Sunday, November 29, 2009

foodie hunter's first feijoa

you may have noticed dear reader....that i disappeared for a few days as i was with the family over the extended weekend, creating a separate set of "non-thanksgiving" traditions and i had a lovely time. perhaps at another time, i'll discuss why i decided to not partake on the festivities the "day of". while i didn't blog over the weekend and actually spent (gasp!) minimal time on a computer, i did take quite a few pictures over this past weekend and am still going through them all. as i was going through the pictures, i recalled a "foodie hunter first". this weekend was the first time i tasted feijoa (also known as pineapple guava and guavasteen). the heart sister has a few of these trees in the backyard and the kiddies (particularly EC) like to gather the fallen fruit to be eaten quickly. after the heart sister prepped one of the tear drop shaped fruit, i understood why the kiddies like them so much.




there is this fragrance about them that is very unusual. it is sweet ...yes...but there is also something else.....the strength of the fragrance reminds me of night blooming jasmine...except sweetly fruity....with some honeysuckle thrown in......it is quite lovely and very enticing.


if i smelled this as a perfume, i would have bought it on the spot.

anyway, the texture of the fruit near the edges is that of a pear....and the texture of the center is completely opposite...it is quite soft and a bit slippery. it is a sweet tart fruit and the flavors explode on the tongue. while i enjoyed it fresh, i mentioned to the heart sister that this would make some great homemade jam.

then proceeded to go a harvesting in their backyard.

you see, the kiddies are 5 and 3. i am not. so i can be quite determinedly focused in finding the fruit that may have been hiding underneath leaves and am willing to crouch at the base of the tree/bush and focus quite intently on every inch of ground.

so i returned to the kitchen with the harvested bounty cradled in my pajama top....


and proceeded to make some jam.

which was super simple. i cleaned the feijoa and sliced it....


then put it all in a pot with some agave.



cooked it on high heat for a while.....



then turned it down to a pretty good simmer.....



until it was the thick consistency i wanted.....


and it was done in no time.

the heart sister (who was watching this process) mentioned how she wished that i would take videos of me cooking stuff...so people could see how easy it really is. she said that when she's read about me making my own preserves at home....she really didn't believe that it was as simple as i was describing....until she saw me make it.

i thought this was particularly funny.

so there you have it....an outside observer that can attest to how fast and easy it is to make this jam.

if you are in the san francisco area, apparently, the san francisco area has an ideal climate for this fruit. it seems that this fruit has origins in different areas of south america like brazil and argentina. if you see this fragrant fruit, i highly recommend that you give this fruit a try. the heart sister tells me that you have to make certain that the fruit is ripe (they fall from the tree when they are ripe)....or else it is going to taste like medicine. yeah, i don't know how you will know in a store....i guess you'll have to trust your grocer. yes, i know, that isn't exactly helpful....but i just wanted to put that warning out there.

well, i am definitely a fan of feijoa.....fresh or in desserts......jez, i bet this fruit would be absolutely AMAZING as a sorbet.....or in a tart. we had the homemade feijoa jam with a triple cream cheese (mt tam) from cow girl creamery on crackers and it was a huge hit. the heart sister gave me a few to take home with me. i'll probably eat a couple fresh and then make a jam with the rest of it as well. it will be nice treat throughout the week.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

a letter to my 16 year old self


this has been something that i've been bouncing around for quite some time. it came to a head the other day while i was taking a break at one of my secret spots,



noshing on some gelato.


what would i say in a letter to the 16 year old version of me? this is an interesting exercise and i would recommend giving it a shot....if you haven't already.

here is mine...

hey there 16 going on 65.

you are into your second year of college at this point. forget double skins...you are a chameleon. you have your secrets. you have your anger. you have an unnerving and unflinching faith that the life you have now is not the life you have to have. you have patience. you have your plan.....your plan for independence and self-reliance. you look at your wall of maps and you dream of the day when you will be free and know, without any doubt, that this will happen. it is just a matter of getting your education, your job, and turning 18. at this point, you believe time is the only thing you have an abundance of.

