Wednesday, July 6, 2011

This must be the place

I have been moving which means I have not been cooking which means I have not been foodblogging. Unlike Heidi, who can throw together pea soup with clarified butter and tofu croutons while Wayne is bringing the U-Haul around, I stuck mostly to take-out pizza, patty melts, burritos, and gigantic salads for the two-week stretch around my move. I did manage to cook a couple things at home in between running around to open houses and packing up boxes, but it didn't seem quite worth it to get out the camera so I could write a blog entry saying, "Here is a bowl of lentils seasoned with cardamom and tomatoes, for the third time this week. And here is an avocado on a half-toasted piece of bread with a leftover pickle."

So it was a tremendous relief this weekend when Jeff and I finally got settled in the new apartment and unpacked everything (starting in the kitchen and moving forward to the living room), then cooked our first meal in the new place and enjoyed it overlooking busy Castro Street on the around noon on July 4th. Something about the process of going to the market, buying some vegetables, blanching celery, getting out the food processor--it was all very therapeutic.

Here are some maple scones that turned out just about perfect; I've made scones before, but this was the first time I'd done so with Jeff's top-of-the-line food processor and some Silpats left behind by the previous resident. Something about that new hardware managed to produce some scones that were just right, tender and crumbly, a little savory, with just a kiss of maple sugar. Oh, and not burnt on the bottom. That's as important as the maple kiss.

This is a tomato and cucumber salad. It was okay on July 4th but it will be even better on August 24th or September 14th, when I'm using ripe, juicy tomatoes heavy with the summer sun instead of the tasty, but slightly mealy heirlooms that you see here. Still, tomatoes with salt and olive oil--how bad can that be? Well, it can be pretty bad if you're growing them in Florida. Debbie Downer noise.

We also made a bean salad, I guess because it was the Fourth of July and in the absence of a grill we wanted to make something that was traditionally American. Or maybe it was because I decided to start soaking some dried peas on a whim. One of the two. Anyway, yellow split peas and pepitas (a New World seed!) with cilantro pesto and a couple handfuls of arugula (Barack Obama's fave!). Another Heidi recipe from her most recent book; I'm actually amazed by every recipe of hers I try, just in the way she manages to incorporate so many colors and textures together with a little flavorful kick for you to remember it. In this case it was some serrano chile pureed in with the bright, lemony pesto.

And finally we made a cucumber-honey drink which was good on its own but even better with a splash or two of Tanqueray... to round out the flavors and give in an herbal balance (maybe you could mix in some parsley or edible flowers--but why?).

It's kind of strange to get used to, the new place. It's close to everything and there's a ton of foot traffic. I have to watch out when I open my front gate to make sure I don't smack anyone walking down the street. I feel underdressed if I step outside in my pajamas and a sweatshirt worn inside out. It's just strange to live somewhere that has so much going on at all times, feeling like I'm really in the middle of a big city like this. Still, if there's still room for bean salad, fresh tomatoes, and cucumber drinks, how different can it be?

And, you know, no matter where I'm cooking my meals these days, I'm always enjoying them as leftovers in the same old lab in Berkeley the following afternoon.


  1. Congrats on the big move! And...those scones look divine.

  2. Is Jeff pledging allegiance to the bean salad in that picture? Or to the scones?

  3. either to the scones or to me

  4. People should do that at weddings instead of vows - pledge allegiance to each other.