Monday, May 28, 2012

summer is the best

Friday and Saturday of Memorial Day weekend have already been THE BEST, so as I write this Sunday, I can only imagine what delights await me.

Summer is THE BEST!

Let’s count down the things that were awesome:

My sister came home from Englande!

She brought me a University of East Anglia mug in a beauteous orange, and a variety of delicious British chox.


So exciting on the outside:


But the inside was confused. Am I a granola bar? Am I nutella? I don’t know, and thus am ultimately unsatisfying.

Everything else: magnifique. Love me some Cadbury.


Mulberry trees!

Following a trip to the farmer’s market for local veggies, we got some extremely local fruit in the parking lot. For freeeeeeeee!


Is there anything more magical and summer time-y than picking your own mulberries? Your hands coated in purple juice? Ahh.


Next idea.. Oi oi oi.

A swim up bar.

Lydia (bestie), Steve (boyf) and I were chatting (… over drinks) about our dream Memorial Day staycation party, and we wanted something that evoked the beach, and then someone (Lydia?) went SWIM UP BAR!

And then Steve bought a pool and then…



Water was collllllllld!


Pina coladas, Bloody Marys, Dark and Stormys, and a cooler full of stuff. Oi oi oi.


Enough said.

It was a delightful party and as such, I have a lot of before and no “after” photos. Such is life. I’d rather enjoy a party than document it.

A few things of note:

I am in general kind of obsessed with the latest issue of Cooking Light (WELL DONE guys!) and am making my way through my dog-eared pages (Guacamole with fish sauce: officially awesome).

Imagine my delight, in the throes of planning a tropical party, to discover a healthified pina colada recipe!

The pina part is made by individually quick freezing slices of fresh pineapple…DSC00796

And the coconut- so brilliant!

You steep 2 cups of flaked coconut in fat-free evaporated milk to make… FAKE COCONUT MILK!

Yes, I know the stearic acid in coconut is now considered a healthy saturated fat, but guess what? It still has a gazillion calories, and I had calories to conserve for the final item on this post.


Anywho, it was STRONG, and short-circuited my blender (add the ice gradually. Don’t try to blend it all at once. Bad idea.) And… good. I guess. I have pina coladas so rarely (once every… five years?) that I should probably just have the real thing.

The grill was utilized, which is lovely in the summer.


Hot dogs, blistery like I like ‘em. (And kosher, so I can pretend they’re slightly less horrible for you).


Other items made their appearance, like a jicama salad, a big ole watermelon, a caprese salad that disappeared seriously in five minutes. Guests were kind enough to contribute; Lydia brought a so-good-I-couldn’t-stop-eating-it parmesan dip from the farmer’s market she worked at earlier in the day (!), and Adrienne brought fruit salad with lavender (!). My friends are classy.

But the highlight, THE HIGHLIGHT, of this party?

Homemade apple pie ice cream.


Toast up oats, brown sugar and the like for “crust”.



Cook up some apples for the “filling”


Plus Mark Bittman’s ice cream base= heaven.


All American, cool and creamy, perfectly sweet with all of the flavors of apple pie without any of the hassle. UNBELIEVABLE!


Apple Pie Ice Cream

1/2 T melted butter
2 T brown sugar
¼ c. oats

2 tsp. butter
3 small apples, sliced
3 T sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Ice cream base:
2 c milk
2 T cornstarch
1/3 c. sugar
2 T brown sugar
1 c cream
½ tsp. cinnamon

First, make the “crust” and apples. In a frying pan on medium, melt the ½ T of melted butter. Then add oats and brown sugar, stirring often, until oats are starting to toast and become fragrant. Pour the oat mixture out of the pan into a bowl.

In the same pan, melt the remaining butter on medium. Stir in the apples and cook, stirring occasionally, for two minutes. Then add the 3 T sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon. Cook until the apples have lightly browned, and the sugar has begun to caramelize, about 10 minutes. Remove from the pan, and allow to cool completely.

Put the milk in a saucepan on medium high and bring just to a boil, stirring. Meanwhile, mix the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of the milk (cold) to make a slurry. Remove the milk mixture from heat, and whisk in the slurry and sugar. Return to the heat, stirring constantly, until thick.

