Sunday, November 1, 2009

New Food #11... Blood Sausage

So... on Friday night I had the opportunity to try another new and.... interesting food: blood sausage. If you remember from previous blog, blood sausage was NOT something I was necessarily open to trying.... at all, but when confronted with new, albeit potentially disgusting, food Nana Mensah does NOT back down!.

So what is blood sausage... According to Wiki "Black pudding or blood pudding is a type of sausage made by cooking blood with a filler until it is thick enough to congeal when cooled. It is also called blood sausage.

Pig or cattle blood is most often used; sheep and goat blood are used to a lesser extent. Blood from poultry, horses and other animals are used more rarely. Typical fillers include meat, fat, suet, bread, sweet potato, barley and oatmeal."

So yeah... Blood Sausage is essentially exactly what it sounds like it is... Casing stuffed with a little meat, some fat and then filled with blood and poached until the blood becomes "solid". I didn't have my camera with me, but our dish looked pretty much like this..
Or this...

My thoughts?... I'm actually getting a little nauseous, again, looking at that picture so I'm gonna make this short. I am not exactly sure what makes sausage sausage (maybe just meat in a casing?), but there was nothing sausage-like about the consistency of this sausage. I would compare the consistency to that of really really REALLY soft, moist and crumbly liver.... like spongy and wet.... so crumbly that when you put your fork in it it just sort of falls apart...

The consistency was really difficult to get past.

I think if they had called it blood pudding, NOT put a casing around it and served it in a bowl I wouldn't have been expecting something solid to be entering my mouth and wouldn't have been so traumatized by the texture of the "sausage".

The actual flavor of the sausage wasn't too bad. If I remember correctly it was cumin-y, fennel-y and garlic-y... The taste was very rich and intense. I put a little bit on a piece of bread and it was FAR more palatable that way. Eating the mushy, livery, wet substance by the forkful was NOT the business... at least not for me.

I didn't eat too much of the sausage. As I was eating it, I could feel my stomach turning.... and the churning didn't stop for the rest of the night. I'm not sure if I would try blood pudding/sausae again, but I'm glad I was able to mark something else off of my "new foods" list and didn't suffer too much for it.


November is National Blog Writing Month!... who knew?!?

So apparently during National Blog Writing Month the goal is for all the bloggers out there to commit to posting at least 1 blog a day for all of November.

I love goals! I haven't written on this thing in over a month... I'm in.

Ugh the HARDEST thing about blogging is actually writing. It's hard folks. It's easy to think of things to write... Execution is a biyatch.... but I'm in it to win it!

Keep an eye on me... this is like my own little NYC Blogging Marathon! Feel free to cheer me on from the sidelines... you can even throw food and water! heh heh


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Meet Diva! Fabulous Foster #5

Meet DIVA! My newest foster pug!!
Diva is a 4-month old owner surrender. She was surrendered because her previous owner's mean landlord wouldn't let her keep Diva.... What kind of awful person could resist such a face?!? Oh well... His/her loss is my gain (for the moment) and someone else's gain forever!

Diva is a super playful little gal. She and my Leroy get along fabulously. Like all of my other female fosters, little Diva totally dominates Leroy....
She likes to steal all of his toys and hide under the futon where he can't reach her...

When he tries to go in after her she tells him off!

With all his toys quarantined under the couch, poor Leroy is forced to play with plastic bags :-(
Sometimes Leroy tries to get the upper hand by stealing HER toys and jumping up on the couch.
That didn't stop Diva... Note the look of fear/annoyance on Leroy's face :-p

Overall they play really nicely and love to engage each other in a game of tug-of-war with the fleecy toys! See we can all get along!

Diva is a super cutie and I think she knows it.... She is definitely ruling Leroy, but I suspect he kind of likes to be dominated by the ladies.

So that's Diva! Unless I steal her and run off to Bermuda with she and Leroy, I hope she finds a great new home!

23 days in…

23 days into my “no eating out” for a month goal and I’m still going strong!!

