Mmm… Food

Organic Fruit Basket
October 30, 2008, 6:43 pm
Filed under: Shopping

This set of Organic Fruits Children’s toys sold by Uncommon Goods is too cute!!!  I smell a baby purchase in the future.  Our friends J&R (the baby shower cake recipients) had their baby earlier this month and I have apparently already become the aunt that can’t be stopped.  stuff for babies is too darn cute!!  so small.  it’s kind of like shopping for shoes where you see them on display in a size 5 and they are just so cute you can’t wait to try them on, and then they bring them out in your size (a 10, so sad) and they just look enormous.  Well baby things are like display shoes.  so freakin’ cute!!!  This set of fruits are made using “vegetable dyes and hand picked 100% organic Egyptian cotton” so cute, safe for your kid, and good for the world.  

I got the catalog for Uncommon Goods randomly in the mail a couple of years ago and I always enjoy browsing through their stuff.  The company strives to provide customers with products that are looking out for the world.  Their print catalog had this to say

“our commitment to sustainability

We care about the impact our business decisions have on the outside world.  Everything we sell is made without harm to animals; we offer many recycled and organic products, and we print this catalog on FSC-certified paper.  We’re proud to have been selectd as a founding member of B Corporation a standard for social responsibility that promotes sustainable practices, such as paying a living wage to our employees”  

all in all seems very cool.  I’ve read about the FSC but I need to do some research about this B Corporation.  Looks like something that may be a standard stamp of approval that if successful would help tip off consumers that a company meets a certain set of standards.  Very cool.  So if you’re looking for a gift for someone and you don’t know what to get, maybe you should check out UncommonGoods and see if something there strikes your fancy.


New Years Resolution for a Foodie Reader! I need your suggestions!!
October 28, 2008, 5:15 pm
Filed under: Books

I have a thing for New Years Resolutions.  I make long lists of resolutions knowing that I won’t be able to keep most of them.  I like to rationalize that keeping a lot of resolutions for a short period of time is kind of like making only one resolution and keeping it all year.  I know this doesn’t actually make sense, but it makes me feel better.  Delusional, yes!  Anywhoozle, one of the resolutions that I have made for the last two years and actually done pretty well at (perhaps because I already enjoy doing it) is to read a book a week.  My lists of books are usually a hodge podge of suggestions from friends, reviews I read in magazines, what was shiniest on the new book shelf at the library, and unread choices from my girlfriends collection.  That is there isn’t much rhyme or reason to what I choose to read from week to week. 


I’ve decided to make 2009 a themed year around food.  I would still like my list of books to include fiction and non-fiction, memoirs and sci-fi, but I want them all to relate to food.  I’m starting to amass my list but I want your suggestions.  Leavea comment and tell me about any of the food related books you’ve read and why I need to make sure they’re on my reading list.  Thanx!!!

Indian Food Mania #2 and I forgot to take pictures?!?!
October 27, 2008, 5:46 pm
Filed under: Cooking

Yesterday was Indian Food Mania #2. Tuesday is the celebration of Diwali, Festival of Lights, which I learned about from Manjula aided by wikipedia and decided to celebrate by making more Indian food on Sunday!  Sadly I got so caught up in the prepping, cooking, and packaging of the food (I was cooking at home but bundling it all to take to our friends J&R’s house to eat) that I forgot to take a single picture!!!  So so so sad.  But ultimately doesn’t matter. Good food was still consumed even if there isn’t any pictoral evidence to present to you.  Those whose mouths it was destined for ate it all and handed out grins for tasty food.  All my selections were again made from Manjulas videos found at  Her vegetarian meals are helpful as we move to cut meat from our daily intake.  I made three dishes using her recipes.  Main Entree: Aloo Baingan, which is made from potatos and eggplant mixed with tomatos and other spices.  Very tasty, but I may increase the spices if I make it again.  Side dish of bhindi masala, which is okra made with a variety of spices including turmeric, cumin seeds, paprika among others, that was a hit last time and a hit again this time.  But really the reason I even decided to endeavor on Indian Food Mania #2 was the dessert.  Gujia.  Oh so freaking tasty!!!  They are a fried pastry with a filling made from heavy cream, milk powder, coconut powder, and almonds.  Then they are wrapped in dough to make what looks somewhat like a dumping.  They are deep fried, dipped in a sugar glaze and garnished with chopped almonds and pistachios.  They were uber tasty and I would love to make them again.  I will use the excuse that I need practice folding dumplings to get the technique down so that they stay stuck together and don’t tear as I fold the dough over the filling.  Really she makes it look so easy in the video, but oh so much harder in my reality.

Sweet Potato Risotto
October 27, 2008, 5:21 pm
Filed under: Cooking

I didn’t plan it at all.  Which is kind of unlikely for something like a risotto.  I would normally plan out making risotto on a nite where I had plenty of time and didn’t think I would mind standing over the stove stirring the risotto “frequently” to prevent it from burning and ensuring it absorbed the liquid small portion by small portion.  But no, I came across the recipe when I examined the torn magazine page that was currently functioning as my bookmark.  It has the picture of the sweet potato risotto, but no recipe, only the date for the current November issue of Real Simple.  We had gotten a sweet potato in the food share just a day earlier, and I knew April would be home later, so I thought I’d give it a whirl. I went home found the magazine that the page had been torn from and we had everything on the list.  What was kind of nice about this recipe is that it used 1 cup of white wine and 4 cups of water for the liquid instead of the more standard chicken or vegetable stock to cook the rice.  I may try this with other vegetables.  We don’t keep stocks on hand the way we do wine and water! HA!

