We failed to check the weather forecast when JMM decided to have an all-day picnic in the park for his birthday. (The invite email went so far as to describe the coming weekend as “beautiful.”) Instead we blithely obtained a vintage tablecloth with blue lemons (!) all over it and baked saffron snickerdoodles (with no vanilla because come on, why would you want to lessen saffron’s impact), chickpea peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, and whole wheat bread for all-day snacking.
When we woke up to rain, it was no big deal: the picnic just moved indoors. Growlers, beer bottles, and the big pitcher of cold-brew shincha tea went into a big metal bucket filled with ice; the wicker chest I keep sweaters in served as a stand for JMM’s childhood boombox as we listened to weird radio stations; the farmers’ market greens, radishes, cucumbers, and mint that JMM ran out to buy in the morning were a hit dipped into deliciously from-a-bottle ranch dressing; and everyone brought something great to share: champagne, a fancy summer punch from P, charcuterie from K, strawberry-kiwi-ginger (!) jam from T, and more.
Even though we couldn’t play dodgeball inside with the blue ball we bought, everyone ended up quietly bouncing it around at some point. After many hours of slowly snacking and drinking (and, because JMM had no cake, making him blow out a candle stuck into a saffron cookie and then later into a mustard leaf), we went outside to play foursquare on the sidewalk and practice jumping rope. What a party.
A fast lunch to keep us from getting derailed from our respective Saturday todo lists: polenta (luxuriously cooked with milk because we had some around) topped with a fried egg and with half an avocado on the side.
May 18, 2013, 2:16pm
A meal to use up a bunch of farmers’ market produce that started ambitiously and ended up kind of goofy: rice paper rolls with mature spinach leaves (so much better-tasting than flavorless baby spinach!), sauteed asparagus, and poached shrimp with a dipping sauce of peanut butter thinned with lime juice and hot water, and a salad inspired by Roots with thinly-sliced radishes, radish greens, spinach stems, and boiled baby potatoes tossed with sour cream and more lime juice.
May 17, 2013, 10:15pm
Home late from a screening of Badlands to a dinner of avocado on this bread topped with balsamic and Manchego, plus these chickpea-peanut butter-honey-olive oil-chocolate cookies (!!!) that were so good they didn’t even need the chocolate part.
May 14, 2013, 11:29pm
A kind of spring vegetable paella — I sauteed ramp whites and leeks in the shallot oil from the other night, added the ramp greens, gnarly baby carrots, quartered radishes, arborio rice, and water, and topped it all with asparagus, radish tops, and a sprinkle of saffron before letting it simmer away. (Everything but the leeks I bought at the greenmarket with M this weekend. Also the vegetables were a litttttle overcooked — next time I would add them all in only when the rice was halfway done.) We served it with the rest of the crispy shallots and a little bit of Campari over ice, and suddenly it was hard to remember that it had ever been cold outside.
May 13, 2013, 9:54pm
I went so far as to email JMM to suggest that we have more of the so-so dumplings for just a quick dinner, but changed my mind when I got home in favor of the fancier, more time-consuming dream meal we’d been emailing about in a separate thread — what did we have to lose but an extra hour spent hungry and one fewer hour spent wasting time on the internet after we ate?
The meal was so, so worth it, prep and all: dan dan mien again (I used, uh, elbow macaroni instead of Chinese wheat noodles and peanut butter instead of tahini, but it was totally amazing regardless and looked hilariously like a Sichuan version of hamburger helper), a double recipe of this mind-blowing cilantro salad with red bell pepper, peanuts, sesame seeds, and homemade fried shallots (!!) — I didn’t realize how little vegetable oil I had left, but frying the cup of shallots in a half-cup or so of oil was fine — with a dressing made of soy sauce, a pinch of sugar, and a couple of spoonfuls of the intense shallot frying oil.
Dessert was this basil-lemon jello — it tasted like summer and now I just have to figure out how to merge this with rosé jello — heavily modified because whyyyy would you ever heat lemon juice and also it’s way better just barely sweet and also sheesh, why don’t you get some more dishes dirty while you’re at it. (My version: simmer 1 1/2 cups water and a scant 1/2 cup sugar in a saucepan til it starts to bubble around the edges, add a big handful of ripped-up basil, cover, and let it steep for a while. Meanwhile, juice 4-ish lemons and 1 orange through a fine-meshed strainer set over a big measuring cup to get about 1 1/4 cups of juice. Pluck the basil out of the saucepan, sprinkle a packet of unflavored gelatin over the syrup, and let it soften for a couple of minutes, then heat it gently, stirring, until the gelatin dissolves. Stir the juice and syrup together, pour into serving dishes, and chill until set.)
May 9, 2013, 10:14pm
Some nice black sludge for dinner: sauteed broccoli with olive oil, anchovies, onion powder, and cayenne mixed into black rice halfway through cooking and served with hot sauce and kombucha.
I’m here to tell you that these potstickers are not the greatest potstickers of all time.
Got home from my first day of work to make a quick curry thing over basmati rice with the panang curry paste left from testing this lasagna for TMN, plus ginger, garlic, fish sauce, sweet potatoes, and some asparagus thrown in just at the end to keep it a little crunchy.
May 6, 2013, 8:22pm
After devouring an enormous bowl the afternoon we made it (“Let’s save it for after dinner but have just a bite now,” we lied to ourselves), the rest went into a 28-oz Weck jar to keep in the fridge. After that, none of the pudding ended up in any kind of serving dish — we’d just stand over the counter eating straight out of the jar with our spoons. Three or so “servings” later, it’s all gone.