Archive for the 'Food' Category

Airline Food

I made it to Amsterdam! Stop number one on the way to Tanzania…

This was my first inter-continental flight in about 5 years. And the first cross-oceanic flight in about 10 years! It wasn’t as bad as I feared– smooth most of the way, and the food wasn’t half bad either. One 8-hr flight down, one to go 😛

Dinner

"Meat"-- chicken in tomato sauce with potatoes, bean and chicken salad, and a piece of chocolate cake (not worth eating). Not quite sure why they felt the need to include an additional salt packet-- even *I* thought it was already well-salted.

Wine

French red wine 😉 Made me drowzy, did the trick.

Peach yogurt, "blueberry" muffin (I found one berry), and OJ-- the yogurt was tasty... it had HFCS, though 😦

I found KLM's Corporate Social Responsibility statement inside of the breakfast box an interesting way to start the day...

I love food.

I love food. I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about it, planning what I’m going to eat, shopping for the ingredients, and preparing meals. Having said that, there is one dish (okay, there are a whole bunch of dishes, but this one is on my mind right now) that I eat on a regular basis, and could probably eat every day for a long time before I got sick of them. And it’s embarrassingly easy (and lazy) to make. And decidedly un-glamorous. And possibly un-healthy (but not so in my opinion).

That, my friends, is scrambled eggs with fried potatoes. And salsa. And cheese. Two types of salsa, actually, and one type of cheese.

I was running errands this morning, and the free donuts I had expected at errand number 3 were extremely gross (way sub-par), so I didn’t really have breakfast. Not that donuts would have been a good excuse for breakfast.

In the car between errand number 3 and errand number 4, I began day dreaming about these eggs. They’re nothing terribly *special*, mind you, but I think they’re delicious. By the time I finally got home for lunch, however, it was 1 pm and I was really frickin’ hungry (stomach growling and everything!). I didn’t have the time or patience or steadiness of hand to chop the potatoes into teeny pieces and wait for them to fry. So, I heated up some leftover carrot/squash/sweet potato soup and toasted myself some cheese bread (which was later repeated with salsa for dipping as a mid-afternoon snack).

I didn’t make myself the eggs until dinner time. Some poor souls will cringe at the thought of eating eggs for dinner. Those souls, I feel sorry for them– not knowing the joy that is breakfast for dinner. Especially when paired with decaf coffee or hot cocoa.

So I start by chopping the potatoes really tiny. Really really tiny. Like, a 1/4-inch cubed. I’m impatient, and am more likely to eat bigger potato chunks slightly raw because I didn’t wait long enough for them to cook. If you’ve ever eaten raw or under-cooked potatoes, you know that it is not a pleasant experience for you *or* your stomach.

Toss those in to one well-seasoned (and increasingly so!) skillet with olive oil, and fry for a while. Then I dump in TJ’s tomatillo salsa and simmer for a bit, followed by TJ’s corn salsa. I didn’t say it was fancy. Or difficult. Just delicious.

Finally, when the potatoes are soft and most of the liquid has evaporated (I detest watery eggs), I throw in two eggs scrambled with a bit of half and half. Oh hellz yeah.

Creamy eggy goodness.

Sometimes I’ll pop the whole thing under the broiler and make a frittata. Admittedly, I like the texture of that better. And the presentation tends to be much prettier.

(image from above link to original post)

This time, I just scrambled them and melted some sharp white cheddar cheese on top. The texture leaves perhaps a tiny smidgen to be desired… but the taste is delicious. So much so that I ate it all before I took a picture of the final product (that, and the final presentation would probably make people gag– not me!).

A note about pictures: I’m trying out using my camera phone and Bluetooth-ing the pictures to my computer (which I find really, really cool and entertaining). I realize that the quality of the pictures is a little lower than if I had used the DSLR… but I am determined to believe that there are no “bad” cameras, that each type of camera has its particular place and uses. And I’m trying to figure out how to take cool pictures with a camera phone. That is all.

Let it be known

that I love cheese bread. Sometimes dipped in soup. Sometimes dipped in salsa. But mostly just cheese bread.

This time, it's with salsa.

Monday Night Feast

Yes, I know it’s Thursday.