To achieve the 90% completion criteria, I can slip up on 3 of the 30 days. I’m doing really really well so far! Today is day 23 and I’ve only slipped up 2 times. The first mess up was last weekend. It was a pretty hectic Saturday. I had to drop Puggie off at his new foster home at 9:30, get my hair done at 10:30 and then I decided to get a mani/pedi after my hair appointment. I was starving and didn’t pack a lunch so I stopped off at a local spot and got a curried chicken sandwich. Weekends are the hardest part of this goal because you either have to schedule yourself to come home in the middle of the day or carry your lunch with you… The other slip-up was last week. I forgot to pack my breakfast so I got really hungry at like 11:30 and had to eat a super early lunch…. Which then caused me to get really hungry again at like 3:00… so I picked up a cup of soup. If I had packed my breakfast AND lunch and I was still hungry then the cup of soup wouldn’t have counted… but the reason I had to get the soup was because I didn’t pack my breakfast… so I’ll count that as a strike. :-p

Honestly it hasn’t been too too difficult for the month. The worst days are the weekends you kind of have to be tied to your house, or carry food with you. The meal that I’ve found most challenging overall has been breakfast… I’ve been doing a lot of random breakfasts… essentially just eating whatever is available in my fridge. This morning I ate roasted tomato, feta and shrimp for breakfast… Random. I’ve been making a lot of homemade pizzas, so there have been numerous days where my breakfast was left over frozen pizza. Breakfast is hard… I don’t love cereal. I don’t really want to start doing the whole carb thing (bagels, toast, etc). Smoothies create a lot of dirty dishes and aren’t that filling, and I don’t really give myself enough time to cook a proper breakfast in the morning, so I’m kind of at a loss.

Anyone have any good suggestions for easy breakfast suggestions?

7 days to go! I think I will break my eating out fast with a delicious burger and some tater tots from Trailer Park…. Who’s down?
N :-)

Eight-hundred eighty-four thousand, one hundred sixty miiiiinutes!

How do you measure the goals of a yeeeeaaar!!! (and 23 days)

So if you haven’t figured it out yet… you were supposed to be singing the above to the tune of that song from the musical Rent… you know the one that EVERY single show choir did back in 1997.. heh heh…

ANYWAY! (ugh! show choir humor is lost on you all)

I am 614 days (1 month and 23 days) into my 1001 day goal achieving odyssey. So far it has been going moderately well…. It may not look like it from the scant number of crossed off goals to the right, but damnit I feel like I’m achieving something! And that’s what counts, right? I’ve been going at this for a year and I wanted to share my top 5 suggestions/lessons learned for anybody out there that may want to start a little goal setting/achieving of your own.

1. Limit the number of goals that are based on multiple parts or time durations!
I have many of these goals (taking a picture every day for 6 months, don't eat out for a month, don't drink for 60 days, etc). While these are great goals for helping to create good habits, they are really difficult and are potentially discouraging as a slip up on ONE day causes you to fail the entire goal for that go around.
2. Take a close look at your finances before planning your goals
I have a few fairly pricey goals…. Hot air balloon rides, trips out of the country, quarterly trips out of state, wine classes, cooking classes, buying pianos and horses…. Ok not horses, but you get the idea. While they all sound good, realistically it may be difficult to do all these things.
3. Get organized!
It really takes a good deal of organization to try and achieve a set of goals. Planning at the beginning of each month exactly which goals you’d like to achieve within that month will help keep you on track. I hope to start getting much better at this in the remaining 387 days!
4. Doing it together, makes it mo better!
This is something I haven’t really been that great at, but I want to start really doing in earnest from this point on. Doing things alone isn’t fun. Some goals (like doing your dishes every night for 2 months) don’t lend well to group participation, but many other goals (hot air balloon rides, cooking classes, classes at babeland) are definitely things that other people would be excited about. If you pick a particular person you’d like to do a goal with and let that person know ahead of time, you can use their excitement to motivate you to get it done.
5. Cut yourself some slack.
If the process is creating more stress and anxiety then you’re doing something wrong. Goal setting is about self improvement, creating good habits, and hopefully becoming a better and more fulfilled person... not a stressed and dejected one. Don't beat yourself up if you fail on a goal. Just pick yourself up and try it again...

That being said… There are a few things that I personally would like to re-evaluate moving forward specifically in regards to the time/date related goals. They stress me out. The purpose of all of those goals was to create good habits for myself… so I asked myself… does slipping up on 1 or 2 days mean that you failed on the purpose of the goal? Of is it more important that you learn how to pick yourself up if you miss a day and continue? While I see the merits of the former in the spirit of the goal setting goals standard... in many ways my real live will never live up to the gold standard and I am not going to kill myself trying. It's more important to me that I learn how to pick myself up when I fail... because I fail a lot. :-p

So from this point on, I’m setting a 90% completion criteria on my long term goals. the 90% completion refers to the number of days, not actually the number of units of goals (lol I'm such a dork). I've listed the goals effected by this and their new completion criteria below.

