Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Banchan/Fromage/Fusion Goodness

Because why work on things that are on deadline or pay when you can photograph this?

All cheese raw milk, French,
 triple creme, brie, mourbier, chevre from Whole Foods 
as are organic red grapes from CA and cornichons.
Hummus from Jerusalem Gardens
Kimchi and rice crackers from Noble Fish.
Frano Korean Japanese Lebanese goodness. .
PS Vegan attempt fail and can't really count raw milk cheese as raw food diet. So relishing vegetarian goodness

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Day Two: the hidden Sprite and other surprises.

So the vegan/raw generally 'heathy' kick is surprisingly harder than I anticipated. Or at least for certain things. 

Dairy has been near to impossible to give up - perhaps it didn't help that I had splurged in several price raw milk cheeses from Whole Foods (yup, Whole Paycheck) the weekend before starting this. Perhaps also because my stomach curdles at the thought of black coffee. And perhaps because as a good Turkish-American, not being able to eat yogurt makes my ancestors roll around in their grave. 

Morning latte machiatto with Lavazza Espresso. Without which I am catatonic.

However other things have been very, very easy - cutting out meat, butter, sugar, refined flour, processed foods and bad fats a breeze. I think it helps that I am still enjoying a glass of good wine (just jacked up grape juice really) as I please. And that my diet is already pretty typically Mediterranean, which means it is pretty healthy on its own. 

Late lunch with the very Turkish combo of  tomatoes and cucumbers drizzled with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Corn Tortilla chips, hummus mixed up with some pico de gallo (surprisingly good). 

and a far less healthy light dinner of fried beets - golden and red and lovely Rose from my friends at Vellum

Okay, so I also had the fries. But they were hand cut. And I'm sure the potatoes were local, organic, etc., in the back you see Sonya's amazing pea soup (she got a vegetarian version)

So overall, I do feel better, have more energy, etc., etc. I don't feel hungry (though let's be honest, even skinny Ebru never did) (call it an embrace of gourmandise lifestyle). And there are a few changes that I want to incorporate on more permanent basis. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Back. Healthy. Day One.

It has been too long. Too many posts started, mulled over, and never posted.

Also unhealthy far too long and a bit sick very recently. But as I'm on the mend - decided it was time to do a small cleanse. Not just in terms of what I eat, but also in terms of overall 'stuff,' people, things, mind clutter, etc. Here is hoping it goes well...and here are some pics of my last indulgences, and (very) newly formed healthy habits :

Saturday morning double affogato at Zingermans with Burnt Sugar and Coconut gelato. Breakfast of champs.

Saturday afternoon beef brisket at Biercamp

Sunday mornings breakfast - note the fresh figs from the Produce Station (first of the season!) and raw honey from the AA Farmers Market, which apparently has very good anti-allergen health properties. Va voir. Regardless it tastes good.

Afternoon cheese plate - all raw milk (unpasturized)  with fantastic red from Corsica. You can see the blue d'auvergne, vieux gouda, mourbier (which has the ash in it) and a tiny bit of the triple creme on the bottom left. As donuts are for Homer, is French cheese to me.

Sunday night dinner of local Pierogies (with cheese and chives) and some yogurt. 

First day - sliced avocado and heirloom tomatoe with lime juice, sea salt and extra virgin olive oil from Bari

Cornichons from Whole Foods, Sauerkraut from Biercamp. Note to self, must learn how to make both.

Lunch - long, long curly pasta, basic tomato sauce and teeny, tiny bit of shredded asiago. (not sure I'll ever be able to fully give up dairy, but am thinking raw milk products are better? or not as bad?)

Dinner - basmati rice cooked stir fried with sauteed button mushrooms. I ended up having it with the San-J Thai Peanut sauce (as a side note, is gluten free)  and lots of lime juice.

And what made the day so great - watching Les Amants, Coco Before Chanel, and Poupees Rousse on DVD and getting these treasures in the mail from Bruxelles and Paris.

So if anything, these posts are just to keep me on track and motivated to get through July. Doing vegetarian 100%, not smoking at all (and probably, slightly sadly, never again), moderate wine, no processed foods, no added sugar, no butter, limited caffeine, and hopefully lots of sleep and sanity. Done juice fasts before, especially while living in Germany, and 2-week detoxes but this will be the longest by far. Fingers crossed. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A warning to all food bloggers out there?

In my lingering post-holiday food coma, the thought about writing hasn't been too appealing. . . but I came across this article in the Guardian which caught my eye. Recipes can be dangerous stuff: 

Judges ruled that the newspaper failed to test the recipe before publication, and that if readers followed the recipe exactly, the churros had a good chance of exploding once the oil reached the suggested temperature.
"The explosions were so violent that in some cases the splashes hit the ceiling and covered the person who was cooking," the court said.
"Faithfully following the recipe published in the newspaper, this damage could not have been avoided."
Guess I won't be cruising Chilean newspapers for churros tips. I'm so curious about what specifically they suggested that led to so many incidents, but alas they aren't publishing the original article. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Busboys and Poets

My relationship with Washington, DC is complicated, fraught, and wistful. There is and was a lot about the city I actively dislike. The provincialism, the lack of style, an acute divide between those of us who work (worked) for Uncle Sam or lobbied him and anyone else are but a few gripes. And while I might find myself fascinating, being surrounded by people just like me in terms of their profession and interests felt oppressive and dull.

However, since I began coming to DC professionally (from  Spring 2003 on) there were things that I always liked. The (now gentrified) 14th Street/ U Street corridor being very high on the list, as my first apartment in DC was on New Hampshire Avenue and Swann Street.  My last DC address was in beautiful flush Georgetown so complaining about the gentrification would be a tad hypocritical. . .

