Thursday, August 30, 2007


So I'm leaving for Germany in about 10 hours. Needless to say, I'm not packed yet. As a matter of fact, I'm sitting on my bed eating an avocado half that has a bit of soy sauce in the middle, because I was thinking about blogging and I remembered bazu once wrote about something like this on her blog... So much better than packing.

Anyway, I'll see you all in a week or so. Aufwiedersehen!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

When I was on vacation....


1) Took pictures of flowers
2) Made jalapeno poppers
3) Actually finished a craft project

These were all good things.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Water for Thought

The numbers, from Time Magazine:

1.1 billion - people around the world that the U.N. estimates lack safe drinking water, a number that could reach 5 billion by 2025

8.25 billion - gallons of bottled water (31 billion L) Americans drank in 2006, a 9.5% increase from the year before.

$10.8 billion - amount spent on bottled water last year — all for something you can get virtually for free

4,000 - tons of CO2 generated each year — the equivalent of the emissions of 700 cars — by importing bottled water from Fiji, France and Italy, America's largest suppliers

Less than 25% - percent of water bottles recycled, leaving 2 billion pounds (900 million kg) a year to clog landfills.

If American tap water were unsafe, I could understand why people would want to drink bottled water. But the infuriating and depressing thing is that all of this waste is unecessary-- American tap water is safe. New York City water is among the cleanest in the world.

Is it really too hard for us to take 20 seconds to fill up a bottle with tap water before we leave for work in the morning?

Also, how hard is it to throw your plastic bottles into a recycling bin?

Monday, August 20, 2007


A few days ago, on August 16th, I turned 20. I can't believe I'm not a teenager any more!

I was given a copy of a cookbook I've been wanting for a long time,
Sunday Suppers at Lucques: Seasonal Recipes from Market to Table (Suzanne Goin), as a birthday present. I recomend it highly! It's diveded into seasons, and there are about 8 menus (salad, first course, main, desert) for each season. Most of the first and main courses use meat, but lots of them could be made to be meatless fairly easily. But I'd have totally bought the book for the salad recipes alone-- they all sound so delicious, flavorful, and unusual. And the book has some of the best food photography I've seen anywhere.

Anyway, I ended up making a meal inspired by the book: arugula salad with summer fruit, cannelli bean puree with carmelizes peppers, onions, and charmoula, gnocchi with fresh corn, sage, and mushrooms (didn't get a picture of this), and a plum-nectarine galette for dessert. I'm visiting some relatives in California, so I had to adjust my cooking to their tastes, but it all turned out quite well. The salad was really, really good-- probably my favorite dish, and the only one I followed directly the book. Hmm.

I'll try to get the recipes up in the next few days...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Harry Potter and....Waldemart

A great way to spend two mintues...


This is my last night in NYC for a year. Although I'm (mostly) sure I'll have a positive time in Germany, right now I'm rather overwhelmed with preparations to leave: packing, leaving my three jobs in the same week, and saying good bye to friends-- several of whom I'm not sure when (or if) I'll see again.

I'm not actually going to Germany until the 30th, but I have to move out of my apartment by Sunday, so I'm going to be staying in NJ with some friends until then. It's lovely of them to host me-- but I will be living with other people so I'm not sure how often I'll be cooking or updating the blog.

I've also been thinking of the direction this blog is going to take when I'm in Germany. Obviously I'll still be blogging primarily about food, but I'm sure that I'll want to write about life in Germany. I'd like to change the name (but not the link) of my blog to something more suitable, but I'm not sure if that would be too confusing. I know I've already done this once before-- why can't I ever make up my mind? But I don't want to start another blog, as I'm pretty attached to this one.

I hope this post wasn't overly self-indulgent. I'll blog about food next time, promise!

The Last Supper (in NYC, that is): a pizza topped with things I didn't want to go to waste, most notably some carmelized onions and a portabella mushroom.

That reminds me, I can't believe how much food I have left! It felt like I never had anything, but actually I have a lot of food that's probably going to be going to waste.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

New Books

In an uncharactaristically spendthift fit (more on that later), I've gone and ordered a bunch of books I've been wanting for a long time. Perhaps this was not the cleverest thing I could have done, as I'll be moving to Germany for a year in just a few weeks and books are quite heavy, but I'm worried about finding enough English reading materials (I love reading-- right now I'm working on Thomas Sowell's The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation As a Basis for Social Policy which is really thought-provoking) and I figure these books should keep me going for a while.

The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter (Peter Singer)
Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (Post-Contemporary Interventions) (Frederic Jameson)
Development as Freedom (Amartya Sen)
Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman)
World Poverty and Human Rights: Cosmopolitan Responsibilities and Reforms (Thomas Pogge)
The Glass Palace: A Novel (Amitav Ghosh)
and The Septembers of Shiraz (Dalia Sofer)

Actually I can't say I've been wanting that last one for a long time, as I just read about it in last week's NY Times literary supplement. But it sounded interesting and I can read it on the airplane.

I'm not going to say how much I just spent -- but suffice it to say I've gotten free shipping.

Now I feel bad for ordering from amazon , but that's another story. (Normally I buy from used book sellers, but I'm pressed for time because of the move-- is that a good excuse?)

