Tuesday, December 30, 2008

More Cookie Press Update

So the saga has come to an end - of sorts. Those following the William Sanoma Cookie Press story know that the scene took a turn (for the better? for the worse? it's unclear) a few weeks ago when I re-tried the WSCP and failed.

This weekend, while spending some time with family in New York (and a day of double Chinese food - how awesome is that?!) I spent a morning asking sort-of-grandma to try the WSCP with me to see if it was me or the press. Turns out, it's the press. The top (bottom? wherever you insert the plates to get the cute shapes) doesn't screw on and therefore the cookie doesn't press out. For the meantime, she lent me her CP (from HER mother, my sort-of-great-grandma) and I will impress everyone with my presses. And look into purchasing a new and better CP. Any ideas?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Whose Wii Remote Reigns Supreme?

The Sherbs and I picked up the Iron Chef video game for the Wii at Best Buy, and found it a lot of fun, although also a lot like cooking.

The game, in essence, is going through all the tasks of cooking the necessary dishes. Each particular type of food based on the secret ingredient (eggplant in pita! Carrot gyoza!) has a number of steps required to complete it, such as chopping, grating, running a stand mixer, or boiling a pot. Each step is turned into a 90-second mini-game where one tries to accomplish the task. Chopping and slicing are easy; boiling and grilling are tough.

So, should one pick four dishes, each with six tasks, one then must complete twenty-four cooking tasks, many of them chopping, slicing, or grating. The music, sadly, is a tad repetitive, as are the Chairman's repeated exhortations of the tasks' name (even with two different enunciations) and Alton Brown's Madden-like inanities (e.g., "John Madden’s inane and often insane ramblings are extremely tedious, and it seems as though he and his fellow commentator have a vocabulary of around 30 phrases which they just spout out sporadically and sometimes inappropriately") . Despite all this, The Sherbs and I had fun as a team of chefs against the computer, where we could switch off between grating and boiling tasks.

Is Iron Chef worth what we paid? We'll see how much fun we get out of it. Since the controls are easier than Cooking Mama (I still can't crack an egg in that game), I'm saying yes for now.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Food News Roundup!

1) Tribe and Sabra want every American to eat hummus. I'm game.

2) They still do not sell chive Bagel-fuls™ at The Teet.

3) They now make Splenda with fiber. I had some in my eggnog-flavored tea (which the box says is kosher dairy) this morning. I do not yet regret doing so.

4) La Tasca is not as good as Spain. Especially the patatas bravas, but also the paella. The cheese plate's good, though.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

We want you! We want you!

Recently, one of my favorite political bloggers mentioned a foodstuff I'd never heard of: bean pie.

The country group Alabama had made me aware of sweet potato pie (and its silencing qualities); I had heard of rhubarb pie from Sesame Street (and then subsequently warned off of it by my rhubarb-skeptical parents, as well as Jack Nicholson); I am even familiar with shoo-fly pie (although, honestly, just from the song, and without Google I wouldn't know what the companion food was).

But back to bean pie. According to what appears to be the Nation of Islam's recipe (no, I am not kidding), bean pie is navy beans pureed with enough traditional piestuffs (condensed milk, vanilla, nutmeg, butter) that the beans cease to be vegetable and become merely starch for a pie filling. In theory, I think I approve.

A blogger who tried a packaged version said they tasted better than OK. Personally, if I were to have a bean pie, I'd make one. We do have a lot of navy beans lying around that we have no use for, so I wouldn't even need the commercially available bean pie mix.

Now, the real question is whether I make my own pie crust, or let Keebler do the low-fat cooking?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Return of the Cookie Press

Some people may remember my desire for, receiving of, and then trials and tribulations of the William Sanoma Cookie Press.

After last summer's debacle, I was talking to a friend of The Pedant (and an avid cookie baker) who suggested trying to make cookie press cookies in the winter (less humidity) and storing them in the fridge overnight (also good for any cookie). So, I decided to try them. Some friends were coming over, I could make Christmas Tree and Santa cookies (it is December, the longest holiday season ever) and I acquired some extras: a stand mixer, extra inserts from Sort-of-Grandma (who had extras), a different recipe (complete with MORE butter), and more time.

Turns out, I am in a fight with the WSCP. Again.

It just didn't work - nothing stuck to the cookie sheet. The recipe suggested adding 2 tablespoons of flour if the dough is too soft. Didn't work. I was pretty pissed. I wanted to press cookies but nothing! I called SOG, told her I was coming up for a visit and bring the devil that is the WSCP. We will attempt to make cookies together. If it doesn't work (she's been instructed to bring her cookie press as a back up), I will be throwing out the WSCP, saying good riddance and maybe buying a piping bag for a new recipe.

More Food Successes

First, I had a fascinating experiment with a Ziploc Zip n' Steam™ bag, one of the things the Sherbs and I have to turn frozen vegetables into edible food when we are lazy. The bag says "add frozen vegetables and seasoning," but we'd never actually added any seasoning.

So this time, I threw in with some butter peas some garlic powder, pareve "chicken" consomme, and some Teet brand dijon mustard. After six minutes, it was significantly improved, although I think it was mostly the dijon mustard.

Second, last night we made onion soup, and a lot of it. We sauteed approximately four pounds of yellow onions in a Le Creuset dutch oven, then added "beef" stock, dry sherry, and let it simmer for a while. We didn't add as much fake beef as usual, and I think that made the onion taste more heightened.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Girl, I want to take you to a wine bar! Wine bar! Wine bar! Wine bar!

Let's start a war! (thing I'm babbling about in link, sound necessary)

The Sherbs and I had a "date night" last night, and for the food portion of the evening, we went to Vinoteca, a super-trendy "wine bar" on U street in DC. Our server, Lauren, was a more than capable sommelier; we started by expressing some indecision about which wine assortments to order, and she ably picked a selection of whites for the Sherbs and pinot noirs for me that were really tasty.

Vinoteca doesn't do tapas, exactly; they do, however, make small plates of things that are mostly not Spanish. I ate, in whole or part:
  • their tray of sheep cheeses - you cannot go wrong with a semi-hard sheep's milk cheese,
  • their portobello mushroom "sliders" - cute tiny burgers with little mushrooms in a very tasty white miso/tahini sauce,
  • bow tie pasta in a sauce that was just cream and butter, with sliced truffle on top and micro-greens on the bottom. I love micro greens. They are so cute. The dish itself was "oh god this is killing me through salt, fat AND cholesterol" delicious.
  • an apple tart lightly cooked in a lattice of puff pastry and not too sweet - mostly natural apple flavor with a hint of cinnamon. The sweetness came from the calvados sabayon, which was basically faultless.
I also drank a pretty good malbec and a fabulous Pedro Ximinez sherry. Then the Sherbs and I realized that, after two hours of really drinking and eating, we still had plenty of time before the show (darn discount tickets!). So we spent some time wandering and digesting, which was probably for the best.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Un-Recommendation

Do not buy Dannon's "Frusion" line of yogurt drinks. Let me enumerate the reasons:

1) They aren't particularly tasty. They aren't as good as the smoothies I make with real fruit and Splenda.

2) They aren't particularly healthy. Check out their nutritional information. Two grams saturated fat, most of the carbs are sugars, and they couldn't even bother to throw in 300% of your day's supply of Vitamin C (also, no selenium. WTF? If you're going to put it on the label, have some in the beverage). Why Dannon couldn't put in more vitamins or fiber is beyond me.

3) They're not very big. Maybe some anorexic woman will be filled by the 7-10 oz. bottles Dannon packs Frusion in, but it's not that filling for me, and I assume, what with the protein and the fat, it's supposed to be a meal replacement.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My Couscous Goddess

The Sherbs makes a mean couscous.

To get rid of some of the way too many preserved lemons we made in our frenzy for a dish with preserved lemons, last night The Sherbs made a really tasty couscous with the lemons, olives, and some onion from Mark Bittman's vegetarian cookbook. I am eating it for lunch right now and it is just as good.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Food Protip

Thing I just learned:
Thai garlic and chili sauce, in small amounts, does not take very long to burst all over one's microwave if left uncovered. Like, twenty seconds, tops.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Orzo? I Hardly Know you!

Last night, The Pedant was gracious enough to make dinner and he posted about the prep part for our orzo and broccoli. I enjoyed it a lot - it was very tasty and nutty and quite creamy in fact (well, for a "diet" food). We tried to come up with ways to modify it a bit without making it too unhealthy. Here's what we came up with*:

--Use a fake beef stock (or real?) instead of veggie broth
--potentially make a roux as a thickener, instead of the fat free half and half (also to avoid using an oxymoron)
--increasing the vegetable amount (possibly adding spinach also?) and decreasing the orzo amount.

