Chances are you live a stone’s throw away from a Thai restaurant in your neighborhood, and you’ve got a go-to local favorite for pad thai. These days I often find myself traveling north of Berkeley, where there’s quite a few wonderful Thai eateries clustered in Albany, El Cerrito and San Pablo locales.
Archive for March, 2010
In recent years, urban farmers have started seeing their flora and fauna as something more than sustainable, super-local eats. They’re hyper-aware of how their work can impact their surroundings, and intrigued by what larger ripples they might make. Thus, their missions are evolving, moving in inspired directions towards a brand of community-conscious agri-activism.
Spring has sprung in the city! There is asparagus in the markets, flowers popping up at the corner store by my place, and it’s no longer getting dark at 5:30. Hallelujah. For me, that generally means going for runs after work instead of hunkering down, making lots of fresh salads for dinner, and doing a little spring time baking. So here is a lovely recipe for a lemon pudding cake — I made it with lemons from my mom’s tree in Marin and had the other ingredients in the fridge. It’s relatively simple, light, and perfectly tart.
Most Passover recipe features tend to focus almost exclusively on the Big Event of the Seder dinner, forgetting that there are eight days of breakfasts and lunches to get through after the soup and brisket. Since grains, flours, and leavening are the big no-no’s during the holiday, baking Jews like myself must get creative once the charm of the matzoh wears off around day 3.
The whole notion of kiddie cocktails centers around their ability to allow children to participate somewhat benignly in adult cocktail culture– preparing them in a sense for their futures as alcohol-swigging grown-ups to whom they look up, both physically and morally.
Maybe they’re not so benign, after all.
The idea of the Shirley Temple Black is entirely upside down. It is a drink that allows me to mix and mingle with the wee ‘uns from time to time without having them point at my Manhattan and ask what’s in it. With an innocent-looking, yet boozy Shirley Temple Black, I can gently tone down those shrieks of bouncy castle delight, or steel myself for the twenty-seventh consecutive screening of Thomas the Tank Engine more or less unnoticed.
At the next children’s party I am obliged to attend, when the host or hostess asks me what I’m having, you know my answer’s going to be:
“I’ll have a Shirley Temple, and make it Black.”
So what did I make with my first asparagus purchase of the season? Well, I decided to try something completely different — at least it was unusual for me, but after 2,000 years or more at the dinner table, I am under no illusions that I am the first to make it. I was thinking of making asparagus with pasta, but when I opened the pantry found an unopened box of risotto sitting prominently on the shelf. It had been ages since I made risotto and the idea of buttery rice with the earthy flavor of spring asparagus sounded wonderful to me.
Happy Spring! Yesterday the Berkeley Farmers’ Market was awash in tender greens, including that rock star of spring, asparagus…just in time for Passover dinners and Easter brunch. From now through mid-April, Berkeley’s Ecology Center is honoring the life of Cesar Chavez, whose work as an activist and organizer within the farmworker communities of California (and beyond) made a difference in so many lives.
I never thought I had an issue with cauliflower. In fact, I’ve always enjoyed it, whether puréed into a soup, roasted to a nutty brown, or dragged through a bit of ranch dressing that always seems to accompany store-bought party crudité platters. Any time it is put in front of me, there is a good chance I’ll eat it.
And yet I’ve never in my life cooked it. At least, not that I can remember.
I’d see it in the market, buy a head of the stuff and bring it home where it would just rot in my refrigerator, not so much forgotten as avoided.
I’ve gotten as far as placing one on my cutting board, but when I took out my 10″ chef’s knife, I paused, changed my mind at the last moment, and put the thing back into cold storage. For some reason, I just didn’t want to cut up a head of cauliflower. I never gave it much thought until a few months ago.
And then I remembered Ben.
Yes, this 1950s staple is my route to affordable steak sandwich success. Made from either the top or bottom round, cube steak undergoes a serious pounding that helps tenderize it into submission. So, although you start off with a chewier piece of meat than the upmarket prime rib roast or tenderloin, you end up with something that works beautifully when pressed into a bun. As a busy mom, I also love that this dish takes less than 10 minutes to make.