Mmm… Food

What happened?!?!?!
May 22, 2009, 12:05 pm
Filed under: Cooking, Foods, Random Facts, Restaurants

I don’t have any good excuses.  So I won’t try to make a grandiose apology.  It’s been too long.  I’m coming back!!!

Of course, maybe I should have waited to share a more recent eating/cooking/dining experience.  But I’m feeling the impulse, and don’t want to push it off and watch more time go by before I post again. 

So…  here’s a few pics of stuff I managed to snap along the way in the past two months since I’ve put anything new up.

1st Grill of 2009 on March 26th.

The first time I grilled in 2009 was back on March 26th.  Rare warm day that I took advantage of.
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Ethiopian Coffee, (April 12th)  served from a traditional coffee pot known as a “jebena”, at The Peacock Cafe located at 6014 N. Brodway at Glenlake.
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Duck Nachos (April a5th) at Dorado 2301 W. Foster
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Strawberry Whipped Cream cake (April 23rd) , from which April made for me after I e-mailed her with an “I want This” e-mail 🙂  Super Awesome!!!

And there will be new to come!!!  Yeah 3 day weekend comingup!!!


This here is one of my favourite things!!!
February 24, 2009, 4:50 pm
Filed under: Cooking, Foods



There are of course millions of variations and this is a variation on a Martha recipe.  I was raised on a rather simple version of elbow macaroni and grated mild cheddar.  Yes that’s it.  That’s my mom’s cooking for ya!  Simple!  To the point!!  I still prefer this 2 ingredient version, but instead prefer the small shell over the elbow macaroni.  But… this time around the recipe included the Ropp Blue Cheddar cheese we purchased at the Winter Farmers Market 2 weeks ago mixed with a more lentilwalnut-012standard medium yellow cheddar from the Devon Market.  I started with one of Martha’s many different recipes (this one from Everyday Food) for Macaroni and Cheese and changed it up by of course swapping out kinds of cheese, using low fat milk, whole wheat small shells, whole grain bread and leaving out the ham.  Results 2.5 stars out of 4.  While flavor was tasty (the blue cheddar gave it a nice pungent kick), it lost that creaminess and had a kind of grainy texture.  😦  Who knows what the exact cause was,  The blue cheddar was a bit more crumbly than moist (as some blues tend to be) so perhaps this was the downfall, or perhaps it was the lowfat milk.  Cooking time.  Reduction of milk.  I dont’ have enough experience to tell you where this went wrong.  Hopefully I’ll have better luck next time.  Do you have a favourite mac and cheese recipe?  Or place to order it?

Off the Beaten Path : Getting Groceries from alternate sources
February 11, 2009, 3:07 pm
Filed under: Foods, Shopping

We tried to take advantage of the beautiful 50 degree weather in Chicago this weekend by investigating a new park with the dog.  What was not considered was the amount of meltoff and flooding that would come with the 50 degree weather, considering all the snow and cold we have had up to this glorious weekend!!! MUD CITY!!!  Alas, it was a fun adventure.  I’m trying to work my way around all the city parks, there are so many of them and the dog loves getting out and about as much as I’m enjoying seeing something new.  But anywhoozle.  The point here starts then with post dog park mud explorations we were planning on getting some groceries on the way home. 

On our way to Trader Joes, we saw a sign outside a Church Building advertising “WINTER FARMERS MARKET : PUBLIC WELCOME”  So we swung a right with the car, circled back and went in to check out the goods.  I was initially hoping for a larger variety of fresh vegetables and squash and such, but what we found was 40 bucks worth of homegrown goodness such as …

021009-003Organic Salsas with no added sugar or preservatives.  Eat it up!!!  Brought to you by Tomato Mountain Farms in Brooklyn Wisconsin.  The smoky one is super tasty!!


021009-006Breakfast Sausage and Lean Ground Beef from Arnolds Farm.  Note – this guy takes orders for his meat and makes some kind of monthly delivery to the Chicago area.  I’m looking into this more as these were some super tasty links!!!!  

021009-004Buckwheat Flour – Seriously we couldn’t even find this stuff at Whole Foods, the mecca of out of the way “Health Food” flours such as Buckwheat.  It’s in a Foodsaver container which is a whole other post to come.  April foodsaved most of our freezer this past weekend 🙂  You can find this one at Ted’s Organic Grainsin Dekalb Illinois.  Which ooh, they have a bunch of flours that all look rather spectacular!!!  Perhaps we’ll have to try some others 🙂

Baby Bella Mushrooms – No pic, but these things were plump and beautiful!!!

021009-005Blue Cheddar Cheese – I want to try some Mac and Cheese Recipe for this tasty consumption!!!  Know of any??  This one is from Ropp Jersey Cheeselocated in Normal Il.  Holla at my Aunt and Uncle!! They used to live in Normal.

Next time I see one of these signs I’ll be sure to be stopping again!!!  You never know what you are going to find.

Getting Back to Basics
February 1, 2009, 4:48 pm
Filed under: Cooking, Foods

This afternoon I made a snack of popcorn. Organically grown. On the cob. Popped on the stove in a large pan in some canola oil. Topped with olive oil and salt. Simple. Tasty. Old old school. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have popcorn not from a bag. A microwave bag that is. They don’t use a microwave to make you popcorn at the movies, but when is the last time you made popcorn at home and didn’t use a microwave?


In a game of free word association, I’d be willing to bet that when given the word “Popcorn” there would be more than a couple people to say “Microwave”. If you use the on-line service (I used to swear by this service and if it weren’t for the foodshare and the non-single life I now lead I probably still would) and search for “popcorn” you are first made to select between

“Caramel Corn”
“Popcorn Kernels”
“Popcorn Snacks”
“Popping Corn Microwave”

Once you establish that you aren’t looking for pre-popped popcorn or popcorn balls with syrup you can either go with “Popcorn Kernels” – with a whopping 4 choices of kernels, or “Popping Corn Microwave” of which there are 29 different choices!!! I was initially surprised that there were even 4 choices for Popcorn Kernels. Of course one of these choices is the “Jiffy Pop” which is in a different class of popcorn still, but maybe people actually still use this kind?? The microwave version is just so much more prolific! But 29 choices of Microwave popcorn this seems like overkill. “Butter” “Buttery Kettle Corn” “Light Butter” “Natural” “94% Fat Free Unsalted” “100 Calorie Snack Size” “Homestyle Butter” “Movie Theater Butter” “Movie Extra Butter” It’s Popcorn for gods sake. This seems ridiculous. Which is perhaps why I got so excited about the popcorn from the food share.

First the popcorn cobs are small. The largest ones were maybe 5 inches long. And the actual kernels are much smaller than anything you’ll find in the grocery store. img_16701 Just 2 cobs yielded about a bags worth of microwave popcorn. Not bad. A quick read on Wikipedia, lets you know that the popcorn industry considers two factors when producing desirable popcorn. 1. What percentage of kernels pop and 2. How large the popped kernels expand. You want both points to be large!! Big fluffy popcorn and lots of it!!. While the popcorn I made was smaller than something you might get in a bag, only 4 or 5 kernels from the 2 cobs I prepared were left at the bottom when I was done. Not bad by my estimation. And all I had to do was rub the kernels off the cob, add them to a little canola oil, apply heat, shake and wala!!! img_1676 (I know that wala! is not really a word, but I do use it a lot. Perhaps I will see if there is a better slang spelling 🙂

But perhaps the best thing about this whole thing is not even the finished product, but the wonderful visual and auditory show that gets put on in front of you. Sure everyone who makes microwave popcorn knows what it sounds like, but when is the last time you saw a kernel burst open and leave a fluffy piece of popcorn in it’s wake. The first few spring to life and look like aliens have landed in the your pot on the stovetop. Out of no-where they spring to life, slowly at first and then it a burst of fury. So you have to quickly make sure the lid is on, or you will have a kitchen full of popcorn. Those suckers burst with a bang!! Lucky thing we have a dog to pick up the free fliers 🙂 So, if you have the chance to get some real popcorn off the cob. Try it, it brightened my whole afternoon, and gave me a tasty snack 🙂

Homemade Pizza. Delicious!
January 30, 2009, 11:52 am
Filed under: Cooking, Foods, Shopping

I always used to believe that pizza was best ordered out.  Call it my Chicago roots talking but I love deep dish Chicago style pizza.  Thick and cheesy.  Giordano’stops my list but there are many other places I love a slice at.  This is not something you can just make at home either.  So with that considered, making pizza at home was usually seen as a money saving opportunity or food adventure by making my own crust and topping it with unlikely items, (like the prosciutto and egg pizza we tried earlier this year).  So last nite I was just looking for an easy fix to the problem that we had extra pesto in our fridge and needed a food solution to use it up.  Stepping up to the plate was Trader Joes.


