Thursday, March 25, 2010

We are trying very hard to cut down on eating out. It gets expensive and most of the time we can whip up a great meal that tastes better for a fraction of the cost. We both love to cook but don't quite feel the same way about cleaning up after. And we're bad planners. So when we roll into the house at 7pm and haven't thought about dinner, it's just so easy to get back in the car and go out.

I'm irritated at myself tonight that my sloth and exhaustion got the best of me. Granted, it's been a long week, but I have a whole bunch of fresh basil (cheap at the local asian market!), canned tomatoes and other mixings for a great, simple pasta, risotto or something along those lines. Instead we went out to a local mexican place, dropped fifty bucks on a couple of margaritas and some mediocre food. Tequila was worth it, the pound and a half of cheese in my chiles poblanos, not so much. One of my favorite things about our farm share is it typically guilts me into cooking. The Irish Catholic genes are good for many things, and guilt is high on the list. I look at a big box of veggies that will go bad if not used and I force myself to cook. Or I force my boyfriend to cook. Either way, we're usually happier with our meal, know where it came from, and we save a bunch of cash. I can't wait for June and our first delivery.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spicy Puppy

My pup has a bad habit of chewing on his leash while we're walking. We use one of those retractor leashes, so I'd been concerned that it would fray and have been meaning to buy bitter apple or something to stop him from chewing. Of course I didn't get to it and the leash snapped over the weekend. Thankfully we were at my Dad's and he was safe.

So I decided that we are breaking this habit, pronto. Still haven't had a chance to get to the store for bitter apple, but a handy dandy internet search suggested a bit of hot sauce on the leash. Feeling guilty and mean, I set out for a "it's in your own best interest" intervention with the pup. I shook some hot sauce into a napkin and dragged it over the leash, filled up a big bowl of water and headed outside with him for some behavior modification.

My dog likes hot sauce. He licked the leash, gave me a "hmmmm, this is interesting" face and continued to suck away. Me - 0, pup - 1. Time for round two.


I've found a new love. A slightly intimidating, exciting, inspiring love. It's my local asian market. There are a couple here in the Albany area and a new one opened recently that has received rave reviews (especially for the food court, which I still haven't tried) I've never hit up the market before because, well, basically I suck at asian cooking. I'm slowly learning but the flavors just aren't something I've mastered. I can make a decent soba noodle dish when I am doing a quick dinner on my own (a quick sauce of soy, fresh ginger, chopped garlic and a bit of wasabi tossed over fresh veggies and noodles) but that's about it. My boyfriend is better at the cuisine, but we still don't dabble all that often.

Anyway, so I was out doing my weekend grocery shopping and decided to test my boundaries a bit. I left with two bags full of goodies - fresh cilantro, baby bok choy, basil, mandarin oranges, and some fun stuff to experiment with. Now I just need to play around with the big bag of garam masala spice I got and try my hand at spring rolls. Best part? I got all sorts of fresh, fun and interesting groceries for 30 bucks. I can't wait to go back!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Is it possible? Natural, unprocessed peanut butter patties? Whenever I want?
Someday I'll find the time to try it and report back, but I don't really see how you go wrong with shortbread, peanut butter and chocolate.

And yes, I said peanut butter patties. I don't want to hear that "tagalong" crap. If they were peanut butter patties when I was a Brownie, they shall always be peanut butter patties.

The waiting is the hardest part

These past couple days of beautiful weather have gotten me all riled up for the time when nice weather is finally upon us for the long haul. After many a March blizzard, I know better than to let my guard down just yet. But still...we're close. Really I just want to hit fast forward on the growing season - I have another 2 1/2 months before farm share deliveries start and my poor, fledgling garden is ages away from being productive (if I get there at all!). Somehow Sunday morning frittatas are better when you need to use up a bunch of fresh vegetables in a box - choosing your own at the store just isn't the same.

Alas, my fresh veggie fantasies are being interrupted - my dog, who almost never barks, is clearly on a mission to protect me from his reflection. Everytime he peers out the window into the dark he has a near meltdown trying to scare away that pesky other boxer staring back at him.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Ides of March

I have a group of friends and family that are, um, unique and spirited. Basically, we're a bunch of geeks - in the best sense of the term, I like to think. The group largely consists of my uncle, who is really the closest thing I have to a big brother, his long time girlfriend and friends he's known forever. I've always been the baby. These are truly the best people to be surrounded by - they love great drinks, great food, they're teaching me to garden and they're all smart as hell. Oh yeah, and completely down to earth.

