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I will sound like a broken record but what in the world is going on with the Wednesday Shopping Fever? Unless you have a Batmobile, don’t even bother looking for a spot at the parking lot in front of our local grocery store. Not on Wednesday at least. Instead, I propose you leave that stinky car in the garage, arm your pockets with shopping bags, and march ahead to the store. You’ll thank me later when you’ll have come back with a healthy blush on your face licked by the sun and with the Lance Armstrong’s heart rate when he’s asleep. That man is a power horse, and we have got to start somewhere.
Speaking of eco-friendly commute, have you ever dreamed of time traveling? My accountant has afforded me such trip the other day and I wasn’t sure if I were dreaming or we really went back to 1954. I met the guy last year when doing my taxes. Jason has been a client for a number of years and swore by him. This time we went together. When Jason’s finances of 2009 were sorted, the CPA reached out to my pile to organize that pathetic proof of my income. To call it an INCOME is a solid exaggeration. Nevertheless, he put the numbers into his columns and I peppered him with questions regarding starting my own business. Since, as you all know, I recently began working as a personal chef, I wanted to learn about the expected proper behavior of a responsible taxpayer when self-employed.
And that’s when I heard this deafening squeak as if a giant wheel was turned. Lightening cut through the skies, a sinister horn sounded off in the distance, the ground shook beneath our feet, lights in the room went off and icy wind swirled around me causing my nipples to stand up in full alert. I didn’t fully comprehend we were back in the early 50’s until I realized the CPA completely ignored me and began to answer all MY questions regarding MY business directly to Jason, all the while referring to me (yes, I was acknowledged) as a SHE.
“She should open a separate account, and she should use it for all business related transactions”…
I sat there dumbfounded with my eyebrows slowly rising and pushing my hairline dangerously close to the tip of my head, while my nipples completely deflated.
“I’m here. And I CAN hear you.”
I uttered at last throwing the accountant completely off track. He looked at me confused and then with a bleak smile he turned his attention back to Jason as if he were asking his fellow penis:
“What does she mean, mate?”
It’s been 48 hours since the incident. I am still trying to shake that off. The crazy part is that the dude is MAYBE ten years older than me, if that. Who are his parents? Where has he come from? Was he an Amish offspring that had escaped the regime too late to recover and absorb the rules of the Western culture? At least he didn’t have a knee-long beard. Ok, I’m done.
That same night we set off the clock once more with the movie of my youth based on the books I read back in my days of innocence – “Anne of Green Gables” by Lucy Maud Montgomery. I was all in tears within the first five minutes of the film, the sentiment being stronger than any reason.
“You know it’s a three hour long movie. Are you going to cry the whole time?”
Jason was quickly learning that night about the role Anne has played in my life. It is a series of books about a redhead orphan child that I had devoured one after another, multiple times (the books, and NOT orphans). My mother was the one who introduced me to Anne Shirley, and we would read those stories together alternating the tomes.
The movie is as girly as they come, and yet Anne is such a delightful and amusing character that even Jason was quickly engaged in the story and sat through the entire 3 hours and 15 minutes of the film with me, enjoying every minute of it.
If I were to complement the charm and charisma of Anne of Green Gables with food, I would choose something fresh and bright, and yet complex in flavor and texture. Something oozing with comfort and yet elegant and authentic. One thing comes to mind – SALADE NICOISE.
The salad is a beautiful arrangement of tuna, cherry tomatoes, soft-boiled eggs, green beans, new potatoes, olives and often times anchovies on a bed of butter lettuce. All the vegetables are drizzled with vinaigrette and thus complement the lightly seared tuna steak on a plate. It truly is a painting and you are the artist. Salad Nicoise is a French classic you can make your own by adding your own twist through the presentation, a choice of vinaigrette, or the method of serving tuna.
Be inventive, be creative, and let your own personality shine through any dish you prepare. You are the cook. Your knife is a paintbrush, the plate is your canvas. You are the artist.
It may come as a shock to some of you, but I do not cook. I mean, I do but I don’t. Everyday, I mean. Wait. Let’s go back. I love to make food. From the first step of washing and peeling, through chopping, then sautéing and seasoning, to stirring and tasting I engage as if I were watching a season finale of Grey’s Anatomy. There are times when I bury myself in the kitchen for days and cook my heart out. I strip, mix, whip, bag, massage and flip until my legs shake and I lose my breath… for a moment.
Alas, however satisfying the experience, I must step aside for a day or two to recover, recuperate, and relax. On those days Jason (and myself, who am I kidding) has a chance to go out and take care of the culinary sentiments Agi doesn’t necessarily tend to – good sushi, authentic Mexican cuisine, or a good ol’ American burger. And I tag along for a chance to try something new, cleanse my palette, and even to get inspired.
