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Jul 16

my first new friend in sf

I have been living in California for almost exactly one month now and I just met my first friend. My new boss, sir Josey Baker, introduced me to her yesterday afternoon and I am so excited to introduce you all to her today. She is unobtrusive, polite, cooperative, and pungent, like a good friend ought to be. Ladies and gentleman, my newest pal is some San Francisco sourdough starter:

I am unsure of a fitting name for her as of right now, but you can rest assured she will have one soon (it would be much easier for everyone if she would just introduce herself already but I guess she is shy). In case you don’t know about sourdough starters, my shy, nameless little blob of goo needs to be fed every day. What does she eat you ask? Well, she has quite possibly the cheapest diet of any of my friends which consists of equal parts (by volume) of flour and water, a cheap—albeit sticky— date indeed. A ripe and well-fed starter can be used in a plethora of baking adventures (bakeventures?) to make tasty things like this no-knead sourdough loaf, this kouign amann (instead of the yeast, silly!), and these sourdough sticky buns. But, before you can do any of that, you must master the feeding part first.

As per Josey’s recommendations, he suggested I compost most of her, save about 1 tablespoon, and then feed her one cup of water and one cup of flour a day. So to start, I whisked 1 tablespoon of the day old starter he had given me with one cup of water. 

Then I added the one cup of flour and whisked until it was all combined and looked like pancake batter. I used some soft white wheat flour that Josey also generously donated to my bakeventures (I just decided that bakeventures is indeed a word) but you can use whole wheat or all-purpose flour.

And that is all! My new friend has been fed! I put her in a container with a lid and plan to feed her daily and leave her out at room temperature, where she will be happiest. Josey told me that if you must go out of town and don’t feel like taking a container of wheat paste with you, you can always shove her in the fridge for a few days and she should be fine until her next feeding. Also, if you don’t have a new boss to introduce you to some stinky sourdough starter, here is a good resource to get started making your own from scratch. 

So there she is, in all her yeasty glory, my new pal and the gateway to all things San Francisco sourdough. 


Jun 29

i may not have my own kitchen yet,

but at least I have this:

My brand new, 4.5 quart, flame orange Le Creuset Dutch oven arrived today and it sure is pretty. And the best part about it is that it only cost me $80 (normally they are $240). I had inherited a blue version of this pot somewhere in my many moves during college and although it was in fact a Le Creuset, it had been damaged at some point in its long life and the black enamel coating was flaking off. Even thought it was dysfunctional and contaminated anything I tried to cook in it, I couldn’t bear to part with it. I also knew that because I wasn’t the original owner of the pot, I wouldn’t qualify for their lifetime warranty. During this last move, instead of packing it up just so it could sit in a cupboard and taunt me for a few more years, I decided I finally needed to figure out what could be done with it. I emailed Le Creuset a few pictures along with my sob story and hoped for the best. I thought maybe they could refurbish it, or re-finish it, or at the very least lay it to rest with its fellow cast iron companions in some some Dutch oven graveyard. Thankfully, Mernice at the Le Creuset headquarters in Early Branch, South Carolina got back to me and simply requested that I send her the old, damaged oven along with a check for $80 and I could have a brand new one. BRAND NEW! So that was that and now I have a perfectly pristine new toy to play with in my kitchen. Now, if I only had a kitchen…


Jun 22

somethings never change—err, get thrown away

So we made it. We left Seattle and are currently residing at my Dad’s house in California. Getting down here was a long and stressful journey—and is far from over seeing as how we still don’t have a place to live in San Francisco yet—but after tasting the white corn, tomatoes, and stone fruit here, I might not be able to live anywhere else. California is a fruit and veggie lovers paradise and I am in constant disbelief that all this tasty stuff grows here practically ALL THE TIME. Anyway, between bouts of fresh produce hoarding and summer freckle accumulating, I have been attempting to cook once and a while in my Dad’s kitchen. Now, I will have you know that my Dad’s kitchen just so happens to be the kitchen that I grew up cooking in. And, thankfully, not a lot has changed since I was a kid and the whole thing is still covered in turquoise formica with gold flecks, just as it was when I was making unrecognizable culinary masterpieces here 25 years ago. And as it turns out, that is not the only thing that has stayed the same. I have come across a few other items that have stood the test of time and are still gracing my Dad’s kitchen with their presence, just like they were 25 years ago. For example:

