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Sunday, November 30, 2014

5 Reasons Palouse Folk are Awesome

I haven't posted in a little while, and it's not just because I'm not cooking. I'm kind of lulling in creation of any kind. 

Sometimes it's just hard living a place that you know you'll never feel at home. It's a bummer thinking about how I've partly adjusted here and how I won't be able to just jump back in when I do get home to NYC. 

I had a phone conversation recently with a start-up manager that brainstormed as she spoke. I couldn't keep up with the flow of conversation and could sense her frustration with me. I realized then that I was losing skills while semi-adapting to this slow Palouse lifestyle I never wanted a adapt to. All in all, I'm turning into Elf: I don't fit in in the city and I don't belong in the North Pole!



So in an effort to stop moping around and to focus on the positive, here's a list of five qualities that Palouse people possess that New Yorkers (and New Englanders) will probably never adapt:


  1. They are courteous drivers -- It's true! If they see a car coming, they will never pull out in front of them. In fact, they will probably wait much too long to pull out onto a main road because there is usually a car coming at SOME distance. I can't decide if they are just bad judges of time and space, but let's go with super courteous, shall we?
  2. They are polite phone people -- When I answer the phone at work, the person on the other line addresses me BY NAME! And this line of work involves answering the phone to people who are not always in the best mindset. But you know what? They greet me by name. Almost every single last one of them. Even the kids. 
  3. They are community-focused -- It would be strange if they weren't. I don't even know that many people and can't go to the grocery store, out to dinner, out shopping, nothing, without running into people. I can't stand it because I'm usually telling a story that I don't want that person to hear. Or I am wearing the same thing I wore yesterday and now someone knows it. People who live here thrive on seeing others out and about. I think it gives them a notion of safety when you're living in a town surrounded for miles on all sides by wheat fields. 
  4. They want what's best for the kids -- I've noticed that a lot of kids out here are special needs. I think the schools here are really good and have special areas of focus for special needs. I met a special needs teacher at a party once and could tell how much she truly cared for her kiddos. The parents need a strong support group, and they find one simply embedded in this community. It's very different from hipsters who have kids and focus too much energy and buying that perfect jaunty hat for their little wiggle worm at approximately 250% markup.
  5. They are troopers -- They need to go to Seattle for the weekend? No big deal; 5.5 hours in the car is nothing. It's starting to snow? No biggie, they got their snow tires on weeks ago. Their kid has a game after school 2 hours away? They'll just pick up a pre-made dinner at the grocery store and hit the road. Often times I wonder "Why? Why put yourselves through all this?" But to them, leaving has never been an option. I have never met anyone who lives here (that isn't a student) that does not have an exit plan. They love it here.
I just wish I loved it here, too.

But for now, I'm going to try and learn from them. Accept what I like. Take it with me. And who knows, maybe New Yorkers will start greeting callers by name and hesitating before cutting people off. I think I'd enjoy a nice taxi ride where I'm not fumbling for the seatbelt halfway through the fare.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Taco Sundays

Warm tortilla. Slow simmered meat. Sharp cheddar or tangy queso fresco. What's not to love about a taco?

Back in Brooklyn there were so many taco shops and food trucks to hit that very specific craving. My personal favorite was the Endless Summer truck that was parked out on Bedford Ave. What a sad day when I learned that summer is, in fact, a mere mortal season. I miss the intention of bringing home a few pork tacos but eating them along the way back to Greenpoint instead. 

Needless to say there is no taco truck here in Pullman. They say Mexican is fantastic out on the west coast, but I guess we are too inland to benefit from that. Lucky for me, they're easy to make. 

I'm sort of obsessed with America's Test Kitchen's 6 Ingredient Recipes magazine I grabbed off the racks recently. So many great and easy dinners that balance flavors intricately for a handful of ingredients. They have two pretty amazing recipes that rival those Brooklyn street taco favorites: one steak and one pork, like I used to get when I ordered a la carte. I adapted them a little to fit my tastes. Enjoy!



