After leaving Hawai’i, I comforted myself by saying that I took a little piece of the islands with me. While this may strike some as cliché, the actual truth is that I lined my pockets with enough recipes from bakers and chefs I admired to open a satellite location of L&L Drive-In. And the polaroids (we mustn’t forget the polaroids)….
Dear readers, Buttertooth must apologize to all three of you for our recent extended absence. The entire club is back on the mainland and comfortably ensconced in St. Louis: we’ve found new digs, good light for food photography, and several local menus that we’re in the process of eating our way through. Suffice to say, home is where you hang your apron.
Now back to our regularly scheduled programming, already in progress….
All of humanity can essentially be divided into two groups:
those who split diverse populations into a reductive dichotomy and those who
don’t those who dip crackers in their chili and those who dip cornbread. While I’ve been a proud saltine for many years, I can no longer resist the undeniable sexiness of freshly baked cornbread. Sop up a soup, dress it down with butter and jam, or use it to line the pathway of your savory spin on a witch’s gingerbread house (I’ve always thought bacon would lure more orphans than gumdrops). …
I don’t know how it happened, but we find ourselves in the last breaths of 2016. This year’s slipped by in a haze of recipes, memories, friendship, and the occasional bout of back pain. My months can’t mark themselves by anything more distinctive than a feeling—for instance, May reminds me of rolling on the floor with a lower back spasm, July’s abs hurt from laughing too loudly, and October, well . . . I can only assume I’ll find October hiding under the couch after watching Hocus Pocus more times than strictly necessary and eating enough candy corn to remind myself why I don’t like candy corn. Sometimes the world moves so quickly that I can’t catch my breath. And when that happens, I force myself to slow down and sit for a minute. I’ll watch the sky moving slowly, pet the dog until her eyes roll back a little, look at pictures from my youth without noticing how much older everyone’s grown. I’ll listen to Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” and marvel at how clichés really do come true. Luckily, I do all my best sitting at the breakfast table….
I pose to you the eternal brunch quandary: sweet or savory, sweet or savory. The debate runs through my head on an endless loop, like cartoon birds circling a knockout, as I pour over the menu. Drinks are easy; just order three (for me—coffee, diet coke, and a mimosa) as they all serve different and necessary functions insofar as brunch’s concerned. I usually make conversation with my companions as though I’m not completely overwhelmed by the prospect of choosing between an egg sandwich with house-cured bacon and its sexy-sounding aioli or the Belgian waffle with mac-nut sauce. And since I pig out in the beverage department (or should I say camel out since we’re talking liquids?), ordering both is simply not an option….
Hey, St. Louis, I see you, lady, with your Cardinals jerseys and your weird food. Never had a slinger? Well, then you’ve probably also never pronounced the word four like “far” (as in “merge onto highway farty-far”) or eaten a Baba Ghanoush pizza. That’s just how we do in the city that often sleeps. Of all the marvelous and strange concoctions St. Louis claims as its own, however, my favorite is—without peer—the gooey butter cake….
Today in outlandish claims with little basis in fact, I present to you a timeless food pairing. While I’m no culinary historian, nor do I have an issue of Bon Appétit within reach that I can shamelessly skim for words like “lardo” or “semifreddo” (It’s a-me-a, Mario!) to lend my argument legitimacy, I’m pretty sure smoked salmon and corn first found each other in the eighties. What a heady time to be alive!!—I picture women with double shoulder-padded blazers and capital B bangs eating smoked salmon on a corn blini while also silently stomaching the wage gap. I imagine Cyndi Lauper writing “True Colors” once she realized pink and yellow go so well together. I see Ronald Reagan in the oval office, ignoring AIDS while insisting that Jelly Belly finally manufacture a savory flavor. I cling to my special edition Cabbage Patch Doll, Sally Cornhole, whose favorite food is listed as a smoked salmon & maize omelet….
Like certain other members of my generation, I tend to dismiss trends without giving them a proper shot. That’s right, I’ve never seen Braveheart, and I think Mel Gibson’s attitude over the last two decades has born my decision out. Choices. But—knowing full well that I’m a slave to the sexy, sexy food blogger aesthetic—I love avocado toast. Fudging love it. Crisp some bread, smear that ripe avo, and add whatever sort of nonsense floats your boat….
Few weather events can disrupt your plans when you live in Hawaii—outside of rain. And, if you’re flexible, that rain doesn’t muck up too much unless it pours for days on end, as it could in the event of a tropical storm. Then you may begin to believe your entire island has been waterboarded, and you’d cop to anything for a beach day….
Kyle and I recently celebrated our four year anniversary here in Hawaii. When I dreamed of moving to ‘paradise,’ and the reality of 6 months of vet visits and the liquidation of all my material assets had yet to set in, I harbored a naive vision of what my new life would be like. It wasn’t quite Gilligan or Hawaii 5-0, but it did involve picking fruit from the tree in my yard, driving a VW bus spray-painted variegated colors, and waking up early to salute the sun on a surfboard. Knock my hubris all you want, but I knew there were many different ways to live in Hawaii, and this represented my idealized version. And when moving all the way across the globe seemed scary or less than feasible, I would picture this life in all its idyllic perfection. To be fair, sometimes I also fantasize about joining the Parisian royal court, with an unlimited supply of macarons and champers at my disposal, so I get when I’m being unrealistic. “Let them drink wine!” if you will….