This Oakland A’s Relief Pitcher: 

My Dad now uses this thing to water his garden but I can remember countless afternoons trying to dissolve bricks of frozen juice concentrate in this sucker whereupon I would eventually lose patience and abandon the whole effort to go jump on the trampoline. Patience was not my forte.

This box of parchment paper:

I don’t ever remember using this but the packaging screams early 80’s so I know we are probably pretty close in age. Not only that but the box claims this stuff is “Ideal for Microwave Ovens” leading me to believe that microwaves had recently become household staples when this product was made. The box also tells me this kitchen parchment is great for cooking casseroles and meat loaves, which as we all know are two of the 1980’s favorite food groups.

This old blender:

This was the blender I would use to sneak chocolate milkshakes when nobody was home. A few scoops of vanilla ice cream, some milk, a heavy squirt of Hershey’s syrup, and a peek around the house to make sure you can’t get in trouble and you got yourself a shake!

This 1977 G.E. Microwave Guide & Cookbook:

In all my years of wasting household ingredients in futile attempts to create food, I never once used this cookbook. In fact, I don’t think anyone in this house has ever used this cookbook and I am almost positive that we never owned a G.E. microwave. Why is it still here? Maybe for the Lobster Thermidor recipe on page 158 or the Curried Beef Balls on page 56, but probably not. I am guessing just for a laugh or so my Dad can eventually sell it on eBay to a hipster when microwave cooking makes a comeback. 

This immaculately crafted giant ceramic Pillsbury Dough Boy sculpture:

I made this in high school because, clearly, I have had nothing but food (specifically baked goods) on my mind for my entire life. This was my ode to Toaster’s Strudel, pigs in a blanket, and ready-made cinnamon rolls before I knew better. I am pretty sure my teacher thought I was a weirdo for making this but if he were alive today I would like to think he would be happy to know that I am now a baker so my silly sculpture makes perfect sense. Then maybe he would’ve given me an A instead of a B.

So thanks for letting me share some memorable treasures from my Dad’s turquoise kitchen a.k.a. The Kitchen That Time Forgot. I am sure there will be plenty more where that came from so throw a pot roast in the microwave and stay tuned.


Jun 8

what i will miss eating in seattle: day five

Oh Cafe Besalu, I will miss you too. 

You are the best bakery in the Pacific Northwest and I sincerely admire you. I will miss your buttery ginger biscuits, your glistening danishes, and your absolutely perfect croissants. I will miss your savory quiches, apple turnovers, and the free homemade jam that comes with your brioche. Your laminated pastries are like none I have had before and I don’t know what I will do without them. I will miss the triumphant feeling of finally getting to the front of the line and ordering $25 worth of pastries to tide me over until the next time I venture out to north Ballard. I will miss the brief confusion that accompanies not knowing which beautiful baked goods to order or which golden brown object to sink my teeth into first. I will miss seeing your owner, James Beard Award nominee James Miller, shuffling about in the back, calmly managing his pastry brigade. Cafe Besalu, you are a civic treasure and I will miss you dearly. I hope to see you again soon. 


Jun 7

what i will miss drinking in seattle: day four

Analog Coffee, I will miss you. 

