Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Way To My Heart Is With A Garlic Clove, It Smells Hella Sexy When It's On The Kitchen Stove

You know that feeling you get right after the 27th straight day of eating Christmas food when it's like if I never see another sugary substance for the rest of my life it will be too soon? Yeah that's me right now. Never mind the fluffernutter I had for breakfast. I that doesn't count.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

On December Five and Twenty, Twenty Ten

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

If Guinan was my waitress...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Tasty TV - Madeline's Chicken Soup

I was kind of a dreamy child and like the very first crowd of people to ever watch a moving picture, for a long time it was hard for me to grasp the idea that I couldn't actually experience what I saw on screen. In a way this aspect of reality still kind of bugs me, I have a maddeningly long list of foods I've seen eaten in cartoons and books and movies that look delicious that I will never get the chance to taste. Now that I've started cooking I've decided to start a new spot on my blog dedicated to the fictional dishes I'm dying to sample and their real life versions which I'll be cooking up. The only thing I don't have yet is a catchy name for it (suggestions are definitely welcome here). This week : Madeline's Chicken Soup

My childhood in my mind is measured (as I suspect is the case with most kids from the 90's) by the shows I was watching and the food I ate. Christmas in particular is much easier to remember since by nature of the "traditional" aspect you tend to do the same things over and over. This memory I think marks a tinier window around 1990 and just a few years following.  Madeline's Christmas was a cutesy book first, published around 1956 ( my mom read it growing up) and then (in retrospect) a slightly craptacular  television Christmas special that aired around 1990. I was about 4 when I first saw it and in love with all things french ( I suspect because somebody told me my name was french) so for me this movie was a big deal.

Monday, December 13, 2010

St. Lucia Buns / Lussekatter

We got our first good snow of the season last night ( super early and uncommon for Nashville) which is really helping me with my Scandinavian fantasy. Today( in any place that's awesome) it's Saint Lucia day which is something that I only learned about this year.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


For breakfast today I am dreaming I'm Sandra Beijer.
Croque Madame and peppermint tea with my friendly salt and pepper shakers.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Gingerbread Men

Gingerbread men are one of those cutesy Christmas things that I love to admire but have always been way to chicken to attempt.

#52 Snickerdoodle Cookie

 Mmm mm mmm

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pear Anise Pie

 Whenever I bake a pie I always picture that scene in Disney's Snow White where she's humming to herself and effortlessly putting a pie together with what looks like the softest most delicious dough of all time. What's always been so sad about that (other than the fact that I'm comparing myself to a cartoon) is the fact that both times I've attempted to bake a pie from scratch my dough never turns out that way. It usually crumbles and sticks to the board and I end up having to press it into the pie pan with hardly enough to go up the sides. Seeing as I'm the only one in the kitchen when this happens I resigned myself to keep the whole thing a secret and silently move on to pastry I was good at.

In the last few days though some things have come together to make me realize that I really can have that Snow White pie, (minus the animation and the little bird helpers, because really how gross is that?).

This week I got a free trial issue of Ready Made magazine, (which I'd honestly never heard of before but hey it was in my mailbox) and oddly instead of just tossing it in the trash, I flipped through it a while and suddenly from the very back these magnificently juicy photos of latticed pie struck my eye (and my heart strings). There was an article about a little pie place in Brooklyn, NY called Four and Twenty Blackbirds , and (be still my heart) recipes! Unique ones too. There was a recipe for a Pear Anise Pie (pear!) that I instantly decided I was dying to make but it called for a top and bottom crust. Nooooooooo! So, aware of my personal limits I sadly filed it away in the back of my mind and wished I was a better baker...
Hm... "baker". That just brings me to part two of our Journey, my recent discovery of my current girl crush Joy The Baker! I honestly couldn't tell you how I stumbled upon her blog, (you know the interwebz) but once I did I couldn't stop reading it.

