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?

Dude look like a ladaayyyy!

In world news (at least the unimportant world news that I find out on Ohellnaw) On the heels of Usain Bolts historic record shattering 100-meter dash... looks like another runner is out to make history... or just headlines. Apparently there has been some... concern... that 18 year old 800-meter runner Caster Semenya of South Africa who smashed the women's 800-meter dash record is actually a man. Whoa! The World Track and Field Federation has requested a gender test to determine Semenya's sex once and for all.....

Honestly from the picture it's really hard to tell. She has an incredibly masculine body... no hips or thighs or boobies... but she doesn't have any type of a bulge either. I don't know on this one... if she really is a women then she's going to have some serious self esteem issues after this whole thing is over. If she's a man then the South African's have some 'splaining to do... I'm hoping that she's a hermaphrodite... not only because I'm obsessed with hermies, but it would also be interesting to see how they rule on this case.

Here are some additional pics for your consideration....

What do y'all think? He or she?

Oh Leroy...

This video was taken about 2 weeks ago. I was dogsitting my friend's Maltese, Lenox, and Leroy was... "excited" about meeting him. Lenox and Leroy had met one time prior to him coming to stay with us. Lenox wasn't terribly excited about Leroy, but they seemed ok.... apparently Lenox forgot about that meeting... and Leroy forgot all his home training.

Just makes me chuckle, hopefully you will too!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hey! let go of my browned tomato! (salads 7 - 10)

Back to the Salads! I know you guys missed them! But never fear, I'm still mixing up the salads here in Brooklyn. Here are entries 6-10!

Browned tomatoes, curry powder, arugula, mint and lime (#10)

Hmmm this salad was fairly refreshing, but nothing to write home about. It kind of reminded me of a far less interesting Vietnamese sandwich. I think I needed to add a lot more cumin and maybe get more of a char on the tomatoes to make it more special? I don't know. I wasn't that impressed and I'm not really sure what I would serve this with. Didn't take a picture because tomato, arugula and mint don't make for a very interesting pic, but here were my thoughts:
-Would I eat this salad again? Eh, probably not
-Would I serve this to company- I could see how some people would like it.. but I wouldn't know what to serve it with.
- Did I learn anything from this salad experience?- I don't love the combo of mint and tomato.
- Salad rating: C- I just didn't really dig it.

Chili dusted shrimp with watercress, corn, cherry tomatoes and lime (#62)

I think I "could" like this salad... with a few tweaks. Mr. Bittman said to sautee the shrimp and corn and add the watercress and tomato at the last minute. I don't know if that's the best idea... the cooked scrimps created a bit of a sauce and when you added thew rest of the ingredients it reminded me a bit of corn and seafood chowder. I think I'm going to try it again grilling the shrimp separately and then throwing it into the rest of the hot salad at the end and see how it turns out.
-Would I eat this salad again? Yep, I'd like to eat it soon
-Would I serve this to company- Yeah probably. It was pretty and has potential
- Did I learn anything from this salad experience?- salad is never good when it's swimming in shrimp juice
- Salad rating: B+ I didn't love it, but I know I will.

Jicama and green mango with cilantro and lime (#8)
Yummm I have never had Jicama before. I always hear about it on top chef, but have never tried it. Yummy... cool, crunchy, non-obtrusive, low carb... what's not to like. Jicama and mango are a perfect match. I wonder what else jicama goes with. I'll have to investigate. Perfect salad. I could eat this every week.
-Would I eat this salad again? I want one right now
-Would I serve this to company- Yep I planned on making some for my friend Curtis last weekend but ran out of time
- Did I learn anything from this salad experience?- Mmmm Jicama!
- Salad rating: A+

Jicama and mango with cocounut milk, cilantro, lime and curry powder (#9)

My second Jicama salad in 2 days. Pretty much the same salad with the addition of the coconut milk and curry powder. The salad smelled A.M.A.Z.I.N.G! The salad tasted.. ok. It wasn't bad at all, but I feel like the coconut milk dulled the jicama/mango/lime combo and the curry didn't add too much. But I'd make it for company with less coconut milk. It really smelled good and may be a good company salad. :-)
-Would I eat this salad again? Probably not by myself
-Would I serve this to company- Yep, looks great, exotic ingredients, smells fabulous
- Did I learn anything from this salad experience?- Sometimes simplier is better
- Salad rating: B

Tomato wedges with strawberries, balsamic vinegar and parmesan cheese (#13)
mmm REALLY tasty! The strawberry/ balsamic mix could be desert-y, but the tomato and parm add a nice savory note. yum... some freshly cracked pepper ould be nice. mmm i think i'm starting to understand peoples love of balsamic, its not vinegary... its more smooth and "chocolaty" kind of... yum! inspired me to add some pitted cheries, balsamic and chicken to a salad also... very tasty. would be great with spinach or mescilin. Really nice salad.
-Would I eat this salad again? Yep. I almost had it the next day
-Would I serve this to company- Yes. Would be great with a nice American summery meal
- Did I learn anything from this salad experience?- I actually like balsamic vinegar
- Salad rating: A

2-week Doggie Boot Camp!

