My mom convinced me to start writing on this blog again.
She just got her own blog, and she follows me now. So I better start writing again!
This all started when I sent my good friend Nora the above text message. A few months ago (it may have even been, like, a year ago), I was at Nora’s parent’s house. I think we were on our way to the Gilroy Garlic festival, and had stopped by their place to pick up the car. Nora’s mom was telling me about this horrible mush that Nora had recently introduced her to. She called it Refrigerator Oatmeal.
This should have appealed to me straight away, but it didn’t. First of all, it includes Chia seeds, which I am skeptical of as a foodstuff. Also, I think the thought of eating this is kind of embarrassing. I’m weird about some foods if I think the whole point of them is that they are healthy. The whole point of food should be that it is delicious, and makes you feel happy, not just that it falls into a category.
For some reason, though, this popped into my head the other day. I have been having a weird relationship with breakfast recently. I get up pretty early, and am not hungry when I wake up, but can’t make it through to lunch without eating something. I have been keeping a box of cornflakes at work, but I know people there are dipping into it when I’m not looking. Also, cereal is boring. There’s a lot to be said for a good big bowl of cornflakes or cheerios, but you can’t realistically eat that every day. It’s so plain! I also don’t really like microwave oatmeal. Whatever. I’m picky about breakfast.
So I sent Nora the above text message. And she responded with some very useful advice for making this gross mush. And I have to say, I do not hate it! In fact, it is great. Chia seeds and all.
I made the batch you see on the right using greek yogurt, milk, rolled oats and chia seeds. I used a jar because it’s easy to put all the ingredients in at once (amounts below), and then just put the lid on the jar and shake to combine. The texture was way too milky at first, and I felt very much as though this was not going to turn out right. But, I stored it in the fridge overnight, and by the morning it had thickened and the chia seeds had “gelled” (ugh, disgusting). Actually the chia seeds are kind of satisfying, and I don’t actually regret having to ask a Whole Foods employee where to find them (I felt like a dirty hippie/ Dr. Oz-watching idiot, but honestly they are packed with fibre, protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which are really good for your brain). In the yogurt-milk mixture, the oats and seeds become soft, and the whole thing takes on a thick porridge-like quality. It’s basically oatmeal. In the morning I added frozen strawberries and half a banana, and then some PB2 which is a terrifying thing I will tell you about later.
This was delicious, and I highly recommend it. I dedicate this post to my mother, who is the only person I know of who will read this.
Also, full disclosure, I am now eating a dinner that consists solely of fried brussels sprouts and a vegan fake-chicken “Chik’n” patty, so, ugh, I am the worst.
for refrigerator oatmeal (1 serving)
-1/4 cup rolled oats
-1/3 cup of milk (I used 2%. You can use whatever you want)
-1/4 Greek yogurt (if you use regular yogurt, use less milk)
-1 tbs chia seed (approx.) (I accidentally threw my 1 tbs measuring spoon away in an old bag of coffee)
Put it all in a jar. Put a lid on the jar. Shake to combine. Let sit overnight (and up to 2 days, apparently). In the morning, add fruit and whatever else you want to add flavor.
mwachtler asked: Hi Hungersauce. I miss you. You have a lovely ironic eye (and mouth) for food and I miss your words. Get back on it!
I’ve been baking a bunch recently, which is something I did way more when I was a teenager, but for which I still have a very big soft spot in my heart. I am easily intimidated by the type of person who is very serious about baking and who bakes delicious and technically perfect things all the time. Actually I am easily intimidated by anyone whose anything is technically perfect. I think I stopped baking for a while because I felt that I wasn’t doing a very good job, or because I needed to follow recipes more closely, which isn’t interesting to me. And of course baking is more science than anything, and sticking to the recipe is a necessity. So maybe I just got bored. I also have noticed that my sweet tooth is definitely not as hyperactive as it once was, and that I’d much rather make and eat savory treats than sweet ones.
