Thursday, January 31, 2008

quick links

notmartha points us to homemade samoas. yes, please! the new york times has a great short article on the issues surrounding meat production and consumption in america. the long and short of it - eat less, and if you do, eat pastured, please. just got an e-mail saying that a bill in indiana was just withdrawn that would have made it illegal to label milk as hormone-free. just in case you forgot - the people making the most money from food aren't interested your well-being. that's why we give a little of our money to local folks. give them a little more power. speaking of which! bloomingtonians, don't forget about the winter market on saturday. and go early! harvest lodge (the tamale people) are supposed to have soup, but you know it's going to go fast.

Monday, January 28, 2008

barbecue baked tofu

sometimes, it seems like dinner is a lot more trouble than it's worth. tonight was not one of those nights - everything came together very easily, fast, and to rave reviews. i even drizzled a little extra sauce around brian's plate (not pictured) to be fancy. oh yeah. i don't bake tofu very often. next time i'll wait until i have something else in the oven at the same time to save energy (i'm thinking about roasted cauliflower...mmm), but this was a bit of a last-minute change to the game plan. so was adding barbecue sauce (on sale) to the baking liquid. yum. the thicker consistency worked really well. my time-saving trick? instead of cooking the broccoli separately and serving on top of the tofu and potatoes, just add your chopped broc to the cooking potatoes about 5 minutes before they're done cooking. mash all together. voila. no muss, no fuss. no mashed potato guilt. it's a wonderful thing.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

happy birthday to me.

cupcakes from BLU Boy

(the birthday girl didn't have time to bake due to roller derby practice. she was okay with this.)

Monday, January 21, 2008

FARM bloomington

we finally made it to the newest addition to the local eating scene, FARM bloomington, with some friends on saturday night. and we weren't the only ones, i'll tell you. that place was snapping and popping! according to a dining companion who was facing the room (and not the divider, like me), plenty of prominent bloomington people were in attendance. looks like this town was ready for the FARM. good thing. it's occupying huge space in what must be a high-rent location, and therefore a gamble even for the food industry.
this place isn't lacking in concept. there's a little market and cafe in front, a compartmentalized dining room, a bar area, and i guess eventually a downstairs area. and an alley window for service is supposed to be available sometime soon. all these zones, if you will, seem to have different menus. the dining room itself has a front area, a curtained table for larger groups, a table made of limestone that's separated from everything else...and right next to the bathrooms...and a glassed-in back area that's supposed to be more quiet? potentially romantic? so there's a lot going on.
okay, so. the food. in the dining room, there was one vegetarian plate offered. the server offered it vegan, which was a nice touch. let's hear it for the vegans! i'm not exactly sure what everything was that i ate, but it included black rice, purple yam with toasted coconut, some kind of greens, tofu, haricots, roasted cherry tomatoes, a wheat berry dish, and...something else with little beans. and some other roasted vegetables.
the black rice was described as "sticky," but it didn't seem too sticky to me. just kind of there. the purple yam mash was a pleasant surprise, since i'm not much of one for yams. toasted coconut really set it off. the wheat berry salad was very tasty. the cherry tomatoes weren't presented very well, what with the skin sliding off, but the other roasted vegetables were very good. the rice and beans at the bottom of the plate didn't leave much of an impression. green beans? not my favorite, but that's no one's fault but mine. the server had said that there would be cellophane noodles, but i guess they needed those for something else? the tofu was...just a square of tofu with sesame seeds and a negligible sauce. too little to taste. the only descriptor i could come up with at the time was "grainy." between the four of us, we shared three desserts, so i got most of this pie to myself while brian enjoyed half a piece of chocolate cake. the pie had a thick, biscuity crust, which wasn't what i expected, but wasn't bad, either. do people out there eat whipped cream with apple pie ala mode? if you do, friend, good on you, but it seems a *little* over the top. like buttering the bun on your bacon burger. my meal matched my impression of the restaurant; a lot going on at once, and a little confusing. i hate to say it, but without a soup or salad, i went home a little hungry. there were a lot of items on that plate, but not much of anything. the cherry tomatoes should give you a sense of scale. lesson learned; get a starter. i wish there had been a vegetarian option that didn't seem like a concession. i didn't feel that a lot of thought and care went into my meal; it was more like everything in the kitchen that wasn't meat was carefully portioned onto a plate. in a town like bloomington, that just doesn't cut it. vegetarians and vegans aren't second-class gastronomes. my vegetarian friend highly recommended ordering from the tapas menu - the pizzas are supposed to be great. maybe next time we have a little cash injection or some celebrating to do, we'll drop in on the bar and see what's happening over there. and i can't wait for the alley window to open. i won't base my only opinion on a restaurant based on one meal on a busy saturday night just after opening, but it seems like there's some fine tuning to do over there. your impressions?

Sunday, January 20, 2008


why is everything in the fridge suddenly freezing the last few days? in sympathy with what's happening outside? i keep turning it down a little at a time, and the eggs were frozen this morning. frozen eggs. NOT suitable for separating. any wisdom out there? EDIT: as of 1/23, the problem seems to have resolved itself. huh.

