We were at my parents’ house again this weekend, our only full weekend off from summer markets this summer. We didn’t really feel the record breaking heat all that much and I guess that’s one thing the suburbs have over us. When you’re shuttling in a car from one indoor space to another, you don’t really have a chance to sweat it up if you’re not walking miles through city blocks.
After taking swimming lessons for 10 weeks in the Spring, Mia’s becoming quite a little swimmer. We spent the better part of the day Saturday at the town pool where my parents live, and by the end of our day there, Claudine got brave and started dunking herself completely and learned how to float too by doing the running man underwater.
You ever laugh at how different your tastes are from your mom’s? I mean we were one of those families who had plastic covers on our couches growing up. Ok, maybe that was more of an 80s thing than anything else. Meanwhile my mom thinks most of the stuff in our apartment is plain, though she does like the black walls. Then again, she totally let me have all black walls in my room when I was a teenager. Ahead of my time I was, I tell ya.
Claudine, unlike Mia, doesn’t like mealtimes here at my mom’s because there is never anything on the table that she wants to eat (she’s picky, remember?). So dinner time always ends up being plain rice, which she does like, but she doesn’t like the kind here because my parents make rice mixed with all kinds of beans and grain and it turns the rice purple. The only way she’ll eat any is if we roll it up in seaweed, so there’s that. I swear, we’re never going to be able to travel anywhere overseas with this girl. She’d starve.
The girls are off from camp this week. At the time when we reserved camp slots waaay back in the winter, we thought it’d be nice for them to have a break from camp for a week because camp days are so hectic. Uh, what the hell was I thinking? I have work to do and we have no childcare and no camp this week. I’M GOING TO DIE.
Posted by Jenna | 17 Comments
Long ago, before I moved to New York, I would hear stories from Jenna about all the cheap and tasty food that she missed in NY when she got homesick. There were the big fat quesadillas and burritos at Benny’s Burritos, the Hijiki-Tofu Patties from Dojo, the Chinese food from House of Vegetarian, and most of all the Falafel Sandwiches from Mamoun’s in the West Village. Coming from a part of the country that used to lack authenticity in certain culinary genres, I always got jealous. And hungry.
We’ve been making efforts to eat less meat in our diet again lately, so I made falafels last week, using a recipe someone gave me a long time ago when I decided I should just cook the foods I craved if I couldn’t get them where I lived. The chickpeas are not cooked before frying, only soaked in water overnight. They should be ground up in a food processor until they just start coming together, but not too much so that they might become a paste. Easy enough to make, as long as you don’t mind the deep-frying.
Falafel (makes about 15-18 patties)
1 cup dried chickpeas
1 small onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon ground cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1 large clove garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
juice of 1/2 lemon
Soak the chickpeas in plenty of cold water overnight. The next day, drain them well, then put them into a food processor. Grind them until they will hold their shape, but not enough that they become a paste. Add the remaining ingredients and process until well ground and fully incorporated. Form into balls or patties about 2 inches across and refrigerate while the oil heats up.
Begin heating about 6 cups of vegetable oil in a large saucepan. When it reaches about 350°F you should start frying the falafel. Carefully drop them in one at a time, and cook them for about 4 minutes, or until they are golden brown on the outside and fully cooked on the inside. Repeat until they are all cooked. Serve immediately. They can be made into pita sandwiches, or served with other middle eastern items (tabbouleh, tzatziki, hummus, etc…) as part of a mixed platter.
Posted by Mark | 9 Comments
Mark’s had a little more time to cook these days, so we’re back to eating better dinners. We’re also cutting back on meat and trying to eat healthier overall. We haven’t posted any recipes in a real long time and if I wasn’t feeling so lazy (actually I am sick, legit excuse) I would have taken more photos and maybe we would have posted this dinner of homemade whole wheat parathas, chickpeas with crisp fried onions, and yogurt marinated chicken. It was really good, just take my word for it.
We’re taking it easy this weekend. There may be more snow. Mark’s got the Flea on Sunday and I plan on cleaning up around here. We may not even leave the house.
Posted by Jenna | 13 Comments
We love Mexican food in our house. Normally we eat it at least once a week, although it usually comes in the form of simple tacos or fajitas (and always pickled jalapeños, which Jenna seems to have become addicted to). Last week I felt a bit ambitious and decided to make enchiladas with a homemade mole sauce. There are many versions of mole, the most famous ones being molé poblano and mole negro. I made neither of those, and ended up making an approximation using what I had on hand. As many Mexicans I know will be quick to point out, a traditional mole can use more than 40 ingredients. The most essential ingredients are the dried chilies, and I’m lucky to have a wide variety at my local supermarket. I chose a mixture of guajillo and mulato chilies, but ancho or pasilla chilies are also good choices. Just make sure to allow plenty of time to make the mole, or even make it the day before – it is quite a process, but well worth the effort. I’m going to try to have some of this in the fridge all the time.