Cool, then stir in cream and apple and oat mixtures. Freeze in an ice cream maker, and enjoy; topped with caramel if you wish!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

the work lunch

Lunches had quit doing it for me.

I’d head to work with the best of intentions.

This is genuinely delicious and tastes like pie:


(baked sweet potato, cottage cheese, cinnamon)

I’d round it out with a nice healthy tasty kale salad.


Annnnnnnd then dive into the cupcakes Amy brought back from Taste of the Nation. (She is the QUEEN of getting free food, often HOTEL PANS FULL OF IT, at fancy events. I suspect it is because she is blonde).

Too many sweets!


Tangent: I get to drink liquids at work out of my forklift mug. Don’t be jealous.


Another unsuccessful lunch.

Edamame, yeah okay.


The second half of a mango, eaten with a knife and my bare hands, pirate-style.


Rice pudding (?) essentially leftover rice with a bunch of milk dumped on top. For “calcium.” And vanilla and stuff I think.


And kale.


This also didn’t do it for me, but while we’re going off on tangents let me sing the praises of this highly excellent Costco product: it’s GLASS and MICROWAVE SAFE! Everytime I microwave something in plastic (which is a lot, as I have a job and eat there) I picture extra limbs growing out of my head… slowly.

So these are swell. The lid is TOTALLY airtight. Which is great, but take caution: don’t put it on top of hot food. It creates a whole vacuum situation!


This lunch, yeurgh, so ugly! Freakin’ fluorescents!


Fortunately I ate almost the exact same salad in natural light, and you’ve all seen yogurt and bread before.

So here we have some farmer’s market greens, some beets, and some chickpeas, which paired very nicely. Plus some blackberry balsamic to bring out all that flava.


More mango, and an oatcake (the last of the swag my Mummy brought back from England)


And a tomato concoction.


On the top it just looks like tomato and basil…


… but what is peeking…

DSC00343 5

BAM! Cottage cheese! Poor woman’s Caprese salad.


Tasted good. Didn’t stop me from eating a whoooooooole bunch other stuff.

Also: fact.

I had been totally slacking on my veggie intake lately. You’d think naming my blog after plant-eating and all would indicate that I ate enough vegetables. Nope. It was more like come home from class, eat a whole bunch of nuts and crackers and whatever chocolate-containing items my house might consist, feel guilty, go to the gym, go to bed.

I am glad I am done with class.

The new plan: this perfect style of lunch.


Food groups complete, lotsa protein and fiber, but this lunch is amazing because

1. It contains a ton of vegetables but is not a salad. I have concluded that salads are just not doing it for me, at least right now.

2. It has lots of different colors and textures

3. I get to eat for a long, long time. You open the pea pods, eat the peas, crunch on the crunchy things, peel the egg, etc. etc. I like eating. It makes me calm and relaxed and gives me the opportunity to contemplate my day. If I’m going to sit around stuffing my face with something for half an hour, why not vegetables?

4. You can eat the same thing essentially every day and just do subtle switches of components. Yogurt one day, string cheese the next. Kiwi one day, pineapple the next. Green peas, red pepper, and jicama one day (and what a delicious day this was), fresh summer squash from the farmer’s market the next.

5. On the subject of farmers market, this uses huge quantities of vegetables, which is important, since I buy huge quantities of vegetables. Now I’m eatin’ em!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

mission accomplished

Mission: Recolonize my gut, after committing bacteria-cide via antibiotics. After taking so many science classes, I seriously felt like I was killing my friends. They make you Vitamin K!

Mission accomplished.


Sooo expensive. And damn, delicious.

Mission: get it together and actually study for finals. Rather than wander around the house eating.

Mission (reluctantly) accomplished. But accomplished it was. Straight A’s for the first time in my life. In… community college.

Aided in this by studying at the shiny new library near me. Weird, weird parking:


A lone Prius was parked in the four parking spaces. Odd.

