Thursday, April 30, 2009

Leftovers: Fishpocket Miso Soup


Remember the fishpockets from the grill? Even after D made the stirfry, there was enough leftover for one little packed lunch: Miso soup with the leftovers.

I get my Miso from J-List (which I’ve probably mentioned before). It’s a moist instant, not a powder*, and all you need is hot water. It lasts for ages and doesn’t need refrigeration, too, so it’s perfect for lunches.

I added sesame seeds, Kastuo bonito furikake and alfalfa sprouts, then mixed the miso and added the grilled veggies and catfish, and there you go! Lovely lunch!


*Here’s what it looks like:

miso_soup_a71 (1)

Search For The Perfect Rootbeer: Boylan’s


I had to give up soda about… something like fifteen years ago when I first realized my stomach didn’t work right (it’s since been diagnosed as a malfunctioning stomach valve, after previously being diagnosed as IBS and realizing it was much higher than that. the two sides of my upper stomach valve get out of whack and pull against each other instead of working together, and fizzy drinks are a good way to set it off). But I miss rootbeer, and I let myself have one once in a while when the urge strikes me and my stomach is not too upset about whatever I’m doing lately. But see, not having had rootbeer in almost a decade before I started drinking it again, I have this idea of what it should taste like, and most rootbeers don’t taste like that, so I’ve decided to try all of them and find the best one.

This is Boylan’s, and it’s pretty close. It’s all natural cane sugar, not HFCS or anything (which I try to avoid because it’s bad for you, no matter what the Corn Council says, it tastes too sweet, and it’s a risk factor for other health problems I have). It’s sweet in that creamy way that rootbeer should have, and it tastes like rootbeer, not like licorice or like artificial rootbeer flavoring, which is flat and goes too far. I hate the idea that rootbeer should have ‘bite’—it shouldn’t. It just shouldn’t bee so freakishly sweet that you feel the need to add acid to balance it (poorly and lazily).

It comes in a glass bottle, which I think makes for a purer taste, and a brown one at that, so there’s no chance light can damage it (I know that happens to milk; I have no idea if it happens to soda, but I wouldn’t be surprised). And best of all, it’s not desperately fizzy like so many mainstream sodas! It’s got the sparkle, but it doesn’t overpower, and it doesn’t cause a lot of gas in my broken stomach, so I can drink this one entirely while it’s still cool, instead of waiting for it to de-fizz, and therefore having to drink warm soda.


That’s my shop in the background, where all my pack lunches are eaten.


    (imagine the upside-down ! there at the beginning)


Every time I hear the name Sponch, my brain drops it into the Flash Gorden theme song (Sponch! Aww-wwww! He’ll save every one of us!); must be the exclamations…

Anyway, we found this on a display of Hispanic snack foods, and with a name like that, we just had to try it. It’s a cookie, like a Maria cookie, but softer, with marshmallow, strawberry jelly and coconut. There is nothing not to love about this snack. You get six in a pack and diabetes on the side, but who cares! It’s like a Snowball on a cookie, with jelly!


And then we found out that it came in grape, too…


… and were sad that it isn’t as good. The grape flavor is overwhelmed by the other flavors, as the strawberry is not, and it’s almost too sweet, as opposed to just sweet enough.


But it’s still pretty.

Tapas Dinner

D loves tapas, so he made us a whole meal of lovely little bite-size foods:


1. Gazpacho with grilled salmon and celery:


2. Sautéed spinach wrapped in the awesomeness of bacon, and tipped with roasted sesame seeds:


3. Stuffed mushrooms filled with the mildest, creamiest blue cheese I’d ever tasted (seriously, it was like feta, only a little different, and nothing at all like metal feet):


4. Whole wheat crackers with sautéed onion, Swiss cheese and sliced red apple:


And all together it looked like this:


I think the spinach could have used a little more seasoning before being wrapped, but other than that, it was all amazing.



See what H is building there?

That’s right girls and guys, it’s warm enough down here to grill. Has been for a month, and we used the household fund to buy a real propane grill with propane and propane accessories, and we’ve been grilling at least once a month since. Here are the lovely things we’ve made:

First up, we made burgers. Lovely juicy burgers. Like, three times in two weeks.

Then we got adventurous: Fish pockets with roasted vegetables and grill-baked potatoes.


The fish was catfish, and some of the pockets actually had chicken to stretch them, because more people came then expected and the catfish was a little expensive. Veggies were zucchini, summer squash, onion, mushrooms and garlic with dill and lime.DSCF3701


See how excited D was? He made the leftovers into a magnificent stirfry that was super-easy, since all the meat and veg were already cooked: rice, oil and a little soysauce, then tossed with the leftovers.

