November 5, 2011

Quick Pickled Kale Salad


This is a great time of year to purchase fresh kale from the Farmer's Market.  I love greens and the hearty taste is brings to dishes.  This salad is something that can be whipped up fast but if you want your onions, cucumbers and kale to be slightly less raw, you will want to let them soak up the vinegar for an hour.  I let the onions and cucumbers pickle overnight and they were too pickled but still tasted okay.  If you still want them to have a bite, pickle for a shorter amount of time.  Also, I didn't let the pickling liquid settle onto the kale and I think it may taste better if the kale soaks up the pickling liquid for at least an hour as well.  Cooking is also a guessing game when you are trying out new recipes and I am always learning new techniques.

A half cup of kale fulfills your daily need for Vitamin A.



Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 large organic cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cups thinly sliced kale
  • 1 1/4 cups chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
  • Black pepper





Combine vinegar, water and sugar in a bowl.  Shake vigorously.  




Drop in cucumbers and onions; set aside and let pickle.  



Toss kale with chickpeas, 1/3 cup of the pickling liquid, oil, salt and pepper.  



Divide salad among four bowls (or two in my case)  


Add 2 hard-boiled egg quarters to each bowl before serving


**I would like to extend a special thanks to my wonderful photographer, Matthew Mason.  Without him, this post wouldn't have been so colorful.  And a second thanks to my new Iphone 4s which makes blogging much easier.




Adapted from SELF magazine.  

September 30, 2011

Breakfast @ Windy Corner Market







Matt surprised me with a trip to Windy Corner Market for breakfast a few weeks ago. I was super pumped when he asked if I wanted to do that on a Sunday morning. I immediately went to go read their menu I printed and stuck to the fridge. Menus are so amusing to me, I love to read them cover to cover. I went through the items over and over contemplating what I would order. How can I choose when there’s so much that I want to try?

Windy Corner Market has various breakfast sandwiches and platters. I settled on the sausage, egg, hash brown, biscuit, and grits platter. Whoa, I know! It sounds like a ton of food and it is. We arrived and it wasn’t as crowded as before. They have started construction on the back porch I noticed. This summer is was an porch open design and now they are winterizing it so that it can be used year round. That makes me happy because I am obsessed with dining al fresco. It’s the one thing I always request when dining out. Plus, I hate air conditioning, so that ties into it as well. 

I walked right up and ordered my food, eggs over easy of course. Matt hadn’t studied the menu quite as long as me (i.e. not at all) so he took a few moments and settled on the same thing as me substitute in bacon, minus the grits and add a biscuit. We were both in for a big meal. The food arrived and everything looked wonderful. The hash browns were different than I imagined. They were more like fried potato pieces but still good. The best part were the grits. OMG! They were by far the best grits I have ever had. The grain is milled right near Lexington in a town called Versailles. The Weisenberger Mill uses an old school water mill to grind grains. They make over 70 products there such as flours, pizza crust mix and cornmeal.  Check out their website if you want to order any products.

http://www.weisenberger.com/

The grits at Windy Corner also had a hint of white cheddar. It was just enough cheddar to enjoy the flavor without it tasting like a big blob of cheese. I ate those grits slow and Matt can contest, I don’t eat many things slowly. I always devour things quickly while he sits back and savors food. Back to the meal, the eggs were good, the biscuit was so so. The sausage patties were huge and almost too much meat. Everything was wonderful and we were both stuffed. I didn’t even eat lunch that day. After breakfast, we headed to Sam’s to window shop around the store for an hour or so. I knew I would go straight to sleep if I went back home.



On my next trip to Windy Corner Market, I want to go on a night and get one of their specials. They have a shrimp and grits night which of course now sounds awesome. There is also a few more I’d like to partake in. That place is slowly becoming my favorite restaurant in Lexington.









September 28, 2011

Portland Day 3 and 4


Sunday, my Peace Corps friend Jessica and her husband Akuila drove up from Eugene.  I was so excited to see them.  I don’t get to talk to them much, so it was nice to catch up.  We went to a breakfast joint called Jam and then headed out to Multnomah Falls for siteseeing and “hiking”. 




The weather wasn’t looking too good, it was chilly and overcast and the possibility of rain was high but we went anyway.  The falls were nice and not too crowded.  Some required some trail walking which I will go ahead and call hiking so I can say that I exercised that day. 




