26 November 2006

Thanksgiving in two parts

stoveThis year was my first ever Thanksgiving away from family. i was a bit nervous about it, but, while i missed the fam, i had a lovely time. That april came in from bend certainly added to the fun of the holiday weekend. Thanksgiving was so much fun, in fact, that we did it twice.

Part One:
Thursday night, april and i went to bruce and ron's for thanksgiving dinner. we brought appetizers and soup: a biscuit-topped mushroom cobbler, crudite with sesame ginger dip, cranberry brie, artichoke dip and squash (acorn and delicata) soup. bruce served duck with cardamom and honey, braised cabbage, wild rice, fresh Hideaway Bakery bread, a pear pie and a pecan pie. the end result was, of course, quite non-traditional, but very seasonal and tasty. bruce has the magic ability to cook up anything without a recipe. he doesn't need 'em, doesn't use 'em. so, weather its baking a pecan pie or roasting a duck, he just fires from the hip and miraculously pulls it off every time. i'm deeply envious. i can do a lot of cooking without recipes, but baking? a mystery to me. i suppose years and years of baking and i'd, too, have a chance of success. in addition to bruce's general cooking know-how, he also has the nicest equipment of any home cook i've ever seen. pictured is his set-up. talk about deeply envious. i covet that gas range stovetop. and his pots and pans make me weak in the knees. sigh.

Part Two:
On Friday, april and i cooked up a more "traditional" Thanksgiving dinner. Because I'd probably melt or just keel over dead if i didn't have jello at least once a year. thanksgiving spread Since the smallest turkey at Long's came in at 15 pounds, we went with a whole chicken. We roasted the chicken with potatoes and onions, made chestnut mushroom stuffing, a jello mold and cranberry sauce. and wine, of course. we'd planned to make a pumpkin cheesecake but forgot, which is probably for the best. we baked the chicken upside down (oops!) but, stuffed with fresh sage and rosemary, it would've tasted good baked upright. actually, propped up on a beer can, it would've been a real classy treat. i love cooking with april even though we're both sort of type-A in the kitchen. i have the most fun making and then eating these elaborate meals with her.

25 November 2006

lunch of champions

with a pile of recipes to mark-up and a house full of distractions, i had no choice today but to head to Provisions to do work. it was roughly lunch time so i figured i should get some food. i ended up with a sort of Atkins-gone-wild meal: beet salad and, pictured, a meat and cheese plate. sopressato, prosciutto salato and four precious slices of culatello with a small wedge of mimolette. if atkins ate like this, its no wonder he died of heart failure. honestly, i tried to do it, but i just couldn't for the life of me get through that plate. it was so rich and so wonderful. i ate all four slices of culatello because it was melt-in-your-mouth goodness. it had the most perfect balance of saltiness and creaminess. the mimolette was initially appealing for its deep bright orange hue. as the cheese ages, it apparently darkens, eventually becoming almost completely black. it's a perfect complement to salty meats, strong enough to hold its own but not too stinky and pungent as to over-power. mmmm....yuppie crack!

perils of childhood

i'm at my favorite place to study and its bustling with holiday shoppers. thankfully, not a peep of christmas music to be found in provisions -- which pretty much forever secures my love for the place.

at a table across from me sits a girl who must be about seven years old. she is eating a giant chocolate chip cookie. or attempting to do so. her two (or maybe four, actually) front teeth are missing so she's shoving it towards her remaining back teeth and gnawing away. it's a crispy, crispy cookie, so it must hurt a bit to cram it against the side of her mouth. her left cheek is covered in melted chocolate. she occasionally takes a break from gnawing and licks the cookie for a while. it is completely adorable. but i vaguely remember being without front teeth and attempting to negotiate such terrific problems such as cookie consumption. ooh, and ice cream, so tasty, hurt so much against the exposed roots before adult teeth began to emerge. man, sometimes its tough being a kid.

24 November 2006

favorite post-dinner party breakfast

as soon as i get my pictures up, i'll blog about my wonderful thanksgiving dinner. for now, since, i'll post a photo of my breakfast from a few days ago: cold, leftover artichoke dip with crackers or olive ciabatta.


artichoke dip so good that my cat will eat it. uhm, not that one should necessarily rely on one's cat's taste as a measure of culinary success. but my cat does have a very sophisticated palate.

22 November 2006

frozen dinner.

