Thursday, June 26, 2008

Just a Little Something

Killing time in Barnes & Noble today, I thumbed through The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper. I was loving all the quotes inside and the overall design of the book, but this particular declaration caught my eye.

Tonight I am missing frothy waves and gritty sand.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Little String of Islands

You know what it's like to take the time to neatly roll pieces of clothing and tuck them into the corners of your suitcase so everything fits perfectly? I know that process all too well, but in my last two journeys those sardine-packed contents have become a mound inside my suitcase that forces me to keep the expanding zipper undone.

I left for Hawaii a week ago today and was there until Sunday. The next three nights I slept on different mattresses, one in San Francisco, one in Watsonville (I think?), and one in Stockton. I've decided to stick around this place for two more days. Then I don't even know where I'll be sleeping.
But let's talk Hawaii.

I've mentioned before my deep attachment to this little string of islands. I was born in Kona, on the Big Island, but both my mom and brother were born on Oahu, which has tended to be our family's island of choice whenever we're able to spend time there.

So I returned to Hawaii, but this time with a bigger agenda than spending time on the beach and frequenting Matsumoto. My friend got married! She was my next door neighbor in the freshman dorm at college and my fellow West Coaster in a sea of Texans. It was so wonderful to spend these final days of singleness with her (and then watch her get married to one incredible guy).

It's funny how most of my favorite shots ended up being of drinks. And I don't have many of the beach because I didn't want to risk getting my camera sandy. So I'll post some of my favorite pictures, to include you in this little celebration I just got to be part of, and I hope you enjoy them. (The one at the top is of the three other bridesmaids.)

On another note, I have to share the camera I was given on Monday. Still not sure how to operate the beautiful thing to its greatest potential, but I'll start experimenting soon!

Sunday, June 15, 2008


I just read that readers find constantly apologetic bloggers annoying. So I am un-apologizing. I am retracting my sorry attitude and even being so bold as to venture into atypical territory in this blog entry.

Nothing dramatic. Just no recipe. No apologies. Still plenty of pictures.

I loved cooking and baking before I started this blog. However, I did not realize how much I loved taking pictures. I always enjoyed looking at photography and trying my hand at it while on vacations, but that was about as far as I got. It has been a joy to incorporate my camera lens into my (almost) daily life since One Hungry Soul began.

In the next month and a half there will continue to be pictures and stories posted on this blog, and while there may be stories about food, it will not be the central content. Without apologizing to you readers, who I very much appreciate, I will extend this question:

Do you mind? I hope not.

I'm doing a lot of traveling from here on out and simply won't have much time in a kitchen. Also, I need a break from pouring over recipes and from the immediacy mentality of our consumer culture, at least in food form. It is a constant desire of mine to find balance in aspects beyond this as well. But for now, I'm looking to eat simply and gratefully (not that a food blog cannot be maintained in such a manner) and will enjoy the jumping on and off planes I get to do until the end of July.

I've embarked on the first leg of my summer adventures, which means that I'm sitting at my aunt's computer in northern California. The crickets are creating a unified buzz outside (...or maybe that's the power lines) and the not-quite-full moon is shining down from an otherwise blank sky. I love this kind of weather. After a hot day, when windows are able to be kept wide open until 10:30, and the cool breeze is fully appreciated.

I did not find Washington in such conditions. Our windows remained shut during the two weeks I was there, and my mom and I spent several evenings curled up with blankets watching movies together. I began to feel like I had traveled too far north (or south) into winter.

The weather didn't keep the kids I babysat one afternoon from taking me to their mossy forest playground. They are sweet old family friends and easy faces to photograph.

Today was my first full day staying with family in California, and I was awakened by my little cousin who was likely sent in by my aunt when I still hadn't gotten out of bed by 8:30 (a late hour for this crowd). Only two things helped me get up: my alarm clock was still set to Central Time, so I thought it was 10:30, and my camera was within arm's reach so I couldn't resist using the morning sun to get some shots of my cousin, who, in all her cuteness, was alternating between jumping on top of me and tugging my sheets off the bed.