They had to get back to Eugene, so we ended the visit with some drinks and appetizers at Henry’s in downtown Portland.  I hope to get down to Eugene on my next visit, so I can see Jess and Akuila’s newly purchased home.

Monday was my day to shop.  Sarah had to work, so she dropped me off downtown and I happily spent way too much money.  Have you ever been in a Nordstom Rack? If not, go the next time you see one.  Their shoe selection is usually really good.  I found a pair of rain boots and a pair of brown boots that I couldn’t live without. 

I did some mall shopping and then headed up to 12th Ave for some Indian food.  Sarah had told me about this food cart which gives you a medley of vegetarian curry and is pretty affordable.  The $7 six-course meal consisted of jasmine rice, naan, chickpea curry, lentil curry, cauliflower/potato curry and a creamy curry.  It was so good and worth the walk uphill.  I went back down to where I started and Stephen picked me up and took me to where Sarah was babysitting.  After that, we jetted back downtown to see a blogger who was signing books at a store called West Elm.  The blogger just published a book called Design Sponge.  They had free lemonade and local ice cream.  Sarah and I both got the sea salt with caramel.  It was the best ice cream I’ve had in awhile.  We grabbed dinner at a place called Little Big Burger.  It reminded me of Five Guys.  Small burgers and great fries served in a brown paper bad.  We ate, went home and I got packed and ready to head back to Kentucky.
I knew my trip home would have a few good stories.  Waiting by the gate, I spotted an Amish lady reading her Ebook which was amusing.  Then she sat by me on the plane so I tried to eavesdrop on her screen to see what she was doing.  It was just a book and it did not look interesting... LOL  In Boise, some people got off and more people boarded including a dog which wanted to bark the whole time.  It had its own seat but had to stay under the seat zipped up.  It continued to bark so the flight attendant let the owner unzip it enough to put her foot inside.  She said it would calm the dog down to feel her....it didn’t.  It made me laugh though.  The dog eventually stopped barking, thank goodness and we flew onto Phoenix.  This is the end of my West Coast vacation.  From Phoenix I fly to Louisville where Matt will be picking me up.  I get in late and I have to work the next morning, so this is going to be an interesting rest of the week.  I hope I’m not too grumpy.

Portland Day 1 and 2



Friday, John took me to the train depot (thank goodness) and I got there 20 minutes before boarding.  The incoming train was late so I was there in more than enough time.  I couldn’t wait to get on board; Amtrak just introduced free wifi on their trains.  Due to the long travel time of 4 hours, I knew I’d want to use the internet.  We boarded on a double decker train; the seats were roomy and spacious.  You could almost lie all the way down and they had a place that popped up under your calves.  I got out the laptop and started looking for a signal.  Nothing was working.  The girl beside was doing the same and she wasn’t getting a signal.  We continued to pursue any options available but everything was password protected.  Then someone came over the intercom and announced that our train didn’t have wifi capabilities.  I was not very happy but at least I wasn’t going to be on there for 36 hours like the people going to LA.  I found other means to entertain myself.

Sarah picked me up at the train depot in Portland.  It was so hot there!  I was burning up after being in the freezing train for four hours.  We went back to her apartment for me to get settled in.  Then we headed out to Trader Joes so I could pick up some breakfast foods and to get Matt a few surprises.  I used to be the one that was obsessed with TJ’s and now he is too.  Haha.  I love it.  Next stop was the food carts.  Food carts are very popular in Portland and I love supporting them.  I opted for a squid sandwich at Euro Trash which was fried calamari with horseradish slaw on a baguette. 

 It was delightful.  I gobbled that down and we went back to her place again to chill.  I was so tired on my vacation it seems.  My body never caught up with the time change.  Sarah and I watched some tv shows (which is a treat in itself since I don’t have cable) and caught up on stories and what’s been happening in our life.  Later on, we went out to Cha Cha Cha’s which was a mexican restaurant with some great vegan/vegetarian choices.  I ordered the Cha Bowl with tempah.  It had greens, black beans, guacamole, chipotle tempeh, and other goodies.  The tempeh was just so-so.  I also ordered a guava margarita which was yummy.  I have been craving guava lately.  I’ve only had fresh guava fruit in Fiji and the season was short and limited in Rakiraki where I lived.  You can get guava juice in supermarkets but I’ve never seen the fruit.  We ended the night with some frozen yogurt at Swirl.  It seems that the self-serve frozen yogurt business has taken off everywhere.  They didn’t have the brownie batter flavor that I love but the chocolate and peanut butter was good too.

