30 October 2008

Sad News

Estelle Reiner passed away at 94 on Saturday from natural causes. My grandmother frequently quotes her from the movie "When Harry Met Sally" :

"I'll have what she's having."

I feel that because this scene takes place in a diner it sort of relates to the blog? Love you Mamie!

29 October 2008

huge- excuse me, GIANT douche or a turd sandwich?

Last night was a rager, one that shall go down in history as the night that prompted me to barf out of my nose. My friends, my watery eye and I went out for a sushi extravaganza at Yokos, the finest of sushi's around (in my valuable opinion). The crowd I was running with are crazy, rabid over-orderers. We all have favorite things from Yoko's that we made sure everyone would be able to try. Kevin ordered our favorite sake (Watari Bune) and the owl beer for the table, Emily knew to order fresh crab with certain rolls, and Shane went nuts and ordered 5 plates of sashimi. Basically each of us individually ordered enough for three people (totaling at enough food for 21 people) and hoped it would be enough. The waiter was looking at us like we were the craziest people he had ever waited on (we were). It took four people to bring us our food. We finished every last bite, too- fives were highed.
We should have known to go home after that, but we did not. Instead we ran into more bad natured friends who forced us to get drinks next door and then carry on to the Victory. There was tequila (Shane's idea), there was whisky. This is following Lillet, Sake and beer. What's all of our problem? Gah. When I awoke this morning at eleven (Kevin had to get up at 7- the pain!) I felt as though I might die. In fact I knew that if my watery eye didn't kill me, this would. I have a bad relationship with throwing up. After an unfortunate event at the post office as a 5 year-old I have decided not to participate in vomiting. Today I elected to give it a try. It was awful! I'm just glad I had the foresight not to be at my grandparents house, naked and puking on the lawn like other people I know when acting this way.
When we got to work for our staff meeting this afternoon, we were applauded by the chef for our adventure in Japanese culinary arts. I publicly admitted to my mornings' trauma, and also about the embarrassment of being caught serenading Kevin at a stop light last night. You see, we were stopped on Division and I was belting out his favorite Justin Timberlake song to him, with dance moves of course. Another car pulled up and had been watching, and were laughing very hard. I think they just wanted a little action too, so I reached out my boy-band hands and pulled them into the dance (figuratively.) It was special, that moment. Special and embarrassing.

...Ain't gotta do nothing crazy- see, all I want you to do is be my love. (loooove).

27 October 2008

What's the sound of one eye crying?

Seriously, I have one eye that wont stop crying. Two days of lonesome tears and a migraine. I just looked up possible maladies on the internet, and the prognosis DOES NOT LOOK GOOD.
I just hope to eat another staff meal... that's all I ask...

Anyway, saturday night was another very special evening. You know how I love bars? Well we had two. Baked potato bar, and a fucking bloody mary bar. Um? For real? Yes. For real.
Baked potato bar included: sour cream, butter, bacon bits (real), cheddar cheese, scallions or whatever those green things are that you put on potatoes, and probably other things but I was totally overloaded with ecstasy and didn't notice or can't remember. Bloody mary bar included fresh, super horseradish-y bloody mix and Lovejoy vodka, and Jon's own pickles from this summer. He made green beans, celery, and okra (I think, again, drunk, working, spaced out, who knows, don't remember)! Oh and pickled eggs. Which sound gross, but he forced me to try it and I actually enjoyed them very much.
My potato included all of the fats: butter, sour cream, and cheese, and bacon, and then those green bits be they whatever they are. Chives? Chives. Oh my god! I forgot about Yessika's salad. She made a salad with greens, prawns, eggs, and a lot of other things, but the point is that it was not only delicious but also very beautiful. She also started poking at me about the thanksgiving menu, GOD SHE WILL NOT LEAVE ME ALONE, and it sounds like she is going to force me into having a fancy affair.

Jessika: And then we're going to have eggs stuffed with beet caviar.
Jenny: Beet caviar? You mean beets with fish eggs? Yum.
Jessika: No, that's just a term for cooking. Earlier I called it beet tartare. It can be a lot of different things.
Jenny: So no caviar as in fancy fish eggs.
Jessika. ...No.
Jenny: So you're a liar.
Jessika: Oh my god.
Jenny: We can serve up your lie dish with my Ants On A Log as appetizers!
Jessika: You can't serve that.
Jenny: "you can't serve that!"
Jessika: I hate you.
Jenny: Beet caviar my ASS.

