Friday, April 29, 2011

Welp, the day has finally come.

     I quit my job today.  Nothing dramatic happened, like a few people have assumed.  It was just time to move on.  I'll miss you, Hot Topic family! RIP job, 2008-2011.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Post-Easter detox day three and one looong update

     As I mentioned in my last post, this week I'm being a total kiss-ass to my own body after totally gorging it all this past Easter weekend.  I guess I almost always eat extremely healthy, but I'm trying to keep it to eating ONLY extremely healthy for now.  That means a whole lotta theeese
                                                                       and some-uh theeeese
                                                                        and even some of this!
     To be perfectly honest, I'm not huge on soymilk in general.  Aside from chocolate.  But for some reason, one day last week I had a strange urge to pick some up.  I was at the only store between wherever I was leaving and home, and they didn't carry the brand of rice/almond/soy/etc milks I usually buy for supercheapz at Trader Joe's, hence this one of the overpriced variety.  And the fact that I brought home the Omega-enhanced type was purely accidental.  However, I was actually really pleasantly surprised at the taste.  This kind seemed to have a creamier, more pleasant taste than regular.  Or, probably, I was just imagining it.
     I didn't really have a full meal yesterday, I was really busy and shamefully relied mainly on bits and pieces.  My dinner was basically this-
 A rice cake with some salted/lemon juiced avocado, with a pear sprinkled with salt and cinnamon (DON'T JUDGE ME!).

Going backwards to Monday, which was a very pretty day.  I guess Monday's dinner was similar, although my lethargic ass put just a bit more effort into it.  I had a sandwich.  Smoked Tofu and some half-assed yet delicious guacamole. 
                                   (just a nice photo of the trees behind our back yard, near sunset)
Later on my mommy made me some yummy vegetables in plain tomato sauce.  I don't usually like pizza or pasta sauces because I hate the combination of seasonings like oregano with the concentrated tomato flavor, so plain was lovely.  Was gooood.
 Dessert (prior to my surprise veggies) was a mashed up, very ripe banana mashed with some cocao powder and lots and lots of cinnamon.  Might look kinda bleh, but this stuff was good.

     Today I worked my butt off all day cleaning, and during the afternoon mostly just snacked on fruit.  For dinner, though, I put together another nice plate of veggies-
Mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant, garlic and spinach sauteed with toasted almonds, sesame seeds, lemon juice and cayenne.  With this I had a bowl of tomato (fresh and sun-dried), avocado, garlic, and feta (all from TJ's, all awesome)
                                                                      God, I'm adventurous.
     Dessert was strawberries and cantaloupe over some Greek yogurt mixed with cocao and cinnamon.  Trend here?  Gosh, I loves me some cinnamon..
     And going back about a week or so, I tested a recipe from my cookbook baby.  It was a polenta-pear cake, and the recipe itself was almost entirely vegan, which I quite liked.  The cake was delicious, but the texture was all...awful.  I'm not gonna tell you the stupid mistake I made, though. 
     Ok, I will.  I didn't use instant polenta.  I used..regular polenta.  Go on, mock me. Here it is, anyway, before baking, while baking and the finished product.
     Speaking of baking, yesterday I hung out with a good friend of mine and we made snickerdoodles and chamomile cookies.  Not EXACTLY detox, buuuuut hey.  The chamomile ones were awesome, I love the idea of cooking/baking with tea. 

     And one more thing- my thoughts go out to those affected by the tornadoes all over the side of the country over the past few days.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A slighlty belated very Happy Easter!

     Only slightly, only slightly.  I, for one, had a great past two days.  Yesterday began with a nice breakfast with my mom and my boyfriend (and early Easter Baskets), and ended with my family's early Easter dinner.  Today we visited my boyfriend's Grandparents and then headed over to his family's for their Easter dinner in Easton.  Totally worth the hour and a half drive, even over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in a storm.  I love those people.
     Needless to say, I haven't really had the time or need to cook all weekend.  Hand-in-hand with that is the fact that I definitely haven't been eating in a way that makes my body happy, although this holiday has been DELICIOUS.  So tomorrow begins some serious detox.
     Happy Easter, everybody!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Mr. William Donald Schaefer

     I know it's a couple of days late, but I really would like to send a shout-out to a man who was an amazing leader, who made an immeasurable impact on the city and state where I've grown up, Mayor/Governor/Comptroller/Awesome dude William Donald Schaefer.  I'm not old enough to really remember him being in office, and I wasn't even born when he began changing, really helping to DEFINE the city of Baltimore forever.  But when I look around the city, I'll always know who the man was who brought so many things in it to reality.  The Harbor Place, The National Aquarium, and so many other landmarks wouldn't have been possible without Mr. Schaefer,  and I know that just by being him, he impacted countless lives (and communities) for the better.
Rest in awesome peace, Willie-Don.  And thank you.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Antipasto, or something like it.