And the further I read the closer fate lead me to finding her video on how to make a double crusted pie. And it turned out to be so simple. And the stupid thing, my whole problem was flour, I wasn't sprinkling it on the top and bottom to keep it from sticking, ugh! It's funny how sometimes you just need to see somebody else do something for you to figure it out. As for the lattice part  YOUTUBE! Although it really isn't that hard to figure out, luckily I got to try it out on a pretty forgiving (colorless) pie filling  and I think it looks pretty good to be my first one. As for flavor? The crust is amazing, however, Anise I came to find out has a flavor like black licorice (it's what's in absinthe) so, if you absolutely can not stand that flavor (like my boyfriend) then don't make this pie. I personally only mostly dislike black licorice and I thought the pie was just perfect. I think it compliments the pear in a way you wouldn't expect and is really amazingly good if you give it a chance. It just sort of smells like the taste of licorice, it really comes off as more of an apple-y flavor if you can believe it. I think if I made it again I might try and switch out the anise extract for almond extract and see if that was a better at pleasing the crowd. Or maybe just leave it the way it is, so I can keep it all for myself.

P.S. Swiss Miss + Kahlua = Win

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lazy Monday

 Taking it easy after the horrifically long black Friday weekend by expressing my independence and doing all the Christmas things I never did growing up.

 Like putting up the white Christmas tree I'd pined for since I was a kid and trimming up my whole house with ridiculously gaudy decorations. Before December 1st!(gasp!)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving For Two

Ever since I can remember, my brother, sister and I would all pile in a car with my mom and drive three + hours (usually stopping 6-10 times to pee and 4-5 times to get some toy from the trunk) to Grandma Ella Mae's house for thanksgiving. We'd visit with family, wander around her HUGE yard and of course, eat amazing food. Over the years my tastes grew and changed but the one thing I'll always remember is her cornbread dressing. It is truly a thing of wonder and like anything else wondrously made by a woman of the south it is maddeningly made straight from her mind (read: no recipe) and it relies heavily on the ability to make good cornbread (as Alton says "crap in, crap out"). My mother claims to suck at making cornbread from scratch but I don't know because she's never made any since I've been around. And I have spent many years appreciating cornbread and food in general but up until a few months ago was never heavy into cooking.

Friday, November 19, 2010

"Cauliflower-Onion Linguine" or "The Anemic Plate"

This recipe in Food Network Magazine drew my attention because it was two things I had never tried before;
1)Cauliflower as the main event
2)French fried onions

To most people I guess french fried onions are pretty old hat at this point, but I didn't grow up eating green bean casseroles like (at least the Campbell's soup commercials imply) most people did. In fact I'd never even tried a green bean casserole until a couple of years ago and even then I think somebody had rooted through and scooped all the french fried onions off for their own greedy lips. This called for 1/2 cup french fried onions chopped with a 1/4 cup panko and some olive oil and two garlic cloves toasted together in a span on the stove-top, which after several samples during the cooking process, has totally won my heart. It basically tastes like the most amazing topping to the best casserole ever, without actually adding butter or baking it in the oven. I'm convinced I will use this combo for many many more things in the future.

And as for the cauliflower... I just went along with it because that was the recipe. I could sit here and say that I've always had some sort of long lasting love for the most pallid member of the  family cruciferous but I think anybody who says that is probably being sarcastic.Cauliflower... it's not really something you seek out. It's just there. And honestly in this recipe  just like every other  time I've ever tasted cauliflower, just there was really all it was.

But the worst part was, it didn't just hang out in the background not adding to the party. It sort of stuck out, in that terrible way that it seemed all vegetables did when you were a kid eating anything that wasn't mac and cheese or hotdogs.
It was like, "Hey, cauliflower... dude... could you uh... maybe leave some room for something else?"

And to top it all off, if you pick it out (which I almost guarantee you will) the spicy noodle part doesn't even seem worth your time on its' own. It doesn't make sense really, in fact the whole dish pretty much follows a no fail formula of salty/cheesy/carbs and yet it's still ho-hum and borderline unappealing.
And it doesn't even look appetizing! I had a hell of a time trying to photograph this incredibly pale dish with only red pepper flakes and basil to give it any life. Aren't professional chef's always saying "you eat with your eyes first"?!
I kept imagining how much better this would be with some chicken and cream sauce but then I realized I was just wishing for chicken carbonara which is basically the noodles and cheese without everything else. Hm... imagine everything else is gone....