24 October 2008

Two posts, one day

I feel that this event requires its own separate post. On Tuesday, Kevin and I went to Seattle on a food mission. We took the train (fun, plenty of time (usually taken up being stressed out about driving or fighting about who gets to take a nap) to harass one another and also see both the sunrise and sunset over the water) with our bikes, so once we got off we were immediately mobile. The first thing we did was put on mittens. Then we pedaled directly down a very busy industrial highway to track down Skillet, the food cart that inspired this trip. I casually looked over my right shoulder at one point into a little alley way and saw a flash of silver. Skillet! It was funny finding it like this- through a chain-link fence, smoke puffing out of its tiny chimney. Kevin got a tour of the trailer and I took a bunch of photos. He had been looking at the website and knew what he wanted already, but I was not so sure. I decided on the dungeness crab po boy sandwich with slaw and a brioche bun, while he had the kobe burger with cambazola (triple cream blue) cheese and bacon jam. Bacon jam? Yeah, I don't know, but I love it. He also got poutine; fries with gravy and cheese curds. What?!??? So good. Everything was great, and we were stuffed afterwards. We were glad we were on bikes!
We went straight to the public library to check out the cool new building. It was crazy- stainless steel floors, florescent escalator tubes, red lacquered hallways, frightening heights and angles, and padded ceilings. Plus there was a drag queen pageant winner walking around the whole time- she was awesome too.

From there, we went on a long ride (again along the highway) out too Ballard. There was a store there that Kevin wanted to check out. The ride was 5 miles of bike unfriendly traffic, over a long, narrow bridge, but Ballard was great anyway. Holly tells me that this is where all the cool kids moved to after Capital Hill became expensive and gentrified.
I had a red velvet cupcake from Cupcake Royale. It did not compare to the red velvet treat that Jack got me from Cupcake Jones here in Portland, but it was a cupcake so who's complaining? We took the bus back into Seattle, bikes on front, and ended our trip with a little ride around downtown. We wanted to go to Salumi for some Salami sandwiches for the train ride, but they were closed. Salumi and Pine State both hold "Top Ten Best Sandwich" titles from Esquire magazine, so Kevin really wanted to say hi to them. We knocked, and one of the owners opened the door. She was so nice, she gave us a salami sampler to take on the train even though they had been closed for a couple of hours. These salami's are nuts! We plan to return asap to get an actual sandwich. Our car mates for the ride home must have loved sitting near us while we ate 15 different kinds of cured meats!

Ah ha!

I would like to first say that I have been meaning to write all week long but got caught up gazing into Jacky's eyes and trying to help Kevin establish his winter look.

Last weekend was pretty special for two reasons (probably more but I don't remember the details any longer). Reason number one: my new friend Ambika made me Nepalese milky tea from fresh goats milk. She has three goats and she milks two of them! I have never had goats milk, let alone fresh, unpasterized goats milk. It was so tasty- not really 'goaty' but more just earthy and creamy. The tea tasted like chai, but better. She grinds her own spices and is in general very magical.

Reason number two: Staff meal. The kitchen really got fired up about it and went almost too far! We had chicken pot pie, fresh green bean casserole, fried oysters, and coleslaw. The bartender rewarded them with some wild turkey and cranberry juice. After my day on saturday of going door to door in St. Helens for the elections, I really needed a good meal. This was perfect. We got into a debate about fresh green beans in casserole vs. blanched. Holly feels that they must be blanched and old fashioned to satisfy her (kind of like me and my love for canned cranberry sauce), while I found the crunhy beans to be very delicious. We all appreciated the fried onions on top.

And thinking about green bean casserole only makes me SO EXCITED for thanksgiving! My aunties from Oakland are making the trek up to Portland for the holiday. There will be much merriment and tons of food. I have been fretting about the menu for many weeks already, but I know for sure I'll be making sticky buns as usual and will be wearing a vintage dress and apron.

On Wednesday morning, I busted out my new apfelskiver pan. My grandmother Mamie makes me this dish whenever I am home and sleepover her house. We have always called them breakfast balls. I did not have her recipe, but I remembered that it had beaten egg whites and as much butter as possible. I found a recipe that sounded good and cooked Kevin, Jessika and I a hell of a breakfast! Mamie always flips her breakfast balls with a chopstick and stands on one leg while cooking. I made sure to follow these important traditions, and had great success. Next time you see a cast iron pan that is made of little half spheres, buy it! Buttery dutch (?) breakfast will follow.

