Had a flashback to 1993 today and made some very Mark Miller-inspired overdriven hapjes for the evening snack segment of today's eating.

For those of you who aren't that familiar with "Southwestern cuisine" of the U.S., the idea is of a modern kitchen that combines the traditional foods of the cowboys and Indians with ingredients and influences from primarily Mexican but also Southern cooking, with dabs of California-Mediterranean fusion concepts here and there.

This was the food that sparked my cooking engine back in the early 90s. The first real cookbook that I started cooking out of was Mark Miller's Coyote Cafe book, and while not every single idea in there completely works, there are many extremely reliable flavor combinations in there that I still rely on when I'm feeling creative in the kitchen: corn, maple, pecan, bourbon; orange, basil, mint, chipotle, and goat cheese; cumin, anise, cinnamon, and cloves; apple, pine nut, red chile, and honey; orange, tamarind, chipotle, rosemary, bacon...

Tonight? My results were too complicated, but I felt like playing chemist and the cooking was more about that than about being comforted or whatever. Bachelor #1 tonight: cherry confit, smoked duck breast, warm goat cheese, one molecule each of cinnamon and ancho powder, a few drops of hazelnut oil, and chopped arugula. Something about the photo of this one was bugging me so it's been...removed.

Bachelor #2 was much less ambitious, and frankly leagues tastier, totally worth turning into a full-blown salad of its own: roasted red pepper, fresh basil, olive oil, warm goat cheese, fresh squeezed orange juice, toasted almonds, a teeny bit of minced chipotle, and more arugula.

All of this was designed to fuel Mara while she made another FOT for a friend who just received their permanent residence permit for The Netherlands (pictured above, the FOT).


UPDATE: Coming back to this post a month later because this evening on the way home from H + J's at 3am, there was a tremendous thunderstorm, like Georgia-style: lightning striking 50 meters away every 5 seconds; punishing, painful hail, etc. We were not so far from home when it hit, but we were on foot. When the lightning started to get uncomfortably close, we started to run, but we had to cross through a construction site. And as were doing so (at top speed), I made some kind of navigational error and had to stretch one iota too far to clear something I was jumping over. A couple days later, the back of my knee really started to hurt, like I pulled a muscle. But unlike a pulled muscle, it's still hurting about the same amount now, one month later. Bummer.

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