Goal Original
# I can miss
5.) Take 1 picture every day for 6 months 180 162 18
28.) Meditate every day for 1 month 30 27 3
32.) Get up at 5:30 am every day for 3 weeks 21 19 2
39.) Be on time or early for everything for a month 30 27 3
40.) Don’t drink alcohol for 60 days 60 54 6
47.) Take multivitamins every day for 3 months 90 81 9
48.) Take medication every day for 3 months 90 81 9
50.) Drink 1.5 liters of water per day for 2 months 60 54 6
77.) Set a budget and stick to it for 2 months 60 54 6
78.) Don't eat out for 1 month 30 27 3
84.) Use the foot thing in the shower every day for 2 month 60 54 6
35.) Go to bed with all clothing hung and no clothing on bed, floor, etc for 45 days 45 41 5
87.) Leave no dishes in the sink overnight for 1 month 30 27 3
88.) Make bed every day for 1 month 30 27 3

Honestly I'm looking forward to working on these goals SO much more now that the pressure has been lessened slightly.

That's all for now... Day 615 here I come!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thursday's Things.... Aboriginal Art

I'm not sure if I'm ever going to post an episode of "Thursday's Things" on Thursday... but no matter, this week's "Thing" is Contemporary Indigenous Australian (Aboriginal) Art!

"Wild Yam Flower" Janet Golder Kngwarreye

I first heard about Indigenous Australian Art (IIA) from my Australian boss. I had never heard of or seen it, so I was intrigued when she mentioned that she and her husband were moderate collectors and my friend Alex's recent trip to Australia made me more curious about these beautiful paintings and the stories behind them.

Indigenous Australian Art is like the perfect melding of modern art, "ethnic" art and folklore. The amazing color work and structural complexity of many of the pieces would rival that of the most prominent western modern artists but there is a certain freedom and flow in the paintings that are definitely reminiscent of "African" art. While the pieces are visually stunning, the folklore aspect is what is most interesting to me. Art is one of the key rituals in the culture of the Indigenous Australians, and was and still is, used to mark territory, record history, and tell stories.

"Grass Seed Dreaming" Barbara Weir

One of the main themes in IAA is "Dreamtime" or "Dreaming". According to Wiki, “indigenous Australians believe in two forms of time; two parallel streams of activity. One is the daily objective activity, the other is an infinite spiritual cycle called the "dreamtime", more real than reality itself. Whatever happens in the dreamtime establishes the values, symbols, and laws of Aboriginal society.”

Many Indigenous Australians also refer to the creation time as "The Dreaming". Indigenous Australians believe that every person, in an essential way, exists eternally in the Dreaming. This eternal part existed before the life of the individual begins, and continues to exist when the life of the individual ends. Both before and after life, it is believed that this spirit-child exists in the Dreaming and is only initiated into life by being born through a mother.

Pretty cool, huh?!

I noticed that a lot of the paintings had reference to inanimate objects “Dreaming” and was a bit confused given the description above… it seems that in many stories of the Dreaming, the Ancestor Spirits came to the earth in human form and in that form they created the animals, plants, rocks and other forms of the land that we know today. Once the ancestor spirits had created the world, they changed into the trees, the stars, rocks, watering holes or other objects. These then became the sacred places of Indigenous Australian culture as the home of the ancestors due to the fact that the ancestors did not disappear at the end of the Dreaming, but remained in these sacred sites.

"Sunset Reef Dreaming" Rex Winston Walford

I obviously don’t have enough information to turn this post into a dissertation on IIA. If you’d like to learn more about IIA or just Indigenous Australian Culture in general, here are a few links.

Ok enough info... here are some more pics! All of these pics were taken from the “ARTERY” website, an Aboriginal Art Gallery. It seems like I am most drawn to clean, structural pieces but there are a ton of other styles on there as well. Enjoy!
"Women's Ceremonial Dance" Josephine Napurrula

"Bush Medicine Plant Dreaming"Gloria Petyarre

"Mina Mina Dreaming - Rock hole (Puli)" Lynette Corby Nungurrayi

Ah-shegonya- mamabishima-ma!!! (translated: my evening at the Lion King! Goal 16)

Another (part of a) goal down and a WONDERFUL evening was spent a few weeks ago when my parents and I had a chance to check out The Lion King on Broadway. I wasn't really expecting much... I always thought of the Lion King as kind of a kiddie show or a touristy show, but it was fabulous! The music was amazing, and the acting was superb.