Saturday, we went to the Portland State University Farmer’s Market.  This was Sarah’s first time going as well.  It was definitely the highlight of my trip.  We paid for an hour of parking, so I knew I’d have to make it count.  The stands were gorgeous, the fruit and vegetables were so plump, bright, and inviting. 






This farmer’s market blows the Lexington Farmer’s Market out of the water!  I knew it would but still.  There were also a ton of stalls making food like sandwiches, drinks, burritos.  Again, there were lots of vegan and vegetarian options which were nice to see and lots of options for recycling.  I hope Lexington gets on board with better recycling receptacles around town.  Plus, the great thing about Portland businesses is that they use to-go containers that are recyclable.  I love this place but Lexington is home.  I didn’t buy anything but I could have spent a ton of money there.  We left and stopped by the food carts again for a snack. 
We re-grouped and then Sarah, Stephen, and I headed to Mount Hood.  It was an hour drive and the scenery was beautiful.





Mount Hood is cool to see far away and sort of boring up close.  We parked at the Timberline Lodge where The Shining was filmed and went on some of the trails to take some photos.  Afterwards, we stopped at Ice Axe to get some drinks and appetizers.  The French onion soup I ordered was really good.  We headed back to Portland and did a little shopping then relaxed for the evening.

September 24, 2011

The Emerald City


Thursday was my full day in Seattle.  My friends had to work so I spent the day on my own.  I woke up super early due to my body still thinking it was in Kentucky.  I decided to start off my morning walking up to Kerry Park which is just north of Leslie and Johns' apartment.  And by North I mean up a very steep hill.  Seattle is way more hilly than I realized.  The park overlooks Seattle and was very beautiful.  The weather was overcast and slightly cool at first but I heated up fast. 
After taking several photos I headed towards Upper Queen Anne where I planned on having my breakfast.  Leslie told me about a book and coffee shop there.   I headed that way or so I thought and got lost by not taking a turn up North.   So I walked through several residential blocks which were really cool to see.  I love the architecture in this city.   The houses are tall and slim and modern.  There are the traditional old houses that pop up in between the new ones.  The variety works well in Seattle.  I called Leslie after walking a lot further than I knew I should have and she told me I took a wrong turn.  So I back-tracked and went up another hill.  Most of the shops were still closed but there were several coffee shops.  I dipped into Queen Anne books which had a Cuban coffee shop attached.  I am so indecisive about picking something from a menu when I haven't seen it before.  I always want to try everything and wish I had more people with me so I could take a bite of their food and a sip of their drink.  I love to share.   I settled on a cafe con leche and artichoke empanada.  I sat in a chair and tried to warm up from the cold drizzle outside.  I found a local newspaper and flipped through the ads and articles.  I found a section touting famous restaurants and food in the area.  One place called Paseo was in the area near where I would be going for a chocolate factory tour at noon, so I wrote down the address to check on googlemaps when I got back to the apartment.  I finished my breakfast and headed back down the hill.  I went by Kerry Park again to take in the view.  Sometimes you can never look at something beautiful too many times.  I took a few more photos since the sun was out.  At the apartment, I found that Paseo was a famous Cuban restaurant where the lines tend to curb about the block.  I knew this is where I wanted to eat lunch today.  I had the time and can’t pass up a place like this.  Plus, the reviews online were nothing but spectacular.
I gathered my things again and headed to the bus stop.  I had scheduled a tour of the Theo Organic Chocolate Factory in the Fremont district.  Leslie had suggested this based on another Peace Corps volunteers recommendation.  The place was small and quaint and the shop inside had so many samples of chocolate.  We were advised not to do any tasting before the tour because we would be eating many samples and they had a sequence to the tasting.  At noon, I pulled on my hair net and we corralled into a small area for a presentation. 


