Monday, July 12, 2010

Quick Post: There's a fungus among us

Over the July 4th weekend, I took the BF home to Brooklyn for his first trip to New York City. I promised more walking than he had done in years. I'm not sure he heeded my warning to the extent he should have.

That said, I was the one that ended up with blisters.

The blisters were brought on by the red leather Liz Claiborne heels that I wore with my black and white dress to Babbo, one of Mario Batali's restaurants in Greenwich Village.

As you might imagine, every single thing we tasted was extraordinary. was light years beyond ordinary. The asparagus and fresh ricotta ravioli was mouth-watering. The chianti-stained tagliatelle with wild board ragu was out of this world. The grilled garden vegetables tasted better than any grilled veggies I have ever had. My sister and brother-in-law each had a secondo, and I picked off of everyone's plates. Everything was magnificent.

But what might have been best was the BF's porcini tasting menu. The dishes were:
Anitpasto – Porcini mushrooms with arugula and balsamic drizzle
Primo - Tagliatelle with porcinis in a cream sauce
Secondo – Pork tenderloin encrusted with porcini, sea salt, and something else we can't remember

Lastly, we ended the meal with a pistachio and chocolate semi-freddo. I used the chocolate stick that was on top to stir my cappuccino. A divine ending to a spectacular meal.

Then we walked to the subway so the BF could see Times Square at night. That's where the blisters began.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Quick Post: An Admission of Love

Many of you know of my obsession with grilled cheese. I even spoke of at one point opening a grilled cheese sandwich shop.

But this is not about my love for grilled cheese. It is an admission of love...for Mark Bittman.

I pretty much adore everything he does. As I've mentioned before, even if it's something I will never try, his attitude is so attractive that I will scan the recipe, read the article, or watch the video.

Here my obsession meets my love: One of Bittman's Videos entitled, Actually Grilled Cheese.

This is 2:24 minutes (with an additional 15-20 seconds for the lead in ad) of Bittman's dry wit (he suggests adding mustard, pesto, ben gay or sunscreen to the sandwich) and his simplistic yet brilliant food ideas.

I am in love once again.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Garlic Anyone?

In keeping with the attempt to eat healthy, I decided to try a recipe that I've been wanting to try for a while. Baked chicken with a coating of All-Bran (Garlic and Herb) Crackers. I was excited about it. This is a considerably higher fiber option than regular breadcrumbs. And lower calorie to boot (18 crackers to a serving). Plus those crackers are wicked tasty.

Off to the store I go. Well, lo and behold, no All-Bran Crackers. Now, this is the grocery store where I shop almost exclusively, so I know that I've purchased them there before. But now the shelves are filled with the store brand gourmet crackers, none of which are even near my beloved All-Brans. So what to do? Well, I go back to the original recipe. Instead of All-Bran crackers (which was my touch) I picked up some Fiber One Cereal. A co-worker of mine has done this baked chicken thing with Fiber One before, so I knew it could work. My only concern was that the cereal has a sweetness to it that I wasn't sure I wanted in the coating of the chicken. The plot thickens.

When I got home, I had 3 plump chicken breasts, which were clearly larger than the 4 ounces each that I needed. I had looked at a baked chicken recipe and they gave a cooking time for a pounded out chicken breast. Perfect. I weighed them out and they were about 8oz each. Perfect. I pounded them out and cut them in half. But before I had even gotten to the chicken, I put 1.5 cups of Fiber One Cereal, garlic powder, dried oregano, dried basil, some salt and some pepper in my Cuisinart. (If I couldn't have gotten my hands on some Garlic & Herb crackers, gosh darnit, I was adding garlic and herbs!) Pulse pulse pulse until those little branches of Fiber One are made into powder.

I whipped up three egg whites (not until frothy, but until all the aspects of the egg whites were more homogenous than right out of the shell). With one hand (always keeping one clean), I put the now six pieces of chicken breast in the egg whites, turned them about and then into the powder. It worked swimmingly. From there, on to a baking sheet. (Did I mention I pre-heated the oven to 350? Quite a household commitment in 100 degree Texan weather, I might add.)

