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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Red & Pink Clashing

The Boy is getting very skinny now. Like my friend Shige, who works in the Ginza District in Tokyo at a upscale Hotel. Shige is a butler who works the graveyard shift into early morning, catering to the whims of foreign businessmen but mostly actors & musicians. Most boys in Japan are this way, under nourished, working 12-15 hours a day: working too much and too hard for too long. My girlfriend Tomoko always expresses her worry for her boyfriend, telling me “he used to be so buff, he used to have all this muscle, now he is under weight.” I was always thankful our young men in America are not so enslaved.

Every morning The Boy works from 7am to 7pm, 6 or 7 days a week as it is Harvest season for all wineries. He has frozen food at the winery in a fridge that he eats, but I think he only eats like 1 meal a day. The Boy was always the one who did the cooking for us, not me. This used to irritate me that he was superior at this activity. My selfishness can be appauling at times. I relaize I did benefit from his laboring in the kitchen, and from his deliberation at the farmers market over picking the best, most aaffordable ingredients.
Needless to say, despite my jealousy, I never turned down a sampling of his creations. Now that he works so hard I am finding I enjoy coming up with new recipes and ideas on what to make for dinner for him. It relaxes me to come home and pu tmy apron on( from Tomoko) and play a game out of it.

What can I make that’s new that combines ingredients I already have at home?
Are going to go bad in the fridge soon,
On sale at the market,
An a new item I have never tried,
And can splurge on that will make the dish all the more spectacular?
Those are the criteria I aim for. Every time.

Last night I attempted Chicken Piccata. Oye.
With the idea that he might be able to take leftovers with him to work for lunch as well. I bought a package of dried Italian assorted mushrooms. They included woodears which are black, hen of the woods and porcini. After sautéing the pounded chicken breasts I then removed them from the pan and deglazed the pan with a mixture of broth, lemon juice, fresh herbs from the garden, minced garlic and ginger. The dried mushrooms had not sat in the chicken broth enough before I added them to the pan so they were still a bit dry ending up absorbing all the lemon juice. Thus being extremely concentrated. I barley had enough of the broth to pour over the chicken before serving. Over all it was just so so. I nailed the artichoke portion of the dinner, but I’ve only steamed artichokes about 100 times. So I gather that this is just trial and error, if I make Chicken Piccata 99 more times I am sure I can master it too.

If that wasn’t enough I decided to dirty more pans and make a larger mess by creating simple cornbread muffins. To which I added cheddar cheese, fresh chopped herbs ( including secret ingredient – mint- ) and way too much honey. The Muffins were golden brown, sweet smelling and flecked with a hint of herb. Taking them out of the oven I had huge glorious muffin tops, and that’s was basically it because that was the only part of each muffin that would exit my heart shaped NON STICK muffin pan. Grrr. So lesson learned there is to not experiment so much with a recipe. Its pretty hard to screw up cornbread but I acheived it. Oh well. The Boy ate all 6 of my glorious muffin tops saying that was the equivalent of 2 muffins.

For lunch today I’ve made a balsamic, garlic, ginger, lemon salad with assorted radishes and cherry tomatoes.A whimsical pink & red clashing salad with lovely minty scent. It looks a bit ridiculous, like if I put it under a black light the white meat of the radishes and reds of the skins might actually blaze & glow. But all ingredients were on sale at the market last night... and have been marinating all night in a Tupperware container, so we shall see at lunch time how the salad comes together in flavor.

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