Wednesday, February 8, 2012

OMG a Recipe (sort of): I Just Like to Look at the Pictures

You know how it goes... you get the mail, a particular magazine shows up, you thumb through it, ignore all the wordsy articles and just ogle the photos. No... not that magazine, you naughty bugger. What did you think I was talking about, Willis? I am referring to the handy-dandy Martha Stewart/Omnimedia concoction, Everyday Food. Snark if you will, my mom gifted me the subscription and you never want to look a gift horse in the mouth. Especially if it's from Mom. It leads me to today's post theme, which is similar to my logic behind Ikea furniture -- I often don't even read the instructions, I just look at the picture and throw stuff together. Don't you?? 

Recipes are overrated, just copy the picture - Photo by Wasabi Prime
Regardless of the fact that it was a nice gift from Wasabi Mom, I'm not dropping any hatorade on Everyday Food. The magazine title doesn't lie -- these are all dishes you could make every day, with nods to time constraints, availability of ingredients and a fairly even-handed balance on nutrition and budget. I especially like the little grocery checklist they put in every issue, and its small size makes it handy to bring to the store, check things off, and Shazam-wow, you're set for more than a week's worth of meals plus desserts and snacks. It's for the people who want to eat well with home-cooked meals, but not fuss, likely because they're balancing a schedule of a full time job, plus being a taxi for all the kids' activities and playdates. For as many food nerds that are out there, they are outnumbered by Everybody Else, so no, a truffled poached quail's egg on a velvet puree of parsnips probably won't show up in the magazine, but that's okay, there's other magazines for that. As least I hope so. That actually sounds kinda good for being made up on the fly.

And the pictures are great! I rip out so many food photos in all magazines, just to keep a collection of things to inspire me. The signature Martha Stewart minimalism is a clean look I appreciate, and I like seeing the little food props they use, especially for the cookie issues, where it's tissue paper and baker's twine galore. And you can't have too many of those Asian soup spoons -- they make such darn good props for small bites, especially sitting on a stacking of small, completely impractical tasting dishes. Even though no one really eats like that, who cares, it makes the food look real purdy-like for the camera.

Sometimes you just want pineapple and green beans. Apparently,  I did - Photos by Wasabi Prime
Speaking of pictures, it was the shot of the Beef and Pineapple Red Curry dish in the fall issue of Everday Food made me go, "Dag, yo -- I wanna make that!" I think I had an odd craving for tart pineapple. Or perhaps my scurvy was acting up again, compelling me to make something with a large dose of vitamin C. I remember scanning the recipe at one point, putting it aside, then deciding a month later I would make it, and just starting to chop up vegetables and ingredients willy-nilly. It wasn't until I had the wok sizzling away with some sliced pork that I saw, oh, it's a beef recipe. And there's a need for curry paste, which I don't have. About the only two things I had from the recipe were pineapple and green beans, because the picture clearly showed those ingredients. Think of it more as not cooking by recipe, but by inspiration, of a photo showing these luscious chunks of pineapple mixed with shreds of meat and big pieces of green beans. Martha Stewart and the minions you probably brow-beat to come up with this dish, you are my muses.To marinate the pork-that-was-supposed-to-be-beef, I used the seasonings I had on-hand, which included some soy sauce, a splash of fish sauce, chili paste, rice vinegar, and some sugar to balance out the acid. I'm sure red curry would have been a knockout, but I didn't have it and I don't think the dish suffered, because I had my food-heart set on something with beans and pineapple, and I prepared them the way I interpreted the photo, with a bit of savory heat, but not too strong a seasoning so that you can't appreciate the ingredients.

So yes, there's a recipe if you want it -- the link to the beef and pineapple curry recipe is above, but consider just throwing caution and recipes to the wind the next time you see a lovely photo of food that stirs your appetite. Sometimes it's not the dish that's alerting your craving, but an ingredient in it. Follow that desire and see where it leads, you might come up with something even better.

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