. We meet up, the soup and I, from time to time, like childhood friends and reminisce about the old days. Back before my husband, way before the kids. Long ago when tortilla soup's cookbook cover was new and shiny and its pages white and pristine. 

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FavaBeanTagine 

Fava Bean Tagine - may 18, 2010

I love the way that rolls off my tongue - fava bean tagine. I bet if I made it into a little song and dance, while I served dinner, my daughter would repeat it all day long - just to annoy me. But would she eat it? Well, yes, under duress. I spoon fed her all the fava beans (which she enjoys raw, but not cooked) and sweet potatoes, in exchange for a bowl of super sugar clifford crisps, or some other fake-healthy organic sugar cereal. The chicken and cous-cous she ate on her own. My son refused the vegetables outright, but that is nothing unusual.

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OysterSauce  I am not one to normally use pre-made sauces and ingredients.  I'll admit they taste good. I know they are handy and could save my sanity. But for some ridiculous reason, I just can't do it.  So I hesitated a bit at Nigel Slater's oyster sauce creation. If this weren't a recipe from my current favorite diarist and king of vegetables, I would have glossed it over and gone on.   

But Nigel Slater is just so fantastic.  I really can't rave enough about him - his writing is beautiful, his garden is magnificent and he takes the time to cook wonderful food every day. Plus most of what he cooks is quick and easy, and, as far as I can tell, he doesn't have a personal assistant or live in maid, he is just a regular guy.  Who lives in a spotless house full of stylish crockery. With no kids. And no responsibilities other than shopping, cooking, eating and writing.

So, I take my cues from him.  He is a big deal in Britain, having just won Food Personality of the Year at the BBC's Food and Farming Awards (but I'm not sure exactly what that means, since his name is in small type at the end of the list).  He has written a weekly column for the Observer since 1993,  published two memoirs and eleven cookbooks and although he seems to invite us into his life in his writing, apparently refuses to discuss details of it with the media. Check his article and resulting discussion in Wikipedia if you're interested in getting gossipy on that. 

I am really excited for the second half of his huge and wonderful tome Tender to be published, sometime in 2010. But back to the matter at hand - what is in oyster sauce, anyway?  From the Kikkoman website:

Water, Brown Sugar, Salt, Oyster Juice Concentrate [Oyster (Molluscan Shellfish), Water, Salt],     Naturally Brewed Soy Sauce (Water, Wheat, Soybeans, Salt), Sugar, Modified Food Starch, Caramel     Color, Fermented Wheat Protein, Vinegar, Xanthan Gum.

Most of those look like food to me, except for a few of the latter. I would like to look them up in Marion Nestle's What to Eat, but I cannot find my copy.  It has magically disappeared from my bedside stack. So in my search of the web I have discovered the USDA's EAFUS, which stands for Everything Added to Food in the United States.  But sadly, its quite cryptic and not very helpful.  I've also found a site called Nutrition Data, which identifies "modified starch" as a gelling agent or thickener, "xantham gum" as one or all of the following: Bodying Agent, Bulking Agent, Emulsifier, Foaming Agent, Gelling Agent, Stabilizer, Suspending Agent, Thickener, Whipping Agent, and does not list "fermented wheat protein". Its not so helpful either. I guess I'm really wondering: what is xantham, and where does it come from?  Where do they get the food starch and how is it modified?  Why is the wheat protein fermented and not just left as regular wheat?  This site just makes me think about whether a whipping agent is something I want kept in my pantry.

Oh well.  Xantham gum aside, I enjoyed my dinner tonight.  Nigel Slater's pork free version would have been better, but now that my daughter has ceased eating all protein sources beyond peanut butter and yogurt, I'm offering up as many as I can find. Both kids ate their rice, a single 2"x1" piece of pork, and drank their milk.

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Pork and Greens with Oyster Sauce and Ginger (adapted from Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries):

2 cups rice (cook it in the steamer, or however you like to)

1/2 bunch coriander (aka cilantro), chopped

2 stalks of spring garlic or 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped, 

a thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped

2 Tablespoons canola oil

1 bag or bunch stir-fry greens, rinsed and large stems removed

4 Tablespoons oyster sauce

2 boneless pork chops, cut into bite-sized pieces

Mr. Slater actually calls this Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce and ginger, but then goes on to say that you can make it with just about any broccoli or spring green, which I think means young green.  So in my case, a bag of stir-fry mix from our produce box works perfectly.  Along with some pork, to buff up the greens that my kids won't eat.  I serve it with steamed rice, leaving out the cilantro for the kids but adding it for grown-ups.

Roughly chop the cilantro and fold it into the rice, which should be kept warm while you cook the rest. Warm the oil in a wok over high heat (or large pan over medium heat if you don't have a wok) .  Add the garlic and ginger, stir it for about thirty seconds, then toss in the pork and stir them around for five minutes or so. Then add the oyster sauce and stir it in.  Next,  add the greens and 1/4 cup of water.  Stir it all around, then put the lid on halfway for a few minutes, until the greens are as tender as you'd like them to be.  Serve the pork and greens over the rice.

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