Here’s the recipe for that delicious cioppino! Niles has made two batches of this in recent weeks, and both times it was delicious. I had eaten cioppino before, but I had always assumed it was Italian, not Italian-American. Pretty cool that it was invented in San Francisco, right? Niles (who was also invented in San Francisco) was kind enough to thoughtfully help me figure out the best times for each kind of seafood, which is pretty helpful… but as always, trust your own instincts. If your fish looks opaque, if your shrimp is nicely pink, it’s good to go. Niles points out that if you get crab or mussels already out of the shell, it’s often already cooked, in which case you only want it heated through. And if your seafood is frozen, just let it cook another extra minute or two – seafood cooks fast, and it’s easy to overcook it, but if you’re paying attention you should be fine.
Anyway, cioppino is my favorite kind of recipe – one with a simple base, a general structure, and lots of delicious optional variations, open to some improvisation.
There should be a word for that kind of recipe. Should we invent one? What do you think of “Smorgasbowl”?
So Giuseppe Bazzuro, as the story goes, had a restaurant that he built in an abandoned fishing boat. When the city of San Francisco filled in the bay, he built a restaurant and a house where the boat was, both of which burned in the fire after the great earthquake. I really, really, really wanted to draw Giuseppe’s abandoned fishing boat restaurant, but I couldn’t find more than a sentence or two about him here and there, I couldn’t find any photo reference at all for him or the boat. Niles thinks I could have just drawn Mario with a “G” on his cap, but that seems like more than a little bit of a disservice to the man who by many accounts popularized cioppino.
Anyway! Stay tuned, part two of cioppino will be a recipe!
It has been a long, long, long winter in the northern Midwest, you guys. I think it’s been colder this last week than it’s been most December or January! Everyone is impatient for spring, and everyone wants to murder a certain lying groundhog. Randi and I had just finished jogging and were standing on the corner chatting. We didn’t even know this lady! But we’ve all been living in this city for the past few months, which makes us partners in misery. I’ve heard that it was 80 degrees this time last year. I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around that; I kind of don’t remember it.
I certainly don’t remember all of us walking around naked, though.
Here’s a little affirmation for your Monday. :) I was thinking about this the other day. None of my personal heroes are supermodels. Not that being a supermodel isn’t challenging work, but when I think of the short list of my personal role models, they’re people who’ve done or made wonderful things, people who would be awesome at what they do no matter what they looked like.
So if it’s the things I do and the things I make that matter, why am I so hard on myself for the way I look?
Interestingly, the song “Yes, We Have no Bananas” was probably written about the scarcity of Big Mike (Gros Michel) bananas in the wake of the first wave of Panama Disease.
Gros Michel isn’t extinct, by the way. The crops have just been so widely damaged by Panama Disease that it’s not commercially viable to grow and ship them in bulk. The fungus that’s attacking Cavendish plantations right now started in Malaysia, and has spread to Indonesia, and is starting to affect Africa and Australia. It’s not anywhere in Latin America now, but given the state of global trade and commerce, it’s kind of only a matter of time. It’s also spreading faster than the strain that killed Gros Michel did.
The suckers, or rhizomes, that come off a banana tree are called “pups”. Banana pups! Isn’t that adorable? It’s actually pretty frustrating though when you’re trying to research the topic and Google image search just returns a bunch of these:
Not that dogs in banana costumes aren’t cute! But come on.
Just like with avocados and mushrooms and anything else, there are many, many varieties of banana out there. But something like 95% of bananas bought and consumed in the US are Cavendish, and Cavendish only. As someone who eats bananas for breakfast just about every single day, I’ll admit that Cavendish bananas are delicious. But I’m intensely curious about the flavor of some of these other ones. The red banana in particular is supposed to be especially tasty, and Ladyfingers are supposed to be super sweet. Manzanos are named for their apple-like tartness, and Ducasses are supposed to be fantastic on salads.
You might have read recently about the Cavendish cultivar’s vulnerability to a strain of Panama disease recently – the recent history of banana production and consumption is pretty interesting. I’m thinking of doing my next comic about that!
It’s been a while since I turned my attention towards this kind of thing, huh? I’ve been feeling kind of down about myself on this front lately, I think partly because it’s winter and I can’t run or bike or get out as much as I want to. Or maybe it’s because I have to make my appointment for my annual physical soon and I’m not looking forward to the scale in the doctor’s office. Or maybe it’s just because I get down during these long dark months, who knows? Fortunately, a few key articles and blog posts have found their way in front of my eyeballs lately, in particular this one from GabiFresh, which links to a whole slew of other awesome posts and articles too.
But we get a strange North Shore lifestyle magazine at the office (no one knows why; we never subscribed) and it’s vapid but utilitarian bathroom reading. I stumbled across this checklist in a recent issue, and realized that… well, yeah, I probably had an eating disorder as a kid. It may never have blossomed into a full-on textbook definition of anorexia or bulemia, but even now, I still have some of these signs from time to time.
I’m tempted to wonder what might have happened had I been diagnosed and treated for it, but that’s such a dangerous game; there’s no point in wondering what would have happened. You can’t go back and change the past, all you can do is change things moving forward. And moving forward, I don’t ever again want to feel like I am nothing more than the shape of my body, and that my shape is inadequate. Moving forward, I want to be happy and confident and healthy and proud no matter what my body looks like.
For my birthday, Niles gave me (along with Ni No Kuni!!) a bottle of Four Roses bourbon (my favorite bourbon so far) and a little bottle of orange bitters. We’ve talked a lot about how much I love the old fashioneds at Longman & Eagle and Billy Sunday, and Stephen at Yusho was kind enough to make me a really delicious one for my birthday dinner. I’d tried a few times before to make my own version, and was disappointed and a little mystified at how difficult it was. There are three ingredients! It shouldn’t be that difficult! But it’s so much more than just putting a few things in a glass. I’ve been doing research, and experimenting with ratios, and I’m getting quite pleased with the outcomes.
Anyway! I hear Angostura bitters are supposed to be the best for this, but the orange bitters work quite nicely too. And I hear that working with simple syrup is easier than muddling sugar, but I kind of enjoy the ritual of patiently dissolving sugar at the start. You have to make sure the sugar’s completely dissolved before you add any alcohol, by the way, or you’ll have a harsh cocktail and a pile of gritty sugar on the bottom. Now I have to get back to the rest of the work I have to do, so I can get it over with and play some more Ni No Kuni. :)
The only gym within walking distance of me is awful, and makes me feel awful when I’m in there. I’m much, much happier running and biking outside, and up until this month it’s been a pretty good winter for that – it’s been cold, but not too snowy, so the streets have been pretty clear. Now, we’re dealing with two storms worth of snow on the ground; some of it’s shoveled and salted and some isn’t. It was a nice (if brisk) morning the other day, and I thought I’d risk it, but I ended up having to stop every other block to gingerly transport myself over some snow and ice for at least a few feet, and sometimes more. Occupational hazard of living in the northern midwest, I guess, and it was still better than nothing.
And – maybe this is counterintuitive – but it’s still much better than going to a gym that’s just going to make me feel terrible about myself.
(Also PS yes I know it’s actually March now that this is posting, but I *drew* it in February. :D )