I wish I could spin you some deep yarn about the bnb cooking. How the recipes came from an old-country grandmother or distant uncle. How I’ve perfected my muffins or salmon after painstaking attempts and sometimes dramatic failures. How seriously I take food. Or what a perfectionist I am in the kitchen and doesn’t it show! But it would all be contrived.
The recipes usually come from the web. I’ve simplified my technique over time, not dressed it up. And who wouldn’t get the salmon or tuna right after the one thousandth try?!
It’s really not that hard to cook up decent food and serve it to people who are already floating on air while midway through a vacation, in love with not having to do the shopping-cooking-cleaning, and are often hungry. You sleep well, you hot tub, you hike, you breath fresh air. It’s a no brainer you’re going to be hungry and like the food, right?
So I admit it. I’m already at an advantage.
But hey, I do give it a whirl and try to cook up the best tasting and healthiest food within a controlled and reasonable repertoire.
So here’s what the food scene is like at the bnb and why it usually works for both of us.
It starts out with coffee. A dark, deeply browned French Roast, ground the night before if there’s a crew to feed, morning of if there’s only a couple of coffee drinkers. After trying all sorts of specialty beans and roasts I’ve settled on an over-the-counter French Roast from San Francisco Bay Coffee in Lincoln, CA. Most days I’m spot on with the grind and brew. It matters hella bigtime that the coffee is good and even the Europeans give me that nod of satisfaction. If I’m drinking along, I’ll nod back. Nice.
I also stock a very robust English Breakfast tea from Davidson’s Organics out of Sparks, NV. This loose leaf brews up deep and rich. In the morning, as the sun rises over the ridge, as the river kicks up some mist, we all win.
Then it’s on to the muffins. I’ve got a recipe (online, “to die for muffins”, with a twist of course) and I really don’t have much to say about the muffins save for I’m on the fence when people call me the muffin man…oh, I guess I’m okay with it, just not every morning. But hell, sometimes the muffins here are spectacular. The trick, if there is one, is not too dry a dough and not too long in the oven. It’s hit or miss around here but usually hit.
Eggs. Do you know how many scrambled eggs YouTube videos there are online or how many times Cook’s Illustrated has tried to deconstruct the perfectly scrambled egg? Well, the literature on egg scrambling is absurdly broad, dense, and opinionated. Scrambled eggs are serious stuff and I’m totally absorbed by the conversation. But at some point we all just have to eat. I’ll scramble. You’ll eat. We’ll talk about it later.
My bread almost always comes from the bread machine and it is almost always heavy on the rosemary (from my garden) with many olives, some garlic, some onions, and maybe a dash of pizza spices from Williams-Sonoma for a bit of added heat. Butter works better than jam though I’m not judgmental.
Occasional dinners often consist of salmon or tuna. Both species are bought off the boat from the fishermen who caught them. I trim out the salmon, usually cutting the fish into 3/4” steaks. I ask the fishermen to filet the tuna and eventually cut the tuna filet into 3/4” medallions. I vacuum seal both fish the day I buy them and usually the catch doesn’t last more than a couple of months in the freezer.
I make up a homemade panko and cook using a very smart and efficient technique I saw in a Jamie Oliver video. Panko coats the surface of a very hot pan, give it just enough time to lightly toast, the just-oiled piece of fish goes on top of the panko. While the first side of the fish is cooking, oil and panko the up-facing side of the fish (uncooked) and flip after you’ve cooked side one to perfection.
The secret is in the panko and the cook time. But the secret of the panko is really based on what’s around and tasting the mix as it comes together. It’s a lot of a little of this and a little of that.
A second secret is a balsamic vinaigrette I make up which is really, really good on either fish. And also goes well on lettuce or a cucumber-tomato-purple onion salad I like to prepare. In lieu of that salad I often make a traditional cucumber, seasoned rice vinegar, cilantro, pepper flake, brown sugar salad often found in Indian restaurants.
Veggies are often seared in soy sauce or even some Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki marinade. That smoky and spicy side dish often starts with a liberal dusting of Tony Chacere’s Creole Seasoning or some Emeril’s Essence.
I make a mean meatloaf. Again, nothing fancy…the recipe is online. This time I stay close to Mark Bitmann’s HTCE meatloaf recipe with the addition of some crumbled up extra firm tofu in proportions equal to the beef and pork (each in thirds, regardless of the amount). And finishing the meatloaf with a few minutes of heat from the broiler.
And often there is wine, with go-to picks coming from Anderson Valley Vineyards or Coppola Winery, both from Sonoma County.
None of the cooking is rocket science. Ultimately I aim to cook healthy, hearty, and tasty food at the bnb. Nothing fancy but there are certain standards I strive for.