Sunday, August 30, 2009

Cheesecake shots

Cheesecake 1

Cheesecake 2

Jeff brought leftover cheesecake to work on Friday. I'm not sure of the flavor -- almond, perhaps?

Whatever it was, it was good. I'm going to have to check out this Veniero's place myself.

p.s. These sandals (top photo) by White Mountain might be the most comfortable non-sneakers shoes I've ever owned.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Adventures in CSA: Weeks 10 + 11

CSA: Week 10

I barely made it to the church in time to pick up my CSA vegetables for week 10. And I missed out entirely this past week (week 11) because I was out of town during the pick-up, so things have vacillated from hectic to dull in our kitchen recently (produce-wise).

For week ten's share, I came away with:

1 lb. tomatoes (red, not green!)
3/4 lb. beans (yellow, not green!)
1 lb. cucumbers
4 ears of corn
a bunch of heads of garlic
1/2 lb. cabbage (which came home in time to be added to week 9's slaw)
1 lb. beets

We used almost everything in just a few swell dishes.

Salad 1

1. Tomato and Cucumber Salad. Unlike past weeks' green and unripe (though still nice) tomatoes, these CSA tomatoes were red, ripe, and juicy. I immediately cut them into rough cubes and then chopped and added the cucumbers. I dressed this with squares of mozzarella cheese, oil, vinegar, cilantro salt and pepper to taste. I took the whole shebang to Melissa's apartment for craft night and was delighted to find that it was the perfect side to go with her vegetable quiche.

Lunch Club: Friday

2. Green Bean Salad. I have been trying not to duplicate dishes during these 22 weeks of produce, but I couldn't help myself when it came to the beans. I just had to make this recipe from week eight again. The soy-glazed almonds are so delicious, and the green beans really come to life when they marinate in the soy sauce dressing. I mixed store-bought dark green beans with the lighter, yellow CSA green beans. The CSA beans were clearly superior, but both were good in context.

Everyone at Lunch Club commented on how nice this salad turned out. It's a keeper.

(photo by Dan)

3. Buttermilk Bacon Corn Salad Tomatoes. I made this recipe, which came through my RSS Reader from the fine folk at Serious Eats Thursday evening (without bacon). Then I took a portion to work for David's Lunch Club vegetarian option on Friday before serving the leftovers (with bacon added) for dinner that night. It was light and refreshing through-and-through. I think a lot of different ingredients could be used to customize the flavors to one's personal tastes.

Side note: I used CSA garlic liberally in most of these dishes. Fresh garlic seems much harder to peel, but it smelled divine.

The casualties of our leaving town before the week was up? We had to throw out a bit of cabbage and the three small beets. They just didn't make it. I've mourned them and moved on.

Let's gather here again for week twelve. I'm thrilled to know I'm picking up those new farm goodies tomorrow.

What to do when it's rainy

Dan's dinner

A Lazy Weekend: Entertainment and Eats


5:00 pm
2 episodes of The Real Housewives of Atlanta
Smoked cheddar kettle corn

7:00 pm
NPR Evening Music
Cranberry juice

8:30 pm
Episode of Intervention
Dan-made buttermilk biscuits and Anna's blueberry jam with eggy dinner

10:15 pm
Jimmy's Pink Cookies
Season 2 of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! marathon

12:15 am
Tidying up
Season 2 of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! bonus features (what, no commentary?!)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Giant Movie Night: Hot Stuff!

Giant Movie Night 4
Meet Cholula and Jackie!

GMN Week four
Film: Ian loaned me Jackie Brown, which I hadn't seen before.
Snack: Mexican! Chips and stuff, hot sauce, salsa.
Guests: Dan.
Outcome: The movie was giant; the guests were few (one). I think the story and acting were stronger than the director (no fan of Tarantino, I), but it was a good flick.

SSI: Saint Paul

Snack Trash
(SSI = Snack Scene Investigator)

The snack packaging you left in the parking lot (in St. Paul, MN) tells me so much about you. First off, you're a litterer...

