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Friday, July 15, 2011

In the Beginning and Tuna Conserva

I come from a family of cooks.  My maternal grandmother lived on a land-grant farm in South Dakota, where she would cook the noon meal for those working in the fields.  She wasn't a great cook, but she knew how to cook rib-sticking meals for a crowd.  My paternal grandmother was a baker in small-town Nebraska.  She died when I was eleven, but I can remember her cakes to this day.  When I turned thirty-one, my mother sent me her recipe box for a birthday present.

My parents cook, too, good, healthy food.  As for me, I started cooking in college but didn't cook in earnest until law school.  After all, I had to do something other than going to class and the extra five hours of studying I did after I came home.  Most nights, it also gave me a chance to eat dinner with my then-husband, who worked nights doing television production.

Now cooking is the thing that relaxes me the most, even more than reading and exercising, or seeing friends.  My husband is also a good cook, but I prefer to be alone in the kitchen with NPR playing or Hulu or a DVD in the background.

Today my husband is on a company-sponsored fishing trip (poor him, and me for that matter--there'll be fresh salmon this weekend) and I'm tackling what looks like a daunting one-page recipe from A16, the tuna conserva.  In reality, it takes very little active time but is the foundation for four separate seasonal recipes. One of them calls for dandelion greens, which came in yesterday's CSA box, and dried fava bean puree.  The first step is to salt and refrigerate one pound of tuna.  Fortunately, fresh tuna is readily accessible in Alaska:

After covering it with salt, it gets refrigerated for two hours and then gently poached in a pot with a bit of water and some aromatics:

You then let it cool and cover it with olive oil.  I'll stick it in the refrigerator tonight and hope that it works for tomorrow's dinner.  Buon appetito!

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