Entries in Food (8)

Tuesday
Feb112014

the answer would be a gentle no, because mrs. g. does understand his appeal

Mrs. G. received four emails (Portland, Tulsa, Charlottesville and Knoxville) from Derfs over the weekend letting her know that they had made Mr. G's pasta sauce and it was indeed as delicious as she said. One sweetheart sent a photo of her bubbling sauce right after, as she said, the "chicken livers had landed." Mr. G. was flattered.

But Mrs. G. received a fifth email today that we are going to have to discuss because, well, because Mrs. G. thinks you will understand why.

Dear Mrs. G,

I just wanted to let you know how lucky you are to have a husband like Mr. G! I made his sauce on Saturday night and it was so good that I can't help but throw out the following proposal. You have mentioned that Mr. G. hasn't cleaned a bathroom in decades and doesn't really do household chores of any kind. I love cleaning bathrooms and I would be willing to assume all household chores if he would cook for me nightly. I know this would mean he has to move to the Northeast, but do you think you could spare him for this fellow Derf? Maybe even just every month? My love for Mr. G. is purely platonic and culinary inspired as I am in a a very serious imaginary relationship with Damian Lewis.

I look foward to hearing from you :) :) :)

V.

 

Dear V,

I appreciate your straight-forward, forthright approach to possibly acquiring my husband. I'm going to have to decline your offer because I really like him, and, damn woman, I gave you the coveted recipe. Have Damian Lewis make it for you. I kid, because I think you are sweet even though you want to exploit my man in the kitchen. I'm not going to share this exchange with him because, though he loves me, the allure of no chores might cause him to slip out in the night with his chicken livers and never look back. Like I'm going to let that happen -- just to be safe I have tied a bell to our bedroom doorknob in case he gets any ideas. 

All My Best-ish,

Mrs. G.

Saturday
Jan252014

A Guide to Fine Dining by Aunt Snow

In adventure stories, explorers visiting a strange land find a trusty native guide to show them around, find food, and survive. When I came to Los Angeles in the fall of 1996, I was overwhelmed by its size and breadth, and I could not grasp its unfocused geography. The streets and boulevards were chaotic, lined with a visual cacophony of signs in multiple languages I could not decipher. But then I met Mark.

We met at the Shubert Theatre in Century City. I had been dispatched by Local #33 IATSE to fill in as a follow-spot operator for the show “Ragtime,” which was nearing the end of its pre-Broadway run in Los Angeles. The show had four spotlights – two in the booth and two truss spots. I ran Spot Two in the booth. Mark ran Truss Spot Three, suspended from the ceiling high over the audience.

The House Electrician liked me, so I quickly became the regular vacation cover for the Electrics Department. I worked both backstage and on spot for a couple of months.

A long-running show is a routine, with shows Tuesday through Sunday evenings, and matinees on Wednesday and Saturday. There’s a two hour break between the matinee final curtain and our call time for the evening show. That first matinee day, Mark invited me to join him for dinner break.

“I know a good place to go,” he said.

Mark was one of the best followspot operators I’ve ever known, and that’s saying something, because Local #33 spot operators are the best in the business. In LA live TV broadcasts, and award shows require absolute precision and lightning-fast reflexes, with zero rehearsal time and zero toleration for mistakes. The top followspot operators in Local #33 work so many award shows they own their own custom-tailored tuxedos.

Mark loved to eat, and his physique showed it; he was short and rotund and light on his feet like a beach ball. As soon as the house lights came up, we’d dash down the exit stairs to the parking garage beneath the theatre, and jump into his 1989 Camry. The driver’s seat was pushed as far back as it could be to accommodate his belly, while his arms and legs were stretched straight out to reach the wheel and the foot pedals. We’d be cruising down Olympic while the audience still waited for the elevator.

Mark liked all kinds of food, but because of our schedule, he limited our tour to West LA. Mark liked a traditional Italian red-sauce joint called Anna’s on Pico near Westwood, and place nearby called Killer Shrimp. He also liked Gloria’s on Venice, for Salvadoran food, and Delmonico’s Grill for seafood. He knew what was good on every menu. “Get the cannelloni here,” he’d say, and he was always right. We sat at the counter at Johnnie’s Pastrami on Sepulveda, eating thick luscious sandwiches, hot on a French roll, Los Angeles style, slathered with mustard, while he flirted with the waitresses.

And all through dinner, Mark would tell me about other great places in town. “If you’re working at CBS,” he’d say, “you gotta go to DuPars in the Farmers Market.” Or, “There’s this great Thai place on Sunset, just a few minutes from the Pantages.”

