Sunday, October 31, 2010

"Holiday" Feast

Happy Halloween everyone! But doesnt it feel so strange to wish someone happiness on a day that celebrates death, or, if anything, the stimulation of cavities and erratic bloodsugar levels? Nevertheless, it is a "holiday" of good spirits, no pun intended, and one that i tend to partake in thematically.

What i mean is i too use the day as an excuse to indulge in copious amounts of candy, and though i may not dress up, i befittingly wear orange and black, and cook in the same colors.

This time i may not have made my own (you'll recall my obsessive need for molasses candies last year, which, i might add, are in great abundance here in Vancouver, including in a giant bowl at a coffee shop i like but couldnt take one from because i didnt even order anything, just checked out the pastries for a plum cake of desire--long story...) but i have a bag of black licorice waiting for me, after my black and orange dinner.

Thats right, i cooked a dinner in halloween colors. Not so lame really; my ma used to make homemade macaroni and cheese halloween morning, cool it in a large bowl in the refridgerator so that by dinner time it was set, inverted, stabbed with her chefs knife, and served as "stabbed brains," ketchup streaming onto the plate from the wound. Less gory, try this:

Eggplant, Pumpkin, and Cauliflower Curry
with currant pine nut rice pilaf and minted yogurt

In a cast iron skillet over medium heat, toast:
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black cardamom seeds

Loosen toasted seeds with olive oil (a good glugglug) and stir together with:
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp smoked paprika

Drizzle over and roast in the same castiron pan, covered, at 325F:
1 lg eggplant, cut in chunks
1/2 head cauliflowed, in large florets
1 small pumpkin (or other winter squash)
2 dried bay leafs
1 cinnamon stick
coarse sea salt

Meanwhile, bring to boil, then reduce heat and gently simmer:
2 cups water
1 cup brown basmati rice
sea salt

Stir into finished rice:
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup currants (or sultana raisins)

Top rice with finished veg, and serve with plain yogurt and freshly torn mint leaves to top.

a side note--i miss Torrance the pumpkin ale and molasses candies from last season (though the latter could probably have lasted til now), but got to take my little second cousins trick or treating, so another good "holiday."

Monday, October 25, 2010

Years from now

My goals in this career, this life, may be small--but to me, they are, like my food, simplistically satisfying.

In no set time:

1-- To leave inspiration, gratitude, and recipes behind in places that i learn; to learn from these places, yes, but also to give back memorably

2-- To plan, cut, and cook with unabashed confidence

3--To taste, experiment, and learn with unabashed passion

4--to have 'signatures;' recipes that are mine

5--to have a place that is mine to share such in; family and friends and familial, friendly strangers to share such with

6--intimacy with food, farming, and those who love and appreciate food and farming

7--a line of purchasable foods; stamattina in logo

8--my ideal bread

9--to be "home" for dinner

10--a sense of pride in what i do from me. my food, my choices, my art, my heart, just a something that is mine; and tasty

Thursday, October 7, 2010

its not what you know, but who

The last two wee...nonono: the last month and a half, has been stressful, to say the least. Ive already explained how exhausting competitions are, but add that to moving, not once, but twice in two months-- the second time to a big city a ways away from my new-to-become-comfortable farm-life (stress+desperate excitement here)--re-ignited/continuing, and trying to un-ignite relationship drama, and finally a week straight of coming into work 4 hours early first for competition prep, second for a sick coworker, and you get me: sleeping in until nine (three hours later than normal) and running out of milk with no time to go pick some up.

I managed to get milk today, actually, with fourteen minutes to spare before the produce shop closed. Thank goodness, because tomorrow actually has to start at six, and it needs to start off right. Milk included.

Wine Fest event tomorrow. Though it happens every year, this particular event, and always ends with much dancing, drinking and "good shows," until it is actually over will inevitably be a continuance of the stress of...oh, gosh, it feels like forever, actually...

But i am not writing to complain and moan about life as a cook; quite the opposite. I want to say that life as a cook would hardly be possible if not for all the people living the same, or very similar lives. The people that i work with are beautiful; my life source, my reasoning, my caffiene, more important than the milk i picked up for tomorrow.

I feel sad for my friend/relationship trying to un-ignite (side note: what the hell is the word for dousing the flames or putting out a fire...???) who loves the product he gets to work with, the cooking he does and the food he makes, but not the people he does it all with. i can handle the mexican produce and not being able to choose brule flavors because there is always a sympathetic shoulder and someone to send or recieve a silly note to or from, to laugh with, to empathize.

And lately that is nearly everyone in that restaurant. We laugh alot lately. And there is nore freedom with brules, more time to explain before being spittingly yelled at. I am surrounded by people who routed for me the entire two and a half months that i obsessed over competing, who still love me in the end. Who will be there next year. For another season of sleep depravity, fighting over red peppers and overbaked cookies, stress-induced poor skin, and a number of well deserved (but not permitted) staff drinks. love you all; four more days.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Yep: done. Done with this season; done with this routine.; with Kelowna; with competitions...

The last of all the 'done-withs' i should never have been 'doing.' I have said this before, not too long ago, actually, but i do not enjoy, or willingly partake in, competitions. So there was Italy on the line, how could i not, but tonights event, why did i?

To help out the boss-chef, who covered the stress factor for the both of us, organizing the event to the very last minute (including my plating...) it seemed. He needed another competitor, and i said i would help. This would not be as big a deal as the last, after all: there was no secret blackbox, most could be prepared ahead of time, and there would be wine, right beside me. It was $750 up for grabs, half a penny--if that-- in comparison to a life in Italy. Honestly, i did not mind competing this time, just doing it to lower his blood pressure, and looking forward to a night off, seeing dave and cheffrey and sampling wines.

I didnt win, and to be honest a second time, i am hardly phased. I received enough second helping admittances, and chef pats on the back (and self satisfaction; that was, eventually--three hours later--a tasty dinner)What i am tired of, what has brought me to write here, then, is sheer and utter exhaustion with life; doneness.

Being involved in such competitions is all-consuming. Even if you have your dish one hundred percent thought out, supplied and prepped, it is still the only thing you can think about. Minutes before and (if you do not win) long moments afterward, yout htink of what you could (a) do (ne). Sleep is lost, aimless pacing is done, and a few days of life simply dissipates unil you are just done.

like me, now. done.

no more cooking for a prize, how about jsut cooking again. and please, no more goatcheese polenta.