I just found out about Chicago’s Ribfest on June 12-14th. I will most definitely be going to this. Not only do they have 65,000 pounds of meat (!!!), they have a lot of bands, including Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin (from Springfield, MO), who I know personally (yeah, I dropped that). Their music is delightful. The other band I recognized was the very talented and original Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s (a Chicago band).
More and more, I find myself needing to cook. Not because I want to eat but because I just feel like chopping and mixing. Getting a perfect dice on an onion? Rapidly slicing celery? Whisking a vinaigrette? Grinding spices? These are all therapeutic activities for me. And it just doesn’t feel right anymore to go too long without doing them.
Which is probably why at about midnight after going to dinner with my family — and less than seven hours until I needed to wake up for a marathon day of graduation ceremonies — I ended up inventing this salsa.
I wanted to make sure everything would be ready for our graduation BBQ the next day, and I just felt compelled to start chopping. I started by dicing jalapeno peppers, followed by two bell peppers and some red onion I had in my fridge. I added lime juice, olive oil, salt and cilantro. I thought I could add tomato when I got some the next day. But when I looked at it, the yellow bell pepper reminded me of mango, and I wanted the salsa to be sweet.
Well, I found a can of peaches in the pantry, cut those up, and tossed them in. A little more lime juice, a squeeze of fresh orange. Hey, this is actually really good.
It sat overnight, and then it made its debut at the BBQ. We dipped chips in it and served it on burgers. The leftovers lasted several days in the fridge. Bell pepper is nice because it keeps its crunch for a while. And what I think is fun about this salsa is that the peaches and yellow bell pepper look similar, as do the jalapenos and green pepper, so you kind of never know what you’re going to get.
I wasn’t too picky of an eater as a kid, but I did have an aversion to onions, green bell pepper, tomato, beets and a few other things that I have since grown to love. There are some foods, though, that no matter how hard I try, I simply cannot stand the taste of. Olives, grapefruit, capers and mole, for instance, are listed on our About Us page as things I do not like. Chef Mike Odette gave me a hard time about this. He said being a chef and hating certain foods was like being a painter and not liking red.
I wanted to figure out why I didn’t like the foods I didn’t like (coffee, most things that are pickled, certain salad greens like radicchio, mustard and others). Earlier this year I realized that all these things are generally considered bitter. But there had to be something that made them extra intolerable to me.
So I did some internet research and checked out four books at the library about taste. I soon learned that there was a scientific reason that certain foods made my taste buds tingle in unhappy ways.
I used to have a pile of more than a dozen cookbooks near my bed. Most were library books, some were Michael’s, one was chef Mike Odette‘s. When the semester ended it was time to return them all. I was left with two books of my own:
“Alone” is a compilation of personal essays on solitary cooking and eating. I love creative non-fiction, and this book was filled with touching stories, witty writing and very different perspectives on how people deal with food when they’re by themselves. (I’ll write more about the book in another post, but I recommend it highly.)
Brownies is a recipe book Michael got me. I imagine that with him gone, I’ll be wanting to make that comfort food a lot more often.
Here’s a brownie recipe I made while he was still in town — cherry almond brownies. And check out more of what we’re reading here.
I was in Barnes and Noble the other day with some friends, and man do they have lots of magazines. As I was reading through the Esquires Big Black Book (an essential guide to being a man), I noticed a nicely printed smaller magazine with the word “meat” popping out. Tell me more, I thought.
I picked it up and lo and behold, in my hands was a magazine about meat culture. The name was a little weird, but meatpaper was beautiful. Images of pork and beef and hunks and slices and charcuterie and oh man. It was like eight dollars so I passed on purchase for the moment, but when I have a job, and money, I’m gonna look you up meatpaper.