Sometimes the show called us in for daytime maintenance, to change light bulbs, repair broken fixtures, and change out faded color medium. If such a call came on a Friday, the whole electrics crew would go to the Century Plaza Hotel for dinner break. Mark had discovered the $14 All-You-Can-Eat Friday night seafood buffet. A bunch of rough-necked stagehands all dressed in black, we’d take over the dining room and eat huge plates of king crab legs, fried shrimp and clams, chowder and baked fish.

Mark invited others to dinner too; sometimes Stan, on Spot Four, or the show roadie Steve, or Bobo, the deck electrician. Sometimes we’d stay in the big entertainment complex, grab a bite at McDonalds and catch a movie at the multiplex. But Mark wasn’t much for fast food – he liked sit-down places with table cloths.

Mark liked the kind of places that were part of Los Angeles’ history, the places he’d gone as a kid. Billingsley’s was one such joint, a dark steak-and-chops house, with a dining room with curved, tufted red-leatherette booths and tiffany hanging lamps. The early bird special was prime rib, veal parmesan or chicken marsala, served with your choice of soup or an iceberg lettuce salad, and garlic cheese toast made with soft white bread. In its dark and moody bar quiet old people sipped gimlets and rob roys, but we never had a drink since we had to go back to work.

“Ragtime” closed in 1998, and soon after, Mark moved to Las Vegas. I changed careers and lost touch with my Local #33 friends. The Shubert Theatre is gone now along with ABC Television Entertainment Center, demolished in 2002 and replaced by a featureless office tower. I’d always meant to go back to the Century Plaza on a Friday night, but missed my chance.

Some of the places Mark took me are gone now too. Delmonico’s Grill on Pico, where I savored lobster bisque, is no more. Anna’s Italian Restaurant closed; now it’s a faux British gastropub, tricked out with old-timey décor to look like a place with history.

Johnnies is still open, though, and I sometimes drive by Billingsley’s. It’s in an imperiled triangle by the 405 freeway, crouched underneath the looming span of the new Expo Line light rail spur to Santa Monica. Banners festoon the walls proclaiming bravely “Still open during construction!”

 Mark loved Los Angeles with an enthusiasm stronger than a Convention and Visitors Bureau. Mark made me feel like an LA insider before the newness wore off me, and I still hear his voice in my head as I drive around town. He served up Los Angeles on a plate to me, and I’ll always remember him.

 

 

Aunt Snow is one of the most interesting women Mrs. G. has had the pleasure to meet. She is a true renaissance woman who writes about the need to celebrate life all around you. You can read more of her writing at her blog, Doves Today.

Saturday
Jan042014

The Squeamish Eater by Aunt Snow

When I was pregnant with my son, I craved boiled shrimp. In my fourth month, we travelled to Florida,

and I couldn’t get enough of them; fresh, pink and chilled, cooked in their own shells, doused with

cocktail sauce spiked with strong horseradish.

 

So it was perplexing that my little boy turned out to be a picky eater. He was so picky about food his

doctor used the term “narrow band” to describe his menu. Except for during a few months of infancy,

he ate nothing but bread until he was almost eight years old.

 

It was embarrassing. When we went out to restaurants, we’d order meals only for my husband and

myself. Waitresses would ask, “And for your child? What will he have?” “Oh, nothing,” we’d say. Pause.

“Can we get a refill of the bread basket?”

 

My embarrassment and guilt about being a bad mother made me do foolish things. I remember once

begging him to please, please, sweetie, just try just a bite of this yummy Chicken McNugget, before I

realized what I was doing.

 

When we went out for pizza, he demanded the crusts. My husband and I dutifully ate our slices from

point to crust, making sure to bite off every trace of tomato sauce before putting the shamefully tooth-

scalloped chunk of dough on our child’s plate for him to gnaw. I blush to think of it now.

Doctors and others counseled us to chill out. Don’t pressure him, don’t make a thing of it. It will work

out with time.

 

Most kids have food issues, of course, and I had my own, although I like to think it indicated some level

of highly refined discernment on my part rather than squeamishness. I took my iceberg lettuce salad

without dressing, and went through a phase where I rejected sauce for my spaghetti, preferring butter

and cheese instead.

 

My brother was worse – he had an almost pathological aversion to carrots. As in many 1960s American

families, one staple of our table was frozen mixed vegetables – assorted peas, corn, lima beans and

carrots. My brother would spend ten minutes carefully picking out the small, uniform orange cubes,

clustering them at one side of the plate, making sure they did not touch any other item.