One of the things I really appreciated about the show was it's treatment of African inspired dancing and song. The style of dance was authentic and absolutely beautiful. It was obvious that it was choreographed by African Dancers... not jazz/theater choreographers who'd watched a couple Ailey shows.... The last musical I saw on Broadway was The Color Purple and I was extremely saddened/disgusted by their "back to Africa" scene. The half nekked actors were jumping around with Michelin man, multi-colored tire looking things on their legs and spinning around throwing their necks back and flailing their arms while saying "Oooga Booga". (I SWEAR they were speaking some random gibberish.) I was thoroughly disgusted by the lack of respect that the choreographers had for African dance, so you can only imagine my pleasure when I saw the beautifully choreographed, and precise dance in the Lion King.

In addition to the dance, the visuals were astonishing. I won't spoil too much, but the entrance of the "animals" is really astounding. The actors completly turned into the animals they were portraying, their movements so perfectly mimicking the slink of the puma or the skip of the gazelle that sometimes I could actually fool myself into thinking I was watching animals on the stage. It was so beautiful I actually found myself tearing up a few times. Here are a few pics I found online to whet your appetite...

My favorite character in the play was the woman that played the "juju woman" (as my mom would say) was PHENOMENAL. I believe she's South African, so that may have helped her out a little bit, but she played the part of an older African woman to a tee. It tickled me, and my mom, to no end.

Also I found out that my cousin is in the show. He plays Bandzai (spelling?) one of the 3 hyenas. He was phenomenal as well.

All in all I had a really great experience at the Lion King and it's without a doubt something I will keep in mind if I have tourists coming in from out of town, or when my nephew gets older and comes to town.

Here are a few pics I snapped...

A huge replica of the wooden mask used in the play to represent Mufasa's spirit

Mom my and I with the tickets to the show... I was really excited!

My mom and dad enjoying some pre-show fun in Times Square.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Super fast (and super delicious) weeknight meal- Tuna pasta with capers and white win

I've been trying to post less about food/recipes... as this isn't really a food blog, but I made really delicious and REALLY easy dinner tonight that I wanted to share. Tuna Pasta with Capers in White Wine. The dish is essentially a olive oil, onion, red pepper flakes, a can of tuna, capers, white wine and parsely.


I got this recipe from a blog that I frequent Simply Recipes. My attempts are recipes from that site were hit or miss, but this was definitely a hit! The entire meal took about 20 min and it was really tasty, really cheap AND made from ingredients that you probably already have in the house. This is something I would totally make for an impromptu dinner if somebody stopped through. It's a recipe that too good and too easy not to share... so here you go. You're welcome.


  • Salt
  • 4 ounces bow tie (farfalle), linguini, or spaghetti pasta
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (plus more)
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • Pinch chili pepper flakes
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tuna packed in olive oil, drained
  • 1 Tbsp capers
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 Tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
  • Freshly ground black pepper

-Prepare Pasta as directed on the package
-sautee the onion and red pepper flakes until the onion is softened and transluscent
-Add the tuna, capers, salt and white wine.
-Let simmer on the stove until the pasta is done
-Throw some parsley on the tuna mix and add to the pasta.

This is supposed to serve 2 people... but it seems a bit skimpy to me. The blogger said that you HAD to use tuna packed in oil... but I only had tuna packed in water. I drained the tuna, added some olive oil and let it sit for a bit and I thought it tasted fine.... but who knows, the oil packed tuna may be phenomenal.

Let me know what you think if you try it out :-)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Puggie pug... the worlds quickest foster...

Hey Everyone! Meet foster number 4, Puggie!

Puggie came to me on Wednesday night and he will be going to his new foster home tomorrow morning... He only spent 2 days with me but he definintely made an impact.

Puggie came from a shelter in NJ. He was "supposedly"a stray who was between 3-4 years old.... The shelter said he was housebroken, friendly, and playful so the rescue thought he'd be a good little foster sibling for my Leroy. Well turned out the shelter straight LIED to us. LOL Puggie isn't 3-4... he aint even probably 5-6... When the volunteer originally went to pick him up she thought he was 10 years old... and the shelter staff even chuckled a bit when they told her that Puggie was 4 years old. Either way, Puggie came home with me and after a very stressful and anxious first night for him, he's been a real trouper and a perfect angel.

