Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Try This Tuesday, Or: To Thine Own Self Be True

I habitually hit a kitchen rut every January, this year being no exception. Once Sam went back to work after the holidays, the only kitchen motivation I had was buttering toast, but I soldiered through! I tried five new recipes in the last two weeks, and there were a lot of busts, actually. Here is a weird truth, no matter how much I try (and try!), I just can't get on board with butternut squash. It's related to the whole not-liking-cooked-fruit thing. I suppose I don't like sweet things to be warm, and butternut squash is too sweet. This also goes for sweet potatoes. So the new recipes included a vegan mac 'n' cheese (butternut squash based), and a sweet potato chili. Entire dinners in the trash (wah wah). So the lesson learned is that if you don't like something, don't make it for dinner. Know yourself, know your tastes, and to thine own self be true. Amidst the gross stuff I also found some goodies! Here's a list of things to try.

Quinoa "meat"balls. My dear friend's sister-in-law runs this vegan and allergy-friendly blog, and I thought this dinner was amazing. I often crave spaghetti and meatballs, but just cannot stomach red meat anymore. Problem solved! I ate these meatballs for days on end. Perfect texture (crisp on the outside!) and a great depth of flavor. (Though Sam wasn't as wild about them as I was and kept telling me I shouldn't call them meatballs, because it was deceiving.) The kale featured in this post was pretty cool. I think I just don't like kale though (too bitter), but the coconut/maple/orange flavor was awesome.

Apparently I'm on a quinoa kick, but I fell head over heels for this Thai Fried Quinoa. I tried both of these recipes because it seems all the popular quinoa recipes are for mexican style dishes (tossed with onion, bell peppers, cilantro, and lime), which gets boring. But this Thai fried quinoa was so good, I could have eaten the entire pan in one sitting, no joke. All that coconut milk probably means it isn't the world's healthiest recipe, but it's so good you won't even care. Seriously, make this today.

Of course winter means I want to eat soup every day, and this carrot ginger miso soup really hit the spot. Unfortunately not even Bria liked this soup, which is suspicious, but I loved it. Miso makes my heart sing. (And, just so you don't have to make multiple trips to Whole Foods like I did, I'll tell you that miso is located in the refrigerated section, near all the other vegan stuff.)

And lastly, we met up with Hannah and Rob on Saturday night for sandwiches at Brabo's the butcher block. Not a great place to stay and eat (we brought the sandwiches back to our place), but the sandwiches were fantastic. Right near the king street metro, I definitely recommend it for a quality, gourmet sandwich (and I really want to go back for a cheese plate). (also note they stop making sandwiches at 7pm.)

Monday, January 16, 2012


*I wrote this post back in the spring, but never published it. So here it is, getting published. I worked at that office job for exactly one day before realizing it was not right for me. Sometimes you have to get that far into something to really know that it's not going to work. The great resounding lesson of this experience was "to everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven." Seems like that has been the theme of the last year.

The weather has continued to be lovely-- peppered with hot and humid days and weeks-- this is exactly the kind of spring I could endorse. I bought a pair of sandals for Bria that are too thick-soled, and they make her trip. This means we've had a lot of skinned knees around here. (Check out that mosquito bite too!)
I see my life echoed on a smaller scale in Bria. Growing can be tough. Bria and I try to make an adventure out of life, and some days we do a pretty good job. Some days the only adventure we have is traveling up the street to the Wendy's that smells like low-tide and indulging in a frosty.
Other days I decide to take steps in a new direction. This includes going to Target and buying a new outfit for a job interview. (Which I then take an awkward picture of to text my sister Whitney to get her fashion approval.) (hey, look! my hair has grown! but I'm still making the same faces.)
And those steps resulted in a new job-- the first office job I've had in over three years. It's a very new direction-- one that's scary, but exciting. But I'm hoping that by developing a side of myself that's laid dormant for those 3+ years, I'll be able to more fully enjoy and invest in my adventures with B. Because every moment with a girl like this one should be treasured.

Monday, January 9, 2012

On Expensive Dinners and Dreams

The very first thing I should tell you about this year is the very last meal I ate last year. It was decadent and very indulgent, and a lovely way to say sayonara to a year that did not agree with me. (Also, brace yourself, it was the most expensive meal I have ever eaten.) We ate at Passion Fish in Reston, which is a sister restaurant to Ceiba and happens to be owned and created by Molly Wizenberg's brother. So, excitement all around. There was a prix-fixe menu for New Year's Eve that did not disappoint. I loved being able to choose from such fun offerings and indulge in more courses than usual. All too often I find myself paying to eat food that is incredibly mediocre. When you go to a restaurant, you want to feel happy that you ate better than you would at home. Don't you hate paying $15 for something you know you could cook better? I think I'd rather save the heartache and save up to eat at Passion Fish on a quarterly basis. Perhaps I should make it a resolution.

So my last meal of the year included sushi, Thai spring rolls, red curry lobster, and a vanilla bean anglaise chocolate mousse praline. (Let us take a moment to notice my choices were all Asian-influenced [save dessert].) There was also a special chef creation of a haddock custard with creme fraiche and caviar before our food arrived and Sam's dessert was homemade donuts which made me want to stow away in the restaurant kitchen for the rest of my life, surviving solely on a diet of those sugar-dusted gems. Sam's dinner was a beautiful piece of tuna with foie gras cotton candy on top. How is that even possible? I don't know, but it was awesome. Do you care to see crappy iPhone photos of our spread? I hate to do the food such injustice, but here we are.

Over two hours we all stuffed ourselves happily celebrating the end of the year and excitedly planning for the new one. This year is going to be great, I just know it. And one thing I hope to do more is be more open and honest, so here I go: I started making plans last summer to really shake things up in my life, and I am happy I started down that path. Since I was working on my undergrad five years ago I wanted to go to culinary school, and I thought maybe this would be the right time for me. When Sam and I visited NYC last fall, the sole purpose of the trip was to visit schools. Our initial plan was to finish our apartment contract here in the spring and then move up there so I could start school. However, it's incredible how quickly things change. A couple changes to Sam's job and some other opportunities have opened up here, so it seems we'll be staying put a while longer. Part of me is sad to have to put off my dreams for a while longer, but getting so far down the path made me realize how attainable my dreams are-- and they will be waiting for me as soon as I'm able to get back to them. In the meantime, I've gotten a taste for excitement and am brainstorming ways to spice things up. I hope to share more of those adventures here while I gain some experience that will only make my eventual culinary career richer.