Blog Fodder for Foodies

If you’re a foodie and you find you have a lot of free time whilst in front of a computer, you may already be a blog-hound… it’s a burgeoning if hidden food scene in Austin. I (or more accurately, my fridge) was recently featured on Relish Austin, written by new Statesman food writer Addie Broyles. Along the left side of her blog is a list of other Austin food blogs (of varying degrees of webworthiness)… you’ll have to assess them but there are some gems. My favorite bite-sized food blog is the video section of Mark Bittman’s Bitten Blog. To me he’s just a lot more likeable and humble than a lot of the figures in food today, and he has plenty of simple wisdom to help people develop a good food culture in their homes. His recent article on using your pantry and refrigerator space wisely is great. For an example of his approach to releasing yourself from reliance upon recipes, you might check his article on simple summer recipes, obviously not timely now but shows an approach to home cooking that’s very valuable. He’s kind of a cooking coach.

In conversations both personal and via email, I’ve been developing a sense that people are in need of cooking coaches, especially those that are time-pressed by the demands of raising young children and further pressed by a desire to eat well and feed their loved ones well. Add to that a feeling of inadequacy in the kitchen and a frustration that you were never taught a vital skill for a human being, and somehow watching Rachel Ray doesn’t help restore that confidence. I’m in the curious position of being in charge of selling the labor and cost saving aspects of our food to folks but also wanting to share my love for the myriad rewards that cooking for oneself provides. I guess they’re not mutually exclusive.

Getting to the point of enjoying instead of dreading these daily tasks is a long road in itself… I’m reminded of that by my current frustrations learning to play piano. My teacher, in efforts to demonstrate the cool things that can be done with each song, plays with such fluidity and joy that it ends up pissing me off. I wonder if that’s what my friends feel when I try to cajole them into the fun of cooking, nay, cooking with a baby in the kitchen. I think that reading Bittman as I mentioned above is a great start… his “How to Cook Everything” books have great prefaces that give strategies for keeping the kitchen stocked well and so forth. I have my own ideas and I’m sure many of you do too. It has to do with how you use space, how you shop, what equipment you need (and don’t need), how you organize your brain, how you store ingredients and leftovers, how you do dishes, etc., etc., etc. If you get it all working well, “scraping something together from the pantry” can become like our dinner last night… banana leaf wrapped packets of coconut rice, fish and caramelized bananas. It was indeed a perfect day for bananafish…