Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Refrigerator Woes

Ever gone on vacation or left town for a few months?  The question is always, what do I do with all the stuff in my refrigerator?  It is scary to think of the congealed masses in forgotten Tupperware and the curdled soymilk hidden behind the gallon of nettle infusion.   And don’t get me started on the wall of condiments that live in the door.  I could have a dinner party.  In fact, I did invite a friend over the other night in an attempt to clean out the refrigerator.  When she wasn’t looking I slipped many different questionable items into her canvas tote.  See, she came over with a tote filled with leftovers, trying to get me to eat them so they wouldn’t go to waste, so counter productive!  Over the course of that evening I managed to clean out the freezer and a few half-used items in the pantry.

            A trash bag and a few happy neighbors later, my refrigerator is looking pretty good.  The condiments will make it till September and the baking soda can keep them company.  I left a few beers in the door, for that day when I return from the unbearably long road trip from Alaska.  One year of Grad School down, one to go!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Road Trip Food

What do I eat on a road trip that will cover 2500 miles and host 2 very large dogs as driving partners?  If this trip were merely through the United States, I would plan on grocery store stops, Farmers Markets and fun out of the way restaurants.  But alas, I am driving through British Columbia and the Yukon Territory.  If the rest of what I’m about to say is offensive to you Canadians out there, I am sorry, but it’s the truth.  The food north of 100 Mile House (what a name for a town) just sucks!

            I’m whining, unfortunately.  I could cook my own food, this is true, but then I would have to find my backpacking stove and something tells me it is in storage in Alaska.  I could focus on raw and processed foods…  I made a trip to Trader Joes (www.traderjoes.com) looking for inventive road trip food.  I settled on fruit leather, nuts and some animal like crackers.  I had to try the cookies, boy am I glad I did, blah!  They will not be going on the trip to Alaska.  The cookies in all of their cinnamon glory will be gifted to my neighbors.

            I will continue to sample the fare as I traverse north through Canada, supplementing with produce along the way.  Someone should really develop a blog or a website reviewing restaurants along the ALCAN…

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Tapas Anyone?

A meal type created for the indecisive among us, namely me.  I met a group of friends at Txori (http://www.txoribar.com) a new Tapas Bar in Belltown this weekend before we went to the theater. 

What to  order, what to order?  I am so excited…  twenty different options just begging to be sampled.  Of course, I should start with the potatoes, as my friends know, they are my favorite food.  One order of potato aioli later and it is time for the bread course.  Yum!  This little treat reminds me of spaghettiOs, or as my dining aquintance said Chef Boyardee in general, served with a crusty baguette.  The most intriguing item on the menu is next, chorizo with chocolate.  Oh, what a heavenly combination of salt, fat and sweet on a crusty bread!  I wish there were more vegetables on the menu, oh well.  I think it is time for dessert.  Because four of us have gathered for this experience, we should pick four desserts.  Chocolate mouse with cayenne, sheep cheese cheesecake, chocolate beet cake with fresh cream and citrus flan.  What a heavenly combination of goodness.  A bite of this and a little of that leads to a very satisfying dining experience.  Checkout this blog for great recipes http://www.tapas-recipes.com/tapas-recipes.html.

Two blocks down the road is the Moore Theater.  We are going to see a BookIt production.  Oh dear, I shouldn’t have had the martini with dinner.  I start to yawn as I wait for the curtain.  What a miserable experience, I spend the first 45 minutes tapping my foot and doing ab exercises trying to stay awake.  Thankfully, my blood sugar balances for the last half and I am able to watch as the climax fizzles.  Maybe I will suggest dinner after the play next time.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Yum, Donuts!

I have an admission to make, I love pastries (just like my friends at http://www.theblognut.net)!  Maybe I should specify, my most recent pastry craving is for the delectable vegan donuts from Might O Donuts in Seattle.  A guilty pleasure for me, similar to the mocha addiction that plagues a good friend, or the secret cig someone I know sneaks every now and then.  What is life without our guilty pleasures?  While traveling recently, my buddy sitting next to me in 24B asked what I did for work.  Well, let me tell you how that conversation and all others like it go…  As soon as the person registers that I study nutrition they begin to justify the food in front of them,  the reason they prefer a specific brand of supplements and then they want to know what I’m eating.  Uggg, if I don’t have an eating disorder now, I will in the near future.  Because I study nutrition does not mean I am the embodiment of healthy living.  Actually, I try to be, but my pastry addiction can get me into trouble.  Now I feel like I need to sneak my treats for fear of disappointing those observing me.

