Sunday, August 30, 2009

last pancake Sunday

Until at least Thanksgiving break :(

I love pancake Sunday.


Today I went with the classic buckwheat pancakes:


Topped them with cherry preserves, and had a side of turkey bacon.


Along with a yummy bowl of plain yogurt and cinnamon along with half of a PERFECT peach.

Rewinding last night, I found an awesome spice rub and put it on some tilapia. Put the skillet on medium high, cooking spray-ed it, 3 minutes on one side, flip, another 3, lower heat, final 3.


Ended up PERFECT!


I also made more stripey squash, just sauteed in olive oil. Continuing on the awesome herb theme, I topped them with fresh oregano from the deck.


And finally, the thing I can’t get enough of, tomato salad with basil from my dad’s yard.


Aaaaand next I post I will be back at school. My budget and food variety will shrink. Be prepared x_x

Saturday, August 29, 2009

DC outing

As I’ve mentioned, Restaurant Week is one of my favorite holidays. We went into town and turned it into an outing! As a rule, people in Northern Virginia don’t take advantage of the city nearly enough, because getting there is a pain due to traffic/Metro sucking. However, it was WORTH IT.

Stop #1 was Teaism. I just realized, I definitely ordered EXACTLY WHAT RACHAEL RAY DID when she ate there for $40 a Day. What a tool I am. But it was good!


So that would be the chai and the ginger scones (the other cup is my mom’s Darjeeling, which was also lovely). To be fair to Rachael, both were delicious- the chai was lovely and nicely spicy, to balance out the sugar and milk. The ginger scones had awesome chunks of crystallized ginger.

However, I actually regretted getting the scones (my Ma and I each got one) almost immediately, not cause they weren’t good but because I was on my way to an expansive dinner! So I had a few bites  of mine and then saved the rest for, in two parts, evening snack last night and breakfast supplement this morning. After our snack, we walked around the Portrait Gallery.

But onto dinner!


Um, more like O-YUM-el!  (*pause for laughter*)

So Jose Andres, chef extraordinaire, is basically going to take over the world. That is FINE WITH ME. Overlord Andres would feed his populace deliciously. The first of his restaurants, Jaleo (which I love) was tapas, and he’s opened a coupla those. There’s also Zaytinya, which serves mezze, and this place, Oyamel, which serves antojitos, which are basically adorable little plates of Mexican street food.

For the $35.00 restaurant price fixe menu, you got FIVE COURSES- 4 nibbles and a dessert. Rather than all three of us (my ma, my aunt and I) getting one each and passing out at the end of the meal, we got one round of the restaurant week menu and supplemented with a few more. So let’s review!


On the left:

Ceviche Verde “El Bajio”- Yellowtail Kingfish ceviche with avocado, tomatillo, green olives, and jalapeño chiles.

This was SO GOOD! I’ve had a lot of ceviche that is too acidic and/or the fish has gotten mushy from the marinade. This must’ve been made almost immediately before serving, because the flavors and textures were perfectly balanced.

On the right:

“Gaspacho” estilo Morelia- From the historic city of Morelia, a salad of jicama root, mango, cucumbers, jalapeños, queso fresco and Mexican sour orange

I cannot get enough jicama. Or fruit. Or queso fresco. Ergo I loved this.


Tamal Verde- Tamale with green sauce of tomatillo, shredded chicken breast, chile, garlic and cilantro

This was actually the only clunker of the dishes. I actually ordered it by accident- I thought it was just stuffed with cheese, but it was chicken, and it was DRY chicken. The onions on top were delicious- they had been pickled, I think. Everything else, meh.


Mejillones al tequila con chipotle - Steamed mussels with tequila, sautéed garlic and chipotle sauce

I’m bummed I took a sucky picture of these because they were un. Friggin. Real. I love mussels in general, but these were some of the best I’ve ever had. The smoky chipotle really brought out the MEATINESS of the mussels. And again, sucky picture- this bowl was HUGE.