Puggie, at least it seemed to me was in really bad shape... most of his teeth had fallen out, or were in the process of falling out which causes his tounge to chronically hang out of the side of his mouth. His breathing was really laboured the first night... So much so that I thought he had pnemonia or some other serious respiratory problem. He's skin and bones and it just seems like moving around is a bit of an effort for him. He has a cataract on one of his eyes, impairing the visit in that eye, and hyperpigmentation bluring the vision in the other. He's not neutered. His ears haven't been cleaned out in YEARS.

It just makes me angry.

I just don't understand how someone could let their dog, a living creature, go on living like that for years. You didn't see his teeth falling out? You didn't notice that he was walking into things, and that there are large black scars on his eyeballs? I mean WTF

Despite the obvious years of neglect, Puggie is a total angel and mushball of love. He took to Leroy right away following him around the house, trying to hump him, or just lick on him. He tried so hard to play with Leroy on the first night, but he kept on losing his breath and I had to keep them separated because I thought he was going to keel over. By the 2nd night, Leroy and Puggie were sleeping together in Leroy's crate!?! I couldn't believe my eyes. LOL Leroy hates sleeping with other dogs... and doesn't love his crate. I've never seen him snuggle up to another dog in that way.

Puggie is so good natured with Leroy... here's a pic of him lying on Leroy's bed while Leroy is chewing it and trying to shake Puggie off...

Puggie doesn't really make much noise or make many demands. Most of the time he's been here, he's hung out in his crate... which I decked out with a new pillow and pillowcase for him, or he's hung out on one of Leroy's beds in the living room. After the initial burst of interest, Puggie hasn't really wanted to play much with Leroy, but he's incredibly good natured and ignores Leroy's crazy outbursts, or sits and just watches him... Puggie sleeps... a LOT... like most older pugs. As I type this Puggie is sleeping on Leroy's folded up crate liner with his little tounge just a hanging out of his mouth... content as can be.

I think he's even had a good influence on Leroy, who has been a little calmer than usual this evening.

Puggie is leaving me tomorrow to go to another foster home. I'm not sure if I have the stamina to be the kind of long-term foster home that Puggie will probably need. He was only with me for 2 days, but I've already kind of started falling for him... in the same way that I did for Bruno and like I probably will for any other old pug that comes into my path... I just can't believe someone sent this big lump of love to a shelter and I'm so glad that he's going to be going to a great home.

Goal #78- 1 month without eating out

11 days in- 33 meals down….

So this month I celebrated the 1 year mark of my 101 goals journey and started on one of my most difficult goals… goal #78- Don’t eat out for 1 month. Anyone who’s been even halfway following my blog(s) probably realizes by now that food/eating plays a huge part in my life. I also L.O.V.E. eating out. Trying new restaurants is probably my favorite activity, but unfortunately after living in NYC for 5+ years, my love of eating out has quickly turned from an occasional treat to an almost daily necessity.

I love to cook and I have to come straight home most nights to tend to the creature, so dinner is never a problem… . Breakfast and lunch are my biggest challenges… I’m pretty lazy and disorganized…. if you look at my list, like 80% of the goals were designed to help me resolve the lazy disorganization that plagues my life. Planning, making and packing a lunch the night before and THEN getting up in time to make and eat breakfast AND make coffee is no small feat for someone who’s been known to spend hours each night watching reality TV (instead of keeping a tidy house) and hit the snooze button up to an hour. The folks at Starbucks make it SOOOO easy to visit them every morning… smiling at you, and remembering what you order “skim milk in that grande iced coffee, right?’… so attentive… what better way to start your day? The lunch people aren’t much better…. Automatically offering me extra turnips on my chicken pita or the witty banter I’ve developed with the empanada guy… it puts that extra spark in my day…. Even though I know in my heart all that is just a ploy to keep me coming back.

So…. All that being said, the purpose of this goal is mainly to get me into the swing of becoming more organized about planning meals and eating routine meals at home. The goal is much more about being organized and disciplined, than saving money…. Saving money’s got its own goals :-p In light of the fact that this goal is really more about planning/organization than some sort of exercise in restraint, I’ve decided to make it a little bit more relaxed than originally planned. Originally I had planned on not eating ANY food that wasn’t prepared at home… meaning I couldn’t buy a red bull if I was dozing off at work, or a cookie if I wanted something sweet. I realized fairly early on in the month that if that was the case I wouldn’t be allowed to have any sweets that month or junk food, since I don’t have the willpower to have that stuff in my house…. A very unfortunate episode on the 5th day involving chicken broth, the trash can, a pan of homemade raspberry shortbread and tub of whole foods brownie bites served as a bleak reminder of what happens when there’s sweets in my house… but I digress.. I decided to focus on meals only with the goal being to prepare 3 meals a day for myself each day this month.
So meals have been going really well so far… 33 down! I really do feel more organized and put together. I haven’t quite gotten the hang of actually packing my food at night (like my mom has done for the past 20+ years), but I think I’m getting there.