     It rained for the better part of today.  I couldn't enjoy any luscious sunshine, so  after running a couple of errands (including taking care of something that may or may not bring some big changes to my life for the better) and cleaning my ass off, I had nothing to do but, of course, cook.  This was alright, I needed some time to myself in the kitchen.  Actually, I stretched out the cooking time for everything I made just to pass the time.  So anyhow, I decided to put together a nice plate of assorted roasted veggies, a la that awesome antipasto plate I sometimes go to Bertucci's to waste money on (extra asparagus instead of the prosciutto, please!)  Here's mine.
Roasted yellow pepper, mushrooms with minced garlic, garlic cloves, carrots, eggplant, mozzarella and, in the middle, homemade dill hummus.  It looks good, but for some reason nothing on this plate wound up really resonating with my moody taste buds, aside from the garlic.  The garlic was perfect.  The eggplant was pretty good too, I guess.  The closest I've come to getting that texture I've been striving for. Not even the usual tomato/avocado/garlic salad I've been so fond of lately had me feelin' the love.  Sad.
     Just for funsies, here's some photos of the befores:
Hummus, pre-blending.  It needed, dare I say, more lemon.
     Dessert was an apple, a lemon zest Luna bar and a Cadbury Egg, which felt like a splurge, but hey.  It wasn't until about a half hour before sunset that the sun actually APPEARED.  Lame. 
     In the next couple of days I'll be testing a pear-polenta cake that I've had my eye on for forever, and that I hope is good enough to bring to Easter with my family, and maybe even my boyfriend's.  The recipe is from my favorite British-ass vegetarian cookbook, my BABY, which at the moment is being borrowed by my best friend.  YOU BETTER KNOW I TRUST YOU, EMMA! That is all.

Okay dinner, "Fried" okra, and SEVERE OVEN-BURNS D:

     Dinner tonight was sub-par-  roasted veggies, grilled plain smoked tofu, and a (actually really good) mixture of tomato, avocado, TJ's marinated artichokes, home-made croutons, fresh garlic, feta and dill.  Ok, actually it was awesome, and I really should have just made that dinner alone.  I should really just eat this every day. Hmm. 
 For dessert, I topped a piece of bread with Nutella, sliced apple, crushed cardamom and cinnamon, and then stuck it under the broiler for a few minutes.  Eet was gooood.  The Nutella soaked deep down into the bread while the bottom still stayed crunchy, and something about the warm apples went really nicely with the sesame seeds coating the crust.
The photo is yellow, I know.  But now for the AWFULNESS!  Upon hurriedly attempting to give my vegetables a stir before they stuck desperately to their foil, I moved my right arm just a BIT too ambitiously and burned the SHIT out of my inner-elbow on the partially-open oven door.  It hurt. like. a. bitch.  The pain has dulled a bit after several hours (and a nice rest on a bag of frozen edamame), but still, I feel like such a victim D: Just look!
The burn is actually worse than the photo makes it look, I assure you.  Send some pity to my daft, culinary burn-prone ass, won't you?  Don't make me take photos of my caramel scar!

     Moving on. Or rather, moving backward.  Yesterday my boyfriend and I went to an awesome coaster-nerd meet-up at Hershey Park,  and we ate lots of junk-food, and he had to drive home because I was coming dangerously close to falling asleep early on in the 1.5 hour drive home.  So, needless to say, no cooking.  Saturday, during the crazy rain, we went out for food.  Sooo, no cooking then either.  But I DID manage to try something new on Friday.
     I've had this package of frozen okra sitting around in the freezer from my recent okra phase, and I basically really just wanted to make it go away.  I thought I'd try breading it with panko and cayenne (and nothing else), figuring the slimyness miiight just function like a good eggwash.  Even after crushing the panko up real nice, it only stuck a little well.  Oh well, what can ya do.  Anyway, although sorta naked, they did brown somewhat nicely.  Too bad I keep ruining food for some reason with cayenne pepper, no matter how miniscule the amount.  Why do I do that? 
By the way, I apologize deeply for the crappy quality of the photos on this post.  For starters, my camera did not cost several hundred dollars.  Also, because of the weather recently, the lighting in the kitchen has been worse during the day than it is even at night.
     I had the okra with some nice roasted eggplant, mushrooms and yellow peppers and dolmas from Trader Joe's.  The dolmas were DEFINITELY the highlight of the meal.
     Hopefully I'll be fulfilling my goal of making my own dolmas fairly soon.  Ok, no more typing.  Time to watch me some Harry Potter too late at night.  Peace, people.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Funny pretentious bento lady story

