Search It, Find It

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

I once heard a story, likely an urban myth, about the reaction that People In Charge had when they learned that computers could store and organize great quantities of information into a new thing called a ‘database.’   The feeling was that it was a clever idea, but no-one could imagine much use for it beyond the storage and referencing of recipes.  How darling and naive.   These are probably the same People who cleverly thought the best use of the telephone would be to broadcast music to people in their homes willing to stand at the wall with a receiver held to the ear.

Though likely untrue, I can’t say that my first reaction to news of such a thing as a ‘database’ would have been much different; food is never far from my mind and my first thought might automatically leap to the exciting prospect of an automated catalog for all my favorite recipes.  And to be able to search for and find recipes by entering a keyword?!   Swoon!   Indeed, the searching for and finding of recipes is the most use I have for a database in my everyday life.  This magnificent tool is what allows us to think of anything in the world we want to eat, and then cook it. Fish amok?  palak paneer?  chicken schnitzel?  puff pastry?  tom yum goong?  Search it, find it, print it, shop it, buy it, cook it, hot, consume it.


Recently we made good use of this power to satisfy cravings and make cabbage rolls and ripieni.  Two versions of meat-stuffed tubes, one cabbage, one squid, with tomato sauce which would have been impossible without our friendly, global interweb.

To be perfectly honest, neither of these classics fully met expectations of fine flavour or texture, but the beautiful part is that we can peel the good parts from these recipes, search for new versions, adapt, search, learn, tweak and eventually satisfy the cravings.    Oh interweb, is there anything you can’t help us do?


Encheapifying, Part II

Saturday, March 14th, 2009

Et voila!   The results of a week’s worth of cheap meals.



Bacon and Squash-filled Crepes with Salsa Verde – a recipe pinched from Simpatica Dining Hall in Portland, Oregon.   Admittedly, the bacon was rather pricier than the other ingredients (flour, squash, parsley, eggs) but when one considers that the bacon we purchased was used in a two other meals during the week, the price evens out a bit;   at most, there was a third of a pound of bacon in this filling.  Mmmmm..   baaaacon.

What is really amusing is that as we were eating this for supper in front of the TV, a commercial came on for Applebee’s advertising their new “why spend $20 on a meal at home [cut to image of bucket of chicken] when you can come in to Applebee’s for a meal for two for the same price?”   And I’m thinking:  a)  dinner at home does NOT cost $20,   b)  dinner at home has the added bonus of leftovers for lunch the next day, and c)  Applebee’s?  ugh.  mozzarella-wrapped parmesan chicken breast with potatoes and breadsticks is not something  I would relish eating, let alone paying $20 for.     How much did our crepes cost?  …. roughly $4 per person?  Scrumptious (from the bacon) and filling (from the butternut squash) and SOO much better than either bucket-ized  or encheesened-chicken.


There was a sale on brussels sprouts at the grocery which afforded me yet another opportunity to try my hand at replicating the glorious, beloved roasted brussels sprouts from Eos Wine Salon down the street.  I cannot resist ordering these beauties each time we go and though I have tried, I have never successfully been able to make them at home.  I guess the sixth time is a charm because finally, I have mastered the roasted sprout!   Tossed with olive oil, a splash of sesame oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper, roasted and then drizzled with more sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar and black and white sesame seeds.  A little crunchy, a little bitter, caramelized, savoury and cheap!    Aha!  Cheap makes it taste even better-  the seventh taste, after umami.


Lastly, we have the home-made perogy with sauteéd cabbage.  We rarely see perogies in San Francisco so Marc determined to make his own.  It would seem that perogy-making is an art, has an element of dexterity associated wtih it.   That the dough is maddenly springy and that the stuffing may not touch the edges of the dough, lest the filling burst forth during boiling, make these frustratingly difficult to make.   Make them we did, however, frying them in hot sauce after boiling to give them a crispy, piquant edge.   Superb.