19 June 2003

so much has happened in the past six days! highlights include:
1. Fogo de Chau with its fantastic salad bar and wandering bearers of meat. it wasn't quite as gluttonous as i'd anticipated, which was disappointing. i'd imagined long, shared tables, big blasting fireplaces, mugs of beer. apparently, i had an elaborate medieval festival in my head. this is what i wanted.
2. Bob Chin's Crab House and the "ex-CRAB-aganza." really. messy and good with butter-soaked garlic bread.
3. Harold's Chicken Shack #67. Where are #'s 1-66? Great fried chicken and fish.
4. Going away party for me involving cake, cookies, ice cream, cake, cake and cake. i ate too much. i got a stomach ache.
5. Naan vegetable roll from Lucky Kebab and Nehari House.

13 June 2003

tonight, i'm thinking cuban sandwich from la unica. should balance out my kale lambs quarter stirfry.

more veggies! i had to finish them all because i'm going to the market tomorrow and, really, can't spend four hours there without taking something home. so last night i steamed the rest of the kale, chopped up the baby garlic and threw it all into a stirfry with the lamb's quarter and assorted spices. i boiled some mung beans, made some rice and combined it all into a big, very healthy looking dinner, complete with nutritional yeast topping and a cup of soy milk. the whole thing reminded me of the many strange co-op meals i had in college. although there was no honey in the pasta, no butter beans mixed with pineapple and certainly no deepfried cheese blocks. and for that, i am thankful.

12 June 2003

well, last night i came home to an empty house (roommates out of town) and a fridge full of veggies that were just beginning to think about going bad (you could see it in their eyes). i knew i had to act fast so i put aside the New Yorker and got to work. threw together a nice, organic veggie-full dinner including:

salad: pea shoots, avocado, tomato, chickpeas, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper
pasta: squiggly stuff
sauce: kale, zucchini, chickpeas, baby garlic in olive oil, tomato paste, basil, veggie stock, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper
and loads of parmesan cheese.

i was starving so i snarfed it all down in no time at all. tonight i'm thinking stuffed bell peppers...and more kale.

11 June 2003

in celebration of a somewhat significant accomplishment, my mom took me to Hilary's Urban Eatery (HUE) for dinner on monday night. i have to say that i was a bit disappointed. granted, i had heard not of HUE's great dinners, but of their fantastic brunches but i figured there's be some quality carry-over. we split guacamole and (heated) salsa, both being pretty tasty. each got a salad and split the special pumpkin ravioli with some sort of buttery sauce and the ravioli combo, a gorgonzola spinach ravioli with another kind of buttery sauce. it was good but much much too heavy for any normal person to eat. two days later, my stomach is still recovering, and i rarely have food-related tummy problems (i prefer to channel anxiety and stress if i'm looking to make my stomach knot). and while i appreciated the creativity involved, the gorgonzola ravioli didn't come together--the flavors didn't really work so well. the absolute highlight, meanwhile, of the pumpkin ravioli was the pile of fresh mango sprinkled with goat cheese in the middle of the plate.

one other thing. i realize that HUE has no control over their neighbors, but whoever lives on the third floor of HUE's building, kept their enormous scary black barking growling dog on their back porch, looking over HUE's outdoor dining area. and when you're sitting in said area directly at the bottom of the stairs that lead from that third floor porch to the rest of the world, with just a two foot high fence keeping the dog on the porch and off the staircase, well, its a little unsettling. i swear, if that dog had half a brain in him, he could have hopped that fence, come racing down the stairs and eaten my mom and me for dinner, with a nice cheesy and buttery ravioli for dessert. i wouldn't be lying to say that i had actually planned out some possible escape routes in case it came to that.

10 June 2003

i just had three bowls of rice and i might explode. blech. but tonight i'm finally eating crispy catfish salad from thai pastry which should be fabulous. its been highly recommended. yummers!

