Fiancé Revealed: Vanilla and Corn Summer Salad

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

-I really do wish that all my posts started with champagne.-

No formal post today. Instead I want to share some pictures from my recent engagement shoot. Our photographer, Sarah Maren, arrived for a BBQ lunch at our home along with her husband, our florist, and our wedding planner. It was a rather relaxed meal. We went through a pitcher or three of white sangria loaded with peaches, apricots, nectarines, triple sec, and mint. I made my reliable pluot almond cake. Fiancé went to work at the grill with chicken slathered in a homemade coffee-chipotle barbeque sauce as well as southern-style dry rubbed ribs. I used my friend Tori’s recipe for watermelon and feta salad. I also crafted up a quick and adoringly addictive vanilla and corn salad bejeweled with cherry tomatoes from the garden for which the recipe is provided at the end.

It was light, breezy, and just what you wanted in heat that threatens to set you alight. And while it was odd trying to pose for two cameras clicking away it was fun and strangely intimate, too.

Also, I just realized that I’ve never introduced you all properly to Fiancé. Now seems a good time.

-Of course, the cat demands your attention, too.-

This is Brian. I’m very happy for you all to finally meet.

Notes From July: Cheddar Rosemary Scones

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

-Scones fix the butthurt.-

So I’m dealing with a lot of butthurt now. Not the proctological kind, but the emotional kind.

(Detour: I’m rather amused with myself as I think this is the first time I have ever had the opportunity to write out the word “proctological.” Yes, we’ll call it an opportunity. Like Daryl Hannah and “gargantuan” in Kill Bill. I’m glad I spelled it right the first time, too, so go me.)

Anyways. Yes. Butthurt. I’ve had to kindly let down a few people about the wedding. During lunch the other day a sometimes-in-town friend-slash-acquaintance began asking about various wedding plans.

I am the wedding person amongst people I know and amongst people I don’t. It’s my identity now. I do not exist outside of it. In fact, random strangers who hear me going on about the topic (and can I go on though honestly and often it is against my will) will come up and congratulate me. I find it endearing and thank them.

Sometimes, they ask what her name is and when I say his name they get a bit confused or taken aback. Some find it awkward and shuffle away. Most don’t miss a beat and offer their well wishes and possibly an apology for the assumption.

Many more simply ask, “What’s your partner’s name?” This makes me wonder if I’m really that obviously gay or if Sacramento is just ahead of the socially aware curve.

I’m getting sidetracked again. I blame it on 'muh brain meats being swallowed by The Wedding.

Any 'ol Reason: Almond Pluot Cake

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

-I love the fancy color of pluots. Somehow it makes it look like more work than it is.-

I’m a comfort eater in the worst form. I admit it. I enjoy finding solace in food when my mood turns afoul and when life seems to reinforce the concept that I am at times nothing more than the universe’s personal rectal thermometer due to the number of assholes as crappy situations I have to deal with. (Or when, like, half of you unsubscribe due to that sentence. It's okay. I understand.)

I’m also a lazy cook. It may be hard to fathom at times with the sometimes rather intricate recipes on here and the fact that I’m cobbling together an entire book of recipes – some of which, I admit, are rather fussy though so fulfilling and completely worth the investment of your time and sweat. On a regular basis I would rather piece together a simple meal than something over the top. Though, I like to think that I think a bit like Alice Waters or David Tanis in that a simple salad or rustically (read: haphazardly) prepared produce and meats are delightful in their own right and need little touching up in the kitchen outside the application of a bit of heat.

-Genius way to write a book, too.-

Pastry Origami: Fortune Cookies

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

-Man who folds fortune cookies gets bent.-

350 fortune cookies. 5 friends. 1 industry convection oven. 1 culinary classroom.

This is how you have a party.

When one of our friends stated that she and her husband planned to have a garden party to reveal their new Chinese Garden - a project that had been two years in the making involving lots of heavy equipment, talented artists, and a research trip to China – we decided to pitch in and help with the food. When we were told it would be for 300+ guests we balked. "No problem," we said, because we fancy ourselves both gluttons for both cookies and punishment.

All of us had professional baking or restaurant experience, but none of us had ever made a fortune cookie. I was, technically, an exception as I had made them once, but it had been 10 years earlier and I couldn’t remember anything of the experience except I knew I would burn my fingers.

So we printed out some fortunes, cut out some stencils so we could spread out perfect circles of tuile dough, and after watching a few too many Youtube tutorials set to it.

-For those of you curious, "He Who conquers himself is happy," and "Man should walk in women's pants." I can't recall the others. One said something about BFE.-

-A serious factory line of people makes this WAY easier. As does a professional kitchen, but hey...-

For Many Reasons: Blood and Chocolate Pudding

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

-Yep, it really is.-

"Do you need some pork belly?"

"That's a stupid question. I always need some pork belly," I replied.

Hank sat down on his knees and started to dig into his kitchen freezer before pulling out a slab of pork belly that weighed more than the pig it came from and handing it to me. "My pork guy loves me, so I sometimes get freebies. This is a bit too much for me to use though."

Hank, an avid writer, cook, and hunter, had decimated a small portion of the duck population this last season. Due to this he had plenty ducks in his freezer and each one of them was plucked, processed, and vacuum-sealed. (If you've ever killed your own bird for food before, then you know that just one is no small task.) Hank's freezer, now packed with birds (not to mention elk, pork, goat, wild goose, and many other of God's tasty creatures), was beyond capacity. To remedy the situation he had called me up to see if I would take some off his hands.

Now, it's illegal to sell wild duck in the state of California, so the only way to get them is to shoot them yourself or have friends who can handle a shotgun. Considering that the thought of crawling out of bed at 2AM to muck around in wetlands on a rainy day sounds as much fun as chewing tinfoil I happily took him up on the offer.

-You won't find chocolate and blood pairing together in too many other recipes.-

"Do you want some headcheese, too? I made it this morning with that spare pig head I had," said Hank nonchalantly.

"My God, I love you, Hank." Seriously. How can you not love someone who makes his own headcheese?

He cut off a piece of the head cheese slab and wrapped it up and plopped it in my bag where he had also put four ducks, the pork belly, some crab meat, a few homemade Chinese-style sausages, and a near bushel of candy-striped beets from his garden. A veritable bounty of meat and produce. The dainty half-pint of homemade kumquat-vanilla bean marmalade I had brought as a gift now seemed somewhat inadequate.

"I've also got a gallon of pig's blood if you need any," he casually noted.

I peered into the fridge to see a gallon jug whose crimson pitch contents, though perhaps not the source, were immediately identifiable. In any other house one would start wondering where the sacrificial glyph drawn with the ground bones of wayward children was and if there was time to call the police. Of course, this sort of ingredient sitting in the fridge was pretty standard fare for Hank's kitchen, so the only question I had was why there was so much.

"The guy I got it from only sells it in gallon quantities. I only needed a small amount for this pasta I made," he pulled out a ball of burgundy-colored dough wrapped tightly in plastic wrap. I had an image of Hank as Sweeny Todd except that instead of meat pies on Fleet Street he had been given a slot on the Cooking Channel to make Italian food.

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