20 days to go!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Thursday's Things.... Fall Wardrobe

The temperature is quickly dropping here in NYC which means winter, with its hot sweaters and itchy tights, are around the corner. :-( Thankfully we still have a few months of fall to mentally prepare ourselves for winter. Actually fall is one of my favorite seasons.... the beauty of the trees almost makes up for the falling temperatures and inability to wear sun dresses.

Anywhoo... one of the things that's most difficult about the "in-between" seasons (spring and fall) is what to wear. Every year I say I'm going to try and improve my fall wardrobe... and every year I look around, lust after beautiful, expensive pieces and dont' buy a thing. Looks like it's going to be another season of the same. See below for my fall wardrobe wishlist.

Blurred Blossoms Top
I'm really in love with watercolor type prints these days. This shirt would be SO great with a pair of wide leg jeans and a long or cropped cardigan.... or maybe slightly bloused with a skinny belt. It's a measly $58... compared to what's below that seems almost afforadable!

Curled Zinnia Dress
I never wear dresses in the fall... because I HATE wearing tights, but this dress might change my mind. I love the colors and I think it would really brighten my mood on a dreary fall day.... too bad it's $360

Climbing Vines Blouse:
Love this too! Beautiful, uplifting color. Would look great with some skinny jeans and heels.

Fosteriana Cardigan
I'm in love with printed cardigans these days (although I don't own any) and this is a great one! You can't see it too well but the pattern is a string of tulips. So cute for a measly $178!

And on the other end of the expensiveness spectrum.....

Floral Cardigan
A cute floral cardigan by Forever 21...

Floral Sweater Top
And another cute sweater top (at least I think it's cute, LOL) by Forever 21.

Please let me know if anyone would like to buy any of these for me, and I'll be happy to forward my mailing address :-)

Till next week....


Friday, August 21, 2009

Sea adventures- (new foods 8-10)

Had a nice little run of new foods this week, trying 3 delicacies from the sea: Octopus salad, Bagels and Lox and Sea Urchin. Some hits... some misses... see below.

Octopus Salad:
The octopus was probably the most pleasant and "normal" of the new foods that I ate. I think an octopus is really just a big squid (maybe?), so I wasn't really expecting it to taste much different than other squids.. The texture was pretty similar to calamari, but the octopus had a more distinct, sharper taste and the meaty center was surrounded by a fatty layer of skin. I really enjoyed the octopus salad. My boss said it wasn't really octopus because they sliced it and removed most of the legs... but whatever.. I'm still marking it off. Pretty tasty. It's definitely something I'd order again..

Bagels and Lox...
Hmmm I'm not 100% sure if I should count this since I've had smoked salmon before... and lox is just smoked salmon... but I've never had the combo together... and that's something, right? Right! Anyway... every week I treat myself to 1 bagel from Zucker's bagels and smoked fish down by my job. Usually I eat half a bagel with a little cream cheese, tomato and capers (mmm), but I figured I'd use this weeks bagel day to try lox. Apparently the traditional way to eat a bagel and lox is to add tomato, capers and red onion... so that's what I did... That sammich came to a whopping $10.05!?! Totally nuts, but for a good cause, right? Anyway my fancy bagel and lox sandwich tasted pretty much like bagels with smoked salmon.... obviously. :-p Wasn't the worse thing I've ever put in my mouth, but it didn't really excite me... if anything I think the taste of the salmon muddied the deliciousness of the tomato/caper combo. I think the consistency of the salmon bothers me more than the taste. Raw salmon still has a bit of crispness... crunch, but smoked salmon is just mushy. All in all, not bad ... but I'll stick with my tomato and capers.

Sea Urchin (actually Spaghetti with sea urchin and clams)
This was an interesting one... Sea Urchin- was on the list I posted a while back, honestly wasn't exactly sure what to expect. I know sea urchin looks like a spiny little ball, so I was kind of expecting to be eating slices of the outer part... assuming that although it "looks" spiky, the spikes were actually flexible... and would kind of have the consistenecy of calamari (LOL seeing a theme here?) I was wrong. The edible part of the urchin isn't the spiny outer portion, but the soft, gooey, innards, as seen in this pic.

