I have always disliked mushrooms. I thought it was their flavor, and indeed that took some getting used to, but I realized this year that my real aversion to mushrooms was to their texture. I trained myself not to instantly push them aside in restaurants, instead taking a bite of mushroom mixed in with other things I liked, such as potatoes, pasta, or meat. The big change, though, came with my introduction to dried mushrooms, which have a good flavor but very different texture than fresh mushrooms. Porcinis in particular are so good that I willingly ordered a porcini mushroom pizza from Christo’s on one occasion, and even liked it. After that I was more willing to try dealing with fresh mushrooms at home, and have tried cooking with several varieties so far, including cremini, shiitake, and oyster.
I finally started eating other salads than Caesar this year. We started out by trying to emulate the pear salad at Da Vinci, and that turned out to be a really good thing, not just for my willingness to eat salad. It also helped me realize just how easy it is to make a tasty vinaigrette, and encouraged us to try new cheeses, like Ciresa Mountain Gorgonzola, and Montchevre Crottin goat cheese. But probably most importantly, it helped me get over my mental blockage against mixing fruit and vegetables, so I now eat salads with pears, apples, and/or pomegranate arils (still working on other fruits…. these things take time).
- White truffle oil is yummy with eggs. It’s also so expensive that we kind of hoped we wouldn’t like it, but no such luck.
- Jeremy learned that salt isn’t all bad, and in some cases, it’s actually really good and pretty important.
- We started making our own pasta, and with the KitchenAid pasta attachment, it’s not that difficult.
- Fresh shelling beans from the farmer’s market are way yummy, and worth seeking out. Swiss chard is also way yummy, much easier to find, and good for multiple meals, what with the thick ribs.
- The right equipment really does make a huge difference. Jeremy will now only eat bacon at home that has been cooked in our cast-iron skillet.
- Safeway still occasionally surprises me, making me less frustrated that it is the only grocery store in walking distance. In recent months particularly, I’ve found new goodies like pancetta, orecchiette, forbidden rice, sunchokes/celeriac/taro, cherimoya/quince/persimmons, etc. (Still no fresh figs, quinoa, imported tuna, or Kettle Tortilla Chips, and no guarantees that the checkers will recognize the produce you want to buy…) But at least now there is a Whole Foods near Lake Oswego that we can get to in a rental car.