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Photographs by Meadow Linn

Friday, February 25, 2011

From Head to Fork

I see the world in pictures. When I lived in Los Angeles I had a long commute on the Pacific Coast Highway and through the Malibu mountains. The radio kept me company on many early mornings and many sleepy afternoons. Numerous times during those years, I would find myself wanting to tell someone about a breaking news story or an interesting program I'd heard on NPR, only to discover that I remembered nothing from the radio program. What I could recall, however, was exactly where I was and what I saw through the windows of my Volvo. I could describe the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean, the overgrown vegetation, the Mercedes and Jaguars waiting to make a left-hand turn, and the homeless man asking for money for marijuana. But I could not, no matter how hard I tried, relate the details of the Avian flu, changing demographics, or the results of a Senate vote I'd heard on the radio. I used to berate myself for this, until I realized that what I had been seeing as a lack of memory wasn't that at all. My memory was just focused on something entirely different.

Although I may not be able to remember something I heard on the radio, no matter how riveting, I have discovered that because I am so visual, I can actually picture a dish or a meal before it's even made. I can look at a menu in a restaurant and see and taste what will be presented to me. Ideas for recipes flash into my head; I can see how the food will look on the plate, picture the balance of color and textures, and taste the combination of flavors.

Since I can already see my culinary creation before the potatoes are even dug from the earth and the eggs are laid, I know the steps I want to take to make it come alive. I'm learning to find ways to share my vision with others so that they can help me in the creation process. Last week a dear friend was visiting from out of town. After a long day of sightseeing in the rain, we decided to put together a quick dinner. When purchasing the ingredients for this meal, I could already picture how the sea scallops would look on my plate. So I went ahead and seared them while my friend put the vegetables into the steamer. She asked if I'd mind if she made her "secret sauce." Of course not! Who objects to secret sauce?! She pulled an assortment of jars from the cupboard from which she concocted an amazing sauce to dribble over the bok choi and Shitake mushrooms. I'm learning that letting others add to my vision can have delicious results!

How do you view the world? In pictures? Through words? Or by feeling? How does the way you experience your surroundings affect how you work and what you do?

  
Asian Vegetables with Katie's Secret Sauce
serves 2
I've done my best to recreate Katie's sauce, and I share it here with her full permission.

Vegetables:
4-6 baby bok choi
8 oz fresh Shitake mushrooms, stems removed

Katie's Secret Sauce:

makes 2/3 cup, more than you will most likely need, but its too good not to have lots!

1/4 cup tamari (or soy sauce)
1/4 cup mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine)
3 tbs rice vinegar
1 tbs agave (or sugar)
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil

steamed rice
black sesame seeds

Place the bok choi and mushrooms in a steamer over (not in) boiling water and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. In the meantime, in a small bowl combine the tamari, mirin, rice vinegar, agave, and toasted sesame oil. Serve with steamed white or brown rice and drizzle with Katie's Secret Sauce. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds if you desire. To make this a heartier meal, seared sea scallops, fried wild shrimp, steamed organic tofu, or poached white fish make a nice accompaniment.