Brody’s Big Adventure

My pal, Richard Brody, picked me up on the corner of Santa Monica Blvd. and Bentley Avenue at 11:07 a.m. on a Monday morning. We were going shopping.

Brody and his ramen

Brody and his ramen

What I was doing on that particular corner without a car is a whole other story of broken struts, the Culver City green line and a client of my other, more lucrative life. But it is what Brody and I were doing that is of interest for this blog, as it has everything to do with food.

“I can’t figure out what to make my family for dinner,” Brody had told me some months before. “I’m really dropping the ball. I need to step up my game.”

This is when the idea came about — I can’t recall if it was mine or his — for me to mentor him on making dinner for his family. Not one dinner, but a strategy of how to prepare varied, tasty meals for his wife — who got home later from work than he — and two daughters. He was in a rut. The first matter of business, I told him, would be shopping.

Brody navigates the aisles of the Mitsuwa — timidly at first

Brody navigates the aisles of the Mitsuwa — timidly at first

From the corner of Santa Monica Blvd. and Bentley Avenue, we drove toward our first stop — the big Mitsuwa Japanese market in Mar Vista. This particular day of shopping and strategizing would revolve around making Asian-style cuisine. Plus, there’s a tasty Japanese food court at the Mitsuwa where we could lunch and I could get my favorite tendon bowl at the legendary Hannosuke.

My approach to helping Brody was to set him up with a selection of items in both his pantry and freezer which could be used to create a variety of different dinners quickly and efficiently. To our cart we added two different types of fresh noodles which freeze well — ramen and yakisoba — with which he could make soupy ramen or stir-fried noodles, with the addition to either of thinly sliced pork or pre-marinated chicken we also got. A bag of Japanese rice would provide the base for either pre-marinated and frozen Korean short ribs, or the aforementioned chicken cooked on a grill. In the vegetable aisle, we got green onions, shiitake mushrooms, bok choy and other fresh additions to whichever dish he might be making. Frozen potstickers and corn croquettes would contribute variety for any of these meals — and tasty options for the girls’ lunch boxes.

Brody checking out at Mitsuwa

Brody checking out at Mitsuwa (note growing confidence in his body language)

For myself, I got some scallops and albacore to make sushi. But Brody would have to wait for a later lesson for that.

Next we went to Sanchez Carniceria, where they prepare a mean carne asada in marinade to take home. We talked about how easy a good Mexican meal was if you had a protein in the freezer — grill some carne asada, for example, serve with tortillas, beans and rice, and salsa. He also picked up some of their pollo preparado to serve in the same role, different meat.

Lastly, we stopped at the massive and oddly named Northgate Market — a Mexican supermercado — where in a bit of cross-cultural fortuity, we found just the right thin short rib cuts for Korean barbecue. I got some pasilla chiles for rellenos, and Brody bought me a watermelon agua fresca.

Brody exiting the Carniceria Sanchez

Brody exiting the Carniceria Sanchez

Back in Brody’s truck, our shopping adventure complete, he displayed a newfound confidence he would be able to make several quick, easy and delicious dinners for his family. And with my walking him through the shopping process and talking him through what to do when he got home, hopefully he would find it easier to plot a similar approach on his own next time. Or, I guess there could always be a Brody’s Big Adventure Pt. II.

Everyplace we went happened to be a short drive from the Ballona Wetlands, where Brody works as a scientist for California Fish & Game helping restore the wetlands — and a stone’s throw from Dave Frost Automotive, where my day with Brody would end in several excruciatingly boring hours wandering about while I waited for my Prius to be finished, thinking about what I would make for dinner that night…

Carniceria Sanchez's carne asada to go

Carniceria Sanchez’s carne asada to go

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mom
    Nov 07, 2014 @ 00:42:56

    Lucky Brody.

    Reply

  2. timoirish34
    Nov 07, 2014 @ 00:57:29

    As always, this was a worthy entry. I’ve always thought the best basic cookbook would begin with a lengthy chapter entitled “How to Shop”. I’m busy at the moment, so I encourage you to write THAT book (!)

    Reply

  3. andreathompson2
    Nov 07, 2014 @ 03:22:33

    I love your comment about being able to help neat people! That is an awesome attitude. I learned a lot from this post….. THANKX DUDE!!

    Reply

    • scolgin
      Nov 07, 2014 @ 04:02:15

      Thank YOU! Life is more rewarding when you live in service and gratitude, I find. And that doesn’t have to mean saving the world — just using your God (or gorilla) given talents to make other’s lives better. It meant a lot to me to see the joy on my pal’s face when he told me about the bowl of ramen he made his wife and daughters and how happy they were.

      Reply

  4. Jen @ Honeychick Homestead
    Nov 08, 2014 @ 01:41:34

    So glad you helped up your friend get out of his dinner rut! Btw, I love Mitsuwa, makes be want to go get some ramen 🙂

    Reply

  5. Jessamine in PDX
    Nov 09, 2014 @ 08:25:50

    I want that carne asada! Also this takes me back to when one of my friends asked me for cooking lessons years ago. Every other week we would select a menu, go shopping, cook, and then dine with wine. It was lots of fun teaching someone skills and getting to enjoy the spoils. Wishing Brody (and his family) lots of good meals!

    Reply

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