Archives For Food

To catch you up on all-things-etherfarm, not much has happened since my last post, which was made on the day of my daughter’s birth a few years ago. In that time:

Sweet Home Chicago

The family has escaped moved back to the Chicago area from California. It’s probably no secret to anyone who knows me well (or, actually, anyone who had a passing conversation with me) that through my fifteen years away from Chicago, I had been longing to come back for roughly 13 of those. We landed softly, and with the exception of my work travel, our life here couldn’t be better. We’re in walking distance of everything we need, live on a great street with fantastic neighbors who pepper our social calendar with block parties and progressive dinners and the like, and there are numerous options for good deep-dish pizza and Italian beef.

I had high expectations moving back to Chicago, and—incredibly—reality has exceeded all of them.

Sitting on the wall

Birthday Girl


Easter Song

You Shall Not Pass

The Street

House & Kid

Job. Job. Job.

I’ve changed jobs. Twice. I don’t usually blog about work on etherfarm. Work stuff goes here.

Dense as Wood

My woodworking activities have largely been put on hold due to the time demands of my new job and two small kids. The need to dismantle, move and reassemble my woodshop didn’t help either. I’ve made some small things (shelves, racks, etc.) but nothing I’d point out to anyone. Some downtime and an extended period at home over these holidays, however, have allowed me to start to getting things in the woodshop back on track (more on that soon).

To compensate, I try to make as much time as I can for projects with Lost Art Press, a small publisher dedicated to texts about woodworking run by a good friend of mine. Among those projects:

Lost Art Press is good people.

Fork Bending

I have eaten. A lot. Being back in Chicago is both good and bad in this regard.

Good: there is so much good food to eat.

Bad: I eat it.

Since my last post on food, I’ve got at least three food benders under my belt (literally). Don’t worry, I’ve got a post for one of those already lined up.

The Not-Swiss Family Nayar

The kids have obviously grown two-and-something years older. Ray is no longer a toddler (a large part of me thinks he skipped that phase altogether); he’s fully mobile and articulate and reads books without pictures and on good days, helps me cook, clean, and do stuff around the house. He’s interested in anything that involves lasers, robots, and photosynthesis. He still says some of the funniest things I’ve ever heard, which I’ve been documenting on Twitter for a while (#rayquote). Among my favorites:

  • “Right now, medicine is racing through my body on a piece of lasagna, slicing pain in two.”
  • “I don’t wanna learn how to ride a bike without training wheels. I mean, what good is a bike going to be after I learn how to fly?”
  • “I tried and tried until I successed.”

Anya is very much a toddler and Nara and I are being schooled hard on parenting a two year old. I can tell that Anya quotes are right around the corner. Until then, you will all have to be amazed with the following short videos:

Like I said—not much has changed. Just a reboot of practically every facet of my life except my marriage—a partnership which in just a few weeks will have started almost twelve years ago.

Food Bender 2010 involved some quality time in a part of the country I don’t know very well–the southeastern midwest (or if you prefer, the northwestern South). In 2008, I went to the Woodworking in America Handtools Event in Berea, Kentucky, but other than my brief stay at the Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill, that trip was primarily about woodworking, not about food.

Old Ministry House

This year, in addition to a few nights in Cincinnati (a way cool town, it turns out), three friends and I used the Old Ministry House (pictured above) as a base of operations for exploring the area’s culinary and cultural offerings. The bucolic setting and the sporadic mobile phone reception left me about as unplugged as I get–both mentally and electronically. And not since my last road trip, which now seems a handful of forevers ago–have I imbibed in such a distinctly American experience. And by “American” I don’t mean the “fusion-of-everything, rooted to nothing” way California expresses American, but rather the bourbon-making, horse-racing, black tobacco barn raising, salty country ham-eating American woven into the cultural tapestry of southern Ohio and northern and central Kentucky.


After the last few chaotic months of work and just around the corner from once again being father to a newborn, time away with quality people and quality food was just what the doctor ordered (and, to give credit where credit is due, it was also what the wife allowed–thanks, honey!). As was the case with Food Bender 2009, names are being withheld to protect the guilty.