Once all six pieces were done, I put the baking sheet into the oven (middle lower rack) and baked them for 20 minutes. A quick flip and back in for 3 minutes. They were golden brown and cooked perfectly. Success!

While the chicken was cooking, I put together a bean puree that was the suggestion of the BF. I put two drained cans of Great Northern Beans and put them in the Cuisinart. I peeled three garlic cloves and threw them in. Let me stop here. That was too much garlic. I should have listened to BF. He told me that it was going to be too much. Let me repeat. I should have listened. In addition to the way too much garlic, I added some extra virgin olive oil. I probably should have used the really good stuff for this as the taste would have been a nice addition. Pulse pulse pulse. After tasting it (and, yes, I could tell it was too much garlic at that point), it needed something. I added some red pepper flakes and cayenne (not much of either, for the record). All in all, it's definitely something to do again, just not with as much garlic. This recipe made 4 servings.

So, if you put a serving of the puree and a serving of the chicken together, it's only about 200 calories. Tomorrow night, I'm going to add a spinach salad with some balsamic drizzle. I think it will work really nicely. Maybe the salad will break through the garlic of the puree. Fingers crossed.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Quick Post: My Favorite Spices and Another New Recipe

Cumin is almost always the front runner. Something about that smokey and versatile just seems to go with everything I make. Well, almost everything.

But, last week when I did my salmon en papillote recipe, I decided to turn to the old standards of the spice cabinet, dried oregano and dried basil. In that recipe I considered using herbes de provence as I often have on my sauteed zucchini, but a while back I guess I put too much on and did not enjoy it. So I figured, why not try the oregano/basil combo. It worked perfectly.

So today when I was making a healthy meal (trying to modify my calorie intake...wheee) that also tasted good, I thought about those two spices again. I browned about a pound of ground turkey and stirred in vegetable primavera pasta sauce. I then put those two items into a dish, rinsed out my large skillet, and put a touch more olive oil in. I sweated half an onion (in retrospect, a full one would have been more than okay in this recipe) and threw in two diced golden zucchini (the most amazing marigold color you've ever seen) and one diced green zucchini. And what did I season them with? Why dried oregano and basil, of course.

Since I had put salt and pepper on the ground turkey and the pasta sauce already had plenty of salt, I didn't put any more in with the zukes. Once they were cooked through (with a bit of bite left), I mixed them with the turkey and pasta sauce. It was great. I had had a hankering for a pasta dish, but this satisfied that craving without the actual pasta. This recipe ended up making 4 servings of 330 calories each, which fits perfectly into the meal size I'm going for.

Quick Post: Just Desserts

My culinary experimentation and exploration is primarily of the savory variety. I do make profiteroles with chocolate sauce. I do make a citrus pound cake with lemon sauce. And I do make banana bread. But overall, I'm not really much of a baker, which for some reason says to me that I'm not much of a dessert maker. But recently when I just got my KitchenAid stand mixer, I made a chocolate chip cookie batter (much of which was eaten raw), so perhaps that will change.

Probably due to that mini-success, a lot of dessert recipes have been catching my eye. Some require baking, others require freezing, and even some require grilling. Some are better in the winter, while other should probably only be made in the summer. Either way, they all sound tasty.

Jamie Oliver's Lemon, Lime, and Peppermint Sorbet:

Lemonade Cookies:

Grilled Fruit with Lemon Zabaglione:

Hmm....seeing a common theme? I'm a sucker for citrus.

And since it's Peach time in Texas, I've been thinking of making a peach and cherry rustic tart. Sadly (my former baking instructor's heart is breaking as I type this), the likelihood of my making my own dough is...well...none. I still have a pie shell in the freezer (how long do those things last in there? hmm). I'm thinking about just rolling that out and using it. I'll be sure to keep you informed if I attempt ths recipe.