Final thoughts, panko + french fried onions = whole heartedly approve
Everything else = snore

Vince Camillo, I give you a sad face :(

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Feta Cheese Turkey Burgers with sweet potato fries on Peter Reinheart's buns

So far November has basically been a wash, it's the later part of Autumn and mostly it's just rainy and crappy during the day.And Really all it's made me want to do is stay inside and eat hearty food that reminds me of summer and good times. So when I discovered this recipe for Turkey burgers over at Erin's Food files I knew this was just the thing to make me feel better. Funny thing is, as soon as I got all ready to make it, the sun came out.

But I had plans to be fancy and make my own hamburger buns from a recipe in Peter Reinheart's Artisan Bread's Every Day ( a book I discovered and had a brief love affair with this summer) and since everything in that book takes at least 8 hours to ferment in the fridge I was pretty much determined to finish what I'd started yesterday and kept on trucking with my burger plans.  And while my little buns were proofing on the kitchen counter I went for a stroll in the five minutes of sunshine and took a few pictures.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Number 51 Maple Blondie

This flavor came out a while ago but I've always ignored it for some reason, maybe because for years I always thought of blondies as the less fun sister of brownies. Brownies were heaven's perfect chocolate square like cake and fudge come together with a decadent flaky layer on top. And blondies were pale baked squares without a ounce of chocolate in sight. It wasn't until I was much older that I even bothered to try a blondie and realized not only how good they were  but  that I even sometimes liked them in place of brownies especially when it comes to added ingredients like butterscotch chips, pecans, etc. 

This however did not taste like a blondie to me, at least not most of the time. What this really reminded me of was pancakes with whipped cream and really good maple syrup. You know, the expensive kind. Which I'll tell you isn't a bad thing. In fact it was amazingly good and not way too sweet either (unlike pancakes with whipped cream). It has just the perfect balance of bits to smooth ice cream so you're not fishing around for the good parts or chewing on too many hunks of pancake...er... blondie.

Despite its' perplexing name (I guess if they called this flavor "Pancakes with Whipped Cream and Syrup" nobody would buy it? Okay, maybe I would but really, would you?)I'm definitely diggin with this one. Love!

Monday, November 15, 2010

What Good Is A Blog With No Pictures?

I've been working on my food photography lately after noticing that most of the food blogs I love the most seem to draw me in with their pictures. But somehow oddly I have been way too lazy to bother learning how to photograph what I cook so it doesn't just look like a pot of slop. The funny thing is, I used to take pictures all the time. Not of food usually but still I once had a reputation for getting the best looking pictures out of a cheap digital camera. 

After some googleing and tutorial reading I felt inspired enough to  noodle around this morning with some unfancy food items I had around the house.  These two pictures are the best out of the bunch so far.

Also yesterday I ran upon some Plantain chips at publix and had to try them, I would post a picture but I ate them all and empty chip bags aren't that photogenic. I loved them to say the least, they are pretty much just like french fry flavored potato chips if that makes any sense. I imagine your average potato chip aficionado wouldn't find them salty enough, however I've never been much for a salt lick so naturally I'm in love. I am now determined to make my own, or some version of it because I'm sure that something so wonderful and obscure will disappear the moment I am pining for it and I'll have no choice anyway. I've seen so many people lately buying plantains lately, and really it's driving me crazy. What do you do with them when you get home?!?!When I was growing up my dad was always trying to make fried plantains ( I guess he'd had some at some point in his youth) but he was never much of a cook so it usually turned into a kitchen filled with burnt grease and a failed experiment in the trash.I suspect I'll need some fancy ethnic techniques to manage whatever it is they are actually doing with those slimy things (ala fried green tomatoes)  luckily I have the internet. TO GOOGLE!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Lovely Surprises

mushroom salt shakers: ModCloth.com
Made this chicken soba bowl recipe from fitness magazine today after ages of being way too scared to try Soba noodles. Why? Well for one thing they're brown, not a reassuring color. Generally speaking I think that if a food is brown it needs to be really awesome to make up for it. You know, chocolate, coffee, vanilla beans, cinnamon, all awesome despite the dirty rotten color. And given that it's a buckwheat noodle, I was skeptical. I mean "buckwheat", doesn't the word itself just make you cringe? Makes me think of "health food" items that taste like box. But this, this was lovely. It had that familiar noodle taste with a hint of nutty wheat flavor. So so good. The recipe was good too I thought, just don't make it if you don't like broccoli. Seriously. Broccoli haters stay away, you will be sorry. It called for baby Bok Choy and shitake mushrooms too but I couldn't find any so I just went with  fresh button mushrooms and broccoli.

