Sunday, September 13, 2009

Judy and Food

Today, Judy and I are celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary. Consistent with a regular topic on this blog, one of the things I love and appreciate about Judy is her willingness to try new foods. I have a reputation for eating weird things, but Judy has always been right there as a willing participant as well (at least until a few days ago when she refused to eat some durian. Consequently, our children have been exposed to a variety of foods in ways that I believe have enriched their lives.

I went through some of our family scrapbooks recently and was intrigued by some of the references to food over the years:In September 1979, Judy had her first married experience with unusual food when, on our honeymoon, while at Bear Lake in northern Utah, we went rabbit hunting. I shot two cottontail rabbits. One had some sort of boil, so we didn’t eat it, but Judy cooked the other one (we had a kitchen in our condo at Sweetwater Resort) and we had it for dinner.

While living in San Diego, while I went to law school, we occasionally went to Point Loma Seafood and purchased live local (spiny) lobsters. We brought them home, got a large pot boiling, and boiled the lobsters. We also purchased smoked fish (salmon and tuna mostly) from Point Loma. Over Thanksgiving weekend in 1985, we cooked Dungeness crabs and a spiny tail lobster. In the picture below, Rachael and my mother look at them before we dig in.

On at least one occasion we had a Vietnamese vendor selling seafood door to door. We purchased a dozen or more very large clams which Judy used to make some wonderful clam chowder.

We loved to drive to Ensenada, Mexico and visit the dock where we purchased locally caught seafood. We particularly loved the shrimp and bags of cooked crab claws. There was also a French restaurant in Ensenada we loved to eat at, El Rey Sol, where we took many guests, including my grandmother, Tutu, and my parents. I particularly remember some prime rib, with a French/Mexican twist (like exotic carne asada), that was amazing.

For Christmas one year, in San Diego, Judy cooked a large goose. She has also done it at least one other time since.

Our next door neighbor, on Cambridge Ave in Redlands, was Dale. He occasionally gave us a venison roast which Judy cooked in a crock pot and we had for dinner. He also made a wonderful cooked bean recipe known as “Dale’s Beans,” which had about 15 types of beans and spicy sausage. Judy made that wonderful recipe on many occasions.

In April 1989 on a car trip with the kids, while in Second Mesa, Arizona, we bought and tried Hopi piki bread, made of blue corn and chamisa ash (the ash of a sage-brush like plant). It was a blue pastry-like roll with a corn tortilla flavor. In Acoma, New Mexico, we tried fry bread cooked by the Acoma Indians, much like a scone. Near Espanola, New Mexico, we bought a bunch of dried red chili peppers and a cob of blue corn, then ate an authentic New Mexican lunch at Ranch O Casadas, including hot sopaipillas with honey and chimichangas with very different red (which we didn’t like) and green (which we loved) sauces.

In April 1990, the family camped at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Southern Arizona and then visited Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point) on the Gulf of California in Mexico. We ate at Costa Brava, near the ocean, and had a seafood dish including shrimp, squid, octopus, scallops, clams, mussels and fish, mixed together in a tangy sauce. We also bought a pound of large shrimp from the dock which we took back to our campsite and barbequed for dinner.

In May 1990, Judy, Rachael and I attended the Renaissance Pleasure Faire in Devore and had quail, artichokes with mayonnaise and butter, a Turkish sandwich with lamb and peppers and a venison sausage sandwich with onions and peppers.

At the end of May 1990, after a visit to Dinosaur National Monument, we ate at Diamond Hills Café in Vernal, Utah where I had lamb and Judy had lamb stew. In early June 1990, we had buffalo burgers in West Yellowstone, Montana.

In September 1990, after a visit to Capital Reef National Park, we stopped in Loa, Utah for some smoked trout and then went to a cheese factory where we bought blue, Swiss and Monterey jack cheese. We ate slices of cheese and smoked trout in the car.

In the fall of 1990, we purchased some Maine lobster and had a lobster feast. Below, Sam, Andrew and Rachael each hold a lobster prior to their hitting the pot.

In the summer of 1992, I killed a 5 foot long rattlesnake in our canyon. I brought it home and Judy baked it in the oven for our consumption. In the picture below, Rachael chews on a piece.
While on vacation in central California, we purchased an ostrich egg from a farm somewhere near Buellton. We brought it home and made scrambled eggs out of it. The kids loved it and we ate the entire thing at one sitting.