Produce Envy in St. Paul

St. Paul Farmers' Market

St. Paul veg

Thai eggplant 1

Thai eggplant 2

The downtown St. Paul, MN farmers' market is outstanding. I had the privilege to visit it last weekend and found that it certainly rivals any of the NYC markets in most respects (though it could be open more often throughout the week). The produce was fresh, local, beautiful and plentiful. Imagine this: the goods were affordable. Many could be called downright inexpensive. What a concept.

To make matters more alluring, this market also happens to feature more snacking options in the way of already prepared food and drinks than any of my regular fresh-produce-providing haunts.

Of course, one can always snack on what one has bought:

Carrot snack

but there were also stalls with ready-to-eat grilled corn, bagels, sausages, lemonade, pastries, bread, and this man selling egg rolls, summer rolls, and fried rice:

Egg roll guy

Kettle Corn 1

We also picked up some kettle corn. I'd never eaten it fresh from the kettle before. It was delicious, still warm, and had just the right balance between salty and sweet.

Kettle Corn 3

It wasn't all about the market, though. While cooking and eating in St. Paul, we visited three different grocery stores, including a food co-op (Mississippi Market). It was so refreshing to have space to shop and aisle after aisle of product. There were some imperfections -- no buttermilk or dried apples, Cub Foods? -- but it was still a lovely experience.

Iced Coffee

On our last day in town, Anna and I picked up some intriguing beverages at the Cub Foods (in their "Ethnic Foods" aisle). The iced coffee (above) was a little thin, but it pepped me up just as my 3 1/2 year old nephew was wearing me down.

Milo and apple cupcakes

I enjoyed the chocolate Milo drink, too, though technically I bought it for Dan (naturally, as it has a soccer player on the can). It was not unlike Yoo-Hoo.

Anna and I also made this recipe for apple cupcakes with cinnamon-marshmallow frosting. A. found it in the latest issue of Eating Well magazine.

They were moist, sweet, and perfect for dessert an evening party with friends. I would certainly make the cupcakes again, though I don't know how easy it would be to find powdered egg whites in NYC. We used Zestar apples from the farmers' market, which were amazing -- tart and fresh.

I'm going to have to get Jessica's recipe for her chocolate zucchini cake, too, which was the other standout dessert of that night. It was so rich and moist it was almost a giant brownie.

I am lucky to have such delicious friends and family members living in such edible cities. If only I had the luxury of being able to plan more travel around my cravings for company and comestibles.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Venezuelan Beaver Cheese

Ski Queen cheese

Gjetost Cheese is a Scandanavian whey cheese that goes by many names. Read more about it!

Peanut butter-colored cheese

This cheese is the color of peanut butter. It is a little sweet (the process of making it includes the caramelization of sugar) and neither entirely hard nor entirely spreadable.

Cheese and blueberry jam

It was good alone, but delicious with fruit. I ate mine on an english muffin with Anna's homemade blueberry jam. I hear it also goes well with slices of pear.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Lunch Club round-up: Week 1

My coworker Jane came up with the idea to have Lunch Club at the office. She got 5 of us together (one vegetarian and 4 non-vegetarians) to make it happen for a trial week. Each day, one of us made five identical (more or less) offerings to share at work.

All five of the lunches were amazing, if you ask me. Let's look back.

Lunch Club: Monday

Monday - Jane
Vegetable lasagna and chocolate pudding with whipped cream. The secret ingredient in the lasagna is nutmeg!

Lunch Club: Tuesday

Tuesday - David
Spicy curry with broccoli, tofu, potato, bell pepper, peanut, onion, and red/brown rice.

Lunch Club: Wednesday

Wednesday - Dave
Penne with tomato sauce and roasted vegetables, served with Parmesan cheese.

Lunch Club: Thursday

Thursday - Jeff
Sandwich of tomato, mozzarella cheese, basil, and garlic dressing.