*The recipe was basically 16 oz. frozen chopped broccoli (thawed), one carrot, pine nuts, 1/4 cup fat free half and half (yes, I know, a real oxymoron!!), garlic, shallots, a vegetable broth and water mixture, and orzo (duh), Parmesan cheese

But it was very tasty. We really enjoyed it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Return to the House of Orzo!

Just sprayed vegetable broth all over the kitchen, but it was worth it for Orzo Night, part II.

Part I was a recipe from the British food blog "Eat Like a Girl," which described orzo with spinach, butternut squash, and ricotta. We left out the pancetta, but it was tasty anyway.

Part II was from a Weight Watchers cookbook that does that annoying thing where the top, middle and bottom of the page all turn separately for a "mix and match" effect. Since the Sherbs and I so rarely prepare three meals at home (bowl of cereal for breakfast, leftovers for lunch), much less three meals from a Weight Watchers cookbook (as opposed to our stanbys Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian) the mix and match is wasted on us.

Regardless, it was an orzo recipe with broccoli, carrot, and lots of vegetable broth, which is ladled in slowly during the cooking process. There is a technical term for this, but other than "causing the Pedant motor difficulties while ladeling with his left hand and stirring with his right," I don't know what it is. It seems to have come out tasty, but we haven't had dinner yet - I'm waiting for the Sherbs to get back.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Semi-Korean

I had some great leftovers for lunch.

Mark Bittman's vegetarian cookbook had a forty-minute soup which is just as good, if not better, the second day. It's Korean-inspired, and involves frying up some carrots, garlic, daikon, chili peppers, and cabbage in sesame oil, then adding vegetable stock and letting it cook.

It worked out really well, although next time I'm trying "beef" stock. Also, I'm getting Asian chilis from the "Bangkok 54" grocery, next to the "looks way better on the website than it does in reality" restaurant of the same name.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Goat Cheese and Honey

The Pedant gave a good round up of our time at the wineries. I also enjoyed it and found the tasting at Vintage Ridge Winery really interesting. With the extra bites to eat (not just crackers) and the generous tastes, they let us linger and talk and really enjoy the experience. The best part was in the desert platter: Goat Cheese with Honey. It was really very good. We ate it with their dessert wine a wine not as sweet as the others we've had, purchased a year ago, or very recently, but very tasty. We first were told to eat it with a slice of bleu cheese (tart) and then try it with goat cheese and honey (sweet) and have some bites of things in the middle. The bleu cheese was very good but the goat cheese surprised me. I've had Greek yogurt with honey which is creamy and tangy and sweet. I expected this to taste the same since it has a similar look on a mini fork, but it was oh so much better. Really very good. Bravo whoever thought this up!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

(Everything But) Strawberry Wine

It was time again for The Sherbs and I to head out to Virginia's wineries, and this time, we hit two of the more upscale establishments, both in scenic Delaplane, home of the Delaplane Strawberry Festival.

1) The Barrel Oak Winery is most notable for its dog-friendliness policy; one can bring one's dog right up to the bar for tastings. They also had some good wines; we bought their norton and a late harvest viognier, the latter mostly so we won't feel guilty drinking the late harvest viognier we already have.

2) The Vintage Ridge Winery is a swank place. Go for a tasting, and you get a sit down experience with plates of small cheeses, crackers, and meats, plus a dessert selection. Plus, they're pretty liberal with the pouring. We bought the syrah (which, unlike some, did not have a controversial name making us less likely to drink it) and the "Summer Night," which was a vidal blanc.

The Vintage Ridge Winery also sells some of the condiments they put in their tasting plate; we bought the Virginia Chutney Company's "spicy plum" chutney, which was awesome, and Golding Farms "pepper trio" mustard, which will change the way we eat cheese sandwiches forever.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Party Aftermath

Okay, time to take the bumper magnet off the car; election's over, don't need people to know who I voted for through Christmas.

Sadly, The Sherbs did not become a member of the Arlington County School Board, even though I wrote her in; she was outvoted by 30,000 and 40,000 votes, respectively, by the two incumbents (and only people on the ballot). Maybe next time.

As for the party itself, the foods worked out. The pizza was very tasty, mostly thanks to Costco - adding Dole pineapple chunks and fake ham didn't ruin it, although the cheese didn't get as brown as I would have liked. The Vietnamese rolls were pretty good, although not as good as party food as I'd have hoped; rice paper is not a tortilla, it sort of sticks and stretches as you eat it, so you really need a fork. Wegman's makes great honey roasted peanuts.

I drank a bottle of Brooklyn Brewery's Black Chocolate Stout, which is sort of a Presidential election tradition for me. It is my favorite chocolate-flavored beer.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Almost got the Rathbone

So, I decided on the final menu for the party. Joining Hawaiian pizza and Vietnamese rolls will be honey-roasted peanuts (for Biden, because: Amtrak), and baked Alaska if one of my guests makes it.

For the Vietnamese rolls, I needed Thai basil. Sadly, the Teet does not carry it. H-mart probably does, though, which is good, although, like my previous trip to the H-mart, it is not so easy to find things if you don't read Korean. Also: the people in the produce area do not know the English terms for Asian vegetables.

I think what I bought is Thai basil. It doesn't really look like the Wikipedia picture, but it smells right. The scan on the cash register said "Taiwanese basil." The shelf I grabbed it from is labeled "culantro."

So, it may be time for a food adventure.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Squashing Enemies!

Yesterday morning The Pedant and I chose our menu for the week. TP had a craving for squash, a tasty, tasty fall veggie, and we looked for a recipe. As usual, Mark Bittman came through with a spicy squash gallette, which we modified to a bit healthier version. Sadly, (or happily?) I didn't help with the dinner prep since i was on the phone with my sister and married a wonderful cook, but I will try to recreate the recipe:

Saute a red onion in some oil. Add some minced garlic (PS: Best invention ever - GARLIC PRESSES!) until it smells awesome. Put in a mini can of tomato paste and loads of spices (especially cayenne). Add some wine (finally, a use for the spicy apple wine TP acquired). Put in some sliced winter squash and warm. Put in pie crust (TP used a thin layer of panko instead of an unhealthy pie crust), bake for an hour. Watch The Tick and enjoy.

The outcome was fantastic. Also the Tick is fantastic. But mostly the tasty, tasty squash.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

More on the Food Party

There was a good article in the Express today (but strangely, not on the Express's web page) about Presidential Election Foods, but my question still lies somewhat unanswered.

Not that you haven't helped. Yes, smoked salmon would be similarly good for Sarah Palin, even if the Sherbs is opposed to fish. Blini or blintzes would be tasty. And I could just get a Snyder's of Hanover bag and give up on Biden.

But I want to be extra-clever. If I had a million dollars for this party, I'd make a $150,000 dish to represent Sarah Palin (it would be even better if I could use $150,000 of the RNC's dollars). I'd love to have a Biden dish which would be significantly tested in its first hour after presentation, and won't be popular with the general public.

Still mulling my options for clever foods; if you think you've got a good one, let me know.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Election Party!

So, the Sherbs and I are planning an election results-watching party. I want the party to have election-themed foods, but I have some difficulty with foods related to the vice presidential candidates.

My tentative munchies menu is as follows:
  1. Obama-themed food: Vegetarian "Hawaiian" pizza - pizza with fake ham and pineapple. Combines Obama's Hawaiian and Chicago heritage, plus those doubts that pineapple on pizza is "real" pizza are equivalent to some critics' take on Obama's ethnicity.
  2. McCain-themed food: Vietnamese spring rolls. There was a really tasty-looking recipe in Vegetarian Times, and McCain does occasionally mention that he spent some time in Vietnam.
  3. Palin-themed food: Baked Alaska (maybe). Baked Alaska is kind of hard to make, plus it's a little lazy. I may do a chocolate mousse instead, but that's merely a pun, and not very clever. I did a search on Russian snacks, for an "I can see Russian snacks from here" joke, but most Russian snacks involve foods that make the Sherbs gag, like salted fish or fish eggs.
  4. Biden-themed food: California rolls (maybe). Neither Scranton nor Wilmington has a famous local food. Delaware sort of has crab, so we could do imitation crabmeat, but no one really wants to eat that as is. So, California rolls.
If anyone has better VP foods in mind, let us know.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Things I Learned This Week

  1. Hamburger Helper made with textured vegetable protein is edible, but not tasty, when warm. It is inedible cold.
  2. An iPod touch cannot be operated with one's hands when one is wearing fleecy gloves. It can be operated by nose touch, but with iffy accuracy. Also, you look stupid.
  3. I think the slow cooker bread pudding recipe was only fair; we'll make the stuffing with faux sausage again, though.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Autumn Dinner

I'll spare you the excuses for not posting. Especially since I don't have any. However, The Pedant and I are back with a vengeance! Mwahaha!!