All of that said, I have been baking more than usual recently, and these are photos of a recent diversion in banana muffins. The final product included walnuts and chocolate chips. I used a Martha Stewart recipe because it was the first one to come up on a google search for Banana Cupcakes. These were not cupcakes, but they were buttery and sugary enough to pretend. I normally would steer clear of a Martha Stewart-directed activity, and this experience did not change my mind. Instead of creaming the butter and sugar together, she has you melt the butter and treat it as a wet ingredient, which is a technique I feel scandalized by but am too lazy to scorn.
In the end, they were good, and they finished off those browning bananas that had been sitting in the fruit bowl for a tad too long. In that, they accomplished the goals I set out to complete. But the next time I find myself in a baking mood, I will try and find a more inventive thing to do.
BLÅ DÖRREN (Södermalmstorg 6, Stockholm)
When I was 19, I spent three weeks in Stockholm working on a research project with my brother-in-law. One afternoon, faced with a couple of hours of rare downtime, I took Benny’s advice and had lunch at Prinsen, a famous Stockholm landmark. He recommended the Wallenburgare, which is what I ordered, along with a small glass of wine. I think that was the first (or, at least, the dearest) meal I’d taken, and paid for, by myself. It felt truly adult, to be savoring the food, and partaking of something to traditional and celebrated. It’s not often, living in a country so young and of such mixed origin, that I get the chance to experience meals so much a part of a cultural fabric.
So when Benny suggested that we go out to eat at Blå Dörren on a hot evening last summer, I gladly agreed that that was where we should go. He’s the Stockholm native, after all, and I know enough to know that his recommendations are always top-notch.
Blå Dörren’s food is classic Swedish- hearty meat and potatoes in various incarnations, gravad lax, and herring, cod and pike make up the heart of a menu that is rounded out by the inclusion of some robust salads and hardy starters.
The food is not light, nor is it subtle or understated. But why should it be? This is life-sustaining fare, made for the duplicitous extremity of Swedish sunlessness and everlasting daylight. And it’s made from substantial ingredients-the humble meatball here is made of Moose. The pepper on my pepper steak held its own under the velvety red wine sauce, and the spinach and greenbeans accompanying it were cooked to their greenest: perfection.
The selection of beers on tap here is great; try the Nils Oskar IPA: a good Swedish ale for a great Swedish meal.
This bit of writing doesn’t really capture the meal here. It was the perfect dinner after a day of swimming in the Baltic and sunning ourselves on an island in the archipelago.The restaurant is warm, and welcoming; there are few things as satisfying as such a rich meal after such an active day. Not to be repeated too often, and not to be taken for granted. If you’re in Stockholm, and have been walking between Gamla Stan and Söder Malm all afternoon, this is the place to rest up. In fact, if you’re in Stockholm I implore you to spend all afternoon taking in that beautiful city on foot before heading over to Södermalmstorg to eat here.
I just made a big pot of chicken tortilla soup, and I haven’t posted in a while, so. Here we are.
I roasted a chicken for dinner on Monday night, which is my new favorite thing to do for dinner these days. It’s the easiest thing, you just have to have patience. I’ve posted about that here before, and I haven’t been experimenting with methods or recipes at all. A chicken can yield days and days worth of food, and is way more economical than buying individual packages of meat.
The soup I made is one I’ve made before. I followed the recipe in the Joy of Cooking for the first iteration of this meal, but I’m not a huge fan of recipe-following in general. I think that comes from years of watching my mother improvising delicious meals, which is yet another gift she’s given me: the confidence to play around with the way that I cook. I know how to tell when things are going to turn out, and when they’re not I know how to turn it around.
So, this soup. Chicken stock, shredded chicken breast, and finely chopped tomato, cilantro, onion, garlic and jalapeno, with tortilla chips broken up and put in at the last minute. I roasted the garlic (skin on) and jalapeno (whole) in a dry and very hot skillet, to blacken their skins and remove some of their bitterness before chopping them. That is a trick from the Joy’s recipe, and I would never have thought of it on my own. But the sweet earthiness of the garlic after its been blackened on all sides is so warming, and releases so many of the deeper garlicky flavors you won’t otherwise taste, I’m going to start using this method in more of my dishes.
