A Week in the Life of the Kitchen

As 2009 approaches its midway point, I’ve decided to make a half-year resolution/determination – that it’s time not just to smell the basil but to stop before and after the whiff. Lately, I’ve noticed that I zoom through my weeks without reflecting on what I’ve tasted, sipped, slurped, mixed, chopped, simmered and chewed. Then I wake up and it’s June.

So, in the interest of being mindful about being mindful, I’ve taken note of my week in the kitchen, at the market and on the road. It’s been a full week but perhaps no fuller than any other – the difference is that now I’m paying attention.

Here’s a recap of this week at the Casa:

* I’ve discovered that sunflower sprouts are my new favorite thing and I want to learn how to grow them myself

* After a year-long hiatus, I made not one, but two batches of garlic scape pesto, first for my mother, who’s been visiting from Pennsylvania, then for a group of volunteers at a Seattle food bank garden.

* In the revisiting-oldies-but-goodies department, I made a batch of cold-brewed coffee concentrate to keep in the fridge for the best fudgey iced coffee on the planet.

* After years of wondering, I finally satisfied my curiosity and made a beer-can chicken on the grill -- twice in one week. Talk about a revelation -- this is some of the best slow-cooked chicken that have passed my lips. (For details, ask away!)

* While on the road, I’ve had my first Oregon strawberry…and my first taste of Oregon tempranillo...

* I found a little slice of heaven at a spunky sandwich joint in Portland called Bunk, where I wanted to move in or start working -- or both.

* I’ve finished reading “The Sweet Life in Paris” by pastry chef David Lebovitz and am about to dive into “An Edible History of Humanity” by Economist editor Tom Standage and Lisa Hamilton’s “Deeply Rooted: Unconventional Farmers in the Age of Agribusiness”

* I watched “Food, Inc.” for the third time, this time with my mother (stay tuned for a q/a with director Robert Kenner in coming days), and this weekend, will be checking out food docs “End of the Line” and “Meat the Truth.”

* Last but not least, I've been taking stock of my pantry in preparation for the second quarterly Eating Down the Fridge, which kicks off June 20.

What's your week been like? All edible and quaffable notes, great and small, tasty and not so much, are welcome. I'd love to hear about the week in the life of your kitchens.

By Kim ODonnel |  June 12, 2009; 11:59 AM ET Kitchen Musings
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Thanks Kim. Here is what was missing from my week: butter beans, also known as giant lima beans. I found them in the can but I can't find them dried. I am in Seattle--any suggestions?

Posted by: Hermes4 | June 12, 2009 1:39 PM

Wow, Kim, the first step is always awareness, and you're now on top of that. I love the idea of garlic scape pesto. I had better get to work if you've got a recipe.

I can't wait to hear what you've got to say about Deeply Rooted. Someone else recommended it to me. On my list now but not yet in my to-read pile.

Since we eat every day, there's always food to write about. This morning it was my first meal at home in a week - Mexican Spiced Sweet and Regular Potatoes with Summer Squash and Garlic Scapes. Yummy and what I needed.

Posted by: theveggiequeen | June 12, 2009 2:37 PM

Last night while feeding and bathing my toddler, I made baked tofu from a Moosewood recipe. It was so easy and better than the packaged stuff. It felt like a small victory.

Posted by: chiquita2 | June 12, 2009 2:41 PM

"Deeply Rooted" is on my to-read list, as well as seeing "Food, Inc." (just as soon as I can find a babysitter). I plan on dragging several friends with me.

Still pondering sandwich bread from scratch and searching for an easy recipe.

And greens! Holy moley - we've had cool, overcast, and rainy weather for weeks now, and I cannot eat them enough. Spinach every way that I can eat it (and get it into the kids' food), as well as spicy mustard greens, lettuces, spring onions, kale... (swoons). Farm-fresh eggs... uncured bacon... man oh man. I love this time of year! The strawberries are finally in!

Posted by: CentreofNowhere | June 12, 2009 2:58 PM

i like to tie in food with traditions. i buy basil right around my wedding aniversary. this year i didn't because of the rain. pesto time is coming up fast. maybe i'll make the first pesto of the season for father's day. basil always reminds me of summer time.
i visited madison, wi back in feb & have been on a scone kick ever since. actually forked over the $38 for a scone pan from king arthur flour. i bought several of their mixes which are quite pricey and have ventured off into making my own since i used all of the mixes.

Posted by: quark2 | June 12, 2009 4:13 PM

The big deal in our household was my first attempt at a wine tasting dinner. We had a couple of good friends over and I crossed my fingers.

Starter: selection of cheeses (Beemster Gouda, Humbolt Fog, St Pete's Blue) with a Macon Villages (white, Chardonnay)

Salad: asparagus with strawberry soup (pureed berries, OJ, yogurt). Paired with Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc.

First course: Confit Byaldi (the ratatouille from the movie) with Viña Aljibes (a Spanish rosé)

Second course: Steak frites (tenderloin or tuna steak). The frites were your panisse! A firm favorite of the house by now. Word to the wise: dump them in ONE at a time (unless hot oil boilovers are your thing). Paired with Oregon Pinot Noir.

Dessert: fruit tart (more strawberries and blueberries). Paired with our favorite dessert wine: Phileo from Barboursville Vineyards of Virginia.

I'm flying to Seattle tomorrow and will have to research wines to bring back with me.



Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | June 12, 2009 9:12 PM

Not a whole lot on the food front here - which happens when you get sick. I did try the first peas from my garden. They're too small, really, but I wanted to see if homegrown and very young English peas could be eaten whole, like sugar snaps.

They can't.

Posted by: fitday19550 | June 12, 2009 9:17 PM

Fairlington, how long you going to be in Seattle? Let me know, maybe we can break bread.

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | June 12, 2009 10:27 PM

I won't be able to do the EDF Challenge, as we will be on vacation that week. But I have been working on cleaning out the refrigerator in anticipation of being away. Yesterday I made pimiento cheese, which my family always called "cheese salad" when I was a kid. Actually, I used Scott Peacock's very tasty recipe from The Gift of Southern Cooking. I did buy some romaine and cherry tomatoes at the farmer's market on Wednesday, but otherwise, it's all been cleaning out the freezer and the pantry and resisting the temptation to buy a ton of perishables. When I get back, though, look out. I plan to hit the market with full force!

Posted by: margaret6 | June 14, 2009 4:51 PM

Hey Kim!

Just got in. I'm taking a redeye out Tuesday night. They're keeping us fairly busy on Monday, but we're supposed to wrap up around noon on Tuesday. If anything is possible, shoot me an email at pslane@verizon.net. If not (short notice, I know), any suggestions for dinner in Seattle on Tuesday. (Or from anyone else.)



Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | June 14, 2009 6:00 PM

fitday19550, I used to do that as a kid. You CAN eat the pods of the regular pea, but you have to peel the flesh away from the fibrous inner skin. Messy, time-consuming. Only a teen who's already raided the garden and eaten all the fresh peas would even attempt it. ;-)

Posted by: GirlScoutMom | June 16, 2009 1:46 PM

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