Leroy, my crazy little pug creature is a year old now. He's a super sweet boy and well behaved, for the most part, but I think I've been a little indulgent with him since he was so little when I got him and since he's so freaking cute!

How can you not love that face!

But I digress....

My lovely parents are coming in a few weeks and I'd really like to have some of Leroy's behavioral issues under control before they get here. I love my parents, but they aren't the same type of dog person as I am. They aren't really going to love Leroy jumping on the couch, licking their faces, and running around the house like a spastic beast. Also my parents are going to be here during the week, so it would be great if his walking was under control so he'll be able to walk nicely with my parents even if I'm not here. If Leroy's behavior doesn't improve I fear it will be a long week behind the gate for him.
So in order to save Leroy from a week in pritchen (heh heh that's prison and kitchen together) Here is what I'd like to work on...

Goal 1: Staying off the Couch. Leroy is not allowed on the couch until after the 'rents leave. Amy instructed that I was to have Leroy sit/lay down on the floor when I sit on the couch and give him a treat and a toy. She also said I should keep the squirt bottle handy... I assume for when he jumps on the couch. I'm not sure if I should physically take him off, or just squirt him, or if I should say no. I'll have to follow-up with her.

Goal 2: Greater impulse control
- Leroy must sit before we enter, leave, when we hit every crosswalk. He also must sit every time someone pets him. If he sits when he's petted he gets a treat. If he doesn't sit then we leave.

Goal 3: Less distraction/sniffing on walks- according to Amy, I should just bring a squeaky toy with me on walks and squeak every time he gets distracted with sniffing or picking things off the floor. I kind of want to squirt him with a water bottle... but I'll try Amy's method first. :-p

All of this starts tomorrow. I think the hardest thing to be consist with will be the couch... I don't mind Leroy on the couch at all... in fact I like cuddling up with the little stinker but it'll be better for him in the long run if he's only on the couch when invited.

I just informed Leroy about our plans.... he obliged me by calmly laying on the floor (good boy!), but he looks a little dubious...

I'll keep you all posted on our progress!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Update on my 101 Goals.... (April/May/June/July Update!)

So... it's been a minute since I've updated y'all on the progress of my 101 goals . I've been getting away from blogging about my goals... because there were obviously more important things to talk about... like Michelle Obama's plastic belt and John B's wife's twists! But I'm back! And here has been what's going on in the past few months..

For those of you who are new to my 101 goals list, back in September I started a project where I wanted to complete 101 goals in the next 1001 days. The goals have to do partly with self improvement and are partly just fun thins that I want to do, or things that I've been putting off. I'm hoping to save $10 for each completed goal... and I'm going to do something fun with all the money I save... Not sure what yet. All of my previous goals posts are labeled as "101 things". I'm going to try and update more consistently with the goals because they really were the impetus of my blogging.

Anywhoo... here's what I've been up to!

Finished Goals!
I’ve finished 7 out of 101 goals…. (Geez… that’s not that great, eh? LOL) and 2 were completed within the last 3 months

Motivate someone else to do their own 101 List- My girl Dawn informed me that her brother had created his 101 goals list and had already completed at least a few goals! Yay Dawn's Bro!.

Buy a digital piano (casio privia or Yamaha YPG)- I bit the bullet and bought myself a absolutely beautiful digital piano that i LOVE back in July. I've been off and on with the practicing... the summer hasn't been great for me, but I'm dedicated to utilizing my investment better come fall!

Goals in Progress
4.) Acquire >2 songs per month for 6 months (4/6)- August would be month #5 of this goal (although May was a bit sketchy... heh heh... ). The whole purpose of this goal was to ensure that I add new music to my collection AND to blog about it... I've been adding, but not sharing my thoughts with you all... That will hopefully change in August.. Here's what I've been downloading so far:
-April- Theophilus London (This Charming Mixtape) and Kid Cudi- Day and Night
-May- Gordon Gartrell Radio, Black Eyed Peas (Boom Boom Pow)
-June- The entire Jazmine Sullivan Album
-July- The entire Essential Michael Jackson Album

10.) Make 100 new recipes (28/100)- Moving along nicely with this goal, me thinks... I think the last recipes I posted on (in reference to my 101 goals) were my Ethiopian recipes with Curtis (recipes 15-17). Since then... I've made...

