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.