On the left:

mushroom taco (It must’ve been a restaurant week special, because I can’t find it on the online menu). I can tell you that it contained a variety of wild mushrooms as well as a delicious avocado mash. We looked like idiots, splitting a taco in 3rds (I swear, the restaurant week menu said tacoS), but it was tasty enough we didn’t care.

On the right:

Cayo de hacha con pipián de chile pasilla- Seared scallops with a pasilla chile and pumpkin seed sauce, orange segments, pumpkin seed oil and toasted pumpkin seeds

Probably my favorite dish of the evening. This was one of those great things you can ONLY GET in a restaurant. I hate the feeling of going out to eat and paying for something and thinking “I could’ve made this at home.” This was something that really made you appreciate a chef’s talent and ingredients- the scallops were perfectly seared, the sauce was complex and tangy and spicy and smoky and sweet and oh so flavorful. It was lusciouuuuuus.


Machuco relleno de fríjol con salsa negra - Plantain fritters stuffed with black beans and served with a black sauce of chipotle chile and piloncillo sugar

Oh, yeah, maybe this was my favorite. Plantains. Are the best. Food. In the world.

And the sauce definitely had cocoa in it. So there’s that.


Dessert- also a special, so this is a serious challenge to describe.

Okay- base layer- fruit soup of tropical fruits. Definitely some pineapple, definitely some citrus, something green that was unreal. Also- little gelatinized squares of yummy. On top- frozen and creamy yogurt-lime thing.

Unnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn. reallllllllllllllllllllllllll.

The waiter came to take it away when there were like 4 tiny little pieces of fruit left, and I was like “well, hey, hold on there” and was scraping the plate.

I would’ve licked it had we not been in public.

Mmm. Merry restaurant week to all and to all a good night.

rainy saturday

Rainy Saturdays mean indulging one’s cravings for comfort food. Lucky me, I got to amp up two comfort food staples with our glut of beautiful produce.

Numero uno: french toast (but with a fresh fruity twist!)

DSCF2001I put two slices of whole wheat bread into a batter of 1 egg (all we had), a few tbsp milk, and cinnamon. Then tossed ‘em on a hot, cooking spray-ed griddle.


For some fruity goodness, I sauteed up some apple on the same griddle, til it got nice n browned


Then it looked too sparse for two big slices, so I mashed up some banana and put it on the hot griddle and it totally CARAMELIZED and was AWESOME. The final product:


I sliced the toast on the diagonal (because, as I have frequently discussed, that makes it taste better) and shmeared the banana on one piece and put the browned apples on the other, along with a drizzle of pure maple syrup.


They were both SO GOOD! I couldn’t decide which I liked more!

After a workout (indoors! 30 minutes elliptical and then I dropped into yoga class for 20 minutes or so) and a hot bath listening to the rain fall outside (mmm lovely), I made lunch, which was hot and nostalgic of childhood, and also improved by fresh produce.


Chicken nuggets and cream of tomato soup! Healthified.

Chicken nuggets= Trader Joe’s meatless baked chicken nuggets. With hot sauce, mmm.

Cream of tomato soup= homemade fresh tomato bisque


How I made the bisque: I chopped up a few tablespoons onion and 1 ear of corn, which I sauteed over medium-low heat in about 1/2 to one teaspoon each butter and olive oil. Meanwhile, I took 3 medium tomatoes and blanched them (stuck em in boiling water for 20 seconds) and then peeled them and seeded them, reserving the blanching liquid.  I chopped those up, and added them to the corn and onion. I added salt and pepper and let everything simmer for 15 minutes or so. At this point the tomatoes were releasing a lot of liquid, and I had a flash of inspiration to add some creaminess and thickness, with fewer calories. To that end, I siphoned out a big of tomato liquid and mixed it with 2 T powdered milk to make a slurry, which I then added to the cooking liquid. At this point, I would’ve loved to have an immersion blender. But I did not. So I threw everything in a blender. At this point, I added about 2 T milk and then continued to add my reserved blanching water until the consistency was to my liking. Then I returned the soup to the stove to reheat, and to round out the flavor I added a drizzle of honey and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Simple and delicious!