As I said before I had no awareness of this, so I was a bit surprised when my Spaghetti with Sea Urchin and Clams showed up looking like spaghetti, clams and some orange booger looking things. My co-workers (who apparently thought I knew what sea urchin was) were quite amused by my face as I put the mushy, globby, blob in my mouth. It was very... blobby... and musky (as described by my co-worker Paul). I'm usually pretty tolerant of odd textures, but I don't know if I'd be able to get over the texture of sea urchin... slimy... blobby... boogery and snotty. The taste wasn't offensive... and as I continued eating, I did become slightly more convinced of how it added to the creamy pasta dish, but I don't think I could EVER eat any quantity of it on it's own. I could do very small pieces mixed, well, into a creamy sauce but the idea of eating it raw as sashimi or in sushi is a bit much for me.

So there are numbers 8,9 and 10. The octopus was pleasant, the sea urchin may deserve a second taste (under the right culinary circumstances) and the bagels and lox was "eh".

Any suggestions for what I should try next?

Shouldn't I be losing weight by now... (Salads 11-14)

Not losing any weight, but I've definitely been eating some tasty salad. Eleven to 14 are below...

Fast, grown-up potato salad-red potatoes, olive oil, lemon juice, whole grain mustard, capers and parsley (#30).
This was actually a pretty decent, grown up, low fat but high flavor version of potato salad. It's more of a dinner table potato salad than a cook out potato salad. I really liked it alot. Not the most miraculous thing I've ever eaten, but definitely could go in the rotation. Pictured below with my not so successful pork chops...
-Would I eat this salad again? - Sure. It was pretty tasty
-Would I serve this to company? - Yes, it would be a nice compliment to a simple American meal.
- Did I learn anything from this salad experience? - You don't need mayo for potato salad.
- Salad rating: A-

Canned salmon,capers, celery, Greek yogurt, and lemon juice in endive leaves (#61).
This "salad" wasn't that great. I used canned sockeye salmon and greek yogurt. It tasted pretty much like a tuna salad... with salmon. I decided to serve it in endive leaves... just for fun. I think the bitter green was a bit too bitter for the salad. This may be a good, higher end substitute for a tuna sandwich if it were put between some good quality bread, but as it is I could take it or leave it.
-Would I eat this salad again? - Probably not as a salad
-Would I serve this to company? - May bring it to a picnic as a fancier version of a tuna sandwich.
- Did I learn anything from this salad experience? - Not really... I don't use mayo on much, but it seems yogurt and lemon juice may be a good replacement if I ever were to use it.
- Salad rating: C+

Black plums, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, celery, red onion, grilled chicken, dried marjoram and oregano and chopped almonds with field greens (#81).
So delicious... I had actually been thinking of this salad since Monday. Since I discovered my love of Balsamic vinegar, I could just imagine how great of a pairing it would be with the tart and juicy plums. I wasn't disappointed. SO. GOOD. The balsamic-y plums with the chicken, crunchy almonds and cool celery were amazing. I thought I might put goat cheese in it, but it totally didn't need it. When I make this again I might cut the plums smaller so there's more delicious plummyness to go around.
-Would I eat this salad again? - yes. I'll probably eat this again tonight
-Would I serve this to company? - Absolutely! Would make a great main dish salad
- Did I learn anything from this salad experience? - Plums and Balsamic vinegar... mmmm
- Salad rating: A+!

Quinoa, spinach, orange zest and juice, olive oil, honey, sliced oranges, dried cranberries, chopped red onion and almonds (#95).
Interesting salad. I decided to serve it with sliced baby spinach. There wasn't too much savory in the salad. I wasn't that keen on the first few bites... It just seemed to sweet and kind of ordinary for me. I could see a LOT of people really liking the salad, grains, oranges, cranberry, honey... It's a gold mine for people who like salad with fruit, but I wasn't too impressed. It did grow on me after a few bites... and more black pepper and honey. I feel like there was a spice that could have been added... but I'm not sure what it is. Decent, very nutritious salad though... especially for those who don't love grains and love sweets :-) Extreme close up below... Very pretty salad!
-Would I eat this salad again? - Probably. It's nutritious and I generally have the ingredients on hand.
-Would I serve this to company? - Sure. Would be a good lunch salad for a vegetarian
- Did I learn anything from this salad experience? - Hmm... not really
- Salad rating: B+

Thursdays things... Hands free edition

So instead of randomly posting things that I like throughout the week, I'm going to try and be more organized (and spare y'all 15 posts about lipgloss and kitchen gadgets) and designate 1 post a week to talking about a few things. You're welcome! :-p

So what do I want this week? Well I'm a simple gal who loves to entertain and only has 1 pot holder (no... not 1 set... just 1 lonely pot holder... not sure where the other is) so these serving platters caught my eye. They have built in handles! And they are really pretty.

