When I started this blog, I was sort of in a weird place. Neither good nor bad, necessarily. I had left my job and my spouse’s business was sporadic. On the up side, we had loads of time together as a couple (which I miss dearly!), time with the kids and time to do volunteer work. While loving the fact that I had some freedom for the first time in my adult life, I was struggling to redefine myself. I didn’t want to turn into Liz Lemon on mandated leave (30 Rock Season 3, Episode 18 – Fight Club). Work is what I had previously used to define who I was. Without work, I was ultimately in need of finding myself again. My real self. In that search, I kept finding myself, literally, in the kitchen and my garden.
Through cooking, I am just scratching the surface on discovering who I am and who I thought I was and, more importantly, who I want to be. I have had to face my demons (only some of which I blogged about and others that were too personal to take public). I have had to face my past and figure out what is in the future for me. It has truly been a road of discovery.
When I realized that I was about to hit my one-year blog anniversary, I had to give some serious thought as to what I would do to celebrate this occasion. First thing, obviously, there had to be a celebration meal. My cooking has been all over the board. I love to experiment, so I am always willing to try new things. Should I make the best appetizer, salad, soup, fish entree, put my bacon to the test, make a loaf of the most unusual bread, or come up with a new cocktail – WHAT!? Ultimately, I decided to just head to the farmer’s market and let the market dictate what I would make for my celebration meal. I shop with my eyes anyway and often have my plans taking wild turns if I see something that catches my eye, so why not run with it?
I always start with the produce. The colors here provide the palate on which I like to build. I also had to keep in mind what I had in my own garden to use. This is the time of year to make the most of my urban farm and put my locavore ideals into practice. Not to mention that I like to use my pantry. As I am moving into canning season, my thoughts often turn back to what I need to use up before I add more to it.
The first thing that caught my eye was the heirloom tomatoes. I love the rich texture and flavor, not to mention the rainbow of colors. I love gazpacho as a way to eat richly, but beat the heat. So now my menu was circling around my gazpacho. Again, I had to keep it light so I thought salad. But salad seemed boring. I had just seen the finale of Master Chef and thought I would do a Seattle version of the taquitos that one of the finalist made. He used spot prawns, and I used Dungeness crab. The use of jicama for the wrap was wonderful! I may see if this can be used in a warm application – it was that good! My kids love grilled asparagus, so I bought 2 huge bundles, knowing they would eat nearly all of it. I lightly dressed some watercress and layered on top of the taquitos with the asparagus. I had planned to make a salsa verde, but I couldn’t find any tomatillos. After hitting three different stores, I scrapped the idea. I made an oil out of a store-bought salsa – making do, as I always say. I rounded out the meal with a nice big glass of a local wine from Lobo Hills. The kids didn’t get any, of course, although the night may have gone more smoothly if they had. It was honestly just nice to be eating this great food with the people I love and who love me. I won’t spend the time to populate the recipes here, but if you want any of them, let me know and I will send them to you.
Side note: My eldest son, who is brilliantly creative, saw these scraps of jicama and exclaimed “These will be perfect!” He grabbed a handful and disappeared briefly, returning with this creation. He delights me with the extraordinary things he sees in what appears to be ordinary.
For the second part of my anniversary celebration, I am giving away a copy of Tom Douglas’ cookbook
Big Dinners. There is a catch though: You have to sign up to follow me on my new Facebook page. I had planned to create a Facebook page last year when I started the blog, but kept blowing it off, because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with the blog. Now the time has come to go all in. I felt like Douglas was a good symbol for what this year has meant to me: He is an “untrained” chef who has beaten the odds. Not to mention, Tom is one of the few chefs to beat the infamous Iron Chef Morimoto. The battle was salmon. Morimoto didn’t stand a chance!
The winner will be randomly selected from my Facebook followers and announced October 1st. Spread the word! My goal is to get to 500 followers by then. Hey, a girl can dream, can’t she? Let’s hope that I can conquer my own Iron Chef someday soon…
What can you expect for the second year? I am hoping to add video casts. Let’s see if I am being overly optimistic. That would be a nice change to the pessimism from the first year. 🙂