Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Very Belated Post About the Meat Sweats

The fall has been quite the blur. I'll explain in due time, but one possible explanation would be that I was lulled into a protein induced coma by my road trip through Canada.

Here are two very meaty encounters that I had while traveling this summer. The first in Ottawa and the second in Syracuse, NY.

We went to Sweetgrass Bistro based on several recommendations from food friends and from some of my Ottawa pals. It was most certainly a unique dining experience since a) I had never had aboriginal food before and b) the air-conditioning was broken in the restaurant and it was a hot and humid Ottawa valley day and night.

We started with an order of Navajo Frybread which reminded me a lot of a beaver tail except more crunchy. It came with a little dish of honey for dipping!

We then shared the Hunter's Platter. I can't remember which meats were featured because I'm a bad girl and didn't write anything down, but I think there was some elk, duck, bison, wild boar and maybe some goose?

E had a huge slab of bison!

Definite meat sweats post this meal. I wondered whether this was what it would be like to be in a sweat lodge?!

During out meat-nanza, our friend Ted could not stop raving about this other place called Dinosaur BBQ. His glowing endorsement of the place pretty much solidified that we would be stopping there on our drive back from Toronto to Boston. Syracuse is about halfway anyway, so it made the decision that much easier.

Even though this place looks clearly like a biker bar from the outside, there was a very diverse clientele inside even at close to midnight! Here is one of the highlights of the decor.

Our appetizer was the fried green tomatoes and we shared the traditional sampler: 1/4 Chicken: Leg & Thigh, 1/4 Rack of Ribs, Texas Beef Brisket. It came with a side of coleslaw, mac and cheese and cornbread.

I think the best part of the meal was the peanut butter pie. Unbelievable and makes me sad for people with peanut allergies. What a perfect way to cap off our meat-venture. I am now curiously craving a salad...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Dreaming of ice creams past on a rainy day weekend

The last days of summer are leaving us in New England. Fall is my favourite season of the year so it doesn't really make me that sad, but others are lamenting the short summers and the return of school daze. I guess I am a true supertastic nerd and should stay in academia forever because back to school often gets me a little excited. If I could feel justified in buying a new pencil case or lunch box I think I would be even more excited.

But today it's pouring rain and nasty outside, so it's given me the opportunity to catch up on some summer posts that I've been neglecting. Last time I was here, I mentioned we were making a road trip up to Canada, so here is the first leg of the trip from Boston to Vermont to the Ben and Jerry's factory!

I must say that the factory tour was very short and not super exciting, but considering it cost only $3 and we got to sample some ice cream at the end, I probably shouldn't have expected much.

Since it was a weekend, there wasn't any ice cream production going on, which was a bit disappointing, but I guess ice cream makers deserve weekends off too. The factory was surprisingly small and I wondered how it could possibly fill all of my ice cream needs, but I'm thinking that this original factory is more of a figure head factory at this point and not one of their main production points.

We were verboten from taking pictures inside, but the flavour graveyard and the B and J's bus were the coolest parts anyway.

Here are 3 flavours that I wish I had a chance to know...

Here is one flavour that offends my public health practitioner/research ethics side, so it's probably better off dead... because really, who wants to eat an ice cream that reminds them of syphilis?!!

Mmmmm... maybe I'll go have some of that Coffee Heath Bar Crunch for breakfast. Coffee is a morning beverage after all!!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Urban Vegetable Garden Series - Part VI: Pre-Vacation Garden Check

Today we are leaving on a one-week road trip back to the motherland. We'll make our way from Boston to Vermont with a stop over at the Ben and Jerry's factory -- flavour graveyard here we come! Then we'll continue on to Ottawa, where I grew up from the ages of 2 to 22. Then it's further north to North Bay where my bro's family lives by a pristine Canadian lake. Our last stop will be in Toronto for some serious feasting with some old friends from my second degree and my first job working as a slave to the London, Ontario hospital system. I'm hoping that last part won't give me any undesirable flashbacks, but more likely it will make me happy to see all my friends that I used to spend 80 hours a week with and even happier that I never have to do that again!

