Just an ordinary guy

Before we left for Michigan, Toby and I made our trip to UW to scrounge through the L.A. Times microfiche. We were on a quest to satisfy my inexplicable curiosity with what sort of students would undertake a marinated flank steak salad.

img_0154_edited-2.jpg
The grad school library, Suzzallo.

Suzzallo is probably my favorite building at UW, and it didn’t let me down.

Searching for our fiche
Locating October 2004.

The fiche readers they have are pretty high-tech. They’re great quality, plus you can highlight any part of a page and instantly e-mail that portion to yourself. It was extremely convenient, considering that the machines I use at the Seattle Public Library require you to do a preliminary scan, a crop, a final scan, then a save onto a thumb drive (or print it and never have access to it again).

Searching through the archives.
Searching through the archives.

The pictures were pretty muddled, but it looks like the gents who crafted the marinated flank steak salad are just ordinary college students. I did notice that the article gives the disclaimer that these are part of the “essential (but adventurous) kitchen.” So these aren’t run-of-the-mill Top Ramen guys. That makes more sense, then.

I realized I never posted our final product, so here’s that as well:

Marinated Flank Steak Salad 
Ta da!

And so we arrive at the end of our L.A. Times marinated flank steak salad adventure. Thanks for playing along with us!

Join us next time, where we will either:
a) show you my awesome newspaper-related Christmas presents or
b) share the culinary results of Pat Nixon‘s favorite banana bread recipe (true story).

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

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Published in: on December 28, 2007 at 1:11 pm  Comments (1)  
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Organizing what you’ve clipped

Yesterday on NPR‘s All Things Considered, our local station ran a commentary by Seattle Times restaurant reporter Nancy Leson on how she got her recipe collection under control. It includes some great tips for keeping newspaper recipes from being tattered and keeping them grease-free, so I thought it was relevant.

Download the podcast here. Happy organizing! (I can’t WAIT to show you the stash of recipes my mom has amassed)

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Published in: on December 20, 2007 at 8:18 am  Leave a Comment  
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Coming down the pipeline

As I have no recipes to share (Toby promises me he will return to the world of the living by tomorrow night at the latest), I figured I’d give you a taste (insert rim shot here) of what’s to come.

I already mentioned that I’ll be doing heavy-duty work on my mom’s recipes when I go home for Christmas. We’re honestly to the point where we’re debating bringing our scanner with us. It might be cheaper and less of a hassle to just buy a cheap one in Michigan.

My overseas el-jay friend has already hooked me up with NY Times recipes from the 1800’s, and he pledges to send me international newspapers when he has access to them.

Do you have any requests? Toby and I have noticed that people writing in to a newspaper for specific recipes seems to have fallen by the wayside. We posit that this is because access to archived recipes has gotten so much less cumbersome. Unless, of course, you want the pictures that accompany said recipes…

Which brings me to my last bit of good news! I might be able to get a copy of our LA Times photograph as early as tonight. Apparently, the University of Washington library also keeps fiche copies of the Times. Perhaps I can convince Toby to let me stop there on our way home tonight…

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Published in: on December 11, 2007 at 7:17 am  Leave a Comment  
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LA Times Photo Update

Well, we heard back from the folks at the L.A. Times in regards to the photo we wanted printed from the fantastically tasty (if complex) college flank steak salad:

 Hello,

… [t]he fee per image to post to your website is $230.

You may make payment by check:
LAT Reprints
my attention
202 West 1st Street
1st Floor
LA, CA  90012

or credit card:
fax # 213 237 6515

In either case, please include a copy of this email.

Regards,
Kate McCarthy

Needless to say, that’s quite a bit out of our price range. Even if we were to unethically purchase just a copy of the page and then scan it in, it would cost nearly $90 plus shipping.

Luckily, a Google search has revealed that Western Washington University, just a short 3-hour jaunt away, has the Times on fiche! Which is good because our other microfiche options would have taken us into California. I’ll see how next weekend looks for a road trip… Plus, I need to find out whether I need a school ID to access the computers.

No recipes until at least Wednesday of this week because Toby’s finals are keeping him out of the house until at least 3 a.m. most nights.

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Published in: on December 9, 2007 at 8:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Are you cooking this stuff?