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Chinese Cabbage Slaw with Tangy Apple Vinaigrette

I'd be hard pressed to pick a favorite salad dressing. I suppose I have olive oil and lemon juice the most, because it's so fresh-tasting and easy, but there are so many other dressing I like: pomegranate molasses with olive oil, orange juice and red wine vinegar, soy-ginger with toasted sesame seeds, Caeser salad dressing, Italian vinaigrette....I'm getting hungry just writing that down!

But I have to say that this Tangy Apple Vinaigrette would probably have a good shot at being a favorite. It works beautifully on sturdy greens-- in fact, I often use it on cabbage, as you can see in the picture-- and it uses one of my favourite sweeteners, apple juice concentrate. Don't be scared by the vitamin C-- all vitamin C is is asorbic acid (the stuff that makes citrus fruits sour). It makes the dressing tangy without being too liquidy. (In fact, this trick works with a lot of other recipes.) Just open up a capsule and use the powder inside. (Don't use the actual capsule.)

I should note that this dressing was inspired by a (non-blogging) friend.

Tangy Apple Vinaigrette (makes 1 cup)

1/2 cup lemon/lime juice (I use 2:1 lime:lemon)
1/2 cup regular olive oil (or up to 1 cup if you like the tradition ratio of oil:acid in your salad dressing)
1 T sugar
1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
2000 mg vitamin C powder (probably 2 capsules-- but use less if you use more lemon than lime)
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup apple juice concentrate

Mix well.

For Cabbage Slaw:

Use approximately 1/2 cup to 1/2 a head of slivered Chinese cabbage. Stir to coat. Keep at room temperature for a couple of hours, tossing occasionally.

Also, this is one of the best things I did with that seitan:

Quick BBQ Seitan

bbq sauce

Slice the seitan. Put into a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add enough bbq sauce to coat. Heat until the sauce is bubbling and the seitan is heated through.

Although I try to cook simply, I don't usually cook that simply...but hey, this was actually really good.

Pepperoni Seitan

A few weeks ago (on July 4th, to be precise-- was that really over a month ago?) I made my first batch of seitan. The boiled stuff never sounded particularly appealing to me, so I decided to make Lachesis's baked seitan with pepperoni-esque seasonings. Now I'm wondering why it took me so long to make this. It was really, really, really good! I thought it might taste like pepperoni bread, but it didn't-- the texture is completely different without being too meaty.

The spices I used were a sort of mishmash from a bunch of recipes I'd seen floating around the net. I know I was inspired by SusanV's Veggeroni and another recipe that I can't for the life of me remember.

This made a pleasantly spiced-- but not spicy-- seitan. Obviously the spice possibilities are endless!

Pepperoni Seitan

1 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp hot smoked paprika
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp mustard seeds (I used black, because that's what I had)
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 large cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup cold water
4 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
2 tbsp tahini (or peanut butter)
2 tbsp bbq sauce

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix the wet ingredients in a smaller bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and knead for five minutes. Shape the dough into a sausage-like log, and wrap completely in foil. Twist the foil at the ends. The foil should be snug, but not skin-tight around the seitan, as it will expand during baking.

Place the log directly on the oven rack and bake for approximately 75 minutes. When it's done, unwrap and let cool.


Sunday, August 5, 2007

Spiced apricot chickpea couscous

This is one of my very favorite 20 minute meals: it's quick, cheap, and oh-so-tasty. Plus you can pretend you're in Morocco when you're eating it. What more could one ask for?

The chickpeas make this more of a complete meal, but it's also very nice without them as a side dish. As always, feel free to add whatever vegetables you want!

Spiced Apricot-Chickpea Couscous (serves 3 as a main dish)

1 cup couscous
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne
salt and pepper to taste
Bring the vegetable broth to a boil. Stir in the couscous, turn the heat down to low, and cover. Simmer for two minutes, or until all the water is absorbed. Immediately turn the heat off, fluff the couscous with a fork, cover again, and let stand for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Sautee the garlic and onions for a minute or two, and then add the chickpeas. Sautee until the chickpeas are warmed and the onions and garlic are tender, about 4 minutes. Add the spices and the dried apricots and cook for another minute.

Combine the couscous with the apricot mixture. Adjust the seasonings, and serve.


Saturday, August 4, 2007

Simple Strawberry Sorbet

I love sorbet. Unfortunately I don't get to eat it as often as I like, because that stuff is expensive! (In Manhattan, at any rate.) A few weeks ago I threw together this quick strawberry sorbet. It's not as creamy as the store-bought kind (I don't have an ice cream maker), but it was cheap, quick, and just as fruity. Perfect for a hot summer day.

Simple Strawberry Sorbet

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 lb strawberries, washed and hulled

Heat the sugar and water together until the sugar has dissolved. Let cool.

Meanwhile trim the strawberries, and cut them into halves or quarters if they are really large. Mix the sugar syrup with the berries and puree. It's ok if there are still a few small chunks. In fact, this is a good thing.

Place in a flat, shallow dish (I used a 9x9'' baking pan) and put in the freezer. As the mixture freezes, use a whisk to beat in the ice crystals from the outside of the pan. Do this every 30 minutes or so.

If you'd like the sorbet to be even smoother, throw it in a heavy-duty blender right before serving. (I don't have a blender, so my sorbet is still a bit was yummy though!)

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to go take a batch of blueberry muffins out of the oven. (I think the cooking bug has bit me again!)