After that, we made kebabs that I didn’t get pictures of because I was too busy stuffing my face: beef and chicken were marinated in soysauce, lemonade, butter, garlic, salt and pepper, then skewered with mushrooms, peppers, onion, apple, carrot and tomato, and grilled. We had M’s yellow rice on the side, and grilled pineapple for dessert.

And most recently, we made teriaki chicken:


… with lime-cilantro and sazon rice, butter-steamed fresh greenbeans, asian slaw and watermelon. h marinated the chicken in Soy Vey kosher teriaki, then made his own teriaki from soysauce, sake, sesame, garlic, ginger and sugar, and a little rooster sauce, and brushed that on while they were cooking:


Mmmm, the first watermelon of the season…


And for dessert, E’s mom, R, made us the best banana pudding ever: Mix the banana pudding with the milk, like usual, then mix in a whole can of sweetened condensed milk and a whole tub of Cool Whip, and layer it with sliced bananas and Neko Wafers:


Practically deadly, it’s so delicious. We’ve got tentative plans for a Bring-Your-Own-Steak party, and I want to have a block party to get to know the neighbors, and at some point this summer, we need to make roasted corn. Seriously.

Perpetual Trail Mix

I’m addicted to trail mix. It’s been my main source of protein through the winter (after bacon and sausage), especially when I’m at work. But I don’t like the trail mix that comes in bags—there’s either too many teeny dry things, or there’s not enough of the stuff I like, or there’s nothing good for me in it. So I got myself an old fashioned cookie jar and a little wooden scoop, any I made my own.

There isn’t really a recipe; I just pick up a bag or three of things I like every time I go to the grocery store and throw it in, so it’s replenished as I eat it, and it’s constantly changing.

Round one was just a bag of mixed raisins, a bag of walnuts, a bag of pecans (both those smallish baking bags, about a cup and a half each), some honey-roasted sunflower seeds and peanuts I had laying around, and a bag of peanut m&ms. DSCF3323

Then, as that wore down, I added a bag of raisinettes, a Healthy trailmix bag (which was a bland, bad decision), some chocolate-covered rice-crispies leftover from a yocrunch packet, and some sesame sticks. Round three was a whole pack of the best apricots I ever had, banana chips, hazelnuts as well as the walnuts and pecans, candied walnuts, and a handful of shelled pistachios that I had planned to eat and then didn’t get to.DSCF3534 

See? Perpetual and ever-changing, so I never get bored and always have something lovely to eat for breakfast. I think the new round I’ll be getting this week will have cashews and mixed nuts, more pistachios, and some more summery dried fruit—mangoes or pineapple.

Review: Sabra Single-Serving Hummus


What a great idea! Perfect for lunches, fairly healthy, exactly the size I need for a snack, sturdy enough not to separate or go bad before I can get to it, and the smoothest hummus I’ve found in the supermarket. The pretzel crisps are delicious, all the best parts of a pretzel (the salty, buttery outside). The red pepper hummus is my favorite, but the original is darn good, too, and the roasted garlic does not skimp on the garlic (which is maybe not so great for work, but I think is still worth it). And the little cups are reusable, perfect for trail mix, veggies, pasta-salad, whatever.

If I have one complaint, it’s only that the hummus is so flavorful, sometimes you can’t taste the pretzel chips. Which isn’t much of a complaint.

Review: Starswings Jasmine Tea Drink


This is not good. It is the opposite of good. I noted that it’s carbonated, but I’ve had carbonated tea drinks before, and they were fine. This one was just plain gross. It did not taste like jasmine tea at all, but more like watered down beer with a weird sour-floral aftertaste. I gave it the three-sip test (first one to get into it, second to get used to it, third to make a decision) and I just couldn’t go any further.


D’s Japanese Dinner


A little bit before my vacation, D made us this lovely dinner: breaded and fried chicken, soba noodles, whipped sweet potatoes with a little bit of sweet, a little bit of savory, and a little bit of red pepper for heat…


…pickles on the side, and little rice balls with carrot stars, apple slices and green onion decorating the top. Which I have a picture of and can’t find.

Edit: Here it is:


Vacation Foods

As you know, I was away for ten and a half days last month, visiting family and going to a conference. I don't have pictures of everything I ate, but I do have some. Here's a rundown:


The first day was a family reunion / block party at my cousin’s house, and happened to be Pie Day (3.14). I was exhausted from travelling, but there just happened to be pie there: chocolate-banana cream and oreo cookie. The only picture I have is this one, of my pregnant cuz eating pie for two. Note how happy she looks.