It was cool to hear the history of chocolate and how it’s come along.  Theo Chocolate is the only organic and fair trade seed to chocolate company in North America.  There are other organic chocolate companies in the US but this is the only one that actually begins the process with the seeds.  We first tasted a 91% dark from Costa Rica, then a 80% from the Dominican Republic.  There was also a milk chocolate, chile chocolate, and hazelnut crunch.  Then we went into the hot factory and she showed up the different machines and explained their different functions. 






There was also a kitchen where they created confections.  I tasted the fig and fennel seed confection which was pretty tasty.  The tour ended and we went back to the shop to taste more varieties and to spend some money on this great local business.  I could have spend $100 there but I didn’t.  I left and then headed to find Paseo.  The map indicated it was a 0.8 mile walk.  That didn’t sound too bad until I realized the whole 0.8 mile was uphill.  I needed the exercise so I didn’t hesitate.  I found the place and it was pretty small and very busy.  There were four small tables inside and ten people standing outside waiting on to-go orders.  I ordered the most famous item which was the Cuban roast sandwich and some chips and salsa.  The sandwich was on a fresh baguette with aioli, cilantro, pulled pork, and romaine lettuce.  I grabbed my items and headed back downhill to catch the bus and go back to Leslie and John’s to eat.  I planned on eating then walking to the Space Needle and getting a pedicure until Leslie got off work.  I

 went back to the bus stop off and waited about 20 minutes for the bus to arrive.  I got on and assumed I would be back near Lower Queen Anne within 15 minutes or so.  I did notice we weren’t going back the way I came but I just assumed we were going in a loop.  I got to take a few bites of my sandwich (I was starving) and it was really good.  The bread hit the spot.  It was the kind that is really crunchy/chewy on the outside, soft on the inside.   After being on the bus for 50 minutes and seeing everyone get on and off and then being the last one on the bus the bus driver asked me where I was going.  She then told me I was on the right bus but go on the wrong side of the road and to get off walk across the street and another bus would be there within minutes.  I hurriedly got off and sat down at the bus stop.  The next bus wasn’t supposed to come for 20 minutes.  I called Megan and we started chatting and then I realized I had left my mom’s raincoat on the bus.  I was horrified.  My mom lent me her new jacket and now I’ve lost it.  This is why I don’t like to borrow things, I feel horrible if something happens while I have it.  Anyway, I figured I would just call the bus company later to see if it was turned in.  Just as I thought there was no hope, the bus came and guess who it was?  The same bus I was just on with the same driver.  The coat has to be on there I thought.  As soon as I got on I asked to driver and she did have it.  Shewwwwwww.  Relieved.  So I’m on the bus, I have the coat (which I promptly put on) and I’m headed in the right direction.  Now all I had to do was figure out where to get off.  The weird part is, I’m usually really good with directions and my bearings but I guess I bit off more than I could chew in Seattle.  Lesson learned. 

As soon as I heard that I would need to take the bus to get to the train station the next morning, I immediately asked for assistance.  Leslie volunteered John to take me.  Again, a huge sigh of relief.  Due to my untimely bus excursions I didn’t get to see everything I wanted in Seattle.  I didn’t get to Pike Place Market nor the Space Needle.  I did get to the nail salon for a $15 spa pedicure.  You can’t beat that and my feet were in need of some R&R after the long day of walking.  Leslie and I had Vietnamese for dinner and called it a night.  I ordered the tofu pho.


I am already thinking about things to do next year when I come back, I just hope Leslie and John are still living there.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

September 23, 2011

Airports and planes...


I left Wednesday for a trip out West.  I visited Sarah in Portland last July and I couldn't wait to go visit her again this year.  My Peace Corps friends John and Leslie moved to Seattle when they returned to the States, so I also have been wanting to visit them.  Portland and Seattle are only 4 hours away from each other, so it was settled quickly that I would be going out and visiting both cities.  I haven't seen John and Leslie since I left Fiji in July 2009.  I'm excited to see them and catch up on life.  I last saw Sarah last Christmas right before she left on a roadtrip back to Portland.

This is the first time Matt and I have spend more than a few days apart.  It's going to be weird but good for us to have some independence.  I'm lucky I get to see him every day at work, I definitely don't take that for granted.  He'll be picking me up from the airport when I return home, so I can't wait for that moment.  But for now, I'm focusing on my awesome trip to see new sites and to catch up with old friends.

