It’s been awhile, crocodile.
So much has been going on in the past two weeks.
First off, there’s been a lot of InstaPot testing.
Suddenly it’s like a new friend in my life and I’m just beginning to learn its personality with strengths and weaknesses.
I have to say for cooking legumes it’s brilliant; these chickpeas went from in the pantry to in my mouth in under two hours (I let them cool down for a bit) and they were cooked perfectly (and the faro alongside with cashews and herb tahini made the dish a home run).
What else can I tell you?
Another big thing around here was the NFL Draft. Oliver and I always look forward to this week, and we have a routine of always watching this movie the night before to get us excited for the next couple days ahead.
And then as questions swirled in the last hours as to who would go #1 overall (turns out Baker Mayfield did, a quarterback out of Oklahoma), we sat down to some incredible food.
Here’s what we had: my favorite pizza right now in Portland — Scottie’s Sourdough Pizza.
Their pizza has the most flavorful, charred crust and exceptional toppings. I’m absolutely in love with their Bianca pizza with homemade ricotta, lemon and fried basil (seen in the middle here).
What made the draft so exciting for Oliver and me was the fact that the Seahawks drafted the most inspirational player I’ve seen in a while — Shaquem Griffin out of University of Central Florida.
Shaquem was born with a rare condition called amniotic band syndrome; because of that, his left hand never grew properly and he was left with debilitating pain. With so few options available, he had his arm amputated above the wrist (at age four).
Despite a lifetime of challenges and being told he’d never play football, he persevered. He didn’t listen to the naysayers and critics. He followed his twin brother to college football (they went to the one school that gave them a scholarship for both of them).
To see this upstanding young man be drafted by my team was a thrill, and it will be so much fun to see the two brothers play side by side.
Oliver and I can’t wait to see what his fierceness, grit and never-give-up-or-make excuses attitude will do for the locker room and we are not alone (he is an international hero to so many and his jersey his already one of the top #5 bestsellers).
In the midst of all this draft madness, my Dad arrived from San Francisco and I asked him what he wanted to do, and most importantly, what he wanted to eat while he was with us.
And so this past week has been devoted to chasing down his (and happily, mine too) favorites.
So there’s been a lot of tuna poke.
And then more poke (like this version at Boke Bowl).
And more poke, courtesy of a second trip to Uwajimaya.
Fried chicken is another of his favorites so we plowed our way through a lot of that, too.
At Boke Bowl he had the Fried Chicken Rice Bowl which was gratifying but I thought the best dish we had were their amazing Brussel Sprouts roasted with fish sauce and tossed with mango (and magic?).
I also wanted him to try the standout sammie at Basilisk at the Zipper food pod on Sandy.
If you haven’t been there, you won’t believe what nine dollars will get you.
Only an evil genius would attempt to construct such a towering tempest of temptation and only a glutton of the highest magnitude would try to finish it off.
The meat is sensationally seasoned and fantastically fried to a golden jacketed goodness and the brioche roll that encapsulates it is perfection.
Truth be told I could only eat half of it but the boys did pretty well on their own.
And on our last night together, I wanted to send my Dad off with a bang.
Homemade fried chicken and scallion mashed potatoes.
I’ve talked about my love about fried chicken before (and even set out my 7 tips to making the best fried chicken) but in case you missed it, remember this.
Buy the best chicken you can get (I bought mine at New Seasons).
Season the meat well (I use a variety of spices depending on my mood plus good salt) and let it luxuriate in a spicy buttermilk bath.
This is what creates really juicy meat.
Dredge thoroughly in a seasoned flour mixture and let it sit out an hour so it’s not going into the hot oil chilled.
Fry it up (I use canola or peanut oil and use a big cast-iron Dutch oven for the job) in batches, taking care not to overfill the pot.
I added a little lemon zest and flake salt post-frying and then let it finish cooking in a 375 oven until cooked through and extra crispy.
So honestly, our parting dinner was amazing.
Just look at that beauty!
So here’s to a good long stretch of amazing food with loved ones, stretching from morning
(Grilled pork tenderloins with tangerine jus, anyone?)
Here’s to family choosing to spend time with you, and enjoying all those moments together.
We had so many special moments together; some were quiet and small ones, like walking around various neighborhoods
and checking out new views.
We were also able to celebrate some happy big moments too — like my cousin’s wedding last weekend in lovely Hood River.
And so as we await and anticipate the arrival of perhaps a new family member (ruff!), please keep your fingers crossed for our journey.
I hope you are holding your loved ones close… and perhaps your pancakes even closer.