Also, ALSO, my little local grocery store suddenly, randomly got some D'anjou pears! I walked in today and there they were in a little ruby row, I thought they were pomegranates at first and almost walked right by. I got overexcited and bought a TON even though I've only ever tasted them in that salad I had at Panera. They'll probably taste like every other lovely pear but on top of the fact that I'm pear obsessed right now I'm sucked in by the dreaminess of the name. D'anjou, D'anjou.

Monday, November 8, 2010

By the way : Halloween at the Wildhorse

Halloween was one of the few holidays I was off work for this year (barely) so despite being half awake my boyfriend and I dragged ourselves down to the Wildhorse Saloon in downtown Nashville for some good old times. I put barely any effort at all into my Halloween costume and went as a barely recognizable Holly Golightly. We had dinner and watched an 80's cover band play. The Wildhorse is kind of a touristy place with kitschy horse statues everywhere and a gift shop on your way out so I don't really consider it to be a true representation of Nashville cuisine but it does hold a special place in my heart for two reasons 1) they played host to an AMAZING Hives show a couple years ago and 2) they have the best french fries I've ever had bar none. So instead of talking about my uninteresting ham and swiss on a soft pretzel sandwich (too sweet for me, needed some funk I think) I will simply say Wildhorse, well done. Flaky, crispy, just enough softness in the center, perfectly salted and a little bit of that freaky red sweet fry seasoning, not to mention consistency of flavor here two years later. They are a thing of wonder and will haunt my dreams I'm telling you.

Back at home we blew through a bag of Halloween candy, watched The Evil Dead and tried a round of some seasonal beer  which I'm ashamed to say I was drawn to by it's fancy packaging, I'm a sucker for anything pumpkin spice so  when I found Blue Moon Ale's Harvest Moon pumpkin spice beer I had to try it. As you might expect delicious pumpkin spice in booze format with a catchy name was just too good to be true. I have no idea what I was expecting but unless you're one of those boozy super tasters the spices they described it as having were pretty much undetectable. Mostly I found it to have the acidic bite of pale ale with kind of a warm finish which I guess is what they were trying to say was the spiced part. I'm not a huge beer drinker anyway but this wasn't anything special so in the future I think I'd skip it. The Evil Dead however was magnificent. Bruce Campbell and I are getting married. You're all invited.

Spiced applesauce cake or How to eat like a god

I have an intimate relationship with spiced goods. When I eat a really amazing snicker doodle or drink vanilla chai tea, there's a certain unique sensation that washes over me, a strange mix of homey nostalgia and romantic passion. It's the taste of  wild coziness and for some reason to most people it's old hat. But these are unique, exotic, and hard to tame spices from Mexico and Asia and yet we think of them like the petticoats on American housewives. Vanilla is the second most expensive spice by weight (after saffron), it's a pain in the ass to cultivate and almost impossible to grow outside its' indigenous area and yet it's so amazing that it's still the most widely used flavor for baking. And cinnamon was once thought so big and fancy it was considered a suitable gift for god(don't get too big a head now cinnamon). And yet in so many recipes nobody cares enough to let these flavors sing.

The first thing I noticed about this cake when I started to mix it up was that the vanilla and cinnamon measurements were way too small for me. After baking about a million spiced this and that recipes with uninteresting results I've found that this little detail is usually the problem. Maybe it's maybe it's that northern southern divide, the difference between pumpkin and sweet potato pie eaters,but I believe that when you want something spiced, mulled or homey, it's vanilla and cinnamon you're really looking for. Sure cloves and nutmeg like to hang out in there but they're really just part of the entourage.You know, the back up dancers, the Supremes to it's Dianna Ross. Which is why in this little recipe I had to learn from past experience and do two things I never do; taste the batter along the way (gasp!), and let the spices just do what they wanted (double gasp!). I know, I know, in baking you're supposed to be exact but I've found that as far as flavoring goes if I just let my senses tell me what when there's enough of that exotic warmth it just tastes so much better.

