I am quickly learning what ‘winter’ looks like in California, produce-wise. Steady (fast-flowing) streams of citrus, hearty greens, a multitude of lettuces and root vegetables – carrots, beets, onions and the like. My gut feeling when picking up this share two weeks ago was citrus fatigue; there are only so many oranges I can eat whole. I promptly made it my weekend mission to conquer the orange; I think I was successful
The rest of our share (first photo, starting at the oranges and going clockwise: mandarin oranges, blood oranges, bok choy, two heads of romaine lettuce, many mini broccoli crowns, red beets, celery, carrots, kale, curly parsley, yellow onions and an avocado) evoked warmer, heartier food. In fact, it was my boyfriend (whom I will refer to as Batman* from here on out) who stepped up to challenge, cooking his way through the remainder of our CSA fare.
When people speak of what makes certain relationships work, often their advice can be summed up with some variation on a few popular themes: common interests, complimentary strengths, shared goals and (very close to) unconditional love. While I feel that a blog is no place to discuss the latter concept, The Bat** and I have the first few points down pat; nowhere is that more evident than our balance in the kitchen.
Over the past several years, my obsession fascination with home cooking and food in general has grown exponentially. I am an entertainer at heart and never shirk from being the primary cook. Beyond that, cooking for someone I care about is my way to express affection – and myself. I do not expect the same from my friends and loved ones (that would be silly and close-minded), only their respect that this is how I work. Imagine my surprise and elation to find out that the new person in my life, a man that I was so excited to be near once I made the move to San Diego, shared this passion? I knew before arriving that he appreciated good food and did his own cooking, but it was not until living down the street, spending lazy Sunday afternoons together and brainstorming dinner ideas that I realized that he was also a force to be reckoned with in the kitchen.
More exciting than our common interest are our complimentary skills. In the kitchen I rework standards – the lentil soup pictured above was my contribution from this week’s share (borrowed from here, that garlic oil!!). I strive for hearty, rustic comfort food. With the exception of his mom’s pot roast recipe (which is unrivaled), The Bat has little interest in reinventing standards. His interest is piqued by something different, in particular the foods of east Asia. He wants to master chicken terryaki and experiment with making 10-hour tonkatsu ramen from scratch (yes, he did). This week, using the fresh broccoli, carrots, onions and mushrooms, he kept it simple – his broccoli beef (based on this recipe) rivaled some of the best I’ve ever tasted, and we both agreed that the fresh crispness of the CSA broccoli was a crucial component. The bok choi and onions will be used this weekend in a riff on his basic chicken stir-fry. I always look forward to that because I am a sucker for lo mein and, really, what is more attractive than a capable man in the kitchen with a wok? Ok, maybe that’s just me.
To finish up our stores before the next CSA delivery The Bat ventured a bit closer to home (culinarily speaking), breaking out the slow cooker to make this Flemish Beef Stew. This one-bowl-dinner hit the spot after a blustery, grey day; large chunks of slow braised beef were complimented by wedges of carrot, onion and mushrooms, all swimming in a thick, beer-based broth that warmed us from the inside out. After tasting his reworking of this standard, I mentally slid my standard Guinness Beef Stew recipe down the “to cook” list. If The Bat wants to cook and everything turns out this tasty (so far, so good), who am I to say no? I will gladly relax on the couch, sip a glass of wine and let the man do the cookin’!
* Blog anonymity is something I take very seriously when it comes to friends and family. I make the individual choice to share some aspects of my everyday life in this space, but it is not my place to do make that decision for anyone else – even those joining me on most of these eating adventures. Many bloggers chose standard acronyms for their significant other (DH: Dear Husband; BF: Boyfriend), I thought if he was to be a recurring character (one can hope) it would be nice to let him chose his own pseudonym. He chose Batman. Really, who wouldn’t?
** However, typing “Batman and I decided to go to dinner…” seemed rather ridiculous. I’ve decided to shorten it to The Bat. Not that this is any less silly, but I like it more. And, in the end, it is my blog – my last word.