Who cooks this stuff?

How many people actually settle down at home with their copy of the Sunday Times and say, “Ah, yes, this will be a fine supper?”

Apparently the recipe we’re attempting tonight was originally intended for college students. It was printed on Oct. 27, 2004 in the L.A. Times. After you see the steps involved, I wonder if you will emerge as skeptical of its intended chefs as I did.

Now, it’s entirely possible that as an undergraduate who stayed on campus all four years, my college cooking skills were irreversibly stunted and I am operating on that bias. However, I wish more than anything that I could see the photo of the two USC students that originally accompanied this story.

Christy Hedges describes her son and his roommates this way in her article, “Grill your way through college”:

Oh, brave young homesteader. You are not a newlywed, and no one has yet showered you with Cuisinarts, cookbooks or china. You can make a sandwich or a salad, but that’s about it.

That’s the situation my son recently found himself in. He’s a sophomore at USC, living in an apartment off-campus with two roommates. They love to eat, and have palates more worldly than mine was when I was in college.

“Get a grill pan,” I told him. “It’s like grilling outside; you even get nice grill marks.”

He and his roommates loved the idea. But they needed recipes. And they needed me to walk them through it all.

Who are these young men who have set aside an evening to infuse a cheap cut of steak “with the flavors of chile, sesame oil, garlic, ginger and citrus”? I have put in a request with the Times Company to see the pictures of these diligent young men, because the pictures aren’t included on ProQuest and we don’t have the L.A. Times microfiche on file at the Seattle Public Library. I’ll update you as I learn more.

Photo Request
My photo request, which will hopefully allow me to eventually show, “The writer’s son, Duncan Hedges, left, and his roommate Kevin Kawachi prepar[ing] marinated flank steak salad. The easy-to-make dish also includes grilled asparagus.” As well as “Hedges grill[ing] the steak after it is infused with the flavors of chile, sesame oil, garlic, ginger and citrus.”

I don’t just have trouble picturing people tackling complex recipes when I’m envisioning 20-somethings. After all, one of my big projects for my Christmas visit home is to go through all the recipes Mom cut out and filed away in big manila envelopes. She’s found a few gems throughout the years, but I would have expected a bit more from a stack that reaches close to two feet high.

In her fantastic article on the history of food reporting, Molly O’Neill refers to menus we lust after, yet never reproduce, as food porn — “prose and recipes so removed from real life that they cannot be used except as vicarious experience.”

Food writers have always walked the dangerous lines between journalism, art, and their role as handmaiden to advertising. But we have not wobbled quite so regularly in nearly a half century as we do today. Food has carried us into the vortex of cool. There, the urge to become part of the story is stronger than the duty to detach and observe and report the story.

O’Neill also wants to know, “Who’s cooking this stuff?”

At a book signing, O’Neill’s mom finally tackles the tenderly roasted and stuffed elephant in the room:

“Do you actually cook that stuff?” [she asks.]

“Of course not,” replied the customer, who looked like my mother, tall, lean, with a white cap of stylishly coiffed hair. “Every week I cut them out of the magazine and promise myself I will cook them. Don’t we all?”

Toby and I decided to join the brave few who actually tested our clippings. We printed up the “simple” recipe (the ingredients list barely fit on a typed page) and gave ourselves the one hour(!!!) prep time suggested.

Care to try? Here’s how you, too, can make a marinated flank steak salad.

Christy Hedges. Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, Calif.: Oct 27, 2004. pg. F.3

Marinated flank steak salad
Total time: 1 hour, plus 1 hour marinating time
Servings: 4

1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger (we used chopped ginger in a bottle)
1 serrano or jalapeno chile, seeded, cored and minced (we went for the serrano)
1 3/4 pounds flank steak (we had closer to 1 2/5 pounds)

1. Mix the sesame oil, soy sauce, lime juice, orange juice, lime zest, orange zest, garlic, ginger and minced chile to make a marinade. Put the flank steak in a large resealable plastic bag and pour the marinade over the top. Close the bag and refrigerate for about 1 hour.

Dressing
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
Juice of one-half Valencia orange
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce

1. Mix together the sesame oil, peanut oil, rice vinegar, lime juice, orange juice, ginger, garlic, honey and soy sauce in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate. Makes two-thirds cup.

