Sunday, June 28, 2020

Quarantine Kitchen

In my last food related post I promised that there will be a part 2 to the food that we ate during the shelter-in-place. This is more of a look back now since the county has re-opened and it seems that people are getting out more. Restaurants are open for dine-in - most of them using patio space and dining outside which here in Northern California is a no-brainer, really. But I do wonder whether is has been such a smart idea to open up while still being in the middle of a pandemic. Ignoring it doesn't make it go away. No surprise that the number of newly infected cases is going up almost everywhere in the country.

But - back to food. Very often I cook without any recipe, like the dish in the photo on top. Seafood mix, red bell pepper, edamame and chow mein noodles all thrown in a wok with some good spices make a satisfying dinner. My secret ingredient for this is sesame oil, and apart from that any food you can find in your kitchen. Just use your imagination and experiment with different spices.

One of our favorite dishes from Italy is pesto. I don't make my own pesto since I found a wonderful pesto from Italy that always reminds me of Tuscany and the wonderful time we had there. Of course it's accompanied by a glass of California red wine.

When we had pesto we usually have some spaghetti left over that easily makes another meal. Again, I just use what I have - spinach and Bavarian bratwurst, broccoli and Bavarian bratwurst, eggplant and pancetta. There is no limit to your imagination.

Or you can make fritata with a salad on the side. Just make sure not to burn it like I did!

We do love that Bavarian bratwurst. I find this one at Trader Joe's, it comes right from Munich and is a true German bratwurst. We eat it with a broccoli-cauliflower gratin on the side and sometimes I eat it as a curry wurst just like in Germany.

Trader Joe's Instagram page also inspired me to try some of their ideas, like the "sweet balls of fire" - meatballs cooked in a sauce made from their sweet chili sauce and raspberry jam - so good! Even better with focaccia - this was my second try and it already was a big improvement from my first one.

I do love to cook seafood, so I made puff pastry shells with shrimp and a creamy sauce with cremini mushrooms, zucchini and red bell pepper (my own creation) as well as a lovely lemon baked cod (I found the recipe on Pinterest here). I'm always happy when I find a fish recipe that everybody likes and doesn't amount to a ton of work.

Have you heard of Shakshuka eggs? While it is a breakfast dish I made it for dinner once, first time I tried it because I wanted to bring a Middle Eastern dish to the table. While it wasn't a favorite, it was certainly very flavorful and delicious.

Let's not forget about desserts. While usually we just have a piece of chocolate to round out our dinner I sometimes make the effort to make a special dessert like Tiramisu which has been a favorite since I brought the recipe from Italy 25 years ago or so. Here is the recipe.

In our paper (or the New York Times, I can't remember) I found a recipe for a crumb cake that sounded easy enough. It doesn't look like much, but the taste was okay. I think I would like to add some fresh fruit on the side - strawberries or peaches - and some whipped cream.

And just to make this pandemic time a bit easier to endure, a good drink is never wasted - be it a maitai on a Sunday afternoon, white wine with the fish or a traditional German Erdbeerbowle.

Now go in the kitchen and make something beautiful!

Monday, June 15, 2020

Enough Is Enough

Lafayette Square, Washington DC

The past few weeks have left me speechless. I didn't succeed in finding the words to express my horror, my rage, and my sadness in the aftermath of the senseless killing of yet another black man.

So I listened. Being a white person in the US comes with a lot of privileges. Of many I have always known, but there are many I haven't been aware of. Most I didn't even think about twice. Things I've always taken for granted - like I surely didn't expect to die when I was pulled over several years ago because I didn't stick to the speed limit on the "loneliest highway in America".

One of the stories I recently read: After attending a conference a 51-year old black man was on his way back to Sacramento, driving along the interstate when his car was pulled over by the California Highway Patrol. Instinctively, he put his hands on the dashboard and felt his heart racing in his chest. He had taught his children to immediately put their hands on the dashboard when pulled over so that police officers could see that they weren't armed. It is important to mention that the black man was in the passenger seat. The car was driven by a white, plain-clothed law enforcement officer.

The black man was Tony Thurmond, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Let that sink in for a moment.

A respected, elected black state official still reacts with fear and caution when confronted with law enforcement in a seemingly harmless situation. So how does a 17-year old black teenager feel, a 24-year old black man, a 43-year old black father? What do the mothers, wives and children of these men feel and fear on a daily basis?

I chose not to watch the video of George Floyd's violent killing. But in a podcast I heard his last words, his pleading with the police officer who was kneeling on his neck (with his hands in his pockets!). They haunt me. How much more do they affect the black community - anybody, really, who has a heart?

No, I didn't join the protests, but I applaud and support everybody who get out and let their voices be heard (I'm not talking about the rioters and looters). It's our constitutional right to assemble peacefully. That's why the violent break-up of a peaceful protest in Washington's Lafayette Square enrages me so much.

A lot is at stake in our country.

I may not find the words right now, but I will not be silent.