July 2009

Would You Eat Road Kill?

It sounds like something you’d joke about your in-laws, doesn’t it? “Oh, Mike’s mom is having us all over for dinner on Sunday… she said if we see any armadillo or possum on the side of the road to bring it on over, she didn’t have time to make appetizers.”

Sure, we get a laugh out of it. But as often as we joke about Uncle Bob eating raccoon he’s scraped off a highway, do we make as many cracks about him hunting animals in the fall for the same reason? Some of us might—but essentially hunting is more socially acceptable than eating animal carcasses left on the side of the road.

Ice cream: Pacific Northwest style

Hey now, Pacific Northwest summertime! Ready for dessert? Who wants to make some ice cream so grungy that Cobain himself would have applauded its unmistakable nonchalantness- that certain something of a Seattle je ne sais quoi? Like Fennel ice cream. Like a sundae made with kirsch caramel sauce and bing cherries and hazelnuts resting upon mounds of oh-oh-so-so vanilla ice cream. Ice cream made of milk, whole and raw from the breast of a cow or goat and soy milk made from soy plants that sing Hendrix at night to the stars. This is Ice cream made with fresh Pacificnorthwestern grown mint and huckleberries with quietly humming northern souls. When you eat this ice cream- you will become filled with the soul of music inspired by gray days and gritty nights and a few short weeks of sun in the summer. Let's get Pacific northwest with this ice cream recipe.

First let's start with equipment:

1- ice cream maker

2- bowls of all sizes, stainless steel or glass

The Natural Ingenuity of Food

I love cultural anthropology. Analyzing the way widespread behaviors form is fascinating and it's not surprising that much of what we know today as "culture" initially formed as a response to needs and desires related to food. Thinking about the things we eat and, more importantly, how we prepare them leads to a baffling sense of surface-level absurdity. We go to such great lengths to make our food that it seems almost random. Of course, no innovation is meaningless. In the end, even the most elaborate food preparations stem from the same thought process: Problem and Solution.

Mallard Ice Cream, Bellingham, WA

Ice cream is not only one of the best possible summer desserts; it's one of the foods suited to eating-while-blogging, if you have a dish instead of a cone. I note that blogging while eating a cone is not recommended. Mallard Ice Cream and Cafe, on 1323 Railroad Avenue in Bellingham, Washington is a Bellingham institution

beloved by locals and exceedingly well-respected as a supplier of ice cream to local restaurants. They make all their own ice cream, right on the premises, and offer an astonishing variety of flavors. Sure, they have the standard vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and even the slightly less common varieties; you can find lemon cheesecake, coconut chocolate chunk with almonds, butter pecan, mocha, or green tea.

The Beautiful Pickle

Let's talk about pickles, one of the most ingenious culinary inventions in human history. People have been crafting a wide variety of pickled products for centuries. Just about every culture has some form of pickle, from the extensive collection of chutney varieties in India to the Eastern European pickled cucumbers that have long been favorites in the cultural mish-mash of America.

National Baked Bean Month

I’ve never been much of a fan of baked beans. I think there’s just something about them that screams Chef Boyardee to me, which is synonymous with vomit-inducing. But all I’ve ever tried are the canned beans—you know, the ones with the talking dog.

You can actually make your own baked beans, which I hear are far better than the canned varieties. You’ll need a bag of navy beans, a cup of molasses, an onion, a cup of maple syrup, 2 cups of ketchup, a teaspoon of mustard, a teaspoon each of salt and pepper, and half a package of bacon (if desired).

Pel' Meni

On night when I'd stayed up quite late writing and was suddenly ravenously hungry, I discovered Pel' Meni.

It was, in fact, very late—after midnight, and there really wasn't much open. I noticed a little narrow, hole-in-the-wall sort of place with a line of people trailing outside the restaurant. By about 10 PM, Pel' Meni is doing a brisk business and it continues to do a brisk business with the after drinks and late-night-starving-students-writing-a-paper until about 2 or 3 AM. After an enthusiastic endorsement by people in line, I decided to try my luck. Inside I found a scattering of tables, and a curved counter, beyond which were two large steaming vats of boiling water. Off to the side was a refrigerated case of bottled soda and water, and the line moved very briskly because Pel' Meni only serves one thing: Dumplings, in either potato or beef.