constant companions

I believe there are certain things you find in a kitchen that are revealing about who cooks there. For example: we keep three kinds of oil in our cupboard and none of them are canola or vegetable. There's smaller bottles of toasted sesame oil (for flavor) and avocado oil (for high heat) and a bottle of good-quality olive oil so big it's hard to find a shelf to house it. Similarly, I've come to realize that I just don't believe in unsalted butter. I see it in recipes but have given up considering running to the store to pick some up, and just reach for the salted butter. 

In this light, I think it's telling that two things in my fridge I never let myself run out of are greek yogurt and miso. I prioritize these above most dairy products and fresh herbs, respectively.

A while back, I was going to make deviled eggs for a halloween party: green eyeball eggs, to be precise. It was a pretty basic concept: essentially deviled eggs with a little lime and avocado mashed into the filling, garnished with a sliced olive in the center. I resented the fact that I would need to buy mayonnaise for the project. To be honest, mayo kinda skeeves me out.

Some dormant memory of a distant conversation inspired me to try and substitute greek yogurt in the mayo's place. If the rate of consumption was any indication, it went over well. People ate that shit like they were starring in Cool Hand Luke. Since then, I've become quite liberal with my application of yogurt. Any portion of a dish that I am preparing that needs a touch of creaminess, and could be made a tad more complex with a hint of tangy tartness lurking in it's flavor profile, I'll add a bit of yogurt to see if it works.

I even whip a tiny spoonful with water to mix it into my eggs for omelettes or scrambles, replacing the usual milk. As a dairy-eating vegetarian, I find I have little to no use for milk. I'll happily use unsweetened almond milk (or other substitute) for most applications, but they often add a slight off-putting sweetness to eggs.

Speaking of omelettes, another habit is to, when whipping up the yogurt / water mixture, add a small forkful of miso to give the eggs an umami kick. Give it a try in an omelette filled with sautéed maitake mushrooms and gruyere, garnished with a healthy dose of fresh pepper. 

Fair warning: if you have any propensity towards salt-addiction, miso is a dangerous substance. At this point, I'll happily spread a thin layer on bread for grilled cheese—or, if I'm honest, steel a spoonful straight here and there; but that's just me. I think of miso as what soy sauce wants to be when it grows up: salty and savory, complex and pungent. A little goes a good long ways, so a jar a single jar will last me a month or so—but it's a secret weapon that can go into marinates and glazes or soups and salad dressings.

So you won't find mayonnaise—or probably even milk—in our fridge, but you will find the best greek yogurt and miso we can afford. I don't know exactly what that says about me as a cook, but it seems telling.

There is a certain kind of song I associate with close friends: good time, laid back, hang out music. The sort of thing we soundtrack our summer barbecues with. For this little note about some tried and true culinary companions, I thought I'd include a couple of those tracks.