Monday, April 18, 2011

Food porn

So I while back I announced a new reason to go back and visit Columbus, Ohio. Jeni's BombeBastic. Well, this weekend, the time came. I will confess that in a long weekend visit to the C-Bus, I consumed Jeni's twice. The first time, I had to try the BombeBastic. It's like a Drumstick on crack. Good, foodie crack. Homemade waffle cone, coated inside with bittersweet chocolate, filled with Salty Caramel and dipped in bittersweet chocolate. THEN it is topped with these salted almonds from the Krema nut company. How I lived in Columbus for three years and didn't know about this place, I'll never understand. Wow. Pardon the slightly shaky cell phone picture of the frozen delight, I was trying not to jump up and down with joy.

My friend and host said to me, "Hey, have you heard of Penzey's?". To which I responded "Are you KIDDING ME? Of cooouuuurrrseee I've heard of Penzey's" Little did I know, there's now a store in Columbus. Years ago, another friend, upon watching me giggle with joy when a new catalog arrived, quipped "That's kind of like your porn, huh?" Yeah, it is. So if I get joy out of a catalog, you can imagine how happy I was to bounce around a real life store, smelling everything and trying to not buy everything. I came home with some choices designed to make me experiment, including Spanish Style smoked paprika, wasabi powder and Trinidad marinade. I am a happy, happy girl.

Wonderpup was intrigued too...

Add in some great meals and drinks with even better old friends in a city that will always be a bit of home to me and it was a fantastic weekend.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Wishful thinking

This weekend was so spectacular that I couldn't keep myself away from the garden store. It's like one minute I was singing with the radio loud and the windows down, driving no where in particular (crazy, I know, with gas prices like this) and autopilot just took my car to Hewitt's. They had some cool weather veggies out and I decided, although it's risky, that I simply can't wait to start the garden.

I was smart though - I made salad pots. I bought a handful of lettuce plants and planted them in terra cotta pots. They're out on the front step enjoying the sunshine and rain, but can easily seek the shelter of the house if we get a cold snap. I did plant some pansies - just needed some color - but I'm willing to risk it. I also made a revolutionary move - I broke the "veggie gardens are in backyards" rule. See, I have a great big tree in my backyard that seriously limits my planting space, but my front is super sunny. So, along a decorative fence up near the house, with luck I'll have some brussells sprouts to harvest. Hope they don't look like big nasty weeds!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Girls Night

I'm off to dinner with a lovely bunch of ladies. I am truly, truly blessed to have a great group of girlfriends - all beautiful, independent and strong in their own way. We're off to try Katrinella's for the first time. For you non-Albany folks, or those in town who haven't heard of it - it's this supposedly fantastic teeny tiny Italian restaurant run by an adorable couple.

What I love about this place is that they opened up to one of the established, venerable Albany institutions in Italian dining. An institution that, frankly, I don't think is nearly what it used to be. But that's just the kind of spunk I love!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A big part of my new challenge is to find ways to make my food dollar go further. Instead of trying not to go out for reasons including eating better, knowing what’s in my food and saving some money, now going out like I used to is simply not an option. It doesn’t mean the reasons that I would eat out in the past – primarily a hectic schedule and not feeling like cooking after a long day – have gone away, so now I need to plan better. However, I refuse to revert to cheaper, processed foods because I face new constraints. I’m out to prove that I can still eat well with less expendable cash.

Thankfully I enjoy being in the kitchen and find it relaxing. On a recent sunny Sunday, I did some bulk shopping and spent a few hours prepping what I hoped would be quick and easy mid-week meals and ingredients. I roasted a whole pile of kale into chips, which are so easy and so yummy. I picked up a huge bag at BJ’s for under $2. One issue is, though, I can't get them to keep properly... ah well, will need to keep practicing.

I also made black bean turkey burgers and froze a bunch of them individually. While cooking, I had one for lunch, sans bun, with just a bit of salsa on top. To make the burgers, I coarsely mashed up some black beans, added ground turkey, egg, fresh cilantro, and some ground chile I had in the house. The one I tossed on my stovetop cast iron grill was pretty good, so we’ll see how the frozen ones work out...have one in the skillet as I type.