Cooking journal: here we go

Since I’ve started becoming a pretty committed cook, I thought it might be cool to start a cooking journal, where I could share my experiments, thoughts about food, aspirations, etc.- for myself, but perhaps for a few close others as well.
Living with the Sweetie and her family has definitely provided me with a community to cook for; having two kids in the house means that making jams, cakes, cookies and other sweets is a lot more popular than if I lived alone, or if I lived with only the Sweetie. It’s only been six months, and we’re still feeling our way, but there is no question that the kids love to eat, and have strong preferences for both sweets and real food.

The Little Dragon loves butter, cream and sugar, but she also likes fruits, and she doesn’t like nuts, so it’s easy to know what she loves–comforting cakes, puddings and sweets.

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The young man is a foodie, and loves to eat; as a teenage boy, he’s about quantity as well as quality, so having food in the fridge he can eat quantities of and not feel guilt is also important.

Of course, they both prefer it when their mom cooks for them; I am better as the maker of extras: jams, desserts, treats, in their view. (This is about the fierce demands for the Sweetie’s  love and attention, and the little one’s requests for complicated foods, like biscuits and macaroni and cheese from scratch that she has the Sweetie make for her and then hardly eats).

Living with the family, and trying to eat healthily and lose weight, gives me a lot of chances to practice everyday cooking. Hanging with the little dragon and the young man and talking about food with them is also an inspiration to make cool desserts, breads, bars, etc.

Some of the recent food I have been making includes the following:

Okra:

Eggplant

Beets

Main dishes

Trying to make ahead on weekends so we have food to bring for lunch as well as 2-3 nights of dinners heading into the week. Some of the interesting/successful meals include these:

  • Salmon cakes: Bought salmon trim, $5.79 a pound at the Berkeley bowl, and made it into amazing salmon cakes. OMG were they good!  Bought more salmon trim this week.
  • Chili chicken with black beans, slow cooker: everyone likes this
  • Pork shoulder with peppers, slow cooker: everyone likes this
  • Grilled steak with salad–grass-feed beef ny strip, my personal fav, with a nice endive and watercress salad, for example.
  • Marinated, grilled chicken thighs, a total-go-to.

Salads

My favorite food.  Have  a strong obsession with little gems lettuce, watercress and arugula, and endive.  Make my own salad dressings, always, with my go-to a mix of olive oil, champagne vinegar, dijon mustard, salt, pepper and a dash of lemon if possible.

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Current summer salad faves include

  • Cucumber salad with radish and avocado and chopped red onion (this is a great salad and can be made with sesame oil and soy sauce, or with olive oil and lemon juice).
  • Sliced tomatoes (I don’t eat tomatoes much, but will eat ripe perfect garden tomatoes); made Pan con tomate very happily a couple of times
  • Beautiful salads that feature a blend of little gems and arugula with some sweet red onion; I die for this one. Have added peaches a couple of times; especially good with a mustardy dressing.

Starches

  • Yes to grilled bread as a guilty pleasure
  • Rice every way, another guilty pleasure

Jamming

I’ve also been making fruit butters in the slow cooker.

Some of the recent creations include a really good apple butter, cooked for about 20 hours(!) and made from foraged granny smiths with pie spices, including nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon, and a deep-flavored peach butter, also made from foraged fruit, cooked for about 15 hours.  (I canned both of these so they could be put into the pantry).

Pickles

Baking

Also, more baking.  Some of the recents:

  • Strawberry slab pie, Yossi Arefi
  • Plum filo pastry galette–a total improve on deep plums with cinnamon and an ocean of butter wrapped inside butter and filo dough–so good.
  • Blueberry coffee cake for the office–this was a hack from the trader joe’s mix for a potluck and came out great.
  • A yellow cake with amazing peach/blueberry topping, also a tj’s hack for the kids.
  • Baked apples: inspired by Nigel Slater and the last bits of the foraged apples from last week, in the oven right now.

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