Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Little Less Gringa

Last week was Joey's birthday.  To celebrate, he asked if I would be up for going to a Mexican restaurant.  We live in a neighborhood with a very large Mexican population.  There are lots of restaurants around us that Joey has been wanting to try.

Since I can finally eat beans, I agreed.  We found a restaurant nearby, and it even sold cheeseburgers!  (That's important because my dad doesn't eat Mexican food.  I had to get my picky-ness from somewhere!)

So everyone was seated around the table.  I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous.  This was a huge gamble.  I took a deep breath and reached for some tortilla chips to help settle my nerves.  I saw my dad dip the chips in the salsa.  I didn't remember him liking salsa.

"I don't mind it if the salsa is mild."

Not really a gamble.  Just a leap of faith.

So I decided to brave the scary, red sauce.  I dipped my chip in the salsa.  And it was spicy!!  That's what I get for trusting a man who likes mild curry.

The chips and salsa were free, so I wasn't losing much by trying them.  Just taste buds.  My main course would definitely be a gamble.  I went with cheese enchiladas in a red sauce.  There was no description of the sauce, and I was wagering actual money on whether or not I would be able to eat this meal.

Here's my hand.  Hopefully a safe bet?

I wiped the onions off the top.  Raw onions are still not going to happen for a good long time.  I cut off a small bit of enchilada and went all in.

The red sauce had very little flavor, just lightly tomato, and it wasn't spicy at all!  Cheese is always delicious.  I slowly came to a realization.  I liked this meal!  I enjoyed this meal at an actual Mexican restaurant!  My family was so proud!

Definitely going back again.  And can't wait to hit up La Cabaña and finally get more than a margarita!  Too bad Iowa is so far....

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Sad Goodbye to an Old Friend

The Chicago grocery institution, Dominick's, is closing at the end of the year.  It may seem silly to be attached to a grocery store, but I am.  I've lived in Chicago my whole life, so I've been going to Dominick's my whole life.  This chain is huge, and showed no sign of being in any sort of financial trouble.  At least not to the people shopping there.

Dominick's provided me with single serve packs of ice cream after a stressful babysitting gig.  Dominick's held the answers to all my food cravings.  Dominick's had amazing discounts on wine and beer.  Dominick's even helped me afford gas for my internship last year!

Dominick's has also been with me since the start of my adventure.  It's sad to think that Shrimp Alfredo will be the last adventure we have together.

I hope all the Dominick's employees are going to be okay.  While I know being unemployed is almost never easy, this is an especially hard season to be unemployed.  I wish them all the best in the new year.

I'll miss you, Dominick's!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Shrimpier Than Before

Falling behind again!

About a week ago, I gave shrimp another go.  This time they weren't covered in fried bread.  Fried bread usually makes everything better, and I wanted to see if I liked shrimp or just loved fried bread.

So Joey and I bought a two-pound bag of shrimp.  We figured Shrimp Alfredo should be pretty innocuous.  (Joey forgot he doesn't actually like alfredo.  This fact will be important later.)  We decided to cook up a pound of shrimp and invite Emily to help us eat it.  Emily loves shrimp.

First things first.  We needed to peel and de-vein the shrimp.  I had to rip little, slimy legs off of the shrimp.  And then pull out their digestive tracts.  Gross.

One bowl holds legless shrimp.  The other, their itty bitty legs.

So after that ordeal, we boiled the little ocean bugs.  And we boiled up some linguine.  We did a great job cooking the shrimp, but for whatever reason the pasta was more al dente than even I like.  And I'm a big fan of al dente pasta.  We probably should have heated up our canned alfredo sauce, but we had already been working on this dinner for at least an hour and a half.  We just wanted it to be served already!

And during the cooking process, I had a wave of nausea hit me.  My stomach felt like it was filled with all those slimy feet.  I don't know what the cause was, but my stomach was on high alert for the rest of the night.

So our undercooked pasta, perfectly cooked shrimp, and room temperature alfredo sauce were all finally done!  And I managed to eat about six shrimp.  The meal didn't taste bad.  It would definitely be improved by pasta that was better cooked and sauce that was warm.  I was just feeling so gross!  I ended up having a couple spoonfuls of peanut butter for dinner.

The shrimp weren't so bad.  The nausea, undercooked pasta, and room temperature alfredo were.