19 October 2008

More pets, please

I will be writing about last night's staff meal extravaganza once my photographer sends me the photos... hint hint... But for now I give you this photo and a suggestion to go to cuteoverload.com immediatly to watch all the pitbull with chicks video. And by chicks I don't mean babes- I mean BABY BIRDS. The pitbull IS RAISING THE BABY BIRDS. He looks like Hiro and so when I watched the videos I wept with pride. Although really Hiro has raised nothing but Jacky, and look how that turned out.

17 October 2008

Food Carts

Yay! Yay yay yay! This morning, I called Sam and invited her to go get breakfast together. I had food carts on my mind... more on that later... so I was hoping we could go to my favorite food trailer, Moxie on Mississippi ave. It is pretty much always closed and yet always on my mind. They make this smoothie with dates, almond butter and bananas, and yes, this shit IS bananas! I dream of it. Todays attempt was blessed. I don't know why, usually when Sam and I get together all hell breaks loose and she dares me to drive into parked cars. Not this time. I had my smoothie and a buckwheat waffle with yogurt, bananas, and cinnamon sugar while she had a bee pollen smoothie with a cheddar biscuit and smoked salmon.

Which reminds me. People, it's ok if you you have a biscuit somewhere other than Pine State and you happen to enjoy it. A few times this week I have been discussing food with friends and heard them say "So I was trying out this new restaurant and I had the biscuit.. OOPS! Don't be mad!" and they get this look of guilt and shame when they look at me. Biscuits are great! I'm not going to hunt you down, lock you in my basement and torture you Mariah Carey style or anything just because you cheated on Pine State. Just don't tell Kevin. He might do all those things I mentioned, or worse, cry about it.

So, anyway, food carts. Yay! My auntie Esther called me at work the other day (I totally screened her) to tell me that a. she loves my blog (yay) and b. she reads another blog (when are people going to start feeling guilty when they casually mention to me that they read other blogs!??!) that this week featured a cool looking food cart. She then recommended that I go there on a road trip. Well, one week later and I have my train tickets and we are going on Tuesday! We have never taken the train before, so we figured this would be the day. We leave in the morning, get there at noon, furiously attempt to track down this wayward cart, eat, get back on the train and we're home by nine. Kevin believes that the stress is what will make it fun. Of course I will take photos and write about that next wednesday!

In staff meal news, this wednesday night at work, Jon, the man who made the grilled cheese and tomato soup, actually asked what the blog wants for dinner on saturday. WHAT DOES THE BLOG WANT FOR DINNER? I obviously have been stressing about it ever since. I said spaghetti and meatballs because thats my favorite, but then was filled with doubt as I have so many favorites. Plus thats a focus on tomato two saturdays in a row. Plus, is that fair? Giving the blog what it wants when the blog is all about my personal at-work-food-related-hardships-and-triumphs?

I am thinking about what I just said and decided that it's only a good thing if staff meals become more fun and delicious, and if I get to have my way. It is fair. Yay!

12 October 2008

news flash

I have changed the commenting requirements. If you would like to leave a comment, you no longer have to register with Blogger to do so. Yipee!

Comfort Food

It's been a good week for food! It's true that Jessika made yet another cake and yet again didn't save me a piece, but other treats from nicer friends helped me get past that. First and foremost: last night. A certain cook admitted to me that he had not yet been to my blog, and in fact did not realize that I had been writing about staff meals for three months- despite that fact that I threaten him with this information daily. So last night he stepped it up big time. He was clearly planning WAY in advance as he brought in his own bread and had a menu prepared. Grilled cheese sandies with creamy tomato soup. Obviously, we all used that promise as fuel for the whole night.

'Did that customer just damn you to hell and spit in your face???'
'Yes. But can you wait for tomato soup and grilled cheese? I can't!'

It really helped. The sandwiches were very very large, and Jon took the time to cut the crusts off for me. (Blog hungry.) Meanwhile, I think this might have created a little healthy competition in the kitchen as the chef (also blog hungry) contributed a massive crowd pleaser- cocoa BBQ ribs and polenta! SHIT! We ate until we cried, and then ate some more.

