mushrooms: a love story.

my mom wasn’t really big on cooking.

she cooked for me and my brother because she had to.  we were growing boys.  back when i was a kid, i don’t think she had the free time to sit down and really dedicate herself to the art of cooking in between all the working, helping with homework, cleaning, and weekend folk dancing.  we made a lot of boxed and instant foods because they were cheap and easy.  looking back, i know it was hard for my mom to raise us alone for most of my childhood.  but she made my life great one pan of slightly burned rice-a-roni at a time.

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caesar salad: veni, vidi, vici.

julius caesar.  the emperor, the legend, the man.  he was a politician, a general, a passionate lover, and a poet.  he conquered gaul, unified the roman empire, and was murdered by a bunch of guys in togas.

he was a man of many great titles and impressive deeds.  but the question remains: was he a chef?  and if he wasn’t, just who is behind the deliciousness that is caesar salad?

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you say “tomato,” i say “let’s make an awesome soup.”

guess what?  that beautiful girl i was talking about the other day is still sick.  which means the barrage of soup will continue until she gets better.

so far, we have had japanese soft shell turtle hot pot (a.k.a. suppon) at makoto‘s restaurant, miso ramen, kitsune udon, and potato bacon and leek chowder.  and all the while, i’ve been cramming tea into her every opportunity i get.

so when a friend and coworker of mine decided to hand me what appeared to be every leaf from an entire fully grown basil plant while we were at work the other day, i immediately began thinking of delicious things that might lift the curse of the common cold.  after about five minutes of deliberation, what i decided upon was toasted italian bread, a few slices of cheap man’s chashu, and creamy tomato and basil soup.

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udon you want me, baby?

yeah, i know.  it’s a great song, isn’t it?

don’t worry, this post doesn’t have anything to do with the 80s.  it does, however, have to do with one of the simplest and most delicious foods japanese cuisine has to offer.

when my beautiful female better half came down with a nasty cold last week, i vowed that i would do everything within my power to make her better.  did i bike to and from the store a bunch of times every day?  of course.  did i pick her up two different kinds of fruit tea so she wouldn’t get tired of drinking yuzu and honey all day?  that’s a given.  did i give her a neck massage and tuck her into bed every night?  goes without saying.

but when your hubby tells you that they don’t want to eat because “nothing just looks that good,” you have to make some tough decisions.  after all, you have to bolster their strength so they can fight off that nasty illness, but you can’t exactly go around making heinously spicy burritos or steaks without breaking their delicate little sick stomach.  in such situations, i tend to turn a good friend of mine.

and that friend’s name is udon.

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a vegetarian recipe: it feels like the first time.

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is this really happening?  could the poor man be losing his pork-obsessed mind?  is the title of this post just a clever ploy to entice naive and starry-eyed vegetarians to read my blog?  who is to blame for this sudden and terrifying turn of events?

take a deep breath, and count backwards from ten.  i’ll explain everything.

i assure you, this is really happening.  don’t worry, i am not throwing in my bacon grease stained apron.  i still love meat and i will continue to love meat.  that being said, i am happy to inform you that i made a tasty dish without meat the other day, and i have no regrets.  i have my purplish-grey, stinky, rubbery friend konnyaku to thank for that.

all it took to take konnyaku from a weird wiggly block of tuber jelly to a beautiful, savory, low-calorie treat was a flash boil, a quick marinade, and a few minutes spent over a frying pan.  if any of that sounds interesting to you vegetarians out there, keep reading.  i promise you won’t regret it.

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