Friday, January 18, 2008

budgetary caution

after some neccessary fiscal belt-cinching (due to new circumstances directly related to a certain someone's student loans), our grocery budget has been reduced by $10 a week. this reasonable reduction shouldn't, in theory, be tough, right? wow. i guess one adjusts very quickly to being able to spend more, and slowly to being able to spend less, because i'm struggling with our new budgetary constraints. having been so used to the finer things and all. ha ha. since i'm not willing to stop eating as much local and organic food as possible, including lots of fresh produce (not so local this time of year), it looks like i'll just have to spend more time planning shopping and meal plans. let it not be said that i complained about having a bloomingfoods a block away from work, but, let's face it. it's easy to fall back on the convenience and literally pay the price. that's a price we can't afford. and, while we're at it, am i the only one who seems to run out of expensive staples (olive oil, laundry soap, etc.,) all at once? and when money seems to be tight anyway? but, yes. you can eat local and organic on a budget. even with a healthy and active social life outside your kitchen. i'm convinced of it.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

my little pretties

thanks to my parents, who bought me these stoneware ramekins (merry christmas to me!), i'm all set to make my long-awaited small food fantasties come true. tonight? baked eggs. with piecrust. because i was just winging it, friends. just winging it. and i discovered recently, with my matching christmas present (and stocking stuffer - yeah, i made out this year), that piecrust is really simple to make. and i love it. inordinately. ugly, homemade, whole wheat piecrust.

(larger than lifesize)

oh, my new ramekins! so pretty and blue. lesson learned, though: allow for carryover cooking when baking eggs in ramekins. the yolks were just perfect - oozing and lovely without being runny - when they got to the table, and a few minutes later, they were just short of hard.
p.s. like the new look?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

that sure won't help biodiversity

the fda finds that food from cloned animals is a-okay to sell and eat. all the more reason to support local farmers who raise heirloom or rare breeds.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

i tried to like it.

there's just something about the texture of certain wintry vegetables that i can barely stomach - sweet potatoes, cooked carrots, most squash - but i'm trying. see the above? gnocchi with roasted carrots and turnips. the carrots and turnips were delicious in theory, all sweet and caramelized, and i ate a lot of them. i did!
...but i couldn't finish the job.
these carrots and parsnips were originally intended for a soup i like from fresh from the vegetarian slow cooker. if it's pureed, it's not a problem.
any irresistably tasty root vegetable soup recipes out there?
p.s. - yes, those are pre-packaged gnocchi. i ought to make my own and freeze them, but i'm still getting used to this roller-derby-4-or-5-nights-a-week thing. a girl's gotta eat. and feed her husband. often at different times.

Monday, January 7, 2008

what's cooking?

we're not doing so well over here on the local food front - it's january, after all, and we're between farmer's markets until the last weekend of the month. at that point, i'll be lining up for kale. delicious kale! until that point, my stores of local provisions have dwindled to:
  1. several heads of garlic
  2. 2 blue potatoes
  3. bay leaves, oregano, and basil

...and between my ambivalence toward root vegetables and everyone moping around grumbling about diets, i haven't felt completely inspired lately. it's 60 degrees outside, too (!), so comfort food seems a little much. luckily for us here in bloomington, we have another Dine Local Night coming up, january 16th.*

what have YOU been making lately that you love?

my dear husband bought me the veganomicon for christmas, and though many of the recipes call for ingredients we don't normally have around the house, i'll have some fun stuff to try out this week. when we're not eating fake chicken patties and tater tots.

oh, come on. they're organic tater tots! and they were on sale! don't look at me like that. no one here ever claimed to be a saint.


head to one of the below restaurants on thursday, january 17th, and ask for the local special. 5% of proceeds will go to the Local Growers Guild.


Bloomington Bagel Company

FARM Bloomington (oooh, we're so going there for the opening/my birthday)

Laughing Planet

Limestone Grille

New Day Meadery (a little googling tells me they'll be at the winter market at harmony school, too.)

Nick's English Hut (still holding out for my mellencamp sighting!)

Oliver Winery

One World Enterprises (i.e., lennie's. pizza express? that would be awesome.)

Restaurant Tallent

Sahara Mart

Trulli Flatbread

Upland Brewing

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

happy new year!

whew! we got back at about 2am from a week-plus vacation in portland. what a great time. my first meal when we touched down was a stack of huckleberry pancakes from genie's - you can't get that in the midwest. here, you also don't get the hordes of hipsters lining up for the bloody marys, but i never had a problem with those.
brian's sister megan bakes at crema, a delicious (and popular) coffee shop and bakery, and we found ourselves popping in for a bite and a coffee in the morning. i only get a cappuccino when we come home for visits due to extreme foam snootiness borne in my barista experience.
manchego and mushroom biscuit. SO GOOD.
i love vacation schedule - wake up whenever, get coffee, sit and read the paper, then go about your business. it seems so civilized. we also made a short trip down to eugene, where we tried some micro brews from the new ninkasi brewery. i can heartily recommend their ipa. the next morning, we took a little walk down memory lane by heading for cafe siena, by the university of oregon campus. mexican and american breakfast food. ah, the memories. brian and i both got the "scramble #2," with eggs, rice, mushrooms, spinach, cheese...yum. but that's a LOT of food.

before leaving town, we trekked down to marche provisions, a new endeavour from the marche empire. i have a little history with said empire, having worked at the marche cafe when i first moved to eugene. we nabbed a macaroon at the cafe (oooh, the macaroons. why didn't i buy ten? i don't even like macaroons except for these), then went downstairs to check out "provisions." wow. i'm impressed. prepared soups and ice cream made in-house, imported tasty treats, a salad bar, all kinds of salt by the ounce, a cheese and charcuterie counter - i could have cried. everything looked so fantastic. (sigh.)

we loved seeing our friends and family so much, and wished we could have seen everyone just a little more. next time! hey, why don't you come visit, anyways?

happy new year to everyone out there! i resolve to try a lot of new things this year, so stay tuned.