No repeat

Trying to cut back on meat. This tofu baked with BBQ sauce was ho-hum, but passable.

Looking forward

Basil growing

Since we heard fireworks last night, and not at midnight, I suspect there’ll be a concert of them tonight. I already hear distant, strange pops, which I’m crediting to a build-up to the expensive midnight ones. These are “neighborhood” noises, and not sanctioned events.

I’ll be trimming this basil for our New Year’s casserole, which is a non-traditional black-eyed pea and greens dish that I’m making up. I’m hoping that because I’m using the “regular” New Year’s Day ingredients, it won’t diminish their good vibes for the coming year. The casserole will have many veggies with cream, cheese, and a dusting of bread crumbs.

New recipe

Grape layers

This was the easy one: no typical recipe details (e.g., teaspoons and whatnot) needed. Just halve grape tomatoes, skewer half, then skewer a piece of buffala mozzarella and a basil leaf, then add the other tomato half. Just before serving, drizzle with balsamic glaze (e.g., Trader Giotto’s).

Thanks to Cousin M for this….


Goodies…from the closest we have in our neighborhood to a French bakery.

Ropa sopa

I combined leftover ropa vieja and new veggies and the last of T-giving—some broth, although you can’t see the broth.

I’m calling it ropa sopasopa meaning soup. I’m congratulating myself on my alliteration. 😎

Variable focus

My focus today was all over the place.

There was Pannonia and the Amber Road, which are related (Roman east). I also drooled over Jamie’s 15-minute meals; he does a great job creating big flavor fast—think blenders of yoghurt and cilantro and avocado and lime zest-n-juice and tomato puree (not for the same dish).

Breaking our fast

We planned to lunch IN A RESTAURANT today (yes, first time since…) before the mask mandate change. We planned to sit on the deck. Turned out the deck tables were already occupied when we arrived (plus, in the full sun!), so we sat INDOORS. The tables were arranged for 50% capacity, and we had our space. Everyone I saw wore their mask except when they were eating. Including us.

We ate with a view of the Olympics—so clear!—and of the mouth of Lake Washington Ship Canal—plenty of traffic in and out. The open water to the right (outside photo view) is Puget Sound and salt water. The Canal connects the the freshwater Lake Washington (follow the water to the left for a ways) to the Sound. The Ballard/Chittenden Locks enable boat passage as there’s a 20-foot difference in the elevations of sea and the lake. The Locks block the migrating salmon so the lock complex includes a fish ladder. The water passing through the fish ladder has to be “adjusted” (long story elsewhere) to include salt water to provide the proper scent for the fish to want to jump jump jump jump jump up the ladder to their spawning grounds. Constructing the Canal decreased the water level in Lake Washington by almost 9 feet, so I imagine there was some hue and cry from landowners whose docks became useless. But construction began in 1911, so maybe there was more rah!rah!rah! and less dissent about such changes to real estate value etc. I’m just guessing. You can find more info on all this on the web; ’sup to you.

My seafood salad includes smoked scallops. So very yum. What a great meal to be our first IN IN IN a restaurant since, well, you know.

Mole negro Sunday

Mole negro (say: moh-lay nay-grow) is a famous sauce native to Oaxaca, Mexico. We made it (more or less) the way it is made today, so it includes Old World ingredients not available in the prehispanic kitchen, like almonds and chicken. We processed a long list of ingredients this way and that, often with toasting, ending up as three different purees, plus chicken stock (upper left). The immersion blender got a huge workout, as it was the processing workhorse.

The final assembly began with the toasted then reconstituted dried chiles (right foreground), pureed, pureed, then more pureeing, and finally sieved to achieve succulent smoothness, then adding stock and simmering down. To that, we then added the upper right mixture, colored principally by roasted tomatoes, but also including tomatillos and toasted bread crumbs. Plus other lovelies. And more stock and simmering. Next, we added the lower left mixture, three kinds of nuts plus roasted plantain, and toasted spices like anise seed and raisins and sesame seeds and cinnamon bark (not a lot, but still). And stock, followed by simmering, of course. The final add was “Mexican chocolate,” which includes more cinnamon, and is not super sweet—still, it does include sugar. And more stock and further simmering.

At the end, the harsh sharpness that the chiles initially had was gone, and their biting heat was tempered. The twenty-four (or so) ingredients had become one amazing, complex sauce.

So very yummy. Probably won’t make it again from scratch, yet a lovely experience. And the eating—well, incomparable.

Could be

Possible North American entry for “Most Eclectic Grocery Shopping Selections, Six Items Maximum”? Upper left, that’s a jackfruit. I hear this is the season for them…. Not to be confused with a durian.

This jackfruit came from Mexico, and is labelled “The Original Party Fruit.” Flavor analysis: “Sweet with hints of mango, banana and melon.” Opening suggestions include using an oiled knife to combat stickiness. And, and, and, it’s a great meat substitute; not sure how a fruit is meat…perhaps we’ll open it Sunday.

Anthropological note

It occurred to me today that many of those “what would Jesus do?” people are dining today with ham as the centerpiece of the menu.

Not what the good Jew Jesus would ever eat, as I understand it. Ham with a side of mac-n-cheese—what Jesus would not do.