Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Summer Simplicity: Raspberries & Cream

So some recipes are complex (e.g. "steep the lavender in the cream until fragrant" is still perhaps the most ridiculous, unjustified step I have ever taken in the pursuit of dessert), but some are beautifully simple.

That's an important life lesson. Ponder the thought for a while.
 I saw a quote once by Alice Waters (I have no idea who that is, and I'm not going to search Wikipedia to find out before I post this, so maybe one of y'all out there can fill me in) hanging on the wall in one of my favorite restaurants in Utah. The simplicity and truth of the statement has stayed with me for a while. "When you have the best and tastiest ingredients, you can cook very simply and the food will be extraordinary because it tastes like what it is."

In some cases, you just want the food to taste "like what it is," because what it is is amazingly good and amazingly fresh. That's why I love the summertime, when my garden is in full bloom (or at the moment, a little sad looking from the heat, but there's still good stuff in there), and I can just grab a red pepper or a handful of basil off the plant and taste it in it's full glory. It's when dessert needs to be nothing more than ridiculously sweet, tart raspberries fresh from someone who grew them with love, a spoonful of sugar, and  some cream that came from a cow who lives down the road.

There's no ornamentation needed. No crazy steps. No laborious slaving away. Just the acquisition and presentation of inherently good things that taste "like what they are." So dig in.

Raspberries and Cream
  • Fresh raspberries
  • White sugar
  • Heavy cream
Gently but thoroughly wash the raspberries and let them dry thoroughly. Check carefully for any bad berries (they go bad so quickly, it's a shame), leaves, twigs, etc. Place a few berries in a serving bowls or cups, and sprinkle generously with white sugar (use more or less as you like). Pour a little cream over them, again as much as you like. My first instinct was to stir them to coat evenly, but I'm pretty sure you'd break them apart completely.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

It's been exactly one year . . . I know, don't tell me

Seriously, don't even tell me. I know it's been a year. One whole year (to the day) since last time I blogged about anything. I actually was going to blog about something last week, but then noticed it's been almost a full year, and wanted to get exactly to the day, because I thought that would be more poetic.

It's not that I forgot about you. It's more that I've been primarily eating spoonfuls of extra-crunchy peanut butter (thank you, Costco, for having mercy on us poor graduate students). And while I know there are plenty of things you can do with peanut butter, I haven't been doing anything that requires a recipe that I can give you. I've just been eating it straight from the jar. 

I have also been just a little busy: writing a dissertation; updating my house one agonizingly slow piece at a time; trying to be a good son / brother / uncle / cousin / grandson to my very large family; form meaningful and lasting relationships; running a stupid marathon, two half-marathons, and subsequently giving up distance running forever (I'll probably come back eventually, but we're taking a little break from one another right now); serving in my church responsibilities; planning for the future (this grad school thing has to end eventually, right?); traveling; developing my faith; and doing lots of other things with my life. 

So don't get me wrong, I love to cook. I love having dinner parties for a few friends. I love cooking-themed dates. I love getting in a big kitchen and presiding over a 4-course dinner for 55 (4th year in a row, coming up). However, the vast majority of my life is spent doing things of great or not-so-great importance away from my stove. While I love experimenting on and developing new recipes, it's just something I haven't spent a lot of time doing lately.

So here's the deal. I'm gonna' keep writing on this thing, sharing the good that I have found. Some of it may be newly developed recipes. Some posts may just be good recipes found elsewhere passed right along to you. Some may be commentary on life from the food's perspective (I'm not entirely sure what that means, but it sounds kind of cool). So look forward to a new little twist on this blog, and hopefully some good eats in the future.

Here is just a little glimpse of some things that happened in the last year. I'm not even going to try to catch up, so this is all you get.

This wasn't that good, and now that I look at it more closely, it doesn't look that good, either. What a waste of perfectly good pine nuts. Sad.

Special thanks to AP for this amazingly fresh (straight from the CSA box), amazingly good little summer number. Go grab some fresh mozzarella and make this a part of your life.
I tend to buy spinach by the bushel, so I tend to try different things to do with it. Sometimes it's pretty good. Sometimes it's not.

I have been told that I have an uncanny talent for ruining perfectly good, traditional, Southern recipes. As I've said before, I care much less about tradition and much more about awesome, but not all southerners agree.

In all honesty, I don't even remember what's under that shell. Maybe chicken pot pie? And what on earth was I thinking with that design?
Warning: if you're going to start making Indian food, you need to own about 17 different spices that you've never heard of before. However, once you have them, you can make awesome things.
Why yes, there is a skull and crossbones made of puff pastry in this picture, thanks for asking. There's a story behind it, too, but I'm not going to tell you about it. I'm trying to let the mystery build.