Wednesday, October 30, 2013

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Week Forty-Four: Food for Thought | Thought for Food
Week Forty-Four

My modest collection of food-related books has been slowly growing over the past couple of years. Some of them are full of recipes, others are just about different ways to think about food and cooking. It's pretty rare for me to cook straight out of one of them; they're really mostly for inspiration. I'll flip through them, looking for dishes that catch my eye. I might try a recipe as-is once or twice, but most of the time I just start riffing off whatever the book says and make it my own. The value of the books doesn't lie so much in its function as an instruction manual, but rather in the thought process behind combining ingredients and techniques.

My current collection betrays the amount of Asian-influenced food that I cook. I've long had a love of Chinese, Japanese, and Thai food. Until recently, they've accounted for the vast majority of meals I make. Lately I've been expanding to more Western food, relying heavily on my subscriptions to Bon Appetit and Fine Cooking for ideas. I'm hoping to add a few more books to this shelf in the coming months and look forward to trying some new things. I think it would be cool to

There's nothing terribly difficult about cooking, it just takes a little practice and thought. Most of my meals come in somewhere between solid and good, but every now and then I make something so delicious that it makes me want to fist-pump at its awesomeness. And the more I learn, the more often those wonderful moments happen.

Monday, October 28, 2013

[ 43 /52 ]

Week Forty-Three: What Lies Ahead
Week Forty-Three

I went to a small dinner party up in the Berkeley hills at a house that required me to leave the road and wander up a footpath through the woods. It was almost pitch black save for a few pockets of light here and there. Looking ahead, there was only darkness with no sign of my destination. But I knew I would get to where I needed to be, even if I couldn't see the way right now, and so I pushed on.

That's pretty much how I feel about life these days. I'm not sure where I will end up next, much less what the path to that point looks like, but I'm confident that if I keep driving ahead I will end up where I am meant to be.

Onward and upward.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

[ 42 / 52 ]

Week Forty-Two: Out of the Blue
Week Forty-Two

This picture was never supposed to survive. I was laying on the grass at Off the Grid in the Presidio when a pack of eight military helicopters zoomed overhead. I snapped a few shots simply as a way to get a closer look at them, not even thinking about it as an actual picture. The plan was just to delete them off my camera as soon as I was done.

And yet, something about this image in particular caught my eye as I was scrolling through my pictures from the day. I kept going back to it and wanted to look at it over and over again.

I went on a date with a graphic designer a while back who told me that my photography "wasn't brave enough". Despite a lengthy discussion of this topic, I still don't know what the hell she actually meant (to be fair, I'm pretty sure she didn't either...) But somehow this picture feels a little brave to me. On the surface, it's mostly just a blue sky. There's really not much going on. It doesn't tell a story, there's no secret meaning or metaphor here. But something about it feels beautiful to me and I can't really put a finger on what it is.

I don't know if this makes any sense to anyone or if it's just crazy talk at this point, but that's ok. Every time I look at it, I like it a little more. And that suites me just fine.

Monday, October 14, 2013

[ 41 / 52 ]

Week Forty-One: High Risk, High Return
Week Forty-One

I'm getting more and more into potluck dinners these days. It may make for a little less cohesive of a meal but nobody is burdened with having to produce the whole thing, so each person can put that much more of themselves into whatever they make.

We held a little potluck-style dinner party at our house a couple of weeks ago. Most of the attendees came from the usual crowd, which is a good group who know how to throw down some legit eats. There were also some new faces as we invited a few first years. People who know their food and new friends to impress.

I volunteered to cover dessert for the evening and, for some crazy reason, decided to try a pretty ambitious dish: roasted pear crumble. I've never made a baked fruit dish in my life, but I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit and thought it looked awesome enough to fit in at our party. I was nervous enough about being able to pull it off that I actually did a practice run the night before, just to make sure it wouldn't be an epic failure. My first attempt was far from a success, but it showed enough promise that I thought I just might be able to pull it off.

True to form, my friends put together an awesome meal. A bunch of different crostini, roast chicken and veggies, mushroom risotto. Everyone's plates were covered in deliciousness. It was a festival of awesomeness.

And then it was my moment, to try to cap off this festival of deliciousness with a dessert to pull it all together.

And. I. Nailed. It.

I don't brag about my food very often, but these pairs were damn good. If I'd ordered them at a restaurant, I would not have been disappointed with my choice.

To me, this is one of the best feelings in life. That moment you try a new recipe and it is absolutely fabulous. You take that first bite and just want to start fist-pumping in tribute of your success. No matter how many more times you make that dish and refine the technique, there is nothing quite like that first time. It's pure magic.

I can only hope to have many more of those moments ahead of me.