 So far it's the first fall spiced dish I've made that marries a lot of my favorite elements into a single cake (Imagine a carrot cake, crossed with an oatmeal cookie and a vanilla chai latte). And doesn't have that bitter Hey there's CLOVES in here! thing happening that I've experienced so many times. One thing I fantasized about whilst slurping away at the frosting knife was how magnificent this would be in muffin form for breakfast with a good cup of coffee. The end result, I think this cake has a lot of that wild let your hair down vibrancy I was looking for. And maybe even a little bit of me in there.

Spiced Applesauce Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
via smitten kitchen/Gourmet.com

The Cake
2 cups AP flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon (or to taste I'd say)
1/2 tsp ground ginger
a tiny sprinkle ground cloves (or to taste)
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1- 2 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract (or to taste)
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce ( I just used the publix brand)
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans (optional), toasted, cooled, and chopped

The Frosting
5 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
 3/4 cup confectioners sugar ( or more if it seems like it needs it)
1/2 - 1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.  Line the bottom of an 8- or 9-inch cake pan with parchment and non-stick spray.

For the cake: Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Beat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla until pale and fluffy ( I did this by hand but you can use a mixer). Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in applesauce. Stir in flour mixture until just combined, then stir in walnuts or pecans (if using). The batter will look weird but it's okay, Deb warned about this on her website and was totally right.

Spread batter evenly in pan and bake until golden-brown and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 to 45 minutes depending on your oven. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Run a knife around edge of cake to loosen, then invert onto a plate. Re invert cake onto a rack to cool completely.

Make frosting: Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until fluffy. Then add confectioners sugar and cinnamon over cream cheese mixture,and then beat until incorporated (test for sweetness and flavor and adjust the sugar and cinnamon to taste). Spread frosting over top of cooled cake. Lick knife when nobody's watching.

Monday, October 25, 2010


For the last five years of my life, I've had a little obsession with ice cream. It started the year I turned 17 when I spent a summer in San Francisco at art school. I didn't really spend much time paying attention in class or really making much art as I recall. When I think about San Francisco I really just remember laughing with my roommates, chasing boys, and eating good food.

shamelessly stolen from googlmaps
Between classes I usually didn't have more than an hour to find a place and eat so once I found Specialty's Cafe and Bakery I pretty much stuck to it. It was  right across the street from my Film class and in my memory it was a bakery but I don't remember them having more than cupcakes, cookies and cream sodas. Maybe because that's all I ever ate there.

also from googlemaps
Epplers Bakery is another place that stands out in my mind because they had the most delicious chocolate cake I've ever had in my life. No exaggeration needed I have yet to encounter (here five years later) another slice of cake that comes anywhere near what I tasted there. And the slices were as big as your head too. I used to get a slice on Sunday and make it last through the week. That cake was heaven, and if one day I ever make it back to San Fransisco it would be my pleasure t curl up with that cake and happily die.

Mostly though, when the sun set, the boys were chasing other girls, and I'd finished pretending to do my homework, I'd usually find a friend to go with me and wander around the corner to the Liquor Store/little quicky mart and buy some Ben & Jerry's.  It was pretty much the first time in my life that I had been anywhere that you could buy this decadent concoction. To me, little pint sized fancy ice creams were something that people ate in movies, in fact the only other place that I had ever even seen Ben & Jerry's in real life was when I was in New York for four days with my aunt (I was 15 and it was the biggest thrill of my life). And I tell you the second I saw it, I knew I had to buy it. The flavor was Pistachio Pistachio and I ate it for breakfast every single day we were there.

And now, here I was again in a big city and I swear to god this little quicky mart seemed to sell only beer, bananas and every flavor of Ben & Jerry's legally sold in the U.S. It was unreal. I remember staring at the freezer wide eyed plotting to try every single flavor before I had to leave this fattening utopia and go back home.I tried 12 flavors before I left for Nashville and later that fall, through the grace of god, my local grocery store started carrying Ben & Jerry's too. And there, that moment is when the sickness began.