Starting off with a weekend of eating well. We, like oh so many, have decided to pinch some pennies and try eating out less. Our goal is to go to fewer restaurants but when we do go out, we'll eat only at top notch establishments and spend wisely. No shlock for us!! So, Friday I happened to be off from work and decided to make a nice meal for TP. (I also made bran muffins, ala Mark Bittman. Quite tasty!). Speaking of Bittman, I took a hint from his menus for "Autumn Dinners" and made a 3-course meal for us (oo-la-la! But also: leftovers!)

The Menu:

French Potato and Leek Soup
Spicy Autumn Burgers
Caramelized Onion Chutney
Whole Wheat Couscous
Apple Crumble

The soup was a Weight Watchers recipe that I'd made before and was nice and thick and warm and tasty. I slipped with the fake chicken soup and it's a bit salty for my tastes, but it's so good I don't mind too much.

The burgers, made with kale, white beans, sweet potatoes, panko and spices, were lightly (like a total of 2 tablespoons EVOO for 8 patties) fried and really good. It was a Bittman recipe and he suggested (in the menu, from which I stole the soup and apple crumble from too) to serve it with the caramelized onion chutney and millet mash (hence couscous) and was really great. It was sweet and spicy.

The chutney was super easy to make and the perfect opportunity to try out our new food processor. It gave a lot of extra flavor to the burgers.

The dessert, a WW recipe for apple crumble, was good but not fantastic. First, you are to bake the apples with some splenda and cinnamon in the oven for like 10 minutes. Then, you take some rolled oats, egg whites, splenda, and cinnamon and roll it out thinly on a baking sheet and "toast" for 2 minutes in a hot oven. The apple part was tasty - very autumn-y and soft, but I didn't roll out the crumble topping enough and it was clumpy and hard. However, very low calorie and really good. We even ate on our balcony - perfect for DC fall weather!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Tapas Success!

The party went well.

The best tortilla espaƱola recipe is the one with the cheese and spinach in it. It was super-tasty.

Also, the Sherbs is the new household queen of patatas bravas. She makes great spicy potatoes.

As for me, let me share my recipe for sangria:
  • 1 ½ bottles red wine,
  • ½ bottle cherry wine,
  • 2 shots triple sec,
  • 2 shots brandy,
  • 2 cups lemon-lime soda,
  • assorted fruit.
Everyone thought it was pretty awesome.

Fresh?!?

We are having a tapas party today. Part of that party is tortilla EspaƱola and patatas bravas, both of which involve potatoes. We got a big ol' bag of potatoes, and were surprised to find that the large logo on the bag read "Jersey Fresh."

Yes, Jersey fresh.

Evidently the Garden State, trying to reclaim its former glory as tomato supplier to America, is promoting the equivalence that Jersey = Fresh. Despite the fact that, on our trips through Jersey, this is the image of freshness we get:

(
stolen from this blogger's site)

That's some quality, Blade Runner freshness for you.

The potatoes are actually fine, but the packaging is hilarious.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cheerios Mix

The Cheerios Cheddar Snack Mix is not as good as Chex Mix.

Cheerios just do not work well in a savory snack mix.  They're too sweet n' oaty.  I think I do not want oats with my "cheez"-covered pretzels.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Dinner Possible!

After finally getting back into the swing of things (but missing Spain oh-so-much!) The Pedant and I have begun cooking again.

salad. The Sunday we had an excellent dinner. It was a really simple and tasty light dinner: a tortellini salad. The recipe came from a low-fat vegetarian cook book. Basically, cook refrigerated tortellini. Make a salad with mixed greens, a pepper and some mushrooms. Make a dressing out of white wine vinegar, sugar, EVOO and water. Put some crutons in (which TP made himself from a mini baguette). Toss. Enjoy.

And we did.

Last night for dinner we made a chick pea tagine from this months' Vegetarian Times. It came out well. Although we didn't realize it until today's lunch since our sink was leaking. In order to avoid a large smelly pile of dishes, we went out to the local Greek place. Only problem: the food was sooooo tasty (not the problem) I ate it all and got a belly ache in the middle of the night (problem). Oh well.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Spain!

So as The Pedant said, we're married and Spain was amazing.

Here were my highlights:

1) CHEESE: The breakfast buffet had like 8 different kinds of cheeses and they were perfectly divine. I did eat my weight in cheese one morning and it was amazing. So much cheese.

2) PASTRIES: Every day should be a vacation where calories only matter slightly, so that I can eat a croissant and a pastry at each breakfast buffet. Good thing I was only there for a week. Plus, I went back to my exercise class last night and I worked super hard so it's like nothing happened...oh but those croissants and nutella were so, so tasty...

3) VEGETARIAN PAELLA: We had it twice and it was great both times. So delicious and well done. The first time was saltier and with a bit more good stuff to scrape off the bottom, but the second time was with perfectly cooked veggies. TP and I made a paella recipe from Vegetarian Times but we have to work on ours to make it better.

4) THE SCENERY: The coast was just great. So pretty and serene. The water was just so clear. The weather was also perfect - not too hot or humid. The Alhambra castle was divine. As was Ronda and Malaga.

5) ROOM SERVICE: Yes, for the first time in my life, I ordered room service. It was super cool. They even called me "Mrs. Pedant" (even if I'm keeping my maiden name it's still cool). We got a vegetarian pizza with leeks, mushrooms, artichoke (a new favorite veggie!!) and eggplant. Super tasty. Also...

6) TORTILLA ESPANOLA/SPANISH OMELETTE: The potatoes and the eggs - prefect combination. Just so tasty. Plus, every time they used mushrooms it was great. So good. TP and I received a mini omelette pan for our wedding and are so happy to make our own!

7) THE HOTEL: AMAZING. Super swanky and just os much fun. They treated us so nicely.

Next trip is totally to Iceland.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Like MacArthur...

We have returned. There will be more posts about Spain. But not until we get our bearings.

Paella was fantastic.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Marbella, Briefly

Marbella, Briefly

Cars Seen at Our Hotel:
A Bugatti Veyron
The Dutch "Gay TV" Audi sports car (it's pink)
A Ferrari
Two Porsche Cayennes (the silly crossover SUV)

Nearby in Puerto Banus, not yet seen but we probably have to check it
out:
The Plaza Antonio Banderas

El Circulo, the 4 euro bottle of rioja wine we got at a nearby
supermarket:
Not delicious

The Rioja at La Vanencia, the tapas place we were at last night:
Delicious

Ingredients of note in hotel bar sangria:
Sprite, triple sec, sugar

Fact that supermarket has draft beer in its coffeeshop:
Awesome, plus the coffee is good.

Unusual things The Pedant ate:
Black pudding with onions
Vanilla and strawberry ice cream in lasagna shape

Where we're going Friday:
Grenada


-Sent from my iPod because I am a pretentious futurist

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Update

Married Sherbs. In Spain. Food terrific.

-Sent from my iPod because I am a pretentious futurist

Monday, August 25, 2008

Please, Folks

So, I hear from Australia that demand for upscale cat food is contributing to overfishing.

Overfishing is actually one of the environmental causes that I really care about (I've actually written to Congress on this issue); after seeing the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo, I realized that we are pulling too much from the ocean and it's just not sustainable.

It's one thing if people eat good fish, but cats? Come on. This is like dog food that looks better than Dinty Moore. It's even packaged better (see Dinty Moore products here).

Dogs will eat anything. Cats will eat most meat products unless you make them picky. They do not need to eat our food, thus imperiling my chance to get sushi (or pickled herring in cream sauce) twenty years from now.

Stop the cat food madness.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Puccini, or Not

I said in my last blog post that we were going to dinner. It was a good dinner. As is our tradition, I'll blog my side.

Went to Tosca last night here in DC, and did not know that the waiters were refilling my glass with pinot noir as I focused on my food. I was a tad loopy on the Metro home (the Sherbs, as always, was very tolerant of my shenanigans).