Originally uploaded by deepfry.
as my regular readers (i.e. my mother) know, sometimes my cooking activities lean towards the lesser end of the culinary spectrum. last night i did some preliminary thanksgiving shopping at Trader Joe's and Albertson's. This year is my first thanksgiving away from the family. Luckily, i've been invited to what will be a fabulous dinner with good friends and a. is coming into town, which makes any weekend more fun. since we're doing a non-traditional dinner tomorrow (duck, scallops, no turkey, no pumpkin pie, etc.), a. and i are making a more traditional dinner on friday. and what says tradition more than jello? nothing that i can think of. jello mold So i went to Albertson's to get four boxes of jello (lime, orange, lemon and strawberry) and four containers of cool whip.

i was planning to drop my groceries at home and go to Provisions to try their pizza. but then, wandering down an aisle in albertson's, i spotted a DiGiorno's garlic bread pizza (new!) sticking out of someone's shopping cart. i feel strongly that a single person living alone should do his/her best to avoid frozen pizzas at all costs. it's a gateway quick dinner. too much frozen pizza and next thing you know, you're eating Hungry Man t.v. dinners, then soup out of a can and eventually your dinner is nothing but a bag of doritos and a 2-liter of coke. i'm also incapable of eating a reasonable amount of frozen pizza...it's just slightly too processed to taste like real food so it doesn't actually feel like i'm eating a dinner. but i caved. that pizza looked too good to pass up. i will say, in my defense, that i spruced it up a bit with some fresh red and yellow peppers, red onion, basil, oregano and parmesan cheese. but mostly i enjoyed it in all its scary processed glory.

20 November 2006

George T. Stagg


received a very thoughtful last minute invite to a gathering of foodies and wine nerds last night. i had committed earlier that day to a night of work on the final (group) project for one of my courses, but it was in my longterm Eugene foodie interest to attend the party. and besides, i have a weak will when it comes to good food and drink. okay, this late in the semester, i have a weak will when it comes to anything other than homework.

so i suited up and biked through the rain to the party, hosted by my Provisions friend and his lovely wife. the food was terrific, the wine divine. folks from soriah, marche, the downtown wine shop (Oregon Wine Tasting Room??) and so forth, swirled around sampling pinots and so forth. everything was going swimmingly and it occurred to me that i might do some homework when i finally returned to my apartment, refreshed.

and how did it happen? maybe it was the ham and biscuits. or the deepfried yam fries. but suddenly, our host was bringing out his rather varied collection of bourbon. at this point, things grow fuzzy. i remember tastes (smokey and almost soaplike, sharp, vanilla) but very few names. only my favorite, George T. Stagg (second bottling, no longer available), which had that lingering flavor of vanilla. i didn't feel like i'd had any significant amount, just a few small sips of each. maybe a few extra sips of the Stagg. but i tell ya, when i started bicycling home, it occurred to me that my head was just ever so slightly tingling. and things were spinning ever so subtley. and then when i went to bed, i could not for the life of me fall asleep. actually, i fell asleep but woke up completely refreshed just a few hours later. i read some of my book, watched the rest of a movie i'd started earlier that day, and even contemplated the pile of dirty dishes in my kitchen (didn't wash them, though -- i wasn't that desperate). even though it's a depressant, i can only blame the bourbon for my insomnia. i'm not sure why i blame the bourbon...i guess i figure its some sort of divine retribution for drinking on a school night.

anyways, now i'm at work and i'm exhausted.

19 November 2006

bite-sized pizza

tweezer-sized pizzalast night we consumed Lou Malnati's pizza, sent frozen and packed in dry ice by my wonderful and caring mother. At the very same moment, 2500 miles away, my parents and my brother were also eating a Lou Malnati's pizza (probably with sausage and onions, maybe garlic). Image that. What synergy!

I had a few friends over and we all enjoyed our bite-sized slices. Because I'm a selfish bastard, I ate two pieces, the second while hidden away in the kitchen, away from everyone else. Its just that there was one extra piece and, well, dividing it up would have been nonsense. And leaving it would have been unacceptable. So, what could a girl do? A girl who regularly pines for and is so painfully denied the crispy cheesy perfection of Malnati's? I had no other option.

The frozen malnati's pizza is a far cry from a fresh, steaming hot pizza right out of the malnati's oven. Mmm...pizza that you have to cut a piece at a time because the cheese will melt across the pieces, essentially gluing them together. and perfectly crispy crust that must have cornmeal in it. I must figure out how to make Malnati-style pizza. The first thing I need, no doubt, is a 40 year old deep dish pizza pan, perfectly seasoned from decades of use. If you have one, I'll buy it from you. But, you know, I'm confident that with time, equipment and thoughtfulness, i could recreate most dishes. Not easily, necessarily, but eventually. But, I am fairly certain that no matter how hard I tried, I could never actually make a deep dish pizza that tastes like Malnati's. It just doesn't seem doable. Malnati himself is a second generation Chicago pizza man, being the son of Uno Pizzaria's original chef, Rudy Malnati. Sigh. Has anyone ever made a good, realistic deep dish pizza.

p.s. I am currently having a big fight with my friend about Chicago style thin crust pizza. He insists that Chicago can't claim both deep-dish and thin crust. He's from Iowa. He's just jealous.