what you don't realize yet is that you can't help people that don't want to be helped. yes, you love them. yet, they need to make choices that help themselves. within the next couple of months you will see the deterioration of pivotal figures as they make damning and damaging choices. and just when you think Jeff will make it, he won't, and this will break your heart so much that you will still feel it today. as a result, you will learn and know that you don't have an abundance of time.

speaking of heart break, you will face all aspects of heart break that you hoped to avoid. yet, the outcome will not be what you expected. despite seeing evidence to the contrary, you will not be broken. what will be broken are cycles, but again, you will not be.

what you do not realize either is that you will find your family. yes, i know, this wasn't a part of the plan....but you will. you will find an utterly amazing group of people that will inspire you with their passions, drive, and their varying quests to be the change that they wish to see in the world. you will understand what it means to love and be loved.

i wish i could see you....and talk to you....for just a moment. in that moment, i would wrap you in a hug and say

"i know that you can handle it. you know that you can handle it. this doesn't mean that it is right that you have to handle it. it does get better. you will have an incredible amount to be grateful for."

love,

me

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

julia wertz


i'm noshing on some manchego cheese for my afternoon snack and wanted to take a moment or two to blog about julia wertz. my noshing on cheese is quite appropriate as julia appears to have quite the deep and abiding affection for cheese. i have been thinking about writing about julia for a while....those of you dear hearts who i see on a regular basis have probably already seen copies of her books at my place....or have seen the links to her comics online, or links to images from her flickr page.....because, well, i have foisted them on you via email.

i think she is very talented.

i first came across julia's work during one of my weekly visits to comic relief. they were selling the second volume of Fart Party in the "new section" on the back wall and found myself laughing out loud in the store as i flipped through it. i carried it around the store with me as i searched for for the first volume...but alas, i didn't see a copy. i bought the second volume that day because i've learned that when i see something at comic relief that i like, i just buy it...even if i don't plan to read it until later. i decided that i would read vol 2 after i read vol 1 (because i'm weird like that)....but it didn't stop me from reading her work online.

i found her frank and honest observations to be really funny. sometimes heart breakingly funny. sometimes gut busting funny. sometimes, kinda sorta cute (she prob wouldn't like that term very much) funny.

then, a few weeks ago, julia had posted a note on her web site indicating that she had copies of vol 1 that she was selling...so i quickly bought it.


i recently finished reading vol 1 and i decided to write about julia's work because of a couple of the letters appeared in the back of vol 1.

there were a couple of notes from readers that were very harsh.

maybe it is the ex-editor in me, but i can only imagine how difficult it is to receive that sort of feedback....especially, when i think she is very talented.

so i wanted to take a random break from work and snacking on cheese moment to just put some thoughts out in the online sphere regarding why i enjoy her work and why think she is talented. the core theme throughout julia's work right now is autobiographical. according to one of her random updates on her facebook page, there seems to be other projects in the works....but the majority of her work is autobiographical (although there is this great anthology that she edited called i saw you which includes comics inspired by "missed connections" on craigslist...i think my copy is still at the best friend's house actually). i think it is rare to see/read folks that are willing to be that incredibly honest in their observations....and communicate their work in such a way that it is accessible. i can't imagine that it is easy to be so honest....to be willing to put yourself out there....where you are opening yourself up for potential harsh criticisms and judgements.

when i read julia's work there are moments where i am laughing with her and at her....there are moments when i wrinkle my nose and think "did you really do that? OMG. i still like you."...and there are other moments, where i wish i could just give her a hug (i.e., one of the last panels in vol 1) and hope that she wouldn't hit me.

personally, i don't think there are a lot of works (no matter what the medium) that i have these sort of reactions to....and do not think eliciting so many responses from a reader is a small feat.....especially this particular reader who is pretty well known for her cynicism. so, if you haven't figured it out by now dear hearts.....i'm definitely a fan....and i look forward to seeing what else she decides to come up with.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

paneer for breakfast


last night, i made a very quick paneer "curry". i fried up some premade paneer (yes, i've made paneer from scratch before but was not so inclined last night) with some red onion, garlic confit oil, garlic confit, and cumin seeds then added a jar of the tikka masala simmer sauce from the seeds of change. after stirring that around for a bit, i then added a substantial amount of cayenne pepper and black pepper. yes, i know that tikka masala isn't suppose to be spicy....but hey, tikka masala is a sauce of disputed origins....was it created in india? was it created in britain? only the original person really knows....and no, i'm not going to pick a side....and i think i'm allowed a bit of creative freedom in my teeny tiny kitchen far far away from india or the uk.