Lunch Club: Friday

Friday - Me
Bouchons au Thon (meant for the four non-vegetarians, though one of us was not interested); tomato stuffed with corn, jalapeno, and buttermilk dressing (this recipe, without bacon, for our vegetarian member); green bean salad with soy-glazed almonds (recipe in this post), onion bread from the corner store, and Jimmy's Pink Cookies.

The bouchons and the cookies were made with recipes found in the book A Homemade Life, by Orangette's Molly Wizenberg. I've mentioned this book before. Delicious! I'll be making both of these recipes again. And again.

Mystery Dips


Thank goodness Manuel had a birthday and someone threw him a big party. Thank goodness someone made two dips for that party in a quantity that left (after the party) enough dip for him to tote them to work the next day and share them with us. Thank goodness he chose to do so (and with tortilla chips, too).

One was white bean and very garlicky. One was chopped mushroom and olivey. Both were a little mysterious and hard to pin down. Each was delicious; I liked them very much.

Thank goodness!

Korean waffle crisps.

Waffle Pack


Paul shared a pack of Lotte Waffle Biscuits. They were thin and crispy -- crunchy, even -- and sweet, with a little vanilla flavor. It's a refreshing option.

In looking for information on this snack, I ran across a charming website called Biscuit Van. It is written (in barely off-kilter English) by a woman in Japan, and I recommend it for your biscuit-related-reading-material needs.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Eating in bed is a privilege, not a right.

Don't eat in bed.

You have to earn it.

(Mmmm! Sweet potato chips from the drugstore. Only 99 cents and worth 10 to 30 cents more! Who told me about Utz Kettle Classics? Bets? They're good.)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Adventures in CSA: Week Nine, Part II

Salad 2

Above is a sneak peek of week ten for you. But we've got unfinished business to discuss first.

On Wednesday, with half of week nine gone by, the CSA produce that still remained in my fridge was:

1 Napa cabbage
1/4 lb. ruby chard
1.5 lb. green tomato
a few cucumbers
1.5 lb. squash (zucchini)
1 lb. eggplant
2 onion

That seemed like a lot to get through by Sunday, and we actually went a few days over in using all of it up. In this space of time, there have been some serious dishes. We served up:

Eggplant Parmesan

5. Eggplant Parmesan. I liked the idea of the Eggplant Parmesan recipe from Cook's Illustrated because it requires no frying. It's not that this appeals to the health nut in me. It appeals to the lazy cook in me! However, there were enough other extra steps (3-part breading, baking, making a tomato sauce) that it wasn't any faster to do it this way.

Ultimately, the dish was delicious. However, I still felt there was too much breading on the eggplant slices, and that the flavor of the fresh, young eggplant didn't come through enough. I wouldn't make this particular recipe for eggplant parmesan again.

Note to Cook's Illustrated: could you work on writing recipes that don't require me to dirty every dish in the house? 3 baking sheets, 1 rack, 2 food-processor bowls, 12 paper towels, 2 pie plates, and more?

Cranberry, Pine Nut, Chard

6. Chard with Dried Cranberries and Pine Nuts. I found this recipe in the Sundays at Moosewood cookbook. In the original, however, raisins are called for (not dried cranberries). Well, I don't really like raisins. So there. And the recipe is for spinach, not chard. Also, it wanted 2 lbs of the greens and I only had 1/4 lb chard. Too bad. We made it work.

Soak 2-3 T. of dried cranberries (or golden raisins) in hot water. Heat a few glugs of oil (2-3 T) in a saucepan. Add 3 cloves garlic, 2-3 T. pine nuts, and chopped chard stems. Saute a few minutes over medium heat, until pine nuts are golden. Add chopped chard leaves (or wilted spinach) and drained cranberries. Stir until everything is coated with the hot oil. Season with salt and pepper. Done.

Mighty pretty, in the end, even in such a small amount. Mighty tasty, too.

Fresh Pasta Sauce

7. Pasta with Tomato Sauce and Zucchini. We had some tomato sauce left over from the eggplant parmesan assembly the night before, so Dan cooked up a couple of zucchinis and a CSA onion to go with the red stuff over some pasta. Pasta "with stuff" -- always a winner.


