Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Jiro dreams of Sushi

I am a picky TV and movie watcher.  Not that I don't occasionally watch brain-garbage while folding laundry, but I am ecstatic when I find something that utilizes the crafts of visual and film arts to its maximum potential.

Having just completed Jiro dreams of Sushi (at 12:45am), I had to write to say that is amazing.  It's a stunning piece of art, masquerading as a documentary of Jiro Ono and his renowned sushi restaurant Sukiyabashi Jirō.  Everything about this movie is perfect-- the background music choices, the lighting, the still shots, the transitions, the interviews.  While providing a biography of Jiro Ono and story of the day-to-day operations of the restaurant, it also showcases the accomplishments and future plans of Ono's sons.

I wish there was a written transcript of this movie because the spoken word is so poetic.  Obviously the producers knew how to capture the philosophical tenor of this man, his family, and those who associate with him.

Thanks to 101Cookbooks for suggesting Jiro dreams of Sushi in last week's favorites.

Even if sushi is not your favorite, this movie is still definitely worth your time.  If you're already craving sushi, wait until you spend 80 minutes on this movie.  Netflix members, it's waiting for you in your instant queue.

For more info:

A life worth eating blog details a meal at Sukiyabashi Jirō. with copious pictures.

Monday, August 27, 2012


i love this website

will someone make this for me?
pulled pork pancakes with bourbon syrup

yes please
tomato tarte tatin 
from 101 cookbooks

award winning status will not be a surprise

funny because i remember studying this poem in school
bon appetempt:  plum kuchen

Thursday, August 23, 2012

sunflowers and honey harvest (part deux)

I have a sunflower addiction... maybe obsession is a more appropriate term.  There's something about the golden flower that mesmerizes me.  The patterns, the colors, the stature. I can't look away.

Evidence A: click here to follow the link to an album of my smugmug account.  
(password: sunflowers)
Pictures taken about a month ago.

For three years I have tried (unsuccessfully) to grow a patch of sunflowers-- with different seeds, different field prep, doing it all by myself versus having different people helping me.   My goal was to duplicate that very field pictured in the above album.  It's on Route 12, south of Clinton, Michigan.  I've flower-lusted after it so many times as I've driven down that winding road.  For so long, I've wanted a big VincentVanGogh-field full that I could get lost in.  In fact the third and final unsuccessful time, I actually left a maze of an unplanted patch leading to the center of the field, thinking that my kids could indeed get lost amongst the mass of yellow pollen-laden skyscrapers.  What can I say?  Sometimes I'm a sentimental & romantic fool.  However, the chipmunks that share my land are less sentimental.  For them it's all about the hunger.  So selfish.

This year, determined to have even a small patch, I nurtured and babied about thirty seeds. First planting them inside, under my grow lights, then moving them outside during the days when it got warm enough.  I've heard that sunflowers don't transplant well, which is why I've direct sowed in the past to no avail.  Eventually and tentatively I planted them directly into my vegetable garden. I honestly felt a little pang of worry, akin to a parent sending kids off to college.  What if I hadn't taught them everything they'd need to know in order to survive in the wild?  I had taken them this far, to about 8 inches tall, but they had stopped growing because they'd sucked all of the nutrients out of the little pots.  The only way to let them succeed was to let them go.

Now I finally get the the heart of the matter, to the relevance.  Last night as I was playing outside with the kids, underneath these beauties, (which incidentally are seeds poached from Cornman Farms) I noticed my other lovelies, the honeybees, scurrying around the golden orbs.

(turn up the volume for full effect)

It's so wonderfully magic when things of nature come full circle.  Someone once told me that nature and karma are the two most important things that we have to reckon with.  I'm not totally convinced that it's true.  But instead of lamenting that I only have 12 giant beauties, I can't help but get excited that the golden dust of these amazing flowers is feeding my buzzers. Talk about karma...

Photos below taken with my phone.  Some are better (& more artistic) than others, but they each show something a little different.  Notice the full pollen baskets on the close-ups of the bees. Glorious!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

i bought a cow

Well, not exactly.  I didn't buy a real live breathing pooping steer.  A few weeks back, I saw the live creature at the Washtenaw County 4H fair.  With the help of a persuasive friend, I split the cost of the animal, knowing that it would be sent right from the fairgrounds to the processing center.  Not only did I manage to buy locally humanely raised beef for my family,  I had the added benefit of supporting a young farmer.

And finally, after slaughter, two weeks of hanging (for aging purposes), a week of processing time (butchering it into desired cuts), a week of my vacation delay, I picked up my cow, my beef, in two whole shopping carts full of bags from Jerome Country Market.  Bags that were full of countless cryovaced packages, roasts, sirloin, t-bones, ground beef and hamburger, brisket, a heart (the size of a baseball mitt!), a tongue, & soup bones.  Now it fills a garage freezer that we've lovingly nicknamed "the Dugger".

Tonight is the first meal from the cow.  I've started with the easiest preparation.  Hamburger patties. But because I felt just a little bit guilty about that simplicity, I decided to amp up a different part of the meal. Also...at some point (around 4:30pm) I realized that it was easier to make buns than it was to drive to Busch's.

I used the recipe from The Tipsy Baker's book: Make the Bread buy the Butter.
A fantastic book, by the way... providing funny narratives about which pantry and kitchen items are worth the cost, time and stress of making versus the simplicity of purchasing.

courtesy of Jennifer Reese.
She thinks it more successful for hot dogs buns than burgers. But I had no problem at all adapting it.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Jersey Shore 2012

I find myself sitting & staring. At the Atlantic Ocean.
Lake Michigan is serene and superbly magical, as are all of her smaller tributaries.
But the ocean is... the OCEAN
Deep deep full breaths.  I'm saving enough deep breaths to call up in November and March when the grey and cold have numbed my bones and my soul. 

So many questions swirl in the vortex of my sea-water brined mind.
How many people are sitting on the shores of this very ocean right now? thousands? millions? 
What are they processing as they sit and stare? 
Do they share problems with me? 
Why do we all sit expectantly facing the consuming waves?

Sometimes things that are bigger than your little life make you stop and take deep cosmic breaths.
Make you reassess and calculate and evaluate.

My mind is full.
Lifeguards. Jogging. Jogging. Jogging.
Nauseating smell of sunscreen.
Reading Beard on food.
Ravel's Bolero -- why did my ipod select that music for me to ponder today?
A widowed father and a widowed aunt.
Missing peeps back in A2
All of the opportunities to come 
:: sitting expectantly on the metaphorical beach of life with the waves crashing in... 

But You and I do not meet here to philosophize, do we?

I travel to my homeland because of the family that still lives here. To brush up on the roots that I've left here, however thin those are. This has most certainly been a vacation from nutrition- (non-diet) Cokes and Snapples, New Jersey pizza from Mack's and Sam's, Fried seafood from Back Bay Seafood, hot dogs from Maui Dogs, Taylor Ham sandwiches from Uncle Bill's pancakes, and cheesesteaks. We're close to Philly down here on the part of the New Jersey sandbar that is Stone Harbor. In fact many from the City of Brotherly Love summer here the way us Michiganders find solace on the shores of the lakes in the mitten.  So the cheesesteak is king.

Yesterday's lunch was a classic cheesesteak that I've been enjoying for twenty five plus years (ouch, i'm old) at A&LP of Wildwood, NJ. Many meals are never as good when you try to go back and duplicate.  This one never disappoints.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

A Traverse City farmers market find

I met the Owner of Ware Farm of Bear Lake Michigan at the Traverse City farmers market last weekend. He had a spectacular demonstration of inoculating trees with shiitake spores into trunks. Fascinating stuff.