Friday, April 30, 2010

A Homemade Life

A Homemade Life, by  Molly Wizenberg

As much as I loved The Nasty Bits, I really didn't love this book.  I thought I would.  I really wanted to, but, I kind of hated it. 

There.  I said it.  I hated this book.

I've read reviews of people devouring it in two days- which is great- that's what I wanted to do.  That's what I thought I would do.  In the end I couldn't get past the nagging voice in the back of my head saying "sounds like a spoiled rich girl" long enough to get through the first half, let alone the entire book. 

I did make one recipe out of it on a rainy afternoon when I was feeling particularly good and thought it might be a nice idea to actually cook something for the boys lunch for a change.  I had just finished the chapter ending with the recipe for Dutch Baby and it seemed easy and I had all the ingredients on hand.  It was easy, the boys loved it, I'll probably make it again.  That was the last chapter I read though...maybe I'll try again this summer.  Maybe not.

Maybe I'll have to dive into the stack of Bourdain books my husband just received from Amazon to get myself back in the mood for food.  Either way, I'm moving on.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Nasty Bits

I was so excited to get started on this book club, I've been wanting to join one for quite awhile now but haven't found the one that really struck me as something I'd stick with. When I saw a Facebook status about this I jumped all over it. I think I replied that I would be joining before I ever even took a look at the book list. Food books, online, it was a good fit for me. I promptly ordered all three books and started waiting for my shipment to arrive. Nothing is more addicting for me than collecting new books. well, maybe collecting cloth diapers but that's for a different blog.

When I first started reading The Nasty Bits I was happy to see it was short essays and articles- perfect for me- a working Mom who has little time to devote to whole chapters. I was usually able to read through 2-3 stories at a time and not feel like I was missing out on anything if I had to put the book down. That said, I *almost* lost my cookies reading about the raw baby seal in the introduction...I'm not even going to blame that on being pregnant. Thankfully my stomach wasn't tested like that for the rest of the book or I may have had to put it down for good.

The chapter that stuck with me most was The Evildoers. Minneapolis food enthusiasts have been trying really hard to pass some laws so we can get street vendors downtown. They finally passed some really (really really) restrictive laws last week. The biggest restriction being you have to have a brick and mortar store to have a license. So, it'll be more of the same, but on the street- if you can get permission to be there in the first place (you can't just set up shop on the corner, you have to ask adjacent businesses if it's alright. I don't think anyone is really impressed by this. We'll see, maybe this limited intro to street food will be the first steps into the market and in a few years it will be less restrictive.

Food and Loathing in Las Vegas....I saw the episode this article accompanied and I found Ruhlman insufferable.

I did get pretty excited when he started to talk about Guinness in A Drinking Problem and was a bit disappointed when the entire article wasn't about loving that fine stout. I guess as a Guinness girl I never get tired of reading about my favorite thing to drink.

And finally, The Old, Good Stuff. As someone who came from a pretty tame food background I have always loved the allure of all the old school "stuff". I'm always jazzed about trying a new restaurant, but I really love the feeling of sitting down at someplace that's been there forever, someplace that serves that grand old standby that no one ever makes and your friends have never heard of. The things you read about in the pages of Gourmet and books by M.K. Fisher.

This book was a great read for me. It made me hungry (although not as hungry as the Ju(i)cy Lucy episode of Food Wars). It made me love my local restaurants even more than I already do. It made me appreciate the people who prepare my food- from farm to table. It made me happy.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Banh Mi Take 2

Today John picked up a few Banh Mi from Jasmine Deli. A simple google search had Jasmine Deli coming up over and over again as having some great pork Banh Mi, so we thought that would be a great place to start.

John had the Mock Duck- which we read review after review raving about, the boys and I had their roasted BBQ pork.

These were a little simpler than the Surdyk's Banh Mi. Shredded carrot, a spear of jalapeno, a spear of cucumber, a nice bed of BBQ pork. No aioli. Less veggies, less fillings in general. The bread was chewy not soggy, probably because of a lack of aioli. I was fairly happy with this sandwich. I could have used more veggies, but the meat was terrific. Reviews of Jasmine Deli had people raving over their BBQ pork, so I'm guessing this is one of their better meat selections. John was very happy with the mock duck- I myself am not a mock duck fan.

We got three sandwiches for the price of the one I had on Thursday. I'd say the only difference was the amount of filling and the lack of a soggy baguette. I'll take less filling and a roll that doesn't fall apart any day.

I didn't eat mine right away and I totally forgot there were jalapenos on this sandwich...the boys either didn't attempt to eat them, or they didn't mind them. Either way they didn't seem too concerned with them. Maybe that makes me a bad mom.

Next up? Saigon Deli- which is right up the street from Jasmine. I'm also going back to Jasmine for some Spring Rolls and a salad. I hear the salads really steal the show.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Banh Mi

It's no secret I am a recent convert to the lure of a good sandwich. It started with a small addiction to Jimmy John's- (#5, no tomatoes, add hot peppers) and branched out to anything hot from Surdyk's after the boys were born and we temporarily forgot how to feed ourselves from our own kitchen.

I've been quite happy with my Surdyk's mainstays these past few months- the Minneapple Melt is out of this world, the Grand Marais, Apple Orchard and Mt. Vernon aren't too shabby either.

Tonight I was introduced to yet another new sandwich, one that I see many more of in my future.

Banh Mi.