My vegetable garden, cooking exploits and time to write this are a testament to the joys of working half as much as I used to. I used to think that I was the kind of person that only needed 6 hours of sleep maximum per night, but now that I can get 9 hours on a regular basis, it's miraculous how much less crabby I am. Also contributing to my less irritable nature, are:
1) I have time to make and feed myself and E yummy food, and
2) being able to get exercise in a form that is not brisk walking down the hallway of a hospital towards the next potential disaster.
In summary -- vast improvement in quality of life.

Now that I don't have to worry about how to minimize my crankiness, I can turn my worries towards how to keep my veggies healthy while I'm away and also how to use up said veggies before leaving for the week. I thought the answer for part one of that question would be aqua globes, but since my patio gets so hot, I will have to enlist neighbors and friends to keep an eye on the babies so that they won't get parched. I think I'll move them indoors temporarily so they won't be in direct sunlight because most days the temperature registers close to 100 back there.

Now for the veggie usage question. I think the jalapenos will do okay being left on the plant for another week because they are still pretty small and haven't changed colour yet (from green to red) or gone through "corking" yet. I contemplated, cutting up some and freezing them, but then read that they get mushy so I wasn't so keen on that.

But what about all these tomatoes?

The basil and tomatoes got a lot of use yesterday. Here is a salad with Roma tomatoes, basil, chick peas and hot banana pepper bits. It made a nice and refreshing lunch.

Then for dinner, I chopped up the remaining tomatoes with some oven roasted garlic in the food processor. Added a little basil and served the sauce with some left over peppers, mushrooms and shrimp over some whole wheat pasta.

The only bowl that I have that is big enough to serve this in is a bowl that I got from Target for a Halloween party, so that's why you see the hint of skeleton trim around the black bowl!

So my fridge is clean and off we go to pack the car and embark on some Canadian eating adventures! Tim Horton's, Harvey's, President's Choice products, ketchup flavoured potato chips and poutine, here we come!

Thursday, August 6, 2009


The basil on my patio has gotten out of control (the picture above is from several weeks before the overgrowth) and some of my tomatoes are vine ripened. This was a good excuse for me to buy a food processor. Actually, I haven't needed much of an excuse to buy a new kitchen doodad as of late (please see the imminent post on the Titan Peeler... and no I didn't make wood shavings from a table leg for dinner). I've always resisted buying a food processor because I have a really good hand blender which is pretty good to make smoothies and soups and is so much easier to clean than a blender/food processor. But I figured since I had so much basil and someday I'm going to want to try to make baby food to convince myself that this will prevent my kid from wanting to eat McDonald's everyday, I should finally break down and get one. This Cuisinart one was very well reviewed and was under 40 dollars. It holds 24 oz, which sounds pretty small, but the plethora of basil I had fit in there just fine and since my kitchen is pretty small it doesn't take up much space in a cupboard, which is key.

Here is one of my breakfasts this week which did not involve the food processor but had some basil and some tomatoes. It looks like a lot of food for a little person like me, but if I don't eat this much before I go to work I get grumpy and hungry by 10:30.

Here is the basil-nanza being washed, then sitting in my new kitchen toy with some olive oil and going into some ice cube trays for use in pesto, dressings, marinades, sauces etc. I figure since it's frozen I won't get really sick of eating basil-y meals in the next couple of weeks because I can spread the consumption out over a few months!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

An Uninvited Dinner Guest

It has been a particularly rainy summer in New England, but finally we have gotten some serious heat and sunshine. My arugula was not doing so well with getting drenched everyday, so was starting to look very sad, but with the steamier weather was starting to perk up a little.

Suddenly one morning this week, I went outside to water all my babies and found this!! Eeeeekkk! At first I thought we might have had some hail in the night that shredded the leaves, because this happened to one of my co-workers, but all of the other plants (tomatoes, basil, green beans and various flowers) looked fine.

So I took a closer look and found the culprit. Here is his mug shot.

I think he may be a Cabbage White Caterpillar, but does anyone have any other guesses?

