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Cooking with Emily

[At Green Gulch Farm, July 2011.]

A weekend of good eating and, as sometimes happens, not too many photographs taken. My sister-in-law Emily is in town, and thus we meandered and farmers marketed and drank drinks in West Marin and petted an orange-and-white cat at the farm and wished for the sun in Stinson (fog all the day-long) and yoga-d and drank iced coffees in the park and shopped a wee bit and ate dinner at Zuni Cafe (perhaps not the very best place for vegetarians, but c’est la vie) and went to bed early. A good weekend and a mellow and relaxing one to boot, even if the camera lay quiet. Perhaps sometimes it’s better that way? (Still, thank goodness for the iphone.)

[Pelican Inn drinks, July 2011.]

Emily, as I have mentioned probably many, many times by now, is a fantastic cook as well as a cooking instructor — which means that she knows all the tricks and tips (how to properly slice an onion, grow a kitchen garden, and can describe how to make pizza dough with great ease, etc., etc.) that go into preparing a good meal, and she also knows intrinsically what will taste right. She (and my brother) and I, I think, have a similar cooking aesthetic — we cook fairly straightforward food with good ingredients that is never boring (I hope!) despite its simplicity. And, we love to do it. She has already volunteered to bake a flourless chocolate cake for my wedding this fall — I must provide something for the gluten-free folk in attendance, you see, thus upping the cakes to three at this point — and we had a simultaneously giddy yet serious discussion about should it be one or two tiers, should it incorporate ganache, what recipe should be employed (probably the Julia Child one).

So cooking with Emily is a joy and an all-too-infrequent pleasure I do not take for granted. Perhaps this is was in the back of my mind when I took her to the Fillmore farmers market on Saturday morning? There, I first bought a gorgeous (perhaps second-most gorgeous I’ve ever seen) head of lettuce and some radishes from a youngish farm that’s started selling there — we would have salad soon, for sure. I congratulated the guy who sells the delicious fresh eggs on his recent graduation and thought about the next morning’s breakfast. By the time we made it to my usual farmer’s spot and were galvanized by the piles of beautiful corn on the cob, it was a foregone conclusion that we’d cook dinner together that night.

We made: corn, shaved off the cob, and sauteed with slivers of red onion, garlic, butter and salt and pepper (Emily); three tiny pale green summer squashlets sliced finely and simmered with lots of garlic and olive oil with chickpeas added near the end (me); roasted red and new potatoes (me); a large salad (Emily made the dressing, I did the greens); roasted heirloom tomatoes; with a slab of smoked salmon for the omnivores. We sipped glasses of red wine, our appetites sharpened by a ramble along some of the dirt paths near Muir Beach, and ate and ate — we were too full for the gluten-free brownies I’d baked, even.

And then, last night. Oh, last night. I love to cook for others, yes, and I love to cook with, and even more I love to be cooked for every so often, especially after a long day when the last thing you can bear to think about is what to make for dinner. Lucky, then, that Emily stayed another night in the city before departing for points south and further adventure. She treated us to a feast: corn enchiladas stuffed with roasted sweet potatoes and cheddar cheese and corn and topped with a homemade enchilada sauce, more market salad, brown rice, beans cooked down from scratch and then mashed into creamy perfection. I am eying my lunch as I type — glorious leftovers — and wondering how early is too early to eat it.

[Dinner, July 2011.]

Well, you get the general idea.

Summer these days is very grey and very green, at least in some parts, and so I suppose I must embrace the fog for the gifts it provides. I am crossing my fingers for sun, good news tomorrow, and that the vacation I desperately need will occur tout de suite.

And I’m crossing my fingers I’ll cook with Emily again very soon — next time, I will takes notes and tuck away the recipes for further exploration and sharing here.

ETA: She also made yummy and decadent vanilla baked custards. Spoiled. Utterly.


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