Author Archives: garyfleener

Change of Perspective: Peppers too hot. Relish just right.

Gary's Worldview

pepper relish and plantWe love padron peppers. Blistered in some hot olive oil, and a few sea salt flakes – it’s one of our favorite summer appetizers. Thanks to the Galicians of NW Spain, these little peppers have found there way to Mediterranean climates around the world. The problem with padrons is this – leave them too long on the bush, and they get fiery hot. By this time in the autumn they are bright red AND hot. Too hot. What a waste to have a pepper bush covered with inedible peppers! At least the color is lovely. But then it occurred to me that you could eat them in other ways…. they didn’t have to be fried and salted. So I merged a few simple recipes for pepper jam, chutney, and relish and today we are eating hot red padrons in a whole new way. A little sweet, tart and spicy. But…

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Hot, Hot Roti at the Holidays

Gary's Worldview

Sage's roti doughThere is a wonderful children’s story called “Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji” (F. Zia, 2011) about a young boy that makes fresh roti for his grandfather – roti that bestows superhero powers!  Gwen and Sage discovered the book last year and we have had a blast crafting flatbread ever since. Today after school we decided to make a batch to go with dinner. We have evolved our house recipe a bit – straying from the traditional dough of semolina flour and water. Here is the basic outline:

  • 1 cup of semolina flour (or whole wheat)
  • 1/2 cup of unbleached white flour
  • 1/2 cup of masa harina (tortilla flour)
  • 1 tsp. salt

The touch of masa adds a rich corn flavor that I really love. Mix the dry ingredients with enough warm water to make a medium-soft dough. Knead until smooth, roll into a ball, and let rest in…

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Beauty and the Beast: A tale of two Mondays

Gary's Worldview

Vermillion rockcodLast Monday Reuben and I slipped out to Stillwater Cove for an afternoon of kayak fishing. The previous week had been blown out with large swells and high winds, but this day was lovely. As we paddled through the kelp beds and out to the open sea I was struck by how clear the water was – it seemed like I could see farther down the stipes than ever before. Looking from a kayak into a kelp forest can be pretty hypnotic – you are so close to the skin of the water. The baseball-sized pnuematocysts look like shrunken heads, with their hair-blades swaying and bobbing in the swell.

I wanted to find a reef I remembered from last year, but I forgot the battery for my sonar and I wasn’t quite sure where to start. I was testing depths with a jig and staying close into the kelp –…

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Farmer Sage meets (and eats) Hog Island Oysters

Gary's Worldview

Last week Sage and I loaded up for a day on the coast – tidepooling, whale watching, and an exploratory visit to Tomales Bay and the Hog Island Oyster Farm. Sage is 5 and generally adores fresh fish and seafood of all kinds – grilled Baja dorado, my cider-cured and applewood smoked trout, and Bodega Bay crab are all favorites. He also eats ikura, shrimp and tako nigiri like a champ. But I wasn’t sure how oysters would go over, and I knew it would be risky to drive all the way from Bodega Bay (the whales) to Marshall (the oyster farm). But lately I have been fixating on local seafood myself, and I discovered that the Hog Island Oyster Farm was not only visitor friendly but also produces what might be the finest oysters in the Bay Area. So I took my chances and we made the drive.


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Not your average grocery…

Gary's Worldview

A 12 hour layover is a fine thing if that layover happens to be in Hong Kong. It is one of the few cities in the world where you can actually escape the terminal for no cost and no paperwork. And the excellent train system takes you directly to the heart of downtown in 25 minutes! Not only do you get to muse at what must be one of the most internationally eclectic cities in the world, you also get eat dim sum – and you know how I feel about dim sum (see my post from February). But on this day, as I walked off my hefty lunch in the sanctuary of an underground mall (a typhoon brewing and spewing rain outside), I encountered the most amazing grocery store I have ever seen. Ever. Why? Let us consider the meat counter.

The meat counter at C!tySuper looks, at first…

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Yum Cha Heaven

Gary's Worldview

After 15 hours of trans Pacific hang time we needed to walk and we wanted to eat. Nathaniel Wilder and I were en route to Nepal but faced with an epic layover in Hong Hong. So we stashed our gear and hopped a ferry to Hong Kong’s Central Terminal– gateway to Victoria Peak and some the best dim sum eateries in the known universe. From the terminal we made our way cross town to the venerable City Hall Maxim’s and queued up for a table. Yum Cha is Cantonese for drinking tea but implies much more. Yum Cha means to enjoy tea, and usually to enjoy sweet and savory snacks — dim sum — as well. We ordered a pot of good oolong tea and began watching for our first round of goodies. You don’t usually order dim sum from a menu, you make selections (or point emphatically in our…

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Local Food meets the Local Food Chain

Gary's Worldview

I knew I should have put a wire cover over the chicken yard. But after nine months fenced under some apple trees our eight happy hens seemed immune — immune to the wild uncertainties looming in the adjacent pinons and sagebrush. Sure we kept them locked in a sturdy coop at night, but otherwise they were outdoor birds. Bears and bobcats, coyotes and weasels all haunt the property, but because of the llamas that live right next to the chickens it seemed that none of these wily predators were interested  (llamas are great guard animals).  At least not until the onset of deep winter. Over the past week Gwen’s dad (Big John) had noticed the bobcat patrolling the area more brazenly and in broad daylight. She always patrols the area, but usually in those crepuscular hours when few are awake to notice. Those midday recons were a sign, but I…

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