cobb salad: domo arigato, mister robert.

i always wondered why a cobb salad was called a cobb salad.  when i was a kid, i always imagined that it had something to do with corn (which was of course perpetuated by the fact i had no idea what the ingredients of a cobb salad were, or how to spell it for that matter).  as i got older, i just assumed someone named it after a person or a place just like most other well-known foods are.

recently, my curiosity got the better of me, and i looked it up.  looking back, i kind of wish i never had.  it is, of course, named after the restaurateur who was the (supposed) original creator of the cobb salad, none other than a mr. robert howard cobb.

yes, you read that correctly.  his name was bob cobb.

poor guy.  at least he invented a delicious salad to soften the blow of having cruel parents.  thanks for not losing faith, buddy.  i dedicate tonight’s dinner to you.  this is my japanese-style take on your classic american man-salad.

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breakfast: an american tradition.

i love breakfast, and i’m not ashamed to say it.  i can honestly and with 100% confidence say that, especially in the states, it is one of the most under-appreciated (if not completely ignored) meals in the course of a single day.  i make sure to wake up nice and early almost every day (including the weekends, i know i’m crazy) to make myself a good old-fashioned 1950’s style breakfast.

and as an avid breakfast fan, i’m here to tell you that while breakfast might not scientifically be proven as the most important meal of the day, it can easily become the meal that sets the pace for an entire 24 hours.  suffice to say, cereal won’t cut it.  if you start your day with cereal and some milk everyday, you are going to be sluggish and starving by lunch time.  it just isn’t good for you.

personally, i make sure to eat hearty.  eggs are a staple, and i always make an effort to include some fresh veggies and little bit of starch, too.  in all honesty, the only food group that i regularly completely ignore is fruit.  i’m not too big on sweet stuff, and high concentrations of sugar tend to make you crash later in the day.

today i was in rare form.  i woke up nice and early, made a big pot of coffee, and got to work.  my farmer friends have thrown produce at me left and right this month, so i resolved to use as much of the fresh goodies as i good today.  the result was absolutely delicious, super manly, and chock full of nutrients.

sometimes you just have to wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and remind yourself that you are from ‘merica.  and today was one of those days.

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the flavor of summer.

when june rolls around in japan, the weather takes a turn for the worst.  these few weeks between spring and full-fledged summer are characterized on this side of the world by rain almost every day, intense heat, and truly ridiculous humidity.  the japanese call this weather tsuyu, which is of course their word meaning “to die of asphyxiation because the air is so laden with moisture you could drown whilst walking to the grocery store.”

that being said, atrocious weather isn’t the only herald of summer.  because of the amazing raw food culture that japan has, all kinds of tasty and extremely fresh foods start appearing in the mom and pop small restaurants all over the country the moment june swings into full-force.  while it may seem strange to most of us in the west (with the exclusion of pasta salad, which i was never really that big on anyway), cold noodle dishes like zarusoba and hiyashi chuka become very easy to consume in quantity when the mercury goes through the roof.

and in my mind, there is no cold noodle dish that can hold a candle to sōmen.  these japane

se noodles are made from wheat flour and have a milky white color to them, much like udon.  but sōmen stand alone in that their diameter is extremely thin (less than 1.3 mm by definition), which makes them super delicate and incredibly fast cooking.  once cooked and flash chilled, the noodles are generally added to a deliciously salty broth and topped with all manner of awesome fresh produce.

yesterday, i got to hankering, and decided to give it a go.

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re: strange horses and cooking on a budget

close your eyes and imagine you are a five-year-old.  it is your birthday, and your parents have tied a bandana around your head to cover your eyes with.  the time for presents has come, and when the big reveal finally happens, you find a mini-clydesdale standing in front of you.

it’s a horse, and as a five-year-old, you realize how awesome that is.  but once this realization passes, aren’t really sure where to go from here.  you don’t know if it will be your friend.  you don’t know if it is dangerous or not.  you aren’t even sure what an animal like a mini-clydesdale can be used for.  can you ride it?  do you take it for walks?  does it stay in your house or outside?  because you don’t know the answers to any of these questions, you just kind of stand there slack-jawed in surprise and excitement and confusion.

now imagine that you are you, and the mini-clydesdale is the perfect 10.  i gave you a list.  i did a good job of telling you why i made the list in the way i did.  but i didn’t really tell you what it is good for.

so now, i’m going to teach you how to ride the mini-clydesdale.  that’s right, it is recipe time.

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the drowned chicken experiment (no, it isn’t a metal band)

i made chicken breasts this week.  i made mahimahi steaks.  i made fruit sauces, i made cream sauces, i made sauces out of vegetables and oils and cheese and all manner of ingredients.  but you know, i still didn’t feel challenged.  i feel like almost any person can at least imagine the ingredients of a sauce that would function as a topping for meat.  so i got to thinking, what about sauces which aren’t meant as a topping?

aren’t there sauces which are meant for more than just drizzling on top of a cut of meat or fish?  how about the sauces which are meant to drown the food you plan to eat?  i honestly couldn’t think of that many until i widened my perspective a little.  when i really considered it, i realized that most sauces served on chicken wings could be categorized as “drowning sauces.”

but honestly, chicken wings aren’t exactly the epitome of gourmet food.  buffalo wing sauce, hot sauce, honey mustard sauce, barbeque sauce, bleu cheese sauce, and ranch aren’t even close the category of food that i plan to cook in my kitchen (ever).

so instead, i resolved to buy two whole chicken thighs, chop them into bite-sized morsels, cook them with a little bit of salt and pepper in a frying pan over high heat, and drown them in three homemade sauces i deemed worthy.

spicy dark chocolate mole, hawaiian-style teriyaki, and five-spice chicken gravy.

feast your eyeballs.

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