Posts Tagged ‘Krause Dining’

What a relief!

August 4, 2011

I’m home from an extended period of hard work, the kind of hard physical work that I have not had to do in a while. I have not exactly bounced back. I am tired and I am feeling, well…old. There is nothing startling about this, my next birthday is the big four-0. What is startling to me is the feeling of relief that is accompanied by feeling older.

Whatever philosopher taught knowing thyself as the highest goal was on to something. With age I know that I hate rollercoasters, prefer not to drive, don’t enjoy shopping, and love the library. And I am just scratching the surface! Age has given me the awesome by-product of experience, and though I dare not think that I can handle anything, I no longer brace myself for the worst. I do not have it all figured out, but have made it through the struggles of learning new jobs, inconsolable babies, balancing parenting with work, the weariness of caring for the ill, and the heartache of being unable to help someone in need.

When I am distracted by certain aspects of age – creases, veins, unfamiliar parts of my own body – I am reminded of the comment, “it beats the alternative”. I look forward to an incredible afterlife, but I cling to the life I have now. I have held a baby that never got to breathe outside the womb, watched my father suffer a long illness and death, gone to a funeral of a family member my own age, and seen depression take away the desire to live. I can’t help it – I am grateful for this day.

And yet, I am tired. My body seeks to betray the agreement I thought we made to stay the same. I feel almost 40 – no, sometimes I feel more like 60. But instead of spending much time looking in the mirror, I will avert my gaze. See what I mean?

Reading & Cooking

February 24, 2011

I suppose that if I tallied up all of the hours I have spent in the activities that make up my life, reading and cooking would be towards the top of the list. I have found refuge, stimulation, and inspiration through the pages of books since childhood. I’ve only recently been able to see some qualities that reading and cooking share – and probably some of the reasons that I am drawn to both.

Resolution – Having just finished “The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo”, I am reminded how satisfying it can be to read of mystery. Is this person as they seem? What really happened? Who did what? The questions are answered by the end! And so it goes with cooking…Is this seafood really fresh? What will it taste like to use cumin in this dish? Will this souffle rise? And by the end of the meal, you most assuredly know the answers! People and circumstances can be elusive and murky – books and recipes offer a conclusion. Isn’t that awesome?

Community – Reading can seem like such a solitary activity, but in actuality reading connects me with people who mean so much to me. Robert and I often read the same books which leads to rich conversations and a sense of shared experiences. After years of hearing my kids read out loud, tentatively at first and now with confidence, now we discuss books and go to the library together. Book clubs also connect people and allow conversations that go beyond the superficial. Similarly, cooking can be both a solo pursuit and a tie that binds you to others. I love spending time with Robert in the kitchen, cutting ingredients with our girls to make soup, or teaching a cooking class. Reading and cooking both give me opportunities for both much-valued alone time and ways to connect with others. Isn’t that awesome?

Comfort – I recently re-read a book from my adolescence (was anyone else out there profoundly affected by “Are You There God it’s Me Margaret?” and almost all other Judy Bloom?) and I was surprised just how much I enjoyed it. Just as I had enjoyed it almost 30 (!?) years ago, I felt the same way about it now. I also find comfort in revisiting biblical passages that have affected me in the past. So too it goes with cooking – preparing something that you could do blindfolded and knowing how much you love it is so satisfying. For me scrambled eggs and chocolate chip cookies fall into this category. To be able to know where to go to experience something familiar and delightful…

Isn’t that awesome?

Oh, the things you say!

January 13, 2011

Am I the only one who talks to their food? I don’t mean expressions about food that are said out loud – like “Man, that looks disgusting” or “I really want to eat that entire cherry pie”. In my limited research I asked Robert if he talked to his food. His response was, “uh, no”. I have realized that maybe I am alone in this. But maybe there are others out there like me who talk do talk to their food – I mean really interact with food as if it may actually, well…talk back.

When I first started in the kitchen at Krause Dining I found myself trying to make deals with the food I was working on. You know, giving it a little encouragement to do what I needed it to. “Okay creme brules, you are looking lovely, but I need you to set up without overcooking. Do you think that is possible?”, “You souffles are going to give me an awesome rise aren’t you?” Yes, it was a silent response but overall cooperative, we got along. I took a parental tone with my dishes and they were mostly obedient subjects.