Sunday, 18 April

Nada: Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Chips, Salsa, Guacamole
  • Nada Sliders (Angus beef, steamed onions, queso, jalapeño)
  • Short rib Sopes w/ creme, cotija cheese and pickled onions
  • Cazuela tasting (iron pot sampler): Tinga Poblana (chicken & chorizo, spicy tomato, poblano rice), Pork green chile (braised pork, roasted chiles, salsa verde, poblano rice), Lamb mole (braised lamb shoulder, ancho chile, peas, spaghetti squash)
  • Yucatan chicken: allspice-chile rubbed bressed, charred green beans, carmelized cauliflower and grilled chayote squash with citrus-habenero salsa
  • Carnitas tacos
  • Crispy Pork Belly tacos
  • Margueritas

Monday, 19 April

Delites: Maysville, Kentucky
  • 2 very gray hot dogs. (Editorial note: After seeing the world’s largest hammer museum I was starving and needed to make an emergency food stop. Let me just say that the interior of this place reminded me of a 1970s diner but in someone’s basement. I think the hot dogs dated back to the 1970s as well.
  • Diet Coke (a rarity in my diet–but in this case a necessary one, since we all know that beverage is the Clorox bleach of beverages.)

Tuesday, 20 April

Taste from Belgium: Findlay Market, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • 1 Belgian Waffle

Tuesday, 20 April

Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill: Trustees Office Dining Room: Harrodsburg, Kentucky
  • Johhny Cakes and Mushrooms: Silver dollar cornmeal cakes, topped with sautéed Sheltowee Farms mushrooms with shallots, white wine, butter, garlic and fresh herbs
  • Buttermilk Fried Chicken: A fresh chicken breast, leg and thigh soaked in buttermilk and fried to perfection,served with sour cream mashed potatoes and crisp baby green beans
  • Baked, Sugar-Cured Bluegrass Farms Country Ham
  • Shaker Lemon Pie

Wednesday, 21 April

Keeneland: Lexington, Kentucky
  • Kentucky Bergoo (for the record, it’s listed on the menu as KY Bergoo, which is just…wrong)
  • 2 Beef Hot Dogs
  • Vanilla Soft Serve Ice Cream

Thursday, 22 April

Kurtz Restaurant: Bardstown, Kentucky
  • Johnnycakes
  • Corn pudding
  • Hot Brown
  • Coconut Cream Pie
  • Lemon Pie

Thursday, 22 April

Maker’s Mark Distillery: Loretta, Kentucky
  • Tasting of Maker’s Mark Mint Julep
  • Tasting of Maker’s Mark Bourbon

Thursday, 22 April

Jack Fry’s: Louisville, Kentucky
  • Shrimp and grits: sautéed shrimp in a red eye gravy with shiitake mushrooms, tomatoes, and country ham served over creamy grits
  • Duck Confit: Local duck served on a buttermilk biscuit with Brandy demi-glaze and blueberry Bing cherry preserves with Crème fraîche
  • Dates: Bacon wrapped Medjool dates stuffed with chorizo sausage and Capriole Farm goat cheese with a smoky tomato sauce
  • Spicy Fried Oysters: Kentucky country ham, green onions and creamy grits
  • Roasted Beed Salad: Kentucky arugula with pistachio and herb rolled Indiana goat cheese in a shallot citrus vinaigrette
  • Veal tenderloin: with gremolata mashed potatoes and caramelized apples in a Calvados cream sauce
  • Filet: grilled center cut beef filet with Parma Proscuitto, asparagus, sage beurre blanc and a crispy potato cake. Finished with Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Filet: Encore. ()Editorial note: No, really. Because it was that friggin’ good.)
  • Lemon Raspberry Beignets: lemon curd with raspberry coulees, almond ice cream, and caramelized ginger

Friday, 23 April

Tucker’s: Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Home Fries Deluxe: Deluxe Home Fries with Mushrooms, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and fresh basil
  • Goetta (Editorial note: uh, yum!)

