Showing posts from August, 2010

It's A Wrap

I don't really love sandwiches. It's always mystified me that some people crave Subway or Quiznos, 'cause all Subways smell like burned rubber to me and most commercially made sandwiches use crappy pressed lunch meat that taste like poo and the bread is usually overly large and dry.

My one exception is a tomato sandwich in the summer, homemade, with soft white bread, or when in South Carolina, the almighty Captain Derst Bread, with some Duke's Mayo. (Speaking of which, new post coming soon re. a Duke's development. I know, get over it already.)

Wraps, however, are entirely a different story. I can get into those. Stuff them with good things like sprouts, cucumber slices, salad greens and more, and we have ourselves a deal. I recently hit up Phillips Cafe, right across the street from my office & offers my workplace a 5 percent discount. I discovered they will turn a BLT into a wrap - and you can do add ons for free. SO I got up on that today, with a spinach wrap …

Who Gives A Fig?

I'm a little obsessed with a fruit I have never eaten. Well, unless you count Fig Newtons, and what the hell is in those things, anyway?

Yeah, I want a fig. A couple, actually. I hear they're amazing poached, broiled, sauteed, etc. -- a lovely fruit. I hear they pair well with goat cheese, mascarpone, and other dairy delights.

Besides their natural beauty, I think it's the allure of the forbidden fruit, their limited access - - they're uncommon, rarely seen in a grocery store except in the dried form and Newton-ized. They seem like one of those simple yet decadent foods - like honey and pomegranates and wine and fresh-baked, warm bread. I think this sounds like heaven.

How do I track down some figs?

Friday Shout Out: Cooking The Books

Haaaaaaaaaay, it's Fridaaaaaaaaaaay. I know I can't be the only one pleased by this. Do your happy dance, whether you're in an office cube or at home, still in your jammies. (If you ARE home, still in your jammies, I envy you. Greatly.)

Today I extol the virtues of the cookbook, and books about food, period. Yesterday I visited my local farmer's market in little ol' Riverdale, Md., after I locked myself out of the house and needed some way to pass the time 'til my husband came home.

(Long story short - my house key was broken, the bottom half completely GONE. I don't know how this happened, and it really pissed me off when I made the discovery trying to get in the back door. I was even more pissed when a phone call to my husband to find out when he would arrive revealed that he knew the key was broken - the missing half was in the front door when he came home late the night before. He said he thought I knew about it when I left the house. Uh, no. Curses to lo…

Eating For One: Weird-Ass Dinners

Previous discussions on what you eat when no one else is around resulted in some pretty amazing confessions by myself and fellow readers: bowlfuls of popcorn, toasted roast beef sandwiches, cracker meals of Triscuits, cottage cheese and pepperoni. It just goes to show that a "meal" isn't always a tidy entree with two sides.

My solo meal last night was no exception. Lately I have been eeking by with weekend grocery shops of $75 or less - a paltry sum compared to our (hush hush retailer) Trader Joe's shops circa Fall 2008/Winter 2009. While Scott and I aren't going hungry, we're not exactly brimming with meal possibilities up in our wee kitchen.

Scott was in Baltimore on a bike ride - an evening ride through some pretty special "transitional neighborhoods" that had me a little edgy with concern, but never mind that.

SO. After rejecting the leftover pasta I thawed from the freezer and canceling out the notion of a veggie burger sandwich (it was the bread …

For Coxey

One of my favorite people, Hazelene Cox, known to me as my Grandmother Coxey, April 15, 1915 to August 25, 2005.

Miss you so much - hope there's Starlight Mints, Pear Salad, and many flowered aprons wherever you are.

Yes I Turn 30, Not 3, Next Month

So what? A girl's got to have her lunch accessories.

And when it's red and cute and it's one of the few things within reach at a certain controversial-at-the-moment big box store when back to school madness rears its ugly head, and you don't want to fight the parents who are looking for that one special three ring binder and graph paper, and you just want a cute lunch bag since the last one you had disintegrated, and you're now resorting to carting your lunch to work in a measly plastic bag... you wind up totally buying an insulated ladybug lunch thingy.

I know. Impossibly awesome, right?

It even comes with a ladybug cold pack. So there.

Zucchini: Not Just a Humble Vegetable

I love the vegetable zucchini - its green color, the firm flesh, the way it can easily be cut into strips, discs, shredded, etc.

But, I get tired of eating it in stir fry, and my recent zucchini patties turned out mushy and gross, and deep fried zucchini just isn't the proper treatment for such a lovely vegetable - leave that mess to mozzarella or *this is So Southern of me* pickles.

Thus, what does one do with zucchini when you have a crisper drawer full and wishes to fulfill?

This. For Breakfast or Brunch.

Or This. For dessert, or Lunch. (Alright, no Dr. Seuss am I.)

If sweets aren't your thing, do this: use a veg peeler to carve the zucchini into strips. Make a sauce of a teaspoon of sesame oil, rice vinegar, a couple shakes of crushed red pepper, a little sprinkle of brown sugar, and a dash of lime juice. Crush some roasted peanuts and chop a little cilantro (or mint, or Thai basil), and sprinkle over the zucchini "noodles" and sauce it up. This is a crude approximati…

Friday Shout Out: Dangerously Delicious Pies

It's nearly the weekend, and I for one am just elated about that! Something about the past couple work weeks has me jonesing for some down time, with no computer screens to stare at or emails to answer.

So, weekends are made for fun, and pie.
Last weekend we enjoyed a visit from my old college roomie and friend Victoria. She's from Richmond, she's a Historic Preservation planner so she can do planner-speak with Scott all the time and she loves her historic stuff so she's fun to travel with and tour museums and noteworthy places, and she's a non-seafood eating vegetarian.

With three more food lovin' folks along - Jim, Gideon and Gideon's friend Jason, We visited Federal Hill, Baltimore's Cross Street Market for Nick's Seafood, so Victoria found a Mexican joint in the market, Pop's Tacos, run by Asians (just was unusual.)

Photo by Jim G.

Before I get to the pie excitement, let me say that though we didn't enjoy the oysters due to the …

Label Whores Are We

Forget fashion, fancy cars, all that bling-bling; when it comes to brand names, we aren't usually ones to be sticklers for the high rollin' stuff, 'cause we're cheap, I mean, frugal. BUT we do have our exceptions; such as:

Yeah, I know it's not healthy and some people tend to hate on this condiment, but seriously, mayonnaise is a good thing, Martha. It adds so much flavor and moisture and creamy delight to so many foods. And as much as I'd love to think I am a "from scratch" kind of gal, I am not about to crack up some eggs and whip up a batch of homemade mayo any time soon, especially with that salmonella scariness going around.
If I'm going to revel in the full-fat, high calorie content that is mayo, I might as well use the GOOD stuff - no crappy Miracle Whip (which is not even really mayonnaise, let's get that straight right now) or ho-hum Hellman's. I mean to tell you, y'all, Duke's Mayonnaise is the best.Moving to Maryland, as c…

Full of It?

Serious Eats, a blog I follow, has a poll today concerning the restaurant trend of small plates - debating whether they are a cool, Tapas-esque thing, or a way lame attempt to cheat their patrons.

I have to laugh because I'm always a little nervous when Scott and I dine somewhere that offers small plates in lieu of entree-size portions. With the opportunity to taste a variety of things, I love the concept. However, Scott is wary of anything "small" about a meal. The man requires certain amounts of food, and anything less is just a big damn shame.

Recently we took two friends visiting from Nashville to a Greek/Middle Eastern place where we each selected two things to try. Between the four of us, I felt we all received enough food and the price was just fine. Scott didn't speak up to say if he was satisfied, and I didn't ask, but his raid of the pita basket to sop up the remaining sauces and bits on each plate indicated maybe not so much.

Is it a total racket for a re…

Friday Shout Out: Suckers for Some Seafood

Our love for seafood has no bounds. It is, to use metaphors tragically, wider than any river, deeper than any ocean. It is for reel. (Ok, terrible pun. I will stop now.)

I knew Scott was the man for me when he ordered shrimp and grits on our first date at Asheville's Early Girl Eatery. Scott grew up on Low country seafood and my mom's side hails from the Wilmington, NC area, so our palates are well adjusted to all sorts of fruits of the sea.

Appropriately enough, we served shrimp and grit cakes smothered in country ham tasso gravy and had boiled shrimp accompanied by a huge-ass shrimp trawler ice sculpture at our wedding in coastal South Carolina. (And yes, I must also mention yet again the awesome and legendary cheese castle that I didn't even ask my caterer for yet it totally rocked our friends and relatives' salivating faces off.)

Behold - the kick-ass Cheese Castle (thanks to L. Adams for the pic)

So we like it all - crabs, oysters, fish, shr…

This Rocks

You may recall a couple posts ago that I mentioned I picked up a handy kitchen tool in Colorado.

Here it is! River rock a.k.a. Best Garlic Smasher Ever

The idea came from a cookbook I read in late June - can't remember which chef to attribute for this genius idea, but it honestly works. One good mash to a clove of garlic decimates the skin of the garlic and crushes it so it's almost unnecessary to chop.

This rock came from Boulder Canyon, Colorado. I had Scott and his mom looking with me for a flat, small-ish rock that would fit in the palm of my hand. This one fit the bill perfectly. I am sure there's a rule out there about leaving no trace, taking no rocks or minerals, but I think one small river rock is okay.


Bitesized: Verrines

Just found a new food project: Verrines.

What could be wrong with lots of pretty layers of good food in attractive glassware?

Especially a Greek Caprese Verrine. YUM.

Friday Shout Out: Life's A Total Beach

Just at the moment when both parties in HTT feel like they're crawling out of their skin and going insane in their membranes, a kind friend issues an invitation to their house share at Dewey Beach.

Thank you, dear friend. You know how to cure what ails us.

Aptly described by another friend as "Do Me Beach," it's quite the meat market/rowdy beach to which many in the DC Metro area flock. I visited for the first time in June and well, it's no Charleston or low key NC-style barrier isle, but the area does have its charms.

I'm thinkin' a crabcake somewhere in Rehobeth and a first-time trip for Scott to the Dogfish Head Brewery - I'm gonna get my Namaste on.

Grilled fish. Icy drinks. Dips in the water.

Come on, quittin' time!

Hope everyone enjoys this first weekend in August - how did it get to be August already?!

Minty Fresh

Oh, how I lurve you, mint.

You lend your refreshing, tingly herbal notes to many a fine thing: tea and tabbouleh, to name a few, and even the nostalgia of childhood, those Star Brights Mints my Grandmother Coxey used to keep in her candy dish. (I'd unwrap them and gobble them in secret, stuffing the plastic wrappers between the couch cushions. But nevermind that.)

Our mint plant is doing remarkably well, so I plan on using it as much as I can while it's alive and kickin.'

A great way to do so: a Rice Noodle salad with a Vietnamese lean. Yes, another Cooking Light recipe. I swear that cookbook is the best two dollars I ever spent!

I made this salad last night, using baked salmon in place of the tofu. It was fresh and light and a great departure from the usual Jasmine rice and veggie stir fry we usually eat. Scott's contribution was trekking out to gather some herbs from our mint plant, currently "squatting" with our neighbors' garden goodness (including the su…

Peaches And Tomatoes And Cucumbers, Oh My

This weekend, Hungry Times Two was minus one, as Scott hightailed it to Charlottesville, Va. for a father-son trip. (I was a little, no - make that super - jealous as that's one of the weekend trip destinations on my list).

As per ritual when it's just me in the house to cook for, I scaled it down a bit, with the usual stir fry for one that did not turn out well at all on Friday (rice undercooked; zucchini and eggplant overdone and in a salty sauce I didn't care for). What to do? Trash the meal for a snack of homemade popcorn, of course.

*An aside: Since my introduction to kernels popped in a big pot with a lid, aided by a little salt (or Old Bay, or cayenne, or whatever seasonings you'd like) and olive oil, I haven't bought any microwave popcorn and have no inclination to do so. Why eat greasy crap imitation butter flavor when you can make real popcorn for pennies? And my tree-huggin' self loves that there's less packaging.*

Saturday, with hopes for finding s…