Monthly Archives: February 2014

Love Musings

I’ve always believed that if you’re truly in love with someone, you shouldn’t be able to answer the question “What do you love about him?” with any kind of real satisfaction. The things you’re able to articulate should leave you at least a little hollow. —Andrea Seigel, found via Cup of Jo

I like this. I recently met some new friends and, in the process of trying to describe Dan, found my words, as Seigel said, “a little hollow.” Funny, smart, caring—such generic words that can’t possibly encompass the glittering individuality of the person. I find that a relationship is better articulated through stories and rituals. Moments big and small, the memory of which spin warmth all the way down to your toes.

Here’s one. We went to see American Hustle in the theaters and found ourselves squished in a tiny theater with a surprising amount of people for a Monday afternoon. If you haven’t seen it, American Hustle is a funny movie, with the kind of sly (and often not-so-sly) humor that catches you unaware. But over and over again, we found ourselves bursting into laughter at the same time, in the midst of an otherwise silent theater. It wasn’t that the other movie watchers didn’t have senses of humor—they laughed plenty too—but it seemed like one of those lovely examples of the ways in which our separate personalities, worldview, and quirkiness just FIT. Laughing uncontrollably together when no one else is laughing—somehow, that seems like a good description of love.

washed clams for clam and chorizo stew

With that, a recipe! We go out for celebratory dinners, but often, I find that I’d rather make food in our own kitchen. This past week, to celebrate us (and not at all in celebration of a mass holiday ;)) we made a meal that was a little spicy, a little romantic, and very, very easy. Because when you’re celebrating, you just want to get to the wine, right?

Portuguese style clams and chorizo Chorizo and Clams serves 4, if accompanied by plentiful sides

  • 1/2 lb. chorizo
  • 2 dozen Littleneck clams, scrubbed under cold water
  • 1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup water

Heat pot to medium-high and add chorizo, breaking up the sausage as it cooks for 5 minutes. Lower heat to medium. Add your sliced onion and garlic after the chorizo begins to break apart and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add your clams and coat them with the sausage and onion from the pot. Add  wine and water and stir to combine. Cover the pot and allow the clams to steam for an additional ten minutes. Discard the clams that haven’t opened, and serve with plenty of crusty bread.

*We served our chorizo and clams with a baguette and parmesan-truffle fries. The leftovers were fantastic the next day, reenvisioned as a Portuguese-style stew.

Santa Fe Wandering

This freelance journey has already taken me to interesting places, but so far, my favorite has been my trip to New Mexico. My dear friend and I roadtripped from Texas to Santa Fe last week, where I did some photography for a wonderful client. We found our way to Ghost Ranch, which was appropriately deserted, and spent our time getting to know all the bends and coves of the narrow Santa Fe alleys. We ate Christmas chile (a combination of red and green chile that SF is known for), watched sunsets slipping under the stretching landscape, and caught up on work in a stunning hacienda with hand-painted walls. The Southwest is a magnificent place. I can’t wait to find my way back someday.

on the road to New Mexico
scenes from Ghost Ranch, including buffalo skull
cactus plant on Ghost Ranch
plateaus on Ghost Ranch
stormy clouds en route to Santa Fe

The Year of Chao

This past Friday was Vietnamese (or Chinese) New Year. I’m ashamed to say I’d almost forgotten about it. When I was young, we would go to the temple in the mornings and end the evening with firecrackers that crackled across the sky. One year shortly after college, I arrived in Saigon on New Year’s Eve. We drove to the hotel through the celebratory honking of mopeds that crisscrossed through the streets.

This year, it was just my husband and me, states away from my family who were celebrating. It was cold in Ohio, the kind of cold that makes your stomach crinkle in on itself. I imagined the rice cakes filled with bean paste, pink and green­-tinted coconut strips, crispy pork cushioned with a perfect layer of fat. I couldn’t replicate that feast, but wanted my own way to commemorate. One dish kept coming to me: dense, porridgy chao (or congee or jook), topped with a lightly caramelized egg and a sprinkle of scallions.

photo of ingredients for making chaoI’m always amazed at how such simple ingredients can produce flavors so complex. It’s not sophisticated food, and I don’t even think it’s particularly memorable in and of itself, but my bowl of chao was the reminder that I needed.

photo of bowl of chao As I lifted the first, steaming spoonful to my mouth, I got an inkling of what the next year would bring. Warm and hearty food. More visits with my family. More stories that flow in and out of the kitchen, enveloping us in the familiar notes of our past. I’m declaring it the year of chao.

Chao technique
Caramelized egg technique (I used a combination of these two methods): Shoyu Eggs and Vietnamese caramel braise