Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

December 23rd, 2011

Edible ivory

Another shout-out to Costco: white asparagus, aka “edible ivory”, actually affordable! Apparently white asparagus is more widely available in Europe; Jens works with someone who was weirded out by the green asparagus stateside.

This is a very simple recipe, other than the elbow grease that goes into hand-whisking the homemade mayonnaise. It comes together in about 30 minutes, and is very fresh-tasting while also being totally rich and delicious. It’s so simple, in fact, that you don’t even need to go beyond a jump to get to the recipe.


  1. Get a pot of water boiling for the pasta (remember the tip from French Cooking in 10 Minutes?)
  2. Make the homemade mayonnaise: good extra virgin olive oil from farmer’s market stand (greek olive oil used here, EVOO is the reason the mayo is green-ish), eggs, dijon or whole grain mustard, vinegar. Whisk vigorously while adding EVOO bit by bit until it reaches the right consistency. Where are the amounts, you ask? Good question (I say as I look pointedly at the chef.) He did this all to taste and forgets the exact amounts, but you can use this recipe from Bon Apetit as a guideline. You can also make this in a tall, narrow container using an immersion blender.
  3. Boil the asparagus until tender – the time will vary depending on the thickness of the stems.
  4. At the same time, cook the pasta (Barilla spaghetti in this case, I like the slightly ridged texture as it gives it a good toothsome bite.) Reserve a few tablespoons of the pasta water.
  5. Once the pasta is almost done, fry up some eggs, sunny-side up.
  6. Slice up lemon wedges. Plate everything, dollop some mayo on the pasta, thin it out with some pasta water if it’s too thick and serve some extra table-side in case people want to make it even richer. Your call whether you want to dribble the yolk on your pasta or the asparagus. Eat asparagus with fingers. Yum.
December 18th, 2011

I love the smell of cold brew in the morning

The apparatus

Toddy Cold Brew SystemWhat $20 worth of coffee grounds looks like*if you click on the photos, it will do an in-line lightbox slideshow of all three photos

Here at FFTF, cold brew doesn’t refer to alcohol, but rather a coffee brewing method. I have two mutually exclusive long-standing problems:

1) chronic gastroesophageal acid reflux disease (GERD, or “ARGH” as I fondly refer to it); and

2) an on-again, off-again, love-you, hate-you relationship with coffee.

You may already know this, but coffee (and chocolate, alcohol, fatty/fried foods, garlic, onions, spicy foods, tomato-based foods – basically anything delicious) can worsen reflux symptoms. And indeed, whenever my reflux symptoms worsen, usually due to stress, if I cut out coffee and alcohol things improve.

Not drinking alcohol is easy. Not drinking coffee? When, for the past several years, I’ve had high-stress jobs with long, unpredictable hours (a line from the job description)? Or, for the past six months when I’ve been a grad student taking the max class load? Nigh unto impossible.

This is where cold brew coffee comes in. Because cold brew uses lower temperatures to extract the flavor from the beans, the resulting drink can be up to 2/3 less acidic. Since I’m not a huge coffee nut (I can’t perceive “notes of blueberry and bark” if my life depended on it) this is the primary draw. Other coffee enthusiasts (“snobs” depending on your POV) also claim that this method produces a smoother, less bitter, more nuanced beverage. Others say that “it lacks the body and complexity of flavor” that hot brew methods produce. I’m willing to compromise a bit on complexity if it means that acid stays in my stomach where it belongs, and not in my throat.

A few places near me produce excellent cold brew, like Cafecito Organico and La Mill. However, at almost $5 a pop, this is an expensive habit, and most places only do cold brew for iced drinks, so if it’s cold and I want a hot drink I’m throwing the dice with my reflux. So I recently bought a cold brew system, the Toddy T2N, bought some Bliss Espresso beans from La Mill on the barista’s recommendation (supposedly they use the espresso roast to make their cold brew), found an excellent pictorial walk-through since the manual instructions were rather minimalist, and gave it a go.

For details about the results, read more »

December 1st, 2010

This is what tradition looks like

In the last post I mentioned how someone asked me if my family does a “traditional Thanksgiving”, and coded in that question is the normalization of Anglo-American traditions. My family’s Thanksgiving feels pretty traditional American to me, even though we don’t have turkey or cranberry sauce, and we eat more rice than mashed potatoes.

So here’s another peek at what tradition can look like: the revived day-after-Thanksgiving leftover party at my friend’s house! We’ve been doing this for years, except for last year when my friend betrayed us all by spending Thanksgiving on the East Coast. Well, the West Coast won and she’s moved back so that damn well better be the last time we miss this tradition (I’m looking meaningfully at you, friend!)

