a year of playing with my food…

…you’d think I’d be full.

And you’d be right.

It’s been over a month since I last posted – I still cooked passionately and overindulged joyfully in planning, prep, culinary mechanics and of course, eating. There’s some photo evidence on Instagram and I did collect a few witty anecdotes, but mostly I just let it be. It was simply life.

I was surprisingly busy with my real job, dealing with the stress of editing thousands of photos on time and combatting the physical toll my camera still takes on my arms. I was also getting the house ready for the holidays and the raucous full nest it brings. Mostly I was wondering what to do next, having completed nearly a year of blogging about food, sort of. I knew had one last post in me for 2022 but no idea what to say. So is this goodbye? Don’t think so.

I had two goals – put myself out there and don’t quit. Some meals were better than others. Some photos were truly appetizing while some were purely for documentation. Some entries were simply more fun to both write and read, although it took a while to find my voice and understand the economy of the written word. And even then, as my grandmother would say, “she do go on.” I get it – there were some duds, but I dudded with passion, conviction and the understanding that this whole exercise was supposed to be fun. Fun for me, that is.

Rather than wallowing in any more sappy reflections, I feel like recognizing a few moments that didn’t get the attention they deserved over the course of the year – an awards ceremony I suppose:

Best vegetarian: spicy anchovy sauce with crispy prosciutto

Yeah, I know, I know. At least it was meatless for the hour before I fried up the prosciutto bits…unless you count those luscious little anchovies in which case I pretty much failed instantly. Don’t care. It was delicious and the result of one of the great lessons I learned this year: ingredients matter as much as the order in which you use them. You think something is simple and you dutifully gather up most of the ingredients only to carelessly dump them together and create a less-than. A less-than is what I call anything that is a product of your own failure to try, and I mean really try. It’s not the same as a fail. We all work with what we have, so there’s a sliding scale, but I’ve made enough weak-ass marinaras to know when I’m not trying. This was not that night.

I fused a couple of base recipes and got lucky with this order: olive oil, onions, garlic, red pepper flakes, anchovies, parsley, San Marzano tomatoes, salt, pepper, pappardelle, Parmigiano-Reggiano and a sprinkle of prosciutto, sliced, sautéed and rendered to decadence. Fine, it’s probably still amazing without the pig.

Most unexpectedly not-revolting dinner: cheese buldak

Buldak is also known as Korean fire chicken and for very good reason: red pepper-laced gochugaru flakes and gochujang paste. When I realized this recipe had a layer of molten mozzarella on top I was skeptical; so skeptical in fact that I announced “this might be inedible” and pulled out a back-up from the freezer.

My interest in Korean food stems from the most unlikely source – my older son, aka Foodtaster. Remarkably, the little boy who survived childhood on nuggets, mac & cheese and Gogurt has become the man who is obsessed with the bold kick of Korean food. He has discovered every gogi-gui joint in our area with a late-night-half-price-all-you-can-eat option. That’s my boy through and through. Since we were all growing tired of my kimchi udon and bulgogi, he found a new recipe for me to play with. I bristled at the idea of adding cheese to anything with Asian flavors, and was convinced it would activate an instant gag reflex, but I’m telling you, this works!

Funniest moment: the Vegetti incident

The Vegetti sounds like something from an SNL skit, but is in fact a very well-designed spiral-izer for veggies like zucchini and yellow squash. Think vegetable + spaghetti = vegetti. But go ahead…say it out loud. My own unbridled giggling didn’t stop me from announcing that I was “bringing out the Vegetti tonight” a dozen more times than necessary that day. The men of the house refused to say the word and I was becoming obnoxious. Allegedly.

I finally settled down and we had a lovely, healthy dinner, after which Husband offered to clean up. I had just retreated to my comfy chair when a voice from the kitchen called, “does your Vegetti go in the dishwasher?” Only he didn’t say Vegetti. Even though my work was clearly done here, I offered an instant comeback, one so perfect it’s as if I’d been waiting my entire life for that very moment. And I simply cannot write those words in this blog.

I was tickled to learn there is a Vegetti Pro for those who feel the professional route is the way to go, but I’m already nailing it with my amateur status.


Honorable mentions


Best sammitch: lamb smash burgers with dill Havarti

Sunday night has always been burger night in our house, partly for ease and partly to capture the last rays of weekend light outside on the grill. Whenever Sous Chef comes home from college I make sure lamb is on the menu and killed two birds with these Greek-inspired burgs. Worth doing!

ingredients

  • 1 lb ground lamb, room temp
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves & tender stems (or 1 Tbs dried)
  • 2 Tbs minced fresh mint (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • kosher salt & black pepper
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • sliced tomatoes, lettuce and red onions
  • dill havarti and tzatziki sauce
  • toasted potato buns

method

Combine lamb through olive oil and blend gently, but thoroughly. Shape into 4 loosely formed balls.

Heat an oiled griddle or grill pan to a raging medium-high and add burger balls with plenty of room between. Smash down with a heavy spatula or panini press thingy until you have four 1/2” burgers. Allow to cook untouched about 2 minutes and flip. They should have a good, brown, crispy sear. You could add cheese at this point, but I forgot so it isn’t melted in the photo.

Continue to cook about 2 more minutes until done to your satisfaction and serve on toasted buns with the fixins above.

“To be a good cook you have to have a love of the good, a love of hard work, and a love of creating.”

Julia Child

Well as Meatloaf once said, two out of three ain’t bad. You get to pick the two. Despite the 30 (yes, three-zero/thirty) pounds I’m managed to acquire writing this damn thing, Foodishness has been everything I hoped it would be: challenging, cathartic, whimsical, technical, indulgent, enlightening, delicious, educational, complicated, inspiring, demanding and especially, therapeutic. But it was never stressful – it was a gift to myself. Honestly, I really don’t know what I’ll do next, maybe more of the same, maybe only monthly.

Just please don’t make me do a weight loss blog.

Cheers!

One thought on “a year of playing with my food…

  1. Had dinner with your parents a few days ago and the first thing I said to your Father was thank you for recommending your daughter’s wonderful writing/recipes/photographs! Thank you and happy Bew Tear!!

    Liked by 1 person

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