I decided to do a little cooking on Monday, which I feel like I haven’t done in a while.  Let me qualify that: I haven’t cooked except for the usual eggs, hot cereal, and near-instant polenta + marinara sauce I made a while ago and then froze.

I had a recipe on 101 Cookbooks bookmarked for what seemed like an eternity, and a half of a cabbage languishing in my fridge for an equally long duration.  So I finally got around to making Jamaican Veggie Patties.  They happen to be vegan, and incredibly delicious. Seriously– the coconut oil in the crust turned out better than any buttery crust I have ever made. It was manageable even at room temperature, had the perfect balance of moisture and non-stickyness, and turned out flaky and light.  I think I will substitute coconut oil in my pastry crusts from now on.

I was surprised at how little of each of the vegetables the recipe used: I ended up needing one small (ping pong ball-sized) potato, a quarter of a softball-sized yellow onion, one medium carrot, less than a quarter of my cabbage, and a small fraction of the frozen corn and peas.  Yes, it has evil, evil corn in it.  The stuff I bought appeared to be industrial-organic, so just a minor step up from industrial. But whole, organic sweet corn is way better than the chemical-laden creepy stuff they put in store-bought pocket sandwiches (ew).

[Speaking of chemical-laden creepy stuff: I watched King Corn last night, as “research” for my final paper in Biological Anthropology.  I have a strong desire to make high-fructose corn syrup in my kitchen now.]

The veggie patty recipe also has white flour in the crust. I wonder if you could substitute all whole wheat pastry flour, and still get as nice a consistency in the dough? Probably not, but I might try it anyway, next time.

Anyway, the photo I took is not that attractive, the ones on 101 Cookbooks are more likely to make you want to eat these “patties” (more like empanadas, if you ask me).  Yes, the crust really is that yellow. No, I did not use soy flour– the color comes from the turmeric. Yes, it will stain your hands, food processor, glass bowl, and counter top.  It will also leave greasy yellow spots on the napkins you use to reheat the patties at school, making your colleagues wonder what the hell you’re eating. And they will be jealous.

I made some black beans and spinach to go along with the meal, because I could not stand not having something green and something protein-y with my dinner. So there.  I added one glass of cheap red wine, and was all set.

monday-food

I made eight patties using one of my rice bowls as the pattern for the crusts. I managed to plan the filling:crust ratio perfectly, and had no leftovers whatsoever! [except for whole ingredients, which will find other homes]  I froze all but three of the final product– but ate those so quickly I took another out of the freezer for dinner today! Note: They freeze really well, already baked and wrapped in aluminum foil.  Reheated, the crust doesn’t get soggy/ hard. Hooray!

I am tempted to go buy the cookbook that the recipe came from: Vegan Soul Kitchen

Please don’t panic, Doc. I am not “going vegan.” It was just one recipe. I ate a lot of cheese today, and an egg, and put half and half in my coffee. But the recipe was quite tasty 😉

I used the leftover coconut milk to make some decadent vegan hot cocoa for dessert.

In other news: my cats have learned to jump up on the tall bookshelves in my office.  Sofi got it first, and sat taunting Speckle all day on Monday. Tuesday, he finally jumped up there with her, and she was pissed.

cats-on-shelf

They seem to have worked out their conflict by now.

You have to admit, I have the cutest cat(s) in the entire world.

specky

Admit it!!

Dragging

My focus and energy have been dragging since about Sunday, not to mention my less-than-stellar mood.  I’m starting to wonder if it’s perhaps because my nutrition has taken a small dip this week– starting with a single piece of coffee cake at a cafe, and progressing into the replacement of my normal morning cereal with a very delicious, though nutritionally devoid, pecan coffee cake (Doc and) I made Sunday morning. That, of course, has snowballed into daily chai lattes and vegan chocolate chip cookies. Plus, I’ve neglected to take my vitamins this last week or so… oh, and did I mention that I ran out of decaf coffee last week, and so had a couple of cups of caffeine? I wonder if I’m suffering the fallout of that?