Homemade Mole (makes about 4 cups)
4 ounces dried chilies (see above)
10 tomatillos, husks still on
8 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 large vidalia onion
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 to 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/3 cup date sugar (brown sugar may be substituted, but less will be needed)
salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Remove the stems from the dried chilies and shake out the seeds. Put them on a foil-lined baking sheet along with the tomatillos and garlic. Roast them all together. Remove the chilies when they have darkened considerably. Remove the tomatillos when they have become noticeably soft, and remove the garlic when it is golden. Put the chilies in a bowl and cover with warm water. Let them soak for at least 30 minutes. Peel the tomatillos and garlic, and set them aside.
Peel the onion and cut into 3/4-inch thick slices. Preheat a grill pan on high heat, then grill the onion on both sides until nicely charred and softened throughout. Drain the dried chilies, and put them in a blender or food processor with the tomatillos, garlic, onion, cumin, oregano and tomato paste. Blend it all together, adding enough stock to reach the desired consistency. Add date sugar and salt to taste. Transfer it all to a saucepan and simmer on medium-low heat for about 20 minutes. Use right away, or refrigerate and use later.
Posted by Mark | 15 Comments
I went on quite the shopping spree last week at the Union Square Greenmarket. Among the goodies I picked up were these nice zucchini flowers and a loaf of fresh ciabatta bread. Stuffed zucchini flowers are one of our family’s favorite summertime treats, but the dilemma, as always, is what to stuff them with. This time I chose the ciabatta bread, dicing up the crispy ends of the loaf and cooking it with onions and herbs. The mixture ended up resembling, well, stuffing, like the kind you put in a turkey, only without the heavy flavor of sage. This filling worked surprisingly well and would also work well with other things added (cheese, seafood, etc…). Just get the zucchini flowers while you can, the season doesn’t last long!
Bread and Onion Stuffed Zucchini Flowers (serves 4, or really 2 because you will want to eat them all)
12 zucchini flowers, washed well
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, diced
2 cups crusty bread (ciabatta, baguette, etc…), cut into very small cubes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
Approximately 1-1/4 cups flour
Melt the butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the diced onion and cook until soft. Add the bread, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir well and cook for about 2 minutes. Add enough water to the mixture to bind the bread pieces together, and continue to cook for another minute. Remove from the heat and cool for a few minutes. Stuff each zucchini flower with the bread mixture, taking care not to tear the sides of each flower too much. Now, heat the vegetable oil in a clean frying pan over medium-high heat. Coat each stuffed zucchini flower in some buttermilk, followed by a nice coating of flour, then put it in the frying pan. Cook for just 1-2 minutes on each side, until they are crisp and golden all over. Drain on paper towels, then serve.
We ate the flowers with some fresh heirloom tomatoes and some homemade ricotta that I made earlier that day. Drizzle some olive oil, sprinkle some coarse sea salt, and you have a perfect bite of summery goodness.
Posted by Mark | 10 Comments
Some random shots from my parent’s house out here in Lawn Guyland.
The morning light streaming behind my toes remind me how translucent skin is. Kinda freaky.
Lettuce, perilla leaves and some other greens we don’t know the English word for all came from my dad’s garden and onto the dinner table for lettuce wraps.
Yeah, Claudine still sucks her thumb. And she can’t suck her thumb without twiddling her left ear. She once drew a picture of a girl with one hand over her mouth and the other over her left ear. It was a self portrait.
Speaking of drawings, this is Claudine’s latest portrayal of me and Mia. I’m the one in the striped dress because, well, I was wearing a striped shirt today. Mia is wearing a ruffly dress (and yes, she was in a dress today that had ruffles at the neckline). I am a fairy doctor which is why I have a stethoscope plugged into my ears and I am checking out Mia’s head because she has a scrape on her forehead. The object between us is an ice cream truck. We’re standing in the street and behind us in the field is a flower, a pitcher of water and a bunny. The bunny’s name is “Hank”. You gotta love the imagination of a 3 year old.
One of the best parts about coming to our “country house” is the home cooked Korean meals. My mom made cold noodles for dinner tonight (Naeng Myun) which is a summer staple. It has pickled radish, cucumber, asian pears, apples, pine nuts and a cold icy broth (aided by an ice cube or 2 right in the bowl) mixed in with some spicy mustard. One of my favorites.
We totally did the suburban thing today – went to Target for various sundries, Michaels for craft supplies since Mia doesn’t go to camp for another 3 weeks, and then the mall in search of some kid sneakers. In the afternoon we blew up the kiddie pool and let the girls splash around while we watched the soccer game. We get to enjoy the perks of the suburbs without actually having to live in the suburbs.
So this summer is turning into the summer of starts and stops and shakeups. For the time being, once again, I will be living the life of leisure (oh freelance, you are so crazy). So we’re staying out here one more day and after deciding that it would be too crowded on a Sunday, we’ll be heading to the beach on a Monday morning. Just because we can.
Posted by Jenna | 18 Comments