Archives for category: Randoms

Some food bits and some non-food bits.

#1. Artichokes. Kate got Heart of the Artichoke for Christmas and after an hungry look-over with many post-its left behind for MUST MAKE recipes, we happened to see little bitty artichokes at the little bitty market Pastaworks and of course  had to have them. Boiled a little then fried, made to be all crispy and garlicy and perfect. The little heart, soft and crispy at the same time, of my.

#2: Non- Food. Cargo, in the Pearl District, the most fascinating store on earth. A giant warehousey place chock-a-block full of Asian-y tchotchkes (with a couple Mexican bits thrown in here and there) and furniture and generally coveted things. Purchased some Indonesian boy scouth badges and a “BIG BAG OF JOY” tote. Passed on the very cool yet slightly creepy ceramic OK hands.

#3. Met with dear Moscow friend and wandered happily after a big Thai lunch, came across a little gallery with a lame show downstairs and a crazy show upstairs. All these mad contraptions of glass and gears that spin and move water and make noise and slide big lenses around and make you say wow a lot.

#4. Stumptown Coffee Roasters, hip, uber uber hip, little coffee shop in the Ace hotel. Had a perfect double short soy latte and a hazelnut scone and read my delightful Powells sale rack novel and unashamedly gawked at the parade of Portlanders passing by.

The coffee saucers say Good Luck! underneath your little cup, which I love.

#5. And back to Cargo for some pretty kimonos.

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I do love my kitchen. Although it’s not really my kitchen anymore, I haven’t properly lived in this house for a year plus (weird) and there are utensils and coffee cups I don’t recognize, I love it still. I’ve flopped on the wood floor many a time, exhausted by another afternoon of ballet, lying on the cool floor with the stinky lovey dog. I’ve baked awful cookies and made ten thousand packets of ramen. I ate almost every dinner and breakfast at the kitchen counter for eighteen years. I like my little dorm half-kitchen, but I love this one best. Some winter break kitchen bits:

We’re banana bread lovers here. Bought some random “Teen Cooking!” book at a junior high book fair, it led us to the worst ravioli ever made, but also the best banana bread recipe on earth. Dense and crusty-topped and way freaking better than anyone else’s.

I know I’m getting old and lame because I really like brussel sprouts. It’s so lovely to have real dinners (leg of lamb with brussel sprouts and salad) rather than my too-lazy-to-use-more-than-one-pan rotating-ingredient stir fry. (Also kale chips, I love thee dearly.)

Made a ton of cookies for ski-fuel. Molasses-y ginger snaps and peanut butter-oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies. PB-O-CC are definitely going in the “Make Again” folder. Trifecta of good stuff. Even better eaten on a ski trip, when sliding around in the cold for a day justifies truly immense over-eating. For example, my pre-ski hotel breakfast included yogurt, toast, muffins, fruit, eggs, bacon, potatoes, more toast, a couple glasses of juice. “Carbo-loading.”

And a big ol’ (un-photographed) chocolate Guinness cake for Pa’s birthday. Four layers of slightly stout-y cake interspersed with this mad insane rich whipped cream. 800 calories a piece, at the very least. Yahoo. Christmas power-feed (crab, prime rib, …pumpkin bourbon cheesecake) retelling to come.

Seeing as we all live a kajillion miles away (“You could drive literally all day for two whole days and not be home.”) the A’s and I decided to stick around the sunshine state for break and have a camping Thanksgiving in the Keys. After a giant grocery shop and a search for blankets and what we guessed to be camping gear we went off on our adventure, through the Everglades and across the overseas highway to our temporary home at Curry Hammock State Park. We pitched a (giant) tent with minimal mishaps then started cooking. Sort of. We got faked out by “no-lighter fluid needed” charcoal and mighty Atlantic winds, but kindly neighbors brought over a giant bottle of lighter fluid and a big long lighter and soom we had a pretty good little grill set up going. On the menu: green beans and cranberries (steamed in foil), potatoes (also foil-steamed), stuffing balls, cornbread muffins (both made the night before in a frenzied bake-fest), and shish-ka-bobs with shrimp, chicken, squash, and peppers. Pretty impressive, if I may say so. I made Alex say a proper grace and then made us all do the Larkin hand-touch faux grace, then we stuffed ourselves with real Thanksgiving spirit. Dessert was pecan bars, in place of pie, which we ate with gusto as we huddled in our “dancing” tent (aka shoddily staked down and flapping around in a hurricane) playing a ridiculous game of would-you-rather.

Found a new market, found a new taco wagon. Sarasota Swap Meet, every Saturday, behind the Ringling Ave Circle K. Lots of dreamcatchers, barnacled skeleton keys, old tools, and treasures. If I love you, you’re probably getting something from the magic market for Christmas, just a heads up. Young girl is the best sort of person to be at flea markets, where a reliable 90% of the sellers are ancient men. Makes for good bargaining power. I got some good stuff. And tacos. A little lower-end than Red Barn, at this particular taco wagon it’s a dollar a pop, pretty good deal. They’ve got a cool set-up: communal tables with big bins of cilantro and onion, fresh salsa with big hunks of serranos, and lime quarters and bottles of varying hot sauces and for the very brave, bowls of whole chilies. You order your smattering of tacos and wait for your numero, then you just get the tortillas and meat. Plop down at an open spot at one of the packed picnic tables and you doctor ’em up as you like. I got barbacoa and lengua, as per usual, and covered them with a ton of cilantro, a little salsa, a smidge of the not-so-hot (but still hot) hot sauce, and a lotta lime. Then messily ate in the shade and talked in embarrassing (hopefully endearingly so) Spanish to my neighbors. And took pictures. I love markets and I love tacos and I love talking to people and I love taking pictures. Having a big camera has made me more friends than any amount of charm in my whole life. The rest of the day was spent studying in residual bliss. (Also, they had financiers at my regular coffee shop for me to dip into my tea. More bliss.)

