Archive | November, 2011

Why vacation is awesome

30 Nov

So obviously vacation means no work. And that’s usually a nice thing. But it also means so many other fun things, for which I am incredibly grateful:

  • Getting a few hours on the beach in San Diego. My color has probably already faded by now, but it’s better than nothing.
  • Loads of fish tacos. Fresh, fried, corn tortillas, flour tortillas. I ate them all.
  • Catching up with good friends and getting to hear how well everyone is doing.
  • Family dinners with all four of us and lots of laughter.
  • Dim sum. Enough said.
  • Finally seeing my brother’s “new” 1.5 year old apartment.
  • Taking my brother to his first ever yoga class and turning him into a yoga convert.
  • Spending time with my parents.
  • Eating a very foodie dinner at Chez Panisse.
  • Being 100% kooky and not worrying that anyone is going to care.
  • Curling up by the heaters like I used to when I was younger.
  • Raiding my mom’s closet. This trip I came home with a down vest, a pair of awesome rings, a sapphire ring and a big red sweater that my great-grandmother knitted.

I love DC, but my heart is in California.

Random Friday Facts

18 Nov

Vacation Edition:

1. I’m flying to San Diego for four days tomorrow, and then will have almost a week at home with my family! Can’t wait!

2. I love dim sum. Real dim sum with the carts. Luckily, there’s lots of dim sum in San Francisco.

3. Apparently I’ve been to the San Diego Zoo once when I was really little, but I don’t remember it. I’m excited to re-visit it next week.

4. I’m running a 5k Turkey Trot with my high school friend Casey. This will be my longest run since August. Oops.

5. I always say that I’m going to stop at In ‘n Out when I go home, but I don’t think I’ve actually been for a Double Double in a few years. Maybe this time?

6. Visiting home and seeing high school friends means I will spend at least one night this next week in a hot tub with a drink in my hand. I’m not complaining.

7. While I’m in California, the BF will be celebrating Thanksgiving with my cousins in DC. Awww.

8. I’m going to Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse for dinner next week and am really excited about eating at this California gem that has been so influential in the fresh/local cooking movement.

 

 

 

10 days. 2 climates. 1 carry-on.

15 Nov

Does anyone have any amazing packing advice?

I’m headed off for my Thanksgiving vacation on Saturday, with stops in San Diego and San Francisco. That means I need beach clothes, warm weather bar clothes, workout clothes, Thanksgiving clothes, colder weather bar clothes + casual hanging out clothes.

Help!

Photo fail, salad success

14 Nov

On not so rare occasions, I’ll cook or bake something that I think is pretty damn great–and fail at taking a photo of it. You see, in case you were confused, I am not a professional blogger. Nor am I a professional photographer. And so sometimes, life gets in the way of taking pictures of food.

On Friday night, I had a few friends over for dinner. But you wouldn’t know it because there is no photographic evidence. What happens is that I’d much rather serve the food, start eating, and hang out with friends than style and snap a photo. Oops.

So this blog post is going to be a photo-less mess and a lot of you will get bored because the words aren’t broken up by pretty pictures. But this salad was kickass. Because it uses bacon and bacon grease. And you should keep reading so that you can recreate it. And maybe you can take a picture.

Note: Every other food blogger has a collection of Thanksgiving recipes. I don’t. And I don’t really feel like coming up with twenty ways to modernize a sweet potato casserole. But I will say that this salad would be a pretty great salad for the Thanksgiving table. Just saying.

Ingredients:

  • Baby romaine or greens of your choice
  • Butternut squash, cubed
  • Goat cheese, crumbled
  • Toasted almond slivers
  • Bacon (2-3 slices)
  • 1 medium shallot, diced
  • Sherry vinegar
  • Dijon mustard
  • Brown sugar
  • Olive oil

Directions:

1. Cube your squash and toss it with olive oil, salt, pepper and paprika. Roast in 400 degree oven for 30-40 minutes, until tender. Allow to cool to room temperature.

2. Crisp up your bacon in a pan, saving 1-2 Ts of grease in the pan. Remove bacon from pan and crumble into “bacon bits.” Put your “bits” in whatever container you will use for your vinaigrette.

3. Using the bacon pan with bacon grease, saute your shallots until golden. Add shallots plus a spoonful of bacon grease into your vinaigrette container.

4. Add 3 T sherry vinegar, 1-2 T Dijon mustard, 1-2 t brown sugar to vinaigrette beaker. Stir to combine. Drizzle in 1-2 T olive oil, stirring as you pour.

5. When ready to serve, dress your baby romaine with the vinaigrette. Top with roasted squash, crumbled goat cheese and toasted almonds.

Enjoy!

The best chocolate chip cookies. Ever.

10 Nov

I know that every food blogger and home baker has a “best” chocolate chip cookie. And I’m sure all of those other recipes are pretty great. But these are even better.

My co-worker even tweeted to 3,149 of his Twitter followers:

Just had literally best chocolate chip cookie of my life from @jaegerwolf go read her food blog! dcforme.wordpress.com

So you know it has to be true. The interwebs told me.

