Randomness

to round out 2011

Posted on January 2, 2012

We’ve spent the last week or so gloriously far away from our computers. It was fun to pretend that our jobs/computers/the internet didn’t exist for a bit. We’re back with recipes, but need a few more days to pull our blogging-selves back together. In the meantime, here are a few photos from our trip  …

We drove back to Sacramento.

Bringing the dog-tally up to five. Five dogs. One big house.

We finally met my sister’s corgi. And he is a cute little rascal.

My sister and I ate burritos. Oh burritos.

We celebrated Christmas with both of our families.

And took really nice walks to the lake.

And I somehow liked these two even more.

Then there was some epic antiquing with the Mama.

Then we came back to San Francisco and shared the city with our friends Jordan and Kelsey for a day.

It’s nice to be home.

And lastly, Willow and I spent our New Year’s Day lounging in the park. 68 degrees and sunny! I’m hoping 2012 will continue on that note.

I hope you all had a beautiful holiday. Here’s to 2012 and another year spent around the kitchen table!

-Emily

the salties

It is pretty obvious to our friends and family that Jordan and I like food. Because of this, we often receive specialty food products as gifts — hot sauce, candies, olive oils, that sort of thing. Thanks to our loving family and friends, our collection of one particular pantry staple outshines all the others … SALT!

Our friend Katie (art history buff turned pastry chef turned organic farmer—seriously, read her blog) was visiting a few weekends ago, and after a bit of good food and wine, we decided we ought to taste test our entire salt collection. It turned out to be a lot of salt. Friends and family, I think we are solid on fancy salts for a while.

Here are the results of our exhaustive sampling. Hopefully, this tongue numbing experience wasn’t in vain and these descriptions will be helpful in your next specialty salt purchase.

A note about our technique. We tried a pinch of each salt, and comparing against our baseline of kosher salt, made notes for each variety. It got rather silly after a point because well, salt is salty. A few salts received specific “awards”, a few were blessed with amazing quotes by Katie, all were salty.

The Salties, in alphabetical order

Black Diamond: Shock and Awe 
Black, salty rocks. This salt is all about the spectacle.

Fleur de Sel: Most Classic 
Straight up salt. Nice flake.

French Grey Sea Salt: #1 Finishing Salt
Mild, oceany and crunchy. “I like a wet salt” – K.L.N.

Hawaiian Sea Salt: Don’t Waste Your $$$
Basically kosher salt.

Kosher Salt (either Morton or Diamond Crystal): Best All-Purpose Salt 
Size makes for even distribution, all purpose, super affordable

La Baleine French
What you think of when you think sea salt.

Lemon Flake
Amazingly lemony. It’s like a salt snack.

Malakai Guava Smoked Salt
Surprisingly mild smokey flavor.  Add to homemade BBQ sauce.

Maldon
Slightly crunchy, very nice texture.

Meadow Sel Gris
Light texture, but a very substantial crystal. “It’s useless it is so big” – K.L.N.

Molokai Red: Most Surprising (in a Good Way)
Fruity at first, with a salty finish. Very crunchy. Would be great on roasted potatoes

Murray River
Light, snowflake-like texture. Very, very salty

Rosemary Salt
Wow! That is rosemary.

White Truffle Salt: Salt of the Gods
Hands down our favorite flavored salt. “This doesn’t even taste like salt. This tastes like food” – K.L.N.

A shout out goes to the tasters for their valiant efforts and also to our amazing friends and family who always seem to bring us back fabulous, salty presents.

-Emily

how to celebrate a blogiversary

Guess what? We’ve been blogging for a year! Hurray! Honestly I wasn’t sure that we’d be able to keep this rather ambitious project afloat, but here we are with more cooking adventures under our belt than I had ever imagined. It feels pretty darn good.

A few days ago, a coworker asked my why I blog, why I put my personal anecdotes up on the interweb for all to see. I do it because I love food. But more than I love food, I love the community that cooking and eating creates. Spending time with people I love over a good meal is my favorite thing in life. This blog lets me connect to all those folks out there that I love so dearly but can’t invite over for Sunday dinner because of the challenges of time and distance. Yep this is a little sappy, but anyone who knows me knows, I am a total sap and I like it that way.

To celebrate our first blogiversary—in true The Answer is Always Pork fashion—we invited a few friends over to take down a towering mountain of pork spare ribs. I made our favorite oven BBQ ribs and cornbread, our friend Robin supplied the home fries and a salad, our friends Jessi and Nadar brought the wine. It was an absolutely wonderful meal with fabulous food, incredible friends and a whole lot of love. Perfection.

And a little note: Jordan’s delightful prose has been light the past few months, but the handsome devil has been so busy studying, reading, writing, grading, and researching his brain to death. For this tremendous scholastic exertion, I am cutting him some slack. Hopefully he will be back soon.

-Emily

just a few photos

Posted on August 5, 2011

Last Saturday, two dear friends from college got married. My friend Katie (pastry chef extraordinaire) made their cake, and I helped her decorate it. We had a great time and it was so nice (albeit a bit nerve-wracking) to contribute something to their special day.