At this point any time I'm anywhere outside my regular shopping area I'll check the freezer section of just about anyplace to see if they have a flavor I haven't tried yet. And like a freak of nature I have been keeping track all this time of each flavor. Which brings me to the purpose of this post. I have ladies and gentlemen reached a personal milestone, today, after trying both Pumpkin Cheesecake and Carrot Cake, I have officially tasted 50 flavors. If there was every any doubt of my foodie status, I think this display should pretty much prove my dedication.
  1. American Pie
  2. Americone Dream
  3. Banana Split
  4. Boston Cream Pie
  5. Brownie batter
  6. Carrot Cake
  7. Cherry Garcia
  8. Cherry Garcia {Body and Soul}
  9. Chocolate chip cookie dough
  10. Chocolate fudge brownie
  11. Chocolate Fudge Brownie {Body and Soul}
  12. Chocolate therapy
  13. Chubby Hubby
  14. Chunky Monkey
  15. Cinnamon Buns
  16. Coconut chocolate chunk
  17. Dave Mathews Band magic brownies
  18. Dublin Mudslide
  19. Everything but the?
  20. Fossil Fuel
  21. Fudge central
  22. Half Baked {Body and Soul}
  23. Imagine Whirled Peace
  24. In a Crunch
  25. Jamaican Me Crazy
  26. Karamel Sutra
  27. Marsha Marsha marshmallow
  28. Milk And Cookies
  29. Mint Chocolate Chunk
  30. Mint Chocolate Cookie
  31. Mud Pie
  32. Neapolitan Dynamite
  33. New York super fudge chunk
  34. Oatmeal cookie chunk
  35. One Cheesecake Brownie
  36. Peanut Butter Cup
  37. Phish food
  38. Pistachio Pistachio
  39. Pumpkin Cheesecake
  40. Strawberry Cheesecake
  41. Sweet Cream & Cookie
  42. S’mores
  43. The Gobfather
  44. Triple Caramel Chunk
  45. Turtle Soup
  46. Uncanny Cashew
  47. Vanilla
  48. Vanilla Heath bar crunch
  49. Vermonty Python
  50. Willie Nelson’s Country Peach Cobbler
I don't really know if I should be proud at this point but boys, you've stuck with me through diets, breakups, and though marathons. So Ben, Jerry, here's to another 50, it's been a wild ride.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pie In The Sky

Ever find yourself hungry and torn between ordering Chinese (thai) or Pizza? Never again will I be faced with that problem thanks to Pie in the Sky Pizza a true Nashville gem.

In fact apart from being somewhat structurally unsound I'll say the Spicy Thai Peanut pizza comes pretty close to being the perfect dish.
It even has the horrifically non-photogenic sign of a pizza made seemingly with all real ingredients ( I wasn't hanging around their kitchen so I don't know for sure)

You can get it with either chicken or shrimp (we got chicken) and it even has that little picnic table in the middle that all pizza places used to have back in the day. You remember the days when Pizza Hut had those? Before your time?Okay. Whatever
Garlic Roasted Chicken tossed in our Spicy Thai Peanut Chili Sauce with Pineapple and Chopped Celery atop Fresh Romano & Mozzarella.
This is pretty much heaven, even if you do have to eat it with a fork. Not so salty that you can't even eat it. No weird fast food bellyache afterwards. The chicken was tender and succulent like rotisserie, and had pineapple which I love so already I was ready to throw down and consummate it right there, but the Thai Peanut sauce, uuuuhhhhhhhhhhh. This sauce, I want to bathe in it, I want to eat every meal with it drizzled on top, I want to buy it a ring, have it divorce me and take all my money. This sauce and I have a sexual connection. The only think that could make this pizza better is if there was a little more going in with the crust. It was more of a vehicle for the toppings than anything that would curl your toes on it's own. But that's my beef with just about every pizza I eat so I won't hold that against Pie in the Sky.

I can already see a long romance with Pie In the Sky, they have a total of 14 unique specialty pizzas and I intend to try them all.

Chicory Root, or How to Ruin a Relationship

If you start to notice everywhere you walk the foliage begins to turn black and die, you seem to be circled above by buzzards and the cops come knocking at your door because the neighbors down the street were complaining about the smell, you might want to think back to if you've eaten any chicory root.

Somehow with the recent fiber fad, companies have been turning to chicory root to up the fiber content of just about anything you can think of, cereal, granola bars, frozen dinners, ice cream! it's in everything. And while I admit that it has been proven that the average person doesn't get nearly enough fiber in their diet, (the recommended daily amount of fiber for your average adult is 21 grams the average high fiber item with chicory root has a bout 5-7), meaning if you're someone who eats a lot of these health foods in a day you run the risk of having your pants permanently swung around your ankles.