Lastly, I would like to publicly commend my BF on his outstanding custard. The other day I went over to his apartment, and couldn't identify what he was cooking on the stove. He wouldn't tell me. (He joked it was just something he found on his stove and thought he'd see what it tastes like.) When he was done stirring, he poured into three mugs, scraped some nutmeg on top, and put the three mugs in the fridge. After dinner, he handed me one with a spoon - it was fabulous custard. It was absolutely delicious. He is now planning on getting a creme brulee torch. I support that decision.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

another quick thought

One blog I neglected to add in my previous post is one partially authored by a high school friend, Harriet. She's had some pretty cool jobs, but working for a radio station and blogging about food is up top (I realize I'm biased). Good Food is blog and radio show that features food stories from all over Los Angeles. They cover recipes, local food heroes, restaurants, and items known as the "Bacon Explosion." You just can't go wrong with something like that.

If you're in the LA area and don't know about this already, get to tuning your radios to 89.9 KCRW and listen from 11am-12pm (Pacific Time, of course) to catch Good Food. What to do if you miss it or aren't in LA? Well, you can download the podcast on iTunes, of course. Details are on the website.

more blogs

My life at work has been pretty hectic for, well, over a year now. In order to reduce some of the craziness, we hired some folks recently. As such, I have a new teammate, and as luck would have it, she's a foodie too!! In fact, she's even more of a foodie than I am, as her time during her "sabbatical from corporate life" was spent creating and running a food company where she taught cooking classes, developed recipes, etc. She even has a blog.

So we decided. Since neither of us have been very good about actually keeping up with our food blogs, we would make a monthly meeting of the newly formed "SSFBS" (Super Secret Food Blogging Society) during lunch and hole up in a conference room and spent the hour writing on our blogs.

Our first meeting was not "successful" in terms of actual publishing, but I started a couple drafts and she did some research on eel, the topic for her next post. All in all, for our inaugural visit, it was a good start. While weren't writing, though, we were chatting about food. And she shared with me some of her favorite food blogs. So I'm now sharing them with you.

101 Cookbooks
This pick might seem an odd one for me, as 101 Cookbooks is primarily a vegetarian blog. Let's be honest. I'm a meat eater and proud of it. But her wide variety of influences makes her recipes interesting, exciting, and, no doubt, tasty. Her focus on more natural ingredients is something I'm trying to get better at. In an ideal world, I would only shop through a CSA and the farmers' market, but I'm not there yet. This blog might inspire me to get there.

Chocolate and Zucchini
Clotilde has been blogging about food since 2003, so I'm pretty sure that makes her an "old-timer" (despite being younger than I am). She started out as a Computer Science major in college who grew to love food during her time living in the Bay Area (she's Parisian and is back living there). Since 2003 she has written books, garnered pretty major media attention, and scores of followers who are rather active on her virtual community. I now count myself as one of the pack.

Simply Recipes
This is just what it sounds like. It is a well-written and simple repository of some great recipes. The pictures are compelling and drool-worthy. The prose is short and sweet, and the recipes are wonderfully descriptive. At the bottom of the page, you'll find other recipe suggestions based on the one you're reading. This is a new favorite to be sure.

And, last but certainly not least, At Table
This is Laura's blog. Her website has an amazing list of recipes, upcoming classes (for those of you living in Austin) and links to some very interesting stories, books, and blogs. Personally, I'm hoping to attend her "Feeding Your Inner Athlete" cooking class.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Quick and healthy summer dinner

Lately, the concept of slimming down has been at top of mind. I've gained some weight since I started dating my boyfriend. My friends say it's "happy weight" as it comes from indulging in dinners out at restaurants, Saturday morning doughnuts, or Sunday afternoon Coke floats. And, yes, more alcohol has been consumed on those lazy weekends while watching sports.

In our defense, we have also done a lot of active things like going to the golf driving range, having batting practice (with a wooden bat and a tennis ball...sort of a bit odd), pitch and putt, long walks, etc. I have also joined the gym where he goes and have committed to going 3-4 times/week at minimum (having someone to meet there sure does help).

But let's be honest. It's all about the food.

So, in an effort to prepare a pretty healthy dinner the other day, I improvised a salmon en pappilote. (Thankfully, this is not rocket science.)

I didn't have any parchment (though I've lately decided I should at least have some in my pantry, so that needs to be remedied), so foil it was. I wasn't actually sure how that was going to affect cooking time, so I looked up some recipes on (the best recipe site out there bar none...of course I'm biased since my bro-in-law is the technology team lead of the website) just to get a sense of how long it should cook. The resulting information? 25 minutes at 350. (well, sort of...keep reading)

I take out two large pieces of foil and doubled them over. I put about a teaspoon of olive oil on each. Over at my cutting board, I sliced about half of a zucchini in 1/8th inch slices. I then placed half of the sliced zuke on each piece of foil; salt; pepper.

Side note: when I say salt and pepper, I mean fresh ground. I have a sea salt grinder and a black pepper grinder. They are my go to spices. And now, back to your regularly scheduled blogging.

I then put the salmon on top of the zuke slices. When I went to my grocery store's fishmonger, I asked for 3-4oz fillets. Frankly, I wanted more, but I know you're really only supposed to have that sized fillets. As luck would have it, he cut them a bit too large and they were 6oz each. (Sweet!) I really can't imagine only eating half of that portion, so I think 6oz fillets are the way to go in the future. But I digress....I put the salmon fillets on the zukes. I then dusted them lightly with dried oregano, dried basil, and a touch more sea salt. Then I sliced a lemon (because I'm not actually sure if I can eat oven roasted salmon without lemon) and put a couple slices on top of the lemon.

I sealed up the packets by lining up the long sides and folding them over a couple times. Then I folded over each of the shorter sides a couple times. The little presents were ready. I put them on a baking sheet and put them on the lower of my two oven racks (sort of low middle). I set my kitchen timer for 20 minutes, as in my experience, salmon always takes longer to cook than the recipes say. I don't know how it could be such a universal problem, but it is. So my theory was that I would check on it after 20 minutes and, depending on the progress, would mentally prepare myself to not eat for a while.

As suspected at the 20 minute mark, the little packets weren't quite done. The good thing with salmon is that I don't need it to be cooked to a fair-thee-well, but it looked close enough that "properly cooked" seemed within grasp, so I decided to try for a bit more. I turned the oven up to 400, put the packets (re-closed) back in, and reset the clock for 10 minutes. Truth by told, I knew the oven wasn't going to get up to the full 400 by the time the buzzer went off, but I figured it would work all the same.

When the ringing began, I took out the packets. I couldn't hold back and risked a bit of fingertip burning to open it up and check if we were done. We were. They were absolutely perfect. In the next 90 seconds while we waiting for the foil to become a little more manageable, I microwaved some Uncle Ben's Brown & Wild 90 Second rice. Once that was done, I put half of the rice on one plate and the contents of one packet on top of that. I did the same for the other plate. The fish, zucchini, lemon slices and olive oil had made a great sauce that permeated the wild rice.

I thought it was delicious, but perhaps more importantly, the boyfriend thought it was fantastic and requested that I make it again...soon. (He also had the suggestion of adding more zukes some with a thicker cut to add some more veggies and more texture. I think he's got something there.)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Calorie-Free Reading

As do many foodies, I watch a lot of the Food Network. I watch "The Best ____ I Ever Ate" which recently even had an episode that focused on deep friend items (including deep fried bacon!?!?). I watch Iron Chef America (though what we really need are the giggling and shy actresses/models that they have on the judging panel in the original Iron Chef). I watch Good Eats when I feel like seeing what a culinary anthropologist might say about s'mores.

I watch all sorts of things. But aside from a variety of culinary magazines, I don't tend to read food-related books. That has changed lately.

A few months back, I saw an article talking about this wine book and how it didn't make anything sound too fancy. That it would talk you through figuring out what it is you like instead of telling you what to like. I figured that since my wine pallet is so sophisticated that I usually just say, "I like red," this might be the book for me. It is. I'm only partially through the book (Drink This; Wine Made Simple), but absolutely love the writing. The author, Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl, writes like a normal human speaks. She doesn't beat around the bush, and there is no pretension in how she presents a typically pretentious subject.

"Much ado is made about corkscrews, but any one that works for you is good enough. I like the traditional one with the little arms that you life up; they usually cost less than $10 and will follow you to your grave....I admire people who can use a waiter's corkscrew effortlessly, but I'm not one of them (though I keep one in the car for picnic-related emergencies)." Picnic-related emergencies? I love it.

"All that being said, if you spend more than five minutes in this lifetime thinking or reading about corkscrews, you're wasting your time. Magazine editors periodically assign stories about them, but I think this is mostly because they go to the store and don't know which one to by, so they think it's an issue that needs getting to the bottom of. It isn't." Tell it like it is, sister.

My Birthday was earlier this month and since my friends and family know me so well, I received too food books for the day. From my sister and brother-in-law, I received the book that Tom Colicchio says he used to teach himself how to cook. It is Jacques Pepin's Complete Techniques. Aside from its step by step illustrated and informative guidance, it makes me smile because of my sister. Hearing her immitate the way he says, "you cut it into streeeeeps." She just loves the way he says, "streeeeeps." And I agree - he's just so cute!

The second book I received for my birthday was from my friend Oren. It is Heat by Bill Buford. I hadn't heard about this book before, but the more I mention that I'm reading it to my foodie friends, they all rave - apparently I'm behind the curve. But I'm catching up. This is a riveting and hilarious book about a NY Times writer/editor who seemingly by accident finds himself in the kitchen of Babbo, one of Mario Batali's critically-acclaimed restaurants. The book flips back and forth between Buford's initial days as an kitchen extern (or kitchen slave as he refers to it) serving under a no nonsense prep chef and Mario's initial days as a chef learning his craft first in California and then in Italy. Much time is spent explaining just how raucous he was as a young adult - and it's hilarious. Images like that of "Batali drinking tequila from a goatskin boda bag, the liquor splattering all over his face" continually make me chuckle. As a side note, the book's full title is Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany and that pretty much sums it up.

I recommend all three - Drink This when you want in your face honesty. Complete Techniques when you want to smile. And Heat when you want to chuckle at the image of a drunk guy in shorts and orange clogs who is only one of the world's best chefs.

References (Amazon links, but I suggest borrowing from your local library or buying from a local bookstore):
Drink This: Wine Made Simple by Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl

Complete Techniques by Jacques Pepin

Heat by Bill Buford

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

No chili for you

Last night I didn't make the chili that I had planned. In fact, despite having defrosted in the fridge all day, the ground pork and ground beef were still rock solid. So, instead I ate a couple of my "gourmet ramen" noodle soups. They turned out pretty good.

But then I got inspired. I wanted something sweet. In these situations, I often dream of the little chocolate buttons that I would get as part of a Nutrisystem delivery a couple years ago. I would dip them in a tablespoon of peanut butter, and they were divine. (As a side note, the only proper way to eat peanut butter is with chocolate. I have been told my dislike of PB&J sandwiches is un-American. So be it.)

But without those chocolate buttons, I turned to the bar of dark chocolate I had in my freezer. Since my mother had recently discovered the jar of peanut butter in my pantry, I knew I had the makings of something wonderful. And then it occurred to me that I had the remainder of some vanilla ice cream in my freezer too. The wheels were turning.

In a mug I dumped the chocolate (which I had chopped into fairly fine chunks so they'd melt easier). I then added about two tablespoons of the creamy peanut butter. Into the microwave it went. The initial melt of one minute didn't quite do the job, so I think I put it in for another minute. A sauce was born.

The cool thing (no pun intended) about the dessert was when I drizzled (read: poured) the sauce on top of the ice cream it hardened. That makes sense since at room temperature the chocolate is solid, but it was a surprise nonetheless. And then I was immediately thrown back to the Magic Shell that my sister and I used to eat. At first, we really only had it when we visited family in Mississippi. Then, one miraculous Saturday morning, it was located at our corner grocery store in Brooklyn. Oh so tasty.

Anyway, breakfast this morning was the remainder of the banana bread and lunch is a couple more packets of the Thai Kitchen soups. Tonight, the chili will be made and I'll be making corned beef, cabbage, and champ to bring into work on Thursday (my knitting group will be having it for lunch).