8. Zuccanoes. This is a favorite from Dan's childhood. And what outdoorsy kid wouldn't like stuffed zucchini canoes? It seems familiar to me, too, but not as specific a memory. Dan's mom said she got her recipe from the first Moosewood cookbook, and lucky for us (since we don't have that cookbook), the recipe's also online.

That drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar just before eating kicks the whole thing up to another level. These were delicious. We had leftover "stuffing" on good bread, toasted and with cheese, the next night for dinner.

Bento packing

(photo by Dan)

9. Green Tomato Relish. I have a green tomato relish recipe that I love. It's my grandfather's. But it makes an enormous amount for canning and I already have some in my freezer for several years ago. For this week's fresh green tomatos, Dan and I decided to make a different green tomato relish recipe from Chowhound. Here's how the user who posted it described how to make it, "for use with sausages, fallafel, wraps, and anything that could stand a little zing."
I hardly measure ingredients, but any cook can figure the following out:
Get & cut up the green tomatoes (however many you can put into your skillet ultimately) and bleed them (with coarse salt) for 30+ minutes;Completely [c]over the bootom of the skillet with oil (I do olive or safflower) and suattee to softness some finely chopped shallots and sweet (Vidalia or similar) onion with a mixture of a variety of medium and hot pepper (I use Jalapeno, Serrano, Aurora & Tequila peppers);
introduce the tomatoes and bring heat up to near medium - just enough to see minor bubbling action) and slow cook (you may need to lower heat a bit depending on your stove) for an hour or more to get to near paste viscosity.
Let cool and pass through food mill.
Voila: GT Relish (and, BONUS, basis for a great soup with fried croutons and pancetta (or double smoked bacon).
Dan did all the work, and I reaped the rewards. While it wasn't as good as my grandfather's recipe, it was fine in a pinch (and on a turkey hot dog).

(photo by Dan. I love this shot.)

Coleslaw with Sunflower Seed Dressing. By searching on Chowhound, I found these coleslaw guidelines:
Napa and other cabbages go really nice with sweet onion. I take sliced napa, thinly sliced Texas 1015 onion (Vidalia would also be good), shredded carrot and toss with a small amount of toasted sesame oil, rice vinegar and salt.
Ratio = 3 parts cabbage, 1 part onion, 1 part carrot.
We did use sweet onion and two types of cabbage (Napa and classic) for this salad. However, instead of tossing with the recommended oil, vinegar, and salt, Dan (who made this slaw) made a batch of sunflower salad dressing, a recipe that has been kicking around one of my hand-copied recipe notebooks for some time.

Sunflower Salad Dressing
1/2 c. olive oil
1.2 c. lemon juice
1/4 c. tamari/soy sauce
1 c. raw sunflower seeds
salt to taste

Puree until smooth.

As it turns out, the slaw made a nice turkey hot dog topping, as well as a stand-alone salad. I think a non-sweet onion would have made it even better.


The few remaining cucumbers made the leap ahead and joined week ten's produce. More details on how that all came to be are coming soon.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Giant Movie Night: Thrills and Chills

Giant Movie Night #3

Last week's film was a comedy, so I felt we needed something different this time around. We cranked up the fans and settled down with some chilled treats and a chilling flick.

GMN Week three

Film: Shallow Grave, one of my most-watched movies. I've probably seen it 6 or 7 times and it does not disappoint.
Snack: Vegan cranberry pomegranate gelatin, chocolate peanut butter pudding pie, frozen grapes, prosecco.
Guests: Dan, Rachel, Hero.
Outcome: The film's from 1994 and hardly seems dated at all. The pie recipe's my mom's, and it never gets old.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Poetry Tuesday: Lunchcrostic

Lunch Club: Monday

An Acrostic

Lasagna rests in portions, pudding waits
Under five minds' eyes and five pink plates.
Noon comes and I have pulled my portion near,
Chanting thanks to Jane, who cannot hear.
Heating in the microwave expands the cheer.

