July 2012

I love waffles. I rarely eat them, mostly because I have reactive hypoglycemia, which means that roughly three hours after eating waffles with sugary maple syrup, I'll have a terrible blood sugar crash that leaves me shaky, dizzy, headachey, tired, and insanely hungry again. Apparently, I am one of those lucky people who produce too much insulin in response to eating sugars and high-glycemic index foods, even though I have normal blood sugar levels otherwise.

My last sous vide flank steak cooked for 24 hours, and didn't quite hit that tenderness that is a hallmark of sous viding. This time, I left it in for an extra day, and pulled it out after a full 48 hours at 134 degrees. The result?

I have been furiously working on websites for work, and two are in the final stages, which means the pressure is on and I am furiously trying to get them wrapped up. Which also means that I have been chained to my desk, and daily trips to the grocery store for fun are O-U-T out. I'm lucky now to make it twice a week, which is horrifying, to say the least.  When I do get to a store, I end up buying anything that is a good buy or readily usable, and also ingredients I can use in multiple dishes so I can stretch it further.

I love fresh produce. The colors and smells are so vibrant and happy. Standing in the middle of the produce department at my favorite wholesale produce market, I am in heaven. Literally. Aisle after aisle after aisle of produce, from normal run of the mill iceberg lettuce and mushrooms to more exotic things like fresh almonds still in their husk, fresh fava beans, yuca root, daikon radish, and a million other things to inspire any food lover.  And by inspire, I mean make any food lover buy WAY more than they intended to.

There is something so comforting about breakfast for dinner.  Maybe because it signals a beginning to the day, which could be so full of potential.

I subscribe to a number of food newsletters, blogs, and facebook food-oriented feeds, and so I have a steady stream of ideas coming in.  But for an idea to take hold, I have to have some sort of connection with the dish - either a craving, a curiosity in an ingredient, technique, or overall dish; or a need to to use up an existing pantry item. In today's case, however, the connection started with a need to beat the heat, and when a newsletter featuring cool salads hit my inbox, I was all ears. Eyes. As it were.

I love martinis, they are my favorite drink.  They are classy and sharp flavored and full of personality. And they are just fun, in their fancy glasses with the olive garnish. So when I saw a recipe for martini chicken, I was instantly on board. The recipe is incredibly simple.  I took it a step further in is convenience by  sous viding a previously vacuum packed chicken breast I had in the freezer. Which is a good thing because I got extra wrapped up in work and didn't set it aside until late.

I don't know who thought to add bacon to a Chinese dish like fried rice, but they are BRILLIANT.  I came across the recipe somehow, and couldn't get the concept out of my head. The only question was what to pair it with.   I settled on a chicken chop suey, just because that is as un-Chinese as bacon fried rice.

Bisque. Bisque. Bisk.  What the hell is a bisque? I always thought it was a super fancy soup found only in restaurants, some enigmatic but amazing dish with complex ingredients and techniques.  Turns out bisque is just soup, albeit a slightly thicker soup. Technically, a french soup with a stock made from crustaceans, highly seasoned, thickened by pureeing, and finished with cream. Bisque is a magical soup. It has a warmth that transcends the  simplicity of soup; and a richness that makes it special.

I love banh mi, the Vietnamese sandwiches that pair spicy pork, cool pickled vegetables, mayo, and a baguette.  But, because I eat primal most of the time, I wanted to find a way to eat the banh mi without the guilt AND without the gluten. Enter the corn tortilla. If I can do Korean fusion tacos, why not Vietnamese?

Before I started the taco components, I made the sauce for chili wings, tossed it with some wings I had on hand, and put them in the oven to roast.

The only reason I normally make my tortillas from scratch is because I can, and also because what in the hell would I do with a pack of 4 million tortillas?? Is it SO hard to sell tortillas in smaller quantities? I HATE waste. So I make my tortillas in smaller quantities. But lately, I've had neither the time nor the energy to invest in making them from scratch, and I figured I would rather throw away a dollar's worth of unused tortillas than spend an hour in the hot kitchen making them.

So, once again, I feel like I didn't get much done in June, mostly because I have more projects in my queue than I have actually finished projects! This spring and summer has been challenging for me both time-wise and focusability-wise; between a major website development project at work and the capstone to finish my master's, and I just haven't had a lot of whatever it takes to get more complicated projects done.

After having done the blue evening gown, I wanted to try adding in more couture techniques that would make the dresses fit better and wear better.

I'm from Seattle. I'm a transplant here in in Los Angeles. Even after having lived here for ten years now (TEN YEARS, how DID that happen???), I have never identified as a Los Angelian. I am frequently homesick for Seattle, even though I know you can never really go home. And I don't want to go home, I don't want to know how much the city I loved is no longer as I remember it, but I DO want to visit just to eat at the Burien Azteca Restaurant, and their sister restaurant, La Costa.

On the fourth of July, I was all motivated and made butter nut toffee, which is sort of like home-made almond roca.  First, you toast almonds, coarsely chop them, and spread them on a lined backing sheet. Then, you candy sugar and butter, then add vanilla and more butter, and pour it out on the lined sheet to cover the almonds.  After a few minutes, when it starts to set up, you pour on chocolate chips. When they get all melty happy from the heat, you spread them into a neat layer, and top it with more chopped almonds.  After it cools, break it up into pieces, and voila! Instant happy.

I overslept yesterday. I know it was a holiday and all, but I HATE oversleeping. I didn't wake up until 11:41 am, and I was HORRIFIED. And also vaguely irritated at the dogs, who normally wake me up by 8:15am by making hyena noises (Shae) followed by rooing if I make any kind of movement (Stewart).  Jesse and Clementine, on the other hand, think any movement is an invitation to snuggle; both make cute little moany grunty noises of contentment, making it REALLY hard to get up and out of bed.

I've had a busy weekend! An engagement party (congratulations, Charity and Thomas!!!) on Friday in Orange County; a band concert on Saturday night in Newhall, and another band concert Sunday night in Acton as part of their concerts in the park series. All of it was super fun, but left me not so much time for cooking! I'd gone grocery shopping at the end of the week, and picked up a whole chicken breast from the butcher.

When I went to the Asian market up the street for salmon for sushi, I found small rice paper wrappers. I normally use the larger ones for summer rolls,  but I love mini food, and so I picked up the cute little wrappers just to have on hand. I couldn't stop thinking about them, (having them sitting on the counter did not help!) and so I made shrimp rolls with them.

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