Saturday, February 26, 2005

Food Blogging

After months of perusing and surfing through food blogs, I have decided to "re-brand" from a blog filled with random thoughts, perhaps also a bit melodramatic or touchy-feely thoughts or some other description of thoughts that accurately encapsulates why I have hesitated to let anyone know that I thought I'd try blogging, to a food blog.

For months now - ever since, indeed, I first wrote an entry in this blog - I've been, as I call it, practicing and enhancing my cooking skills for the day when I might run a fishing lodge, then packaging up my learning tools as frozen meals for my Kodiak Boyfriend. Planning meals, cooking the meals, sampling and tasting and experimenting and sometimes just making stuff up. Then I wrap up the creation and freeze it, with little notes for Josh to unearth whenever the frozen packages finally make it to Kodiak.

The goal is to learn to cook with the ingredients that are easily available in a way that tastes fresh and creative, hearty and warming, and communal and feasting. I want to cook effortlessly and creatively. By instinct (learned or natural). And with the kinds of ingredients that encourage a warmth and openness in the people eating them: High quality, Low pretension.

I've made roasted salmon, and salmon risotto, and pasta with salmon. I've practiced Alaska's famous recipe for trick halibut, and have plans for trying the "Poor Man's Lobster." I've made a lot of meatballs. All different ways, with all different sauces and accompaniments. I've made biscuits and soda breads. I've made flatbreads, with onion, grueyer and poppyseeds, and pork balls, stuffed with leeks and basil.

I've even started a sourdough, and get a daily glee every time I see it bubbling away on top of my fridge. I've braised cabbage, and mashed potatoes. I've stewed chicken and simmered beef.

I've surfed for freezer recipes, I've poured through cookbooks looking for things that my Kodiak Boyfriend may never have thought he'd like.

I found out last night that my searches succeeded when the Kodiak Boyfriend called to ask what was that red stuff in that chard stuff that he liked so much. Answer: Braised Swiss Red Chard, that had been packaged up with thick-cut pork chops braised in balsamic vinegar.

The fact is, that I have loved these months of cooking. Of planning. Of shopping. Of trying to figure out the exoctic aspects of the family-owned Alaskan grocery. Of brightening my winter, and closing the gap between my land mass and that of my Kodiak Boyfriend's, by cooking dinners that we can share. Admittedly, I eat my half of the meal a few months before he does. But we're still sharing them. I have loved these months of writing little notes to freeze with the meals. I have loved the challenges of learning to cook locally. I have loved that I learned about Maytag Blue Cheese and corn pudding from researching into the things that my Kodiak Boyfriend may have grown up eating. I have loved the braising, and the sauteeing, and the simmering that has gone into the meals intended to share with him the things that I grew up eating. I have loved that I plan an entire meal, only to discover that there are no - for example - porcini mushrooms to be had that day....I have loved the discoveries and confidence I've gained from cooking when the recipe's relevance cannot possibly be more, due to the sheer logistics of the instructed recipes being unavailable, than merely an initial inspiration.

I'm ready to foodblog.

And, I guess that means, I'm ready to share with others that I'm trying a blog. To go from the hidden delight of random musings to the shared joys of cooking. I'm ready to admit that I live in Alaska now, not New York. I'm ready to admit that my freezer is filled with wild halibut and salmon that was gifted to me by a colleague at work, and Alaskans might be the world's experts in expectationless generousity.

[Of course, I should also admit that for a week now I have been panging, absolutely panging, for a bagel. A real bagel. Not one that is puffy and full of spongy-air like Wonderbread, or something that gets crumby and flakey when toasted. But a chewy bagel. Split not by a bagel-cutter, or stuffed into a toaster. But a bagel that is quickly grabbed up and split by a guy who knows me well enough not to require me to say what I want, but doesn't know my name, and tossed into a big pizza-oven'ish toaster that is smeared heavily with cream cheese and tossed to me as soon as the line lets me up to the cashier, together with my coffee with milk....all in less than 3 minutes. A pang that shocks me, if truth be told, because it is a craving that might have me tempted to even board a plane. And I do miss the Greenmarket in Union Square - I can't hear "fingerling" without my mind being rushed right back to my old Saturday traditions. ]

But, the crabs are here. The days are longer - long enough, in fact, that I'm inspired to think about all the fishing I'm going to try to do now that I don't have to worry about spending the summer studying for the bar exam. And Anchorage is decorated with both ice and snow sculptures. And there are dogsleds racing all about town.

So, I think I shall order a few H&H bagels over the internet (only because I don't think Murray's are available yet) - but I'll be making the Kodiak Boyfriend a big thick chicken stew to go with the Irish Soda Bread I made him last night (with lemon rind, scallions and dried cranberries).

I have one week before he comes to town and I can give him this month's collection of shared meals.


Blogger Cori said...

I found your blog while I was sitting here bored and decided to play "The Blog Next Door".Hello! I would love to read about your foodblog cause who doesn't love food?

5:03 PM  
Blogger Randi said...

I left Big Town in California and moved to tiny frozen in the winter town in Southewesten Ontario. Im experiencing a lot of the same things you are. Funny too, I was just at another blog and I read about H and H bagels and then come here and you wrote it too. Weird.

6:46 AM  

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