It feels like we just met, but I am afraid I have to say goodbye. I will miss your beautiful windows, your hand-built bar, and your warm wooden counters. I will miss your tasty pour-over, your perfectly pulled espresso, and your Rachel’s Ginger Beer on tap. I will miss you not only because you are the best coffee shop in the city, but also because you are run by two of the best human beings on the planet. I will really miss your owners Tim and Danny a whole bunch. I will miss your customers, your music selections, and especially your best Herkimer Coffee roaster, Elaine. I remember when you were just a little pop up shop and it has been so fun to watch you grow into a real cafe. It seems like it was just yesterday I was helping paint your walls and celebrate your opening day. I am so proud of you. You are a civic treasure and I will miss you dearly. Please don’t forget me. 


Jun 6

what i will miss eating in seattle: day three

Paseo Caribbean Roast sandwich, you complete me. 

I will miss you and all your ridiculous deliciousness. I will miss your succulent roast pork shoulder, your creamy aioli, your pungent pickled jalapeños, your sweet caramelized onions, and your weirdly warm—but still totally delicious—romaine lettuce. I will miss eagerly anticipating your arrival, how my stomach can’t help but excitedly churn and rumble with impatience. I will miss how when enjoying your sustenance in the company of others, silence abounds as it is common knowledge not to disrupt the intense satisfaction perceived from savoring you in all your splendor. I will miss waiting in the laughably long lines to order you, how your makers sometimes run out of bread, and how I somehow never have enough napkins to tidy myself up after a lunch with you. Paseo Caribbean Roast sandwich, you are a civic treasure and I will miss you dearly. I hope you have a great summer and I can’t wait to see you again. 


Jun 5

what i will miss eating in seattle: day two

I will miss you Marination Station.

You are the Hawaiian Korean taco truck turned actual restaurant of my dreams. I will miss eating lunch with you, next to a UPS store, surrounded by concrete in a weird shopping center. I will miss your aloha sliders, your kimchi quesadillas, your kalbi beef tacos, your spam musubi, and the seriously friendly vibes at the register. I will miss knowing that while I am at work you are always there for me, just a block away, should I get hungry. You are a civic treasure and I will miss you dearly. Please don’t ever change.   


Jun 4

what i will miss eating in seattle: day one

Goodbye Sichuanese Cuisine

I will miss your misspelled menu. I will miss your dusty walls. I will miss your sticky table tops, mostly clean teapots, and friendly service. I will miss your salt and pepper chicken, your green onion pancake, your hot beef chow mein, your Chinese you cai.  You are a civic treasure and I will miss you dearly. Let’s stay in touch, okay?


May 27
So, I’m packing up my kitchen today and it’s making me a little sad. Not only did I have to pack up all my dishes and silverware, rendering this space a culinary dead zone, but I will not be able to use my Le Creuset spatula, balloon whisk, or stand mixer for several weeks. My cast iron skillet will be sandwiched between dish towels and cutting boards until it has made the journey to the barren cupboards of a completely foreign kitchen. And perhaps the most depressing part of all, I have no kitchen to call home anymore. So long microplane, offset spats, and mandolin. I will see you again on the other side.

So, I’m packing up my kitchen today and it’s making me a little sad. Not only did I have to pack up all my dishes and silverware, rendering this space a culinary dead zone, but I will not be able to use my Le Creuset spatula, balloon whisk, or stand mixer for several weeks. My cast iron skillet will be sandwiched between dish towels and cutting boards until it has made the journey to the barren cupboards of a completely foreign kitchen. And perhaps the most depressing part of all, I have no kitchen to call home anymore. So long microplane, offset spats, and mandolin. I will see you again on the other side.


May 21

be coolinary cameo in witch gardens video!

I have some exciting news! A few months ago I helped my pals Bobby and Kyle make a music video for a local Seattle band Witch Gardens and it is all finished! My job was to contribute a few Hook-inspired food stuffs and a birthday cake for two separate scenes.

The video premiered on Vice today which is very exciting, but I also embedded it in this post just for you. Check it out!

Read more to see how I made food cool enough to be in a music video!

Read More