I’m cat-sitting for my advisor this week, and I never feel entirely comfortable in other peoples’ kitchens (including my mother’s kitchen). So, I haven’t been cooking as much, instead resorting to leftovers and more-convenient (though not “convenience”!) foods like crackers and cheese, and pitas and hummus. And coffee cake.

Ugh. Why do I let this happen? I know I’ll feel like crap if I eat like crap! Stupid stupid stupid lazy lazy lazy.

I need to find a way around this, actually.  Every time I go to the field, I end up either 1) gaining an obscene amount of weight (along the lines of 30 lbs), 2) losing an obscene amount of weight (along the lines of 20 lbs), or 3) suffering from general digestive discomfort (thanks to a near- complete lack of vegetables in my diet).  Or some combination of the above.  All of this in turn leads to and reinforces an already present depression or moodiness (hey! a structuring structure!).  Needless to say, not my most productive state.

The worst of it is, if I’m already homesick/ depressed, I really won’t give a sh*t about eating well.  And then it just forms a vicious cycle.

So, two questions: how do I avoid laziness at home, knowing full well that my mood and state of mind are closely tied to what I eat? and: how do I maintain a decent level of nutrition if I’m living with a family that subsists on tortillas, white rice, and beans (and noting that bringing my own food is absolutely not an option)?

Localism

My roommate came home from brunch two weeks ago looking decidedly troubled. She had gone to eat with her, um, Friend (also my friend, with a little ‘f’, to whom I introduced her) at a local/organic foods “breakfast club” held at an acquaintance’s house a few blocks away.

“It was like being at a cult meeting!” She had exclaimed to me.  “These people [pause for emphasis] are in a cult!”

We have had somewhat heated debates, sometimes tongue-in-cheek sparrings over what a certain sociologist actually means by “common sense knowledge” (yeah, we’re dorks), but lately we’ve been quabbling over localism in relation to our shared class on “Consumption.”

My roommate’s argument is that localism, like any other set of beliefs, is just that. It’s a system of values just like thrift, religion, or pacifism.  It happens to drive consumptive practices in certain spheres.  And yes, like in every value system, there are hypocrites.

I really don’t argue with her there. I’m totally aware of the constructed-ness of localism as a value system.  And yeah, it happens to be a value system that I ascribe to myself.  What I don’t understand, though, is why it bugs her so much and why, for example, religion does not.  I understand that she might feel like she’s at a cult meeting during brunch or at the Farmers’ Market, but I feel like I’m at a cult meeting during church services.  She says it’s the self-righteousness of locavores (those that eat local food).  Clearly she has not had a nice long discussion on morality and religion with my aunt.  Different strokes for different folks.

Maybe I took a big glug of the Koolaide, though. Or make that “locally roasted, fair-trade, organic coffee.”

So I dragged my Friend (in town for spring break) out of bed early on a Friday (okay, technically, he dragged me out of bed because I kept hitting snooze on the alarm, which is a pet peeve of his. tee hee hee.) to go with my friend (who is my roommate’s Friend… get it?) to this dude’s house to have brunch made by a guest-local chef.  My roommate stayed cozy in her bed.

This whole thing started about a month ago with a fundraiser for the Farmers’ Market and Slow Foods Huron Valley.  It was apparently so much fun, that this dude (I’m going to keep referring to him as that) decided to hold brunch every week.  He named it “Café Selma” and posts a sign out in his front yard on Friday mornings to let his neighbors and passers-by know to come on over.

The menu and chef change every week, and the staff is all volunteer.  This week, the chef was the owner of Arbor Teas (http://www.arborteas.com/), a locally-owned organic tea distributor.  The menu included an omelete made with eggs from chickens in the dude’s backyard, mushrooms, cheese, and my friend’s greens (www.brinesfarm.org); waffles and fruit; and homemade granola and yogurt.  I know that following my usual eating-out policy, I should have gotten the waffles (because I don’t have a waffle iron at home and so can’t make waffles). But the omelete looked really good, and we all know that I’ve been on an omelete kick lately.

I also (drumroll please) had a cup of regular coffee, because they didn’t have decaf. Make that two cups of coffee. I am now hallucinating and twitching.  No, I won’t resume that habit; it was a treat and helped to get me perked up for what will be a pretty solid day (1pm-10pm run run run).