08 June 2003

why i love organic veggies
a short essay by Deepfry

i almost ate a spider that was living in my kale.

the end.

07 June 2003

two years after moving to my lovely apartment (complete with lovely roommates and lovely cats!), i've finally dined at Toham Africa, the nigerian restaurant just around the corner from my house. boy-roomie and i, after a, yes, lovely day at poplar creek forest preserve fiending after the picnic food at the parties surrounding us and our humble blanket, got home, changed out of our icky clothes and headed to Toham. the restaurant was empty and we were greeted with vague disinterest by our host/server/maybe cook. she brought out a menu for boy-roomie and we asked her to order for us since, well, we're clueless. she chose plantains, rice and spinach and pounded yam with spinach.

pounded yam. i have one totally food-lovin' non-kosher coworker and we talk for hours about cooking, eating and everything in between. sick, really. the coworker eats just about anything and with relish. so, when the woman at toham suggested the pounded yam, i shuddered for it is the only food that coworker cannot stand. she tried it once and couldn't even swallow it. eek! told me it had the consistency of room-temperature elmers glue. but, whatever, i'll try anything once...

...and the coworker was totally wrong. pounded yam, arriving tightly wrapped in celophane, was quite tasty with its tomato spinach sauce. that is, once we figured out that we had to remove the celophane wrap. yeah. yum! like mashed potatoes with a little umph, it felt like something i'd eat for a carbo-load meal the night before an athletic event. the plantains, rice, etc., also wonderful. if the service wasn't slower than a snail's pace, we would have stuck it out for a dessert: Puff Puff. maybe next time.

the overall experience was rather odd, though. maybe it was the three foot wide t.v. blaring "the price is right," the rather large and empty room, the sticky table, the totally inconvenienced waitstaff or the startlingly quick arrival of the food (a stark contrast to the pace of the overall service). but, i liked it! don't know that i'll rush back, but i'm totally glad i gave it a whirl. i mean, there are so many restaurants on devon right near my house--i really ought to be exploring them more.

05 June 2003

oh, this looks fabulous and easy (despite the costly butter):

"For the sauce, all I did was reduce down a fourth cup each of lemon juice and white wine vinegar, mixed with a little minced shallot and salt and white pepper, and then, over very low heat, stir in oh, say, 3 STICKS of butter. Danish butter. A little bit at a time. Until it’s all melted in. Then I just tossed in some shrimp I’d briefly sautéed, and that was that." -julie

and perhaps i will try it next week.

so i stopped on my way home and picked up a naan vegetable roll at Lucky Kebab and Nehari house, my favorite Indo-Pak late-night (or dinner) restaurant and got a mango lassi for good measure. finished the lassi before i got home (it is, after all, a four block walk) but had a lovely dinner at the kitchen table with the roomie who then finally buckled under the immense pressure i've been exerting for days and made me dessert. auntie bonnie's krazy kake from how it all vegan, to be exact. but first he tried to convince me that there were no dessert-friendly ingredients in the cubbard and let me tell you, if you're trying to get out of cooking me dessert, that's not going to work because i can make anything from something. the lack of eggs was only a minor barrier, easily overcome by turning to our good ol' vegan cookbook. and while the cake would have been greatly improved with the addition of a bit of buttercream (oops! did i say butter?) frosting, it was good stuff. it's amazing what vinegar, flour, baking powder, sugar, cocoa powder, salt and a little lovin' can produce. granted, this particular cake did have vegan written all over it (slightly dry and tasting a bit, uh, earthy) but beggars can't be chosers. and he actually made me dessert!! what a pal!

tomorrow, crispy catfish salad at Thai Pastry. and, in honor of shavuot, hopefully a bit of cheesecake.

