Two months ago, when we happened to have some extra Japanese cucumbers and carrots in the fridge, I thought I’d take advantage of T’s nap time to try out this quick Japanese pickle recipe. CH’s mom—who’d hung up her apron decades ago, long before I’d first met CH, and adamantly declines to cook—happened to be spending the day with T and offered to help. It was to be the first time in over a decade of marriage that I got the chance to cook alongside my mother-in-law.
Sometimes, less is truly more. When I’m pressed for time but would like to be able to offer a homemade treat, I remind myself to keep things super simple. After all, a distracted mind tends to make mistakes. I’d rather be able to present a small, unembellished morsel successfully executed rather than an overambitious, spectacular flop. This shortbread recipe from Claire Clark, who was head pastry chef at The French Laundry, fits the bill perfectly.
In all honesty, this post was prompted by the fact that I’ve finally found Meyer lemons in Singapore. For years, the Meyer lemon was one of those elusive culinary treasures that I’d read so much about but never tasted. And I never would’ve recognized the lemons as Meyers (given that they were only labeled with their country of origin, Australia) if I hadn’t happened to taste my first one just weeks before at the Noosa International Food and Wine Festival.
I didn’t attempt to make my own yoghurt until I had our son, T. We always had some in our fridge, but I guess it never occurred to me that it would be worth the effort to make my own. Prompted by a desire to minimize T’s exposure to additives as he started on his first solids, I tried a recipe I found in a baby food cookbook that was unfortunately a dismal failure. But Google, combined with a mother’s obsessive compulsion can be a powerful thing. The outcome: the unearthing of a recipe from Harold McGee—master of culinary science and precision. A version of it (see below) now resides in my mobile phone.
Since T has come along, I spend significantly less time in the kitchen. The elaborate, time-consuming recipes requiring a fully sentient being to execute have taken a backseat. In fact, I have a roster of quick recipes I keep on my mobile phone that I keep returning to. Some of them are just notes or lists of ingredients that help remind me of what I usually put into a dish; others are full recipes replete with my tweaks and adaptations. Having them always on hand makes it easier for me to throw something together when my head is stuck in a cloud of sleep deprivation. This granola recipe based on Molly’s adaptation of Nekisia Davis’ is one of them.
This is one of those recipes that I reckon works for both papa and toddler. I’m constantly trying to find snacks for T (and CH) that aren’t packed with sugar. These savoury madeleines from Patricia Wells—inspired by Anne-Sophie Pic of the century-old Maison Pic in Valence, no less—fit the bill. They are an easy-to-make treat that T can’t get enough of.