Matters of the Heart & Home – Cooking up thoughts

Dear Katherine,

Oh how I’ve missed thee! And apologies for the silent spree! I’m a bit slow, ya know.

On the posts I’ve been slacking, but have been thoroughly hacking the thoughts part of my brain – and I’m severely NOT lacking in the snacking, whilst grappling with information that’s packing into my mind like the lyrics LL Cool (whip) J is rapping and tapping the pen to the table and everybody should be clapping at the words that i’m snapping. Ya feel me? **mic drop**

Anywho, all raps n’ rhymes aside… I’ve been thinking about food lately. I mean, like, really thinking about the different types of foods and how it affects us and society as a whole. Some people view it as mere sustenance, and others have an emotional relationship with it. I know we’re part of the latter, but even amongst “foodies” or those who truly love to eat good foods, we are separated. There are better names than “foodies” but “food lover” and “food snobs” just didn’t catch on, you know lol. All those indifferent foodies who don’t care to be labeled as “foodies” per se are just lying to themselves. Well, I did a bit of searching and this is what I found. Let me attempt to explain.

What is a foodie? Almost everyone knows a foodie; that person who loves food and has a stronger than average interest/desire in food/drinks. Someone who is a foodie seeks new food experiences as a hobby rather than simply eating out of convenience or hunger. According to etymologist Barry Popik, former New York magazine food critic Gael Greene appears to have first coined the term “foodie” and used it in print first in a story on June 2, 1980, and then used “foodie” several times in 1982 and 1983. This was interesting to me, mostly because the term seems to have blown up the past five years and in recent times, everyone is somewhat of a “foodie” in one way or another in something, but the term “foodie” is viewed sometimes negatively. Anyway, I dug deeper to find that those who enjoy finer high-end cuisine, specifically are called gastronomes, gourmet or an epicure. This is interesting because then they’re separated from the common (trendy) foodie. A gourmand is someone who enjoys eating, but it implies that they eat too much. I think most “foodies” or people who appreciate and enjoy eating food can suffer from gluttony and become a gourmand, but it’s just a matter of attempting to practice restraint and discipline. I would say I’m a mix between an epicure and a foodie/gourmet… I’ve also heard the word “culinarian” thrown around here and there, but hardly anyone uses the term. I don’t think it’s caught on. I suppose we could start calling ourselves culinarians? A culinarian is someone who is seriously interested in food/cooking. It’s not as trendy of a word as “foodie” and it isn’t as elaborate as “epicure” or “gourmand” but it gets the point across. A “culinarian” knows their stuff in and out of the kitchen (recipes, ingredients, taste, etc.) in that anti-trendy way so there’s that. If we want to label ourselves into society, we may as well be classy about it, eh? What do you think, my fellow Culinarian? Eh, yay or nay?

So now that we know some terms, back to my thoughts! We recognize that everyone has to eat to live, but now, it isn’t about survival anymore; it’s either about abundance and aesthetics or simplicity with aesthetics (in everything). Nowadays, even in the realm of food (especially in the food world) everything has to at least appear aesthetically pleasing – or else, what’s the point? Would we still want to eat something that looks ugly, but smells and tastes delicious? Yes, but it would taste better than it looks and smell-a-vision hasn’t been invented yet, so until then… aesthetics it is. We all know that there’s the high end of cuisine, then the average, every day food that’s still delicious, and then there’s the cheap stuff, the food stuff that’s still delicious and then there’s just straight up junk food that’s good and greasy, but makes you feel alive and dead all at the same time – it’s wonderful in the consumption portion of it and terrible in the aftermath. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m torn between my need for all of the greasy and deliciously seductive foods that are so high in both sodium, oils and fats (and calories) and my need for really good food – food that’s both healthy for my heart and hips and still tasty to my tastebuds. I’m constantly, consistently salivating (me=obliterated) over these food flicks on the Instantgram and have trouble deciding whether it’s that I’m obsessed with the plating, food content, ingredients, texture, colors or just the overall idea of how tantalizing all these dishes/meals/foods look online. Needless to say, I’m a mess of ooey gooey melted cheese on a plate. This is just the beginning of it.