Airports and airplanes always bring interesting stories.  Waiting in Louisville, I watched an elderly couple take turns playing Angry Birds on their Ipad.  It was so funny to watch the woman pull back the slingshot and get so into the game.  As some of you might now, Southwest doesn't have assigned seating.  You are assigned a number based on the time you checked into the flight.  Then when you board in that order you have to find the best seat.  A young married couple was one of the last on the flight going to Chicago.  They must have been 1st time Southwest customers.  They were quite upset they couldn't sit next to each other.  The wife announced, "Would anyone care to move over so my husband and I can sit next to each other?"  No one moved, no one said anything, I sat in my seat trying to hide my "are you kidding" face.  I mean, come on!  The flight is about an hour long, you will be okay if you don't sit right next to him for the duration of the flight.  They didn't have a choice anyway.   I got a window seat and was upset to find out I picked the wrong side of the plane and didn't get to see the Chicago skyline.  Well, I will know next time.  I kept getting a whiff of something that I couldn't quite place and then realized the man next to me was dipping into a McDonald's cup.  I hate that smell.  It turns my stomach.  The flight wasn't too bad, the last 20 minutes were quite bumpy and annoying.  Too many bad things go through my mind when there is turbulance.
I was supposed to post this a few days ago but was unable to get wifi access.  Now I'm in Portland, so I'll post my Seattle adventures tomorrow.



September 16, 2011

Thanksgiving food cravings

I bought a whole fryer chicken from Whole Foods a few weeks ago and stuck it in the freezer. I bought it with the intention of roasting it.   I love to make roasted chicken.  It was one thing I made in Rakiraki all of the time.  It made me think of home and comfort food.  There wasn't much comfort food in Fiji unless I made it myself of food sent from the States.  I made cornbread several times last week too, so I thought I could use the stale bread to make cornbread stuffing to go along with the roasted chicken.  Stuffing is my specialty during Thanksgiving.  My mom lets me make it every year and I think I've gotten pretty good at it.

 
First, I thawed and rinsed off the chicken and patted it dry with a paper towel.  Then I brushed it with EVOO and made a paste of herbs.  I mixed together chopped fresh basil, dried thyme and sage, 2 cloves of garlic, salt and pepper.  I didn't measure but tried to use about the same amount.  I used a mortar and pestle to grind them together and then brushed the herbs on the chicken.  This went into a 375 degree oven for 1 hour. 

Broiler/Frying Chickens
1 1/2 to 2 pounds -- 400° -- 45 minutes to 1 hour
2 to 2 1/2 pounds -- 400° -- 1 to 1 1/4 hours
2 1/2 to 3 pounds -- 375° -- 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 hours
3 to 4 pounds -- 375° -- 1 3/4 to 2 1/4 hours

Matt was sick that day and was laying in bed while I started dinner.  About 20 minutes later when the chicken and herb smell started wafting through the apartment, he was like "What is that smell? It smells great!"  That made me smile.  He was very enthusiastic.  Yay!





  
The night before I had parboiled cut up potatoes and carrots for about 20 minutes.  I left the peelings on both.  Some people probably think not peeling a carrot is gross but I love how the skin tastes and it's super nutritious.  Just clean them really good.  I didn't want to cook them all the way but just enough so that it wouldn't take long to roast.  I also prepared most of the stuffing as well so that it could be baked and ready to go.  I like to prepare most things before the day I cook them so I can spend more time with Matt when he's visiting.  Awww. I know, we are too cute.

 
I throw ingredients into stuffing, I don't measure a thing.  I think measuring is for the birds unless you are baking and I don't bake much so it works out in my favor.