Despite the office accolades, I can’t take full credit for these delicious cookies. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Smitten Kitchen, go check her blog out now. She is seriously awesome. And has amazing recipes, especially for chocolate chip cookies.

My “best chocolate chip cookies. Ever.” recipe is adapted from her “our favorite chocolate chip cookies” recipe. Since I love her recipes, I’m sure they’re great. But mine are a bit crispier and a bit saltier and a bit less nutty. And I think that makes them better :) Sorry, Deb.

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Flex your mussels

8 Nov

The first time I prepared mussels, I was in for a big surprise. Not only are mussels incredibly reasonably priced (they’ll run you approx. $4/pound), but they are also shockingly simple to make.

The most important part of cooking mussels is preparing them properly. This means keeping them alive and cleaning your mussels.

CLEANING and PREPARATION TIPS

  • You’ll want to buy approximately one pound of mussels per person.
  • You want to make sure that your mussels are alive. That means you should immediately throw away any mussels that are open or slimy. A closed mussel is a live mussel.
  • If you find a few that are open, give them a quick tap on the counter. If it closes back up, that means it is still alive and is safe to eat.
  • If you’re not cooking the mussels immediately, cover your bivalves with a cool towel and store it in the coolest part of your refrigerator.
  • When you’re ready to cook your mussels, give them one last run-through. You’ll want to pull off the “beard” that comes out from between the shells and scrape off any barnacles or residual sand.
  • If you buy your mussels from a nice market or grocery store, your mussels will already be cleaned for the most part. Nonetheless, you need to be sure to rinse your mussels to remove any grit. I use a colander to make this even easier.
One of the great things about mussels is that there are so many flavors you can use for cooking them. If you’ve been to a place like Granville Moore’s or Brasserie Beck, you’ve seen the various combinations you can use. White wine with garlic and herbs is probably the most common, but you don’t have to stop there.

Wining and dining at Boordy Vineyards

7 Nov

This past weekend, Cecilia invited me to join her and Olga at Boordy Vineyards in Hydes, MD for a wine tasting event. I’m not one to turn down an invitation to any sort of food/wine event, but I was particularly excited to check out a Maryland vineyard. Virginia wineries are a bit closer to DC, so I tend to gravitate to them for local wine tasting–but after a day at Broody, I might have to reconsider that default.

Perhaps it was the perfect Fall weather, or the soft jazz that accompanied our wine tasting, or the tasty reds, or the beautiful barn that had us all thinking weddings, but it was a pretty great day at Broody–and it’s certainly a place worth checking out.

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Random Friday Facts

4 Nov

Without further ado…

1. The granola at Foster’s in Durham, NC will always be my favorite brunch food.

2. I hate when people eat loud/crunchy food and chew it loudly.

3. I didn’t eat much shellfish growing up, but now LOVE oysters and mussels.

4. When people ask what I do, I say “political communication.” I don’t think there has been a time that I haven’t had to explain WTF that means.

5. I met the BF on New Years in 2008/2009. It makes our anniversary really easy to remember.

6. I get a lot of pride through my awesome friends. I love being able to say that I have a friend who dances for San Francisco Ballet, a friend who is a reporter at ABC News and a brother with a PhD from MIT.

7. I’m Jewish, but have always had a soft spot for the Christmas season. Dating a Christian gives me a good excuse to listen to Christmas music and decorate a tree (although our tree-topper is a stained glass Jewish star).

8. I used to wear a chunky silver ring from Argentina on my ring finger, but got so many questions about being engaged that I took it off. I don’t thing rings look good on my other fingers, so now I’m sad to only wear one ring on the right hand ring finger.

9. I used to be really organized and have a lot of lists, and have become less so in recent years. It’s been both a good and a bad thing…

10. In the next two months I’ll be visiting San Diego, San Francisco, St. Louis and New Orleans. Really excited for all of them!

From a box. And that’s ok.

4 Nov

Since I like baking and really enjoy baking from scratch, I rarely use things from a box. But I’ve learned that sometimes it’s okay to use a mix from a package. We don’t have to be perfectionists all the time–and to tell the truth, no one will know the difference. When you have enough different textures and flavors going on, very few people will notice if whether or not your base is homemade. Sure, you can call it a cop-out. Or you can call it being resourceful and time efficient. So let yourself off the hook every now and then and embrace the boxed mixes.

Make these Oreo peanut butter brownies because they are simple and delicious. But don’t you dare make them from scratch.

A co-worker requested this recipe for her last day in the office, and I happily obliged. It didn’t hurt that this is one of the easiest recipes ever.

Ingredients:

  • 1 box brownie mix (I used a dark chocolate mix)
  • Eggs and oil for your brownie mix
  • 1 tub peanut butter
  • 1 package Oreos
  • Cupcake wrappers

Makes 2 dozen brownies

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Line muffin tin with cupcake wrappers.

3. Prepare brownies according to package instructions.

4. Smear a spoonful of peanut butter onto an Oreo and drop Oreo-side down into your muffin tin.

5. Once your muffin tin is filled with peanut butter-topped Oreos, spoon brownie mix on top–using a spoon to push batter into the sides.

6. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until brownies are cooked through.

Voila!

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