Shrimp are better than scallops.  They don't have that vinyl texture.  Their taste is pretty bland, which means they can be paired with a lot of different flavors.  I totally understand the appeal of shrimp.  But I was too nauseous to give them a fair assessment.  Looks like I'll to have a another shrimp adventure to find out my true feelings.

Remember when I said that Joey forgetting he doesn't like alfredo sauce would be important?  Well, it only took one bite for him to remember.  So he gave his shrimp to Emily.  After about six bites, I couldn't stomach any more.  So I gave my shrimp to Emily.

Emily ate almost a pound of shrimp by herself.

Emily is a seafood-adventure life-saver.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Bacon-less Scallops

I tried scallops on Halloween.  I vowed to try them without bacon, and I have remained true to my word.  A few days ago, I used scallops as the protein in a Stir-Fry.

Normally I use beef or just vegetables, but those scallops were staring at me from the door of the freezer.  Also, my mom asked what my plans were for the scallops.  I checked out a bunch of directions for cooking scallops and decided browning would be a good indicator of cooked-ness.  I asked Emily if she would eat some scallops so that I could cook up a bunch and not commit to eating them all.

I couldn't find my usual stir-fry sauce, so I combined some soy sauce and oyster sauce.  Emily was dubious (since I wasn't even measuring the sauces), but she didn't back down.

Behold my creation!

That sauce was tasty.  A+ for me!  And the veggies were delicious (even though we were out of bean sprouts).  I ate this at 5:30 and was still stuffed when I went to bed five hours later.  That is a quality meal!  I love Stir-Fry.

But what about the scallops?  I had a minor revelation.  Scallops taste fine.  Not as good as bacon, but they taste fine.  What I don't like about them is their texture.  They feel like vinyl on my teeth.  Or at least, what I imagine vinyl would feel like on my teeth.  I do not dig that.  I can eat them as long as they're with something else.  In the Stir-Fry, scallops are fine because there are so many other textures at play.  Wrapped in bacon, everything is wonderful.

Oh, and Emily totally liked my improvised sauce.  And finished my left-over scallops.  Thanks, Em!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

What's All the Hullabaloo About?

So I might have seriously neglected my blogging over the holiday weekend.  And the post-holiday week...  Whoops!  Well, I'm getting back on track.  This post was a long time coming.

Over Thanksgiving, a friend was in from out of town.  Miriah and I went to see a movie with her and then suddenly found ourselves at a sushi restaurant.

Sushi is something I do not understand.  As far as I do understand, the driving force behind sushi is people will pay to eat raw fish that has been draped over a bundle of rice and seaweed.  It is only slightly more logical than paying to eat a steak you have to cook yourself.

Miriah doesn't really do sushi either, but for the sake of politeness we took off our shoes and pulled up a chair.  I scoured the menu for something I would enjoy and luckily found vegetable tempura.  Miriah decided to try some sushi.  The table ordered four rolls, each a different kind.  There was your typical raw fish on top of rice and seaweed variety, fried crab, and semi-spicy sweet potato.

Miriah avoided the raw fish since she doesn't even like cooked fish.  (I'm not the only fan of the kids' menu in our family.)  I stuck with my fried veggies.  Till the end.

I was persuaded to try the semi-spicy sweet potato sushi.  Being the adult that (chronologically) I am, I dipped the slightly-more-than-one-bite-sized roll in soy sauce and shoved it in my mouth.  I assume you eat the rolls all in one bite, hence the shoving.

That's sushi.  That's what people lose their minds for.  I might never know why.

Despite the protests that the roll was not actually spicy, I felt the familiar burning of the taste buds.  It was nowhere near as scorching as those wings, but there was kick nonetheless.  The most surprising part came after the slight heat subsided.  After the heat was nothing.  If the sushi had not had that semi-spicy sauce, it would have had no flavor at all.

I'm not normally one to knock bland foods.  In fact, a lot of my favorite foods would never be described as "bursting with flavor."  But people are obsessed with sushi.  People who consider themselves super into food and its accompanying flavors.  So why are they into sushi?  It tasted like nothingness.  There was no complex interplay of flavors, no delicate balance of x and y.

I admit that I only had one of the apparently multiple varieties of sushi.  Maybe other varieties have more flavor.  But I'm not willing to risk my money on that.  Do you know how cheap sweet potatoes and rice are?  So much cheaper than sushi!  Maybe I'll come back to sushi in a couple months and find that there's something I didn't pick up on the first time around.  For now, sushi very securely remains on the "Do Not Eat" list.