We have a tradition of visiting the Gingerman on Mondays. This is the type of routine that doesn't require the "hey, are we going out?" email - you can just pull into the lot on any given Monday and chances are some folks will be partaking in a beverage. Today, however, I did send the email as it's been one of those weeks already and I really needed a beer. I can drink alone, but it's more fun not to. Upon asking if we'd be commemorating the Ides of March in our favorite Irish bar (how's that for multicultural AND geeky?), I was answered with everything from latin to bad iambic pentameter. I was also reminded today marks the demise of the Romanov empire. I took that as a yes.

After good beers and good company, I've now settled in under the covers and got to thinking about the day. One of the most amazing culinary experiences of my life was the two weeks I spent in Italy. I was just starting to figure out what good food is and it's impossible to miss over there. In Rome, we ate in this restaurant in Campo di Fiore and the waiter told us it is where Caesar really was murdered. Right where the restaurant now stands. A "restaurant caesar murder" google search has revealed I'm not crazy - since everything is true on the internet. I've dabbled in history-geekdom and I remember thinking that was just the coolest thing. Now if only I could remember the meal.

something to chew on

Speaking of trying to be more conscious of what I eat, buy, etc, etc, etc, I'm struggling with finding good chew toys for my crazy boxer pup. He loves rawhide. I mean, LOVES. I can bribe the heck out of him with that stuff. I started to wonder if there is such a thing as too much, and did a little googling. Eeek. Formaldehyde in rawhide?!? And that didn't even gross me out as much as the dried bulls penises I read about. To each their own of course, but, really? So, torn between knowing better than having a meltdown over everything I read on the internet and my slightly obsessive love for my pup, I started to ponder chewy treats. I have yet to find anything he likes as much as a good rawhide, and I like to think that my "everything in moderation" mantra applies in this situation. Still, I wish he could tell me if his upset tummy tonight is the result of too much formaldehyde or the poo I'm sure he ate earlier. I mean, how can you not want the best for a face like this??

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Here's hoping.

My little tray of seedlings here is about a week old. Peas, beans and brussels sprouts are all I've got at the moment. Oh, and some dill. I'm ok with this if they all make it to harvest. Frozen peas are a favorite snack of mine, an oddity left over from childhood. The farm share will provide me with lots of pickling cukes and I must admit I make a mean pickle - so the dill will come in handy. I'm already dreaming of roasted brussels sprouts with pine nuts and parmesan. Cross your fingers for me.

The Beginning...

I've been thinking of doing this for quite a while now, but lacked a direction - and really, who wants to listen to another amateur foodie ramble on about her gastronomic escapades when there are already so many people doing real, quality food reporting? It dawned on me today, however, that I am on a slightly different adventure now. One that will most certainly involve advances and setbacks, and perhaps others are in the same place. (or better yet, are eons ahead of me and I can steal ideas!)

For the past 6 or 7 years I have made an effort to pay attention to what is in my food. At times this is a half-hearted, convenient effort - others I approach it with gusto. This later position was especially true when, after years on my own, I ended up back in my mother's house for a few months. Being obnoxiously picky about processed food was a rollicking, passive-aggressive romp. Ah, but I've matured.

I've largely cut out fast food (except when I am just dying for a junior bacon cheeseburger and fries) as long as you don't define Chipotle as fast food. I read labels in the grocery store and mostly stick to outer edge, skipping the aisles and aisles of processed food (except when cheeze-its or a Reese's peanut butter egg are calling my name) My boyfriend and I joined a farm share and as I write this I am peeking over at my seedlings just barely popping their heads out of the soil and reaching toward the grow light. I have a notorious black thumb and despite my springtime enthusiasm for growing my own food, the majority of these little lives will end up in an over-watered, under-fertilized pile of neglected good intentions.

So today, where in the last 24 hours I have watched Food, Inc. (leaving me full of indignant gusto and motivation to once and for all commit to this change) and then pulled through a McDonald's drive thru for a Shamrock Shake, I decided writing my way through this might just be the way to go. In my defense, I can't tell you the last time I drove through a McDonald's drive thru, but I am willing to bet it was for hashbrowns some morning when I partook in the spirits just a tad too much (completely justified in my opinion), and that lure of "you loved these things as a kid, and you can ONLY get them in March..." was just so damn overpowering. The shake was awful, and I swore it was the last one I'll ever have. I do believe I said that three Marchs ago...