 
Cornbread Stuffing

 
  • 5 pieces cornbread triangles, crumbled
  • 1/2 bag Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix
  • 1 egg
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 TB butter
  • salt and pepper
  • 1-2 cups organic chicken stock
  • 1 TB ground sage


Cornbread stuffing
 
Saute the celery and onion in the butter over medium-low heat.  When both have softened, removed from heat and set aside.  In a large bowl mix the cornbread and stuffing mix with the celery and onion.  Then add the egg and sage.  Slowly pour in the chicken stock until it's the consistency you prefer.  I like my stuffing pretty wet so that after it bakes it is still very moist.  If you want to add some of your chicken drippings after the chicken has cooked, that will add nice flavor as well.  My 3 pound chicken didn't produce as much as I thought.   Taste the stuffing, the stock may have added enough salt already but if not add salt, then pepper in last. Put into a casserole dish and cover.  This will go into a 325 degree oven for 20 minutes.  I cheated and just put it in with the chicken when there was 20 minutes left.  After the chicken is cooked thoroughly (always check with a meat thermometer), remove and left sit before carving so the juices won't run straight out.  I then placed the potatoes and carrots into the same roasting pan and cooked those for 20 minutes.  This is when I added the stuffing to the oven.  I warmed up some green beans, invited my roomie to join and we all settled down for a nice dinner.

 

 

 

 

September 14, 2011

Homemade Meatballs


I had a pound of grass-fed beef from Whole Foods in my freezer and was going to make meatloaf with it but after spotting the fresh pasta at the Farmer's Market (see last post) it changed my gears to meatballs.  I haven't made meatballs in forever, or maybe never, I can't remember.  I love to "wow" Matt with my homemade specialties.  I got the recipe from my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook and then added in some extra ricotta for more flavor.  I served this with my fresh pasta and some plain marinara sauce.  I topped it off with grated Pecorino Romano and it was delish! 

  • 1 lb ground grass fed beef
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese



Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Mix everything but the meat together in a bowl.  Add some salt and pepper as well.  Then incorporate the meat.  Try not to over mix.  Over mixing makes the meat tough.   When you are finished mixing, lump the meat into a flat, rectangular log.  Then score the meat evenly.  This makes it easy to make the meatballs the same size.  Or you can use a cookie dough scoop to achieve consistency.  I then placed them on a broiler pan so the fat will drip off and baked for 15-20 minutes.  If you want a sear on the meatballs, you can always fry them a few minutes on the stove and then put them in the oven.  I seared them at the end with the broiler to get a crispy crust. 

After they are done, I put them in a pot with the marinara sauce for 20 minutes over low heat. This way the meat and sauce are incorporated and it makes it takes better.  Cook the noodles, top with the meatballs and sauce and you are set to go!  I forgot to take a photo of the final productions.  Oops.  Enjoy!








    

September 13, 2011

Lexington Farmer's Market finds


Last weekend, I got up early enough to go to the Farmer's Market.  I wish I would get up every Saturday morning and go but usually I am sleeping, out of town, or just busy.  I made my wish list and Matt and I headed to the Cheapside Pavilion to see what we could find.

Wish List:
tomatoes
honey
eggs
fruit

I kept my list simple but with an idea of what I wanted.  I have to have a few meals in mind otherwise I buy a bunch of random items and then can’t figure out how to incorporate them into a meal.  I end up eating everything separately and randomly.  When we arrive, I always take one trip around to see what is available that day.  Some booths are the same, others have some specialty items and I also like to price compare.  The farmers usually stick close to each other's prices but you can still find a variance of 50 cents or so.  I will definitely try to save 50 cents especially since food is the one thing in my budget that I spend the most money on.

I had to walk fast past the crepe stand.  I haven’t tried them yet but I will one day when I haven’t eaten breakfast yet.  The sun was blaring down that day.  It was so hot, so I tried to make my purchases as quick as possible.  Matt isn’t too keen on heat but of course I love to pretend I’m still in Fiji when the sun is blazing down my neck and making my back sweat.  I miss being dirty at 830am already.  Anyway, I found some great looking tomatoes, pickling cucumbers, and okra.  Then I bought some local honey, peaches and cream corn, Gala apples, and peaches.  My last purchase was fresh pasta from the Lexington Pasta Company. I have heard about this place but finally bought some.  The selection wasn’t too good when I finally got to them but I settled on basil and herb fettuccine.  I didn’t buy any eggs, they were $5.75 a dozen and I couldn’t drop that kind of money on eggs. 

A few days later, I cooked up most of my purchases.  Then I added in some southern cornbread to top it off.  I loved fried okra, so I breaded the cut okra in some egg, then cornmeal and fried it in small batches on the stove.  The corn was steamed, the cornbread was baked, and then I made some of Trader’s Joe mac and cheese.  The meal was delicious and I had just as much fun cooking it than I did eating it.  


