I’d like to report on a little conversation I had with Grant a couple weeks back. Nearly verbatim.
Me: Hey, I just noticed that Ballard Market does indeed have rotisserie chickens! They’re only $8 instead of $10 like at Whole Foods, and they’re from Draper Valley Farms (the same place I got our awesome Thanksgiving turkey from!), which is a much closer farm that raises their poultry WAY more sustainably than the crappy California one that does the theoretically natural Whole Foods chickens. (Michael Pollan wrote a whole exposé on them in The Omnivore’s Dilemma.) And they’re brined with a much healthier solution than usual; it’s less salty and it’s all natural, not like those gross QFC ones that are cheap but full of corn syrup and nitrates. But they aren’t super obvious because they’re not pre-packaged; you have to actually talk to the deli staff to get one. So please try to remember that next time you shop there, and try to remember to get them from there over other groceries whenever you can, OK? There’s one in the fridge right now if you want some, and I just stuck it in there so it’s probably still warm. I gotta run.
Him: So… what you’re saying is… there’s chicken in the fridge… and it’s really good.
I’ve been working from home since January, trying to make a go of my online dating consultation business full time. (PLEASE send my info to your single friends if you think they could use a hand! Referrals are my number one source of business.) Working from home has SO many wonderful advantages, but I thought one would be that it would make me eat healthier. Boy, was I wrong!
I’m normally a very hungry person, and between boredom, stress, and I guess just timing at work, I’m always acutely aware of when it’s lunchtime at a normal office job. Sometimes I’d have a big project or be engrossed in a deadline and I wouldn’t eat until an unhealthily late hour, or I’d stay late well past a smart dinner time. But for the most part, I ate regularly at normal intervals that didn’t make my metabolism crazy.
At home, I’m a menace. Grant and I are sharing our car and attempting to stave off the purchase of a second vehicle until we have kids someday. So I’m sometimes driving him to work or to the bus stop, grabbing a latte, mocha, or chai, and then not consuming anything else for breakfast. And then I don’t realize it’s Food O’Clock until about 3 PM, when I’m DYING and my entire metabolism is screaming at me and I need to lie down and can’t imagine getting back to work because my blood sugar is crashing so hard. (I exaggerate a little, but not much; I’m an idiot who forgets to eat.) I don’t think this is one of those healthy things where I lose weight; I think my body goes into starvation mode and starts conserving anything that touches my lips as fat. So it’s not like I devised a brilliant breakfast-free stratagem here! I need to eat.
More and more, the thing I wind up eating to chill myself out is one of these:
Yeah, that’s a “green” smoothie. Only yesterday’s is more like brownish-purple because I included lots of blueberries. In fact, all this contains is filtered water, ice cubes, two lemons, half a bunch of Italian (flat) parsley, and about half a cup of blueberries.
Here’s today’s, which was a third a bunch of Italian parsley, a few (five?) big leaves of green kale, a large Braeburn apple, and two small lemons, plus ice cubes and filtered water:
One of my tips for making more nutritional smoothes is that you should generally blend up as much of the fibrous parts of veggies as you can, in addition to the part you’d normally eat. So for kale and parlsey, this means you don’t discard the stems (though you can trim the very end bits off if they’re scuzzy). And for lemons, you cut them like this:
Actually, you can be even less aggressive than I was. I just accidentally cut through to the pulpy part, but an ideally butchered lemon would be opaque pale white with all zest removed but no juicy bits poking through if you know what I mean. I first learned of green smoothies from Green for Life by my mom’s pal Victoria Boutenko. Victoria posited that you could even eat leafy parts like carrot tops and other veggie greens that usually get discarded in our country. I’ve tried it but never with a proper blender, which makes a HUGE difference; so I can’t attest to the carrot top thing (nor the Carrot Top thing, if we’re honest) but I bet it’d be lovely.
Here are my prep tips for an awesome green smoothie that won’t gross you out:
- Include ice cubes. Both in the blend and in the glass you drink from. I find that green smoothies are WAY less ick-inducing when they’re really cold! I also often use some frozen berries both for fiber and flavor, and they have the side benefit of chilling things down a bit.
- Use a Vitamix. You just have to. You’ll never get truly smooth-ish smoothies with a regular blender. See if you can find a used one on Craigslist or at a yard sale; my mom did this for me and saved hundreds!
- Add more water than you think you need. You may want to make your smoothie more concentrated, but more water makes it blend more easily and heck, it keeps you hydrated!
- Don’t use powders/boosts/etc. Just don’t. There’s a place for that crap, but in my opinion it’s not in a smoothie like this. The ingredients in what I’m describing are so pure and healthy that they shouldn’t need a helping hand from some chalky powder that’s just going to diminish your final product.
- Start on Low, wait until all the bulky bits have been grabbed and are starting to spin in the slushy form, and then kick it up to high. If you need to, use the blending stick to poke your produce through the hole in the lid (I KNOW; that’s what she said). Poke as much as necessary, but be careful because liquid can spew out around the poking stick once everything is blending properly. I don’t even want to hear the jokes that might come from this.
- Consume rapidly, ideally within a couple hours. They get gross if you leave them, even refrigerated. And they start to taste really different and not in a good way.
- Stir before you sip! I like to use these metal spoon straws, which are also excellent for many a melty dessert. (I definitely don’t just eat kale, after all!)
- Rinse your equipment right after. Even our badass dishwasher can have trouble getting dried smoothie-blend-bits from the inside of our glasses, blender carafe, and reusable straws if I don’t stay on top of the rinsing. Which just looks super gross to the next person who uses that item. So be diligent!
I’ve been doing much better home-food-wise ever since I got back on the green smoothie train. I know they look scary, but I urge you to give them a try! Heck, come over and I’ll make you one. :)
I made this banana bread, also to rave reviews from Cassie and Brigittie in particular. I admit it turned out very nicely and super moist. No pics fanciness, but here were my deviations from the recipe, for posterity:
- I doubled it, so quantities adjusted accordingly.
- I added enough molasses so that it was like using dark brown sugar.
- I used two big bananas and two tiny ones which I think are a sweeter species.
- No walnuts, a tad more vanilla than called for, and my usual pinch of xanthan gum with the dry ingredients.
- Added about 1.5 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp allspice, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, and 1/4 tsp ground cloves.
- Didn’t quite have enough sour cream, so I supplemented with about 1/3 cup leftover cognac-spiked vanilla-bean-infused sugar-sweetened whipped cream from Thanksgiving. Shut up; it worked great.
- I wound up needing to bake mine for at least 10 min. longer than she called for.
- If I did it over I might experiment with cutting back on the sugar. Didn’t seem like it truly needed it all, esp. with the richness of flavor that my other additions contributed. (No offense, dear anonymous Internet Janet! Your recipe was a badass base for my compulsive experimentation.)
The sidecar is my favorite go-to cocktail. Or rather, go-to cocktail where I can tell there is a decent bartender — at shitty places, my go-to is a glass of cheap sparking wine. (This comes from having a horrifyingly bad sidecar made with cheap brandy and no sweetener from Brasserie Margaux a couple years ago. *shudder*)
Aaaanyway, why am I mixing cocktails at 3:07 on a Friday? Because it’s my Sunday, baby, and it’s almost Christmas, and I vacuumed and swept and mopped up a storm and made banana bread out of the worst bananas ever, AND we needed to use up some lemons.
It should go without saying that this drink is better with the highest quality ingredients — I use Cointreau because it really does taste better than other cheaper Triple Sec type options. My brandy this time around was Raynal VSOP, but I would welcome recommendations of other good ones to try. I use organic lemons and organic Grade B syrup — it has a stronger mapley flavor than Grade A.