The crowd was mostly late 30s, 40s, and early 50s… my Friend and I were definitely the youngest ones there (and my friend referred to some local roasters as “28-year-old kids”, which made me feel like a baby!).  The demographic was about what you’d expect for Ann Arbor.  White, highly educated, working in the creative or intellectual industries.  Able to take Friday morning off from work.

I chatted with the folks that sat at the table with us (most of the others were on the couch or at the counter in the dude’s gorgeous kitchen) about anthropology, and they asked me if I was working for the government.  Didn’t know quite how to reply to that… I got the feeling that “the goverment” were “good guys” for these folks.  Granted, they’re not “bad guys” for me, but they’re definitely not “good guys” either. Hm. Hard to know what to say when your political leanings don’t quite jive with mainstream democrats, but there’s no other way to describe them.

The food was quite tasty.  A real treat was the home-cured ham in the omelete; I almost never eat pork, but this was really delicious.  My Friend also happens to be a fan of pork, and we got the low-down on how the dude had cured the ham.  He has quite the set-up in his basement.  We also got to sample some of his proscuttio, which I (uncultured as I am) had never tried before. Quite tasty.

Payment was by “donation only,” which really meant that in order to not appear as a total jerk, you had to donate something.  We ended up paying about $10 each (which was “suggested”).

I’m still digesting (um, literally and figuratively) the whole experience in relation to my roommate’s critiques, and in relation to this class on Consumption I’m currently in.  The critiques in regards to class and values are on the mark and relevant, but I don’t know if that justifies passing judgement on localism as a value system.  Of course its flawed, but so is any other set of beliefs, and no one is value-free.  What to do?  I think I’ll go again next week.

Munchies

It’s been a looong week. Partially it’s just because it’s the week after spring break, and the week after any break is always tough.  The week after a really fun break spent with someone you don’t get to see very often, and wish you spent more time with, is even worse. (But that’s okay, because that someone is coming here for his break tomorrow!!!)

There’s also the stress of applying for summer funding, working on human-subjects ethics applications, and the usual weekly reading load. And its tax season.  Add to all that that one of my closest friends has abruptly stopped being… well… friendly towards me.  I don’t know what’s going on, but I wish they’d talk to me.

Anyway, I get to justify a little stress-eating.

My mom was visiting this weekend, and we made a delicious batch of homemade hummus.  Unfortunately, I polished off all of my crackers and still have more than half a container of hummus left. Oh, darn.  I swiped two pieces of roomie’s bread last night (shhh, don’t tell!), but felt guilty doing that again today.  And my food budget is done for the week.

So what did I do?

I made my own crackers! Seriously, these are the easiest things in the world.  I whipped them together after doing my taxes AND having a glass of wine, at 11 o’clock at night. Yes, those last three things are concurrent (taxes, wine, 11 pm).

I got this recipe from Bittman– there’s a reason he’s called the Minimalist! (From How to Cook Everything Vegetarian)

Basically: Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Dump 1 cup flour (any kind– I used a mixture of whole wheat pastry and whole wheat) into the food processor. Sprinkle on a liberal pinch of salt. Add two tablespoons oil (any kind– I used grapeseed, but you could also use melted butter or olive or almond, etc etc etc). Process. Add 1/4 cup water. Process. Continue to add water until a soft ball has formed– not sticky, though.  If it gets sticky, add a bit more flour.  Roll out on a lightly-floured surface, to about 1/4 inch or thinner. I sprinkled sea salt on top and gently pressed it into the dough, just for added aesthetics.  Carefully transfer to a cookie sheet, pop in the oven for about 10 min, or until the sheet turns a golden brown.  Let cool a bit, and break into pieces.  I went for “rustic” shapes, but if you feel the need to eat absolutely square crackers, score the dough with a sharp knife before baking.

Oh look! I have pictures!

in-the-oven

cooked-edge

with-hummus

Okay, so, the colors (and lighting) aren’t so appetizing… but you get the idea.  I actually like the crispier edges the best… the thinner, the better when you roll them out.

And yes, I know hummus should really be served with soft flatbread, and that certain people will be annoyed/ appalled that I eat it with things like crackers and toast.

To that I say, Nom nom nom.