We went to the farmer's market this morning. Another sweet reminder of why it's nice to be on the West Coast. The fresh fruits and vegetables are so abundant. And my favorite Indian food stand was still there, so we left with samosas, raita, and two other sauces/dips.

I have two more days here before I fly to Hawaii. Oh. the pictures I will get to take there! I have missed my sweet Hawaii, but more on that later.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

With A Swoon: Curried Polenta Fries

Recently, I am tempted to start each new blog post with "I am soooo sorry," for I have had trouble keeping up a consistent blogging pattern, especially compared to when I began this blog last October. I started out with such gusto when I discovered the world of food blogs and realized turning a camera lens toward food could capture a beautiful fleeting presence. I wanted to challenge myself to write (well) about the little details of mixing this into that and came to enjoy describing each bite of the finished product. I still love these things, but at this point I am attributing my sluggish behavior on One Hungry Soul to the fact that I am burned. out.

By the time another college school year ends my body is always weary, my brain is fried, and my creativity waning from pumping out one artistic project after another. I am grateful for the education I am receiving, though, and know that in August I will be able to go back excited about a new set of subjects to learn. For now, I just need some rest.

Backtracking a week or two, I was still in Abilene plugging away at a three week intensive ceramics course and my cupboards were starting to look particularly bare as I tried to use up ingredients that wouldn't make it through the summer. Alone on one end of a shelf sat my bag of cornmeal, and suddenly, perhaps in a rebellion against the hot sun that had beat down all day, I was craving polenta. And then I thought about an old post of Molly's at Orangette that had made quite an impression on me when I first read it. She had written about polenta fries, and the idea of that cornmeal taste taking on the textures of a soft creamy center and a crusty outside made my qualms about deep frying subside...for the moment....

I cannot hear or say the word "deep fry" without thinking of my mother's own articulation of those sounds while growing up. They were said slowly, regretfully, each syllable weighed down with disgust. I soon took on the same reaction, only excusing the occasional, extra-impressive batch of french fries or tempura, and when I actually attempted the process once while making beignets with friends, the smell that permeated the house caused me to lose my appetite. And all that hot oil? The color, the smell, how deeply it soaks into whatever is immersed in it, well, I would prefer to avoid that, thank you very much.

All that to say, I was still drawn to these polenta fries and proceeded to make them. Taking some liberties of my own, I used water instead of broth and depended on spices to deepen the flavor. The closest spice jar on hand was a bewitching smelling curry powder and as I stood there waiting for the water to boil I remembered my Indian roommate had left a green mango pickle in the refrigerator. Without another thought, I sprinkled a generous amount of curry powder into the cornmeal.

When it came time to deep fry, my mom's voice was not only still echoing in my ears but common sense told me that so much oil is simply better avoided . The polenta was good enough to eat in strips, cold from the fridge, and I have to admit that by the time I decided how to reheat it, half was already gone. Even still, I wanted the experience of a crispy exterior, and so I settled with a borderline deep frying technique: in a skillet with a couple tablespoons of canola oil.

And let me tell you, the simple little strips of crispy polenta laid before me on a plate that night were good, as in draw-that-word-out-with-a-swoon good. And the house didn't smell like carnival funnel cakes at all. My housemates walked into the kitchen asking if I had made pancakes!

Now for the recipe: I followed Molly's adapted recipe, except that I substituted water for broth, added 1-2 teaspoons of curry powder to the still-forming polenta, and replaced asiago cheese with a tablespoon of cream cheese (...the little tub was just sitting in the fridge threatening to expire and since I didn't have any cheese on hand and had just watched a whole stick of butter melt away in the polenta, I shrugged my shoulders and scooped in some more creaminess/saturated fat). When the chilling stage was done I heated up a little bit of oil in a skillet and carefully placed strips of polenta in it, flipping them with the help of a second spatula when one side became golden and crusty.