Mission: eat all the leftovers in the fridge, of the rampant takeout my mom got when I was off sailing (she turns into an adorable frat boy)

Mission EASILY accomplished. Yuca fries and dipping sauces, plus beans, from when she got Peruvian chicken on Saturday. Mashed sweet potatoes and creamed spinach from when she got rotisserie chicken on Sunday. Plus celery, to eat something vaguely virtuous.


Mission: use up another gazillion bruised apples I saved from being thrown away at work.

Mission accomplished, by making applesauce for the gazillionth time.

Vair delicious atop yogurt.


Plus a salad.


Tasty: tuna and avocado should be friends. And snow peas.


Mission: wish Erica (one of the new Americorps people Steve works with) well; she’s getting married soon.

Mission accomplished. Dinner at The Lost Dog Cafe. Vair cute.

The groom to be got the porkiest sandwich I have ever beheld.


Steve and I split a pretty boss pizza: whole wheat crust, feta, tomatoes, spinach, pine nuts. Quite decadent.


Monday, May 21, 2012

like mother like daughter

Though there is that traditional American June Cleaver mom archetype with the casseroles and whatnot, I don’t know a lot of mothers like that. Particularly in my neighborhood, where there are all kinds of fun ethnic cuisines to explore. Particularly in my family, where food is something that should be exciting, shared, and worth celebrating. Particularly with my mom, who read a recipe for tofu and bok choy, said “That sounds good!”, and introduced her kiddos to the wonderful Chinese cabbage way before all the other kids.

So for Mother’s Day, we seem to’ve started a Vietnamese food tradition.

The iced coffee (YES YES YES!)


Y’all know what that entails, right? Sweetened condensed milk of amazingness!


We also chowed down on summer rolls with delightful peanut sauce…


And best of all, the banh mi! Colonialism didn’t do anybody a lot of favors, but the French occupation of Vietnam resulted in some amazing cuisine.

For my mama, the “combination”, a wonderful mix of meats. For me, the sardine.


Are people familiar with banh mi?

The basic components are:

- baguette (absolutely FANTASTIC, fresh and perfect and like the best stuff in Paris)
- some kind of protein (deli-type stuff or pate is traditional but I’ve had them with tofu and the sardine version was FAB)
- mayo (which I ordinarily don’t love but is necessary)
- fish sauce
- AWESOME veggies. Pickled radish, carrot, thinly sliced cucumber, cilantro, hot peppers.

Here are the layers:


Here is the explosion of awesomeness:


More layers in that fabulous summer roll. Veggies, egg, and wonderfully smoky and fatty sausage, sliced oh-so-thin. With a fab peanut sauce.


For dessert, a tasty and cunning combination of yuca, coconut, etc. Sticky, sweet, starchy. I love.


Rewind to one week later where again my mother and I explored a heavenly and exotic cuisine: that of Romania! My mom stopped by a Romanian food festival on the way home from church this Sunday (I had skipped it since, discovering that randomly bursting into tears all day Saturday had actually been the result of extreme tiredness, which was remedied by sleeping until noon on Sunday. Thank God!)

Anyway, right now we go to a church with a lot of Arabic people, which results in a lot of its own deliciousness, but prior to that we went to a church with a lot of Romanians, and were introduced to their seemingly unknown cuisine.

Witness: polenta, stuffed cabbage and grape leaves, and scads and scads of wonderful sour cream. Fact: we healthy ladies can preach all we want about Greek yogurt as a sour cream substitute, but when you taste the real stuff and remember how amazing it is, you go “Yeah right”.


We had a good friend who’d cook Romanian food for us, and when he made the wonderful polenta pictured above he’d top it with an egg (totally can’t remember whether it was fried or poached, but it had a wonderful runny yolk). I ran to the fridge and grabbed a hard boiled one, which was also delicious on top.

The cabbage was stuffed with a wonderfully flavorful vegetarian rice filling. The grape leaves with made-your-eyes-roll-back-in-your-head-it-was-so-flavorful lamb.


Plus sour cream sour cream sour cream! Along with a love for ethnic food, my mom has reminded me you can be a healthful person and occasionally indulge in some quality saturated fat. For that and many other things, my mom is the best.