September 11, 2011

A Weekend of Firsts



I've been slacking on my blog posts again.  I do well for awhile and then I stop again.  I have enough thoughts, recipes, and things going on in my life to blog daily but then I don't take the time.  Not having a laptop and Internet access at my apartment is a big part as well.

Matt and I went to Louisville (again) this weekend.  We spend a lot of time there; he has lots of friends from college that are still living there.  On Friday night we attended the John Legend and Sade concert at the KFC Yum Center.  It was our first time in the new YUM center and it was very nice.  Our seats were really good and the arena didn’t seem too big for a concert.  Even though John seemed like an ant from my view, I was still in the same room with him and could hear his voice in real time.  I didn’t really listen to John Legend much before Matt and I started dating.  I had heard some of his more popular songs on the radio and on MTV or VH1.  Matt is very passionate about his music.  I have begun to really love some artists that I never thought I would because of him and John Legend is one of them.  Maxwell and Robin Thicke are two others.  Matt’s friend had bought twelve tickets so we practically had the whole row to ourselves except for these two older women.  One was in Matt’s seat.  He politely told them it was his and she politely told him it was hers.  This went on for a few minutes until Matt just sat in another seat.  But when the other 10 people came along it created a problem.  These women were not in their correct seat and they continued to argue.  This lasted through about 3 of John’s songs.  I was so irritated.  The others in the group were arguing and asking to see her ticket.  Finally an usher came along and settled the debate.  She was in the wrong section.  Shew.  John put on a good show but before I knew it, his set was done and it was time for a break to get ready for Sade.

Sade was so beautiful.  If you think her voice sounds good on a CD, OMG it is incredible in person.  It was cool to hear her talk as well. She has a thick British accent that’s low and sexy.  Her words just rolls off her tongue.  She looks good too considering how long she’s been in the business.  I think it’s been 10 years since she’s toured and she still has it!  Her set was amazing; she sang everything I wanted to hear.  I haven’t been to an indoor concert in awhile so I was mesmerized by the lights, videos, props, and changes that occurred during the 2 hours of her singing.  She finished the night with “By Your Side”.  I told Matt towards the end when I knew she would just about to be finished. “I hope she sings my song”  And by-golly then she broke it out.  I got a little teary-eyed.  The rest of our party left before the song was over but Matt and I stayed and then dipped out the back to our car. We don’t have any photos because neither of us took our cameras.  Oops.

On Saturday night, we attended a wedding celebration.  The Muslim couple were already officially married so this was a celebration for their friends.  I guess it was more like a reception but they called it different.  The groom Jihaad, was a college friend of Matt’s.  He was his RA when Matt started college and they were both in the same fraternity.  When we arrived at the event location we already knew that we would be separated during most of the celebration because the invitation had already noted that but we still weren’t sure what to expect.  The 1st part of the evening, both male and females were in the same room.  Jihaad’s father first read a passage from the Quran.  It was reminiscent of my days in Fiji when I would hear the prayer call from the Muslim temple over the loud speakers in town. 

A Persian tradition was first conducted.  The groom and bride each dipped their pinkie in honey and fed it to one another.  Then they sat in a chair facing away from each other and four females who were happily married draped a silk garment over their heads while the mom’s of the bride and groom shook sugar cones over their heads.  The sugar being rubbed together is a symbolic act to sweeten the couple's life together.  After that, the men were asked to leave.  The bride is a very strict conservative Muslim and wanted to remove her headscarf so that she could be comfortable.  No one other than her husband can see her hair.  The men left and I was left alone at my table, so I scooted over to some people that Matt knew.  One of the girls and I hit it off really good.  She had lots of questions about Matt and I, so it was fun to divulge.  There was a nice mix of different cultures at our table and yet we still seemed to focus mainly on outlet shopping.  The bride made her way around to each table for hugs.  She was wearing a wedding dress by the way.  It had red stitching and accents which matched her head scarf.  I thought it was going to be awkward hugging because she had no idea who I was but as soon as she came my way she asked if I was Matt’s girlfriend.  We then went up to eat.  The food was so good.  It was catered by a restaurant in Lexington called King Tut.  There were pickles, olives, salad, hummus, pita and then curried chicken, rice and beef.  Some mashed potatoes and green beans topped it off.  I ate my heart out.  I could have eaten the hummus with a spoon.  After that were cupcakes from Whole Foods, baklava, and date cookies which were delicious as well.  Soon after I received notice from the bride’s mom that Matt was ready to leave.  I went to find him in the men’s room which women could go into but not vice-versa.  He grabbed the departing gift from the happy couple; a box of Jordan almonds which symbolizes fertility and we left for Lexington.  I don’t have any photos from this event because cameras were not allowed due to the photographer’s request.  Another event to store in my memory.