Tonight I am going to a harvest dinner. We are eating cabbage and sausages(I think), and drinking Alsatian Riesling and Belgian beer. I was assigned the task of making dessert. I have been thinking (obsessing) about it for three weeks and have changed my mind a lot of times. We will be drinking calvados with dessert, so I thought a nice apple pie would do the trick, but then decided that was too easy. Baked apples? Apple upside down cake? Pumpkin upside down cake? Spice cake? Gingerbread?
But then I remembered my landlord and lady have an ice cream maker. This of course led me into an even more intense period of confusion and distress. Finally I had to go to New Seasons and just walk around for awhile while talking to my mom about possible ideas. She provided me with the idea of Indian Pudding*, and I provided me with the idea of apple ice cream.
Indian pudding is a molasses cornmeal pudding that takes 3 hours to make and not one recipe for it looks alike. It (a blend of two different recipes) is currently very slowly baking. I found the ice cream recipe in the New York Times, but then I changed it a little bit. Their NYT version calls for baked apples, but I decided to caramelize them with butter, brown sugar and sea salt. The ice cream itself is made with a little sour cream and cinnamon. I tasted it, and it is crazy good! Hopefully the two dishes will work together. I have a sneaking suspicion that they WILL! Also hopefully my hostess does not read this before I get to her house and spoil the surprise!

Earlier this week: I bought Ron Sexsmith a shot of whiskey. How do you like me now?

*This name seems to be a little dated and inappropriate doesn't it! I don't think Native American Pudding sounds very good though so I will be referring to it as Blackstrap Pudding.

08 October 2008

Salad Bar (=staff meal for non staff)

I find myself at the New Seasons salad bar very, very frequently. Which is to say, I got sick of the sandwich bar after eating the same sandwich 2000 times last summer and was forced to switch teams. I get the biggest to-go box they offer and fill it to the brim with almost everything they offer. Today, as I piled baby corns (I can never say no to tiny versions of normal sized things) atop cold noodles, a hard boiled egg, raisins, paramsean cheese shreds, water chestnuts, peppers, edamame, and some spinach, I realized that I was creating a staff meal on my own time!!!
There I was, a world of fine prepared foods at my hands, and I was making a creepy combination of unlikely ingredients... and mixing them up in a box, out of which I ate like my life depended on it (which it did- I was starving.) Just like work! And I do this for most of my out of work lunches! Maybe some people go to the salad bar and think, I'll make a salad out of ingredients that work together- like say, a garden salad with carrots, tomatoes and peppers. They don't think, 'but I also like cheesecake- why not stir that in?!' the way I do. I have no self control, I get overwhelmed, and suddenly I'm taking a bite that includes cottage cheese, parmasean cheese, raisins, raw garlic and some balsamic vinegar... and liking it. Liking it to the point that I go back and make the same mash up all over again, every time! I have made this bizzare pairing of salad bar offerings so many times now that I am almost sick of it and ready to go back to that predictable sandwich of last year. At this point, I can't fathom eating edamame without raisins- that's how fucked up the salad bar has made me.

If I was an animal I would be a bottom feeder.

06 October 2008

tiny update

I have managed to post a tiny slideshow over there to the right, below my info. If you wave the arrow over the photo it changes the display so you can see the whole photo, rather than the half picture. If you click on it, it takes you to my Flickr account. I am an HTML master. That is all.


I just got home from a very special family-camping weekend. It was trailer living, Deschutes style. We were all so styled out in vintage trailers and greasy faces. Greasy faces? You ask. Yes. Every meal we ate contained copious amounts of animal fat. Specifically... Duck fat. Potatoes in duck fat, pheasant in duck fat, pie with pork fat, pork with pork fat, leeks with butter, EVERYTHING WITH BUTTER! and DUCK FAT! It's true, I'm very enthusiastic about fats. How many times can I say fat? At this point it's starting to sound weird.

The first night, Silas and Leslie were in charge of the menu. We had... Pork roast with home made apple sauce, braised beet greens with bacon, and bread with butter. For dessert, my favorite Leslie dessert, almond cake. This cake is dense, moist, crispy on the edges, and best when a little undercooked. Leslie has this one DOWN! Send me the recipe, someone, please!
The next morning we had banana pancakes, bacon, and 16 french presses of Stumptown coffee (!!??!). Then we went hiking and to come castle or whatever. And then lunch! Creamy mushroom chicken soup with homemade cheddar bread. We also had our found pears and some crazy oatmeal cake for dessert.

After lunch I immediately launched into dinner preparations. I made a pie. Blackberry peach with rosemary, lard crust of course. Baking in a trailer oven is very special. The pie loved every minute, and so did I. Kevin, meanwhile, was cutting up onions and leeks which he cooked down in (at least) two sticks of brown butter. He cooked the pheasant in a pound or two of duck fat, and made polenta with heavy cream and goat cheese. I made a fig compote for the pheasant with balsamic vinegar and some more butter. Kevin tried to talk me into putting two sticks of butter (his magic ingredient) into this sauce as well but I told him to reel it in. I also made Hasselback potatoes, with garlic and more duck fat. These little guys are so good- the best way to eat a potato I might say! The meal was a delight!

It was pouring the first night we got there, so we all stuffed into my dads trailer to eat together out of necessity. The second night it was clear outside, but we cozied up anyway to wait for our imminent heart attacks.

The final morning we had to eat all the remaining food which included: half a pie, half and almond cake, 8 sausages, toast and eggs. Hiro ate 6 cashews and a mound of sand. Jacky ate grass.

We are home now, and Kevin's car got broken into last night. We should have stayed at the campground forever, living in the trailer, eating like kings. The good news is that my brother Ryland is visiting for the week. He is helping my dad with his house.

Now, a few weeks back I attended a "Lobster vs. Dungeoness Crab" party. It was amazing. We all had one of each- speaking of gluttony. I am from Maine, lobster is from Maine, you know which one won. However, I'm going to give out a little shout out to Dungeoness right here, because oh boy is it delicious. You have to work your ass off to get into it, but once you do you are rewarded again and again for your hard work. I am told that there are some very sketchy photos of me from this party, with a ring of butter around my mouth and a possessed look on my face. Fortunately, these have not surfaced so far. But I am waiting in fear for them to arrive in my mailbox, with a note attached asking for one million dollars to stop their public release.
I made a pie for this extravaganza, my blue ribbon winner of course, with a lobster cutout on top to show my allegiance.

It has been a very busy time, and I have had very few staff meals of note lately. Mostly because I haven't been working very frequently. However, there recently have been a few people who have approached me with their most horrendous staff meal memories. Dan, who I was camping with, described the time he was served a pot of tomato sauce full of bay leaves for staff meal...and that's it. I retorted with the time we had canapes with green mayo with ham floaters.
I was inspired by his story to ask my readers (all 4 of you) to email me your worst staff meal tales. If you do, I might post it up here on the old blog! FAME!!!! My email address is Jennyfresh@gmail.com. You can also tell me your best meal if it is really interesting. But I doubt it is.

PS. I have started a mini-pie series at Pine State. Please go and demand one.

Staff Meal (seriously! ind of.)

02 October 2008

Open letter

Dear Jessika.

So, I heard you made a cake for staff meal today.

WHY DIDN'T YOU SAVE ME A PIECE??????????????????

Heartbroken, hurt, and confused,


01 October 2008


There has been a recent flurry of activity in my life, including going back to school. I do hate going back to school!!!! But it's fine. I'm actually glad be enrolled in some of the classes I'm taking this semester considering the political atmosphere this fall. 

Anyway, for my last day of "summer vacation" Kevin, the puppies and I hiked some mountain in the Mount Jefferson wilderness park. The hike was steady and beautiful, all lush scenery and trickling streams. But the top! Well, a little below the top- is Boca Cave. You climb into it and the soil is red and damp. The cave itself is enormous. Its like a big spooky cathedral. Once you're inside, you turn around and look at Mount Jefferson through the mouth of the cave. The view is nuts. Jacky and Hiro are regular cave dwellers. Someone at the bottom warned us that the dogs wouldn't like it, but was he ever wrong! 

Speaking of dogs, I would like to mention the passing of my childhood dog Hattie. She was a small but fat Corgi. I spent most of my time with her making fun of her and her short legs. She barked at everything and only got in trouble a few times in her long life. She was my moms companion, and I would like to send my mom all of my love, and you should too. 

At the top of this post you might have noticed some kind of beautiful dessert. What is it? you're wondering. Well I'm here to tell you, its a plum cardamom upside down cake, and I made it last week. We have a few friends who claim to be pizza allstars, so we invited them over to prove it. They really are. We had a lot of pizza that night, and a lot of wine. And then we had cake. I made it in our cast iron deep skillet from start to finish- who knew? First you caramelize the plums in brown sugar and butter, and then you pour the sponge cake batter on top and pop the whole thing in the oven.  Success!! Careful with cardamom- that's a crazy and intense spice.