Monday, May 25, 2015

a new season

What is this blog now? That's a really good question.

While looking around here a couple of days ago, I realized that I need to go in and change my profile section because it's no longer current – though, of course, it is part of my past. I no longer have a fiancé. It's been seven years since I lived in New York. I've changed teaching jobs twice since I first drafted that "about me" paragraph. All of which is to say, it will be updated soon to reflect where I am now – or at least the thumbnail sketch version of it.

But condensing where I am to a single paragraph is more difficult than it might sound. When I first began posting, the accidental kitchen represented something similar to what running and crafting and thrifting and photography were in my life: it was an activity that gave me confidence, that allowed me to play and experiment and create. I still want to do all those things, but their significance for me has changed dramatically in the last year or so. 

I'd like to explore that change here, and that means the way I do posts might change, too. So, some might end up being shorter. I imagine I'll still have a long, circuitous, generously hyperlinked meditation every now and again. However, I can tell you that for months now, at least two or three times a week, I've been making some delicious food and drink, and I want to share these inventions and experiments, more frequently and in a briefer format. Never fear: there will still be odd stories and rabbit trails and digressions – it's me, after all. 

I'm happy to have anyone along who's game for the ride. 

So: what better time to begin this new chapter than now, I figure. 

As of tomorrow, I will have been finished with grading for exactly two weeks, and unlike the beginning of every other summer break in my recent memory, this one found me immediately relaxed and chilled out and ready to cook and read and play.

Last night N and I fired up the grill for the first time this season. We needed a couple of grill-friendly recipes, and between us, we came up with a really delicious combination of dishes.

I went looking through the folder full of recipes on my computer and found this one, an old recipe that I first encountered on Good Deal with Dave Lieberman, a Food Network show that aired in 2005. I'm not even sure whether it had a second season or not. I made the recipe ten years ago this summer, and as far as I can recall, I really enjoyed it. That first time, however, I made it on a cast-iron grill pan on the stove, and I do remember that it smoked up the kitchen pretty good, so I thought taking it outside to the charcoal grill might be a good idea this go around. I have adapted the recipe a bit by doubling the marinade, which makes for a lot more creamy goodness to serve over the rice and the shrimp. I also added some fish sauce at the end, which deepens the funkiness a little. You can omit it if you really don't like fish sauce, though I have to tell you, a little dash of it is very subtle and yummy in the sauce.

N suggested we make some Pod Oeng (Coconut-Grilled Corn), which he had made before, but I'd never tried, and all I can say is lawzy. It gave me yet another reason – as if I needed any more reason than this recipe or this one – to adore corn's sweet summer goodness. Bonus: between the shrimp, the rice, and the corn, you'll use up a single can of coconut milk. 

We also had a big bowl of leftover Roasted Beet and Feta Salad with Orange Vinaigrette (the recipe for which I'll be posting soon), and that added some nice color to the meal.

Hope y'all are enjoying these warm evenings as much as I am.


grilled spicy coconut shrimp with coconut jasmine rice
recipe adapted from an episode of Good Deal with Dave Lieberman (Food Network, 2005). It's also apparently in his book, Dave’s Dinners: A Fresh Approach to Home-Cooked Meals, if you can get your hands on a used copy.
  • 2 good-sized fresh jalapeños, sliced (I left the seeds in for extra heat)
  • 5 or 6 small garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 4 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • zest of one lime
  • 1 can unsweetened coconut milk
  • large handful basil leaves, torn
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • generous ½ teaspoon salt
  • 20 grinds fresh black pepper
  • 1 pound peeled, deveined shrimp
  • 10 or so wooden skewers, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes
  • 1 to 2 tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • 1¼ cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

In a mixing bowl, combine the jalapeños, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, soy sauce, lime zest, ½ cup of coconut milk, basil, vegetable oil, salt, and pepper. Add the shrimp and marinate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours refrigerated.
String 4 to 5 shrimp onto each wooden skewer (make sure they’ve been soaked in water for at least a half hour), and put them on a large plate. You can thread on some of the jalapeño rings, as well, if you like.

Add chicken broth, ¼ cup of the coconut milk, a sprinkling of salt to a medium saucepan. Taste mixture for saltiness. Stir in rice. Bring to a boil, then cover tightly and lower heat. Simmer, tightly covered, for 15 to 20 minutes. Turn off heat and let rice sit, still covered, while you prepare everything else.

Add the reserved marinade to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil for a couple of minutes, to cook any of the raw shrimp juices and so it can thicken, then turn off the heat and stir in the fish sauce. Taste and more coconut milk and/or soy sauce and/or salt if desired. Keep warm.

Prepare charcoal briquettes. Let them get very hot, and then spread them in the bottom of your grill. (Or, if you’re doing this on a stove, heat a grill pan over high heat until smoking hot, about 5 minutes.) Put your grill on, let it burn off some of the crud, and then scour it well with a crumpled piece of aluminum foil. Brush some oil on it.

Grill the skewers until the shrimp are well browned on each side, turning once, about 3 to 4 minutes total. Transfer the cooked shrimp to a clean serving plate. 

Fluff rice.
Pour the reduced marinade into a small serving bowl and serve alongside the grilled shrimp and rice.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Sunday, May 4, 2014

april photo-a-day challenge (year 3!)

So begins my third year of photo-a-day! Here is the April list:

And here are my photos for the month:

Monday, April 28, 2014

wilted salad

Hear me out. In this case, the phrase “wilted salad” is a recipe title, not a criticism. You actually wilt this salad on purpose. Full disclosure: it doesn’t turn out pretty. But it does turn out yummy.

This is my paternal grandmother’s recipe, and she taught it to my mother, who made it often when I was younger, so this tastes like childhood to me. But even if I were trying it first as an adult, without the added attraction of nostalgia, I think I would still enjoy it because it’s vinegary, salty, and bacony, three of my favorite flavor profiles.

So, without further ado, here it is. Super easy.

wilted salad
3 slices of bacon
a head of iceberg lettuce
a bunch of scallions
1 tsp. sugar
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar (or to taste)

Fry bacon slices until crisp. 

While bacon is frying, remove core from lettuce and tear the rest of the head into pieces, separating the leaves as you go. Chop scallions, including the green tops.

Remove bacon from skillet and drain on a paper towel.

Dip out some of the bacon drippings until you have a couple of tablespoons left in the skillet. Add sugar and vinegar to the drippings and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add lettuce and scallions to the hot pan, turning them so that they get some of the dressing. Add a good pinch of salt and some pepper. Continue turning the greens until they are barely wilted. Crumble bacon and add to the pan. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed.

I’ve never added hot sauce to this, but I bet it’d be fabulous.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

march photo-a-day challenge (year 2)

As of today, I celebrate my two-year photo-a-day anniversary. That means I've posted a photo every day for the past 730 days! Here's the March list of prompts:

And here are my photos: