27 April 2005


ever since cindy and laura took me to Miette at the Ferry Terminal in SF, i've had a small obsession with macaroons. i was raised eating the sickly sweet coconut balls by the jarful and have only this year discovered the more subtle, almond powder variety, served in upscale bakeries across the west coast. a simple visual will show you that there is no competition between the two:


food in a jar that is sealed for freshness, or food that is freshly made and does not have a shelf life of several months to a year? plus, we all know that the texture of shredded coconut is a little bit like skin. and it's not like i don't eat at least a jar of the Manischewitz macaroons every year (i prefer chocolate chip flavored) but i was ready to move on to something new. to expand my oeuvre, if you will. so i found a lovely recipe for chocolate-chocolate and chocolate-caramel macaroons in epicurious.com. i faced some challenges:

  • my mixer holds only two cups maximum, so i had to do everything in shifts, working between two bowls in order to fully mix everything together
  • i don't have a pastry bag, so i used a produce bag i had lying around. and the hole i cut in the tip was much too large.
  • i hate and therefore avoid nuts, so i wasn't clear on how big a "walnut sized mound" would be. i punted. i overdid it a bit.
and, yet, despite these challenges, i perservered and ended up with a gorgeous plate of smooth and pleasantly crispy macaroons. it looked nothing like a pile of dandruff mixed in honey which is what usually comes to mind when someone says "macaroon." i also had a gorgeously messy kitchen, walls smeared with chocolate macaroon dough (damn you crappy "pastry bag"!) and one of the most serious sugar lows i've ever dealt with...between sealing off the pastry bag tip with my mouth to refill it and licking off my finger between filling each macaroon, i probably consumed a pound or so of sugar and butter.

the macaroons were SO good but also SO rich that i had to cut them into quarters.

oh but the weird thing was that several months ago, i made this ganache that was a total disaster. i'd put it in the freezer and forgotten about it. a few nights ago, i wanted ice cream with chocolate sauce, so i defrosted the ganache using a steamer basket. after it melted down, i whisked it and it suddenly became this perfect creation. rather than putting it back into the freezer, i let it sit out overnight and by the next day, it was ready to use for the macaroons. it was so perfect...incredibly dark, smooth and rich. and all it needed was some time alone in the freezer. ah, the mysteries of chocolate. strange.

23 April 2005

beggin' strips for humans

in a pathetic attempt to "eat healthy," i recently purchased"Smart Bacon," vegetarian bacon strips. as any self-respecting Reform Jew will know, we, the Reform Jew non-Kosher types don't even consider ham to be a food (except that one time at the one Christmas party where I spent the entire evening huddled over the AMAZING ham in the corner, shoving large handfuls into my face, socializing with noone, focusing only on the ham.). and pork chops? sure, i'll eat 'em if someone puts it in front of me but i'd never go out of my way to procure one. but wow do we love the bacon. and, yes, i conducted a survey using a random sample of Reform Jews to confirm this fact. i think that this chart pretty much says it all:

i admit i used to be more a sausage girl but in the past few years, it's bacon that's owned my heart. those salty and crispy yet moist strips of meaty perfection, never surprising you as sausage does with a nasty uncomfortably textured bite. and so tasty with a nice poached egg draped over a piece of toast. sigh.

oh, but this is about the Smart Bacon non-meat product. it's been sitting neglected in my fridge for a few weeks and this morning i decided to give it a try. a few weeks ago on Steve, Don't Eat It!, Steve sampled Beggin' Strips, the dog treat that is supposed to fool your dog into thinking he's actually eating bacon. The scent alone, and I quote, resembled "the smoky puke of a thousand maniacs." okay, Smart Bacon smelled more like cardboard, but the taste of it recalled Steve's reaction to Beggin' Strips: "I was overcome by the urge to go in the backyard and eat grass until it was all out of me." Really. Ew. Smart Bacon DOES NOT taste like bacon. it doesn't even taste healthy, unless you equate health with a solid diet of shredded paper. needless to say, i'm disappointed in the Smart Bacon. i also have over half the package left and know without a doubt that i will eat every last bit of it because it's here and it's safe for human consumption. but, oh, Smart Bacon, i will NOT be happy when i eat you. not at all! damn you Smart Bacon! Damn you!!!

18 April 2005


yesterday, i met doug and alexa for lunch at Studio One, a lovely little brunch place with fantastic cripsy homefries (the cubed kind but probably deepfried). i was waiting outside for a table, surrounded by hungover undergrads. a small group to my left were all quietly sipping on 1/2 liter bottles of gatorade. in the group, one unshaven, scraggly-haired boy in an inside-out sweatshirt with a baseball cap pulled low over his eyes, looked particularly worse for wear. his friends were having a heated, if slow and low energy, debate on the merits of the Studio One french toast versus the omelet. "Duuuuuuuuuuude," the kid mumbled to his friends, "just the thought of eating..."and he trailed off. he then leaned back over the bench he was sitting on and loudly puked on the sidewalk. he sat back up, a new man, wiped off his mouth and declared, "Duuuuuuuude," with great enthusiasm, "I feel so much better now! Duuuuude, i just burst like a blueberry, man. A blueberry!"

yeah. i just adore living in a college town sometimes.

i will say though, that despite this unpleasant situation, i did have a lovely lunch. i had a good 1/2 hr to get over the puking thing, so i was fully recovered and able to enjoy my homefries (extra crispy), poached eggs and toast. and i enjoyed the company of my lovely midwestern friends. those midwesterns sure are friendly!

