Happy Valentine’s Day

Here sits a biscuit

Pies-n-thighs says: “I love you”

A Flour-y heart

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Making Whoopie

 When I was a kid. A kid younger than I am now, I remember loving the Game Show Network. For some reason, old game shows really made m happy, made me want to learn more, and kept me interested. Press Your Luck. The Newlywed Game. Ten thousand dollar Pyramid. The Match Game.  Password. Win Ben Stein’s Money. The Price is Right. Card Sharks. It’s all about using your mind and trying to win money and at the same time, make the audience laugh. I would sit on the couch, against my anxious desires to get up and run around and probably break things, and watch these adults laugh with each other as they surely made some snide culturally appropriate comment about sex or art or politics. It might have been the fact that I never knew exactly what they were referring to, or because all of the issues they were talking about in side commentary was never really relevant, but I loved getting sucked into that time period. I loved watching the muted colors dance across the screen and watching people winning seven hundred dollars and jumping up and down because they could buy a vacation for the family now! Or A NEW CAAAAR!

Each show had its own special catch phrase – Higher or lower for Card Sharks, Wammy for press your luck, and Whoopee for the Newlyweds. Even as a little kid, I always knew what they were meaning to say but couldn’t when they casually said “making whoopee.” What exactly was that? The only reference I had were whoopie pies – a Boston snack dessert sweet thing.  Go figure I was a food nerd from the start.

And now, with the pastry competition growing (see: cupcakes, macaroons are both huge and the next thing is soon to come out…) bakeries are trying to find that next fad. One of my favorite bakeries – Baked – based out of Charleston and Red Hook, Brooklyn, make the most delicious Whoopie pies. They make whoopie, not whoopee.

The history of whoopie pies is rooted in Boston, but now I associate it with summer snacks around four, when your blood sugar dips just enough for you want to take a nap. They are two cakey-cookies that act as wonder bread around a sweet filling (see: thick custard, icing, jam, what have you). Do you remember those Little Debbie oatmeal sandwich cookies that Paula Dean would love because they are maybe all butter? Yeah, that’s kind of like a whoopie pie.

Maybe it was inspiration from watching the Game Show Network over the holidays, or maybe it was my most recent trip to Baked in Red Hook, but I wanted to make my own. Banana cake-cookies with cream cheese frosting sitting plump in between the two sandwich layers.

With Sam Cooke and Otis Redding serenading me, taking me back to the 1960’s to really get into the feeling of the Newlywed Game, I took a banana bread recipe and tweaked it a bit to give more of a cake consistency and cooked them as cookies, dropping tablespoons of batter on a cookie sheet and baking at 350 for about ten minutes.

The results, accompanied by a smooth cream cheese frosting, were decadent, and indulgent. Much like sitting at home, on a rainy day, and watching episode after episode on the Game Show Network, hoping someone maybe blush and say “making whoopee.”

In A Moment Of Pause

To no explanation, I have recently taken some time off from this blog, yet again. It seems as though I go through phases with writing, my motivations behind posting, for whom does this blog continue, and general feelings towards blogs.

It has been over a year since I started, since I moved to Korea, since I learned how to move my way around a foreign subway system, since I talked about CSAs, since I made granola and called myself a neo-hippie, since I wrote about an American holiday abroad, and eaten another domestically (see: Thanksgiving) I’ve played around with cameras, settings, and writing modes. Prose, memoir, poetry, photo essays, it’s all been good. But it’s all been foundational. And what a time to reinvigorate food, but the holiday built around food: Turkey Day.

It’s time for another change. I realized this in my “real world” life – that is to say, I moved back from abroad, I’m working as full time as a food service person can, I have a goal with this whole food thing – and now it’s time to transcribe that over to the writing world. Change it up. Switch up the style. Overhaul. Make-over. Life change. Mid-life crisis?  Redux. Fresh. Crisp.

A week or two ago I sent out an email, to kick start the whole process. It read something like:

Hey. I’m thinking of moving across the country, again, and starting a restaurant with my brother. I have some ideas, but we all know that cooks, chefs, people who eat food, all fall into ruts when it comes to flavor combinations. What I’m asking you for are suggestions. Do you have a recipe, a flavor sensation, a dish you had on the road that one time when you were driving across the country, that one street vendor you ate at when you were abroad, that you just can’t get out of your head? Well send it my way in any shape or form, and I’m about to start cooking it. I’ll post the results on my blog – picture style. We’ll discuss. You’ll get it fo’ free every time you come into my place. Thanks, Josh.

With that email, I think I have over 50 recipes that I’m now about to tackle. I made myself a little check list on a found chalk board, and I’m about to get down to business: five recipes a week. At least. Maybe ten. It’s all about starting slow and getting wrapped up in it, right? Isn’t that what passion is? I have a good kitchen in the heart of Brooklyn, and I’m about to tear it up.  Supper parties. Food tasting. It’s what I’m putting forth, and hoping that people meet me in the middle somewhere.

So with that in my “real life,” how dos that transcribe, transition, translate to in this blog? I want this place now to be a memoir, a conglomeration, a mélange of stories of this construction of a menu, and a palate through the food. Not as many stories in prose, rather photo essays with the occasional bursting forth of anecdote in words if so necessary. Also, information about when I’ll be tasting foods, when I’ll be holding dinners, and most importantly: what’s going on in the local community that’s shaping the seasonal palate.

Where do you, dear reader, come in? Well you keep those eyes flickering across the page, across the photos I attempt to take with my stupid iPhone or my camera(s) (ps. I’m trying to get my film camera back in action, cross those scrolling fingers!). But the most important thing is to respond. Send me recipes. Tell me that that one dish you made yesterday looks down right awful, never make it or that hot damn I need that crème brulee immediately, how do I ship it to you? You are a part of building a restaurant’s menu. Now take those little hands and grab the bull so that you can help create a menu worth coming back to. Honestly.

Also: If you have places that you think I need  to go (see: “Oh my, on the upper east side there is a little muffin place that you HAVE to go to, it’s stupid good” or “In Virginia, I had the best biscuits I’ve ever had. Good god I can’t stop thinking of them” or even “In Italy, there’s a little town just outside of Florence that serves that only steak worth eating in the world. You must go.

I must go.

 

From Ground to Chopsticks: The Secret Ingredient

Nights like tonight, when – for some untold reason – I am wired into the late hours of the night are what made me an experimental cook. This un-bed-able energy, back in high school, came from being on my feet and serving people delicious Thai food for five or six hours. I guess I would be so hyped up from dealing with people, I wouldn’t be able to just crash, I needed a decompression. A winding down.

I found this relaxation period through one medium, and two outlets. The medium being food. The outlets being baking or Food Network. I never said I was a normal high school student, but this might be a bit extreme. Hopped up on restaurant energy and full of coconut milk from my almost-authentic Thai dinner, I would drive home jamming out to bad pop music, thinking about what baked good I was going to whip up in the hour of adrenaline I had left. Scones. Muffins. Cookies. Cakes. Crème Brule. You know, the usual for a seventeen-year-old high school student.

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