My meal was as follows:
1) Red mullet and sardines with fava beans and tomatoes - did not taste like the sardines one's used to. Salty, tasty, and the beans were terrific.

2) Quail stuffed with shiitake mushroom. I love me some quail, and this was deliciously moist, on a bed of wilted swiss chard and grilled artichokes. I have never had chard so good, but I tend to stay away from chard and kale because they can be bitter as all get out (still, we're making a dish featuring kale at home in a couple nights - and may make more if kale stays at 99¢ per pound).

3) Gorgonzola ice cream with candied celery and rosemary - as soon as I saw this incredibly Iron Chef-y dish on the menu, I knew I had to have it. Verdict: I loved it. My father (for whom dessert is chocolate) would not.

I believe, in my drunken stupor, I told the Sherbs "it's like an appetizer, for dessert, but sweet." It's a little more than that, but the drunk summary suffices for rough work. The ice cream itself is not sweet; it's more neutral and gorgonzola-flavored. It's eaten with the candied celery, which is like a relish or a fruit topping, and also mixed with the honey syrup that the ice cream is placed in.

The sommelier's wine selection was excellent (we took advantage of his recommendations), and I loved the plum tomato foccacia in the bread basket.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Restaurant Redux

Recently I noticed, using Google's Webmaster Tools, that this blog is one of the top searches for the Quebec City restaurant Le Pain Beni. Which is good, because we really liked the food there; I have never had better sweetbreads in chocolate sauce, and the Sherbs had great stuff which does not automatically turn off the non-food-adventurous.

The breakfast there, while really only croissant, fruit, baked beans, and little meat tarts, was a great start to a day of trudging through the snow.

Tonight we'll be going to a fun restaurant here in DC with my boss. Hopefully it will be non-awkward.

Do You Drink the Muffin Drink?

Since the news today is filled with cows attacking bears and the McCain campaign's baseless slurs against Dungeons and Dragons, I thought it would be a good idea for a similarly frivolous post, based on a prior conversation I had with the Sherbs.

How do you make a mixed drink that tastes like a muffin?

We have some cheap blackberry wine (as mentioned before, purchased at a sale at the Teet), and I think with Cointreau, vodka, and a butterscotch schnapps in the right quantities, it can approach muffin-tasting (I think it would be better with blueberries, but the Sherbs doesn't like blueberries).

With bourbon and blackcurrant liquor, you might be able to approach "raisin bran." Or create something vomitrocious (a neologism that I find not as good, but more useful, than my new favorite non-word "baconostalgia"; furthermore, it turns out that I didn't invent it; "vomitrocious" has been used in such cultural touchstones as an episode of Arthur, the PBS cartoon about an aardvark that does not look at all like an aardvark).

"Chocolate muffins" are actually cupcakes, and so those suggesting Godiva liqueur recipes should take note. Vermeer is better for most mixed drinks, anyway; it's like the Cocio of chocolate booze.

Man, I wish I knew of a place that sold Cocio around here. It's not only better than Nesquick and Yoo-hoo (not hard, especially since Yoo-hoo is one step removed from the weird marsupial-equivalent-in-evolution beverage that is Ovaltine), but from the stuff you make at home with chocolate syrup. It is tasty-riffic.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Eating, Drinking, and Merriment

The Sherbs has already mostly dealt with Sette Bello; my only contribution is to add my meal there, which was a seafood medley on squid ink pasta (pretty good, although basically just stuff in a garlic-butter sauce; not exceptional) and the veal with saffron risotto entree (veal: slightly dry. Risotto: good).

At least as tasty was the pasta dish the Sherbs cooked up last night, which was spinach and garlic on whole wheat rigatoni, topped with parmesan and chopped walnuts. Really tasty.

We also made sangria yesterday to get rid of the half-bottles of cranberry wine and cheap red wine we had lying around (especially since they had a sale on fruit wines at the Teet, and we stocked up). The fruit part was contributed by a frozen fruit medley we were initially going to use in smoothies, but then we used the yogurt for something else...I can't remember what.

Tonight I am going to try to rock the wok with a paella. Wish me luck!

Sadly, This Place Doesn't Have an Illusion to a 90s Boy Band

Saturday evening, The Pedant and I (along with 6 others) went to another Restaurant Week restaurant - Sette Bello in Arlington.

(Before I continue with the review of the Saturday restaurant, I will say I agree with TP's review of Fyve. I had the mixed green salad with a shallot vinaigrette, which was very tasty, and the homemade parpadelle with a mushroom ragu. That was excellent. Very tasty. Not the best pasta dish I have ever had, but very good. The best part was by far desert. I had the two mini souffles (chocolate and grand mariener) with a mini carafe of cream. I wanted to take a bath in them, they were soooooooo good. Perfectly creamy and warm and tasty.)

I happened to go to this Italian restaurant before, which is located in the super hip part of Arlington. This might have been one of those places restaurant week was "wasted" on. It wasn't that expensive for just entries but I guess for the three courses you save a few bucks. It was nice and homey and big. We sat at a long, wide wooden table. The bread was warm and the olive oil was tasty, but I was reminded from my non-fancy lunch with TP yesterday at Bertucci's that EVOO is MUCH better for dipping with herbs and hot pepper. Anyway, turns out, they hate lacto-ovarians at this place for restaurant week. As opposed to 5 choices for appetizers and entrees, there were two. Granted, they had "vegetarian" choices, but those were full of fish. Blech. I was a bit POed, but the waiter was able to get the chef to do a different option. I got a spinach salad with pears and a tasty cheese in a lemon dressing to start and a mushroom risotto for an entree. The salad was great. The entree was AMAZING. (Well, if it had more mushrooms, it would have been better...) Creamy and delicious. Desert was one option - a white chocolate mouse with raspberries. Very good.

The verdict: since the staff was nice, this might be a fun place to go to for upscale Italian with a casual atmosphere. Which I already knew, since I was there in that capacity.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

When the Lights Go Out...

Wait, wait, the title here is thinking of 5ive, the nineties boy band not quite as good as N*Sync, instead of fyve, the similarly spelling- and punctuation-challenged restaurant in the Ritz Carlton in Pentagon City. It's called "fyve" because it's near the Pentagon, and, as you know, the federal government's largest Platonic solid has five sides.

We went for Restaurant Week. The Sherbs picked the restaurant; I asked that it be in Arlington County if possible, worrying that if we stayed in DC proper, we'd be surrounded by people our age who work on/with the Hill or nonprofits trying to impress each other, and I'd have to beat our neighbors to death with a chair in frustration. Who really wants to hear some guy from the Brookings Institution try to impress the gal he's with by talking about all the fancy foreign conferences he's gone to?

This was not a problem at fyve; we were easily the youngest people there by ten years.

There were some minor discontents with my meal, which I chalk up mostly to restaurant week: the bread was not particularly fresh and the service was slower than desired. Also, the coffee was fantastically expensive, although it was brewed just how the Sherbs likes - stronger than a locomotive - so maybe we're paying for the premium.

The dishes I ordered, though, were quite tasty. The appetizer was a salad of diced red potatoes, parsley, and lightly cooked tomatoes in a vinaigrette, topped with grilled tiny octopus. The octopus itself wasn't dressed, just sprinkled with salt, which I think was the right road to go down with this dish. The acidity of the salad and the sweetness of the octopus made a good counterpoint.

The entree was roast of rabbit with mustard, served over a bed of fennel, asparagus, and white beans. Rabbit stayed tender, and the mustard made it tasty. The asparagus were peeled and cooked in butter; no complaints there. I would have liked more fennel (I only seemed to get the outside parts of the bulb), but otherwise I enjoyed the dish.

Dessert was lemon meringue, cooked to the consistency of a mousse, on a shortbread crust, topped with a huge flake of caramelized sugar and with blueberry jam on the sides. The pastry chef knows how to please the Restaurant Week customer.

Given the prices, we may not come back often after Restaurant Week (although we might hit the bar just to seem awesome), but it was a good taste experience.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Froz-Food, Redux

Anyone remember "Froz-Fruit"? My camp memories of it are disappointing, but this was also the camp where I got salmonella for a week and then developed a (possibly psychosomatic) stiff neck for another week that was so bad that it hurt when I walked across rough terrain.

Perhaps this is also why I do not enjoy movies which show summer camp as a fun bonding experience. It was not mine.

Anyway, the frozen dinners last night were tastier than I would have expected from the Kashi company (makers of "Goodfriends," which some website photo-manipulated the box to read "Goodfriends with no sense of personal space," a joke I still find hilarious). I expected something more like "fructose on puffed wheat," which is my memory from when my family attempted to eat Kashi cereal (this was maybe a decade ago).