I haven’t yet figured out how to get the tortilla chips to stay crunchy once they go in the soup, so I’m serving them in a bowl on the side, to be added at our discretion.
I’m finally publishing this, now that they’ve closed their doors and I can never have it ever again.
Spork (1058 Valencia St at 22nd, San Francisco)
On a Friday, having just finished our first long week back from vacation, Russell and I decided it would be more than appropriate to treat ourselves to a meal out. It’s not like we don’t do that 80% of the time, anyway…
So, I invited a friend to meet us at Spork. I’d been here before, years ago it feels like, with my family, and remembered it as being a meaty and unapologetic place. I looked it up online, made a hasty reservation, and headed out the door.
Russell was sitting down already when I got there, drinking a beer and playing a game on his phone. When I opened the menu, I realized that those two dollar signs ($$ out of $$$$) on Yelp don’t mean what I think they should mean. That Hitochino white ale was, apparently, worth a hefty sum. We were in for a good, expensive evening. As I let that sink in I perused my meal options, and realized that either none of it sounded appealing or all of it did. I was so hungry, I couldn’t tell.
The friend I’d invited to dinner was running late, and while we waited for her we ordered a plate of calamari and cauliflower. I’m not the biggest fan of cauliflower (do you guys know that it’s a hybrid of cabbage and broccoli? Whose idea was that??) but I do love squid, thanks to a youth dedicated to keeping up with my father whose one true love in this world is eating delicacies of various origin. This appetizer was a dream come true- the main ingredients came resting in a soft, salty lemon aoli; the squid was cooked to a light springy perfection; the cauliflower wasn’t left to perform on its own but rather served as a surprisingly competent vehicle for the other flavors on the plate. If, as the menu indicated, there were any mint present I could not detect it. I didn’t miss it. The flavors were light and airy— which made the fact that I instantly felt full after eating just my half of the dish all the more confounding.
We waited patiently for a while longer before giving up on my friend’s timely arrival and ordering our main courses. Russell got the inside-out burger with bacon, and I couldn’t decide what I wanted. I asked our waitress what her favorite dish is, and for a second I thought she would waffle on about how they’re all great, leaving me to make up my own mind. Luckily she could tell that I needed some direction, and she told me in a firm voice to order the house sausage pasta.
Thank god! It was one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever had. The sauce was fragrant and very light; more white whine than cream, and not very thick at all, but with a deeply savory and satisfying taste. The pasta- one sheet of smooth and bouncy paper-thin fresh pasta. I’ve never had anything like it- the noodle folded in on and over itself, creating a platform for the fennel-studded sausage and sauce. And the whole thing was topped with fresh spicy arugula. But, man, was it filling! By the end I was practically wimpering as I tried to finish the plate, enjoying it too much to simply let it sit unfinished.
Russell’s burger was, of course, incredible. I guess Spork is known for that burger, and for good reason. It’s incredibly generously portioned, and the quality of the meat is pretty obvious. The novelty of the inside-outness of it is great, too. I may or may not have discussed this here before, but I have a bad habit of discarding the bun of any burger I eat when I’m about halfway through. I only do it when the meat is particularly high quality, and I think it has to do mostly with a thought process of, Why waste the space on some bread and lettuce? So, clearly, an inside-out burger appeals to me on a very pragmatic level. And that bacon! I don’t know what they do to it, but it has some real character. It could have been crispier, but overall, what an entree.
Nora, the friend in question, did finally arrive. She ordered the same pasta dish I had, and also gave it rave reviews. She and I, upon completion of our meal, followed it up with fancy drinks down at Luna Park- the perfect end to a gastronomically delightful evening.