...somewhere in all of this I have to cook a meal for my Caritas delivery. hmmm....

Monday, March 15, 2010

A new way to think about food...for the time being

It's pathetic, I know, that I have not posted to this blog recently. It's like the diary I told myself I would keep every year. It just doesn't happen. I drafted a few entries, but never actually got around to finishing them or posting them. So sad.

Anyway, this post isn't going to be so much about a recipe, but more about my week's goal. Aside from St. Paddy's Day (which deserves a break from the rules), I am going to do my best to try to eat only out of my pantry, fridge, and freezer. I also am going to try to post every day what I am eating. Not as a way to keep a food journal in terms of calorie intake, but rather so that I can be accountable to the world at large for my pantry/freezer consumption.

I realize that this goal may sound a bit extreme, but I'm doing it for two main reasons:

Saving Money

Until this week, I have been receiving CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) boxes for the past, say, 6-8 months. I am very much for consuming as much local food as possible. And the items that arrive in these CSA boxes are not only local, but they're healthy (given that they're vegetables and fruit). When I first started receiving the CSA boxes, I got the produce through the Johnson Backyard Garden. It's such a fun idea that what is now a viable business and essentially a farm started as someone's backyard garden not far from downtown. Sort of has that "anything is possible if you dream big enough" vibe to it. Their produce was great, but you had to go pick it up between X and Y hours on this particular day of the week. Not a big pain, but I'll be honest, I forgot to pick it up a couple times. (This is not completely tragic as any food they have left over from the pick ups gets donated, so it all went to a good cause.) One thing I did like about their boxes too was that if you didn't want X product, there was a sort of "leftovers" box where you could put it. And if there was something in that leftovers box that you wanted, you could take it as an exchange. There were a couple times that I exchanged something for some jalapenos. One thing that didn't work for me, though, was that you were really only able to get vegetables. They didn't really have any fruit, and as for other foods (dairy, meat, etc.), you couldn't order through them (you could order eggs). This isn't a "negative" of theirs, but it's just how they have chosen to focus their service.

So, after a few months with Johnson's Backyard Garden, I decided to switch to Farmhouse Delivery. I had seen them featured in a number of articles and ads in Edible Austin, and a friend of mine was a devoted customer. Not to mention, a few of the smaller restaurants around town also used their services. All in all, a good set of reviews. The price was pretty comparable ($37 for a delivery, if delivered every other week). They deliver right to your door on your designated day of the week, and if you've ordered something that needs to remain cold, they provide cooler bags to make sure nothing spoils. The other really cool thing about Farmhouse Delivery is that you could order items on top of your regular produce basket. You incur an additional cost, of course, but the products they have available range from cheeses to cubed lamb, honey to granola. So many options that it's hard to hold back. Most of these options were also the vendors that I like to support at my local farmers' market, so it's sort of like having the market delivered to your house.

The only problem is (and this was the case with Johnson's Backyard Garden too) that there's too much food. As a single gal, even one who likes to cook, it's hard to go through a huge bushel of food. An added "problem" is that my boyfriend likes to cook a ton too (don't get me wrong, it's not really a problem - he's such a good cook), so it's not even like I am eating all of my meals at home. In fact, I have been cooking very little at home in the past few months only compounding the issue of food spoiling before I can get to it. In other words, losing money. So, I have made the painful yet necessary decision to stop receiving CSA boxes for the time being. If I need some local produce, I can either find the local items at my grocery store, or I will wait until Saturdays for the farmers' market.

Making Room

My freezer is pretty big. I have one of those french door refrigerators with a big freezer on bottom. I fell in love with this fridge when I bought my house in 2007. I was hell-bent and determined to make this fridge fit in my kitchen no matter what. In fact, I even had to take a jigsaw to the upper cabinets above the hole for the fridge so it'd fit properly. The fridge was destined to be mine. And it holds a TON of food. This is good and bad. Back to the whole "spoiling" thing, it's easy to lose food in there. In the past month or so, I have gotten a lot better about periodically cleaning it out, so hopefully, that's something I can keep up with. And if I'm not getting huge deliveries of produce, that will help keep it organized too.

