One overcast Monday morning, I ventured over to the Book Larder, a community cookbook store on Fremont Ave of Seattle. I’ve ridden past there many a time by bike and by bus, and always meant to go. Finally, I found time and managed to sign up for classes a few days ahead.
Note: if you are scrambling for last minute gifts for people who love to eat, cooking classes may be a good option that ships instantaneously! Be mindful to check if it’s a demo, or hands-on, as that may matter depending on how much your loved one likes to cook (i.e. more hands-on for those who are into working with their hands, more demo for those who are more into eating the final product). Go ahead, click away from this post, I won’t mind.. 🙂
Chef Kyle Wisner did a delicious demo for the group on some straightforward recipes for swift home cooking, perfect for a hectic holiday season. Below are some recipes he shared, editorial commentary is my own.
Center-cut pork roast
Enough za’atar spices to cover surface of the roast
kosher salt to preference
Tools: oven, , baking dish, meat thermometer
Salt the roast “aggressively”, like any steak or other big cut of meat, rest the roast out to room temperature before roasting. Preheat oven to 400 (or 425F if your oven is weak sauce).
Cover surface in za’atar spice.
Bake roast in oven until it reaches an internal temp of 120F, approximately 18-30 minutes. It will likely still be a little pink in the middle, but the juices will disperse back and finish as you let the roast rest a while before serving.
Optional: bonus points for drawing a depiction of “aggressively salting.”
You guys, I have a confession: I hate cilantro.* I used to think I hate parsley, but in the last five years its resemblance to the flavor of cilantro has faded. Then, I had the privilege to vacation in Chile last year, and there was this sauce that kept appearing at restaurants with the steak. It tasted of garlic, and was full of green stuff. I liked it so much I had to stop a waiter to find out what it was. His reply was: chimichurri. Obvi, K and I had to grab some pre-mixed (as training wheels) packets on our habitual grocery-store-for-travel-keepsakes** run before we left Santiago. I think it was a Carrefour..
Fast forward months later when I finally got around to mixing it up as K seared some steak on the Big Green Egg, some balsamic vinegar, and olive oil, and a bunch of the dry packet. Eh, it was okay, but it also kind of tasted like dried leaves and dust. Long-time readers may notice this packet also made an appearance in one crispy-bottomed oyster mushroom steak post. The sauce was much improved once eaten on top of something, but I feel like anything you pour atop something else, even if a little strong, should be able to stand on its own too.
Now get back in the time machine, and move forward a little more:
I went out and got some actual red wine vinegar to add to my pantry for this, just to get closer to the intended flavor. I was doing another recipe that called for some parsley, and needed to make use of the rest before it sits in a jar in the back of my fridge getting forgotten. Then, I mixed up a big batch of this into 3 mason jars, to last a whole month in the fridge! Continue Reading
Introducing a new category for this blog: crunchy. I’ll be indexing recipes by what’s got that crispy, crunchy thing going on. Contribute by writing in the comments with your top favorite crunchy Food the Wong Way recipes, and stay tuned for a new “crunchy” category in the navigation menu!
Crispy-Bottomed Oyster Mushroom Steaks With Chimichurri Sauce Recipe
– 1 pound of oyster mushroom, get a cluster if you can
– 2-3 tablespoons canola oil (olive oil will smoke more)
– Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste Continue Reading
Sorry I’ve been a little M.I.A. with no weekly post for a while. I started a new job assignment and was pretty busy with that, …and a quick vacation in Kauai to get some quality relaxation in before my work & life falls back into hectic-ness. Also just generally always busy trying to seize life by the throat and shake it all around..
Without further ado, here’s a new installment:
Factor 1: Ah, how memories blur with time. A few years ago I got the privilege of exploring a little bit of Turkey, mostly Istanbul. As an ancient history fan, it was super exciting to explore this city with so much East-Meets-West history, with layers and layers of stories all piled on top of itself, not to mention multiple legacies of countless Roman leaders! That, and trying the food was such an adventure. I still dream of the egg and tomato dish I ate on an Airbnb host’s recommendation near Galata Tower in Istanbul. Fast forward to now, when I finally get around to trying my hand at the recipe below: tomato, egg, peppers, sounds delicious, right? Sounds the same!
Factor 2: When I was a kid and my mama went out of town I’d look forward to my Baba making his signature dish, egg and tomato fry. Yum! Apparently, it is a popular combination with me..
Voila: Sunday brunch dish trial, thinking I was making this:
I agreed with my “roommate” about a month ago (during vacation eating) to do some sort of cleanse, and we somewhat arbitrarily picked the BluePrint cleanse because (a) it looked easier and made of more whole foods than the 24-day supp. also proposed, and (b) a friend tried it a while ago (as one method of many), of his healthier lifestyle attempts, and he appears noticeably slimmer with healthier food habits now. In retrospect, secret reason (c): it seemed a bit extreme, which is always an adventure!