I rounded out the meal with an exceptionally texturally balanced bowl:


Yogurt, craisins, life cereal, and melon. Yumz!

Friday, August 28, 2009

mystery lunch revealed

Okay so Thursday it likely seems that I came down with an acute but temporary case of anorexia- tiny yogurt bowl in the morning? Tiny salad at night? Lunch explains all.

Here I am outside, BEAMING FROM EAR TO EAR, because this is a place where there are no fake smiles.

rocking chair

Does the rocking chair give you a hint?

CRACKER BARREL! MY FRIEND HAD A FREAKING $50 GIFT CERTIFICATE TO CRACKER BARREL! So we drove down 95 til we saw that beauteous sign on the side of the highway, and pulled off, and got to heaven. on. Earth.

We worked out first. That was a REALLY GOOD IDEA. Then, while I (ravenously!) waited to order, I played Cracker Barrel’s signature obnoxious nail game.

nail game

Then the food arrived! We decided to maximize our side dishes, thus enabling us to try all of the C.B. specialties. To that end, Lauren got:

lauren's spread

Let’s break it down, because that picture doesn’t totally convey the vastness of her meal.

laurens meat

Scrambled eggs with cheese, hashbrown casserole (!), a whole pile o’ meat (bacon, sausage AND ham) and a seriously tragic looking orange slice!

laurens white stuff

Carbs: biscuit and gravy and grits (!)

laurens apples

Their signature fried apples mm

I got the “vegetable plate” (oh my God it sounds so ludicrously healthy!) where you can get your choice of four “side dishes” (ha!) and a biscuit, apparently.

vegetable plate

I went with the turnip greens, mac n cheese, fried okra, and pinto beans. It came with a biscuit and a corn muffin.

Here’s what I ended up eating, upon combining with Lauren, and giving her some of mine:

what I ate

All of the greens, like 2 bites of the mac and cheese (could’ve been tv dinner, honestly), about half the okra, all of my hashbrown casserole sample, all of the pinto beans, all of the fried apples plus a bit more, only a bite of the cornbread muffin (that I actually spit out because I just don’t like them for some mystifying reason), all of the biscuit with some blackberry preserves and…


Grits! Forgot those in round one. Man oh man was it good.

But, we were, believe it or not, saving room, because we had seen this:

dessert menu

I ordered the strawberry shortcake (not pictured on the menu)

strawberry shortcake

It was pretty good. Quite difficult to navigate: this picture doesn’t really show how along with the cake and strawberry topping and whipped cream there were TWO SCOOPS OF VANILLA ICE CREAM. I took them off and put them on a side plate (I can have that any time, and a strawberry shortcake didn’t need it) and I ate all the strawberries, the so-so cake that had strawberry mush on it (mmm) and a bit of the whipped cream.

But Lauren’s dessert…

Oh. my. God.

the best thing in the universe


Seriously, there is no phrase but OH MY GOD to describe this. She made a valiant effort to eat about half, and then I went CRAAAAAAAAZY. I could. not. stop. It was the freaking best thing I have ever tasted.

And this picture really doesn’t at all convey the size. Suffice it to say when she passed it across the table to me, our muscles strained.

So yeah. Big eating day. Food baby in my belly. So amazing.

My favorite picture:

water, hahaha

Hahahahahahah Lauren took this. So everyone, to reassure you, despite all that, we ensured that we would be adequately hydrated, and had some water.

And the best part? All of that food. $25. We can use the other half of her gift certificate and eat it again. AAAAAAAAGH! She’s going abroad next semester, so I said “maybe when you get back from Ireland I will have finished digesting”.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

summer lovin’

Ugh my friend still hasn’t sent the pictures from yesterday. PATIENCE! Onto today.

Today was a perfect summer day :D Farmer’s market, walk in the park, swimming and lounging poolside, cookout, homegrown veg. What more do you need?

