Thursday, March 31, 2011

So my friends Kathy and Mark are coming to visit in May, and I haven't seen them in five years - naturally in the back of my head, I start thinking, what should I cook while they're here? And it got me thinking about the ways our cooking changes over time - things I used to make alll the time, some of them I just can't remember the last time I made them.

Stuff I hardly ever make anymore, from various periods in my life:


Pineapple ginger chicken (which can be made all manner of ways, none of which I tend to do anymore).

Hamburgers with anything mixed into the meat other than salt or Marmite.

Pulled pork.

Barbecue ribs.

Khao tom (because I used cheap broken rice from Little Vietnam, but don't live in New Orleans anymore, haven't got a Little Vietnam here, never see broken rice in Little Cambodia).

Barbecue shrimp poboys (the "demi-baguettes" which were perfectly suited to these sandwiches - which are not in fact very much like real poboys - are no longer carried at my supermarket).

Cake. I mean, I just hardly ever make cakes at all. I'm one guy. Who needs a whole cake?

Cuban sandwiches.

Basil chicken. I made this as often as I did partly because in Indiana we could get such great great basil at the farmers market, and always had more of it than we knew what to do with.

Pesto. Likewise.

Sake potatoes. 1, I totally forgot about them until making this list; 2, I hardly ever have sake in the house.

Panna cotta.

Burmese crispy chicken. This was especially good for a take-to-campus lunch in grad school; I work at home now.

Coq au vin. Here's the thing. This was in my heavy rotation. I've made it two ways. In New Orleans, like everybody else I compromised and used supermarket chicken instead of rooster, but instead of making it as a stew, I made it with chicken stacked on top of potatoes, so that the potatoes came out velvetty and flavor-infused, and the chicken skin came out crispy. In Indiana, I could actually get rooster, so I made the real thing, marinated in red wine for five days and braised slowly until the collagen from the rooster turned into gelatin that thickened the marinade so you get a stew that's as rich as beef stew, only chicken.

... then I moved to New Hampshire, and can't get rooster, which doesn't really explain why I don't make the old/bastardized version anymore, except that I guess it'd been shook from my rotation by then.

Chicken wings Vesuvio. I also don't make THIS anymore, an Indiana era favorite inspired by an essay in ... one of Steingarten's collections? or one of the Best Food Writing collections ... anyway, my version is basically these tender/crispy oven-braised chicken wings with a shit ton of garlic and crispy wine-soaked fingerling potatoes. WHY DON'T I MAKE THIS EVERYDAY? WHY AM I NOT MAKING IT RIGHT NOW? (Lent.)

Vanilla blondies. I used to make these super-vanilla-flavored blondies with a ton of real vanilla beans and bourbon, but they fell by the wayside when I started pursuing the grail of Perfect Cornmeal Blondies That Taste Like Moonshine In Fudgey Bar Cookie Form, just as vanilla blondies had themselves displaced most brownies from my rotation.

Saffron caramel. I still have saffron. I still like saffron caramel. I just hardly ever make desserts that call for it, since I'm more likely to make fruit desserts now that I keep huckleberries and so on in the freezer.

Cider jelly. Okay, it's only this past apple season that I didn't make cider jelly, I just never got round to it, and then it wasn't apple season anymore.

Mincemeat. Well, it was a whole lot of work and I had a busy fall these past three years.

Lamb tongue. Haven't got a butcher shop up here like in Indiana.

Pig's head. Okay, I only cooked this twice. But I would cook it so many more times than twice if I could.

Duck confit. It's not that I never cook this, it's that the price of duck doubled in the space of a couple weeks, a couple years back, so it's no longer a staple. (As a result of duck going up, duck parts now sell out much faster in Little Vietnam too, and not once since then have I gone there without them being out of SOME duck part, usually most of them.)

Cassoulet. See duck.

Patty melts. Well, I could argue that I don't make these often cause I don't have rye bread in the house often cause I'm not in grad school anymore so peanut-butter-and-jelly-on-rye isn't a staple for me anymore, but truth is the only reason to stop making patty melts is being a damn fool.

Dirty rice. ... a damn fool!

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