I believe some family members actually did eat the cereal, but I had trouble enjoying it as I only liked the puffed wheat balls lightly dusted with malt powder or whatever it was that made them ever-so-subtly sweet, as opposed to tasting like raw fiber. They were, of course, 10% of the total cereal, because at that time health food was for ascetics.

But I digress again. The frozen dinners are pretty tasty. I enjoyed a cheesy pesto penne, and the Sherbs had brown rice with mango (still fibrous, but at least it tasted like something). I think those are the only two meatless options with Kashi frozen food; for some reason, frozen food purveyors love their animal protein.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Frozen Dinners

Knowing that we'd be away all weekend and knowing that we wouldn't have time to go food shopping all week, The Pedant and I stocked up on some frozen things for dinner. Last night, our plan worked perfectly - we had a frozen Kashi pizza. The outcome: not bad. It was a nicer substitute for pasta or ordering in Chinese (well, healthier than the later at least). It was cheesy and tasty and a nice way to have a healthy meal. Plus, eating it in front of the TV while watching The Simpsons made it even tastier!

Tonight: frozen Kashi single-serve dinners. Tomorrow: Restaurant Week in DC!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Travel Food Frustration

I have learned that our Garmin StreetPilot, which is otherwise very good despite my urge to say "StreetPilot" like the digitized introduction voice to the "Michael Jackson's Moonwalker" arcade game, has one major shortcoming: it does not provide sufficient information to identify the acceptable food locations within a short distance of I-95.

Hitting the "food" button gets the restaurants by distance from your present location, which, if you're eight miles from the nearest exit, may be twenty-five miles worth of driving.

Also: no accounting for quality. And some of those places are very closed.

Now that I've suffered this problem, not to mention ten hours in a car in traffic and torrential rain (and the only fair "Yankee pot roast sandwich" at a "Cookery"-branded Flying J truck stop restaurant) , I have found that there is an entire site called "I-95 Gourmet."

Also, I should be cross-referencing this list with a map.

Hindsight is 20/20.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Baked Cheetos

I've been eating 100 calorie packs of baked Cheetos. They have a mouth feel as if they were made pre-stale for my convenience, but the cheese powder is still good.

Maybe they should just sell cheese powder like Pixie Stix™.

I would eat that.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

This morning, after a night of bad sleep for me and The Pedant, we went to the gym and then had some extra time so made ourselves a tasty breakfast of champions. TP concocted a tasty egg scramble (I toasted our bread!) consisting of store-brand egg whites, some fake ham sliced up, sauteed chopped ren onion, and a small handful of light cheddar cheese. The outcome: delicious. Really, very good. Mmmm... I think this type of scramble (or maybe when we have more time, individual omelettes) will be in our regular rotation. While I am a big fan of the turkey and bologna slices, I don't really love the ham. I think becasue pre-vegetarian days bacon was my treif of choice. But in eggs, this ham was good.

Tonight for dinner we're looking forward to a Vegetarian Times double whammy: Cold Tofu Salad with Asparagus and an Edamame Succotash.

In other cooking news (related), I made a cold strawberry soup last night for dinner. I made 2 servings, but TP doesn't love cold fruit soups. I do. It was tasty. And Kirkland brand white wine (well under $10) is tasty.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

More Fun With Teff!

Had another teff-riffic meal at Enjera, the Eritrean place across from the Ethiopian place we usually go to on South 23rd Street. The Sherbs and I think we may have found it better; not because Eritrea has diplomatic relations with Israel, but because it's just that much tastier and friendlier.

Both restaurants have, shall we say, a relaxed attitude towards waiting tables and taking orders and providing the check, but Enjera is better at refilling the water and they're actually friendly, instead of harried. Furthermore, the wait staff actually wanted us to try Eritrean food (which is not startlingly different from Ethiopian food; the "sampler platter" from Enjera is different from Harar Mesob's only in that there's a more Western salad with tomatoes and the beef is replaced with lamb) and taught us some things about how it's eaten that we didn't know before.

Also, Enjera is a tad more accessible to newcomers to Horn of Africa cuisine. They have forks, for one, so sensory-defensive people like me don't have to get their hands constantly greasy. There's a salad on the sampler that isn't too alien for those who need to ease themselves in. They also make an appetizer salad which is essentially a traditional tomato, onion, and field green salad in vinaigrette, but mixed with chunks of enjera and spicy pepper for something truly tasty. Plus - the fried lamb bits with sauteed onion - tasty tasty.

However, while I say accessible, I don't mean "westernized." Spice is there in significant unless you ask to tone it down (we didn't).

Will visit again.

Reubens and Some Future Bad News

Vegetarian Times has been very good to us.

Last night, the Sherbs and I made a vegetarian reuben sandwich from the vegan reuben recipe in the July/August issue (we like real cheese, thank you very much). What one does is take seitan, the Asian wheat gluten meat substitute (available only at Whole Foods or through a bread-making process involving a huge amount of wheat flour) and let it soak in a mixture of corned beef spices and beet juice (for color) for a while. Then you toast cheese over top, add thousand island dressing (which we made because Vegetarian Times told us to, expecting us to use vegan mayo) and sauerkraut, and eat.

It was very tasty.

I also managed to nearly duplicate the salad dressing used at almost every Japanese restaurant with oil, rice wine vinegar, white miso, and ginger. I just need to get the proportions right and use a more neutral oil, not sesame oil, next time.

Finally, we've learned that the lease on the Costco across the street from us will not be renewed. Instead, we'll get some huge multi-use building. Which won't have a Costco. As my sister says, "lame."

Monday, July 21, 2008

Snack Food Update

I had to take the canister of fat-free barbecue Pringles to work because the Sherbs did not want to eat them all. And I can totally understand that; they're tasty, although the KC Masterpiece-inspired flavor is more subtle than on some other "healthy" snack products.

One downside is that they're made with Olestra, which, like a Hawaiian butterfish, can do bad things in concert with your colon. Back in college, I ate a full-size bag of Wow! Chips and nothing happened to me, so I feel like I can tempt fate.

Also totally worth eating (but not fat free; however, also not pants-imperiling) are EatSmart Veggie Crisps, which are a different form of reconstituted potato starch with vegetable solids. I'd prefer if they only sold bags of the spinach ones, but they don't.

Middle Eastern Joint

The Old City Cafe of Jerusalem (or is it Old City of Jerusalem Cafe?) is a very tasty halal falafel/shwarma/things in pita establishment in DC, and it is open until 4AM on weekends. The Sherbs had the majedra (spelled in the different transliteration, but pronounced the same way), which I believe she liked; I was too busy with my mixed grill over rice, which was awesome, to try anything else.

The food takes a little while, but it is totally worth it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Best Dessert Idea This Week

JELL-O® does not have its reduced-fat sugar free rice pudding cup product on its website. The full fat tapioca pudding, sure. Just not the rice pudding.

However, it does exist (and at The Teet, even!). And it tastes great with a shot of Teichenne butterscotch schnapps, which we picked up in the Madrid airport during our day-long layover back from Israel.

Monday, July 14, 2008

You Miss Out On Everything When You Get Married

Nobody told me that I was getting married during Brickfair 2008!

I mean, where else could I buy LEGO® cake molds? I mean, other than at the LEGO® store in Tyson's?

Could be worse. If my wedding was during Otakon, I swear none of my friends would come. Even though we're serving mini lamb chop appetizers and all you can get there is Pocky. And you have to pay for it.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

RIP Coffee Mug

Yesterday, my beloved spill-proof coffee mug passed away. It was quite a tragedy. While walking to the metro, I felt something trickling down my leg - coffee spilling and leaking through my backpack. Sadly, I decided it was time to put it to rest. It will be missed. But this afternoon, a new friend will enter my midst. It can never replace the old friend (actually, it will) and I will save money on coffee in the morning. Yay!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Two Vast and Trunkless Legs of Topping Stand in the Dessert

Look upon my dessert topping, and despair!

Well, only because it was so tasty. I took the leftover sangria, added a tad more cranberry wine and some Splenda baking mix, and boiled it for what seemed like eternity.

It tasted awesome over ice cream.

And now Mark Bittman is trying to steal my dessert topping thunder with his own ice cream topping. I'll have you know that his recipe does not involve local Virginia fruit wines, so it is not as good.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Mango Lassi!