Cool-whip beckons me; I am in Noodle Town,
Lunch Club sweet'ning these five days, and counting down
Until my Friday turn, knowing that I must plot.
Brick, David, Dave, and Jane will share the lot.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Big Gay Ice Cream; Small Gay Let-Down.

Big Gay Ice Cream Truck

I stopped by the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck for the first time this week. The BGICT is one of the popular mobile food and treat trucks in New York City. It has its own website, as well as a Twitter Feed that lets fans know where it's roaming.

I was surprised that the truck itself was not more festive. Not because gay people have to live up to that stereotype, but because the name is a bit sparkly and the website is covered in sprinkles. I didn't expect to "see the Gay" on the truck, as I don't subscribe to the idea that there are limited "ways to be gay" in the world, but I did think I'd see something "Big." Yet there was just one small sign (on only one side of the truck; earlier, friends had walked right by) and a hand-lettered list of toppings declaring the vehicle's difference from any other ice cream truck in the city.

My "small gay" disappointment was more related to the ice cream. Though the toppings are intriguing (they change every day and have included pickle, olive oil, Trix cereal, Nutella, etc.), the ice cream is just fine -- nothing special. I had not realized that my only ice cream option would be regular, fast-melting soft-serve (chocolate, vanilla, or twist). It's a small truck, so Paul guessed that there isn't room for a freezer that would allow transportation of homemade or premium ice cream flavors.

Grape Nuts on Twist

I wish the ice cream offered could match the cleverness behind the toppings, but there's nothing wrong with taking what you can get. I had a twist cone rolled in Grape Nuts and really enjoyed it. And the man in the truck (the Big Gay Ice Cream Man?) was friendly and funny. Soft-serve or not, he's providing a great service in selling his nontraditional, delicious, and oddball toppings.

I'll be back! I'd even buy the t-shirt.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

You can lead a horse to raisins...

But I don't like raisins

but you can't convince that horse she likes raisins. Even if she's eating really good raisin bread.

The cinnamon raisin nut (walnut?) bread Nicole brought to share at work smelled heavenly, especially after a slice or two got toasted. Folks gathered 'round.

"I don't even like raisins," I said again and again, eating a piece with butter, "but this is good."

I have heard that Orwasher's, the bakery from which this bread originated, is "hit or miss." This item's a hit. I should know. I don't like raisins.

Giant Movie Night Strikes Again

GMN #2

Jalapenos and turkey bacon

GMN Week two

Film: from some of the people who brought you "The State," it's Wet Hot American Summer.
Snack: stuffed hot American jalapenos (see this post), Red Hot Blues tortilla chips and salsa, Ciao Bella gelato (chocolate jalapeño or chocolate mint).
Guests: Dan, Carolyn, Rachel, Moss, Hero.
Outcome: Funny movie, good friends, amazing jalapeño gelato? What could be better? I got the lighting wrong and didn't get a good screen shot (the picture below manages to look like porn, not that I know what porn looks like), but the movie was definitely giant. Don't you worry about that.

Eat it or Wear It: Mango edition

Fly Eyes

(photo by Dan)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Flavor Blasted Goldfish Xtra Cheddar Cheese

Not yet

Still not cheesy enough.

Keep trying, Pepperidge Farm.

Adventures in CSA: Week 8, Part 2 + Week 9, Part 1

CSA: Week 9

Due to a lack of planning in week eight, I ended up swimming in CSA greens again. My week 8 leftovers were:

2 medium garlic
1 Napa cabbage
1 lb assorted greens (1/2 lb collard greens, 1/4 lb. ruby chard, and 1/4 lb. kale)

For week 9, I received:
1.5 lb. green tomato
3/4 lb. baby fava
1 lb. cucumbers
1.5 lb. squash
1 lb. eggplant
1 lb. choice of greens (I took home all kale, planning to make kale chips -- see below)
2 onion

So, what's been on the menu since Sunday?


1. Kale Chips (shown here with a rather nice Cuban-inspired sandwich). I've run across several blog posts about kale chips recently. I'm no health nut, but I do like a good, crispy vegetable, so I decided to try making my own.