The weird thing about it though is that if you were getting these high levels of fiber from other sources  it wouldn't be a problem. Even gas from beans, cabbage, broccoli, isn't nearly as noxious as this dietary napalm. There's just something about chicory root fiber that's like Drano in the system. I'm talking about multiple shits a day, intestinal discomfort and bellyaches that last for days. Yes I said DAYS.

Where am I  going with this? Well even though I spent a painful summer finding out the hard way what many others are already on the internet complaining about I still managed to make a critical mistake when I tried to lighten up a chili recipe (that by the way in it's original form was probably the best chili I've ever had).
I decided to replace the ground beef in the recipe with Morningstar Farms meal starters meat free crumbles, (which is like vegan ground beef) which really was kind of a stretch from the get go. I've become kind of stuck up these days about eating things with a bunch of man made ingredients, so I was already making an exception there. Not to mention that chili is something that should really be slow cooked to leach all that flavor from the meat into the sauce and vice versa. But whatever I was being experimental.

So not only didn't the chili turn out how I wanted (anything meatless should really taste as good as the original or what's the point really?) but I didn't bother to really read the ingredient list on the meatless meat until after  I put it in the pot and then what did I discover? DUN DUN DUUUUUUN Chicory root fiber!


I tried to let it go, telling myself that there wasn't really enough of it in there to really make any difference. However....

Let this be a cautionary tale for anyone who may have recently (or been planning to) make the switch from everyday processed food to cereals, grains, frozen dinners of the "health food" variety. Before you sample be sure to read your labels! If you scan down that ingredient list and you happen to find 'chicory root' be afraid be very afraid!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Race Food

Part of the appeal of Running for the party in "The Gulch" area of Nashville is that it has a high concentration of new and overly fancy restaurants advertising in tent format trying to drum up some business. Entry fee + sweaty me  means I get to sample a lot of these places for free and see if they're really worth the Gulchy hype.

sweat marks! crooked belt! rough race

Urban Flats
A little bit fussy, it was like they hadn't noticed they were serving out of a tent. They had chili, little inch slices of dessert samples. pita slices and flat bread with three different kinds of hummus all with pretentious names you didn't understand and instantly forgot. In my universe there was the green one, the olive one, a brown hummus with sesame and some with roasted red pepper. I liked the chili, or what I could eat of it with only a fork, but it was pretty much like any other thin variety bean chili so it didn't really make up for the uppity-ness. Out of the group I really liked the olive hummus a lot it. It was completely unique tasting which is exactly what I expect from a place that's decided to name bean dip something you can't pronounce. I liked the roasted red pepper hummus too although it was a bit too sweet for the crackers I was eating it with. I have no idea what it would pair better with but I only had a teaspoon to sample so I'll worry about that next time around.

With the desserts it was clear they were using the formula of great + great = awesome, but it that was pretty hit and miss.
 Cake 1 was like a pecan pie body surfing a moshing crowd of chocolate silk. This was something clearly made by a northern person. This just tasted wrong. It's my opinion that candied pecans and chocolate should never hang out together, sin sin sin.  Really, who ruins two wonderful deserts by combining them?
 Cake 2 Mmmmmmmmmmm. Here they got it right, this was a magnificent slice of heaven. Picture a warm sock it to me cake topped with apple pie and drizzled with caramel. Perfection. They even balanced what could have been a cloying combination of sugars by lacing it with a sort of cheescakey savoriness.

Taco Mamacita
Scratch made corn chips and a selection of dips. I'm always a sucker for a real corn chips so they had me from the get go. They had regular salsa (that was alright but didn't sing) and salsa verde but what I really loved was this dip made from corn with a kind of  warm spicy white sauce. Mmm

The Pita Pit
Pretty much subway in wrap format. A basic cold cuts on lettuce and tomato wrap in a pita. We tried the Chicken Cesar and the Club and nothing about either thrilled me. Even though there's only one in Nashville (so far) they're apparently part of a chain and that's an element I think you can really taste.

All in all I'd say their selection was no better or worse than any other money saturated portion of Nashville. But stupid name or not, I'm intrigued by the Gulch, so don't be surprised if I turn up there again to run, to party or maybe even to eat.