 

My mother put up with these habits, partly because it was no skin off her nose. It was easy enough to

scoop plain noodles on my plate before tossing the rest with sauce, and she had no problem letting us

dress our own salads as we liked. She cheerfully spooned mixed vegetables onto Barrett’s plate, and let

him deal with carrot segregation himself. Our pickiness was okay with her as long as she didn’t have to

deal with it much.

 

Whether it was peer pressure, growing pains, or the carnal appetites of puberty I don’t know, but

eventually our son’s personal menu broadened out. He worked himself up to try something – first

plain cheese pizza; next pepperoni. School lunch could include grapes or apple slices, a cup of yogurt –

strawberry or blueberry only – and a package of chips, first plain potato, then Fritos, and finally almost

everything in the variety-pack except Cheetos – that’s why I still harbor an unhealthy addiction to that

Orange Food.

 

Sometimes he was overly ambitious. Once, in the car driving home from junior high, he announced that

he wanted to try a Jack-in-the-Box Ultimate Cheeseburger. Not a small burger – he was insistent. Alas,

when confronted with the giant double-patty double-cheese monster he lost his nerve. “I don’t like it,”

he said.

 

I happened to be at that time in my fourth week of Weight-Watchers, at the end of the day, and

ravenous, with a meager four points remaining in my daily food allotment. It was all I could do to keep

from drooling as we drove home in silence, the smell of hot French fries and fried meat filling the car.

 

“You’re sure you’re not going to eat that?” I asked as we came into the kitchen. When he shook his

head No, I almost ripped the bag from his hands. I didn’t care how many Activity Points I’d have to earn,

I had to eat that burger!

 

Many people never outgrow food pickiness. I worked in a four-woman office where there were so

many conflicting food issues it was impossible to bring a birthday treat to a staff meeting. One hated

strawberries, another couldn’t eat nuts, and a third was grossed out by mayonnaise. Two of them

loathed bell peppers, a prejudice I find peculiar.

 

I asked my son once what turned him off certain foods. He was unable to fully explain it, but it had

something to do with texture, and also with things being mixed together. My husband observed that in

his teens our son started to watch cooking shows on TV. Perhaps he was just trying to figure out how

food was constructed, to take the mystery out of it.

 

By the time he graduated high school, his squeamishness was almost gone. He ate like a normal

American kid. Burritos. Hamburgers. Barbecued ribs. He even ate sushi!

 

When he left home for college in New York City, he continued to explore . He tried foods of other

cultures – Thai, Chinese, Korean. During graduate school in London, he tried lamb, stinky cheese, organ

meats, and various pickled and preserved fishes.

 

Cooking or travel can broaden a picky eater’s appetite; for others love can do the trick.

 

My friend Phil was a meat-and-potatoes guy. We worked together, and took dinner breaks at a local

hash house called Ozzie’s, for the early bird prime rib and mashed potato dinner. He told me he

considered onions exotic. But one summer, Phil fell in love with a visiting Frenchwoman. After a trip to

meet her family, he returned to Seattle a changed man in the food department.

 

Today at 25, my son is an accomplished cook, and a very adventurous eater. He eats duck confit and

oysters on the half shell. He pushes beyond my own rather broad horizons. Recently, at a local seafood

market he was eager to eat sea urchins, plucked alive from their tanks, their spheroid shells trepanned

open exposing the mild roe to be scooped out with a spoon. At a Koreatown barbecue joint, he added

an order of beef intestine to our short ribs and skirt steak combo. He’s eaten sweetbreads and kidneys

– I never have.

 

This Christmas holiday, we flew to visit my son’s grandmother in Tampa, Florida, and for Christmas Eve

dinner, we prepared a family seafood dinner. It was nothing but joy to sit at table with my grown-up

son and peel chilled boiled shrimp, dunking them into horseradish-spiked cocktail sauce together.

 

 

Aunt Snow is one of the most interesting women Mrs. G. has had the pleasure to meet. She is a true renaissance woman who writes about the need to celebrate life all around you. You can read more of her writing at her blog, Doves Today.

 

Saturday
Dec142013

The Judge's Eggnog (by Aunt Snow)

nutmeg

When I was a young woman, I led a fast and exciting - or hectic and desperate - life in New York City in the late 1970s. And there I met a man I thought I would settle down with. That thought was brief, as he turned out to be a cad. But oh, he was a handsome and fascinating cad!

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Sunday
Dec012013

Aunt Snow Introduces A Delicacy: The Oyster 

southernfriedoysters

My introduction to oysters was not a promising one. My father liked oyster stew. He was the only one in my family who did. I don’t remember what occasion sparked his appetite, but often on weekend afternoons he would eat things that he enjoyed in solitary pleasure. Like sardines, spread on saltine crackers. Peanut brittle. Canned tamales from Old El Paso. Or oyster stew.

