August 2009

The New York State Fair’s butter sculpture!


I heart the Iowa State Fair

After a few days in the glass of water, my mint started to shoot!

mint cutting shooting

cutting close-up

I planted the cuttings and am now hoping for the whole thing to root or whatever it’s supposed to do. The whole thing not dying would be good.

planted mint cuttings

mint in a glass of water

I’m no green thumb. I was never the kid with the grow-op, always forgot to water my mom’s plants while she was away, and a bit disassociated with nature having grown up in the city. I want to be a good foodie/advocate/conscious eater, but I have this huge blindspot. I’m not all that comfortable with nature, the outdoors, or gardening. My mother is a prodigious gardener, and I’ve inherited none of it. She grows her own Chinese vegetables ever since I can remember, and I’ve barely ever even owned a plant. I hope that I possess some kind of nurturing capacities, but for plants so far I’ve shown none.

This is my first experiment with gardening. The earlier post about mint chutney reminded me that mint is really easy to grow. Apparently you can just look at mint, and it’ll grow a lot for you.

Anyway, I’m currently hoping the the sprigs that are on my windowsill will sprout, and I’ll have more to write about. For now, let’s just hope the darn thing sprouts.

fish fry fail (cod)

I’ve been buying fish lately at Fiesta Farms. Tilapia and snapper have fared well. This week, I got a big filet of cod because it was on sale. I thought to myself, cod will taste delicious, and if there’s a book on the history of cod (on my shelf, never read) and that old Canadian heritage commercial about the colonization of Canada because of all the cod, well then, it must be tasty and easy to prepare.

Nope, no dice. The first night, I pan fried the cod and added a squeeze of lemon. Ok, but nothing to write home about.

The 2nd night, I thought I’d do a kind of fish fry. A handful of flour, some cumin, tumeric, cayenne, salt and pepper, coated the fish and fried it up. Again, ok but nothing special.

Before the night of the fish fry, I looked up some recipes for inspiration, but most recipes call for salt cod. I think maybe the moral of this story is that I should wait to find a super delicious recipe (ask my mom), or leave the bacalhau to the professionals. Or keep experimenting until it goes off sale at Fiesta Farms.

kale pre chipping

Most weeknights, I throw together a quick and simple meal for myself. A great thing to have under the tool belt is a quick, easy, nutritious snack/side dish like kale chips. The kale chip comes from my friend L, so I cannot take any credit for it, except that I make everyone I know eat it.

These are incredibly easy to put together. Preheat oven to 350F. Get a bunch of kale, chop off the end bits and discard. Then chop up into pieces no bigger than 1 inch/3 cms. Put into a mixing bowl, and toss with olive oil, salt, freshly ground pepper. Feel free to add in your own spices.

kale chip prep

Spread on a baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until everything looks crispy.

kale chips on the baking sheet

Take out of the oven, and careful not to burn yourself while munching on them. They’re fun to eat!
kale chips finished!

I saw Departures last month and I really enjoyed it. For those of you not familiar with the movie, it is a Japanese film that won the Foreign Film Oscar this year. It’s about a young man who is laid off from his job at the symphony. He returns to his hometown only to find a job casketing and performing funeral rites for the deceased.

Although there are many scenes that I enjoyed, the one scene that stays with me is the one where the funeral director (Shoei)*, the office manager (Yuriko) and the main character (Daigo) eat fried chicken together on Christmas Eve. The scene made me hungry for a drumstick of fried chicken, but it was also a visceral way of showing how alive these characters are. I especially loved their refrain “It’s so good, I hate myself.” The mark of well prepared food, and living life to the fullest. I loved how this quick scene illustrates the little pleasures of life, good food, good company, and celebration of life.

* The actor that plays Shoei is none other than Goro from Tampopo, another classic food movie.

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