Kasey Haws has provided us venison on several occasions, after successful deer hunts in Idaho. Judy crock pots it in a way that makes it quite good.

Gregg Palmer, knowing of my interest in different kinds of game, has been a great source of unusual meat. He had a friend that shot a bighorn ram in the Whitewater area after drawing a rare bighorn sheep hunting permit. Gregg brought us a small roast which Judy put in the crock pot and cooked. We ate part of it and also shared part with Gregg and Jim Sullivan, another source of unusual game for us. Gregg also brought us a javelina (collared peccary) roast from a javelina he shot while bow hunting in Arizona. As with the ram, Judy cooked it in a crock pot and we ate it as a family and also shared some with Gregg and Jim. Gregg also provided us with a pronghorn antelope roast and steaks, which Judy cooked, and some barbequed iguana which his Mexican farmworkers brought back with them from Mexico. The iguana was a great hit in the family and all of us would have loved more if it had been available.

Before marriage, Rachael did a study abroad in France. We took the family to visit her and bring her home. While there we were blown away by the wonderful French bread, cheese and crepes. After getting home, Judy purchased a crepe pan and cooked crepes on many occasions, trying new combinations. She also regularly buys Bursin cheese in our local grocery store, and baguettes, something we were introduced to in France by Rachael.

Rachael and Nate lived in Memphis for three or four years. We had an opportunity to visit them on a number of occasions. They introduced us to Memphis barbeque and we dined at such fabulous venues as B.B. King’s on Beale Street (where we also tried fried pickle), Le Rendezvous, Corky’s and the Commissary. We also traveled with them to Missouri to eat at Lambert’s – home of the throwed rolls and enjoyed frog legs and fresh rolls smothered in butter and sorghum. Rachael and Nate also introduced us to Thai food for the first time in Memphis and it has since become one of our favorites.

Rachael and Nate then moved to Japan for several years. We had an opportunity to travel with them in Japan, and then also to China and Thailand. Our love for and appreciation for Japanese, Chinese and Thai food increased tremendously. While in Japan we ate sushi just outside the Tsukiji Market and had such delicacies as fatty tuna and abalone.
And udone.

Rachael also made arrangements for us to go to a restaurant that served only horse which turned out to be one of our all time favorite meals. In China we ate camel (see the picture below) among other less exotic but wonderful dishes.

We were also introduced to very spicy Szechuan food and I learned that Rachael has a higher heat tolerance than I do (and mine is pretty high).

We also had a wonderful crepe with egg and spicy hot sauce, near the Great Wall (jian bing), which we have been trying to duplicate ever since.

Frozen Chinese pancake is now a staple in our freezer. Frozen Chinese pancake is now a staple in our freezer.

Andrew’s move to UCLA has also broadened our palettes. Andrew read The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollen and got into food foraging and mushrooms. We have now tried several different types of mushrooms and salads Andrew has made from foraged weeds in our canyon. His friend, Lauren, has also introduced us to some fun ethnic restaurants in Los Angeles, including a wonderful Ethiopian restaurant where we ate without utensils, using only injera bread (see the picture below), several Japanese restaurants, a Vietnamese restaurant, and Indonesian restaurant and a Bulgarian restaurant.

Judy did little or no cooking before we met and is now one of the best cooks I know. She is known among our friends as a dessert expert and her desserts, as well as other dishes, are usually the first items to disappear at a potluck.

Judy is particularly renowned for her desserts, particularly anything with chocolate. She has a signed print of a large women prostrated on a bed with the caption, “Happily Dying of Chocolate” underneath. Cakes, pies, cookies and brownies and many other items are regularly prepared. One of her signature creations, as a special treat for me, has been German chocolate cake. However, this cake has about 6 layers, each separated by chocolate frosting or the distinctive German chocolate filling, a very thick outer layer of chocolate frosting and a top that is smother with German chocolate filling.

She collects recipes and regularly tries new recipes she finds in magazines, on-line or from friends. In fact, she put together a family cookbook with recipes collected from family members. If she likes the recipe she keeps it, and if not, it finds the round file. We have had a few stinkers over the years, but that has been more than made up by some amazing dishes. She truly has added spice to my life and the life of our children, family and friends.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the interesting and informative post. I enjoyed it and look forward to more in the future.