I love them! No more trying to carry hot platters to the table... or even worse bringing the cooking pot to the table and putting it down on top of a rolled up cloth napkin.... not that I've ever done that.... Moving on...

Second thing this week... I'm not generally the most organized chick in the world and this is highlighted every day as I try and prepare myself for my daily dog walks.... this involves finding poop baggies, my keys, some treats and usually my cell phone. I then have to figure out how I'm going to carry all this crap and still wrangle my bi-polar dog (he's either totally nuts, or totally lazy on walks). My solution to this: the fanny pack! A totally hands free solution. It seems fanny packs have been making a come back... I'm not talking about the standard order, 1990s, West Virginia trailer park fanny packs, but awesome, modern utilitarian versions that are popping up today. For some reason I figured I could find a few "styles" at American Apparel... and they didn't disappoint. Here are a few choices...

Red Vinyl....


Shiny Black Vinyl...

Hmm... maybe I should just chuck the whole idea and just go with this?
HAHAHA Just kidding. Leroy's chunky butt would break my back.

What do you guys think? Can I get away with this, or is American Apparel just trying to fool us into thinking these are ok by pairing them with tight dresses and pouty faced models... American Apparel is totally around the corner... So I may have to get on this today LOL.

I've also saw a few really cool leather hip bags that I would totally wear out to a bar/club/date... but i think they're too fancy for dog walking.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Pork, it's what's for dinner! (Recipes 29 and 30)

Do y'all remember those Pork commercials? Or was it "'s what's for dinner".. Either way, I've been eating a heck of a lot of pork this summer. I actually had never really cooked or ate pork until this year... I think it started off with that damn jerk pork that my friend Julian was always eating..... mmm porky, spicy, fatty goodness... Anywhoo, in the last few months I've discovered that the "other" white meat can be very versatile and flavorful. I like it better with sweeter marinades (like maple and fruit sauces) and it's great in Asian stirfry's and just straight off the grill.

I made 2 pork tenderloin recipes within the last week... one hit, one miss

The hit...
Grilled pork with cherry chutney.

Cherries were on sale at Whole Foods the week for $1.99/pounds the week before so I bought a truckload. I can't eat cherries raw... they give me bubbly guts, so I figured I'd make them into chutney. If you haven't pitted cherries before, you totally should! It's fun and mess and when you're done it looks like you killed and butterflied a small animal on your cutting board...
Anywhoo... The recipe essentially made a chutney out of fresh cherries, onions, cherry preserves, balsamic vinegar and allspice. The chutney was really tasty. And who knew it was so easy to make chutney? I cooked up the pork tenderloin on my new electric grill (I love it!) and served it along side a green salad and some quinoa. It was extra tasty. I seasoned the pork only with salt, pepper and garlic powder and it came out beautifully. The chutney complimented the pork well, and my girl Anafidelia had the great idea of trying the same recipe using sour cherries and putting the chutney over a pepper crusted steak.... ideas... Anywhoo, here's a pic of our meal

The second meal was the "miss".
I got a very promising looking recipe off one one of the blogs I subscribe too "Simply Recipes". the recipe was for "Mom's Perfect Pork Chops"... well I don't know who's mamma made these, but they sho wasn't perfect to me. The recipe called for you to toast whole coriander and cumin see, grind finely and make a dry rub adding salt, pepper and sugar. Sounded good to me. I love coriander and cumin. The recipe then called for you to pan fry the chops. I decided to go the healthier route and use my trusty electric grill. Bad Idea. The rub just sort of sat on top of the chops in a powdery mess. I could kind of see where the recipe was going... but the execution was off. It could have been because I grilled instead of fried? Maybe the pan frying would have carmalized the sugar in the dry rub and turned it into a sort of sweet and savory glaze instead of a powdery mess. Oh well. I made a salad from my list to go with this "Grown up, fast potato salad" and a side of sauteed vinegar. I threw threw the rest of the pork away.... which is HUGE for me as I never throw anything away. Here's a pic of my sad pork meal...
Oh well... that's my pork saga so far this summer. Anyone have any great pork recipes to share?