Today I'm hitting up Trader Joe's, one because I need things but also because I need a weekend cheer-up on this glorious, Spring Break Friday  (I have no work until next Friday and this free weekend is a treat).  Anyway, I stumbled across a photo of this new bento box thing they have in TJ's frozen section.  It's pretty.  It looks like this-
(not my photo), and it's probably tasty.  However, it's like seven dollars, and for that I could just make something much more awesome with much, much more volume.  It's cute though! 
     But it reminded me- a few weeks ago I was at the store with my fast food king, non health-loving, ever-begrudging boyfriend, and I picked one of these boxes up.  I looked at it, sort of laughed off the price and jokingly said to him something like "ahh, if only."  Just then, a woman from elsewhere in the isle looks over, BEE-LINES to that particular box, picks it up, and as she walks away, she turns and throws me this unmistakable, SMUG-ass "must be lonely at the bottom" smirk.  I kid you not, it was unreal.  And absolutely hilarious.  I could barely stifle my snorts.

     So yeah, just thought I'd share.  Tonight? TJ'S AND HARRY POTTER! ferthewin.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dorky dilemmas, tofu firsts and the rice that had potential.

     What with the rain, school work and job-related stresses among other things, the past few days have been less than enthralling, to say the least.  Let me just vent a little, just a bit.  Distant Worlds, the elaborate concert world-tour featuring music from the Final Fantasy series is a magical, MAGICAL thing, and it's seriously been a life dream of mine to see it.  Well, it's coming to the Meyerhoff Symphony hall here in Baltimore, which is a VERY big deal.  Only problem is that it just HAS to be July 30th, which is the Saturday of Otakon.  If you know me, you know that this is both the best and worst thing that could possibly happen. 
     It's good because it ties perfectly into 'kon, ESPECIALLY if I bust out the Aerith Gainsborough cosplay again (yes, I am that type of loser).  But Saturday night is one of the best parts of the entire convention.  Yes, I would probably only miss about five hours of the weekend if I attended Distant Worlds (the Meyerhoff is only about a mile away from the convention center), but that could potentially be a very important few hours.  I really don't think I can pass up this opportunity, though.  I'm pretty sure I can make it work.  It would be TORTURE knowing that show was going on so close with me not at it, especially under the nerdy circumstances.  Hmm..

     So, there's my nerdy problem.  Back to food.  Let me first just share with you a few of my favorite things, and some of the things helping to keep me sane these days:
Trader Joe's jasmine green tea in my favorite giant mug (which just so happens to depict the logo of my favorite roller coaster in the world).  On my favorite bed-side table..thing.  Oh, and some Alba Botanica moisturizer in the background. There you have it.

     Anyway, a few nights ago I went ahead and put together some more impromptu dahl.  It was pretty good, and it looked like this:
Aaaand a rather unclear depiction of what went into it (the cilantro was mostly for a little bit of color variation, as it obviously added no flavor whatsoever.
And some toasted almonds, crushed up with some mint, sesame seeds and black peppercorns-
Despite using the coconut milk, the dahl actually came out somewhat drier than when I've skipped it.  Weird. 

     I can't remember what day this was, but this sandwich was friggin' good.  I tried, for the first time, both smoked tofu (SoyBoy) and Food for Life Ezekiel 4:9 bread, which comes frozen and is rather pricey, probably the reason I haven't yet tried it.  I got the sesame variety, and it's really tasty.  I might have to start grabbing this stuff more often.  Anyway, in between two toasted pieces of the yummy bread went some of the tofu (grilled), avocado, fresh dill and some goddess dressing, which I skimped on so much that it was more or less undetectable.  I've been craving the sandwich ever since. 
The tofu is hiding somewhat, but yeah. 