Everyone loves tacos.

(P.S. New photos under the foto tab.)

Unlike at home where winter means frozen fields, in Florida winter means it’s finally cool enough for plant to grow without being burnt to death. The growing season is just starting in earnest, and this weekend’s farmers’ market was jam-packed with truckloads of fresh local produce and crowds of freezing local people. Starfruit and radishes and the famous Florida oranges, Floridians wrapped in their warmest winter garb for the bracing 65 degree morning. (Tragically, pathetically, I am one of them, shivering in my pashmina in the sunshine.)¬†

There were masses of the giant beetle-shiny avocados, slices of which I’ve been smearing on slabs of baguette and topping with sprouts for a mid-morning, mid-afternoon, midnight snack.

And lots of dogs, big brawny goldens smiling at tiny sweatered pomeranians. Even a few corgis, all of which I petted with extra love.

It’s nice to not be shoving sunglasses up my sweaty face and instead be cozily wrapped up in my Northwesterner fleece as I pace the market looking for sun-lit vegetables.

Even though it was still solidly within breakfast hours, I couldn’t help myself from getting a fresh grouper taco from the fish van. Big filet of just-grilled grouper topped with chunky avocado-cucumber salsa-guac, lime cream, and lightly pickled cabbage. I felt very content with the world as I perched on the curb and ate my mess of a breakfast taco and watched the dogs and octogenarians go by.

Florida is about as south as you can get in Americaland, yet it’s just not very southern. It’s a weird phenomenon, but if you’ve been to Florida… You know. Down here you’ve got to go north to go south. (Maybe because a good portion of the FL population is northern imports.) Despite all this non-Southern-ness, there are a few Dixie little things that have trickled down. Super sweet sweet-tea for one, and pulled pork another. Lots of funky little roadside BBQ spots, lots of “Insert-Name’s Famous BBQ.” And best of all Nancy’s BBQ, a pop-up place that in the know Sarasotans know and love deeply. Though she’s opening up a more permanent shop soon, up until now we’ve had to wait for Twitter updates to find her tasty Carolina style BBQ. It’s real real good. Soft bun, sweet smoky saucy pork. What more could you want? Well… Maybe some hot dog cart peppers n’ onions. In the Halloween spirit we went to a Pumpkin Festival, which although kinda slim on the pumpkin-ness, was packed with county fair-esque food booths. One of which was a pulled pork and hot dog joint. They drew us in with free samples and the next thing we knew we were forking over wads of cash for bread and pig. Really good bread and pig. And I saw the big pan of onions and peppers for the Jersey-style dogs, and had to break convention and add some to my sandwich. …excellent choice.

Phone pic. Didn’t bring camera to very funkily picturesque pumpkin fest, fool!

In my dream world I do a lot of picnic-ing. Idyllic sit-abouts in grassy spots of sunshine on the side of backcountry roads, rucksacks packed with snacks for adventures, pretty little treats and smashed sandwiches wrapped in wax paper. And yesterday, friends, I had a little sliver of dream world. A pretty big slice actually, seeing as I spent my afternoon asleep by the sea. We went to Anna Maria Island, a long-ish drive from Sarasota proper, but well worth it, arriving at a sandy little beach town full of pretty bungalows and quiet shops. The beach is less crowded, and populated with a less “overwhelming” (shall we say…) crowd than the popular stretches of beach to the south. We spread out our towels and I promptly fell asleep, as I always do at the beach. I can’t stay awake for more than five minutes, I lay down in the sun and pass out. It’s a special skill. And although I may not be the most engaging beach companion… at least I bring snacks. In ugly plastic tupperwares, not the pretty Frenchy butcher paper wrapped breads and canned fruits of my dreams, but nonetheless tasty. Strawberries and apples with cinnamon and lemon, and warm-but-still-good chopped caprese. (With basil from my mini baby front door garden!)

Post-snack and post-nap, we were feeling the hunger so we tromped up the beach and made our way through the quiet downtown. (There’s some strange common quality between all little seaside towns, beyond the seashell motifs and ice cream shops galore, they’ve just all got this something-or-other about them; from Anna Maria in Florida to Cannon Beach in Oregon. Whatever it is, it’s nice, I think.) After a few horrible minutes of that hunger-wander we settled on The Sign of The Mermaid, a funky little house-restaurant complete with a resident pie-making champion and an extraordinary amount of very varied tchotchkes (samurai prints, glass mermaids, old Vogue covers). We didn’t have any pie (though we were intrigued by the peanut butter truffle pie thing that was truly eight inches high) but we did eat lots of very garlicy bread and pickled cabbage. And had really nice breath.

Alexandria and the Mermaid.