Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Livin' That French Thang...

After some initial resistance, my teen has decided that she likes our new dinner style after all...(even if she doesn't care for our taste in dinner music (classical), or my homemade salad dressing (sweet/hot mustard).

Last nite WAS really good, I must admit that, and watching Nigella every day for actual cooking tips (as opposed to eye and ear candy) is paying off.
We had no appetizer as I was running low on supplies, but the rest of the menu was thus:
Really great bread, thanks to Pillsbury Simply Bread (yes its from a can, but it really does taste homemade.)
Asian noodle/vegetable soup
Roasted Sausages/potatoes/garlic (I'm really getting hooked on roasting meats with veggies and whole garlic, it's So easy!)
Romaine salad (nite before last I added raspberries and I think only half of us liked it)
Cheese plate (the last of the mozz, aged English Cheddar (which hubby is now addicted to,) cream cheese, and dill havarti with crackers)(Those weird ThomCord grapes I got from Trader Joe's the other day aren't really working out).
Blackberries topped with fresh whipped blackberry cream.

One of these days I'll get pics..... pinky swear...

Friday, August 24, 2012

CArtHop and Other Delights

I was blessed to be able to attend the innagural day of CArtHop at the Fulton Mall yesterday. In case you haven't heard about it yet, here's the story; basically food carts/trucks meets art meets music equals good times!

We arrived too early to get the full effects, (art, Kopi, crowds) but we did eat some really yummy food! Around 11 am my husband, my eldest, and myself found a parking spot at CVS (free parking if you don't stay too long!) and wandered down the Fulton Mall (a place I hadn't really explored in over 40 years. There was Summertime Pies, Casa De Tamales, Mattie's Wood Fired Pizza, and of course, Dusty Buns, making their truck's triumphant return.
We made a beeline for Summertime Pies, (not knowing about the blackberry or coconut cream, which we will try today at Manchester), where my hubby had the baked cherry, and the eldest had the pulled pork empanada, finding it even more delicious than we remembered.

We also sampled the KMK special at Mattie's, zucchini, heirloom tomatoes, bacon, onions, garlic, fresh sage, and fontina, and because I read the menu board wrong, I had to order another minus the onions.. and it was amazing! I'd forgotten how good really fresh produce could taste, and the crust was chewy, crispy, delish!.

Next on the agenda was a revisiting of Le Grilled Cheese from Dusty Buns, full of bacony,cheesy,tomatoey goodness..oh how we've missed you!
Then I went for the vegan option (gotta live dangerously sometimes) from the uber friendly folks at Casa De Tamales, the portobello/asparagus. And don't miss that homemade guac! That topped off the morning just right!

Later that evening, taking a departure from our recent French eating flight, I decided to try yet another foray into making fried chicken. Despite the fact that I am descended from a long and distinguished line of fried chicken makers, I have never been able to get it right.. leaving it to the experts at Chicken Man, or Come n Get It, to satisfy my family's fried chicken cravings. Well last nite I finally got it.. I only had to cook 3 drumsticks, so I put them in a bag with a buttload of garlic salt, onion powder, paprika, and sugar..a sort of non liquid brine, and left them for a few hours. I think dunked them in an egg/milk mixture, and coated them in flour with only black pepper mixed in. I think because I waited for my oil to properly heat up, they fried successfully..tasty and juicy inside, crispy and brown on the outside...yay me! I even made gravy out of the drippings...
no pics of that of course...you know how I am.. but really..it just looked like chicken...correctly fried chicken. :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Another "French" Night.....

Experimental dinner number 2: Rule 1: Don't use Slivovic as an aperitif. For those of you who don't know, Slivovic is a strong Serbian plum brandy. It's clear and tastes like jet fuel, and as the lady at the Serbian fest advised me rightly, you SIP it, don't slam it. And even in the sipping only half a shot glass.. you will get tipsy... tipsy enough to slip on the marble stairs during the Serbian church tour. My husband, who is an accomplished and veteran drinker, felt a rush from a single sip. That's how potent this stuff is. So of course we bought some for our wedding last year, and we still have over half the bottle left.

all this is leading up to why you should not sip Slivovic and try to construct a multi-course meal. Luckily there was no fires, no bloodshed, and everything turned out reasonably delicious. There was a small issue with possibly overcooking (and flipping) the frittata, but the bigger issue was just me trying to remember what I was doing, and navigate my way around the kitchen...and knives...and hot stoves. It's just best not to drink and cook.

Now the public service announcement is out of the way, on to the menu! Tonite the appetizer was sweet bbq glazed sausages (with toothpicks even! I must have been tipsy and brave...I'll tell you the toothpick impaling story another time.). You all know what the aperitif was. Then we had curried noodle soup (with my famous 'crack' broth), a chicken/potato/carrot/green onion frittata, romaine salad with a homemade (mind you)sweet hot mustard dressing, the cheese plate du jour(cream cheese spread, dill havarti, and aged English cheddar), and the dessert that I totally killed with: Butter toasted lemon pound cake, topped with homemade hot cherry sauce, freshly whipped cream, and blackberries.

