Backyard Beverages – Lilacs, Chamomile and Roses

Sitting outside and looking at the blossoms on the rose bushes growing in our backyard, my older daughter remarked, “I wish the bushes had those flowers all year.” It is interesting to see how my inability to enjoy moments without lamenting their fleeting nature has been passed down. I walk around my garden, thinking of how I wish my purple mustards would hold off from seeding for another month at the same time I beg the tomatoes to get color. It clarifies how it is not that I do not appreciate moments, but rather I am greedy for all of the peak moments. I get nothing from the low moments. Like little R, I want the roses blooming, the purple mustards edible without cooking, and the tomatoes soft, red and warm from dangling in the sun all day – and just like little R, I want all of those things all year long.

But I know this is not reality. Seasons are reality. Lilacs to roses to jasmine to the red maple to bare branches is reality, but I am a greedy child in an adult’s body. Continue reading

Chicken Skin-Shio Koji Sausages

After the shio koji finished fermenting, I had a few ideas on how to use it. The initial idea was sausages. I was going around and around trying to find a way to make a sausage with enough simplicity to taste the shio koji which still being interesting enough to want to eat. After filtering through ideas, this sausage was based in the skewered chicken eaten while in Japan. Continue reading

Koji Horchata

There has been a lot written lately about how food has become more photogenic than delicious. While I do not dispute food becoming more photographed and photograph-able, I think when someone says care for flavor and texture is losing out to beauty they are picking nits. There are examples where it is true, but there have always been examples of beautiful dishes which taste like nothing, or worse. My opinion is because of the volume of exposure to the creative process, it is more likely we, as public, are being exposed to more of the creative process, and more of the editing process, than in the past when whatever little we saw, was refined and edited to the nth degree. There is a ton of demand for the exposure to that process and then encouragement to make the experiments available to the public. Herein lies the conflict, the photos and exposure are free marketing and far more far-reaching than word of mouth reports of a delicious roasted chicken or a soulful bowl of beans. Continue reading

Shio Koji

As I unpacked my souvenirs from our trip to Japan, I grabbed a plastic deli of white sludge packed in plastic. The sludge was purchased in Nishiki market in Kyoto when I asked for koji. For some reason in those situations, even if I know the requested item is dubious relative to the request, I take it and run as to not offend. Either this was the funkiest koji I had ever seen or I had gotten something different from what I had requested. Continue reading

Galangal and Lemongrass Liquor

In preparation for cooking from the Pok Pok cookbook this winter, L grabbed some galangal from the local Korean grocery. Only she picked up three pounds of it. After using the first bit, I froze the rest.  I knew I was coming up on the end of the useful life span of the remaining 3/4 of a pound and before 6 months was up, I wanted to make good use of the galangal. Short of ice cream or candy, my best guess was as a liquor.  Continue reading

This Hamburger

Fourth of July means a lot of things to a lot of people. Spending most of my mid to late twenties and early thirties with a dog then kids, it rarely meant huge fireworks. In recent years, it has meant a trip to a cabin on the lake and cooking projects which seemed to be born from the idea of creating more work than needed. Some, like the bone-in brisket and BBQ porchetta di testa, were hard fought victories. Some, like burying a cow’s head in underground coals, were massive defeats. Going into this year’s vacation, I wanted cook something over wood fire and not bury anything in the sandy soil of Northern Wisconsin. Continue reading

Sea Island Red Pea Miso

Sea Island red pea miso — Strained and jarred.

Sometimes planning leads to timing working out to appear serendipitous and sometimes it is just serendipity. For me, someone who is not much into letting things happen, it is usually the former. This miso is an example of the latter. We returned from Japan on Sunday with the miso turning 6 months old that very day. When I started the miso in December, I had no idea we would travel to Japan in June. Even better, while at Tsukiji Market in Tokyo, I picked up a strainer, called a misokoshi, designed to create a silky miso. Continue reading

Tokyo (and a quick trip to Kyoto)

Tonkotsu

Sunday night was a mess. We had rolled off of a twelve hour trans-Pacific flight spanning fourteen hour time zones, made it through customs and took a cab home. Once we got home, I started unpacking our bags. They were full of souvenirs and it hit me, we had spent a week in Japan. It was an amazing time, but one so filled with activity making it difficult to be anything if not in the moment. It was not until I unpacked, when I began to think back on the trip itself. Continue reading

Bratwurst Rillettes

After a recent trip to Madison for a visit to the Dane County Farmer’s Market, I have been longing for food from my home state. We sat across from the market at the Old Fashioned sharing cheese curds and Lazy Susan #6 filled with smoked trout, salami, herring, Merkts and other meats. It reminds me how well made food doesn’t need to be fancy. There does not need to be a handmade label with “artisanal” scrawled on it. Continue reading

Lamb and Purple Sausage

Yes, the title of the post is correct. Garden planning for me is half planning and half impulse purchases. When the fertilizer settled, I realized, like many who buy flowers, I buy vegetables and herbs based on appearance. I apparently love purple herbs – shiso, oxalis, chives, basil. When I walked through the yard looking at everything I had planted, I felt a little embarrassed. The feeling passed when I realized while ogling photos posted on Twitter by Alain Passard color is part of the experience. Continue reading

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