15 April 2005

proof of god

apparently, there's a chemical in chocolate that prevents cancer

i have chosen to ignore the following sentence, taken from the announcement: "Chocolate, like many other foods, is the source of many possible anti-cancer compounds, but Dickson stresses that this research, which is part of a series of studies conducted at Georgetown on the chocolate-cancer connection, does not mean that people who eat chocolate will either reduce their cancer risks or treat a current case."

puh-shaw! whatever!!

anyways, i gotta go. i have a jar of nutella and some possibly maybe future potential cancerous cells to take out. yeehaw!

11 April 2005

minneapolis breakfast of champions

last weekend i went to minneapolis for a conference. a quick search on Roadfood.com, Jane and Michael Stern's website, pointed me to Al's Breakfast in Dinkytown, University of Minnesota's neighborhood. laura picked me up at the airport at 4:30am after i promised to buy her breakfast at this mysterious diner. it took us a while to find the joint, nestled between an Espresso Royale Cafe and a salon:

but laura spotted it. we entered the tiny, counter-only restaurant, and found that there were no available seats. some folks coming in behind us instructed us to go wedge ourselves down at the end of the restaurant, hovering over diners crouched on stools at the counter, and wait. the place seats about fifteen, all at the counter. its walls are covered with old photos, reviews, drawings, etc., and the air smells of decades of bacon, pancakes and eggs whipped up on the grill. the two guys working in the front of the restaurant, switching off at the grill and taking orders, carry on a constant witty banter and chat with the diners.

we finally got some seats and ordered, to split, blueberry pancakes, a side of bacon and The Jose. i feel comfortable saying that there is no other breakfast anywhere in the world that beats The Jose: hashbrowns, grated and grilled until crispy, topped with two poached eggs, a generous dollop of fresh salsa and smothered in melted cheddar. i'm going through a bit of a poached egg thing at the moment, i am obsessed with fried potato anything and, well, who doesn't love real melted cheddar cheese. i wish i had a photo. more, though, i wish i had another Jose, sitting in front of me right now. the blueberry pancakes were fantastic, as well, despite the fact that the guys didn't remember our Real Maple Syrup until we'd gone ahead and used the fake stuff.

al's was so good that we went back two days later (this over a four-day stay in minneapolis), even though we were staying across town. we took a bus, transferring once, and arrived at peak Saturday morning breakfast time. Three hours and two missed conference panel-sessions later, we'd eaten another Jose and also given a bacon waffle a whirl. whew! i never really think to order bacon on my own (it's just off my radar screen for whatever reason), but that waffle, smothered in Real Maple Syrup (they got it this time), was the perfect combination of sweet and salty. unlike most places that chop up the bacon and sprinkle it into the batter, Al's lays whole strips into the waffles.

though i don't tend to eat breakfast during the week, i spent a summer as an egg cook at a fantastic restaurant and consider myself something of a weekend breakfast/brunch expert. and though those cute, brightly lit breakfast places with goat cheese puff pastries and asparagus omelettes are delightful, this place takes it, hands down. i would seriously consider flying into Minneapolis just to eat at Al's.

i think that naming a restaurant Al's might be the trick. Al's Italian Beef in Chicago--best fries in town plus heavenly sandwiches; Al's Hotdogs in Glencoe--best fries on the North Shore until Al's estranged wife burnt the joint down; and Al's in Minneapolis--absolute best breakfast ever.

02 April 2005

since my, ahem, april 1st declaration of vegan fruititarian straight-edge organic lifestyle, i have consumed the following food items:
  • 1/2 box purdy's dark chocolate assortment
  • free beef stick, courtesy of les schwab
  • handful of bittersweet chocolate chips
  • cheese and veggie sandwich
  • cool ranch doritos
  • coffee and a slice of banana bread
so rest assured, dears.

01 April 2005

new life direction

in honor of the approaching spring, i've taken a long look at my life and decided to make some dramatic life changes. because my body is aging and because we are all responsible members of the web of life, i've decided to adopt the following diet:
  • no meat.
  • no dairy.
  • no eggs.
  • no sugar or artificial sweetners. only honey or stevia.
  • no wheat.
  • no m&m's
  • only organic, local foods
in making these changes, i can live with peace in my heart and in my soul, knowing that i am doing my part to prevent the torture and murder of all of the beautiful creatures on this planet. i know, also, that a whole food organic vegan diet will give me a healthy body and a healthy soul.

peace to all.