I finally am feeling like I'm living up to my potential as a cook.. like that wallful of red and blue ribbons really means something.

Dinner, French-Style, Part Deux

So last night we gave the "French Eating" principle a trial run. I put a tablecloth on our coffee table (where we usually eat due to the lack of dining room), turned OFF the tv (what we normally do during dinner), and put on some music (Big band and swing to start, classical to finish).

We began with an aperitif made of white wine (something Italian, not sure, couldn't translate the label), cherry juice, and a little sugar. We also had an appetizer of devilled eggs. Then came the minestrone. There was good bread (sesame and jalapeno/cheese baguettes, sliced, and real butter on the table at all times.

We moved on to an main course of slowly roasted chicken thighs in an asian sauce, along with roasted potatoes and carrots with garlic. Then it was time for the salad, simply baby romaine with a homemade vinaigrette.

After that was a cheese course (Snofrisk, a soft, edible chevre; whole milk mozzarella slices; and an aged English cheddar, along with crackers and cherries, and more wine.
For dessert, lemon pound cake topped with macerated blackberries and freshly whipped cream. Dinner took nearly 2 and a half hours to complete. We took time between courses to talk and let our food settle a bit, and the portions on everything were small.

The whole experience was very enjoyable, without the telly on, we could concentrate on our food and talking to each other. How all this will fly with my 14 yr old teen terror who can't normally be torn away from the computer for dinner remains to be seen when she comes home on Friday. Her computer has been blocked from the hours of 4 pm to 6 pm (which I may extend to 7 pm), and she won't be able to eat in her room, so getting her used to this may unsettle the current soothing aspects of dinner temporarily, but I am determined to get into this new groove to promote better eating habits and better health.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Intuitive Mediterranean Moderation.....(It's a long one)

I've been reading ALOT lately. Mostly about eating and I've learned some very interesting things and come to some conclusions. One of the things I've learned is about the French way of eating. I'm not a fan of the French people for the most part, they have not been helpful to us in the past, and regardless of how helpful we've been to them, they've got an imperious, shabby attitude towards us. But they do know a thing or two about food and wine. And how to eat and live apparently, because in spite of the fact that they, as a rule, eat butter, cheese, bread, and dessert regularly, and drink wine like it was water, they have a miniscule obesity rate compared to ours, likewise for their rates of heart disease, one of our top killers.

The differences seem to be in portion sizes,(quality not quantity) the fact that they make mealtime a priority, they eat slowly and savor their food, that they shop for fresh food (not processed) almost daily, and that they walk everywhere. And here's another shocker, their children will eat pretty much anything..no pickiness, no having to fix separate foods for a fussy child. They are raised to appreciate and love all food. Contrast that to our whiny, demanding kids, who are unhealthy from too many McGoodies that they MUST have or else. And contrast their markets and lifestyle when our lives here are flooded with diets and "diet foods" and our obsession with working out at the gym. In between the fast and processed foods, our markets are full of fat free this and sugar free that and low carb nonsense. And yet we are still in poor shape, inside and out. We are simply living too fast, driving too much (hard not to do in California, sadly), spending too much time with our "devices" and not enough time with our loved ones, enjoying life.

I've also been learning about "Intuitive Eating".. the idea that our bodies know when its time to eat, what we need to eat, and how much. Again, it's a matter of slowing down, listening to our own bodies, and eating purposefully and thoughtfully, i.e. when we're eating, we should just EAT.. not watching the tv or running off to a meeting or playing on the computer.

And what if you combined these two ideas.. slowing down, enjoying food, enjoying life, doing things purposefully, eating well, but not eating too much all the time, eating fresh, and moving around much more? I'll let you know how that goes, the trials and tribulations of re-defining the American diet and the American lifestyle. I don't expect miracles immediately, and I don't expect there won't be speedbumps along the way. But it has to be better than what we're doing now.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Brief post on a brief dinner... aka Douggy Fresh Pizza

Since I left Reedley, and Valentino's was sold to extraneous, untalented family members, I've been on the hunt for "the" pizza.... the one that could come closest to mimicking the deliciousness that was the old Valentino's. Still haven't found it, don't know that I ever will.. but I'll always look for good pizza wherever I can find it here in Fresno.
Since it was just me and the man for dinner, we finally picked up the Douggy Fresh 4.99 large pepperoni carryout. Unlike Little Skeezers, it's made fresh. It was a decent size, a respectable amount of pepperoni, the sauce (unlike most in this town) was actually pretty right on, with no dominating odd flavors or saltiness...very balanced. There was plenty of good cheese too. The crust was an oddball... very very soft with a slightly crisp outer crust, like a good dinner roll. All in all, a very reliable source for inexpensive, tasty pizza, that is also convenient to where we are at various times (now with 3 locations around town).

Douggy Fresh Pizza 1585 N Palm Ave 237-3800

1835 Ashlan Ave Ste 102 Clovis 348-1300

newest location @ Chestnut & McKinley
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