Friday, 23 April

Honey: Northside, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Honey Fries: Sweet, Yukon, and Idaho with chili lime honey
  • Creole Meatloaf with Tasso ham gravy, cracked Tellicherry mashed Yukon potatoes, and sautéed vegetables
  • Pan Seared Pork Tenderloin with apple and house-cured bacon bread pudding, wilted greens, and Router’s apple compote
  • Braised beef short ribs served over mashed Yukon potatoes, seasonal vegetable, and Amaretti cherry fortified braising jus reduction
  • Banana walnut croissant bread pudding with homemade vanilla ice cream

Saturday, 24 April

Taste from Belgium: Findlay Market, Cincinnati, Ohio

Editorial note: Yeah, I went back. Because, uh, yum! Why aren’t these available everywhere?

  • 1 Belgian Waffle
  • 1 Belgian Waffle w/ strawberries & whipped cream


  • Best meal: Jack Fry’s.
  • Worst meal: the gray hot dog incident in Maysville. I have to admit I was somewhat conflicted about writing about that particular meal. In the end I did so not out of malice but out of some sick sense of pride. It takes an immense amount of courage (and intestinal fortitude) to wolf down two tubes of gray meat on some dry white buns.
  • Best dish: my hands-down favorite is the crispy pork belly tacos at Nada. If I could, I would walk the earth with a bottomless bag of these, spreading porkgasmic goodwill, teaching the world to sing in perfect harmony, etc. These tacos would, without question, single-handedly resolve the conflict in the Middle East (if people in that region ate pork).
  • Runner-ups: Shrimp & Grits or the Filet at Jack Fry’s
  • Biggest surprise: Cincinnati. I’ll be back.

There are, of course, photos from Food Bender 2010 on Flickr.

Pomegranate doesn’t show up in recipes as much as it deserves. The acidity of the pomegranate mixes well with the orange and does good work towards making the pork a dreamy kind of tender. I did a whole pork loin like this, studding it with a few cloves as well (just a few!) and adding some peppercorns, and damn, it was tasty.

I’ll admit–this is a pain in the ass to make. It’s well worth it, though. And the sandwiches the next day…

From Joyce Goldstein’s now out-of-print Back to Square One

  • roast pork tenderloins with pomegranate and orange
  • 4 lbs. pork tenderloins
  • 4 large garlic cloves, cut into slivers
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons grated nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate syrup
  • 2 to 3 cups chicken stock
  1. preheat oven to 400 degrees cut shallow incisions in the roast between the meat and the bone and insert slivers of garlic into each one.
  2. for the spice paste, mix the garlic, nutmeg, thyme, ginger, salt, and pepper to a paste and rub it over the pork.
  3. mix together the orange juice, honey, and pomegranate syrup for the basting mixture and set aside.
  4. set the pork on a rack, in a shallow roasting pan and roast, basting occasionally with the basting mixture, until a meat thermometer registers 140 degrees, about 1 hour.
  5. let stand still until cool enough to handle then remove the meat in one piece from the bones. wrap the meat in foil and set aside in a warm place while making the sauce


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup finely minced shallots
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate syrup
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons hot mustard
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/3 cup sweet vermouth
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock or pork jus
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. for the pork jus, roughly chop the bones with a large knife or cleaver. pour off the fat from the roasting pan. add the bones to the pan along with the chicken stock. bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the stock ha s a nice, rich pork flavor, about 30 minutes. strain. there should be 1 cup pork jus.
  2. for the sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. add the shallots and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. whisk together the pomegranate syrup, orange juice, and mustard and add to the pan. then add the ginger, cayenne, sweet vermouth, orange zest, and pork jus/chicken stock and simmer 1 to 2 minutes. add the honey and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. preheat the oven to 400 degrees. warm the pork roast in the oven for a few minutes until heated through. then slice and arrange on 6 serving plates. return the sauce to a simmer and spoon over the pork.

This is by far one of my favorite desserts to make, if only for the shock factor. It’s incredibly difficult to believe that sweet potatoes could be made so airy, so light, so fluffy, so…exquisite. If you can, serve each piece with a dollop of butter mixed with a little brown sugar and cinnamon or nutmeg.

This is from the New York Times Cookbook.