It came in a can; it was cream colored and had a rich smell, but I thought it was gross, how the grey shapeless oysters swam and bobbed, hidden in the milky broth.

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Tuesday
Nov262013

A KFC Brawl and Mrs. G's ONE Amazing Recipe 

turkeyhand

Many of you might remember Mrs. G's strife and conflict with her book club: how they unknowingly humiliated her with what is now known as The Yankee Candle White Elephant Incident and how one time the group unanimously agreed that the novel Mrs. G. chose was the worst novel in the club's eight year history—some of the women said they had to put the novel in a drawer just so they didn't have to look at it.

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Monday
Nov182013

Daily Bread (by Aunt Snow)

bread

When I was invited to write about food for Derfwad Manor, I thought of all the wonderful subjects I could explore. And then I started to wonder where to start. Something exotic from foreign travels, something fancy, something exquisite and refined, something to thrill and delight?

But then I thought – why not start with something fundamental?

Bread.

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Wednesday
Mar142012

Guest Post: Crispy Pork Carnitas Tacos with Avocado Crema (by Nancy G.)

PorkTaco4x6_1-1024x680-560

 

nancygraphic

Our one and only son leaves for college in a week, so he put in a request for a family dinner before he takes off. When I asked him what he would like me to make, he didn’t hesitate for even a second before telling me Pork Tacos! Ever since he was little, he has lived on Mexican food! Some kids ask for hot dogs or macaroni and cheese as their comfort food, but his has always been burritos or tacos.

Our whole family got in on the fun last night as my sister is an excellent cook in her own right, my husband was helping with lighting and my sister’s significant other, Michael, is another foodie and was my personal “food stylist” helping set up the shots and make my plate look beautiful. He is also responsible for the “killer guacamole” that we quickly downed with our chips. Hopefully I will be able to convince him to give up his recipe so that I can share it here one of these days. 

A number of years ago, Bon Appetit ran a special on regional Mexican dishes and I found this recipe for Crispy Pork which is the foundation of my pork tacos. The meat is so delicious that you really only need a little bit of thinly sliced cabbage, a bit of cilantro and a drizzle of avocado crema to complete this dish. Serve with your sides of your favorite guacamole, salsa & chips

 

 

Crispy Pork Carnitas

Bon Appetit – May 2003

  • 4 – 6 pounds boneless country style spareribs
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups orange juice
  • Orange Zest from one orange
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup brandy (don’t skip this as it helps pork to properly crisp)

Cut spareribs into thirds removing any large chunks of fat, but leaving smaller bits and fat marbling intact. Put into deep 12″ skillet, add water, orange juice, zest, garlic and salt. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and continue to simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Make sure meat remains mostly submerged during this time, adding water by the 1/4 cup if necessary.

Remove lid, bring to boil and cook until liquid is absorbed by at least half (approximately 10 minutes). Add brandy and continue to cook until liquid is completely evaporated and pork begins to crisp. Remove and discard any remaining pieces of fat. Use wooden spatula or spoon to break pork apart and toss to prevent burning. This last step requires patience as it will take awhile for the liquid to completely evaporate and the fat to begin cooking away which allows the pork to crisp. Alternatively, you can remove the pork a baking sheet and throw under the broiler for a few minutes to achieve the crispiness, stirring frequently.

Pork can be reheated and crisped by adding a bit of water to frying pan and cooking over medium heat for about 5 minutes.

Avocado Crema

  • 1 ripe avocado, diced
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • Juice of one lime
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Puree avocado, buttermilk and lime juice in blender until very smooth. Transfer to bowl and stir in sour cream and salt. Transfer to squeeze bottle and let sit at least one hour for flavors to develop.

 

nancy

Hi, my name is Nancy and I am a small business owner, wife, mother, friend, cook and blogger. I live in Gig Harbor, Washington with my husband, three dogs and two cats.

My love of cooking goes wayback, but now that my husband and I are “empty nesters” I have both the time and freedom to stretch my culinary muscles a bit. Our son, who is currently in college and has a new appreciation for my food when he comes home to visit.

If I were limited to only two things I could cook for the rest of eternity, it would have to be bread and pie. Both have limitless possibilities and the process is very meditative. The added bonus of course, is the intoxicating smell of freshly baked bread (or pie) in your home. Then comes the tough part, eating it. But hey, someone’s got to do it!

My cooking interests aren’t limited to baking, and I have been known to try my hand at various cuisines and even smoking meat. The process of exploring, testing and tasting food is ever changing and completely exciting to me!

You can find more of my recipes at Cook Shoot Blog