Maple Syrup Sidecar
2 oz VSOP brandy or cognac
1 oz Cointreau or equivalent
2 oz lemon juice, strained
1/2 oz Grade B maple syrup
Combine all and shake well with ice, pour directly into glass, or strain into chilled glass if desired. Skip the sugared rim unless you need it for the aesthetics; if you must sugar the rim, reduce syrup in drink by 1/4 oz, grind your sugar to superfine using a (well-cleaned!) coffee bean grinder or food mill, and use maple syrup to make the sugar stick to the rim.
Indispensable tools for the job: shaker, stainless steel funnel with strainer, mini measuring cup
I’d been hearing about “toddies” and “cold-brewed coffee” for some time, so I figured I’d give it a whirl. Word had it that cold-brewing produced a more flavorful blend with less acid, which would be perfect for me since coffee acid definitely upsets my stomach. (Also helpful that our hot-brewing coffee maker died a week after we received it as a wedding gift, so we exchanged it for a Bodum pitcher that better lends itself to cold.) I Googled around and settled on a 24-hour room-temp brew choice, thanks to smitten kitchen and America’s Test Kitchen.
Well, this morning I got to crack into my new brew, and I have to say I’m a bit disappointed. It’s definitely true that you taste the beans more than the roasting process, which is nice I guess (roasting flavor = yum!), but there’s still a pungently acidic note to my coffee. I actually think it’s a symptom of the beans — my beans are a weird blend of Victor’s and Zoka house decafs, and I’ve noticed an overly acidic note to them when brewed via heat methods, too. Perhaps I’ll give this iced coffee thing another whirl with a different decaf someday. (WHY can’t they make decafs as snobbishly well-curated as regular beans?)
For now, it’s a reasonably nice pick-me-up, especially if you add cream and maple syrup like I do! Using cream instead of milk means the maple doesn’t curdle the dairy, and maple syrup adds a lovely depth of flavor that’s yummier than agave or other low-cal sweeteners, but lower on the glycemic index than sugar. Try maple syrup in a plan latte sometime, too — it’s amazing!
I’m so excited. Historically I haven’t found much time for charity anything, but this year I’m starting to find some cool causes that are quite fun to celebrate. Not only am I attending my first ever charity auction gala this year, but I’m also participating in my first ever charity bake sale!
Will Bake For Food is an awesome event organized by two local food bloggers — they get Seattle-area culinary bloggers to bake scrumptious treats, which can be bought using donations of canned food. Win/win!
I won’t be present myself, but my chocolate chip cookies will be! And you can see my ridiculous pic to the right, or eventually on their site when they upload it here.
Feel free to link to the event to help promote it by using the badge to the right on your site. You can also follow them on Twitter at @WillBakeForFood, Like them on Facebook, or do whatever other marketing shebangery you choose!
Look, it’s been ages since I’ve blogged. There are a lot of good reasons for that (which we’ll get to in a minute), but perhaps I needed something really inspirational and delightful to nudge me back into it. Cue Christopher Boffoli via Mental Floss:
What a delight, right? Nothing I make has ever been quite this striking or fun, but hopefully it can serve as inspiration. At the very least, it got me to post something, right?
So let’s see — what the heck kind of food updates do I have? Well, the thing is, they’re sort of life updates. See, I started a new job in July, and the fast pace plus quick transition turnaround has just kind of sapped a lot of my blogging energy. But another big positive life change is that we’ve finally gotten to a point where we cook at home more often than not, plus I bring lunches to work more often. Both of which mean that each cooking project is that less shocking/fantastic/anomalous, so they don’t all feel post-worthy and I couldn’t possibly keep up by blogging about everything I make. Quite a victory in and of itself!
Hopefully I’ll get back to posting at least some of the more victorious or special or beautiful eats, though. The Colts are down Peyton Manning this year, so we’re not quite in full-on NFL Fan Mode with decorated cakes and whatnot, but we’re spending the holidays at home so I plan to cook up a photogenic storm then.