MP first introduced me to these organic indian-inspired simmer sauces a while back....and i view these sauces the same way i view jarred italian-inspired tomato sauces..... they are nice short cuts to use as a base with some additional seasoning to one's taste or particular mood. last night, everything i added (i.e., garlic confit, red onion, etc.) was a bit impromptu and thrown together with what i currently have in my kitchen and pantry. also, like many tomato-based sauce dishes, i like it even better the next day when the flavors have had more time to develop. so, it was with some glee that i opened my fridge this morning after the flurry of emails (i'm actually waiting for my boss to call at this moment which is why i'm writing this posting now...) to nuke some leftover rice with the leftover paneer.



it was delish and quick.....and most importantly, i feel quite ready for my day.

Monday, November 23, 2009

sardines in tomato sauce


i'm gonna say this right away....this is not a posting for everybody.

this morning as i was making myself some breakfast, i realized that i have never blogged about a pantry staple that has been in my life as far back as i can remember. it is such an obvious staple for me (like rice and pasta...both asian inspired and italian inspired pasta btw...that is life in the bay area for ya) that i take it for granted that it is something i always have in my pantry. then this morning, as i was taking this staple out of my pantry, i thought....wait a sec....this isn't exactly an everyday staple for everybody. what am i talking about? i'm talking about sardines in tomato sauce.

ever since i can remember, this was something that was used to make a quick meal....and the add-ins always varied depending on what was in the fridge or around. it was typically fried up with a combo of garlic, onions, chilies, and nuoc mam....maybe sprinkled with chopped coriander ......and served with rice. usually, this is something when i make...i don't even think about it...i just make it. so it was a bit funny for me to stop and actually think about the process i go through to make this.


so i gathered the can of sardines in tomato sauce, a red onion (not because you have to use red onion...i am only using red onions recently because there was a beaucoup sale on organic red onions at my local market....so i went kinda crazy on buying onions), and some green onions...

after i chopped up half of the red onion and the green onions, i realized that i still had some garlic confit left in my fridge, so decided i would use that....(again, you don't have to make garlic confit esp for this...it is all about what do you have on hand)


so i put some of the garlic confit and oil in the pan ......


added some chili flakes with the red and green onion (white and pale parts only)....

and let that fry up at a high heat for a bit......


then... this is the important part.... i turned the heat off....and opened the can of the sardines....


i have a feeling this is probably the first time that many of you have seen the inside of this sort of item. then i carefully put the sardines into the hot pan (with the heat turned off)....the reason for this is that the fish is pretty delicate and also when you put tomato sauce into an extremely hot pan...well...that shit gets EVERYWHERE....and is a rather pain in the ass to clean up....but this way, the pan is still warm...but lessens the mess factor.



make sense?

kay, then i put in a few splashes of nuoc mam and then the green parts of the onion....

turn the heat back on at a medium flame....and carefully stir it and then cover it.


again, this helps with the mess factor. i'll do periodic peeks at it and usually stir it if necessary. the combo of the heat and the nuoc mam will change the color of the tomato to a nice brown....


see?


i ended up eating this for breakfast with some rice (in this case it was wild rice blend).


i usually have some sort of cooked grain in my fridge...usually some type of rice or quinoa....which reminds me...i should try adding farro into my repertoire...well, that was off topic..anyway, making this sardine dish actually takes about 20 min tops from start to finish (that is if you aren't taking pictures) which is probably why it was such a staple for me growing up. often times, variations of this would be served as lunch or as a dinner with a steamed veg and rice.

again, this isn't a dish for everyone, particularly if you are the sort that thinks breakfast should only be cereal. yet, this gives everyone a peek into what i really eat in my kitchen....it is pretty much all over the place.

well, gotta get back to researching various markets.....until later.....