Now that I have a limited role in preparing food, I spend more time actually serving it at Esquina. I still try to direct the food though, “Pizole, please do not slop on the rim of this bowl. Don’t you want to look nice?” Imagine my surprise recently when I felt it answer me, “Well, you are the one carrying me. If I look sloppy it’s your fault not mine.” Yikes, such disrespect! But you know, the pizole was right, I couldn’t fault that fact – my shaky hand had more to do with it than anything else. I may not have liked it the response, but I grudgingly agreed. But what happened to my obedient subjects – adolescent attitude?

Working at Esquina challenges my goals of sensible eating. The food there is fresh and healthy and I love it, but all I really want to eat every day are the chips. I like them plain, with salsa, with my rice bowl, or most preferably with the habenero-tequila cheese dip. I could eat them for every meal. I walk past the container of freshly fried chips like a hundred times a day. All things in moderation, I say, but chips at every meal doesn’t seem like a good idea. I have limited my chip eating to only after my shifts, and no snacking while walking by. But alas, I am slipping. I have been plucking the most beautifully seasoned one off of the top of the stack and quickly chewing it up as I walk through the kitchen. I am not proud of myself. I had to get tough and tell them, in my best mommy voice while pointing at them, “You are not the boss of me!” It felt good to regain my sense of control. I was smiling as I walked off. But I swear I heard in a tiny voice, as I was almost out of ear-shot, so that I had to turn around..yes, we are.

Next time I think I’ll write a letter.

Reflections on a kitchen in progress

December 21, 2010

Robert and I are finally remodeling the kitchen in our home, the kitchen that once served 30 people an evening a 7 course meal, but sadly for the better part of this last year has most consistently produced a daily pot of coffee. I had forgotten how a sense of order can contribute to feeling calm – I almost didn’t realize it until I stood in our almost complete kitchen and smiled with an exhale.

And then I felt it. I wanted to cook something.

So came chicken soup, lentil soup, savory shortbread, chocolate chip cookies – so yummy and fulfilling that I wondered why I had been living off of sandwiches all these months. Why should I need a a proper dishwashing area for cook a meal? Am I so lame that I really need a freezer or ice anyway? The answer of course is yes, but now I am relishing in it all. Who cares if we don’t have stools at our counter/bar – we’ve got a garbage disposal for heaven’s sake. And after a tough few weeks with the loss of a family member and a loved one in crisis, I’m going to hang on to the pleasure created by the smell of cookies baking in my oven. I seems like a miracle that a few items in my kitchen can come together to taste so good. A simple cookie, no less.

So in this moment, let’s just take a bite of it. Merry Christmas…

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If you have our cookbook “The Cook’s Book of Intense Flavors” we now have a Facebook page for it. Post photos of dishes you have created from it, ask questions, or just say hi.

Day of the Dead

October 24, 2010

It seems natural for us to mark happy times in our life with food and celebration. We throw feasts for weddings, parties for birthdays, showers for births. But lately I have been thinking about food and celebration in a different way – as a way to remember and mourn the loss of someone who has died. I’ve been researching the Mexican holiday “Dia de los Muertos”, or Day of the Dead, so that we can celebrate at our restaurant Esquina. I confess that I knew almost nothing about it before – other than that all of the skull images and skeletons wearing dresses kind of creep me out. Now I see that it is more about remembering those that have died – by eating special foods, building ‘altars’ of your loved ones’ favorite items, and in general…partying.

It seems appropriate that this holiday should fall during this time of year. As much as I love gazing at the beautiful leaves now gracing many trees in Lawrence, I know that part of the beauty they hold is that they are fleeting. Tomorrow they will not be the same and soon they will be gone – fallen to the ground. And like the anonymous bartender at Esquina who taped a crimson leaf to the wall behind the bar was doing, Day of the Dead gives us a chance to grasp and hold on to what is fleeting by remembering those who are gone.

