Monthly Archives: February 2011

Farmer’s market

Last week I promised you a farmer’s market post.  And I don’t make promises lightly.  (Usually.)  So here it is, a wanton and entirely smug depiction of my hometown’s crowning jewel.

The Mountain View farmer’s market just might be the best thing about Silicon Valley.  Forget the shoreline, the palm trees, the sprawling tech company campuses.  If you like food, this market will blow your ever-loving mind.

It takes over the local train station parking lot every Sunday morning, with stall after stall after stall of fresh produce, organic meats, artisan cheeses, fabulous prepared foods, sorbet, wine, olive oil, herbs, honey, dried fruit and nuts, and even handmade soaps.  Even the New York Times called it “bountiful.”  Whenever Audrey and I have college friends come visit, we like to take them to the market and watch their eyes bug out of their heads.  And did I mention it’s year-round, with beautiful seasonal offerings even in the depths of February?

Like I said, best thing ever.

Let me show you what I mean.

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Breakfast of champions

I’m dying to tell you all about what I made last night. DYING. But I can’t.

I know, what a way to start, right? But I just can’t tell you yet. You see, I have to wait two whole weeks before it’ll be ready. And if I have to wait for two weeks, you have to wait for two weeks. I’m sorry. Them’s the breaks.

Instead, I’m going to talk about oatmeal. (Wait, where are you going?)

Specifically, the politics of oatmeal. (No, come back!)

Bear with me, because I’m about to make a statement that just might be downright un-American: oatmeal doesn’t have to be sweet.

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Mountains of mushrooms

So…once upon a time, a whole week went by without a post.  Sorry about that.  Back on the horse.

First things first: I want to introduce my new favorite toy.

I call it the Lean Green Delicious Machine.  My friend Izzy calls it Kermit.  My parents call it a belated birthday present.  It is my new 6-quart dutch oven, and I absolutely love it.

How do I love it?  Let me count the ways.  It’s shiny, and heavy, and my favorite color.  But most important of all, it makes a mean mushroom stew.

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Valentine’s Day, 2011

Okay, let’s be honest.  Valentine’s Day is a marketer’s dream.  Red, pink, chocolate, hearts, Cupids with chubby dimpled buttocks–it’s all very sweet, and entirely manufactured.  I’ve long been a cynic about Valentine’s Day, far more so than about any of the other Hallmark Holidays.  For me, the real magic comes the day after, when chocolate goes on sale.

But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t something inherently lovely in the day.  Showing loved ones a little extra care and devotion is never a bad thing.  And if there has to be a designated calendar day to remind us of that, then so be it.  For me, Valentine’s Day is about genuine displays of warmth and affection, whether it be for romantic partners or friends, parents or siblings or children.

And when I want to lavish someone with love, I feed them.  (This should come as no surprise to…well, anyone.)  To me, it’s the ultimate homemade gift: a special meal of favorite ingredients, prepared by hand and served with care.  As The Boyfriend said, “It’s like flowers, but I can eat it.”


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Greens and beans

Let’s face it: cooking is work. It means picking ingredients, figuring out how to put them together in ways that taste good, keeping everything as warm or cool as it needs to be, and then washing up the mess you’ve just made. If you’re a working stiff, and you’re coming home exhausted, that’s sometimes the last thing you want to do.

When I went to my parents’ house on a recent Monday to do laundry (shut up, I’m totally a grown-up), my mom was in just such a state. She’s a self-employed consultant, working insane hours, and on that particular day she was having technology issues that had her nearly yanking her hair straight from her scalp. She was even more exhausted than I was after a full workday. But, of course, in long-ingrained Mom mode, she dragged herself to the kitchen to look for dinner ingredients. So I stepped in.

“Mom, I’ll make dinner. Don’t worry about it.”

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Pigskins and puppies

So I don’t care about football. At all. I’ve been known to refer to a certain Sunday as “the Stupid Bowl.” The Puppy Bowl, on the other hand, is a delight in the wasteland of cable TV. My friends say that fuzzy baby animals are my kryptonite, and I can’t really argue. I have a tendency to dissolve into uncontrollable gibberish. It’s pretty disgusting.

The chicken wings I made for yesterday’s Super/Stupid/Puppy Bowl party, however? Not disgusting at all. (See what I did there?)

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Pasta with anchovy sauce

Let’s talk about anchovies.

They’re not easy to like.  They’re salty, they’re fishy, they’re pungent, and they’re generally not out to make friends.  Given the chance, they’ll take over a dish, running roughshod (or rough-finned?) over meeker, milder flavors.  A mere mention of the word prompts scrunched noses and pouts.  “I don’t really…like anchovies.”

Which is a damn shame, because they’re absolutely delicious when they’re treated right.

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