I am not especially advocating this “cleanse” for anyone, especially based on my own experience of the 3rd day, but seeing as a few friends have asked me about the results, here’s some thoughts on my own experience of it.I did some reading on various blog posts about BluePrint and saved a few dollars by getting the juice on sale from Whole Foods (and PCC, when they were out), skipping the delivery fee and instructions that came with it, and filling in the details on pre and post-cleanse advice with blog info. BluePrint is in New York City, so if you live over there maybe they’re cheaper. It was also arguably fresher from the store.
Not a slave to caffeine. I ramped down from coffee to tea for a few days, minor miracle.
Not physically painful. Was not physically hungry-feeling for most of it.
Saved loads of time from not cooking, dishwashing, or eating (you know, I am an extra slow eater).
Fun discovery of plenty your body can do on 1100 calories.
My pants fit slightly better: I lost about 3 pounds, around 2 below my normal range..not sure this would be true for everyone.
I won the mental challenge! Didn’t even eat the almonds I gave my cube neighbor in case I couldn’t stand it.
Having a co-conspirator was very motivating (at least until the day after, when he immediately baked me tater tots and veggie breakfast patties).
The 6th drink, cashew milk, is f*cking delicious. Also the most calories. I don’t think I ate anything that was inherently bad for me, though..
Productivity: I went to a lot of lunch-time meetings without getting grouchy at work (I rarely do that). I also had more time to do non-food things when I got home.
The day before was pretty hard, we both tried to ramp down food consumption, to mostly fruits and veggies, and significantly fewer calories. No coffee was the hardest part, also no alcoholic drinks.
My data-driven [healthy] co-workers looked at me like I was crazy, and this may have been the dumbest planned thing I’ve done in my life, but 3 days isn’t too long for most anything. It brooks less debate to call it a ‘fast’ rather than a ‘cleanse.’
Exercise motivation was at an all-time low by the second day, the first day’s bike commute went fine (13 miles round trip), with a little elbow grease up those hills. My co-conspirator felt sluggish on his run. I definitely would not have gone for anything the third day.
Turns out I think about food a lot. Like, a whole lot. I read food blogs, news on restaurant openings, co-workers ask me for restaurant recommendations, I start thinking about my Friday lunch plans on Wednesday, I meet people over food, I sometimes write a food blog, I get food on the way home, cook it when I get home, eat it really slowly..yeah. The hardest part was mental. Turns out Friday is a high free food day at work, plus happy hour after some one’s retirement party. My boss kindly wrapped me up a few treats from her trip abroad so I could eat them a day later.
Digestion: the third day was the worst, and my juice belly started getting really gurgle-y by evening. My digestive tract was not feeling healthy by end of third day for sure, I need more fiber in my diet than this. Residual effects continued a few days after cleanse was done.
Expensive! Saved a bit on the ~$65*/day cost per person from online, because we didn’t go out to eat and drink Friday night like we usually do, and bought from Whole Foods on sale. On Friday we hid inside and watched the Americans, until way too early and retired to bed in anticipation of waking up sooner to actually chewing, and coffee! ..eating on Saturday led to some extended stomachaches, though.
Doing a juice “cleanse” officially gives you a Yuppie card and there’s no going back. This was the first fast I did since (before the term ‘third world’ was so gauche) junior high when I did a Third World Diet as a class bonus exercise to demonstrate how the prescribed nutrition for children in developing world was not enough to study will with.
Still expensive! Relatedly, if you had a more physical non-desk job, this would put a dent in your productivity.
Not-tasty. I didn’t especially enjoy most of the drinks. I’m a picky eater, and while I only found the Pineapple Apple Mint especially gross (#2), reminiscent of a car air freshener, and the Lemon Cayenne Agave (#4) was okay but didn’t feel like food, I was really just drinking 5 of them for energy and not food-satisfaction. Geez I do not like parsley.
I snack a lot, and I have been eating maybe 1/3 to twice as much as I needed to eat for lunch and dinner + snacks.
Self control: those tater tots the day after cleanse? For the first time in my life I didn’t eat them all in one sitting! So far a slightly higher level of self control seems to have stayed with me. I just have to keep reminding myself there’s no famine coming, and in the Pacific Northwest, no winter to store up for. Of course moderation on food was something I know cognitively, but it seems something else in my brain has learned it better now.
It’s not so bad to eat sometimes-foods that are not so good for me that I love to eat, moderating the amount is just as satisfying.
Eating solid food is awesome! Babies must be really uncomfortable.. maybe that will be the next fad diet, baby food.
This is an extreme method to change your food habits, apparently my no-sugar, and smaller-portion trials a few months earlier only made me better at working around my own rules. Three days of this did more to my willpower than 2 months of those.
Friends, if you want to do this one, I have a tracking sheet with some details on before and after, how the labels online are different from in-store (save on delivery cost! discounted at Whole Foods!), and a bunch of blog links I read to be stingy and save on the online delivery fee. Just let me know.