December 29, 2009

Unemployment makes for a busy kitchen

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So apparently having a little time on my hands has created a monster in the kitchen. This is my latest creation. Recipe is over here.

December 22, 2009

Pandoro French Toast with Lemon Rosemary Butter and Blood Orange Butter

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Another collaboration with Chelsea over at {frolic!}. My recipes, her photos. You can see more photos and the recipe here.

December 17, 2009

Sleepless. Because I want to go to Seattle.

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I've felt something calling me to Seattle lately. Oh who am I kidding. The food is calling me. The food. And maybe the artsy literary types.

The New Guard Dinners - art, music and food by up and coming artists.

Delancey - a new pizza restaurant owned by Molly Wizenberg and her husband.

Spring Hill - I've heard an awful lot about this place on Twitter lately.

Union Restaurant
- Because of what Kari wrote.

Kim Ricketts Book Events
- Because how awesome is this. Cooks and Books? Words and Wine? Um. Yes.

Photo from

Spaghetti with Mascarpone Sage Meatballs: Comfort Food for {frolic!}

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My sister Chelsea (also known as {frolic!}) and I are collaborating on a new feature for her blog about comfort foods. I create the recipes and the food and she's the photographer. Our first collaboration is Spaghetti with Mascarpone and Sage Meatballs. So good! Check out the recipe on {frolic!}.

December 15, 2009

I knew you all along, John Roderick

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Mississippi Studios is still an intimate venue, even after the big remodel. I was a big fan of the airstream trailer and the white canvas outside where they used to beam flickering black and white movies in the summer. But what I loved most about the small little venue was the cozy red interior that made it feel like you were in North Portland's living room. The little pillows on the chairs and the long red curtains that served as the backdrop to so many musicians over the years. The pillows and the curtains are gone, but it's still cozy and red, albeit a little more spacious.

On a Sunday night not long ago, I went to Mississippi Studios for dinner and talking and music and inspiration. Michael Hebb made dinner for 30 and John Roderick and Kathleen Edwards were there, in conversation and song, celebrating Roderick's newly published book of tweets, Electric Aphorisms.

It was a lovely evening. I found myself pulled into the conversation on stage between Publication Studio's Matthew Stadler, the book's publisher, and Roderick and Edwards. They talked and sang about truth and lies and fans and Twitter and crying and death and murder while I ate winter salad, beef stew with creme fraiche and dinner rolls. The red walls aided the stew in keeping me warm and feeling homey.

Roderick said he had written a song about a public tragedy, one that was displayed over and over on TV. The space shuttle disaster. He talked about how humbled he was when he heard that people at NASA had listened to the song. Then, he started playing the song.

I hadn't heard The Long Winters prior to the week of the dinner - I had heard of them, but never listened to their music. I did no research before I went - I like to discover in person. But the amazing thing was, as he started playing the song, The Commander Thinks Aloud, I recognized it. In fact, it was a song that I loved and had listened to hundreds of times for years on a random CD that I had because it felt emotional and hearty to me, but I never knew who sang it or what it was about. It felt intense and powerful in a sing-your-guts-out kind of way. I love those kind of songs. And when he started playing it, I got all choked up because now it all made sense. And I loved it even more.

I began feeling amorous towards everyone on stage, towards the people around me, as I experienced the moment with them. Of course, they had no idea and I swallowed my emotional reaction. I left in a hurry when it was over, as there was going to be mingling and heaven knows I'm awful at mingling and I didn't want to ruin the spirit of my moment.

It was awesome. And I still love my moment.

December 13, 2009

A Words Week

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This week is a good week to appreciate words. Just because. Here are a couple of events that will help you appreciate your favorite words:

Friday, December 18th
Write Around Portland Community Reading & Anthology Release
6:30 - 8:30pm
First United Methodist Church, Collins Hall
1838 SW Jefferson St.

The new anthology is called More Than a Book, with a special introduction by Dave Eggers, who was the very reason I got involved with Write Around Portland to begin with. It's a free event, and like I have said many times before, these events are inspiring and life changing. I hope you can make it. All of you. Yes, I'm looking at you.

Saturday, December 19th
Live Wire!
Aladdin Theater

An always entertaining, funny and inspiring evening, Live Wire! is a variety show taped live once a month at the Aladdin Theater for broadcast on OPB. Poets, singers, storytellers and other fascinating people are interviewed by the fabulous and funny Courtenay Hameister. Music and good words. This is seriously the best use of $20 on a Saturday night. And come prepared to write a Haiku.

December 10, 2009

A Festive Dessert

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Today I tried an experiment in fruit crisp. We had a ton of cranberries in the fridge, so I decided go crazy with cranberries. And pistachios. The Five Spice Chinese spice gives it a nice bite that complements the sweetness of the crisp. And the vanilla adds a mellowness to the cranberries. It was quite tasty.

Cranberry Crisp with Pistachios

7 1/2 cups cranberries
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp Five Spice Chinese spice
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup pistachio nutmeats

1. Add cranberries to the food processor and pulse several times until cranberries are roughly chopped.

2. Melt 1/2 cup butter in a large pot over low heat. Add 1 cup brown sugar and stir over medium heat until combined. Add cranberries and apples, spices, vanilla and salt.

3. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Then add to an 8 1/2 by 11 pan.

4. In the food processor, add 1/4 cup butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup oatmeal and 1/2 cup pistachio nutmeats. Pulse until ingredients are combined and clumping together slightly. Crumble on top of the cranberry mixture.

5. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream.

December 7, 2009

An Experiment in Fish and Chips

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We feed my British grandmother every Sunday. She eats a lot for a 91 year old and if there's one thing I like about her it's that she can appreciate the taste of well-made food. She said a couple of weeks ago that she'd been craving fish and chips like she had when she was a child. I sort of took it as a challenge. Never mind that I have pretty much no experience cooking fish (I'm scared of it) and pretty much no experience deep frying anything (a few burns thwarted my desire to have access to delicious fatty foods in my own home).

I started out by heading over to Rick's Wild Seafood food cart on SW 3rd and Ash downtown Portland. (I have to specify Portland since I live in the suburbs and West Linn is my frame of reference now. *sob*) Plus, they sell frozen cod for $3.40/lb, so I decided to pick some up while I was testing their professional fish and chips.

The poor girl at the cart was bundled up - it was freezing yesterday! I ordered my fish and chips and the girl re-fried the chips (which is what the British do. I checked online. So it must be accurate!) and threw the fish in the deep fryer. A few minutes later, I was warming my hands on the hot fries and fish, and filling my belly rather quickly. It happened to be my breakfast and lunch that day. The fish was crunchy and I could see the herbs in the crust. A squeeze of lemon was just what it needed. It was tame in flavor, which is the experience I have had with all the fish and chips I have ever had. Which is not many. Because as I said before, fish scare me. A bit.

Because my sense of what one pound of cod would amount to in fried fish is bizarrely off, I decided to play it safe and over do it by getting five pounds of cod to take home. FIVE. As it turns out, that is quite a lot of fish. Hello, freezer.

So anyway, this morning I started on my journey to make a real British fish and chips dinner. I started out by making the tartar sauce. Quite easy, actually. Sweet pickles, capers, flat leaf parsley, two teaspoons of spicy mustard, a dash of Worcestershire sauce and a cup of mayo in the food processor. Mine turned out a little green due to perhaps an over abundance of parsley, but I liked it that way.

I made coleslaw with shredded cabbage and one shredded sweet onion and a vinegar-based dressing and let it marinate. Chopped up the Russet potatoes into thick, bite-sized pieces, tossed them with olive oil and salt and threw them in the oven to bake. I wasn't going to attempt frying everything. Especially because my parents don't generally eat fried food, and I didn't want to kill them off.

Keeping that in mind, I decided to make some baked fish as well as the traditional beer-batter fish. You know. Gotta please everyone.

The beer batter was very simple. Self-rising flour + a little salt & pepper + seafood seasoning + one bottle of beer (I used a brown English ale); whisked together until thickened and smooth.

For the baked fish, I dredged it in flour + seasoning, then egg bath, then homemade breadcrumbs with herbs. For both kinds of fish, I seasoned the fish first with salt and pepper and seafood seasoning. I am sort of a flavor fiend, so I seasoned probably way more than is traditional. But I liked it. A lot.

The fish baked for about 20 minutes at 350 and the fish fried in 3 inches of hot canola oil for about 2-3 minutes, depending on the size of the piece of fish. I was by no means consistent in the sizing, so we had small pieces and large pieces. The fried fish was moist and flaky and perfectly cooked. The seasoning came through in the crust quite well. The baked fish was drier and maybe a bit overcooked, but still tasted good.

To round out the British meal, I heated up some peas, then drained them and smashed them with yogurt and salt and pepper.

It was a hit. My grandmother loved it and said it was just like her mother used to make. I wonder if my great-grandmother was a flavor fiend, too.

*Photos of my fish and chips dinner by the lovely Chelsea Fuss.

December 4, 2009

Wherein I Tell You My Diabolical Plan

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So I've been busy lately. Just kidding. I haven't. I've been taking a big fat break from life since Thanksgiving. And it's been nice. Lots of naps and working out and cooking and taking deep breaths. And. I've formulated a plan for my jobless life. And I'm really excited about it.

I'm going to be partnering with my dad in his accounting practice to do payroll, bookkeeping and HR consulting for small businesses, an area that I've been working in for the past 10 years. I'm excited to be bringing my expertise and knowledge to his business.

I'm also going to be spending a great deal of time writing. Which I am thrilled about. I'll still be blogging, but I'm aiming at something bigger. And also maybe tackling a little freelance writing.

Whatever happens, I'll keep you posted. Because I feel like you are all my friends. I've met several of you recently and I just have to say how wonderful it is to see you in person and exchange pleasantries in real life. Thanks for reading.

**P.S. If you need any payroll, bookkeeping, HR consulting services, or someone to write crap for you, please drop me a line at elizabethfuss (at) msn (dot) com.