Maybe I will flaunt my treats!  Yeah, that’s it, I’m going to share my addictions with the masses.  What would life be without the small indulgences we allow ourselves?  I try to live my life following the 80/20 rule.  80% of the time I do what I’m supposed to: eat 9-11 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, get my teeth cleaned, go to the gym regularly, maintain a healthy body weight, wash behind my ears, you know the drill.  But, 20% of the time I give myself a break, and so should the guy in 24B. 

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Can you feel the heat?

Warm sunny days inspire the grill master in all of us.  Often times, the best meal is a simple meal.  Today is a beautiful day in Seattle and I have an invitation to join a friend in her back yard for some veggie grilling, white wine and general catching up.

While driving to her house I realize that the nice weather has encouraged everyone to come outside.  Laughter bubbles up from behind hedge rows, children chase with water guns and dogs try to find respite in the shade.  On the road, windows were down as we all sought the warm breeze.  The parks were crowded and the beach was full.  I could tell the popular spots as I drove across town, they were the places were people were circling, desperately looking for parking.

As I finally reached the safety of my friend’s quiet neighborhood I let me mind daydream about grilling and the dinner to come.  Asparagus on the grill adds a snap to our lanky friend.  Mushrooms weep over an open flame.  Zucchini and bell peppers release sugars that add to their already sweet flavor.  Cook up a batch of fresh pasta, toss with the grilled veggies, olive oil and a little fresh parmesan, viola – dinner is ready.

Hot days do not inspire heavy meals, instead I crave fresh fruit and vegetables.  If your not burnt out on the grill, it is also a wonderful place to create dessert.  Slices of fresh pineapple, with a dash of cinnamon and a sprinkle of brown sugar, caramelize into heaven on earth.

We spent the evening enjoying lovely conversation, refreshing food and a crisp wine.  Eventually, we were chased inside by goose bumps and cooling temperatures.

Monday, May 11, 2009

What Makes a Pizza

Ah, glorious pizza, a delightful staple in modern American cuisine.  The art of pizza making has been taken to the next level with stuffed crust, garlic butter dipping sauce, specialty cheeses, not so common toppings and fusion themes.  Have you ever tried a spicy Thai  chicken pizza?  How do people come up with these ideas?

Making pizza at home is an experience everyone should try.  In my kitchen, we find ourselves using anything from homemade herb dough to tortillas for a pizza base.  Making a pizza doesn’t require special ingredients or much time.  Instead, pizza construction requires creativity and a willingness to experiment.  When you open the refrigerator door and all you have is a tortilla, why not make a pizza quesadilla?  Leftover naan or pita also work as great impromptu bases.  When we are on long kayaking trips we often take Greek pitas with us as a base for quick pizzas in the field.  IF I’m in a rush, I use cheater dough from Trader Joes, Whole Foods Market or PCC, but I make sure the ingredients label is short and includes real ingredients.  If you want to dive in and go all the way, try one of the Moosewood Cookbook recipes or a recipe on the web.  If you do not eat gluten, visit the gluten free girl’s blog for a wonderful pizza dough recipe.

Step away from the base for a moment and contemplate with me all of the delicious toppings you could include: fresh herbs (basil, yum), goat cheese, leftover salad fixings (spinach, peppers, olives, zucchini), onions, leftover Indian food with a dot of chutney, mushrooms, taco fixings, or just about anything rolling around in the refrigerator.

The homemade pizza is also a wonderful meal to share with friends at a dinner party.  Because pizzas are so hands on, everyone can be involved, it brings out the children in us and often makes for a very memorable and fun evening.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


One fall, I took a job hand harvesting potatoes in Alaska.  It was one of those cash under the table, we only need you for a day situations.  What an eye opener, on so many levels.  Everyone should have to harvest food, to understand where food comes from and what is required to get it from the ground to our plate.  Another important lesson to take away from such an experience is that of physical labor, a hard day’s work. 

My father sent me to work on my grandmother’s farm in the summers.  I love food, and generally it tastes great, but nothing compares to toiling in the garden all day and stopping to snack on something growing at your fingertips.  Potatoes dug fresh from the garden and prepared for a meal that day are heaven hiding in rich dark brown soil.

Potatoes are easy to grow and even easier to eat.  There are so many types of potato out there and the recipes out compete the 600 varieties.    We are all familiar with mashed potatoes, baked potatoes and potato skins, but have you ever had potato salad made with blue potatoes?  Or French fries made with peanut potatoes?  Potatoes come in a rainbow of colors, flavors and textures.

            It is time to embrace the rainbow.  The farmers markets are back with fresh spring greens and onions, along with starts for the garden.  So, go ahead, plan a planter or a field.  Don’t forget the seed potatoes, why not start with blue potatoes this year?