farm brunch: by J

FarmLunchOne of the sweetest brunches I’ve had in a long time.

This Saturday my friend P made us brunch at the Farm he’s been interning at, freshly picked produce prepared by him, with earthy french toast topped with a homemade blackberry syrup-jam, and locally produced chicken sausages. We ate on a picnic table outside, with the smell of tomato plants on our hands from picking sungolds just before eating.

xo J

Little City Gardens: by J

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I spent another beautiful night at Little City Gardens. It’s one of the sweetest spots to see what can be done to produce food in a city.

They’ve upped their flower growing and stepped back from the vegetable CSA this year to balance the labor.

More urban farm than garden, I never cease to love this space.

xo J

dumplings: by J

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I’m a lover of dumplings. Sometimes I keep frozen bags of pre made dumplings in my freezer, because sometimes you just really need a big plate of dumplings. That being said I always feel a little guilty about the quality. So once in awhile, I’ll make a batch of homemade and freeze the rest for those dumplings moments.

I didn’t make the wrappers but the Nijiya market close to my house had organic wrappers I felt good about. I kind of used a recipe sort of.

Basically, I finely chopped a small napa cabbage sprinkled some salt on it, and let it sit for about 20 minutes before pressing the water out, I added that to about a pound of ground pork, with a clove of chopped garlic, a few splashes of soy sauce and rice wine vinegar, a pinch of sugar, and a touch of sesame oil.

I always microwave a tiny bit of filling for about 20 seconds to taste it for seasoning, I do this with meatballs too, although a few minutes in a fry pan would work as well.

This is a basic recipe and would be great with ground turkey for a leaner dumpling, or a mix of both, and you could add in chopped cilantro, chives or water chestnuts.

I pan fry these on medium with oil until brown then add a couple of tablespoons of water and cover with a lid and continue to cook for 5-7 minutes, or until you hear the pan is dry, and remove the lid and let them brown a few more minutes if needed.

For a dipping sauce I pour roughly equal parts quality soy sauce and rice wine vinegar into a small bowl and add a couple of drops of sesame oil, or if you like it hot, chile oil. They’re also great with the dipping sauce and chopped scallions and toasted sesame seeds.

To freeze place them not touching on a baking sheet and place in the freezer, no need to cover, for 20 minutes, once they are frozen on the outside you can put them in a bag or airtight container and keep them for months in the freezer. No need to thaw them when cooking, just add a little more water and steam for a few extra minutes.

xo J

At about 2:30 a simple how to on dumpling folding.

Akio Nukaga and Hideki Takayama: by J

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Akio Nukaga’s throwing demonstration really inspired me this weekend.

It was remarkable to see a person who is such a master of his artform behave with such a limitless sense of humility.

It was incredible to watch him bring the clay into shape, despite being watched by a large group he was calm and seemingly effortless with the clay, answering questions and explaining his process as he went.

Afterwards we took part in his friend and master woodworker Hideki Takayama’s wooden spoon finishing class. Takayama had carved each spoon and walked us through the process of sanding and oiling them. Takayama examined each stage letting us know if we were ready to move to the next grade of sandpaper, or politely pointing out certain areas, encouraging us to trust the feel of our hands over simply our eyes.

In between sanding with the different sandpapers, the spoons were wiped down with a wet cloth, and we waited for them to dry.  We began with 180 grit, then 240, 320, 400, and finally 600 if we wanted. The wetting process removes dust and swells the wood slightly so we could clearly see rough spots, and what needed to be done further. I finished with a 600 grit sandpaper, which is very fine and gave the wood a beautiful smooth finish.

Takayama was so kind and patient with everyone, encouraging and suggesting, but never forcing his opinions, and always having us think about how the spoon would feel on our mouth, and encouraging us to use it tonight to finish its journey.

Care instructions were to simply wash it by hand with dish soap, and reoil it occasionally if it gets dry. We used walnut oil, but olive oil and grapeseed oil are also good options.

Truly a great experience with both artisans, and we got to take our spoons home with us!

xo J

 

Les Fruits & Légumes moches: by J

lesfruitsmochesI’m completely smitten with the Les Fruits & Légumes moches, roughly translated as the inglorious fruits and vegetables, campaign in France. Directly translated moche means ugly.

Typically fruits and vegetables that do not fit into molds of physical idealism are thrown out as they will not be accepted by most resellers. In France they rehabilitated these characters and sold them at 30 percent less in the supermarket, with a social media campaign and some juices and soups to highlight their being as delicious as any other fruit or vegetable.

Keep in mind we’re not talking about damaged or rotten fruit, simply those that formed outside the physical norm.

So far a huge success.

I love it.

xo J

check out the video in English here