I swear I have a point in all of this, but it’s not all black and white. My point is, I’m right there with you when it comes to cuisine and cooking… but despite differences in taste, a classic is still a classic because it remains a tried and true dish time and time again. It’s timeless. I want to delve into the recipe and cookbooks I’ve been reading, but I think I’ll save that for another post. For now, I’ll leave you with some dishes I’ve been whipping up lately. I’ve added quick recipe below and I’ll address more on the cookbooks I’ve been reading as of late – there are two – one of them has to do with packing as much nutrition into your meals, without sacrificing flavor – I like how straightforward and real it is, but I wish it had more details into different dishes to make (more on this, another day) and the other has some solid recipes in the no-nonsense method. I think I like that approach. Ingredients, directions, and descriptions. That’s how I like it. Because that way, it states what you need, how you need to do it, and what it’s supposed to look/taste/smell like; and that’s pretty much all I want to know. Short, sweet and simple. I guess what’s lacking is the personable part you mention in your cookbooks, but I figure I’ll be the judge of the dish and see if it speaks to me. I would like that story behind the dish though. It’s always nice to know where the origins of a culinary concoction came from… 🙂


Anyway, here’s a chicken I roasted at home.

  1. First, I cannot stress enough the importance of preheating an oven! It’s so important so the heat is evenly distributed etc. Anyway, PREHEAT the oven to 350 degrees F [or to 450 degrees F to preheat, then lower it back to 350 F – it cooks the chicken and burns the skin nicely].
  2. Place the chicken in a roasting pan, and season generously inside and out with salt and pepper. I seasoned it with garlic salt & pepper & some herbs mixed seasoning and threw it in the oven. I covered it in foil (so as to keep the juices inside) and the meat was so tender and flavorful. Sprinkle inside and out with onion powder too – throw on some fresh rosemary if you have some, it will be nice and fragrant if you like.
  3. Bake it uncovered about an hour and or so in the preheated oven, check to a minimum internal temperature of 180 degrees F and then add some chicken stock and cover it again in foil for 30min or so. Check and slice the chicken – I always test to make sure that it’s nicely cooked.
  4. When you bake it to perfection, there’s really not much else you need to eat with it other than some spinach or rice… you could even add some mashed potatoes or steamed veggies like carrots or broccoli. The possibilities are endless, but I literally just threw it over a bed of fresh spinach. Enjoy the photos. 

half chicken seasoned spinachhalf chicken seasonedchicken savory leg spinach

I was happy with this dish. It was a simple chicken (it provided protein) and I cooked it myself **beams proudly** so it was healthy, but it still had the tasty skin which I loved because it was still fatty/greasy, yet a bit crispy so I could eat it with the tender fleshy meat of the chicken and it paired perfectly. It wasn’t dry, it was juicy thanks to the chicken stock juice and foil covering! Remember to cover in foil as it keeps the juices in.

I cooked up a couple of other things, but I’ll share those with you another day.

Here’s a teaser mosaic of just some of the dishes (spinach ravioli with ricotta cheese and yellow carrots, breaded pork chops – with secret two-part outer crusted covered coating and steamed veggies; and baked mackerel, which isn’t particularly my favorite fish, but it was one Asian dish my parents have been eating for ages, and it’s super healthy, so I did it and it wasn’t half bad) I suppose you could eat rice with all three of these dishes too:


I’m still grappling with the question you posed about if there are any recipes, techniques, cookbooks or just piles of recipes crammed in a binder that I bake up inspiration from? I do have some recipes I put together in middle school (I was around 12-13-years old then). I took a home-economics class and we did a lot of cooking and baking. I loved it so much, but I have some hilarious stories I’ll have to share another day.

I hope we can try and share/swap recipes here! It would be fun to cook our favorite dishes and I’m excited to explore new tasty foods!

Until next time, my fellow culinarian,

Anne

 

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