Birthday Redux


crispy horse mackerel

It has been a long time. I’ve been to Japan and back, again, and I don’t think I’ve even posted photos from last year’s trip here; somehow priorities shift. I became so consumed with another priority last year that I found myself uninspired even walking through a farmers market. Gah! Thankfully I’ve adjusted a bit, and I’m finding more of a balance. I’d say I’m more balanced and happy than I’ve ever been, really, which is bizarre, as I still only make pit stops at home and at times feel like I’m completely controlled by another being… my calendar. But food is more a part of my life again. Those were dark food times, last year. Ha.

Monday I redeemed a birthday dinner raincheck, and found myself at Blue Ribbon Sushi Brooklyn. Being inside there on that intensely foggy night digging into a cup of chawanmushi was divine (does anyone have a good recipe for it?). I found their offering to be better than what I had in Japan. We had a number of pieces of sushi and sashimi, notably the best uni I’ve ever had – it tasted of melon (pepino melon? couldn’t quite place it). Among the sashimi was delicious horse mackerel, served leaned up against its former structure which was beautifully sculptural, skewered with head and tail curved up as if in motion. When we finished the sashimi, they took the skeleton away, fried it, and brought back the crispy bits you see above. The bones of a horse mackerel are soft enough to eat when fried! Amazing. Really beautiful quality, presentation, and service, all of it, and the food was incredible. I’m thankful to have eased back into stateside Japanese food in such a manner.

I miss Japan so much.

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By the way, the manager of BR Sushi Brooklyn was totally delightful to chat with, and my friend told me later that she makes beautiful ceramics. They’ve inspired me… I’ve been daydreaming all week about quitting my job and making art (or at least making more art when I’m not at work!).

Joy By Post

[124/365]

A few days ago, I received a most amazing package in the mail.

I’ve received some pretty wonderful packages in my life, largely because my Pop lived nearly 2000 miles away from me when I was growing up. On most holidays, and sometimes without occasion, he would send music, artwork, articles, art supplies, and all manner of other things. I also have dear friends who occasionally send artwork.

Somehow (big surprise here) the packages that stand out in my mind are the ones that involve food. When my grandparents lived in California and had an orchard, my grandma would send me a box of fuyu persimmons every year for my birthday. I loved those boxes of fruit! One of my best friends told me recently that every time she sees persimmons she thinks of those boxes from my grandma. Eventually my grandparents moved to Washington. I cried a little when I ate the last persimmon from the last package. The orchard I credit with much of my food appreciation is now a housing development. Sad ending.

Another exquisite package was one from my friend GP, who I had told just a day or two before that I’d never had Kimbo espresso. I went into work and there was a small package that had been overnighted from him: one vacuum pack of Kimbo and an adorable single serving moka pot. I seriously cherished that thing, and that espresso too! This one has a sad ending, too: a sketchy girl was at my house with GP once, and she was apparently pretty jealous of our friendship – she stole my beloved espresso percolator after learning that he had given it to me. I was so, so bummed (and angry). Wow, I didn’t realize until now that my amazing consumable packages were so bittersweet.

Back to the package I just received (there’s still hope for a happy ending!). My friend KCC recently married into a family with a ponderosa lemon tree. Her husband’s grandfather, now 93, planted this tree sixty years ago. It bears enormous fruit, each one the size of three good sized lemons. KCC sent me twelve of these lemony dinosaur eggs late last week!!

When I opened the box, not long before midnight last Thursday, I’m pretty sure I squealed and jumped around a little. All of a sudden the room was perfumed with a lemony citron smell, and I was overwhelmed with the need to bake. I asked the internet what to make, and the internet responded: lemon olive oil cake. So, I washed, dried, and zested one of the monsters (so much zest!), and wrestled with it until I’d extracted all of the juice. Lemon #1 dwarfed my lowly manual orange juicer, and I had to keep stopping to dump the juice through a strainer into a separate container (these are fertile – so many seeds!). I ended up with just under a cup of lemon juice from a single lemon. Whoa.

I made mini cupcakes (fail – they ended up too dry), cupcakes (pretty good, probably won’t make them again), and then used some of the remaining juice to wash a few of them down with lemonade. By this time it was 1:50 (on a weeknight), and I was wide awake. Somehow I justified walking down the street to my local bar with Lemon #2*, which was gifted to D, the owner (I had mentioned them to him before, when they were en route).

Since then I’ve baked breaded chicken which I served doused with lemon juice (Lemon #1), I’ve baked lemon pepper popovers (zest from Lemon #1), and I’ll likely use the rest of the zest in a lemon cream cheese frosting (I made carrot cupcakes on Sunday). I have a bit less than a quarter cup of juice from Lemon #1.

I have ten more lemons! I desperately want to respect these and use every last bit, so I’ve been fishing around for recipes, from friends and online. Please, if you have good ones share or link to them in a comment. Of particular interest to me would be savory recipes… I’m going to kill myself with the baked goods. Only recipes that use a lot of lemon juice or zest, by the way, I’m not f*cking around with only a tablespoon of juice. Remember, I have to get through the equivalent of 30 lemons in the next week or so. Help? Thanks.

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It has just occurred to me that I am the same age as Grandpa C was when he planted his lemon tree. Eek! I need to find a place to start planting fruit trees.

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*As of last night, D was still scheming on how to approach Lemon #2. I will update as information becomes available.