The freezer, on the other hand, is fully stocked. This past week and weekend, I made a ton of chicken and vegetable soup (using up the bok choy, green onions, carrots, broccoli, chicken, and celery from my last CSA box). Then we made even more stock from the remaining chicken carcass. My freezer, therefore, has probably about ten containers of soup or broth tucked in there. I also have local meats that I have gotten from CSA boxes or the farmers' market. I have two pork tenderloins just waiting to be seared (so many good recipes for those things), I have cubed lamb just waiting to become a stew, I have ground pork and ground beef that were originally going to become my mother's meatloaf...but they might become chili now, and so on. (I must confess. I have a bag of Ikea Swedish meatballs in there too.) I also have a ton of frozen veggies - broccoli, veggie mixes, edamame, etc. There are frozen berries, fake sausage patties (as a meat eater, I still think they're pretty tasty), and loaves of bread that will become breadcrumbs at some point. There is even a bag of ripe bananas waiting to become banana bread. There is, of course, a bar or chocolate and a couple things of coffee grounds.

And that's probably not even the complete list. It is filled to the brim with no room for anything else. I need to really eat that down to a point where I can put more things in there.

The pantry is similarly stocked. I've got a bunch of canned soups (which I realize have a lot of sodium, but I don't have a problem with that in my diet), canned veggies, canned beans, canned fruit, pasta, brown rice, white rice, couscous, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, and so on. My latest obsession has become these ramen-like soups and noodle dishes from brands like Simply Asia or Thai Kitchen where you just add boiling water and let it sit. So much more sophisticated than the Top Ramen packets we used to eat in college...and hey...without the MSG, which is a big bonus.

All in all, there's a lot to be had out of the freezer, fridge, and pantry.

Today's Food

This morning on my drive into work, I had three slices of banana bread. My mother made banana bread this weekend while she was in town with some severely overripe bananas I had in the house. I could not for the life of me find the recipe that I had used in the past, but I didn't remember anything particularly distinctive about it, so we just looked for another. I found one in the Junior League Cookbook from Jackson, Mississippi (a gift from my MS family since I'm a member of the Junior League of Austin). The recipe had one interesting addition - you could use sour cream instead of the typical buttermilk. And while buttermilk adds that special something to a variety of recipes, I was certainly more apt to eat the rest of the sour cream before it went bad than I would have been to use the buttermilk in a recipe before it went bad.

For lunch today I have leftover salad from Saturday night (she made a salad from some CSA tomatoes and lettuce...ALL of the avocados had gone bad in record time...grr.). I put some dressing on it before I left the house - this dressing was something I had whipped up a week or so ago. English mustard, Dijon, balsamic, dried oregano, dried basil, salt, pepper, a touch of white vinegar, and some extra virgin olive oil (just not the super fancy kind that has a lot of personality and flavor). It's a pretty big salad.

I also brought some of the sweetpotatoes that my mother roasted with olive oil and Old Bay Seasoning. Yes, you read that right. No seafood as far as the eye can see...but Old Bay. My mother had served these to me back in February when I was visiting home. I'll be honest, at first, I wasn't sure it would be something I would like. Old Bay is supposed to be on crabs and in crab cakes. But sweet potatoes?? They turned out marvelously! So she made them again when she was here this past weekend, and once again they were super tasty.

Lastly, because I have a mild obsession with them, I have a number of pickle spears as what will likely be an afternoon snack. There is not much better than Vlasic (or possibly B&G) kosher dill pickles. The crunch, the's all so very good.

Tonight, I'm thinking of making chili. I've got the ground pork and ground beef in the fridge defrosting. I've got some green onions left. I've got a can of kidney beans and a can of black beans. I've got a big can of tomatoes. All in all, I'm not exactly sure how it's going to pan out. And, I need to say this as someone living in Texas and the daughter of a Texan . I realize Texas chili does not have beans and does not (I wouldn't imagine) use ground meat. This, therefore, will not be Texas chili. I will have to name it something else.