Steak and assembly (what does this mean, anyway?)
1 bunch thin asparagus
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Marinated flank steak
2 (5-ounce) bags arugula
1 pint red cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 small red onion, peeled and sliced very thin

1. Wash and trim the asparagus. Brush with the peanut oil and season with salt and pepper. Heat a seasoned grill pan over medium- high heat. Grill the asparagus, rolling them to cook all sides until they are just tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.

2. Remove the steak from the marinade and grill for approximately 6 minutes on each side until medium rare. Let rest for about 5 minutes and slice very thinly on the bias against the grain.

3. Put the arugula, tomatoes and onions in a large bowl. Add the asparagus. Pour dressing over the salad and gently mix to coat. Arrange the steak slices on top.

Click this link for a printable PDF of the ingredients and recipe: Marinated Flank Steak Salad

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Published in: on December 2, 2007 at 5:07 pm  Comments (2)  
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Deviled Chicken Thighs

The chicken thighs were approaching their limit to the amount of time they could spend in the refrigerator without being frozen. Given our habit to shuck food into the freezer and then forget about it (i.e. the ground beef from Sept. 2005 we just unearthed), we figured a recipe involving thighs would be a tasty place to start.

Our initial queries into chicken thigh recipes were thwarted by absurd fanciness and time-intense bean soaking. I finally stumbled upon a recipe from our hometown Seattle Post-Intelligencer that seemed feasible. After all, the headline did promote it as Quick & Simple. Wait a minute. The recipe was not crafted by P-I food gurus, nor was it a taste-test from a new outside publication. Quick & Simple is a weekly magazine owned by Hearst. The book the recipe came from, Good Housekeeping 100 Best Chicken Recipes, is published by Hearst Books. The Seattle P-I’s publisher? You guessed it, Hearst.

There’s no disclaimer in the article mentioning this potential promotion/conflict of interest. What do you think, does it need one? Does it matter that the P-I is using a book it essentially published? I get the impression that the only people who would have figured out the Hearst connection are press junkies like me or news-savvy Seattlites who are familiar with the epic Seattle Times and Seattle P-I battle royale that has been going on for four years now and made Hearst the most common its been since Newsies came out in 1992.

Pulitzer
(Even though it was actually Pulitzer and not Hearst in the movie)

Alternately, if you just see this as a media conglomerate utilizing its affiliates, it’s not a problem at all. This is no more of a big deal than one Knight Ridder paper using a story from another Knight Ridder paper. Right?

What do you think about this, Spot?

Spot!
“I say, that what you say, is what I say!”

Apart from the politics involved, it’s worth noting that many newspapers don’t come up with their own recipes very much any more. A large number of the recipes I unearth wind up being selections from newly published cookbooks. Looking at newspapers from the 1930s and ’40s, the recipes seem to be solicitations from readers or county fair prize-winners.I’m assuming the source of newspaper recipes will be a common theme in this blog, because I feel like I hav e so many questions regarding its past and present workings.But onto the recipe. You can find the original post online, but if you hate scrolling and searching as much as I do, here’s a copy of it:

Deviled Chicken Thighs (serves 4)

1/4 cup creamy mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs
8 skinless chicken thighs (about 2 1/2 pounds)

1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, blend together mustard and Worcestershire sauce.
3. Spread bread crumbs on a sheet of wax paper.
4. Toss chicken in mustard mixture, then roll in crumbs to coat.
5. Arrange on baking sheet.

Bake 15 minutes; turn and bake until juices run clear when thickest part of thigh is pierced with tip of knife, about 15 minutes longer. Serve with green beans.

Finished Product
Our finished product. 

It wound up being tasty and relatively painless to make. Our frozen green beans turned out miserable, so Toby replaced them with half a baked potato each. Additionally, the breading on the thighs is uneven because our baking sheet was coated with olive oil instead of shortening. It didn’t impact the taste, but if you’re a visual stickler, splurge on the butter.

Enjoying the Chicken
Christine and Toby enjoy the chicken thighs. 

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Published in: on December 1, 2007 at 8:09 am  Comments (2)  
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