By Tiffany Ran
Northwest Asian Weekly
Last week, I went on a picnic — a “summer picnic” to be specific — and it rained. Weather aside, the food was great, but I was certain that our calling it a summer picnic caused the weather to get testy.
So, it hasn’t been all sunshine these past few days, but lucky for us, we live in a place where food can be enjoyed anywhere.
For starters, novices and experienced cooks alike can go to the bookstore, where they’ll find Alice Currah’s new cookbook, “Savory Sweet Life.” Currah started out as a food blogger who became known for her step-by-step photographs, turning many timid cooks to domestic gods and goddesses. Like her blog, Currah’s cookbook has the how-to photos we know and love, but also more. The beautifully photographed cookbook gives us an intimate look behind her life as a mother and wife, celebrating Father’s Day with her family, and dare I say it, summer fun in the sun, as one chapter is called.
If that aforementioned bit on summer serves to prolong our rainy season, here are some new ways to explore new cuisines while staying warm and dry.
Those who agree that food is art will enjoy the current exhibit at the Wing, “From Fields to Family: Asian Pacific Americans and Food.” The exhibit explores traditions, techniques, and stories of cultural traditions, complete with the sights and smells of Asian cuisines. The exhibit, organized by local historians, food writers, union organizers, and farmers, compels us to look closer at the connectivity of food and its preparation to culture and community. The exhibit also features local culinary power players, like Revel chef Rachel Yang and a video documentary about Hawaiian food truck turned brick and mortar spot Marination Station.
Cooking classes are your best bet to eating well without having a stack of dirty dishes to rain on your parade. Another local blogger, Shirley Karasawa of Lovely Lanvin, has been teaching bento making classes at Tom Douglas’ Summer Camp, Whole Foods, the Wing, and other locations.
Mashiko chef Hajime Sato teaches about sake and sustainable sushi at Diane’s Market Kitchen.
Mindless eating? No more. The food experts of our region are as plentiful as the knowledge we stand to gain. Whether it’s as close as our own computers or a cooking class at a museum, it means that some delicious eats await as we tough out the rain. Though the weather may affect many things around these parts, there is never a shortage of food discoveries to be had beyond the food on our plates. (end)
Rain or shine, try Alice Currah’s rainy day recipe of choice:
MAKES 4 DOZEN COOKIES
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1½ cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt
- 2¼ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1. Preheat the oven to 360°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. Using a hand or stand mixer, cream the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar together on medium- high speed for 3 minutes, until nice and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla, and mix for 2 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. When the cookie dough has absorbed the dry ingredients, stir in the chocolate chips and mix until they are well distributed.
3. Drop 2 tablespoons of dough (or use a medium cookie scoop) onto the cookie sheet for each cookie, spacing them 2 inches apart. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the edges are nice and golden brown. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and allow the cookies to cool for 2 minutes. Then slide the parchment paper, with the cookies still on top, onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Cook’s note: Kosher salt can be substituted for the sea salt.
Why 360°F? The loss of heat when the oven door opens affects the rise of the cookie dough. By increasing the oven temperature, the cookies bake slightly higher and develop a nice crispy edge while the inside remains soft.
Just for fun: Add 1 cup chopped nuts for added crunch and flavor. I love using walnuts, almonds, pecans, or macadamia nuts.
Troubleshooting: If your cookies turn out flat, here are some possible reasons:
• Your baking powder and/or baking soda is old and expired. If either of these ingredients is more than a year old and has not been stored in a sealed (preferably airtight) container, it has likely lost its leavening power.
• It’s not enough to just cream the butter and sugars until they have come together. This recipe requires you to mix them for at least 3 minutes, until the texture is light and fluffy.