Samantha Cotton aka "Sam Cott"

The last few days I'd been football tackled by a cold, and there's nothing like being sick to make me crave some home-style mama made it type comfort food.

(from google search. yes I ate it all before I could take a picture)
 Now in her defense I'll say that honestly I don't think my mother ever made this when I was growing up. I'm pretty sure this over processed  largely canned dish was something I concocted when I was trying (without  recipe) to replicate something much nicer that she'd made ( I spent a lot of my teen years doing this). Somehow though over the years this became an effortless comfort food staple in our house. Nameless for many years eventually and (I swear soberly) we decided to call it Samantha Cotton for some reason none of us can remember.

Samantha Cotton

1lb salad twirls (rontini) the orange, white and green kind is what we always liked the best
2  5oz cans solid white tuna, drained
2 15oz cans Del Monte mixed vegetables, drained
1 tbsp Olive oil
2-3 tbsp Kroger Brand "classic whip" (there's something specific about this flavor, Miracle Whip won't work)

Cook the noodles according to the directions on the box being sure to use plenty of salt. Drain.
 Stir in the olive oil to coat the noodles. Dump everything else in a stir til combined. Eat warm out of the pot ( but be warned  if you eat it warm you will be back for seconds) or cool in the refrigerator and eat cold.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


The internet was pretty unhelpful when it came to defining exactly what you'd call the dish I made earlier today. The problem is it's some of that gray area item I was cooking with. Because really almost any egg dish can have the exact same ingredients and be called all kinds of things. Depending on how fancy you are or your mood, an omelet is a quiche is a custard is a frittata. Traditionally what you call an omelet is beaten eggs cooked flat with some filling in the middle, a frittata is whipped eggs baked/broiled fluffy with some filling mixed in, a quiche is an egg and cream custard, baked in a pie shell with some filling mixed in.

What I made was whipped eggs only (no cream) with filling (diced ham, mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, spinach, onions and a dash of cumin) mixed in, baked in a pie plate with no crust. Internet says it's a crust-less quiche but I'm thinking the Larousse Gastronomique would call it a frittata.

I'm thinking American bastardization of food is the reason why I can't figure out exactly the definition.

Anyway the point here was well 1) to clean out my freezer and 2) to let my mind and hands wander in the kitchen. For some reason that's been my mood all week. None of the recipes I've been looking at have really been rocking my socks so I've been itching to get in there and just fuck it up my own way. And honestly it's refreshing to find how many fancy seeming dishes are really just as easy as scrambling eggs. First lasagna and now the quiche. Sure they're things you could buy in the frozen food section at wal-mart but it's still pretty awesome to add to the list of dishes you can pull out of your ass at a moment's notice. And that's kind of cool. It makes me feel all chef-y to not have to pull out a recipe to cook up something.

And by the way, it was delicious.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Perfectly Passable Vegetable Lasagna

At one point in your life, although you may not remember, there came a moment when you looked down at your lunch and you realized that a peanut butter sandwich was bread spread with peanut butter. You went to the kitchen, tried it yourself and realized that you could make a sandwich.
One day, when you've been cooking long enough comes a time when you experience this same feeling of previously unrealized clarity. You'll be standing in the grocery store and you think to yourself " man I'd really like  some ___ right now" now if you're not particularly dirty minded and the blank is something that can be found in a grocery store not peddling hookers a miraculous moment will settle onto you, your memory will flip through the pages of the Larousse Gastronomique and not only will you remember how to make such a dish, but you'll be provided with a grocery list of every ingredient needed.

This strange foreign sensation settled on me today. I'd been feeling sort of lazy lately and none of my recipe resources have really been thrilling me lately so I thought I'd just wander around the grocery store until something came to me. Usually I try to avoid this method of shopping because most of the time it's fruitless and it always turns out to be expensive, but today was my day and the dish was lasagna 

The funny thing about lasagna is that before you start cooking it always seems like such a fancy involved dish when in reality it's pretty much a cheesy noodle sandwich. That said I'm not looking a gift horse in the mouth. I'll congratulate myself for not ruining this dish and even giving it a little personal flair via roasted eggplant and frozen spinach. Ignoring a few crunchy noodle ends it was delicious, in fact you'd never know that I didn't use a recipe.