  • 2 lbs. sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 3 eggs, separated
  1. preheat oven to 400
  2. cook the sweet potatoes in boiling water until tender. Drain, peel, and mash until smooth
  3. Add the spices, salt, sugar, butter, and cream. Beat together. Add the egg yolks. Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold them into the mixture.
  4. Bake in a buttered soufflé mold or casserole for about 35 minutes, or until soufflé is well risen and brown. If desired, brush the top of the soufflé with melted butter and sprinkle lightly with light brown sugar before baking.

Créme brulèe snobs will try and make you believe that “polluting the custard” with something as potent as espresso is a crime against humanity, but I’ve always thought that Créme brulèe snobs are among the most offensive ideologues. Just make it. If you make sure to add the mint, I’m sure you’ll love it.

I don’t remember where I got this recipe, but I’ve modified it enough over the years to consider it mine.

  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cappucino (or coffee with milk, if need be)
  • 10 fresh mint leaves
  • 7 large egg yolks, beaten to blend
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated coffee beans
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine cream, milk, 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, cappucino, and mint in heavy medium saucepan.
  3. Bring mixture to boil. Set aside to cool.
  4. Strain cream mixture into medium bowl. Whisk in yolks to blend well. Stir in coffee beans.
  5. Pour cream mixture into six 1/2 cup ramekins. Arrange ramekins in baking pan. Add enough boiling water to pan to come halfway up sides of ramekins.
  6. Bake until cream mixture is set and moves only slightly when ramekin is shaken, about 30 minutes.
  7. Remove pan from oven and cool ramekins in pan. Cover and refrigerate ramekins until they’re chilled and firm.
  8. Just before serving, preheat broiler. Sprinkle each dessert with 1/2 teaspoon sugar.
  9. Broil until sugar caramelizes. Serve desserts immediately.

This is one of my favorites from Mark Bittman’s seafood bible, Fish. This recipe is best with the arugula, I think, but I always throw in just a tad of garlic regardless of what I stuff the steaks with. Definitely do this on a grill.

Don’t make the same mistake I made when I first attempted this recipe. Served with rice, a 1.25lb tuna steak will easily fill 2 adults, or maybe 3-5 waifs.

  • Juice of 3 limes
  • 1/4 cup high-quality soy sauce
  • 1 medium-size clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon strong mustard
  • 2 teaspoons peeled and finely minced fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine or water
  • 1 tuna steak, no less than 1 1/4 inches thick, about 1 1/2 lbs.
  1. Mix together all the ingredients except the tuna and arugula, marinate the tuna in it for no more than 1 hour (less is fine). Refrigerate if the weather is warm. Wash and pick over the arugula, remove woody stems.
  2. Start a charcoal or wood fire should be quite hot, or preheat a gas grill or broiler. Remove the tuna from the marinade and dry it gently with paper towels. Toss the arugula with the marinade. Using a sharp, thin-bladed knife (a boning knife, for example), make a small incision halfway down any edge of the tuna steak. Insert the knife almost to the opposite edge of the steak, then move it back and forth, flipping it over and creating a large pocket. Be careful not to cut through the top, bottom, or opposite edge of the tuna, and try to keep the entry point small.
  3. Stuff the pocket with the arugula, still drenched in marinade. If you’ve kept the pocket opening small, seal it with a toothpick, if it’s more than 1 to 2 inches wide, use a couple of skewers. Grill the tuna, turning once, about 6 minutes per inch of thickness (if your steak is 1 1/2 inches thick, for example, turn it after about 4 minutes and cook 4 to 5 minutes more). Serve, cut into quarters or 1/2 inch thick slices.

For garlic stuffed steaks, stuff the steaks with a mixture of 1/4 cup minced garlic, 1/2 cup chopped scallions (green and white parts), 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper.  Let the mixture mellow in the fish mixture of soy and oil before and during grilling.

This is a dinner salad. It’s savory and complex and stands alone, with just a bit of baguette to keep it company. This salad was the salad that made me love bleu cheese. This salad was the salad that opened my salad horizons.