Before our dinner making, but after a visit to the farmer's market, the Teet, and the pool, The Pedant and I made some mango lassis. We had a hankering for this tasty beverage since it was quite warm outside and they are quite refreshing.

The mixture:

1 Mango
2 Cups Fage 0% Greek Yogurt
1 Cup Skim Milk
3ish Tablespoons Splenda sugar blend

Put in blender, mix.

The outcome: Tasty. It wasn't quite as thick as a mango lassi at an Indian place but also about 1/3 of the calories. And it was fairly filling. And super refreshing. Plus, we have leftovers int he fridge!

TP and I think this might be a recurring project. Granted the Fage yogurt is a bit pricey but oh so worth it.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Land of the Wine Beverages!

So the Sherbs and I bit off more than we could chew with a Mark Bittman recipe involving roasted vegetables and yogurt - possibly because A) our broiler sucks and B) we don't have a broiler-safe casserole dish even if it didn't.

Also: it takes freaking forever to char tomatoes. Should I just put them over an open flame or what?

To counterbalance our not-quite success with the roasted eggplant, peppers, and yogurt, we made sangria - and stumbled upon a not too bad recipe. I don't think we'd use Weinstock kosher red wine again (it is so tannic), but a mix of red wine and cranberry wine, with chunks of granny smith apples, was tart and refreshing and did not taste as if we were trying to make Bartles & Jaymes (speaking of which - now that we have Mike's Hard Lemonade and such, does anyone drink Bartles & Jaymes anymore?).

We had a goodly amount of the sangria watching the Joan Collins film Land of the Pharoahs, which is sort of a telling of how the Pyramid of Giza was built, if you can allow for glaring failures in plausibility such as Joan Collins playing a deceptive and murderous Cypriot. There are some supporting characters who are interesting, but they take up only about a half hour of the hundred-minute plot, about as much time is taken for long pans across Egypt watching extras pretend to haul or build things.

I ♥ Trash Compacting Robots

The Sherbs and I saw WALL-E last night. It was charming. You should go out and see it and continue to make the folks at Pixar rich so they keep making movies like this.

The best part, in my opinion, was that the movie was sustained less by snappy dialogue and throw-away pop culture references (unlike, say, most Dreamworks animated features), but on a more universal humor and joie de vivre. Also, cute robots, and lots of them.

Fun fact: WALL-E has a real human doing his voice. Only one of the other robots is voiced by MacTalk, and I didn't realize it, probably because they modulated it a little to make it have more emotion.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bagel Exegesis

The Sherbs tells me that I was good to use "bagel Samson" in my bagel biblical analogies as, although bagel David did fight the Philistines (even defeating bagel Goliath), he also brought back one thousand Philistine foreskins, which are not bagel-y at all, because bagel Saul asked for a hundred.

While a Bagel-ful® is mildly phallic (like any tubular food), it's not that phallic, and now I'm not sure I want to eat them ever again. Unlike real bagels, which are often prepared by people without foreskins, so I don't have to think of them at all!

And I won't. I'll think of how whitefish salad tastes great on pumpernickel with a slice of onion and a slice of tomato.

Bagels and Manhattans

I had some Kraft Bagel-fuls® recently. I had a coupon and the Teet had them at two-for-one.

They taste like Lender's with industrial cream cheese in them. Not bad, per se, but not real bagels.

A couple weeks ago, I had a conversation with some of my friends and the topic of bagels came up. The friend said that one could get New York grade bagels in Virginia. When I corrected this friend that no, you absolutely cannot get a New York bagel in the DC Metro Area, the friend then asked why people think things are so great from New York.

If you do not think New York bagels are better than other bagels, you are a bagel philistine. You are standing there in bagel Philistia, continually invading us bagel Israelites, and hopefully bagel Samson will come and gut you with the bagel jawbone of an ass.

I don't care if you personally like your steak well-done, your whipped topping non-fat non-dairy, or your cheese whizzed, but to claim that those preferences are better than the established consensus of people who care about food is culinary know-nothingism. Mimi Sheraton hates you, and I just think you're wrong.

So, my friend, please enjoy the Bagel-fuls® as the pinnacle of bagel achievement you so clearly believe them to be. Philistine.

* * *

On the other side of the Israelite/Philistine coin, do not make a manhattan with Kedem brand sweet vermouth. I had the aforementioned drink at a wedding last weekend, and there is really a difference that no maraschino cherry can cover up.

Lament, Lauds, etc.

[Note: I started this post this morning before The Pedant blogged.]

There are no excuses for our lack of blogging. It's not like we've eaten bad food lately. On the contrary, it's been quite good. Perhaps life has gotten in the way? Perhaps we have become bored with blogging? Both untrue, both lame excuses.

So, I find myself blogging again. I will both lament and laud several things.

First the lament:

At a lovely wedding this weekend, really it was lovely, there was only one problem: trio deserts! The Pedant and I are sick of trio deserts. It is not Iron Chef! You are not running a tasty restaurant in Alexandria! Give me many or give me one! Also, no wedding cake. I want frosting dammit! However, the deserts were very tasty and they had little truffles with a ganache that was probably frosting.

Now onto the lauds:

Iced Coffee: I have begun making iced coffee for the warmer summer days for work. I just double brew the coffee, fill with ice and milk and splenda and when I get to work it's delightfully cold. I am super smart. Best idea ever.

Summer Salads from Vegetarian Times: Last week for dinners, TP and I made 2 "summer salads" from VT, and orzo and an Asian noodle. Both were incredibly light and tasty. Hooray!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I Pity the Pot au Feu!

Man, we just keep hitting it out of the park with Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker. Today we did a vegetarian pot au feu, and found it not only a delicious dish, but one that could easily survive our last-minute food hacking as we realized we didn't have the ingredients quite right. No cabbage? Canned mushrooms! Used the Costco fresh green beans in the shakshuka? We've got canned! It's served with toast and a recommended sauce made with sour cream, which makes it even more delicious.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Brunch 2: The Brunchening

Yesterday the Sherbs and I made brunch for about ten people. Our menu, revealed now that the guests are no longer surprised by our cooking ability:

1) Mini Fritatta from our super-difficult vegetarian cookbook. This recipe puts sauteed leeks and cubed sweet potato into an egg/feta mixture, then bakes them in muffin tins. They were crumbly, but delicious.

2) Shakshouka from the Sherbs's personal recipe.

3) Egg salad with caramelized onions, also from the Sherbs.

4) The corn, snap peas, pepper, and dill salad from the diet blog that had done so well for us in the past.

5) Home-made pita chips (whole wheat pita) coated with a little bit of olive oil and zatar, then baked. Served with store bought hummus and babaganouj, and home-made lima bean dip.

6) Fruity couscous from a Weight Watcher's cookbook. You can put in three times as much orange juice as the recipe requires and it will turn out OK.

7) Fruit salad.

Other people brought desserts, including some delectable lemon squares, and delicious fun was had by all. Today the Sherbs and I had Brunch 2, where we ate the leftovers; the mini fritatta went quite well with two strips of Morningstar fake bacon and slices of toasted blueberry breakfast bread spread with Smart Balance "spread."

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Gifts and Stuff

Vegetarian Times says that a good father's day gift is a sustainable koa wood skateboard. So, fathers, if you get one, you know who to blame.

The Sherbs and I slaved over a hot stove all day for brunch tomorrow; our guests better like it. We made at least three hot dishes plus our own pita chips. I'm hungry just thinking about it, and I ate dinner (which we also made - ramen plus from Mark Bittman's vegetarian cookbook).

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Pedant's Bone to Pick

I know this is really The Sherb's feature, but I've got a food article peeving me in a big way, so I feel I should vent.

Some food writer on the Divine Caroline website has an article called "portion sizes: then and now" which makes the case that food portions have increased over the past twenty years, and therefore we are more likely to consume more food.

An argument that more food is available is probably true, but that's not the point. This article makes its argument with the following graphics:

(picture stolen from Slashfood's synopsis of this article)

From this, and similar pictures, the point is intimated that we just sell the huge size now, that people can't get the tiny size. Maybe they're discouraged from it, but it's not true that I can only walk out of the store with the "lard boy" size.

I've been to the movies recently, and you can still get the little popcorn. I'd suggest it, since it's A) cheaper, B) not as bad for you (even with all that flavored powder you put on it), C) you're not going to get that free refill in the midst of Kung Fu Panda anyway.

Similarly, the website says "[w]hen McDonald’s first started in 1955, its only hamburger weighed around 1.6 ounces; now, the largest hamburger patty weighs 8 ounces, an increase of 500 percent."