This Vietnamese sandwich is the newest offering at out favorite last minute dinner place. I wasn't super impressed by the one I ate tonight, but the components are worth delving into again and again. Since we are in Minneapolis and there is no shortage of Vietnamese eateries here I plan on searching out a truly delicious Banh Mi.

Really, what's not to like? Roasted pork, pickled carrots, pickled daikon, cucumber, jalapenos, some sort of aioli and a light spicy fish sauce brought it all together on a chewy baguette.

It wasn't LOVE at first sight, but I like-like it. I'm happy to have something to pursue since I'm not a huge fan of Pho. I mean, what kind of Minnesotan am I if I can't even profess love for the most famous of all Vietnamese dishes? Most people would say I haven't had good Pho, and they may be right. Anyway- the search is on.

*After doing some searching it sounds like part of my dislike might stem fromthe hefty pricetag attached to the sandwich I ate last night- $8.99....most local Banh Mi runs below $5, most around $2-3. We're going to sample what Jasmine Deli is peddling tomorrow. Let's hope I can have another "good" day and eat to my hearts content!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Book Club?

Since I'm in the middle (well, almost middle) of another pregnancy where the things I can eat borderline on totally unhealthy (chips and Frito's Spicy Bean Dip anyone?) and really unappetizing I'm going to try and at least THINK about good food. You know, the stuff I used to spend hours reading cookbooks, magazines and websites to find.

I miss the weekends spent shopping for a meal and the hours spent preparing it, not to mention the first bites. Oh there were some doozies back in the day. When we had ample counter space and no kids. I gotta get back to that*.
But right now it's not going to happen- a moderate case of HG is making sure of that. So I'll read about it. Because I love a good book about food. And right now, that's all I got.

*I'll keep the kids though- seriously, my first thought upon seeing my son Lincoln after he was born was "I could eat this kid...I might eat this kid!" I still have days where I think I might eat my kids they are so deliciously adorable. I think all new parents turn a bit cannibal upon seeing their newborns.

Wish me luck! I've got all three books coming from Amazon and I can't remember a package I was this excited to receive.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mama Grace's BBQ Pot Ribs

This isn't a food blog without Mama Grace's rib recipe. January 5th isn't my birthday without those ribs either. This recipe has become quite special to our family. Some of our family, that is. Every year growing up, it was a big deal to pick what you had for dinner on your birthday. More often than not, I chose Grandma's pot ribs. Not only are they delicious, but it's nice to have something that Grandma Grace made. She died when I was 2, so I don't have any memories of her. I DO however, have this recipe. It's meant so much to me (and Erin, Ryon, Mom, and Dad) for so long, that I thought everyone in the family loved it. Much to my surprise, our cousins have never eaten these ribs, simply because our Aunt Lori never liked them. She must be insane. I'm not even kidding.

Here's what ya need:

2lbs country style pork ribs
3/4 c. ketchup
3/4 c. water
2 tsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. chili powder
2 onions, thinly sliced
salt and pepper

Here's what ya do:

Remove the silver skin! I just learned this over the summer, and I'm not very good at it, but if you can do's worth the trouble.

rub the ribs with salt and pepper, and brown them in a pan. (A little oil might be good here.) Place them in a large pot.

Put the other ingredients in the pot. You can pre-mix them, but I usually don't. They're going to be in that pot a long time, and everything will eventually blend together.

Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Cook at least 70 minutes, turning the ribs frequently.

Remove the lid and cook an additional 20 minutes uncovered, to thicken the sauce.

Feel free to double the sauce, or add more onions if you like. I usually do. Erin and I both agree that these ribs are best served with mashed potatoes and coleslaw. Try putting the sauce all over everything.

Erin's already posted this recipe on recipezaar, but I HAD to put it here too. Feel free to check it out there, along with 91 other recipes she's shared.

Friday, January 15, 2010

What to Feed a Toddler?

Before the boys were born I had great ambition to make all their food from scratch. Organic! Fresh! Homemade! No Preservatives! It was all so idyllic. And for a few months, so EASY! We had boys who ate spinach on an almost daily basis. We had a freezer full of purees that ranged from the plain and simple apple sauce to the fancier mango-pear-squash combo and the always favored edamame-spinach concoction. It was awesome!

Then they started eating solid foods.

And I pretty much closed up shop on making everything from scratch. It's hard. I feel like such a poser. I can make my own chicken fingers and freeze them by the batch. I even made up a ton of meatloaf scooped it onto a cookie sheet to bake which resulted in a big bag of what we lovingly called "Meat Wads" that we could pull out of the freezer at will and the boys ate that up like it was the best thing in the world.

But fruit? Veggies? I'm severely lacking in that department.

I figure- they're beyond the puree stage, they want things to chew on. It's so easy to steam and puree and get creative. It's so boring to just steam and chop up a bunch of carrots. And their favorite spinach? Forget it- they don't want it anymore.

So we've fallen into this cycle of chicken tenders, mac and cheese, pasta, quesadillas, grilled cheese- easy things for lunch. I've even started to give them (gasp) Chef Boyardee and hot dogs! For shame I know. For dinner it's whatever we're having, which is hardly balanced.

How do I get my good eater's back? I'm thinking a smoothie would be a great start for getting more fruit but I need ideas for veggies. I'm not a big proponent of juice although we drink prune juice for dealing with constipation. Hopefully a more balanced diet will help with that too.


So after I posted this I found these two cookbooks that seem to be based around putting fruit and/ or veggie purees into other foods:
The Sneaky Chef
Deceptively Delicious
I think we're going to check these out from the library and give them a try.