My friend is Taiwanese and her mom, who provided almost the entire feast below, is an AMAZING cook. The stars of this tradition:

  • Sticky rice turkey stuffing: if you’ve ever had this, do you not agree that it’s GREAT?
  • Duck noodle soup
  • Rice porridge cooked in homemade turkey stock garnished with leftover turkey meat: so much umami how do they do it!
  • Taiwanese ham salad (this isn’t actually called that. Hopefully my friend will volunteer the actual transliterated names in the comments section, hint hint.)
  • PIES! So many many pies, varies each year. My sister brought over her homemade pies from Thanksgiving. I usually bring a pie from House of Pies but didn’t this year because I was told there would be plenty. Plus a homemade coffee cheesecake brought by another attendee of this tradition. It looked so professional and tasted so amazing that we all teased her that she bought it from a bakery and paid extra for them to put it in an unmarked cake box.
  • Sliced oranges (very Taiwanese after-dinner item)
  • And of course, ROCK BAND! (courtesy of another friend and her roadie boyfriend, who does the quickest drum setup I’ve seen)

This year we also had cheese biscuits (leftovers from my family’s Thanksgiving) and Costco holiday cookies (so good, and it turns out that my friend likes the exact ones that I don’t! The synergy, it is too awesome).

To the usual suspects who were missing this year, hope this serves as a lure for your appearance next year. You were missed!

November 14th, 2010

Cookbook Corner: Heavy hitters

My name is Grace, and I’m a cookbook-holic.

I can pretty much only cook from recipes; I find improvisation to be annoying and intimidating (I felt the same way about piano improv). But give me a list of ingredients and a recipe and I’m golden (I was never happier than playing a structured Bach fugue). Also, when I lived alone and worked a lot, one way I would relax was to heat up some desperation food and eat it while reading a cookbook that distracted me from my sad, overworked life.

Jens, on the other hand, is solidly improv, and before we met I don’t think he even owned a cookbook. One of the ways he amused himself back when we lived in separate apartments was to look in my fridge, see what measly ingredients I had, and make something delicious. To me, this is nothing short of wizardry.

I own over 100 cookbooks. But as with brainspace and closets, only a limited percentage of these books are actually used. Here’s a list of 5 of the top-used cookbooks.  I’ll post another 5 later. Note: this is actually quantifiable because when a recipe is made, a “post-it of (dis)approval” is inserted into the book with notes about the recipe.

I’m linking to Amazon for the books so you can get more info, but if you can, please buy from a local independent bookseller! If you’re in the Bay Area, Moe’s Books or Half-Price Books always has used cookbooks in great condition at great prices. Or check out Abe Books to find them used. read more »

November 7th, 2010

Earthy, or grassy? Mushroomy! A guest post from Jens.

This is the dish referred to in this post, made while the butternut squash was roasting in the oven. It’s easy, quick, and delicious. The key is to get good, flavorful mushrooms. I can’t imagine this working with plain white buttons.

Normally after the cookery is done and Jens and I are eating, I do an “interview with the chef” and get a quick rundown of the ingredients and cooking process. This interview is several weeks late, and Jens did most of the writing.

It’s sort of meta to have a guest post by Jens, on a cooking blog that features his cooking. read more »

November 6th, 2010

Jens’ Healthy Restaurant: Quinoa and Chard

Jens: Have you ever encountered a vegetable so flavorful?

He’s referring to Swiss Chard, of course.

The excuse for the scarcity of posts this month is that Jens has been working more than usual and getting dinner at work, so no home cookery has been taking place. (I’ve reverted to my college desperation days of boxed mac and cheese. I have very little motivation to cook for myself, as I can easily – though not healthily – survive on cookies and leftovers.)

So today was the first day in a few weeks that he’s gotten a chance to cook, and he cooked up a storm. For brunch he made a leek-parsley pasta dish inspired by this epicurious recipe. However, the constraints of the recipe were, um, constraining, so for dinner he fully Jens’ed it up with a super healthy concoction using swiss chard, quinoa, radishes, and tomatoes. Super healthy and very delicious!

I still can’t believe that I’m saying things like that. read more »

October 10th, 2010

Summer Menu: Mutual Bossiness

Our kitchen is big enough for one person, but definitely not for two people, especially if those two people are both trying to do different things while simultaneously attempting to boss the other person around.

Me to Jens, multiple times, as he made the burger: “Over handling is the enemy of a good burger!”

Jens to me, multiple times, as I prepare the toppings: “Make sure you cut the tomato into meaty slices!”

Burgers, vegetable salad, two types of potato salad, and for desert, my first-ever (both for making and eating) plum-nectarine bourbon crumble.

Recipes for the burgers and veg salad after the jump. read more »