The Dinner Project: Week 22

June 17, 2011

I just started reading Secret Ingredients: The New Yorker Book of Food & Drink, a compilation of articles from The New Yorker, some dating back as far as the 1940s and all having to do with eating in some way. It’s a great book, full of distinct points of view and personality, rich, witty writing, knowledge and humor. If you’re a fan of good writing as well as food, you should get yourself a copy.

It’s been a relief, in a way, reading this book. I get stuck in ruts sometimes, reading the handful of foodie blogs I’ve come across over the years, four to be exact, so not quite an entire handful. I am not the type of person who has too many blogs to keep up with, the same goes for cookbooks, of which I have eight. When I’m into something, I’m all in, and I don’t do well with a lot of clutter. Especially in my mind.

Like this sandwich I made myself for lunch today. I am all about this sandwich. I almost bypassed lunch entirely, instead opting for a handful of peanuts, a grapefruit, a few pickles and whatever else I could rummage together, but then I came to my senses and thought of what better company I’d be to myself if I ate a proper meal.

Besides, my fridge was full of bounty from the farmers market so I sauteed some garlic slices, added some yellow squash, a handful of kale and a few yellow cherry tomatoes, sprinkled it all with salt and pepper, put it on top of a piece of fresh bread that I’d smeared with pimento goat cheese and there you have it. Lunch. Delicious, delicious lunch.

Sometimes I feel like a poser having this space here where I write about food. Some of these blogs I read, they could run circles around me with their rich descriptions of taste, flavor, smell, texture. I, on the other hand, tend to sum up most meals as: Delicious. Or delicious, delicious to really make my point and add some heft. Perhaps I should start reading a page of the dictionary before bed.

Last year, on June 14th actually, I started this here Manney.time. I remember being at a crossroads where I was sick of constantly thinking about wanting to write, rather than just writing. Actually, it has occurred to me while writing that sentence that I am still at this exact crossroads one year later, just at a different level. Some things never change, they just evolve.

Rather than starting this blog with an agenda, from the get-go I decided to leave the door open and simply follow my interests, of which I have many. But no matter what, no matter how hands off my approach seemed to be, I always came back to food. I still find it a bit perplexing since I am not that person who stood on a stool next to their grandmother at four years old, watching while she made her famous spaghetti sauce or dumplings, learning how to add a dash of this or a little of that to get the flavor just right, with generations of cooking knowledge passed down to me. I’ve pretty much just been winging it.

It has actually never really been all about the food itself for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love to cook and I love to eat, but when I sit down to write about it, it doesn’t come naturally to describe the subtle nuances of a fried caper or the complexity of a rich cream sauce or the simple sophistication of a single clam. I love to read writing like that, but for me, I am most drawn to the overall experience with the actual finished dish being more the like the grand finale, the icing on top of an already delicious cake.

In August we’re going to have a full house here with Kimberly and Ryan and Amber and Simon. The six of us have been friends for nearly 10 years, and within that decade we’ve met up in various combinations in Boulder, Minneapolis, Michigan, Portland, Seattle and Nashville. And here’s hoping to add Rome and Belgium to the list in the not too distant future.

We’ve cooked a lot of incredible meals together over the years. In fact, I’d say about 90% of our time together revolves around a leisurely breakfast, reading books and magazines, mac books and mac book pros, countless games of euchre, long walks with cameras around whatever city we happen to be in and then figuring out a tasty dinner that takes us well into the night.

Without a doubt, our meals are always really good and a few them still stick out in my mind. Like our breakfast one morning in Portland of fried green tomatoes and baked eggs, the big pan of roasted mussels we ate on the floor of the living room with a loaf of crusty bread, roasted salmon and lentils while sitting around the coffee table in our apartment in Seattle, looking out over the city.

And while I say that it’s never really been all about the food itself for me, without it, our times together just wouldn’t be the same. It’s nice to have a focus, to take the time to savor and appreciate, to collaborate and create. But in the end, even if everything was burned to a crisp or tasted the way beet borscht smells, it wouldn’t necessarily matter all that much. We’d probably just pour another glass of wine, order a pizza and pick up where we left off in our game of euchre, the remixed Nina Simone album playing in the background. In case you couldn’t tell, I can’t wait for August.

The Dinner Project: Week 22

Monday, June 6 – Salad with grapefruit, blue cheese & sunflower seeds; sauteed asparagus

Tuesday, June 7 – Smoked chicken from Clear Creek Smokehouse; watermelon slices

Wednesday, June 8 – Dinner of appetizers with the neighbors! We made a salad of the first yellow cherry tomatoes of the season mixed with fresh basil, some salt, pepper & olive oil; homemade bread with garlic herb goat cheese. Dani & Adam made hummus with carrots; fried polenta rounds topped with garlic, cheese & rosemary. So delicious!

Thursday, June 9 – Impromptu dinner at Margot with Johnny & Tara! Best. Ever. We shared a cheese plate with fresh mozzarella; pan seared duck with pickled peaches, arugula & cornbread croutons; for dessert we had blueberry gallete & chocolate mousse pie. Margot is my new favorite restaurant, the menu changes nightly & she uses as many local ingredients as possible. I highly highly recommend it! I still dream about this meal.

Friday, June 10 – Pork fried rice with carrots, garlic & kale

Saturday, June 11 – Benton’s bacon green chili mac & cheese from Alfresco Pasta

Sunday, June 12 – Soft corn tortillas filled with sauteed onion, chard & a bit of leftover pork sausage from Peaceful Pastures

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2 Responses to “The Dinner Project: Week 22”

  1. grwhryrpltd Says:

    let me be the first to wish you a happy blogiversary! you’ve taken us on quite the gastronomic trip in a year m’dear, with lots of visual and literary deliciousness along the way. keep at it, as many of your guests are coming back for more…
    🙂

  2. amberruth Says:

    “and thought of what better company I’d be to myself if I ate a proper meal”: Perfect line! As well as the rest of the post. (Is that basil on your mussels?)


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