The recipes I found online were pretty general and adaptable, and I didn't follow any one I found exactly. Here's how my version goes:

Fresh kale leaves

  • Preheat oven to 300 F (recipes suggested anywhere from 200 to 375. I chose to split the difference and just watch my kale to make sure it didn't burn.).
  • Remove kale leaves from stems and tear into reasonable-looking pieces. Wash and dry kale leaves (I used my salad spinner). I had 1 1/4 lb. kale before removing the stems.
  • Combine 3-4 T. olive oil and the juice of a lemon (or a splash of your favorite vinegar). Use less if you have less kale than me. Pour over kale leaves in bowl. Add grated cheese (I used emmentaler. Asiago and parmesan are also recommended). Toss together with your fingers.

Kale ready to roast

  • Spread oil, cheese and lemon-coated kale in one layer on cookie sheets lined with a silicone mat, parchment paper or aluminum foil. For my amount of kale, I used 3 large cookie sheets.
  • Sprinkle sea salt (not too much!) and a little more grated cheese over the kale.
  • Put the kale in the preheated oven. Check it every 15 minutes, gently loosening it from the cookie sheet if it is sticking. Remove from oven when crispy and browning on the edges. Mine took about 15 minutes on the bottom rack of my oven, and 25 minutes on the middle rack.

Kale chips

  • Remove kale chips from cookie sheet, cool, and eat. Store it in the refrigerator for up to a week.
I'd been warned, but I still couldn't believe how good kale chips are. I hope I receive more kale in the coming weeks. I popped these like potato chips, though they're much thinner and crispier. Dan liked the flavor with a little salsa sprinkled on top, too.

Cucumber Yogurt Soup

2. Cucumber Soup. I followed Madhur Jaffrey's recipe (in Quick & Easy Indian Cooking) for a cold yogurt soup but added two or three times as much ginger, cucumber and tomato as she called for. This soup was light and refreshing the first night, but even better the next day for lunch.

Whisk 2 1/2 cups plain yogurt. Add, while whisking, 4 cups good-quality or homemade chicken stock (it won't be cooked, so you should like the raw flavor of the stock you use). To this, add at least 1/2 tsp. of grated ginger, at least 1/2 cup cucumber, at least 1/2 cup tomato, 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, and 2 tsps chopped mint or cilantro (I used cilantro). Stir well.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill until it is served.

Collard greens with double garlic

3. Collard Greens with Double Garlic. Dan found this recipe in Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. I thought they came out of the pan tasting slightly too salty, but I still couldn't stop eating them. Moist and tender, there were several layers to the flavor experience. Deliciously complex!

Fava invention

4. Baby Fava Beans with Egg and Tomato. I combined a couple of Spanish recipes in 1080 Recipes and used my own ingenuity to create a new fava bean dish that doesn't take long to cook (some recipes called for boiling the beans for an hour!). For a healthy, light supper, try this! I really enjoyed the finished product, especially with the interplay between hot beans, small-curd scrambled eggs, and cool, refreshing tomato.

Serves 2

3/4 lb baby fava beans, shelled
2-3 T. olive oil or vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic (or more or less, to taste)
2 tsp. chopped parsley
4 eggs, lightly beaten with a fork
1 tomato, chopped roughly or diced

Prepare the fava beans. According to the cookbook, very young, tender fava beans can be cooked in the pod (after being cut up), but I did not have success with that method, considering I wanted to cook the beans quickly. I recommend just cutting the pod down the side and releasing the beans.

Heat the oil in a medium-sized pan. Add the beans, garlic, and parsley and cook on medium heat for 10-15 minutes, shaking the pan from time to time.

When beans are tender, turn the heat to low. Add the beaten eggs to the beans. Stir until eggs begin to scramble and set up. When eggs reach your desired consistency, remove from heat.

Serve garnished with raw tomato.


That's the week so far. Jeepers! There are still a ton of veggies in the fridge. Time to stop writing and get cooking. See you soon with more tales of CSA eating.

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