There was also pizza, steamed cauliflower, roast chicken, Jones Soda (whose rootbeer I do not like, I learned), pasta salad, water melon and cantaloupe, and probably other things I can’t remember. The cauliflower was especially good, steamed just enough to be perfectly tender, but not enough to be mushy at all. A little salt, pepper and butter, and it’s good enough for a meal in itself.


A day or so later, my aunt made a really delicious roast ham with a brownsugar glaze. The pineapple alone was enough to make the meat worth it, but the ham was amazing, and the rest of the plate…


… included these huge potatoes that were good enough to be a meal by themselves, and hardly needed more than salt, pepper and butter.

At the conference, we ate out mostly, because the in-hotel food was too expensive. I had something chickeny at Tony Roma’s and wasn’t all that impressed—it was good, but it was expensive, and it wasn’t terribly different than any other chain line, with the same combos of flavors at, say, Chili’s or Fridays or Ruby Tuesdays or any of a number of those same sorts of things. I don’t even remember what it was called.

There was Chili’s after that, with something small and forgettable; I think I had a side or an appetizer. I’m really not that impressed with chain places in general, and it wasn’t terribly different than my home one, nor terribly better. The strawberry mojito was pretty good though, sweet and thick and perfectly balanced so that you didn’t taste the vast quantities of rum at all. It was two-for-one happy hour. That was dangerous.

We had lunch at Fridays after that, and I had the tiny hamburgers (my newest favorite way to eat beef); there were three of them on something like mini cibata breads, and they were pretty good—bacon and cheese and not too greasy. But the best part of that meal was the drink: a berry-passionfruit-guava mojito that just blew me away. They bring it out in a shaker, and it results in about four glasses of a sweet-tart-musky-tropical and very refreshing boozy drink that I drank all of. It’s my new fav drink. I need to figure out how to make it at home.

The first banquet had salmon and chicken, and I didn’t eat my lovely favorite salmon because it wasn’t in season yet.

The second banquet had this:


Lots of pink wine beforehand (I prefer rose, but no one ever has rose, so it was white zin, and not a terribly smooth one, though not burning-awful either; next year, I think I’ll bring my own Rosa from the San Sebastian Winery. I can get a whole bottle for the cost of one cup at the bar, anyway) and during. Breadsticks as an experiment (rolls were banned a few years ago as someone started a breadfight with them), garden salad with a pretty decent Italian dressing, pesto tortellini that somehow managed to be bland with all the most flavorful things in Italian cooking in it, baked ziti that was pretty good, grilled swordfish which I ate part of because I’d never had swordfish before, and then stopped because it wasn’t in season and the wine started getting to me, and a really yummy white-bean and bacon stew. Dessert was a divine tiramisu and canoli. And then much more drinking.

All in all, a pretty good round of vacation eating!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Whoo Boy.

Man, it's been a while. And now it's, like, 1:17 am, and I'm too tired to post anything. But rest assured, I have so much food to post.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Seasonality: Second Week of April

If I thought that maybe the list was getting long because I was finding new lists, this week has corrected me-- all the lists have gotten longer. Deliciously, delieriously longer. Every week right now brings huge bounties of wonderous new foods!

In this week: Blueberries (finally! i have no idea where the fooddrop was getting them when none of the lists said they were seasonal anywhere), Cukes (I can have tzatziki again!), Corn!, Eggplants!, Watermelon!, Fava Beans, Salad Greens, Samphire (whatever that is!), Wild Nettles, Passionfruit is back, Basil, Chervil, Chives, Coriander, Mushrooms (Morrel in particular, as well as St George's Mushroom and bigger Portobellos), Shrimp, Whelk, Whitebait, Mackerel (actually year round and not on any of the lists until now), Coley, Conger Eel, Dab, Dover, Sole, Eel!, Langoustine, and Prawns.

Out: Sunchoke, Alexanders, Chickweed (which isn't really true here, because I know it grows year round), Cow Parsely, Fat Hen, Birch Sap, and Starfruit (which I'm a little sad about, but all the starfruits looked really sad and unappetizing this year).

And all that's ON TOP OF the massive list we've already got! My little three-column / two-third page list on the fridge has grown into a massive five-column monster with extra mini lists in the top margin, under the bottom, squeezed between others... It's awesome. I can eat almost anything. I want to eat it all!

This is also a food drop week, and we can expect Celery, Red Peppers, Carrots, Collards, Onion, Fingerlings, Russets, Pineapple, Grape Tomato, Blueberries, and Romaine.