Saturday, September 25, 2010

Project Food Blog Challenge #2: The Classics

Sichuan Pepper: It makes your lips tingle
Can you smell what the wok is cooking!? Yeah, that's right!

Choosing a cuisine for this challenge was, well, a challenge! We've immersed ourselves in a lot of ethnic cuisines over the years we've kept our blog. Mexican food, thanks to Rick Bayless's excellent Authentic Mexican cookbook and the ready supply of ingredients in San Francisco's Mission district, is now an easy part of our repertoire. Vegan Soul Food, thanks to Bryant Terry, was a surprising hit. But Indian food left us scrubbing turmeric stains out of our aprons. Having cooked so broadly, we weren't sure what direction to take...

Strange Flavor Peanuts
Then we hit on Sichuanese food. Fuschia Dunlop's excellent Land of Plenty has been constantly
intriguing since we started cooking from it last year, but I flipped to the back the other day and discovered an appendix listing the 23 flavors and 56 techniques of Sichuan cooking! We had only used a few of them. On top of that, our vegetable sides were usually bok choy, bok choy, or (wait for it...) bok choy. Honestly, we were bewildered by the variety of produce labeled in Chinese. Plainly we had much to learn! Read about the recipes we chose after the jump and check out an awesome, music video recipe!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Willkommen, Bienvenue, Welcome!

If you're new to our blog, welcome! We invite you to poke around and make yourself comfortable. We've got some nibbles to the left if you're not sure what you want, a search bar if you're looking for something in particular and below that a chronological list of our posts (if you're in the mood for a giggle, don't miss our first attempts at our now favorite dish - Pizza!) Most of all, please comment and let us know what you like and don't like, what works and what doesn't! And, just like when folks come by our place for dinner - make yourself at home. 
Mi casa es tu casa!

Project Food Blog Challenge #1: Ready, Set, Blog!

Hot dog maki with Soy-sriracha ketchup, chinese mustard and pickled cucumbers
It seems like there are three kinds of food bloggers. The fabulous gourmet like Salty Seattle, who all seem to ask "how can I convince my guests that Mario Batali is on speed dial (or even chained to my stove!)", the valiant mom like $5 Dinners who all seem to wonder "how can I feed my hungry brood and have something left over for me?", and the hungry activists like those at Ethicurean who appear to always ask "how can I make every dish a weapon in the battle against global warming?" As budding cooks and eaters we surfed the blogosphere and sampled a little from each of these styles, collecting tips, recipes and inspiration on the way, but we always felt hungry for more. Chasing the next big thing was more work than it was worth. Coupon cutting and bulk buying crowded our freezer with processed dinners, left uneaten. Dishes that delighted our eyes and our mouths left a hole in the ozone layer (not to mention our bank account).

Guerrilla Gourmet, The: -noun 1. the collective works of Eric and Tiffany Schaefer pertaining to revolutionary, refined cooking that is at the same time, radically cheap.

And so we began to see not three separate questions, but inseparable parts of the one most important question: "What's for dinner?" And in all of our surfing and searching we had found no one with quite the same idea, so we took action and the Guerrilla Gourmet was born. We believe that it is our unique approach, quirky wit and mulish determination that will help us get at least to the second challenge round, and hopefully to win the Project Food Blog Challenge. However, we know the competition will be fierce (and inspiring), so we can't wait to see what everyone does!
Check out these links to see our unique approach to those three questions:

And finally, we were a little late getting this up and posted in part because of the other challenge we're undertaking: the San Francisco Food Bank Hunger Challenge. This will be our second year trying to eat well on the average U.S. food stamp allowance of only $4 per person per day. You can read more about the challenge here, and see our work from 2009 and from 2010. We hope you'll consider taking on the challenge with us next year. Above and beyond, the foodie community has shown that together we are stronger than any challenge out there. Good luck everyone!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hunger Challenge Shopping List

All for $55.33? Sweet!
Feeding yourself on the tiny food stamp allowance is a scary prospect. I generally think of food as one of life's democratic, inexpensive pleasures, and Tiffany and I keep our overall food budget low by cooking simply with frugal but flavorful ingredients. But when we started to add up all the little things that made even the simplest-seeming menu sing, the cost added up fast! So Tiffany and I approached the idea of the Hunger Challenge with some firm principles in mind (Check out our menu/strategy post here.) Check out the sweet haul we brought back in the pictures above and throughout. And check out our shopping list after the jump!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hunger Challenge Day 4 - This is where it gets tough

Both this year and last year, I found myself strangely enthusiastic about the first few days of the SF Food Bank Hunger Challenge. We've planned a menu that looks surprisingly delicious, come in a touch under budget on our first shopping trip, and have several filling meals in our bellies. Apart for a strange craving for potato chips, I'm feeling full and healthy.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hunger Challenge Dinner Day 2: Spicy stir fried noodles!

Fuchsia Dunlop's excellent Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook: Recipes from Hunan Province and Land of Plenty: Recipes from Sichuan Province are two of the most lovingly stain-splattered in our kitchen. The xtremely detailed, authentic treatment of Hunan and Sichuan cuisine has opened our eyes to the robust, spicy, and savory falvors of those province, and introduced us to a whole new array of exotic ingredients and sophisticated new techniques, gleaned from her work in dozens of major restaurants all over the two provinces. But it was her work cataloging the humble but delicious cooking of the rural farmers and small noodle shops that had us reaching to her books for inspiration this week. "Stir-fried rice noodles with chicken slivers" is one of our favorite light dinners and we thought it would be pretty cheap, but we still had to make a few modifications to squeeze it into the budget this week. Check the recipe and price breakdown after the jump!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Hunger Challenge Day 1: Impressionable minds cannot survive on art alone

As we embarked on the first day of our commitment to eat for the allotted food bank supplement individuals receive ($4/day), our first thought was...uh oh. It's scary to wake up in the morning and suddenly realize that what you're going to eat has a number attached to it. That cup of cereal costs roughly $0.17 and the milk you're splashing on it? Tack another couple of cents onto the tab. In our everyday lives, this isn't something we consider. We think of food in terms of nourishment, enjoyment and beauty. However, when you're operating against concerns of money, the last thing that food looks like is enjoyment.

Hunger Challenge Menu

It's hunger awareness month again, and that means it's time for the San Francisco Food Bank to challenge bloggers and others to try to eat on the typical federal food stamp allowance of only $4 per person, per day. They call it the "Hunger Challenge" and our participation last year taught us a lot - about poverty, about food, and about ourselves. We plan to improve on last year by sharing more of our recipes, successes, and failures this time around. And because it's always more fun when money is on the line, if we go over budget, we will donate ten times that amount to the food bank, with a minimum donation for the food we would have received from the food bank to help them continue the very important work they do.

After the jump, find more information about the challenge, our strategy,  and menu.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Writings on the Wall

Photo borrowed from here.
Inside a Domino's Dough Factory

Whether you love Domino's or hate it, you have to give them credit for for revolutionizing the way that pizza is made and delivered in the United States. Adam Kuban from Slice (one of my favorite blogs) got see just what that means.

Getting to the meat of the matter
Dawn, over at Wicked Good Dinner, takes the mystery out of 'concasse tomatoes' while retaining all of the beauty of chopped tomatoes. Her ninja like way of dealing with tomatoes will make creating your own pizza sauce a breeze!