Monday, December 8, 2008

Brooklyn and more

Sarang Burong- A Malaysian dish consisting of a deep fried taro bowl full of chicken, shrimp, mushrooms, snow peas, carrots, bell peppers, and baby corn

A Malaysian restaurant in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, one of several Brooklyn Chinatowns. This is one place that I must always visit when I return to Brooklyn for any reason. The food is delicious and fairly priced. Dinner for four including drinks and tip was only $60.

Favorite Nyonya dish = Crispy golden fried squid $8.95
Instead of a dipping sauce, the squid is liberally covered in a spicy chili paste. The dish comes with raw green and red bell peppers and raw red onion. This dish is the most delicious fried squid I have ever had, and it is always consistent - crispy, hot, spicy, fresh.

The food at Nyonya always comes out remarkably fast - within minutes of the appetizer being finished the food comes out - all at the same time. Even if the restaurant is full, the food is always quickly prepared.

More on this later!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

An Autumnal Feast

Fall has succeeded in sneaking up on us again, marked by the cold, windy days, and the changing leaves.
That means it's time to start eating like it.
Several months ago I purchased a 7 pound leg of lamb. Vacuum packaging can do wonders in a freezer. As the freezer filled up with ribs, chicken, ice cream, and waffles, the 7 pound roast lay dormant. Purchased for half price it was a "cannot pass up" opportunity at only $20 but with no initial direction.

I had great plans for the leg, but they fell by the wayside as the months rolled on. almost 6 months in the freezer and the beast lie waiting. I planned a great birthday feast only to go out for dinner for two. Until finally I had had enough.

Nearby my apartment and on the Hood College campus, there are a triad of chestnut trees. The three gave off chestnuts all of September as squirrels and children collected the bounty. Realizing that this would be an excellent opportunity to: A get free food and B try to roast my own chestnuts; I collected a few every time I walked by, and soon I had a nice collection.

Unsure of their taste, I roasted about 7 in the oven to eat out-of-hand. Delicious. A combination of sweet potato and scallops but not too much of either, the waxy, light flesh of the nuts was quite a surprise and not overpowering.

I set up a date to make the lamb and invited a friend to join.

It was my first time butterflying a leg, but it was easier than I expected. The bone came out clean, the cuts precise. Mashed chestnuts seemed to be a fitting accompaniment for the roast. With only lamb, chestnuts and mint jelly, two of us sat down to a feast.

The leftovers have been delicious.

Friday, August 22, 2008


A bee pollinates a bean plant in my backyard in Brooklyn.

Early in the summer I came home after classes ended and took my road test to get my license. I failed. But I saw my fathers garden beginning to grow. Every year he has grown a tremendous amount of vegetables for our consumption, as well as extra for pickling, friends and what have you.

This year was no different. Spring was giving way to summer and the garden was full of garlic and onions. Tomato plants had begun to take root, but first a lot of mint needed to be used.

The winter was mild, and this meant two things: lots of ants, and lots of mint. The mint had overgrown everywhere and my parents were making salads, teas, cocktails, and everything else they could think of. Some mint was taken and dried out for use as tea, some was taken fresh as use for tea. Many plants were harvested and given to friends, and more still was eaten by everyone.

But now I have come back again (and passed my road test) and the garden is overgrown. Because of my dad's use of compost, and the buildup of dirt over the last 15 years, the yard has shrunk, and the vegetables have taken over. At the end of the middle of summer, grass is hardly visible. Squash plants dominate the open space, while beans and tomatoes grow in the back; hardly on the back burner.

"Everything is really starting to produce," my dad said as we looked under 14 inch squash leaves for the little green orbs that had begun to grow.

For dinner every night we eat beans fresh from the garden. Every night tomatoes are served in one form or another. Squash is eaten, while it is still young and tender. The fridge is full of harvested things, and the pickling hasn't begun yet. Pickled vegetables will be eaten next year, and all throughout the winter.

Grapes grow on the fence. Mustard greens are scattered about. Swiss chard grows next to a rose bush, "that's a volunteer," dad points out. Potatoes volunteer, arugula, sunflowers and more all push up through the dirt that is so rich from years of compost.

We eat well during the summer.