mintwasher is a good person to know

In response to a comment about my where-to-eat-before-leaving list:
"Things to put on your list: Empanadas at El Nandu, protein tidbits at Soul Vegetarian, anything at Rajun Cajun, crispy catfish salad at Thai Pastry, pork sausage at Siam Noodle and Rice, chilaquiles at Blind Faith Cafe, beignets and the catfish po'boy at Dixie Kitchen, biscuits and gravy at Leo's Lunchroom, grilled pepper jack cheese sandwich with cole slaw and russian dressing at Leo's Lunchroom. "

03 June 2003

Last night, i tried my hardest to stop at Popeye's for fried chicken, but just couldn't hack it. i'm kind of happy with that, really. i think its best to just go with harold's, even if the experts prefer Popeye's. instead, i stopped by dominicks for some pasta, an eggplant, mushrooms (the pre-sliced type--oh yeah!), a can of stewed tomatoes and a head of garlic. i've recently caught a few t.v. shows on how to select the perfect eggplant and i know it has something to do with the bounciness of the skin and the "sex" of the eggplant (based on what the bottom of the thing looks like) but i can never remember whats what so i just poked at the stack of eggplants for a few minutes and finally went with the least wrinkly option. the bottom had a slightly green and flat center. just to be safe and avoid any unnecessary bitterness, i took irma's advice and peeled the eggplant. i minced the garlic into a saucepan of olive oil and as soon as it started to brown, dumped in the cubed eggplant. twenty minutes and some serious stirring later, the eggplant had absorbed all of the oil, started to cook and rereleased a good portion of the oil back into the pan. at this point, i threw in some more garlic, tossed in the (oh! already sliced!) mushrooms, opened the can of tomatoes and added that and sprinkled with salt. as the mushrooms finished cooking it occurred to me that i should have started the pasta about fifteen minutes previously and put a pot of water on the stove to boil. the sauce finished and the water was still waiting to heat. in the meantime, i ate the leftover burdock root, good cold and a bit crunchier having sat in the fridge for a few days. the water still hadn't boiled, so i poured myself a glass of grapefruit juice and got out the very very long article about Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas in this week's New Yorker. as i neared the end of the article, the water boiled, i threw in the pasta (can't remember what its called but it looks like macaroni cut in half). finally, ten hours (give or take) after i'd finished the sauce, the pasta was done. sprinkle liberally with nutritional yeast (good on anything!) and voila! dinner. nothing fancy. nothing that even comes close to the good ol' Julie/Julia blog but, if i'd made the eggplant in advance and had timed the pasta right, its one of those five-minute meals. and with the amount of garlic in there, no vampire is getting anywhere near me. thats for sure.

after the pasta, i threw together some almost-vegan chocolate chip cookies (vegan recipe with butter instead of margarine). i'm not sure if the margarine acts to keep the cookies together, but they didn't work so well. they were dry and crumbly and didn't really spill out into actual cookie shapes. i had to smush them flat. but they still tasted pretty good. phew!

good sign

this morning when i opened up Outlook, i found this email from my future roommate waiting for me in my inbox:

Ginger tea:

fresh ginger
fresh squeezed lemon.

peel the ginger and cut it into little pieces then boil it for about 20
minutes (maybe about 1/2 c. of cut ginger in a small saucepan full of
water--if that's too strong dilute it). pour it in a cup with some lemon
and honey and drink it.

i used to get colds a lot and this is the shit to combat it with. plus it
makes you warm, improves your concentration and, incidentally, your libido.
some people put cayenne in it too, but that's too hard core for me.

you know you've done well when you're getting unsolicited recipes for cold remedies from the future roommate. i think it'll be a good year.

in other news, i've been emailing back and forth with someone for days and we've basically been talking nothing but fried chicken. days, i tell you, of fried chicken. her favorites are: popeyes, harolds and browns. apparently, the standardization that comes with chain chicken is a good thing. harolds is just around the corner from my office and i have seventeen days left to give it a try. she's equipped me with the lingo i'll need to complete a successful harolds interaction: "quarter white dinner with hot sauce on the chicken and mild (BBQ) on the fries." i'm good to go.