i am a purist. just recently became really comfortable with dealing in substitutions; & if they happen they have to be really specific... like yesterday, when i was shopping for bluefish. sometimes weekends are more busy than weekdays, right? it all started with a somber apology from nashira. 'i'm sorry i broke your computer, mama.' which was OK, only b/c that nasty fever i thought was gone last week?
which was apparently going around - a little epidemic among the wee ones & i'm not going to jinx the situation by saying everything's fine now - WHY did i take her to THAT party? why? - but still... can you stand it?
so she could do no wrong, even though i know that this amount of guilt (she ripped all the keys off my laptop about 2 weeks ago) around any incident of misbehavior means that she has, again, BEEN touching my computer. le sigh. but upon turning it on, there it was, dead. no yo gabba gabba, no sesame street, no super why. the party was (mostly) over. she has some sadly over watched blue's clues & such so i slapped that on, & left her with daddy while i jetted uptown to my mac guy. (what a wierdo - love him to death & he's a total genius, but he's like one of the furry IT guys from the X-files - you literally cannot get into his apt w/all of the macs of differing ages piled on top of one another. it is unbelievable.)
anywhoo since he's uptown from us, a visit to fairway was a must. i've loved fairway for years. but i wasn't loving the attitude of the guy @ the fish counter. no siree bob. from the perspective of someone who has been suffering the hard knocks of working w/the public since she was 16, i really hate shitty retail service, like when the first answer to any given question is no? i generally make it my business to find the thing i had been told doesn't exist, & show it to the person who hates their job. but with a sheet of glass protecting the inventory, i had no choice but to accept this jerk's answer when he told me that not only were they out of bluefish, but that they could not even SUGGEST a substitute. i mean, had it been me, (yes, even @ 16) the answer was in plain sight: salmon, one of the few fish on display is quite fishy, rich, & clean so what's the problem? oh well. he wasn't suggesting it. so i wasn't buying it. they were out of yucca, so i was going to have to hit Whole Check in any case.
on the way over, a cab driver asked, which one is better? & i had to admit that it was really 6 of one, 1/2 dozen of the other. this week, the salmon steaks were $1/more a pound @ fairway than @ whole paycheck.
& to top of no bargain weekend, there was another surprise! no merchandise! no bluefish... & no yucca. WTF??? @ this point, time was ticking. i had to meet my editor to fine tune the manuscript, & we had WORK to do. lots. this fish thing had to be worked out quick, fast, in a hurry & i didn't have time to be running all over little Senegal for sub-par freshness & little idea of place of origin.
but they were trying to make their sale @ whole paycheck. so i went with homeboy's enthusiastic suggestion: mackerel. love it. fishy, clean, not quite as meaty but so what? friends, do it within reason,but feel free to play. i think i put myself in a self-imposed gilded cage early in my career, by being so... i can only describe it as narrow minded when faced with the challenge of a missing ingredient. obviously no one wants to see you serving ketchup as tomato sauce, but with something like bluefish to mackerel, lemon to lime, cracked long grain rice as opposed to sushi rice feel free! BTW, yes, i served the thiebou djen with sushi rice. yes.
on the way, it occurred to me: why doesn't uptown have a food coop?
food coops are brilliant, & can offer extremely high quality, fresh organic produce, free range birds & four leggeds even honey, @ 20 - 50% BELOW retail b/c there is no payroll. the coop part means that every shopper also works. i think it could happen.
i mean, the (nazi-ish) park slope one has been going on forever, with people coming FROM uptown to attend, so what is our problem? i am not going out to brooklyn to do a workslot/shop that sounds like a nightmare. but what about uptown? we have it in us, care about our food, etcetera. so what's up? i think it's really about what form it would take: there are ones that meet with a farmer @ an arranged location, as my friend Nikki Jo Blair/Eye Serene does, (so, SO dope!) when they come into the city. a group of like minded people might want to pool their order... but what about one where you have a space, & a workslot modeled after park slope, but uptown? & what about one that made sure to incorporate Black farmers? hmmm...
any thoughts out there? do you live uptown? what form would you like to see your coop take?
talk to me.
Calvin (my oh-so-Carribbean-fiance, & Nashira's father) was howling with hunger as was Desiree, my editor/sista! & of course Nashira, but she was still getting over her illness, so i suspect that she was really howling for juice & crackers - it became apparent that i would have to make something while we were all waiting for the fish prep & baking to happen since i was making a. lot. of brine (found in my last post), i was able to pull some to brine up the chicken quickly (no more than 30 minutes if it's cut into small pieces, about 1 hr. per pound otherwise) & fry it. some gravy & some corn on the cob with a salad, & you are in business.
olive oil 1 cup
balsamic 1/2 - 2/3 cup
6 cloves garlic
juice of 1 lemon
thai fish sauce 3 drops or for vegans, bragg's amino acids
pepper black or tri-colored
2 TBPS mustard
throw everything except the oil in the blender - then add the oil & blend till emulsified.
but it was worth the wait. when the fish came out of the oven, we were all gratified...
oh yeah, & the fried chicken - this recipe is post brine:
1 3# fryer cut into pieces
flour to coat
seasoning salts - i use whatever i am playing with that week or mix up paprika, garlic, mixed dried herbs such as parsley thyme, savory, basil, lemon pepper, milled pepper, black or mixed, & if you have any other ideas, that seem compatible, throw them in!
oil to fry
it's that simple, y'all. i threw the chicken into the flour while i was heating the oil. when it starts to pop, toss in the chicken - well not really toss, & fry until the chicken pieces float. 5 - 10 min for wings, 15 -20 for breasts & thighs, constantly turning to brown evenly on all sides.
the best blotting for this is paper towels on brown paper bags.
cooked the sushi rice in 1 part to 1 & 1/2 parts water:
2 cups rice
2 tbps butter
2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
3 cups water
in a pot with a tight fitting lid (or a plate) stir & fry the rice in the melted fats until translucent. add the herbs & the water. cover & bring to boil, never disturbing the cover. when boiling, lower heat to an extremely slow simmer. keep it like this for 15 min. then let sit, STILL undisturbed for another 15 min.
everyone loved the thiebou djen, but my favorite part was watching Calvin feed Nashira the corn on the cob...
(can you believe Calvin's mad @ me about my other husbands??? what a party pooper.)
got a couple parties to do this week, so expect many more pics, & a breakdown of those menus w/pics next week.
i'll keep you posted on my progress w/the coop.
thank you for your time.