Guess what? The hamburger patty still weighs 1.6 ounces. That you choose to buy the Big & Tasty (4 oz. patty) or the dollar menu double cheeseburger (which, in Washington, DC, is cheaper than the $1.39 hamburger) does not change the fact that you could buy a tiny hamburger if you wanted to.

Similarly, the article says that it used to be that you could get an 8 oz. bottle of Coke. I saw them in the Teet yesterday. They're a little more expensive, being in collectable glass bottles, but they still exist.

I'm just as guilty as everyone else (if not more so) in picking the super-size glutton portions of things, but it really isn't as if the lesser ones aren't available. Food just happens to be cheaper than it was thirty years ago (as Mark Bittman points out), and we like to eat.

Also, Judge Posner of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals says that forcing people to know how much fat is in their lardburger is counterproductive, and I trust him, even if he wrote in Douglas v. Hustler Magazine, 769 F.2d 1128 (7th Cir. 1985) that "[f]ew men are interested in lesbians," which as we all know is not exactly true.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Pumpkin Failures

Last night the Sherbs and I were at Aroma in Shirlington again, sort of with regards to my birthday (my parents were there and gifted us with a cordless variable-speed drill). I strongly recommend the crispy okra and the malai kofta for vegetarians, and the vindaloo is amazing for the non-vegetarians.

In food failure news, blog The Bacon Show provides a recipe claiming to be "silverbeet with bacon, pumpkin, and feta." You will have to convince me that bacon, pumpkin, and feta are complementary flavors. Bacon/feta sounds like failure. Pumpkin/feta sounds like failure. Just serve beet salad with feta as one dish, and then have a separate bacon/pumpkin dish like bacon pumpkin pie or a bacon-riffic pumpkin soup.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Grain So Nice They Named It Twice!

Mark Bittman has triumphed again! Last night for dinner (and my lunch today) I made North African CousCous Soup. I was looking through one of my new favorite cookbooks to see what kind of cold soups Bittman had to offer. Since the summer is coming and it will be my first summer in an area that used to be a swamp, I've been thinking about cold soups since they are oh-so-good. This wasn't meant to be a cold soup, but it was a few pages later. What caught my eye was the key ingredient - Za'atar. I adore Za'atar and The Pedant and I bought some in Israel last month. I figured this would be a great opportunity to use it. And it made the soup really, really tasty. Plus, he recommended using whole wheat couscous which is what we had. Sadly, I had to half the soup since our biggest pot wasn't necessarily going to be big enough but I plan to make the rest of it tomorrow so we can take it for lunches. It was just so tasty. For dinner, I also roasted some asparagus, a vidalia onion, a few sliced baby bella mushrooms, and some chopped garlic in EVOO, salt and pepper and it was just perfect. I love veggies like that.

Tonight: Chinese food with fake meat!! Hooray!! (Especially since we don't have to cook!)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Food Worth Eating

Of late, the Sherbs and I have subscribed to a number of recipe blogs in the hope of getting even more new ideas for food.

One blog which has really provided good recipes for us is the Diet Recipes Blog. We've already had two successes from this blog, the asparagus and water chestnuts, which we had on Monday and was really tasty, and last night's dilled corn and peas, which was fantastic even without fresh dill, which the Teet would not sell in sufficiently small or inexpensive quantities. I'm having some for lunch today.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Happy Sandwich!

It happens to be my birthday, one of only two birthdays I can remember (the other being the Sherbs'; some of my friends who had birthdays last week just get lost in the ether), but that's not the important news.

The important news is that I know the winners of the Vladivostok Victory Day sandwich contest.

End result: Russians on taste, Americans on plating; I think the Russian choice to make everything look like old sailing ships was a little foolish, since the last time they brought an older fleet to Vladivostok, they got royally spanked. I guess my navally minded friends were right to trust the Stethem's culinary skill.

It also looks like a tasty spread in general.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Spaceships May Understand This One

Watched last night's episode of Two and a Half Men, which was written by the CSI writers. It was, if anything, dirtier than the usual show; however, the use of what I call "incredible gore-o-vision" on CSI was deployed to great effect on a variety of food products. My favorite was the falling strawberry in the opening minutes.

The Sherbs and I will try to catch the CSI on Thursday by the Two and a Half Men folks, but we're taking dance lessons that evening. Hopefully it will be funny; I am worried, since the Two and a Half Men was mostly a typical episode, that the CSI will be serious.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Yet another food contest I cannot attend.

So, in Vladivostok, a Russian city on the Pacific Ocean, the Russians are celebrating winning the Eastern Front of WWII in a way I heartily support: their navy is challenging the U.S. Navy to a sandwich contest. The contest may be slightly skewed in favor of the home team:
The contest will involve the best head cooks of Russia’s Pacific Fleet and the cooks from the U.S. destroyer Stethem which will arrive in the city on the day of the competition.

The USS Stethem (yes, it has a website) is a "tactical Tomohawk AEGIS destroyer," which does have a crew of 323, is not a huge ship by any means; unlike the USS Ronald Reagan, which serves over 18,000 meals a day, I would say that there is less of a chance that the Stethem's cooks are the equal of "the best head cooks of Russia's Pacific Fleet."

Regardless, I'd really love to try the sandwiches. Also, more nations should solve disputes through food Throwdowns.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Let's Get Ourselves Kicked Out of an Applebee's...or TGIFridays...or Red Lobster...or Outback...

As an elitist New Yorker (albeit displaced now) I still believe that the New York Times is the end all, be all of news (granted I get the Washington Post at home since I do live in the DC area) and read it online daily. Two articles today caught my attention.

The first: an excellent editorial by Thomas Friedman. I won't go too much into it becasue, well, our blog is about food not politics.

Which brings me to the second article: Chain Restaurant Reviews. (Let it also be stated, the Olive Garden they review is my Olive Garden, even if I've only gone 3 or 4 times in the past decade.) I think it was an interesting piece that shows us Chain Restaurants aren't as bad as we make them seem. I do have "beef" with them as a vegetarian though - so few options for us lacto-ovos! I'd love to go to Applebee's and order more than a French Onion Soup (which I'm SURE is made with beef stock) and a Caesar Salad (which I'm SURE is made with anchovies). Plus, not the healthiest options.

As a boring teenager in suburbia, I spent many a night in a TGIFridays and Applebees (OG was a bit too out of the way) and it was always good for teens on a high allowence. But it gets old quickly, especially if you are a vegitarian. Nonetheless the food was always fine enough and never too pricey.

The Pedant and I have found ourselves at chains every so often - although it's not our first choice (unless it's Bertucci's and more on that in a paragraph or two). I find Olive Garden ok, until the main meal soaked in fatty goodness arrives. It's just never as good as the bread sticks! We've gone to Applebee's with other people, and always refer to the joke in Talledega Nights. I think I may have been to Red Lobster once as a small, small child, but to me it embodies crap.

Now - onto Bertucci's. I must say that this is a favorite of mine with the caveat taht I'm often unimpressed with their dinenrs. Really, the way to go is for lunch. For under $10 you can get some of the most amazing bread this side of heavan, as much salad as you want and the portobello mushroom sandwhich on carmalized onion bread. Mmmmmm... It's like a gift to me!

The other ncie thing about chain restuaunts: as much diet coke as you want. Granted you pay upwards of $2.00 per soda, but if you're a diet coke fan like me, you can totally make it back by cup 3.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Why Can't They Just Hand Out Free Samples To The Masses, Like A Huge Ice Cream Shop?

And no, the answer is not because they dream about killing us.

The real question, of course, is "why must the DC craft beer festival have $85 tickets, thus putting it out of the price range of the casual beer festival goer?"

I guess I'll have to wait 'till June 21 & 22, when the Safeway National Capital Barbecue Battle goes down - it has $10 tickets, with kids (even fat kids) under five for free. Also, it includes the word "battle." As you know from prior posts, we love things that involve food and battles.

Who's with me for barbecue?

Sugar Sugar! (Boo-bee-boo-boo-boo-boo) Oh, Honey Honey!

The new Vegetarian Times came in with the mail this week, and there are a number of recipes I'd like to try.

One of the ones that will have to wait for company, because it will be snorfeled up like the delicious chocolate chip cookies the Sherbs made for her coworkers on Wednesday (we got to keep the mildly burned ones), is the recipe for "honey goat cheese phyllo triangles" (see recipe #5). Phyllo is a temperamental dough but for crispy sweetened goat cheese treats, it's worth it.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Free Beer Thing in the Mail

So, the Sherbs and I sorted through our mail after our Israel jaunt, and we found a mysterious brown package in the mail. It was too small to be a bomb, but we just had no idea what it actually was. I opened it up, and found a triangular piece of metal.