On November 1st & 2nd Esquina will be celebrating Dia de los Muertos with food & drink specials and general festivities, but we are also remembering. In honor of my dad, John Krider, and my dog Bear, we will be making donations to two local organizations – Douglas County AIDS Project & Lawrence Humane Society. We will donate $1 from every dip sold and have an altar of sorts where customers can remember their dead with a donation.

If I were to make an altar for my dad, I would pile packs of Vantage cigarettes with cups of strong black coffee and chocolate croissants; for Bear I would place his collar, with the tags that made his distinctive jingle, with mounds of bacon – endless bacon for my Bear. Thinking of these items help me remember them- my creative, witty, and highly sarcastic dad; my faithful, athletic, and easy-going dog. With smiles and some sadness I remember, thankful that they were part of my fleeting days.

Cookbook Press

September 29, 2010

I know, I know, this cookbook is all I seem to be talking about. I can’t help it – it is so exciting! This has to one of the best expressions of delayed gratification that I have experienced. Writing the book was HARD and the work has been done for months now. Now that the book is published it’s FUN!

Robert and I are featured in the Lawrence Journal World on Wednesday Sept. 29th. Read it for yourself or watch this video of Robert and I talking about the book

We will be at a book signing this Saturday October 2nd from 2-4 PM at The Bay Leaf in downtown Lawrence. We’d love it if you came by to say hello. Already own our cookbook? Would you consider writing a review of it on Amazon.com? I would be most grateful.

Has anyone out there cooked anything from the book? I’d love to hear about it…

Relive a Krause Dining Memory

September 4, 2010

I’ll admit that since we have closed Krause Dining (our home-based restaurant) there hasn’t been much that I have missed about it – mostly the people: those I worked with and the customers whom I have grown close to. So I was a bit surprised at the feelings I experienced when looking at our cookbook (“The Cook’s Book of Intense Flavors”) – primarily of nostalgia for the Krause Dining days.

There are many photos in the book (it really looks nice!) and all of the photography took place in our house, dining areas, and kitchen. This book was written while we were in full swing serving our many-coursed menus, and while all the recipes themselves were not served at Krause Dining (many were), the book itself does capture a glimpse back at the restaurant.

I run into people often who tell me how much they miss eating at our house. Thank you, and I hope that our cookbook helps relive a fond memory of eating with us. Reliving a good memory extends the pleasure out of any one experience, so I’m all for it! In that spirit, here is a shot of our beautiful girls in New York eating that corn I wrote of recently.

Our autographed cookbook is now available for sale at Esquina (801 Massachusetts) and online.

Do you have any Krause Dining memories you would like to share?

My vanilla

June 8, 2010

Taking the lid off of my vanilla extract bottle is a simple but wonderful pleasure for me – oh, the aroma! When we were writing our cookbook last fall I started a batch of my own vanilla extract and have been so pleased with the results. And while the Krauses have not been doing much cooking at home recently (our kitchen hasn’t been put back together from the Esquina move), I do slip a bit of this treasure in pancake batter, whipped cream, and cookie dough. I’m including the recipe we wrote for the book, a great and simple recipe mind you, but one that did not make the cut from 300 recipes to 100. Maybe it will make it into the volume two cookbook I dream about, and if so, you will have had it very early!

“Really Pure Vanilla”
VANILLA, SUGAR, LIQUOR
The fragrant, intoxicating aroma of fresh vanilla bean is both warming and uplifting. When brought with some sweetness and liquor, we are left with a really good thing! The application recipe prepares a homemade vanilla extract, perfect for all sorts of baking applications, as well as flavoring whipped creams and drinks like hot chocolate. Using the same basic formula of infusing, but with half as many vanilla beans, will make a nice vanilla infused liquor. These combination pairs nicely with chocolate, coffee, and cream.

VANILLA – Madagascar beans contain a powerful full flavor and a nice dark color. Choose these for the most impact. The Tahitian variety are more fruity and floral – with a hint of fig flavor. These provide a nice complexity. Mexican beans contain a suggestion of sweet creaminess, which lends itself to desserts nicely. Look to online purveyors for buying beans in bulk, making them far less expensive. Also, consider approaching your favorite bakery or restaurant about purchasing some from them (when businesses buy in bulk, they often need to turn over their inventory and might be a good opportunity for you).