  • ~3 oz crumbled Bleu cheese
  • 1/2 C walnut pieces
  • Greens – mesclun or spinach preferred
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1/4 C dried cranberries
  • 1 avocado, when not too expensive
  • 1 C raw broccoli, chopped
  • 1/2 C carrots, chopped (I use mini carrots – they keep better between salads)
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • X-virgin olive oil
  1. Melt a tablespoon of butter in a skillet and add a teaspoon of brown sugar. Once it dissolves completely, add walnuts and stir until completely coated. Keep stirring, 3 minutes or until walnuts are hot through and that lovely roasted nut smell is coming up. Cool walnuts.
  2. What we generally do with this salad is to serve it in two bowls: one for the greens, and one for everything else. That way, if you don’t eat it all in one sitting, you can store the leftovers without them getting nasty. If you’re serving this to guests, however, combine everything together & add the dressing, as separate bowls confuse people.
  3. Mix dressing in separate bowl – balsamic, olive oil, and crushed garlic
  4. Drizzle lightly with dressing – yum!
  5. Eat with crusty bread. Mmmmm.

Thanks to Bill Stevenson.

Sweet, summery, and crunchy-tasty, this salad is fast to make and tastes like something you might get in an ooh-la-la restaurant. The Brianna’s Poppyseed Salad Dressing is the perfect topper.

  • 1 can mandarin orange slices, in v. light syrup or pear juice.
  • Poppyseed salad dressing (sweet); I recommend Brianna’s – their other dressings are awful, but the poppyseed is ambrosia.
  • Baby spinach, well rinsed.
  • Half of a red onion, diced
  • Sunflower seeds
  1. Combine all ingredients.
  2. Drizzle liberally with dressing
  3. Eat with crusty bread. Mmmmm.

Thanks to Bill Stevenson.

Lentil Soup

February 12, 2003 — Leave a comment

This soup costs about $3 a pot to make. It serves about six people. It contains a complete protein, fiber, calcium, iron, and vitamin C. It only gets one pot dirty. It only takes about an hour. And it tastes great, especially on rainy winter days.

Ingredients A

  • 4 C water
  • 1 C lentils
  • 4 oz. frozen spinach, chopped (you’ll have to saw a block in half unless you want to double the recipe)
  • 2 potatoes, cubed
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 Knorr boullion cubes (or another brand, as specified for 4 cups water on package)

Ingredients B

  • 1.5 t ground coriander
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Handful of cooked rice, if you have some lying around (it makes a complete protein with the lentils)
  1. Put Ingredients A in big (5 quart) pot. Boil 1 hour.
  2. Add Ingredients B and stir.
  3. Boil 15 more minutes or until you get so hungry you can’t wait. Eat.

Serves ~6. And remember…the longer it sits, the better it gits…within reason, of course.

Thanks (again) to my wonderful mother Lynne.

Mac -n- cheese

February 12, 2003 — Leave a comment

“comfort food” is assuredly the right category for my mother’s homemade mac-n-cheese recipe.

  • 1 lb quality medium cheddar, shredded (I like Tillamook brand)
  • 2 lbs elbow macaroni
  • 1 quart milk
  • 1 stick butter
  • 3 T flour
  1. The first step is to make a basic roux. To do this, take a (non-stick, preferably) 2-quart saucepan and melt the butter in it on medium heat. Put the flour in a large tea-ball (this helps prevent clumping) and shake to add to butter slowly, whisking. When all flour is added, you should have a yellow paste that bubbles thickly. Keep whisking it over the heat until it turns more golden-brown than yellow. If it turns brown-brown, start over; it’s overcooked.
  2. Add milk to your roux, as well as about 2t salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste. I would add the full quart of milk – and then whisk, whisk until it, too, thickens and begins to bubble around the edges. This is your “white sauce”.
  3. Cook the macaroni until “al dente”. Drain.
  4. In two 9″x9″ ungreased pans, layer ingredients as follows:
    1. white sauce
    2. macaroni
    3. cheese
    4. white sauce, etc.
    5. End with a layer of white sauce that completely covers the top of the noodles – sprinkle cheese liberally over that.
  5. Cover one pan with tinfoil, and save for later!
  6. Bake one pan at 350&#176 until top turns brown and bubbly.

Serves 4 (per pan, so the whole recipe serves 8). I suggest serving it with lightly steamed broccoli or another green vegetable – it makes a perfect complement to the richness and cheesiness of the dish.

Thanks to my wonderful mother Lynne.