With the gentrification of that area, the infusion of Obama administration folks, and the development of much better dining and nightlife, DC has become far more palatable and (gasp!) fun. One of my favorite places is Busboys and Poets, the original one being on 14th Street between U and V.  This article on the Washington Post on the owner Andy Shallal was a great read. It made me realize the exciting things going on in DC and reminisce about the good times there. I'm going back for my birthday, for the first time in 2 1/2 years and I'm looking forward to it.

And the article inspired me to think deeply about what I am doing right now. It makes for good reading.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Day in the Life. . .(part deux)

Some days are just a beast. Today was one. Tomorrow will be another. And then, finally, a fun weekend.

Luckily some nice moments broke the gloom. And while I did not burst into song like Julie Andrews, it was nice to enjoy some of my favorite things. . .

1. It snowed!!!!!! To the naysayers: yes, the novelty and joy will wear off in about 24 hours as the prospect of the next few months kicks. But this is how snow makes me and my IKEA man feel.

2. Grocery shopping and realizing that my slightly dysfunctional, though extremely gourmand shopping cart only included
  • A half a case of wine (is it my fault that Buschs has amazing wine sales?)
  • 4 avocados (ditto the sale)
  • roasted peppers (yup)
  • blue corn chips
  • and a copy of Harpers.
Dysfunction, or a recognition and acceptance of the sweeter things in life. . . the wine is for a holiday party and include a Spanish Verdejo and Pinot Noir from Coppala's winery, both of which I am really excited to try. Given the amazing sale prices, I also picked up some Chilean carmenère, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Australian Cabernet Sauvignon, and a Spanish red to round out my "cellar."

And of course we had a busy day at the cafe, which was rewarding but tiring after an incredibly high stress week.

But as long as my cellar is full, the cat happy and my Internet working, life in our little city/big town will go on.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Healthy Inspirations

Today was my annual check-up. Luckily, given that my primary care physician is lovely, the 2+ hours long appointment was not as unpleasant as it could be. And while I've quit smoking and got a great all-clear recently after surgery, the holidays have provided plentiful rich food and drink. . .

Let's just say the scale was not kind. Surely a fluke, probably a seismic shifting of the earth or problem in the buildings structural integrity that led to the floor tilting, etc., etc.

Nonetheless the health scares of late and scale results led me to think that my recent indulgences (French-style hot chocolate with whole bars melted into milk being one very unfortunate new recipe.. . )should be a tad less frequent.

So this great article in the Times inspired me to think of making some lighter fare. Asian inspired, probably with a heavy leaning towards Japanese and not my beloved coconut milk-heavy Thai curries, lots of ginger, fresh steamed healthy goodness which is light but flavorful.

Ah well, if there is any hope of looking cute in all those party dresses then perhaps a bit more healthy living could be arranged.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Food and Friends

I find the best meals tend to be with good friends and the best dishes tend to be those that are the most spontaneous, cooked while sipping wine in the kitchen and gabbing with good company.

Having just spent Thanksgiving near Traverse City, I realized that my dinner invite to one of my oldest and dearest friends, S., was not well-timed for cooking a gourmet meal. Whoops. However she is like family and as my fridge, pantry, and bar have been well stocked of late, I figured an improvised meal would be possible.

The freezer tends to be underutilized in my kitchen, but when I do use it, I realize how hugely helpful it is to keep good frozen food. Buschs had had a sale on frozen wild shell-on shrimp a few weeks ago, so I had bought an extra pound and chucked it in there thinking it could come in handy. It did.

My mother, bless her, always buys extra produce with me in mind, so I had a beautiful large eggplant, bell peppers, fresh tomatoes and fresh herbs in the crisper drawer in my fridge. And then of course I had some olive oil (Colavita extra virgin and my current obsession, a Chilean varietal from Fustinis) , butter (you really can't go wrong with butter), sea salt from the always reliable Trader Joes, canned organic chopped tomatoes, fresh garden grown jalapenos, onions from the farmers' market, and french feta cheese and couscous from the Middle Eastern store, all of which I set out, mulling what to do and sipping a lovely 2009 Chenin Blanc. (Thanks again, Whole Foods!)

I initially thought I would make karades guvec, a Turkish shrimp casserole that is baked in a clay pot, and incorporate eggplant in the stew. So I set to peeling and salting the eggplant, and thawing the shrimp.

Though, while I am not engineer, the shrimp to eggplant ration already looked a bit off. . .

And as the onions and garlic sauteed and were joined with the red bell peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants, S. came, the conversation and wine flowed. As we launched into our catch up, it was clear that my initial plan would not work or be too time consuming to tweak.

So I switched to a far easier ratatouille and decided to cook the shrimp shell-on in a very hot pan with just some olive oil and green onions. I had fresh rosemary, thyme and sage all of which I chopped and added to the eggplant mixture which was cooking down, and the shrimp cooked very quickly. While a pain to peel while eating, they tend to be so much more tender when cooked with the tail, shell and legs still on.

And in the end, for an extremely improvised dinner it was not bad at all. S. and I both agreed that the couscous could have been more flavorful (I only used butter and sea salt) but the ratatouille and shrimp were both tender and flavorful, and complemented each other better than I planned.

But more importantly, it was so nice to spend an evening with someone I have known for the better part of 23 years. Laughing, commiserating, and going down memory lane. That the evening was accompanied with good food and better drink was a lovely bonus. As is the fact that my 1990s pictures of S. and I remain happily in the non-digital world - MC Hammer pants and crop tops not being my most elegant of looks. . .