babas newsletter, issue 2
We hope our July musings about what we're eating, drinking and cooking find you well, and we look forward to seeing you from a distance soon!
The babas team
So there’s this Marie Kondo school of thought. Doesn’t spark joy? Toss. But I was reading Sam Sifton’s delightful new cookbook, See You on Sunday, and he inspired a different approach. He writes about how pleasurable cooking can be when your kitchen is properly kitted and vittled. I like how he thinks. I’ll gladly ask myself if, say, a roasting pan has brought me enough joy, but if the answer is no, it’s probably my fault, not the pan’s. Instead of getting rid of it, I try to find a recipe that uses it and then I cook that recipe until I’ve found the joy of success. Let’s call it reverse-Kondoing. Two Christmases ago, my brother got me this pellet smoker gizmo (with a million wood pellets), but I was nervous to use it. For years. Last month, I finally made time to go on YouTube and study the techniques I found there to minimize the risk of hospitalization, and it turns out my brother’s gift is unbelievably quick and easy to use. I smoked peppers and pork shoulders. At babas, we made a whole yellowfin tuna from Abundant Seafood into a delicious, lightly smoky conserva. Now I’m smoking everything. Sure, I could quit any time I want to, but I really enjoy it, and I just picked up a fresh pack of pellets.
Ah Riesling: The wine somms love to love, and the wine about which everyone else loves to say "I don't like sweet." But I'm telling you! Riesling is a.) not always sweet, in fact they're often bracingly dry, crisp, and shimmering with mineral-driven complexity and b.) even when a Riesling is sweet, it's "fruitiness" is nothing to freak out about. Do you like margaritas? Margaritas are sweet! But, just like well made Riesling, any sweetness is balanced by bright acidity. I've been preaching the Riesling gospel for a long time now and have only become more convicted as I've tasted more...and more. For me, Riesling is right up there with Nebbiolo as being one of the greatest wine grapes in the world—its transparent expression of the terroir where it was grown, the complexity and delightful range of its aromas (stone fruit, lime, orange zest, flowers, on and on), its mouthwatering acidity, its ability to age for decades. Fave of the moment: Hermann Dönnhoff - Estate Riesling Trocken.
Some folks got into bread baking during quarantine, I got into making fresh milled, Mexican corn tortillas! It’s so fascinating, so fun, so delicious and one of the most complicated culinary endeavors I’ve ever undertaken. But, it seems simple! Boil gorgeous dried corn from Masienda with culinary Lime (aka calcium hydroxide), hand mill it to a fine dough, flatten it and cook it. But to get the desired outcome has completely eluded me thus far. I do get close sometimes but a perfect or even passable tortilla is nowhere in sight. But this is why I am captivated. Yes fresh corn tortillas are delicious, rich in aroma and so satisfying. But in addition to that, the nervousness and joy in knowing that each time I make a tortilla there will be something to learn, something to improve upon, is what I first fell in love with about cooking! It is so exciting to discover a new rabbit hole.
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