Only one and he devoured all the arugula! He tried to escape the next morning. How rude! At least he can have the decency to stick around so I can see what he turns out to be! So I knocked him gently back into the container and laid some tomato leaves that I had pruned and some basil flowers to see if he would like to sample that buffet. He seemed to be quite picky and went right back to what was left of the arugula, so I guess it must have been pretty tasty.

Oh well. To drown my sorrows I went to a restaurant this week with a co-worker and ordered a crispy calamari, arugula and avocado pizza which was delicious.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Homemade Belgian Waffles

Waffles often fall into the category of things I want to go out for instead of making at home. This is for several reasons:

1) I don't own a waffle maker and think it is one of those kitchen appliances that is more trouble than it is worth in the cleaning department
2) I thought that it would be too hard to figure out how long to cook them without burning the outside and leaving the inside raw
3) I tend to be more of a savory cook than a sweet cook

But things have changed for the better! We were recently watching a food/travel program on the Travel Network called "Extreme Fast Foods", which featured a place called the Waffle Cabin., which is situated halfway down a ski hill in Vermont. Ski a bit, stop for waffle. Hold waffle in one hand while skiing down rest of hill!!

Now even though I grew up in Canada, my family was never a downhill skiing family. I tried snowboarding a few times, but my butt has never wanted to go back. Seeing the waffle cabin, I seriously considered taking up skiing next winter just so that I could get some of these in my belly! E was even more excited about it than I was, which led to him talking about waffles almost everyday until we happened to go to Karl's Sausage kitchen and found the special ingredients for Belgian Waffles.

Then he started talking about waffles everyday, several times a day until we went to Target and got this waffle maker for $18.99. I gave in because really if it was a terrible, useless contraption, less than 20 dollars was not that much to sacrifice.

The key to this type of waffle is the pearl sugar. It creates a nice crispy and sweet outer shell to the waffles and aids in giving the nice caramelized colour. Also key to decreasing the mess factor is following a Belgian waffle recipe which makes more of a moldable dough rather than a batter. This means there is no batter pouring and much less mess in the waffle iron and thus much less clean-up duty. We made three varieties: plain, chocolate chip and cinnammon chocolate chip.

I'm quite surprised that waffle cabins haven't caught on in popularity in New England as I imagine it would be a great cold weather food. E and I have been joking that should our careers not work out, we would consider opening up our own waffle cabin somewhere in Boston!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Hot Chorizo and Salad with Mustard Sprouts

My mustard sprouts have sprouted and we finally got around to cooking the rest of the sausages that we got at Karl's Sausage Kitchen.

The mustard sprouts were surprisingly mustard-y which is a good thing since my favourite condiment is mustard!

The hot chorizo were not so much hot as they were nicely seasoned, but went very well with the curry ketchup and Sparkling Lingonberry and Apple Juice that we got at Karl's.

Nothing like a weekend to catch up on all the things that you actually want to do/eat!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Karl's Sausage Kitchen - Saugus, MA

It's usually very difficult to get E to go food shopping with me. The exceptions to this rule are:
1) if he has run out of cereal or
2) if it involves serious Euro foods such as with this field trip to Karl's Sausage Kitchen! It helps that this store is only about 20 minutes from our place in Boston and that it had some very tempting Euro-treats listed on their website!

I must admit that this place is awesome! At first it seems very small inside but I immediately found at least 10 things that I wanted to buy. Euro candy, Euro condiments... even Euro beauty products and Euro romance novels. E was drawn immediately to the tasty looking sausage collection and we bought some Hot Chorizo and some Weisswurst.

The people working behind the counter were extremely helpful and would give all the shoppers advice on what were the best meats to buy for what occasion. As an example, there were two guys going on a camping trip, so one of the employees advised against the blood sausage as it explodes on the grill. A very useful bit of info I'm sure that they appreciated as their camping trip would have been less enjoyable with bits of blood sausage splattered all over their gear.

We also bought a crazy selection of Euro treats which it will take me a while to sample and tell you about.

Here is the Weisswurst post boiling and grilling with one of the pretzels we bought. I'm not a huge sausage-o-phile, but these were possibly the most tender and juicy sausages I've had that were not consumed in Germany.