Farmer’s market Thursday! Mmm mmm mm. More stripey squash! Peaches n maters. Spanish melon (?!)DSCF1986

Lunch: my adorable mother gave me her leftovers from Washington D.C. Restaurant Week (! We’re going out tomorrow, so stoked! Restaurant Week is probably my favorite holiday!) from the heavenly Willow, where they had a work lunch.


According to the website, this was “Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Eggplant & Bacon Ravioli, Shitake Mushrooms & Tomato Butter”. FABBITY FAB!

I supplemented with the last of the freaky Asian yams.


Still a wee bit hungry- tried some melon!


Good! Looked like honeydew, but tasted… bear with me here… kind of like cantaloupe, but… blander in a pleasant way? Almost gourd-like?

Still a little hungry- quick protein jolt.


Other half from yesterday.

Onto dinner. Dinner was a tomato bonanza, at the home of that great tomato grower, my father. Late blight may be hitting some people, but it sure ain’t hittin’ him.

I’ll get to that, but first, check out the nice side dish I made!

Salsa Potatoes

Chop up a whole buncha red onion. Sautee in some oil on medium low heat. While that softens up, chop up a whole buncha red pepper (in this case, straight from my dad’s garden), and red potatoes. Add those, and crank up the heat to get a nice char on the potatoes.


Then season! Salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder. Things will stick to the bottom of the pan- it’s okay, you’ll deglaze.


When everything’s looking nice and browned and crusty, use salsa juice (!) to deglaze the pan (part of the tomato bonanza was my dad’s homemade salsa. You could use tomato juice, hot and spicy V8, salsa, or, quite honestly, water).


Reduce heat to low, and cook the potatoes through, periodically deglazing the pan with your choice of liquids.

The final look:


YUMMMM! Okay so the whole dinner.

Appetizer (cause we’re classy like that): homemade tomato bisque, courtesy of my dad. This was awwwwwwwesome, due in part to the fact that the recipe was not devoid of milk and half and half (but was still overall mostly tomato and broth). Perfectly rich yet the primary flavor was perfect ripe tomato.


Entree: STEAK! And accompaniments.


My dad is a man who knows how to cook a steak. This was top sirloin, in my opinion a really excellent cut, and on the leaner side, no less! Simply seasoned with Montreal steak seasoning and Worcestershire and cooked over charcoal, MEDIUM RARE, the way God intended. On the side, the awesome potatoes and delicious homemade salsa.

Yay tomatoes!

Finally: my aunt and uncle are on the episode of Ace of Cakes that’s on in half an hour! Check out their Pinto cake, and see some of my relatives! (but not me, as my immediate family unit decided to groom for the party, and thus missed the big reveal x_x)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I walked outside to pick some oregano for dinner, and felt a spiderweb brush my head. Then I looked up and went “Yep, it’s August!”

Every year, around this time, she moves in (I like to think that it’s a girl, a la Charlotte from the book, one of my childhood favorites. I also like to think it’s the same girl every year, because she loves us so much). We have a light just outside our deck door that moths are drawn to like… er, moths to a light. She totally gets that she is sitting on a gold mine:


Isn’t her web beautiful?! I am not a huge fan of spiders, but she is outdoors, where spiders belong, and she is an incredible artist and (as you can tell by her considerable girth) huntress. So we happily coexist, and I really do love watching her enjoy her evening meal.

So today. Today I FEASTED. However, I forgot to bring my camera to the feast. No worries: my dining companion gamely took pictures. However, I have not yet received them. All you’ll get to see are my puny breakfast and dinner (please, please, understand, that when you see what I ate for lunch, you will understand why they are so tiny).

Pre-workout snack:


Yogurt, last of the fruit salad, sprinkling of bran flakes.

Post workout snack:


Almonds, duh.

Dinner (eaten at 9 pm with a seriously lackluster appetite):


Khoriatiki salata- tomato, cuc, green pepper, red onion, fresh oregano, feta, and oil and vinegar.



Half a beautiful peach.

Seriously, get ready for lunch. All will be explained.