August 9, 2011

Potato, Corn and Bean Salad

Matt and I are headed to Myrtle Beach tomorrow. We can't wait to get out of Kentucky and take a few days off from work to relax. Before I leave, I want to post this awesome recipe I tried from Appetite for Reduction. So far, this cookbook's recipes have been awesome. I did quit the vegan diet going into the 3rd week. I feel like I learned some things I didn't know before, that my body was slightly different, and that it's not for me. It was definitely a gastronomical adventure for the time it lasted.

This recipe can be eaten as a meal or served as a side. I ate two huge bowls after I made it and then another the next day and by then I was tired of it. I am not a fan of leftovers. I modified this recipe slightly, I didn't use the blue potatoes because my grocery store didn't have them so I used yukon baby golds. I also used fresh corn but canned or frozen could be subbed in. If you don't like it too spicy, don't use any of the seeds in the peppers.




Dressing:



  • 3 TB red wine vinegar


  • 2 canned chipotles, seeded and mashed into a paste


  • 2 TB adobo sauce from chipotle can


  • 1 tsp light agave nectar (or honey)


  • 2 tsp grapeseed oil


  • 2 TB water


  • ¼ tsp salt


  • 1 tsp garlic, finely grated




Salad:








  • 3 ears corn, shucked



  • 2 pounds baby potatoes


  • 16 ounce can of pinto beans, rinsed


  • 2 TB red onion, finely chopped


  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro




Steam the corn for 5 minutes and then steam the potatoes until just soft enough when pierced with a fork. When the corn has cooled, cut the kernels from the cob. Mix the dressing ingredients together. Put the corn, potatoes, onion and beans in a mixing bowl and pour the dressing on top. Fold the dressing into the salad then top with the cilantro. Chill until ready to serve.

Vietnamese Brown Noodle Salad

I threw this salad together one night and then ate it for lunch the next day. I would not add the lettuce until right before you eat so it doesn't get soggy. I was impatient and put it in the night before and it was still good. I also marinated the tofu for a few hours before I sauteed it. I did not use mint as directed and know that this would have made this taste more Vietnamese and less Thai but that's up to you which country you want to pretend to be in when you eat this. I like to think about Vietnam since I haven't been there before but was so close a few years ago.

Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 3 TB agave nector (or honey)
  • 3 TB chili garlic sauce
  • 1 TB soy sauce
  • ¼ cup fresh squeezed lime juice (about 2 limes)
  • ¼ tsp salt

Salad:

  • 12 ounces fresh tofu
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 (8 ounce) package thin brown rice noodles
  • 1 medium-size cucumber, in thinly sliced half-moons
  • 1 small red onion, sliced thinly
  • 4 ounces string beans, slices into 1-inch pieces (optional)
  • 2 cups mixed greens
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced mint leaves
  • ¼ cup peanuts, chopped really well

Mix all of the ingredients for the dressing, then set aside. Slice the tofu into eight equal pieces widthwise. Place in a single layer on a large plate and pour 6 TB of the dressing over the slices. Add 2 TB more of soy sauce if desired. Let marinate for as long as you are filling to wait, flipping occasionally while you prepare everything else.

Cook the rice noodles according to the package directions. Once cooked, drain and rinse in cold water. Set aside to drain while you finish prepping everything else.

Mix the vegetables, greens, and the mint leaves into the noodles with your fingers, then mix the dressing. Refrigerate while you are preparing the rest. Now grill the tofu. Preheat the grill over medium high heat. Spray with nonstick cooking spray and grill the tofu on both sides for 4 minutes. If there is any marinate left pour into the noodles as well. Divvy out portions of the noodle salad and top with the tofu and chopped peanuts.

This recipe is from: Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz