Mmm… Food

They should call me the container lady!
June 5, 2009, 10:43 am
Filed under: Random Facts

Lunch at work is usually an array of containers (packaged by the lovely April for my consumption) full of a variety of leftovers and new items.  And sometimes it gets a little out of control. 

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This meal from last week contained

1. light blue lid: condiments for hot dog including mustard, ketchup, onions, relish, tomatos 

2. white ramekin: raspberry jello with blackberries

3. dark blue lid: pineapple chunks

4. bottle of ranch dressing for green salad

5. tupperware with green salad

6. baggie with lemon cake muffin (Oh my god these were good!!  From and issue of Martha’s “Great Food Fast” magazine that I picked up for free at a garage sale a couple days before!  Praise to Ilana for fine preparations!)

7. hot dog: awaiting condiments from above

8. container of “oriental fansy mix” as sold by edgewater produce containing, peanuts, wasabi peas, pumpkin seeds, cashes and rice crackers

9.bag of rice crackers from Trader Joes. (the number of rice cracker sin #8 just wasn’t sufficient for me.  find a replacement!!)

I used to carry this mass of containers to work in whatever random bag I happened to grab that morning, but have now stepped it up with a fine little insulated Lunch Bag.  Well not so little.  It’s too large to fit in the fridge easily, so while the container journey to and from work in this bag they still get stored in the mini-fridge at work individually.  Still a step up though.  which makes me think now…. IT”S TIME FOR LUNCH!!!


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!!!

Week 7: The End of the Line: How Overfishing is Changing the World and What we Eat by Charles Clover
February 19, 2009, 5:23 pm
Filed under: Books, Random Facts

endfotheline1The End of the Line: How Overfishing Is Changing the World and What We Eat By: Charles Clover 

Excellently researched and written book about, well about what the subtitle declares it is about.  The amount of information packed into this book is a little overwhelming, but the way it is all crafted together in an incredibly persuasive argument here is something to be applauded.  It has been by newspaper like The Independent which calls this book “The maritime equivalent of Silent Spring“.  If you don’t know Silent Spring, originally published in 1964 it was the book that helped spur the public’s interest and awareness in environmental issues, specifically that DDT pollution was wreaking incredible havoc on the world.  But even if you question any of the rebuffs of the information being presented here as being taken out of context, or missing the bigger point even if you could disprove 50% of his information (and I doubt you could) this book is giant slap in the face. 

Now.. as I’ve already discussed this book with friends who accuse me of having a prior disposition to want to find reasons to not eat fish (I have never been a fish lover.  As a child my mom tried to pass of fish to me as “white steak”, my response? “This white steak tastes a lot like fish!”) I want to try to come out and defend myself.  I want to like fish.  I’ve heard a lot of good things about fish as a health food, and it doesn’t (at least the wild stuff)  have any of the inhumane treatment problems that a lot of cattle, swine and chicken have nowadays, and there’s a ton of different varieties.  There seem to be so many positives.  I just can’t get used to the taste.  I need to experiment more.  Try more things.  Try more seasoning, but I want to try those new things with a slightly different take which is wildly influenced by my reading of this book. 

The abuse of the worlds oceans and taking fish out at an alarming rate have reduced fish populations and he talks more about breeding populations than seems possible.  In some areas the fish population has been reduced by 50%, 75%, 90%.   Newfoundland used to be a hotbed for cod.  Now there is none to be had.  The fishing industry for cod there is dead!  There are countless examples in the book.  All shocking.  There seems to be so much greed on the part of fisherman, taking more and more from less and less.  Using technology to locate what’s left and taking it too.  There is also greed in part on the consumer, not caring to know or think about where the fish came from.  How it was caught, what else died so that we could eat it and if it was old enough to have reproduced or removed from an already depleted ecosystem.  And many poor countries in Africa especially whose governments sell fishing rights to other countries (such as Spain) because they are so poor and they need the money, yet their own citizen who then fish for sustenance on their own shores go hungry as all the fish is taken up by large boats and shipped off to more wealthy countries. 

Without reading the book and having all the convincing arguments put in your brain that way, check this out. which is an all around smorgasbord of information on fish, links to 36 different organization that all publish lists for consumers.  While there are variations on each site, and each one includes separate sets of factors and updates their lists independently they all say similar things.  There are fish that can be eaten in good conscious and there are fish that you shouldn’t be eating.  Check one of them out.  Charles Clover seems to think the WWF (which has been an advocate for animals for a very long time) publishes one of the best lists.    I printed it for our fridge.  So that I can work on trying new fish, but making sure we are trying something that we can feel good about.  As the organic market which includes vegetables, eggs, milk, and meat moves off land and into the ocean and begins to apply more and more to fish and seafood I agree with the author that it is coming.

This was a very interesting read and I would definitely recommend it to anyone with an interest in knowing more about the fishing industry.  It was an eye-opener on more than one occasion, and has definitely influenced how I will think about fish in the future.

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

Salsify- to add salsa to a dish??
January 17, 2009, 7:12 pm
Filed under: Foods, Random Facts, Shopping

We picked up our last Winter Food Share this past Thursday.  We have been inundated with lots of squash, potatoes, and onions in all the deliveries, plus a variety of other food stuffs.  Parsnips. Turnips, Popcorn on the cob.  Maybe not standard items purchased at the grocery store, but still easily recognizable.  Then there were the roots we were delivered.  Upon pulling them out of the box, I declared “Parsnips, except they seem a little brown and smaller”  the next item that came out I again thought “parsnips, but wait I declared the last item to be parsnips, so they can’t both be parsnips, so what the heck was the first thing?”  After going to the website of the CSA Homegrown Wisconsin (you can sign up for their Summer CSA now!) and checking out the Newsletter I was able to identify the food as salsify.  What the heck is salsify you ask? 


As per wikipedia… “The vegetable called salsify is usually the root of Purple Salsify, Tragopogon porrifolius; the root is described as having the taste of oysters (hence the alternative common name “Oyster Plant” for some species in this genus), but more insipid with a touch of sweetness.

All the dishes (and there weren’t many) that I found on various sites seemed to pair salsify with seafood. Based on wikipedia, I assume this is because of the oyster flavour ascribed to the root. We are currently planning to try out this new root in the following dish by Emeril Lagasse. Flatiron Steak with Lemon, Herbs and Olive Oil with Sauteed Salsify and Elephant Garlic Chips. The next problem of course being, what is a Flatiron Steak?? While I like to think of myself as a Foodie. I may be misrepresenting myself. I have a lot to learn. I don’t know different cuts of meat or which part of the cow they come from. I’ve never had lobster and Dim Sum was unheard of only a year ago. I’ve come a long ways already, but I have many more miles to go. But I’m willing to try. Bring on the salsify. I’ll see what I can do. Worst of all, you throw it out and order a sandwich.

Check back later this week to see how it turns out 🙂

The Chemistry of Cooking
January 14, 2009, 2:38 pm
Filed under: Random Facts

On Monday, I attended a guest lecture/presentation at the Chicago Cultural Center entitled “The Chemistry of Cooking”  as part of Ars Scienta a New Series of presentations and panel discussions about the crossovers between the worlds of science and art.   It featured Chef Homaru Cantu who runs Moto restaurant here in Chicago, as well as Linda Suzu Kawano the V.P. of Cantu Designs(a separate food technology business of Chef Cantu) and Chuck Valsuskas, the IP Patent Attorney for the Cantu enterprise. 

The lecture while entertaining was a little disappointing. I blame part of that on the mixed nature of any public event and the inability of a presenter to be overly technical for fear of alienating part of their audience. However… where the blurb that got me interested stated “Learn how Chef Cantu and his partner at Cantu Designs, scientist Dr. Linda Kawano collaborate, share ideas and meld science, art and business.” it felt at time like Chef had forgotten this as the goal and instead embarked on a mini-presentation of plating his foodstuffs, with some explanation of how an item is prepared. Don’t get me wrong. It’s cool to watch and you want that inside opinion of the Chef designing your food. But much of what he presented felt like it was just a preview of eating at his restaurant. In some ways it dulled the excited of wanting to go to his restaurant and seeing in person the tricks that I already the inside info on. I didn’t care about any dish in particular. I wanted to know how he was inspired. How he uses science to manipulate food into something we haven’t seen before. I wanted to hear more about process not product.

Dr. Linda Kawano did give an interesting presentation on taste buds and receptors that have led to the recognition of a fifth taste, known as “umami” described as deliciousness, but we were left hanging when Chef made no tie into his use of umami, or anything that seemingly related to Dr. Kawano’s lecture.  I can only assume that they prepared for this demonstration completely independently with no communication between the two.  😦

The high point of attending the lecture may be the knowledge that this series exists and there are more lectures to come.  More topics that look interesting, such as “Environmentalism” which has presenters talking about turning City Parks into climate change laboratories,  or Biology and Genetics and the concept of “Bio-Art” and things like  a glowing fluorescent bunny.  I’ll be coming back for more.  It may not all be food related, but it’s right up my alley, and I want more!!!

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Ravioli
November 24, 2008, 12:38 pm
Filed under: Cooking, Random Facts

Lazy Sunday afternoons. Top Chef on T.V. Cooking adventures in my own kitchen. Yesterday evening after watching Top Chef and thinking about seasonal foods, I decided to use the savory pumpkin April cooked down last week to make some homemade pumpkin ravioli in a sage brown butter sauce.


Pasta Dough: I checked our freezer and sure enough I had some leftover whole wheat pasta dough left back from when I made the two squash lasagnas. While the pasta dough is best freshly freshly made, I’ve found that it’s still pretty damn tasty if you freeze half the batch and thaw it out to use again at a later date. While I spend a lot of time cooking, there are still plenty of short cuts I like to take advantage of.   I rolled the dough out to a 6 setting on the Atlas pasta maker.  This is one less than the thinnest setting capable of my machine, so pretty thin, but not the maximum.


Filling: I mixed about 1 1/2 cups of cooked pumpkin (April cooked a couple of pumpkins down 2 or 3 weeks ago) with 1 cup of ricotta cheese. Flavored it with 1/2 t nutmeg, 1/4 t ground cloves, 1 tsp salt and a couple turns of black peppercorns.   Place about 1T of filling on the rolled pasta.  Wet the edges around each dollop with water and place a second rolled sheet on top.



Press around each dollop expelling as much air around each ravioli filling piece before sealing.  You want to keep as much air as possible out.  Once they are sealed cut them with a pastry wheel to give them that scalloped edge.



Cook. One of the best things about fresh pasta is that it takes mere minutes to cook, sometimes not even a full one!  Put the ravioli into boiling water, they’ll coem to float when they are done.