SUGAR – In the application recipe, corn syrup is used to assist in extracting and developing the flavor in the vanilla. Corn syrup dissolves easiest in the liquid, but granulated sugar could also be used, but we sure to be thorough in shaking the extract. A bit of brown sugar could intensify an infusion with a darker liquor like bourbon or scotch.

LIQUOR – For the most mild canvas on which to apply the flavors, use your favorite vodka. Using a white rum or white tequila will bring a more pronounced alcohol flavor, while being overall light in color. Really go for a deep and complex flavor with a brandy, scotch, or bourbon. Don’t use vanilla flavored liquors sold at your liquor store, which don’t capture the pure vanilla flavor.

• Your Very Own Vanilla Extract
Using pure vanilla extract, which we repeatedly tell you in these pages is a must when compared to the artificial extract, is an investment. It can be expensive and is often sold in ridiculously small bottles that encourages hording. Instead, make your own! It’s simple to do, richly fragrant, and less expensive.

Makes 1 cup

Equipment:
Jar or bottle with tightly fitting lid

1 cup vodka (or more mild impact) or rum (for more full flavor)
3 vanilla beans, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
1 tablespoon corn syrup

Place vanilla seeds, pods, and corn syrup in the bottle or jar. Cover with the chosen liquor, cover with lid, and give a good shake. Keep in a dark spot, shaking every couple of days, for 2 months. The liquid will become dark and richly fragrant. Use directly from the jar, or separate part of it in a small container for daily use. You may get some seeds mixed in, which will only improve the flavor.

As time goes by and you use the extract, top of with liquor and add an occasional vanilla bean to it (it is a great use for beans you have scraped the seeds out of but are not using the pod). If continually topped off, the extract will keep indefinitely.

It’s the People

May 8, 2010

I had so much fun at the cooking class I taught Thursday night at The Bay Leaf. I often feel reluctant to commit to teaching a class – the prep work involved, the nervousness of how it will come off, groping with the different kind of work than I am used to doing. But, now I remember that it’s so much fun because of the people. What a great group of people I had there!

And look at the hat that my new friend Gina made for my mom’s head for chemo!

And speaking of special people, Esquina is serving a Mother’s Day Brunch on Sunday from 9AM – 3PM. I’ll be there with my mom and daughters and I’ll hope to see you there too. Below is a more specific description we sent out with our Esquina newsletter if you are interested…

Our first ever Sunday brunch starts this Sunday on Mother’s Day. We will be offering a special three course menu from 9 AM – 3 PM: Tropical fruit salad with agave-lime cream & bunuellos, choice of entrée (like Eggs Benedict Mexicano and Chorizo Chilaquelles), and a plate of sweets. Price is $15 per person, not including beverage. We will have coffee, juices, teas, mimosa, sangrita, and other delights. Our normal menu resumes at 3 PM. Hope to see you for this special offering.

Buy a Food Memory

March 20, 2010

An interesting post on Gimundo about “Why a Vacation will make you happier than a new car” has got me thinking. It states that spending your money on experiences (like travel and meals out) will make you happier than spending it on possessions (cars, gadgets, etc.).

We sometimes buy objects like computers and phones that we think we keep us better connected with other people. But they are expensive, they break, get lost and otherwise can cause us more hassle than we want. We want memories, fun, and meaning but that can get lost in the pursuit of the right “thing” to bring ease, comfort, and let’s face it – coolness.

Food memories can be especially vivid – from the smell of the green beans served in your grade school cafeteria to the first (and maybe only) time you tried brains. Sometimes our kids can’t remember what we bought them last year for their birthday, but they recount with detail the time we brought barbecue home and ate it picnic style on their bedroom floor. Or the rough decision of choosing between pina coladas or strawberry daiquiris on vacation. Robert and I had an amazing meal on a rooftop restaurant with friends in Zanzibar in which I can’t even remember what we ate. And yet I wouldn’t trade that experience, and the ability to relish in the memory of it, for anything – even a cute, convertible Mini Cooper.

Maybe it’s another case of “Food is People”.


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