I imagine many of you are like me and reserve certain activities for special occasions. Like how I insist my friends toast their birthdays with pink bubbles or how I’m saving 3 inches of my forearm for an Uncle Jesse tattoo (so plotted ever since I discovered that uncles who aren’t related to you can be sexy, though Fuller House has delayed this plan for at least another five years; I’ve never been one for trends)….
Perhaps as a metaphor for this mortal coil, potatoes are fairly easy to cook but difficult to master. Anyone who’s ever enjoyed (here, a relative term) soggy french fries, gummy mashed taters, or mushy “pan-fried” spuds can attest to that. Unlike some other veggies (again, a relative term), potatoes want to be cooked and only benefit from a second round in the frier or oven. My favorite kind of potato is crispy, and not because it’s been prepared al dente, but rather cooked so thoroughly that its skin crackles and has relinquished all moisture. Like my tear ducts or this fine earth of ours in 40 years. Topical!…
I think it was Demi Moore who once said, “You can’t go home again.” While I don’t personally subscribe to this philosophy and have loved returning home ever since I first left it (especially with a full laundry basket and a checking account in the tens place), I understand the sentiment. Sometimes home is a memory, and those can be impossible to re-create . . . unless, of course, most of your significant memories involve food—as ours do. Then, home is a kitchen to which you can return frequently, armed with enough cheese, bread, and wine to warm the heart of even the most stoic 90s anti-hero. I see you smoking in that swing set, Demi….
At the museum where we all work, custom dictates that one brings treats for coffee the morning of his or her birthday. Since we have a reputation to maintain, since we are insufferable show-offs, and since we like to feed small armies, we created this “Peachy Keen Pie Bar” to celebrate Micah’s recent summer birthday….
A friend recently told me about a study which hypothesized that people’s tastes evolve every seven years. This doesn’t sound revolutionary when considering the drivel you listened to in high school (ugh, Smashbox 20, what was I thinking?), or how tailoring a pair of pants feels (and fits) right once you hit your thirties. Hell, what six year-old likes Brussels sprouts and rosé wine? Just the cool ones, I guess. But—if you consider the other myriad ways you’ve changed over the course of the last seven or fourteen years—the evidence is more dramatic. For instance, I’m a morning person now; if you’d informed high-school, college, or even grad-school Beckie that she could rise before the hour of 7AM, though, she might have chucked a daisy-shaped alarm clock at your temple….
This dip might not be Christ on a cracker, but it’s pretty darn close. We recently served it at a catered event for Docomomo Hawaii, a group of architecture nerds devoted to cataloguing and preserving midcentury buildings here on Oahu. When they asked us for food to fit this particular interest, we were in the kitchen lighting Twinkies on fire faster than you can say “Cold War canapes.” That’s a great band name, so don’t you steal it….
It’s summer, and around this time our few favorite shows go on hiatus and we’re left relying on Netflix and the occasionally brilliant bit of summer programming. Emphasis on occasionally. The only show we actively look forward to once the temperature dial creeps upward is MasterChef. Ok, I see the many ways in which it’s overproduced, and yes, I hear the terribly cheesy music meant to indicate suspense, but here is a show for me: the home cook. I love Top Chef and have ever since it first aired—I’m talking before they asked Katie Lee to pack her knives and go, but that is a show about chefs and ego and food that while, I may want to eat, I also don’t know if I want to make in my kitchen. But MasterChef is about cooks like us, ones who are interested in pushing their boundaries, but within the context of a home kitchen. When I watch it, I think about what an interesting mentor Gordon Ramsey makes. Here’s a guy who introduced himself to the United States on Hell’s Kitchen, screaming and cursing the whole time. He’s staked a reputation as the culinary Simon Cowell, but with, like, a crap ton more f-bombs. Yet, on Masterchef, he exhibits moments of humanity and true mentorship. And, no matter the amount of heated kitchen trash he talks, I’m certain every person he’s worked with has been influenced by him in one way or another. MasterChef is doing fine and doesn’t need my endorsement, but, whenever I watch it, I think of the past cooks who have mentored me. And, really—after my mother—there is only one….
Today I’m here to dispel some myths. Just call me Mythbusters. Or don’t. I can’t handle being sued by another cable television franchise (Did you hear that, Ina? I said I was sorry). But, be that as it may, I’m still up in this gig busting some myths. I want to tell you that a) magic is real b) Santa Claus is not and c) homemade tamales are not as difficult as the mainstream media would have you believe (I’m trying to improve my SEO by referencing the mainstream media. Like a lot)….
We all follow certain unspoken rules: like holding the door open for the person directly behind you; or, the more discreet rule, wherein most folks with good sense have agreed not to validate Carrot Top and the majority of his life choices. And then there are the rules more specific to particular demographics, such as not serving white wine with waffles nor wearing closed-toed shoes after Memorial Day. For the sake of clarity, I ignore the former and follow the latter. To a toe-shaped tee. In this household, Micah’s created the inexplicable rule of not eating sandwiches for dinner. As a person who can—not only eat sandwiches at any time of day, let alone eat them literally at every sanctioned meal—I honestly don’t get it. His standards, however, have influenced all of us, and I applaud him as soon as my hands are free of all the sandwiches I’ve recently shoved into my mouth….
Last month, the stomach flu brought me to my knees (literally)—I left years and years of touting my iron gut at the bottom of the toilet bowl and occasionally the sink. While lamenting my condition, I watched a ton of comfort movies on Netflix and reminisced about the last time I was infirm, sobbing into my pillow over Beyoncé’s aptly titled visual album . . . Beyoncé. I don’t know why, but it takes basically nothing more than a laundry detergent or iPhone commercial to trigger tears when my body is healing….