Last week I reached one of those culinary climaxes, and I was COOKED OUT. I had nothing left in me to power through another dinner in the house. I needed a breather. Jason very generously offered to take care of dinner and whipped out his wallet. Neither one of us wanted to be responsible for choosing a restaurant in case it turned out a total failure. We decided to write down potential eateries on pieces of paper, fold them up, and throw them into a hat.
I shoved my whole arm inside, stirred around the votes, tried to FEEL the answer with my fingers, and finally pulled out our vote. It read: SUSHI. I liked what I saw as it was MY handwriting. Jason didn’t oppose, however he still wanted his vote to be considered. I dove in once again and searched all around the bottom of the hat for another strip of paper. I got it at last, unfolded it and read out loud: SUSHI.
That’s it. All Jason wanted was to show how unanimous we are in our thinking. So cute!
It was getting really late, and certainly past our mealtime. Our stomachs started growling at each other and I knew that any minute they would jump at each other’s throats. With no further ado, we hurried to a nearby Japanese restaurant called Shintaro – a staple in the neighborhood, but a new joint for us, since we’re relatively new to the hood. Thank god, the sushi was stupendous and calmed down the CRANKY HUNGRY BITCHES within us just in time before disaster struck.
The next day we got caught in Santa Monica running errands. It was close to 6pm when we realized we never had real breakfast or lunch. After a quick debate, we arrived at this earthy new restaurant called Kreation Kafe where they serve fresh organic produce from a local Farmers’ Market, organic beef, free range chicken, wholesome teas…you get the idea. The food was EXCELLENT and well worth fasting a whole day before feasting on this full and healthy meal.
Sunday rolled in, and became JUST ANOTHER MANIC PRE-MONDAY, filled with running around with no time to breathe. Come dinner hour, we looked at each other and I couldn’t believe the words that came out of my mouth:
“Do you want pizza?”
“YEAH!” Jason exclaimed with the expression of utmost shock mixed with a hint of adoration painted on his face.
And just like that, we ended our weekend of dining out with an artificial blob of pizza from a street-corner burger joint. It was stomach-wrenching and disappointing on every level possible. Not only did the pizza guy take our money upfront, then didn’t RECALL us paying for it, and refused to release our dinner in a box, but the pizza was ABSOLUTELY TASTELESS. Furthermore, it then made itself at home in my intestines for an unmentionable amount of time, making me feel not only constipated, but PREGNANT CONSTIPATED.
I missed my cooking toys. I missed spending time with my knives and chopping boards. The weekend seemed longer than it really was, and I needed to start the new week with something healthy and delicious. And even though it took a whole three days, I eventually reached our kitchen, and upon arrival I scrutinized the pantry to establish a dinner potential. I quickly devised a plan: SEARED TUNA OVER FORBIDDEN RICE WITH AN ORIENTAL FLARE.
I’ll walk you through the steps should you decide to flatter me by copying thy menu one night.
Forbidden Rice, aka Thai Rice is black, and as such presents itself with glamour and style on a plate. Cook it accordingly to the directions on its package. For extra flavor, add a couple of dry bay leaves to the pot and obviously season the water with salt. Chicken or vegetable stock are excellent substitutes for water, and certainly bring an extra layer of flavor to the whole dish.
For the fish, you want Sashimi Grade Tuna Fillets. Wash them in cool water and pat them dry-ish using a paper towel. Place the guys in a plastic zip-lock bag or a shallow glass/ceramic container, add enough low sodium soy sauce to cover the flesh, and close it up. Store your fish in a refrigerator for 1-2 hours, and let it marinate and soak up all those salty flavors. Clearly, you should prep the fish first, followed by the rice, and not the other way around. Are you confused yet?
When the rice is perky and bubbly in the boiling liquid on your stove, and the fillets are done marinating, heat a grilling pan (or any non-stick frying pan really) and get the tuna out and onto the pan. Violent sizzling is the music you want to hear. Sear the fish for 2 minutes on both sides, and the edges – for about 30 seconds each. Use a pair of clasping tongs to help stand your tuna on its sides.
Don’t forget about your vitamins and enzymes stored in everything that’s green, leafy AND EDIBLE. A little salad on the side of your plate will serve as a nutritious smiley face to your dinner.
I’m afraid this is it. I wish I could say something more to make the dish sound more complicated. It’s just not. I keep saying – this is COOKING FOR IDIOTS with an IDIOT (me) COOKING.