Since I had absolutely nothing to do with the baking of the cake, I don’t have a recipe here for you, but I do have some fine pictures of the beautiful concoction.  So here it is in all its glory … a vanilla chiffon cake with lemon curd between the layers slathered in marshmallowy vanilla frosting.

That’s Katie behind the camera lens in the background. She’s pretty darn cute!

I made the cake topper. I think my Mama would be proud of my floral arranging skills.

 

We’re hoping a potential wedding cake business is in our future, especially now that Miss Norton lives in California!

-Emily

every candy lover’s dream

Posted on June 30, 2011

We are no strangers to sweets here on the blog and I rarely shy away from sugar. My dear friend Miykaelah knows this well and sent me an absolutely perfect birthday gift.  What is the most frivolous and sugary of confections? Why, cotton candy of course! Yes friends, you heard that right … I am now the proud owner of a professional grade, countertop cotton candy machine! I’m pretty sure I squealed when I opened the box and was so excited that I immediately made my first batch. I’ll share a few photos of the excitement.

Conclusions: Cotton candy is always amazing and delicious. It does not get old. And it’s a lot hard to be a carnie than it looks … our cotton candy poofs never made it past infancy before sticking to the heating element and self-destructing. Clearly,  I need a little practice, but boy am I looking forward to that. Cotton candy, anyone?

exciting news on the blog front

Posted on June 15, 2011

Guess what team?!? The Answer is Always Pork and yours truly have been featured on Foodia’s Tastemakers series!

Foodia is a young San Francisco-based company that helps users sift through all the clutter in our food system and find foods that are high quality, healthy and most importantly, delicious. Foodia is a great resource when you’re up against shelves and shelves of products at the market and don’t know what’s best. Join Foodia to see what the community is saying about the food around you, find items that are healthful and wholesome and unearth the environmental impact of getting your food from farm to fork.

If you’d like to check out my interview with Foodia and my thoughts on eating good food, blogging and the U.S. food system, visit their blog here. I’d sure appreciate it if you did!

-Emily

over the weekend

Posted on May 30, 2011

We’ve spent the past two weekends with our families in Sacramento. We’ve been doing some cooking, and now that I look back on it, we’ve pretty darn busy doing lots of other things as well. I’ve got a few recipes and a lot of stories to share.

We went to a Strawberry Festival hosted by our CSA farm, Eatwell Farm. We picked an entire flat of berries and ate ourselves sick on perfect strawberries.

We gave a demonstration about seasonal and local cooking at El Dorado Nursery and Garden. We wrote recipes, shopped, cooked everything outside and impressed our small audience. If you’d like to download our mini-cookbook from the event click here.

Willow had an accident and worried her parents sick. Thankfully, she has recovered and is her happy, silly self again.

My little brother Dallas graduated from high school! We are so proud! Jordan cooked a gigantic asian fusion feast. I failed at fried rice, but succeeded in making a turtle cheesecake with homemade caramel. Recipe to come!

We enjoyed the sporadic good weather, lounging by the pool, walking and reading outside. Willow especially enjoyed this aspect of her suburban vacation.

My mom, sister and I had a girls’ day, complete with Mexican food, antiquing in Old Folsom and a brand new pair of roller skates.

We ate Jordan’s Dad’s awesome BBQ ribs! I love, love, love BBQ! Jordan made a salad with an amazing buttermilk dressing. Recipe to come soon!

We visited with old friends and caught up and made summer plans.

Now we’re back home in San Francisco for a while and there’s plenty of cooking to be done. We’re hungry and hope you are too!

-Emily

our garden

Posted on May 20, 2011

Guess what my friends? We now have a garden! Where do we have this garden, you may ask, since we live in a tiny apartment on the 6th floor in a neighborhood where the planter outside of our building which would normally house vegetation instead houses a cinderblock and muddy ooze. Well, our garden resides in our 5 square feet of fire escape. It is perfect and adorable and probably taking up an unsafe amount of room on said fire escape, but emergency-smergecy, I need fresh herbs!

Now let me brag  …

I have an amazing boyfriend.

1. When I decide that in my new herb garden I need upwards of 10 varieties of herbs, and when I decide I also need a lemon tree, he sighs and then smiles back at my eager face. I interpret that smile as his blessing to move forward with this (crazy) plan.

2. He hauls two huge bags of planting mix and a tree up to our apartment. I carry the seedlings … maybe. He might have also carried those.

3. When I decide that I am too chicken to stand six floors up on our slatted fire escape to plant our garden, he stands on the fire escape and plants those sweet little seedlings as the fog rolls in.

4. He tolerates me as I, reading from the manual that came with the planter box, yell silly step-by-step instructions out the window, and humors me as I change the herb layout half way through the planting process.

5. He takes all the post-planting detritus down to the basement trash cans, while I admire my newly planted cuties.

6. He says that the herb markers that I purchased from Etsy are cute, which is just what I want to hear, even though he probably thinks they are quite silly and unnecessary.

Look at those herbs! By golly, isn’t Jordan a garden-planting stud!  And now we’ll have fresh herbs all the time! And right out our kitchen window! Even Willow is excited about them.

I am so lucky.  I love our new garden and I love that boy.

-Emily

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