Commentary Miscellaneous

beautiful food: a pictorial

we eat first with our eyes, then our stomachs ::::

family-snack

I’m trying something a little different this week. Instead of a recipe, I’m highlighting the food itself, the swaths of color, the crunchy, the soft, the hot and cold. The above photo shows a family snack, from this past Christmas. It is a tradition that we feast on smoked salmon, sundries scattered across the table. This year the adults grazed while sitting, the children running amok and landing intermittently for refueling. Wine and tea were had. Babies were nursed. There was the nip of cold just outside the window, at the top end of the photo.

This scene was one of the many this holiday, the table offering many treats. We live in a country where we are blessed with abundance. I think of this fact daily, and how lucky I am to have resources with which to find a variety of food choices and have access to amazing teachers in books or online who teach me so much about food. One can easily spend a lifetime learning about what we eat, the whys and wheres, the happy and dark underbellies of history of production. It is a fantastic and fertile world. And this isn’t even my day job.

Off we go, then. How about a Thai-inspired salad, brightly colored with raw vegetables, flavored with a be-all-end-all coconut sauce? (Really, the sauce tastes great on noodles, vegetables, a delicate fish, and probably an old tire.)

tangled-thai-salad

Or maybe a crisp flatbread freckled with za’atar is more your style.

flatbread-za'atar

This citrus-fennel salad with mint is my definition of beauty, like a sunset.

fennel-citrus-mint

Gazpacho is the quintessential summer meal, cool and hearty.

gazpacho2

These green tomatoes, they glow. (They are a poor person’s tomatillo, if you have trouble accessing the papery-skinned beauties for salsas.)

green-tomato

A plethora of peaches are always welcome in our home, if not for in-hand eating, then for the myriad of ways one can bake and cook. Try fresh peach cake, peach sauce, or peach fruit leather.

peach-sauce-prep

If not from the tree, then from the sea. This hijiki salad goes beautifully with a bowl of rice and fish.

hijiki-salad

Move onto the rambutan. I like to call them the Tribbles of the fruit world. I do not have a prior recipe post on these cuties, but they are a great stand-in for lychees. My strawberry-lychee “ocktail” is what might suit you if you want a sweet, perhaps alcoholic, drink.

rambutan1

Set your kitchen aglow with blood: Blood oranges, that is.

blood-orange-tart

Pomegranate arils are nature’s jewels, perfect to elevate a fruit salad, a zucchini salad, or even an airy dessert. I would wear a necklace of these if not so ephemeral (and sporting a non-staining fabric).

pomegranate-half2

Amaretto apple sours are the taste of autumn: tart with a bit of spice, a hug of Amaretto, and a bit of woody seed.

amaretto-apple-sour

Or if alcohol isn’t your thing, the cool cucumber agua fresca is lovely.

cuke-agua-fresca1

Translucency of rice noodles and pink shrimp in a Vietnamese spring roll appear delicate but boast hearty flavor. This post is upcoming, when I tweak the recipe a bit and have some of my own fresh basil and mint growing.

spring-roll-prep3

Vegan curried pumpkin soup: you changed my attitude about vegan food. Umami,  that distinct savory taste picked up by your glutamate receptors, is your friend.

vegan-pumpkin-soup

A tumble of basil can pretty much change the path of my meal. Basil lemonade, basil oil, ligurian pesto, or a nice grilled corn with basil-garlic butter-oil might be next on your list.

  basil

I love the underdog: earthy, squatty beets are under-appreciated. I eat beets frequently but have a paucity of recipes posted here. (I need to rectify that!) Beet dip with goat cheese, yes! Or how about some golden beet laktes with smoked paprika sour cream. The tangled Thai salad with its twirls of raw beets at the top of the post also qualifies. This is a picture of beauty:

beet-beauty

If the beets don’t stain your fingers, use pieces of it to stain your pickled vegetables. It may actually convince your kids to eat radishes.

pickled-radish-carrot-beet-2

How about a messy bowl of noodles, like some Korean Japchae? (This post is upcoming — always a favorite meal in our house.)

jap-chae

The golden glow of a braided peach curd bread reminds me of the soft, gray light of cloudy mornings.

braided-bread-peach

Chawanmushi (Japanese savory egg pudding): comfort food at its best.

chawanmushi-2

Forget processed soda. Make your own fruity soda with pureed watermelon. Then add lime-kissed vanilla ice cream for a summery ice cream float. Your friends will be impressed. (I was impressed with myself!)

watermelon-soda-float

As your garden overflows with tomatoes, you can do no better than a tomato tatin. Serve at room temperature for a perfect warm weather meal.

 

tomato-tatin

How about a bright popsicle to complement that meal? Strawberry-balsamic basil popsicles will do the trick.

strawberry-popsicle3

If sugar is your fancy, a beautifully decorated cake is a winner, every time.

daisy-cake3

This post today shows a small sampling of recipes and wonderful food on my blog. The photos don’t do its entirety justice, however. There is a story to tell behind each photograph, of family and friends. Each picture is worth more than 1000 words, words that I write. There is the deep thud of bass, the high pitched trill, a semiotic display of my life, my family and all the messiness life is.

Enjoy mine, appreciate yours.

 

One year ago: chocolate cheesecake brownies

Two years ago: butterscotch cashew bars

Three years ago: rooibos chai

Four years ago: rosemary focaccia

 

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story of a kitchen