Butternut Squash Soup
October 27, 2008, 5:04 pm
Filed under: Cooking

Last Wednesday we had one of my old roommates over for dinner and I cooked up Martha’s Butternut Squash SoupOur food share just keeps bringing on the squash so I’m trying to come up with more new ways to prepare it.  The soup was relatively easy to make skill wise, with almost as much time spent prepping as cooking.  I still have not mastered the art of peeling a butternut squash.  I still think there must be a trick to doing this.  (Pause while I check youtube for a video)  See this is why youtube is amazing.  This video has been posted for over a year with 18666 views so far.  Brilliant!!!  I will be trying this technique the next time I have to cut up a butternut squash.  Maybe I’ll be able to avoid covering my kitchen floor with peels.

Anywhoozle, the soup was filling and very hearty, but not an enthusiastic must do again.  The part of the soup that got bigger raves than the the puree was the garnish of the Spicy Pumpkin seeds.   They are simply pumpkin seeds tossed with cayenne pepper, chili powder and lime juice and roasted @ 350 for about ten minutes. You can hear them cracking and jumping a little off the baking pan when they are nearing done. Super simple to make, and a great midday snack too!  I plan on making a new batch of these this evening as they only took about 10 minutes in the oven.  Oh, and a note that I learned about pumpkin seeds.  There are pumpkin seeds (like what you get out of a jack-o-lantern which is both the seed and the hull covering) and then there are pumpkin seeds, known as pepitas, often used in Mexican cooking which is just the seed inside with the hull removed.  They are small and green and much more tender than their straight from the pumpkin counter part.

Spacca Napoli Pizzeria
October 22, 2008, 10:56 am
Filed under: Restaurants

Praising Spacca Napoli here on my blog makes me happy, and maybe makes you readers happy and want to go out and try it, but seriously? this place doesn’t need anymore good press.  You should already know about it.  it’s located in Ravenswood at the corner of Sunnyside and Ravenswood and their restaurants website boasts 45 separate reviews from 28 different sources.  How many places can say that??  Sure some of the Chicago classics that have been around for forever have review lists way longer than this, but this place has only been open for 2+ years!!  It opened on Valentines day of 2006 and has been serving it’s Neapolitan pizza since. 

April and I dined there last nite, trying one of the 3 special pizzas offered.  I wish I would have paid better attention to the fine list of ingredients so I could tick them off to you here, but I’m lost in the head space of thinking about the incredible crust that the pizza had.  It was paper thin, but chewy!!  Not hard and crisp, but soft and pliant.  We both were reminded of Naan, the Indian flat bread, which has a similar texture.  The pizza is baked in a wood-burning brick oven that was specially designed for the shop and it cooks the pizza to perfection.  It’s all about the oven, which the Chicago Tribune (in one of it’s five reviews) refers to lovingly as being built “in the tradition of classic Neapolitan ovens, similar to the ones built in Pompeii 2,000 years ago.”  It must be the key.  The high temperatures that take the dough and cook it just so…  They’re on to something here!!! The same is true of Naan.  You can only achieve that perfect texture by using a Tandoor oven made of clay.  The intense heat quickly cooks the bread and leaves it melt in your mouth delicious.

The take away lesson from this?  You have to go out and try it.  This is not something you can do at home.  Your oven at home will never be able to do what this oven can.  You have to try it, in the restaurant, moments after it has left the interior heat, been slapped on a plate and brought to your table piping hot.  This is when you need to eat it.  Now!  No waiting and taking it home to enjoy in the comfort of your own home.  Do it now, in the shop,  eat eat eat!!!

Infused Vodka made in your Dishwasher?!?!
October 21, 2008, 1:28 pm
Filed under: Cooking

Two of our carving party attendees brought with them some home-made infused vodkas that… they made in the dishwasher?!?!  “Huh? I can’t have heard that right… did you say you made it in your dishwasher?”  And then they start to explain and it all makes sense.  First you need the right kind of bottle.  (I am currently in the process of getting the detailed info from them on what kind and where they purchased said bottle but…) Fill it with vodka and the flavour infuser of your choice.  They brought both apple cinammon and cranberry with them, but the possibilities seem endless

Then, ensuring they stay tightly sealed while in the dishwasher, run them through the cycle (again I need to know what cycle).  As the bottles heat up (but don’t boil) the flavours are released into the vodka to give you an infused vodka of your choosing.  Plus they look so pretty and are sure to impress your friends!!!  I want to know exactly how to do this and try and make a cucumber infused vodka.  I tried a cucumber infused vodka a couple of years ago, that when mixed with a cranberry juice made for the perfect refreshing drink!!!