Since I do not live in a Dan Brown novel, it was not the key to an ancient treasure, but instead, I said,

"Hey, it's the free beer thing I ordered!"

A while back, Bass Ale had a promotion for a "beer brolly" which allegedly aided in the creation of black-and-tans. (It, sadly, expired yesterday.) All you had to do was sign up and eventually you get a metal device which makes the beer strata of the black-and-tan more likely. Which I just did.

Users of the brolly have had mixed results, to say the least. And the Sherbs doesn't drink beer, much less "the stout of your choice" (as Bass's parent company does not own Guinness). So we won't be trying it out immediately. But it's cool to have; it sits on our booze shelf next to the Patron Silver and the butterscotch schnapps we got in duty free.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Home!

Yes, I know I was crappy about blogging while we were in Israel. No excuses, especially since The Pedant bugged me about it daily. But - I will try to make up for it today with a post about dinner last night (and my lunch today).

So since we had a miserable connection in Madrid, our plan for food shopping went out the window since TP and I were so tired we couldn't do anything but unpack, post pictures, order pizza and watch some TV (note the connection: doing things in the house, mostly sitting; none of these occur in a supermarket). Sadly, that means our fridge is bare and although we have some non-perishables, the amount of good, healthy food we can eat is sadly not much. Yet, last night I was able to concoct a meal of no fresh produce! Hooray! It was a "Japanese" Noodle Soup. (The quotations will not end up here, trust me, it was loosely Japanese.) Another reason for it: I developed a cold after 2 1/2 days of travel.

The ingredients:

Water
Parve Chicken Consume
A few squeezes of minced ginger in a tube
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Frozen veggies (spinach, "California medley")
A handful of dried shitake mushrooms
Soba noodles

I basically started cooking it before my exercise class and it came out surprisingly well. It tasted all home-y and delicious. Perfect to make me feel better.

Tomorrow's dinner (and, well, lunch) may be a problem. Also Thursday's...

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Food Photo Post - Israel!

Here are our Israel food pictures!


Here's what the appetizer course at Samir's looks like about 2/3 of the way through. If you come for dinner at Samir's, there's still more food. Lots of it. Notice the multiple kinds of hummus and the foul, which my mom makes a version of.

This is what my meal at Burger Ranch looked like. Had I known that they also gave out packets of barbecue sauce and sweet and sour sauce upon request, I would totally have done so. Here they only gave me kosher for Passover ketchup and that most Israeli of condiments, thousand island dressing. No, really. They love that stuff on everything.

Food Photo Post - Canada!

Today, this blog is like all the other food blogs, because I managed to sync my digital camera with our iMac and now you can have pictures of food! Welcome to the twenty-first century of blogging!

First, the Canada pictures that we promised something like four months ago.
Here is a toffee on snow thing that I didn't feel confident enough in my French to buy. It looked good, though.
Here's our first meal in Quebec City; Caesar salad, French onion soup, and poutine. Delicious, if heart-stopping.

I Would Love Madrid, But...

Spent a night in Madrid.

Didn't mean to, of course; wanted to be back in the US of A, where my witticisms are understood and not stared at with confusion by the locals. But something was not quite right with my Iberia flight from Madrid, so Iberia Lineas Aeras packed all of the travelers off to hotels for the night.

Good points: I got sleep, free food, Madrid stamp in my passport.

Bad points: too tired to see Madrid, even though everyone says it's open late (like Taco Bell and Wendy's!), my travel experience was never-ending, although not quite as bad as my forty-hour trip to Australia.

Read Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain on the way over to Israel, knew well enough not to order fish in a non-coastal city on a Sunday. The comped meal at the hotel included free bottles of mineral water and wine, which the Sherbs and I finished out of pique and principle.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Last Post From Israel

I am leaving for the airport at 3AM. I am not looking forward to driving the rental car back at that time; I suspect that there will be much fussing with the keypad as I am not Jason Statham at the best of times, sometimes turning the key after I hear two beeps just to hear the starter stutter because I must let the beeps ring out for their full length.

Got Burger Ranch today, including some for the plane. Super happy about that. The Sherbs's uncle tells me he'll show me real Israeli burger-smithing on my next trip to Israel; that, and "Mini Israel" (an attraction across from the Tank Museum that we did not have time to see) are reason enough to come back.

Also, Haifa. Still haven't been there since I tried in 2006 and Hezbollah ruined my vacation. Will go there next time.

Furthermore, the Sherbs mentioned that there was a really awesome "tel" (as in layered ancient city, not "show and") that puts the one we hiked all over today to shame. It even has underground waterways, which I enjoyed so much when I was in Caesarea.

So, definitely coming back. Just not soon - travel budget for the next five years already committed.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Pre-Breakfast Post

Last day in Israel - probably going to be low key as my flight leaves tomorrow at what is officially TOO EARLY. May see a "tel," or huge mound o' piled up past civilizations. Will try to eat more Burger Ranch. We will see what happens.

Forgot to mention the big food surprise yesterday, which is that the cafeteria-style restaurant near the Latrun Tank Museum / Fallen Tank Officers Memorial is officially Not Bad, exceeding Mediocre by a wide margin. The salads were tasty and they can roast a kebab.

The tank museum is also worth going to if you, like me, love to look at tanks. They had three, count 'em, three, mobile bridge deployment vehicles. I think I had a GI Joe version of one. I impressed The Sherbs with my ability to determine the country of origin and special features for post WWII tanks; sadly for those single guy readers of the blog out there, I do not think she would have been as impressed had she not already been engaged to me - the tank museum is not a good first date unless your date operates a tank herself.

I am the Alpha and the Omega, and also the Cheesiest

In Israel, Cheetos are advertised as being fortified with Omega-3 fatty acids. The Israelis are evidently more concerned with Chester Cheetah's health spiel than with his exhortations to vandalism and assault, which is the current American ad campaign.

An elaboration about Samir's, which has great food and is worth a trip to Ramla for. Samir does meat very well; he does chicken hearts quite tastily (they're the ones in the dish that don't taste like chicken livers, the other organ meat) and kebabs even better. There's a chicken with onion dish that is indescribable other than oil-fried delicious. Dessert may include a custard with rose water that is, if you like rose water, creamy and worth it. The baklava are so-so; there's plenty of other great food, just leave those be.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Salads and Knife Fights

Mostly touristy foods yesterday; we saw the Israel Museum, which was jam-packed, half-closed for renovations, and had some tasty kosher for Passover salads (the sandwiches, I heard, were a little disappointing). Once again I am impressed with the mixed greens of Israel.

Also tasty was the shwarma place called "Big Shwarma" 1/3 of the way down the pedestrian part of Ben-Yehuda Street. The chopped meat on a rotating spit was well-spiced and quite tasty, and served with fries and veggies (no pita this week, for obvious reasons).

I also discovered, while scanning the local cable channels, that Israel has its own version of Iron Chef called something like "Knife Fight." In Knife Fight, each chef prepares a course for a celebrity panel, and they vote yay or nay; the yays and nays are tallied up per course throughout the five-course meal. Sadly, the French chef ("Stephan") beat the local hero, even though he made what looked like sweetbreads. As I've mentioned before on this blog, you can make sweetbreads taste good.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Coffee Break!

As I am over jet lag, I have given up on coffee for the moment; caffeine is not good for me. However, while at the shuk in Tel Aviv (or, more accurately, in the cluster of Kosher for Passover certified restaurants on Allenby Street right across from the shuk), I stopped at a coffee shop whose name escapes me now (it's a chain) and had a "cheese salad."

It was roquefort, parmesan, and shredded Israeli salted cheese (there are "standard cheeses" in Israel by which others are measured; "salted cheese" and "yellow cheese" are two species, and you ask for them in the store under those names) on top of some red lettuce-heavy mixed greens. (I love the more watercress-y greens with texture and crunch, which this salad had plenty of. Lightly dressed, which was perfect.

It makes me sad for going back to the United States with its wilty "mixed greens" that are not crunchy or flavorful. I love romaine as much as the next guy, but it's not enough.

Dinner was fish. I had sea bream. It was pretty good, although I think I liked the pickled herring appetizers more. I love me some pickled herring. If the Sherbs would let me, I'd have a tub of pickled herring with cream sauce in the fridge. It is good stuff.