For the last two weeks we’ve been parked on the beach in Ft. Lauderdale. Accompanying the sun and sand was a swarm of Spring Break Zombies, roving packs of girls in alarming swim wear and pillaging squadrons of boys, shirtless, beer in hand. I count myself fortunate that I witnessed only two of these fine specimens mid-vomit.
Note to self: Do not allow future children such leisure.
Note to self: You are becoming a draconian parent. Get a boyfriend first.
For the first time on this tour we stayed in one city for two weeks. This afforded us the luxury of a proper day off (normally we travel every Monday, our only day off per week). The middle Monday was entirely open, an adventure in waiting.
A castmate invited a few of us on her father’s boat for the day, then to a relaxing evening back at his villa. I will admit to some trepidation at a day spent floating. I imagined coming back to the hotel in a shade of red heretofore undiscovered. I wore my sunscreen like a second skin and warded off any hint of color. A day floating at sea was exactly what I needed to revive. The gentle bobbing soothed my frayed nerves and brought a sense of calm to this frantic hotel-to-hotel life.
Of course, I can never spend too many hours without thinking about food. Our plan was to return to the villa après ocean and eat something. I don’t eat just something. My compatriots didn’t want to stress me out with a request for a big meal, but I assured them that time in a kitchen was precisely what my dislocated brain needed.
The night before we left I made a giant batch of Filipino Adobo marinade, split into three Ziploc bags. I turned my hotel room into a prep kitchen, smashing garlic and chopping up raw cane sugar. Should you ever find yourself in the need for a simple and powerful marinade, memorize this: Equal parts Tamari, Vinegar (rice is best), and Water. Add a few cloves of smashed garlic, some star anise, and some sugar (if you have those on hand) and soak any protein in the dark liquid.
I sent the marinade off with a friend who was going up early and asked her to pour it over a few pounds of skirt steak. She obeyed exquisitely. Once in the kitchen that evening I set to work. The skirt steak would be grilled, the marinade reduced into a syrupy sauce. I grilled asparagus and red onions, then tossed them in a chili-aioli. I had my friends make a giant pot of rice, expecting them to overcook it. They followed suit and apologized for the mushy rice. No worry, I exclaimed, it was perfect.
In my wok I fried little cubes of salami with a crowd of scallions. I stirred the fried aromatics into my mushy rice, seasoned with salt and rice vinegar, then heated some sesame oil in the basin of the wok. I pressed the overcooked rice into a large disk in the bottom of the wok and heated it over medium-high heat until crisp. With one hefty flick of the pan I sent the rice cake skyward and caught it on its pale, unheated side. A few more minutes then I slid the crisp cake out onto a glass platter and presented dinner to my friends under the stars.
For desert I grilled nectarines and mangoes, then drizzled a quick-made caramel over everything and spooned that over vanilla ice cream.
All of this is to say: HOW HAVE I BEEN LIVING WITHOUT A KITCHEN FOR SO LONG?!
Also: please make the cake above. I still haven’t baked a beautiful treat and my soul is weeping.
Today we fly to Nashville, who has recommendations for me?
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
3/4 cup Sugar
3/4 cup Spectrum Safflower Oil
3/4 cup Rice Dream Original Rice Milk
2 teaspoon Almond Extract
1/2 cup Arrowhead Mills Brown Rice Flour
1/3 cup Arrowhead Mills Millet Flour
1/3 cup Tapioca Starch
2 teaspoons Hain Baking Powder
3/4 teaspoon Salt
3/4 teaspoon Xanthan Gum
1. Slice pear into thin strips, scatter in bottom of 9×13 baking dish. Sprinkle brown sugar over pear slices, slide tray into oven and heat to 350 degrees.
2. In medium bowl, whisk eggs and sugar until light and slightly thickened.
3. Whisk in oil, milk and almond extract.
4. Stir dry ingredients into wet mixture, make sure to scrape sides and incorporate everything.
5. Remove pear dish from oven, pour batter over fruit and put tray back in oven.
6. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until cake is golden brown on top.
7. Let cool for 5 minutes, then place cutting board on top of baking tray and flip cake over. Remove baking tray and let cake cool completely.