17 November 2006

House of Noodle

I've eaten at House of Noodle, the Vietnamese and Chinese place down the street from my house, two nights in a row, both times with lovely company. I'm fighting a cold and if I eat pho at least daily, I might just beat that cold down. I think I might go there for dinner again tonight, if only to support them. I'm a bit afraid that House of Noodle isn't doing very well. On both Wednesday and Thursday night, we were at one of two or three occupied tables in a room of empty booths. They're downtown, so I'm hoping they get good lunchtime business. I was a bit bitter that they changed their salt&pepper squid recipe, but I still think it's a great place. If they're really struggling financially, one can't criticize too harshly for strange menu inconsistencies. And the woman I assume to be the owner is so sweet and concerned, and leans in closely over you to inquire after your meal. She reminds me of my grandmother. So, if you live in Eugene, please eat at House of Noodle. Do it for me!

p.s. I stole this photo from Flickr. I have no shame.

12 November 2006

fall omelette

fall omelette
Originally uploaded by deepfry.
i am currently enjoying a delightful overstuffed, well-done fall omelette. leeks and rainbow chard from the market, cheese from the fancy cheese shop and mushrooms from my downstairs neighbors who picked them yesterday. and, er, well, fake sausage. i love fall produce for its colors, its heartiness and its versatility. anything that is perfect for soups or omelettes is a food for me. this omelette is so good that i just realized, just this second, that i didn't even to make coffee, so caught up was i in my breakfast.

i love sunday mornings. i wake up around 8am, lay around in bed until 8:30am (gosh, i'm getting old--"sleeping in" until 8:30am!). finally get up, put on some sunday morning music (today: jenny toomey), throw some slippers and a sweater on to go grab the newspaper from the front stoop. then come back in to make a big overstuffed omelette and some coffee to enjoy while reading the paper. it's possible that celebrating this makes me a 60 year old man, but whatever.

yesterday was the last day of the market this season. technically, it will move over to the lane county fairground for "holiday market," which goes until the end of december. some will argue that this means that saturday market isn't actually over, but i, only three blocks from the outdoor market and about a mile and a half from the fairground, beg to differ. i haven't made it to the fairground market, but i know its not the same. fall is the best time of year for saturday market. how lovely to bundle up, trundle down to the market, stopping to get coffee on the way, and wander around the stalls, surrounded by beautiful apples, squash, leeks, and more. so i guess i love saturday mornings, too.

you know. i guess that i just really love weekends. yay weekends!!

10 November 2006


Originally uploaded by deepfry.
my mom rocks! look what i got in the mail. two frozen chicago style deep dish pizzas, which are now safely tucked away in the freezer. she sent it to my office so it wouldn't sit all day defrosting. doug, in the mailroom, put the pizzas (in a giant box) into the loading dock freezer and duct taped it shut since things have disappeared from that freezer.

i have two pizzas: one cheese, one veggie. so now the big questions:
1. when do i eat them?
2. do i share them with friends?

05 November 2006


Originally uploaded by deepfry.
out of focus but you get the idea. miso with a variety of stuff thrown in the pot: seaweed, pork, corn, noodles, sprouts and who knows what else. i shamefully was unable to get through the entire bowl. sigh. i'm getting weak in my old age.

this is from Toshi's, by the way. on pearl and 15th. if you go at lunchtime, prepare to wait. and wait, indeed. it's worth it.

04 November 2006

Ryan the cheese man!

food blog hookup
Originally uploaded by deepfry.
oooh, i just got home from the new and wonderful gourmet grocery store just down the street from me. it is now my Local Grocery Store. a dangerous dangerous thing when the nearest grocery store sells sopressata with hand-stitched casing, rounds of epoisse and so forth. i could drop $50 in the blink of an eye. without even thinking.

Provisions + Me = Money Hemmhorage

That its next to a delightful kitchen store full of all kinds of absolutely necessary pots, pans, graters, knives and so forth doesn't help things.

So, for better or for worse, I discovered that I know the brilliant mind behind Provisions...the guy running the place! From this foodblog! Finally, Yum! has paid off! Took us a while to figure things out but after lingering over the cheese case for a good fifteen minutes, we got onto the topic of chicago and finally put two and two together. Fabulous! except that now that i know someone who works there, i have all the more reason to visit the place and, well, my wallet is shrieking for mercy.

I managed to make reasonable purchases this time: a wedge of San Joaquin Gold (which you can weirdly buy on Amazon.com, though you should certainly support your local upscale gourmet grocery store instead!), a delightfully rich hard cheese that's great on soups, pastas and so forth. it's also rather tasty all by its lonesome. And Ryan was nice enough to send me off with a complimentary sampling of Essex St. Comte, a rather subtle but flavorful cows cheese aged in an underground army fort in France. If Ryan is reading this and he needs to send someone to France to inspect the underground army fort cheese aging facility (quality control and whatnot), i am willing to ship across the ocean to scope the place out. just, you know, in case you're looking for someone to carry out such an important mission. i'm up to the task.