Sunday, November 22, 2009

move me


i decided that i had done enough work on one of my projects that i could sneak away for a while (i mean, it is sunday) and hop on BART (see above pic) to attend the early session of the sf hip hop dance fest.



i wasn't disappointed and enjoyed myself quite a bit. it was lovely to see such an array of talent, artistry, and technique. after the show was over, i walked over the kara's in the marina to grab a cupcake.

unfortunately, they were out of the fleur de sel chocolate cupcake which is my fave....so i grabbed the java cupcake instead.


as i was munching on my cupcake, i was trying to figure out how i would be able to give you all dear hearts that usually have no interest in hip hop or dance....an idea of what it felt like to watch these dance crews from all over....perform with such a wide array of styles.

i mean, i couldn't show you a video of the dance fest as filming of the performance was prohibited....which makes sense...since they sell the dvds....yet, thank goodness for youtube which has videos of the various performers....but there was one video that stood out for me.....that i thought was fascinating when it comes to melding cultures.....



and well, not to mention that he looks pretty hawt. sigh.




UPDATE: here is a link to see more about the festival...as well as lots of pics:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/11/23/DDED1AOMFB.DTL

Saturday, November 21, 2009

non-work moments

okay. after quite a few hours today of reading about emerging markets and such, i decided to pack all of that stuff up, reheat up some leftover roast duck and rice that i bought at a local thai noodle bar.....

(this is actually a pic from last night and i ate half of the meal and then took the rest home) ....so i'm munching and doing some test shots of an idea i have for "project amazing balloon".

i decided to take a bit of creative license with the balloon concept.

so i'm testing out what an inky sketch would look like via color......


and black and white....


just to give me an idea of how it would look in a photo pic/image.


i'm probably going to try it in pastels, maybe a collage, as well as do something via the computer. right now, i'm just in my "testing and exploration phase".

i've started to run the idea by a few loved ones and have some ideas of how i would like to construct the pics for my contribution for the project. i must admit that i'm having a good time working on this...it doesn't feel like work....that is for certain.

yikes, i better go get ready.....the best friend and i are heading out for drinks......until later dear hearts....

many hugs,

fh

why fatted calf has lost a fan

i went back and forth all morning on whether or not to write about this.

yet, it is obviously still bothering me and i have decided to just "get it out" so that i can get back to working on one of my work projects.

i try to avoid the saturday berekely farmers market because of the crowds. i usually go to the thursday market...right when it opens. yet, there are three vendors that appear at saturday's market that i will make a special trip for....for the sole purpose of visiting them and they are 1) blue bottle 2)art davis and 3) fatted calf. when i go to this market, i am not a "looky loo". i go to buy.

after today, there are two vendors rather than three that i will make special visit to the saturday berkeley farmers market for. previously, i liked visiting fatted calf as they make, what i think is the best beef jerky i have ever tasted. i have bought quite a bit of beef jerky from fatted calf....particularly as presents for loved ones and up until today, was a fan.

what happened to change the foodie hunter's perspective?

today, i went to their booth (which is deep into the crowded market btw) and there was 1 other customer at the booth. there were two people, a guy and a gal, working in the booth. both folks had initial attention on this customer but the guy was the one that was primarily helping the customer out. i picked out two packages of the beef jerky which equaled to just over $20 and i had cash in hand. so keep this in mind...i had one hand with the product and the other hand with the cash. i didn't think anything of both of them helping that one customer especially when i heard that they were pitching ryan farr's chicarrones. i am a big fan of ryan farr's 4505 meats....and those of you who have read my blog or are regular visitors to my flickr page know this. also, i have purchased many a bag of those delicious chicarrones for loved ones and i adore those "zilla style" hot dogs he does. so i didn't have any issues waiting. if they could convert another fan to what ryan farr is doing...i'm all for it. then, when the gal stopped pitching and started puttering around the booth, i thought it was kinda odd. but again, didn't think anything of it. then she took this gallon size zip lock bag and started folding it. again, i thought, ok...this is kinda odd that i'm standing here with cash and product waiting to buy and she isn't saying anything....

cuz, it wasn't like the booth is crowded.

there are two customers.

the one customer that was being helped and me.

so it isn't like she didn't see me.

then, a couple of guys approach the booth and she stops what she is doing and says "can i help you?"

in that split moment, i felt some major anger.

i mean, WTF?

