June quickly turned into July this year. We’ve been bouncing along between warm days and fog-wind days, which are more often than not, the norm for San Francisco summer. We’re deep into summer produce from our Eatwell CSA– stone fruit and squash are on the menu for the next many many weeks. Our garden is almost 90% neglected and unplanted this year. The drought made that decision for us this season, though even if we weren’t in a severe drought, I can’t imagine having time to garden right now. Our artichoke plant produced a lot this year, nearly all of the artichokes were left on the plant to flower. Our big beautiful and productive lemon tree was hacked back to nearly nothing by our landlord for unknown reasons, so we’ve had very few meyer lemons for the past 6 months. The only thing really thriving in the backyard is honeysuckle and lots of volunteer nasturtiums planted last year or the year before. The squirrels and wind have done a good job of moving the seeds around to different parts of the yard.
Last month I wrote a very brief post about two things I was currently infatuated with. I still feel the same way about those two things but this month, I’ve got two new things to feel strong feelings for. Item one: Kimchi! For the last two weeks the pantry tucked away at the back of our house has been giving off a sorta pungent (fermented) scent– especially on warm days. Home fermentation guys! After the big event in May, Austin of Fermenters Club sent us home with two pints of ready-to-ferment kimchi. All we had to to was cover them with cheese cloth, and keep an eye on the liquid level and prepare ourselves for a kinda kimchi-scented kitchen for 1-2 weeks. I tasted them raw, then one week into the fermentation process, then again this weekend, 15 days after we got them started. I like a forkful of kimchi anytime, but we also make kimchi fried rice for weeknight dinners pretty frequently with leftover rice and random vegetables we’ve got in the fridge. Throw an egg on that and dinner is delicious. We’ve tried a few variations of kimchi fried rice– this one from Serious Eats is pretty basic but good.
Item two: ROASTED CAULIFLOWER. My mom recently told me that I used to call cauliflower “fake broccoli” when I was little. I’ve always felt that way about cauliflower, because my love for broccoli has always been much, much stronger. Cauliflower was in my opinion, the bland boring sister to cauliflower, that is until 4 weeks ago when I fell for roasted, crispy, sweet and salty cauliflower. I am converted. We’ve had it at least once a week roasted with olive oil, sea salt and Aleppo pepper. I will eat it straight out of the oven, burning my mouth and fingers, or, the more adult way, tossed with roasted garlic, arugula, good olive oil and pasta with a little pecorino romano on top. Now I know that roasting is going to make almost any boring vegetable delicious (broccoli, cabbage, radishes, brussels sprouts) but roasted cauliflower is really really good.
The month of May has been a blur. I’ve been busy with the shop, packaging and fulfilling orders and sanding, always sanding. I also spent a few blurry and busy few weeks prepping for the big summer Skill Exchange event over at StoreFrontLab. It was my dream lineup of teachers and workshops, but it was as always, an intense experience to bring it all together. I somehow seem to forget that putting on events takes a lot out of me, physically and emotionally, even though I do enjoy most of the organizing, planning, and final results. The results, by the way, were wonderful. Joanna wrote a very lovely recap of her experience as a student at Skill Exchange over at Jojotastic.
All of our teachers were passionate and so generous with their time and skills– in the coming weeks I’ll share photos and a full recap of the whole event, captured by photographer Kimberley Hasselbrink of The Year in Food. I am very excited to see these photos! For much of the day I was so busy running around behind the scenes, I know I missed quite a few skills. I put together a short video of a few moments, but I’m already eager to see what else Kimberley captured of our day. I realize now that I’ve almost completely stopped toting my camera around, and most of the time have become too lazy/forgetful to take photos at home. I’d blame it on being busy, but being busy just seems like a dumb excuse. I forced Intern to take the above photo of me, and it may be the one and only photo of me there, and probably the only one of me looking way less stressed than I actually felt. The other photos were taken during a leisurely late lunch mid-week in mid-May, when Intern and I both snuck away from work to take care of a few errands in Hayes Valley, and have nothing to do with the contents of this blog post. Feels like an appropriate way to sum up the past few weeks– lots of unrelated everything-all-at-once.
Two: Barley risotto. We’re hooked after trying Bon Appetit’s recipe from the April issue. We started with the spinach and herb combination, and now have moved on to other variations– this week’s included freshly shelled fava beans and peas, with an arugula pesto mixed in at the end. We reheated leftovers the next day, and served it with a poached egg for a very, very late breakfast. The recipe seems like a lot of work, (but risotto is always a lot of work) but this is completely worth every extra step. The toasted barley has a really wonderful texture and flavor, but also very creamy like regular risotto.
We’re 6 days away from the Skill Exchange grilling workshop(s) on Saturday, with only a few tickets left. Last night, after a full day of pretending it was Friday, I got into bed and my brain went into list-making-worrying-not-sleeping mode. Paired with 4 abnormally wild hellion cats that staged an all out attack on human sleep last night, I’m feeling tired and also pretty wired today. Also, very excited.
We’ve been on an oyster kick lately– though its not so decadent as it sounds. More accurate: we’ve been on a oyster sharing and snacking kick, with friends! Last week we received Point Reyes oysters from Siren Fish Co. and decided to try them on the bbq with a simple mignonette. This weekend I went to the Alemany farmers market and bought a mixed bag of oysters, again from Point Reyes. This time we shucked them in the backyard while snacking and drinking with friends, while grilling some black cod, again from Siren. It can be hard to convince Intern of the occasional merits of our windy backyard, so I had to lure him out there this weekend with oysters, rosé and friends. He did not enjoy the wind + smoky grill, but he liked all the other parts.
Our weather is ping ponging back and forth from popsicle weather to soup weather, though we’re finally leaning more towards warm weather food, like strawberries and fava beans, grilled fish and of course, boozy popsicles. In my excitement for the heat wave last week, I made popsicles, pulled out a few summer dresses from the depths of the closet and put away some scarves and hats, just in time to put on a sweater and grill in the crazy wind.
A few weeks ago I played with our food, shooting some food scenes for the upcoming Skill Exchange workshops on May 17th. Purely for the sake of fancy-ing up the poster, I grilled some lemons. Since then, I’ve been grilling lemons whenever a recipe calls for regular lemon, I just can’t help it, THE FLAVOR!