     And I guess that brings us to yesterday.  There's a recipe in my "I Heart Trader Joe's" cookbook for Mushroom Hazelnut Rice that I'd wanted to try since I got it for Christmas.  There's no photo in the book, but I had this imagine in my head of this fluffy, not-too-wet, bright bowl of rice with beautiful bits of earthy mushrooms and hazelnuts, all brightened up with lemon zest.  These, you see, are the ingredients.  It sounded and looked irresistible in my hungry imagination. 
     Well, I finally got to Wegmans (where I could buy a small amount of hazelnuts and white rice just for this recipe without breaking the bank, because, ya know, those things are so expensive, right?), and thus got around to trying out this dreamy recipe. 
     My first mistake might have been cooking the white rice (I always cook with brown, but chose white for the bright color) in mushroom broth, which I'd never used before. (
), and while its taste was earthy and nice, it gave the bright, long-grain rice a sort of sad and grayish color.  Boo.  My next mistake may or may night have been using the rice cooker, which I suspect made it a bit too gummy and not at all fluffy.  I was sad.  And then I didn't have an entire lemon to zest (or, rather, I didn't wanna steal the zest from and ruin a whole new lemon when I already had a perfectly good...half), so the flavor wasn't quite bright enough.  In the end, I think the mushrooms and hazelnuts, all nicely sauteed, would have been a little more satisfying without the tasty yet depressing-looking rice.  Next time, I'll use a less dark, cloudy broth and cook the rice differently, probably.
I had the finished product with some grilled white eggplant (also a first for me).  Interestingly, last night might have actually been the first time I've EVER put so much lemon juice on something that I didn't even want to eat it, but to be fair to my lemon-juice-obsession, I don't think the eggplant had much potential with or without it.  The highlight of the meal, though, was definitely the awesome little salad I made with some a summery-tasting tomato, avocado, dill, garlic and some sheeps' milk feta I found for cheapz at Whole Foods.  Almost an oxymoron, I know.  It was delicious, though.
     So, that's that.  Until next time!  I don't mind comments, by the way : )

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

My babaghanouj instincts

     Now that I've got a working computer, it means that I don't have to wait a million hours for the family Dell to upload photos.  This means that I can actually INCLUDE them, yay! Sooo let's get started.

     When I've made babaghanouj in the past, I've always just sorta eyeballed.  Of course, I used recipes as a guide, but I never quite followed them exactly.  And, ya know, it's almost always turned out good, in my opinion.  Tonight, though, as an experiment, I decided to actually follow a recipe from one of my books, and to be honest it wound up tasting like a waste of a small, perfectly good eggplant.  Looked good, though:
Pretty good, anyway.  To be fair, I didn't use a blender or food processor on this.  I thought, for whatever reason, that mashing it by hand might be...interesting?  I also roasted the eggplant like this:
(like the recipe told me), as opposed to cubing it up like I usually do.  This made for a mixture that was a bit too wet for my liking.  Also, I used mint, which isn't something I usually add.  Actually, I usually add very little in terms of seasoning, not even garlic.  For this batch, I did some grindin' (not part of the recipe, but hey, I couldn't resist).  Mint, black pepper and sesame seeds-
     But, yeah, overall I think I'm gonna stick to eyeballing and taste-testing.

     Even though I didn't really like it, I wasn't gonna waste the stuff.  So I put it on a piece of toasted quinoa bread from Trader Joe's, and added it to my hodge-podge dinner of vegetable samosas (also TJ's) and some random veggies I was trying to use up.  For dessert? Apples and bananas that I topped with an impromptu mixture of plain Greek yogurt, cinnamon and Nutella :D
Sounds weird, I know, but it was actually really nice and rich and the Nutella cut down on the sharpness of the yogurt just enough. I LOVE Nutella.  I wish I could find a vegan version, but I might just have to find a way to make one : )  And oh, I almost forgot, the whole time I was cooking this stuff, I was snacking diligently on some awesome, lemony kale chips (I recently tried these for the first time, and have made several batches since). Why oh why must I add copious amounts of lemon juice to everything? Yum.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

New laptop! :D

     Sony Vaio.  Long story short, Asus gave up trying to fix the first one, Geek Squad worked hard to screw me over, and in the end a store credit for the price paid for the Asus got me this brand new beauty instead of Best Buy's insurance policy getting me something of lesser quality from an EXTREMELY limited list of choices (in other words, two choices).  It was actually very, very complicated and I was about a half inch away from blowing a gasket in my soul right there in the store. 
     Basic point is this: this blog should be much, much improved from here on out, considering the fact that it will be approximately 29873918731 times easier to upload photos and stuff. Yay!