you can't help me....but you ask if you can help two guys that approach the booth after i have been standing there....with cash in one hand and product in another?

i almost dropped the packages of beef jerky back into the basket and walked off. then the guy (who wasn't even 100% done with the customer he was working with) looks at me and says "will that be all for you?"

i'm guessing that he was trying to save the situation.

if he hadn't said that....at that exact moment...then i wouldn't have bought the jerky.

yet, it wasn't enough to for me to take pics of the jerky, post it on flickr, let folks know about it via twitter, post the pics on an online food-oriented picture guide (which was going to do and let people know it was the best beef jerky i have ever tasted), and write about how much i was looking forward to tasting it in this blog.

now, the jerky is in my kitchen. it is hours later and i am still pretty pissed off.

i had originally thought about giving one to the best friend as a present this evening as a treat and keeping the other one for myself. i will probably still give it to the best friend but i think i may be trashing mine.

because, for me, food is not just about taste...it is also the emotional connection i have with food...and for me, my connection with fatted calf's products has been tainted from today's experience. i mean, i will be patient for various levels of service....especially, if i see a vendor is busy....but when a vendor isn't busy and consciously takes actions that i think are unfair....then, yeah, that is going to piss me off.

wouldn't that piss you off?

so yeah, the foodie hunter isn't going to be buying any more fatted calf products in the foreseeable future and fatted calf has lost a fan.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

project amazing balloon: the beginning

one of my flickr friends, beckie, decided to have 1000 balloons made for project amazing balloon. in beckie's words, the idea of the project is to "Give them to the person/people who make your world go round. Show me the people you find amazing! What brings joy and awesomeness to your life?" when i first saw the announcement of her project on flickr, i remember thinking (despite my admitted cranky curmudgeonly personality), "what a lovely idea!". then i thought...."well, why shouldn't i do this? why shouldn't i tell and show those that i love that they amazing?"

i mean, i think they know....well....actually.....i know that they know that i feel this way....because, well, it is one of the most important things in the world to me....for those that i love to know without any doubt...that i love them.

this is not a long list of people.

i am also rather consistent in my behavior....

but this is different.

this would be a way for me to show the world why those that i love are amazing. truly amazing....because i see them. because i love them. because i know that they are amazing.

i'd like you too, dear readers, to see why i know they are amazing.

the balloons recently arrived from beckie with a lovely note.....yet there is a line from beckie's note that really stood out for me....it is a quote from maya angelou...

"i learned that whenever i decide something with an open heart, i usually make the right decision"

so here i go, the
curmudgeonly foodie hunter, charging forth with an open heart....and i'm pretty certain that it is the right decision.

brussels sprouts with porchetta


nothing intense today! i promise.

just wanted to let you know what i had for my lunch today. i'm still having to eat slowly and in tiny portions...yet, i feel like i am slowly (but surely) getting back to my normal foodie self. today's lunch consisted of some of some leftover roasted brussels sprouts that i made yesterday.

what made the brussels sprouts a bit more unusual than my typical mid-day fare was that i decided to use some of the leftover porchetta to flavor the little green spheres. again, this is giving you a sneak peek into how i eat....it is all about what i can throw together from what i have on hand. so yesterday, i cleaned some sprouts, chopped up a half of a red onion, and then sliced up some of the left over porchetta from the porchetta roast that happened earlier this weekend....


then roasted that for a while.....

then i took it out of the oven, stirred it around to distribute the melted fat and ensure that all of the sprouts were coated properly......

then stuck it back in the hot oven for a while......

then took it out when it was ready..

and it was pretty tasty. the tastiness of this dish wasn't a surprise....i mean, greens and pork are a pretty well-known winning combination.....and i love it when things are easy to throw together and taste good.

also, i like roasting as roasting is one of those very common things i do while working from home as it allows me to to keep working with pretty minimum interruption. plus, there is the added benefit of roasted dishes usually taste pretty good the next day as well and only require a quick nuke in the microwave to be reheated.....

which is what i did today.

well, gotta get back to work....although....i may take a walk later and grab some ice cream at the ici booth at the thursday berkeley farmers market....hmmmm, ice cream...that sounds rather good doesn't it? i'm definitely feeling better.