Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sushi for the Squeamish

Chuck got me a sushi mat way back at Christmas, but it's taken some major cajoling for me to make the move into Asian cuisine. Cooking it, that is, not eating it.

Now that I'm settled in my own place, experimental cooking is far easier, so the time has come for me to venture into uncharted territory. Ready, set, sushi rolls!

Here's what you need:
-sushi rice (please, please, don't try it with anything else)
-rice vinegar
-nori (roasted seaweed for wrapping)
-fillings (I used avocado and ahi, but salmon, sprouts, tofu, carrots, etc. are great- whatever your fancy)

Before you begin, rinse your rice a few times before you cook it.

Cook your tofu or fish unless it is smoked or very, very fresh. I seared the tuna to a medium, just to be safe, but medium rare is ideal.

After you have cooked your rice, mix in a little rice vinegar and sugar. The same rules rice cooking rules apply, but sushi rice will be stickier to help bind your rolls.

When all your ingredients are prepared, get your mat ready. I lined it with plastic wrap to make it cleaner and keep the rolls from drying out.

Line your mat with a sheet of nori and a layer of rice, leaving a lip on one end for sealing it. There should be enough rice so you can't see through the nori. Keep dipping your fingers in water to help with the stickage.

Have sliced fillings ready.

Line them up in layers in the center of the rice. This ended up being a little too much filling, but allow yourself a learning curve and take note for next time.

Use the mat to press the roll over and carefully roll up as tightly as possible.

Wrap in plastic and chill, it will make them much easier to slice.

Alton Brown gives a great tutorial on making sushi rolls, but there are zillions out there. Have no fear!

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Trout brought home these little piggies to raise for home cured bacon, tenderloin and other porky morsels this winter. I got to meet them on their drive home and wanted to introduce you. There will be more visits with them to come!

I peeked in on last year's pigs as they matured, but missed the slaughter. I think this is a crucial part of the cycle to witness as a meat eater (I suggest reading The Girl Hunter and Cleaving if it strikes an ethical cord for you). I caught the end of butchering that year and am fascinated with the efficiency of raising meat. My hat goes off to my empowered friends for putting in the hard work themselves- it makes a far more conscientious carnivore. 

I never dreamed piglets could be even stinkier than adult pigs, but I still have lots to learn if the masters' patience allows.

This essay by Thomas Keller completely changed my thinking about how we eat and cook meat, and reinforced my deep respect for the labor that goes into each ingredient we consume. Please read before you picket!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Mitch Visits!

If you haven't heard from me in a while, it's because I've been too busy having fun with my bestie who came for a visit from Minnesota last week. I'm dogsitting, but the pup, Zero, is so cool we let him join the gang and pretty much took him everywhere with us.

Our first stop was Golden Gate Park, where we conveniently parked in front of the Conservatory of Flowers for a brief walk around the Music Concourse.

Time was of the essence, so I got us out of the city to spare my poor friend from my San Francisco navigating instincts. We stopped at Sol Food in San Rafael en route to the beach. I went for a steak combo (though probably a rash decision for take out) and Mitch got the most scrumptious pork chop pressed sandwich that anyone could have ever dreamed up. Yum!

We took a short hike at Pinnacle Gulch in Bodega Bay. I love this place if you have a dog and are short on time, but look out! Parking is super pricey, though I like to think it's for a good cause.

Here I'm helping Mitch identify kelp from jellyfish.

We stopped to say hello to Hitchcock in my beloved Bodega, put on the map with the filming of The Birds.

Wine tasting! But not just yet ...

We couldn't come all this way without the perfect Northern California picture.

The next day we went for a tour and tasting at Korbel.

Then when we couldn't get enough champagne, we headed to Iron Horse for more. (With a little lunch break, of course.) This is a local's favorite I hadn't been to yet, and it has one of the most breathtaking views of vineyards framed by mountains.

Don't worry, I also gave Mitch a taste of Dry Creek (Unti) and Alexander Valley (Hawkes) wines, not just Russian River.

On our last day, we met up with the colony of harbor seals at Goat Rock.

Aren't they cute?

Look out, Mitch found a taffy shop! How is this the one candy I've yet to understand? Flavors like vanilla cake? Apple pie? Is taffy the new jelly bean?

All I cared about was that she send some home to her amazing taffy-loving husband, who cashed in some miles so she could have a spontaneous trip with her kooky bestie in California.