Responsible omnivore

I’ll never be a vegetarian — I enjoy eating meat too much. However in the past few years I have cut back the amount of meat, making it a component of my plates versus the centerpiece. I’ve studied about humanely raised meats and sustainable seafood but know the only way to make these things work is to shift our way of thinking when it comes to food.

Tonight I’m making braised jackfruit ‘carnitas’. Like most household kitchens, I have a reserve of bacon fat that I don’t want to toss down the drain. Feeling adventurous I decided to braise the jackfruit in that bacon fat and typical seasonings. It smells delicious and is most certainly not vegetarian. 

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Spring!

The passing of seasons doesn’t happen in southern California. Fall came and went without feeling right, winter was non existent. I’m not completely against it, going to weekly outdoor farmers markets in the sunshine and having a 90 degree beach day in February aren’t anything to complain about. It’s just difficult putting the sense of seasonality in my food when there are no seasons!

The one season that exists is spring. Even California experiences the mid winter rut of root vegetables. Again, nothing against parsnips or rutabegas. Root  vegetables, stews, braised dishes,   I love comfort food! But something always draws me to spring. When everything is green again. Everything is fresh again.

This year I might have overdone it a bit with the green. But is fresh and I’m happy.

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Salmon with wild mushrooms, marble potatoes, and pea nage.

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Spring pea fettucine with pearl onions and fresh ricotta.

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Green tomato bisque

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Tri tip with chimichurri, grilled spring onions, and corn salad

My City of Angels

My time in the city of angels has been far from angelic…traffic is no joke, my new kitchen is unforgivably humid, my sous chef disappeared a month after I started, to just start the list of calamities. But I’ve survived. The sky has not yet fallen including the three times it rained in my five months here.

Now it’s fall and the midpoint to winter. The passing of time is hard to gauge without seasonal weather changes, but again just something else to get used to.

Life is strange on this coast but I can’t complain about 0.69 cent avocados or being surrounded by such diverse ethnic cuisine.

My love letter to Baltimore

I came to Baltimore in the summer of 2002, I was 17 and had literally just graduated high school. My parents mini van was loaded and I left directly from graduation ceremonies to start a summer program at my future alma mater, Johns Hopkins.  At first Baltimore was not for me. It wasn’t paradise, school was tough, and the charm of the city seemed to rub me the wrong way.  Growing up across the river from NYC will do that to you and I’ll admit to being a bit of an uptight New Jersey brat those first few years. Long weekends, spring vacations, summers were all elaborate escape situations. Then midway through my senior year, my dad got transferred to Tampa, FL relocating my parents out of my childhood home.  Suddenly I found myself homeless. Couldn’t go back to NJ since there was nothing left there, didn’t want to move to Florida, California was always a pipe dream (but more on that later), so I stayed in Baltimore.

By then I had been here for four years and it had started to grow on me. I was starting to build a life, friends from school, a promising job right out of school, a little apartment in a row house, etc.

Through the years I started to evolve.  I started following orioles baseball and gave up my childhood team; it became fun to root for the underdog and wear orange not on Halloween. Berger cookies and goetze caramels are probably my two favorite guilty pleasures.

I’ll crack crabs coated in old bay and throw back natty bohs on a hot summer day. Never got over the crab cake aversion because heated mayo frankly makes me want to vomit in my mouth. But I do know how to make a real Maryland crab cake and will roll my eyes at those who do it so obviously wrong.

Pit beef, smalltimore mentality, all the little neighborhoods, summer festivals, even the harbor. Charm city has grown on me. I hate to admit it, but it has been my home for the past 13 years, and I am going to miss the hell out of it. Baltimore saw me through my 20s, I became an adult here and there will always be a part of me that will call it home, even though I’ve resisted it for so many years.

So cheers to Baltimore! Finally living out a dream and moving out to Los Angeles. But until then, the next few weeks will be full of all the things I’ve come to love about this city.

Baked oatmeal

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Recipe:
2 cups oats
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1.5 cups chopped almonds
1.5 cups chopped apricots ( orange because yesterday was the Orioles home opener….but any other fruit would work)
.5 cup brown sugar + some to garnish
1.5 cups milk
.5 cup cream
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
Melted butter for bottom of pan + to brush on top

Preheat oven to 325. Brush bottom of shallow baking dish with butter. Combine dry ingredients in one bowl. In another bowl whisk egg, add milk, cream, and vanilla. Fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Press mixture into baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes until milk has been absorbed. Brush top with butter and top with brown sugar. Bake am additional 5 minutes. Serve warm.