* Pasta with peas
* Barley Risotto (Clean Eating Mag)
* Tangine of Chicken and Peas (Serious Eats NY)
* Awesome Chocolate Chip Cookies (All recipes)
* Lemon chicken with Parsley and Mint (Epicurious)
* Tangy Spicy Chicken Thighs (TheKitchn)
* Grilled pork with cherry chutney (Epicurious)
* Plum upside down cake (Simply Recipes)
* Soy-Ginger baked tilapia (Epicurious)
* Split pea soup with Chorizo (Epicurious)
* Orecchiette with Broccoli, Anchovies and Chilis (Serious Eats)

20.) Watch all the movies that have won Best Picture since I’ve been alive. (16/25)- I'm at 16 of 25... Some of which I saw before I started this and 3 of which I've seen since: Platoon, Out of Africa, and Lord of the Rings. I blogged about the first 2... hopefully I'll find something intelligent to say about the remaining 9 :-)

34.) Blog on my 101 90% of the days (112/901): Between my 2 blogs (now just one) I officially have 112 blog entries… Long ways to go my friends....

37.) Visit 10 museum/art exhibits or lectures (1/10): I visited the Museum of Sex with my Brother and Sister in Law during their visit to NYC.... and yes, MoSex counts damnit!

44.) Take 1 weekend trip per quarter (3/8)- Not doing too shabby on this one... maybe not purposefully, but still it's gettin done! I have to figure out how I'm going to make up Q1...
- Q1 (Sept/Oct/Nov 2008)- No Trips:
- Q2 (Dec 2008/Jan/Feb 2009) - Cincinatti Christmas
- Q3 (March/April/May 2009) - Birthday Trip to M.I.A
- Q4 (June/July/August) - DC trip to visit Cyn

13.) Try 50 foods or types of cuisine I haven't tried (8/50)- I don't think I've tried any new foods in the past few months.... really need to remedy this.

Stuff to start very soon....
31.) Read 6 non-fiction books (0/6)... Really I need to get one this. LOL
5.) Take 1 picture every day for 6 months (0/180) - Hoping to start on August 15, 2009
66.) Have conversations/meetings with people at the DOH not working in HIV (0/3)
71.) Make a business plan for my personal chef business- Been slacking, but not for long...
74.) Save $15,000 for emergency fund- Not too far off....
75.) Start retirement planning/Open retirement account- Just need to do it...
76.) Put $5 in savings for each completed task and $10 for every uncompleted one. -Also just need to do it... LOL it's only $35 dollars so far. LOL

For the love of real women....

I just wanted to pause and send some love to the "famous" men (Black and otherwise) who are proud to show off their beautiful, natural, Black women.

Please note I am NOT hating on any beautiful bi-racial, "exotic", long haired, light skindeded types... but it's always refreshing to me to see a successful man marry a brown/dark-skinned black woman. Sorry if that's offensive to anyone...

I also think this really hit home for me (again) because I just finished reading a little snippet about Terrell Owens who is known for dating a "certain type" and feeling that he "shouldn't be faulted for that" I caught a snippet of his reality show last week where he was complaining because his homegirl was wearing a head scarf to bed... and he would never date anyone who had to wear a head scarf... Ugh just STFU with your sexy ass...LOL...

Moving on...

Anywhoo... just saw this pic on YBF of John B and his wife.

I love it!

And my eternal favorite couple- Anthony Hamilton and his stunning wife Tarsha

I love them so much I can't even stand it.....

I swear if Anthony leaves her for a Japarazilia-rican model/actress I will slit my wrists


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Leroy's Hamptons Getaway!

It really is a dog's life. While I was stuck riding a bus up to DC last weekend, my dog Leroy was having a fantastic beach weekend with the East Coast elite (my friend and fellow Curly Tail Pug Rescue Volunteer Anna) in the Hamptons. Anna and her husband Scott have 2 adorable pugs, Roxie and Bernie, and they were kind enough to add Leroy to their beach brood for the weekend.

Here is the entire crew, pretty Roxie (in the pink) and Handsome Bernie... Bernie and Leroy got along fabulously... but Roxie didn't seem too impressed...

Bernie had a special... "affinity" for Leroy... apparently he likes the boy dogs better... Who can blame him! Leroy is a pimp! He even walks with a lean :-p

They did a little running along the beach... See pugs DO run!

Leroy seemed a little skeptical of the water at first... little pug... big waves..

But Leroy isn't known for having fear (or good sense...) so into the water he went!

Leroy had such a fantastic time on his beach vacay! Thanks Scott and Anna (and Roxie and Bernie) for putting up with his crazy @ss for a while 3 days!