Trader Joes sells pizza dough still in it’s raw dough form.  You just have to roll it out, top it with whatever you choose and bake for 7 or 8 minutes.  It’s fresher and tastier than any kind of Boboli or other pre-baked pizza dough, and it comes in a Whole Wheat version which makes it a little healthier.  (I say a little because even at home, pizza is not the prize winning choice for healthy meals.  However… last nite it was easy to make, cheaper than getting a pizza delivered, and one of the tastiest homemade pizzas I’ve ever made!!!

Instead of using a red pizza sauce, I used the pesto as the base.  I topped it with some pepperoni and fresh mushrooms and then covered it with a part skim mozzarella.  In the oven for 8 minutes and wala!!!  Heaven.  We ate the whole thing.  I felt overfull when we were done, but when it tastes that good you just can’t stop yourself.  Well maybe YOU can, but I can’t.

Cutest Video!!!
January 22, 2009, 9:54 am
Filed under: Foods, Random Facts

Crab Crunch and Salsify
January 21, 2009, 12:28 pm
Filed under: Cooking, Foods

 There are successes and there are failures.  I know that you need one to have the other, but still there is disappointment when things don’t work out the way you think they should.  Last nites dinner of crab cakes and salsify was decent.  Not a failure, but I wouldn’t exactly call it a success.

Let’s start with the Crab Cakes.  Lump crab meat is expensive, even more so when you buy it at Whole Foods.  However, they didn’t have it at the first grocery store I had been at, so we stopped by Whole Foods


on our way home from seeing Revolutionary Road (side note, very good don’t see it if you’re looking for a pick me up).  The woman behind the seafood counter section showed us to the refrigerated section where they had pre-packaged lump crab meat.  $3.99.  Not bad.  Get two containers, add it with our few other items and we’re ready to go.  Until.  You check out and each container rings up at an alarming $14.99 a piece!!!  Definitely read the sign wrong.   What is meant to be just part of our Tuesday nite dinner is now costing us 30 dollars!!!  Stop. Return that, get the canned stuff.  It’s still not $3.99 a can, but much less expensive.  I don’t know what canned crab meat at  Jewel or Dominick’s might cost, but crab cakes are being viewed as a treat by my pocketbook right now.

After chopping and cooking onions and celery.  Measuring all the spices, sauces, mayo, parsley and mixing it with crab meat I thought.  Boy these cakes aren’t sticking together very well.  I’m not sure how breading them is going to go.  Not well is the case.  Gingerly touched, they still fell apart.   I was able to place in them in the pan whole for first side browning, but forget flipping them.  Crab cakes became crab crunch.  Not the same, but April didn’t disapprove.  She claimed to like them, although I didn’t find anything super special about the seasoning, and am still working on adding seafood and fish to my diet as something to be enjoyed.   My vote is don’t make these again.

Salsify.  Salsify is just strange.  Maybe more strange because I hadn’t even heard of it before last week.  April compared the finished version to french fries, but I won’t be buying this as substitute any time soon.  salsifyI prepared the brown root vegetable per Emeril’s recipe here.  #1- Peel the salsify.  No problem.  Softer than a carrot, peeling was relatively easy but time consuming.  What’s strange is that you peel a section to reveal a milky white flesh which immediately starts to brown.  Within seconds it is a brownish hue.  The ends that I cut also leaked a milky substance,  oozing out the top really.  Never seen anything like it before.  #2 Cook it.  Put it on the stove top in a mixture of milk, water, salt and pepper.  Bring it to a boil and simmer it for about 15 minutes.  Pull it out and let it cool.  #3 Coat it in cornstarch and sear it stovetop in olive oil.  Kind of looks like a french fry.  A duller french fry. 

But the salsify didn’t seem to have any distinct flavour.  I couldn’t detect an oyster flavour, which had been hinted at in articles I had read.  Nothing sharp, tart or tangy.  Nothing to push you to either side.  Just a cooked root vegetable substance with a little browned coating.  

Alone the dishes looked sad in their pans.  Blah and unappealing.  Which is why there are sauces and garnish.  The red pepper and mayo sauce to top the crab added some much needed color, and a sprig of parsley brightened up the plate. 


Like I said, not a total failure, but not exactly a success.