Spicy Chipotle Steak Tacos

I have to admit I'm super impressed with how good these incredibly simple-sounding tacos came out. It's all in that chile-in-adobo-sauce stuff. You use it as a marinade and that's it! Deeply flavored steak from a 1-ingredient marinade. Color me impressed.  


Ingredients:

1 can chipotle chile in adobo sauce
1 (1 lb) flank steak
1 red onion
Guacamole (avocados, cilantro, red onion, lime juice, salt)
Tortillas

Instructions:

Blend chiles with salt and pepper in a food processor. Put in a plastic bag with steak and marinade for about a half hour. 

Meanwhile, make a guacamole (I like 4 avocados + handful of cilantro + good splash of lime juice + about 1/4 a red onion).

Broil steak on an aluminum foil-lined pan, about 10 minutes each side. The recipe says to broil the onions with the steak, but I found that mine got too crispy that way. I would sweat them on the stovetop instead. 

Let the steak rest before slicing against the grain. Fill warmed tortillas with steak, top with onions and guacamole. 





Spicy Pork Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

The awesome cheat with this one is kind of like the canned chipotles, only it's two canned ingredients -- pineapple and diced tomato with chiles. Granted, the recipe calls for fresh pineapple, but I went the easy route. I also found a way to use the food processor twice to quicken the prep time. And they thought I would just do all that chopping willingly. Ha!


Ingredients: 

1 can pineapple chunks
1/2 small red onion, divided
Fresh cilantro
1 10-oz can Ro-tel Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies
1lb ground pork
Tortillas

Instructions:

Drain juice out of pineapple and pour about half into the food processor with 1/4 onion and about 5 stems of cilantro. Add salt and pepper to taste. Put salsa aside.

Pour tomatoes with their juice and the rest of the pineapple into the food processor and blend until smooth. Cook pork with the remaining 1/4 onion until no longer pink. Stir in tomato mixture and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

While pork simmers, make the guac. You can't have this without guacamole.

Scoop pork into taco shells and top with pineapple salsa and guac. You can add cheese if you like, but I think the sweet-spicy pineapple flavors work better without. 



Also I like to use Fritos scoops for taking care of the rest of that guacamole before it gets brown and unusable and who likes to waste food, right?*


*I am clearly no longer on my wedding diet

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Kale & Tomato Baked Eggs

A few nights ago there was a knock at my door. It was my neighbor, of course, with a bag of fresh kale for me, naturally. "Had to harvest it all before the frost tomorrow," she says. 

And it was a good thing, too, because Veteran's Day I woke up and could sense that chill outside. I checked my phone: it was under 20 degrees! I lounged in bed for a few minutes before my breakfast plans roused me: kale, sauteed in butter, simmered in tomato sauce, baked with eggs. 

I've never actually baked my own eggs, but I loved getting those individual cast iron pots of warmth on chilly Saturday mornings in New York. Five Points on Great Jones Street, the old Paloma in Greenpoint (before it was Paulie Gees and who knows if that's even still there), Juliette in Williamsburg. This was basically the reason I registered for these little cast iron beauties for our wedding, and I hadn't even used it for this purpose yet!

I checked a few recipes before I just invented my own and flew with it. Honestly though, I bet you can use whatever veggies and sauces you want. Maybe a garlic cream next time for me. Enjoy!



Cast Iron Kale & Tomato Baked Eggs

Ingredients:

1 Handful of Kale
1 TBS butter
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 can tomato sauce
Salt & pepper to taste
3 eggs
Parmesan
Mozzarella
Parsley

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350. Put a small cast iron pan over medium heat. Sautee kale in butter. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add tomato sauce, salt and pepper and cook until warm and bubbling. Crack eggs into a cup one at a time, and slip into divets made in the sauce. Sprinkle with fresh mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Bake for about 15 minutes. Top with parsley and serve.