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

Cassia Bud Lambcetta

Sitting at dinner with great company on a frigidly cold winter night, a dish came out with lamb pancetta. A few of the guests were surprised by the substitution of lamb for pig in the pancetta. After discussing the intricacies of how to make lambcetta, I offered to make some for a friend with a fantastic sense of taste. I asked what he wanted flavor-wise and he suggest to go off-script with cinnamon. When looking through a spice shop, I noticed cassia buds which are simply dried buds of the cinnamon tree and carry similar, but more floral flavors than more traditional cinnamon. Continue reading

Sai Ua Samun Phrai

As I shopped in my suburban grocery and noticed fresh turmeric had moved from the novelty produce to the everyday produce section, I wondered when things changed, food-wise, around me. My opinion is we are on a different path than 5-10 years ago. Cooking shows have become the new reality TV and farmer’s markets are now places to meet your future mate instead of place to score rhubarb for jam. Is this good? I am not sure. It is different though. When fresh turmeric reaches mainstream, it is safe to say we are in a vastly different place than the potato, corn, broccoli, carrot and bagged lettuce oligopoly of the produce section from a decade ago. Continue reading

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