Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Send-Off Adventure

My little baby sister isn't so baby anymore.  In fact, she just left to study abroad in Northern Ireland.  Before she left, I took her out for a lovely, fancy Italian dinner.  We had four courses!  And I splurged and bought the absolute cheapest bottle of wine on the menu!

We talked about cats, and boys, and how much we were going to miss each other, and how we were getting a little tipsy on wine.

But what is adventurous about that?  I love pasta.  No one can question that.

The adventure came with the dessert course.  I decided to get a crème brûlée.  I'm not sure why they were serving a French dessert, but they were.

The last time I had crème brûlée, I was in college.  A somewhat pretentious campus photographer decided to brûlée up some dessert in our third floor dormitory kitchen.  Because what college kid doesn't have crème brûlée ramekins just lying around his dorm room?

Long story short: It sucked.  It tasted like a horrible caramel-coffee-fire-mess.

Somehow I decided to give it another try.  Maybe it was the wine.

I started eating it before I took the picture.  I blame the wine again.

Maybe it was because this one was made by professional cooks/chefs in a professional kitchen.  Maybe it was the lack of coffee in this recipe.  Maybe it was the wine.  No matter the reason, this crème brûlée was amazingly delicious.

I miss my sister, though.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Long Overdue (Just Like My Library Books)

Wow.  It's been quite a while.  In my defense, Joey and I did move this month.  And we're on a shoestring budget right now.  Whatever we make for dinner is pretty much the only option that night.  So I can't really afford to adventure.

Unless it's for free.  This is where political campaign fundraisers come in.

My father has long been a supporter of a local state politician.  He actually goes out and campaigns the old-fashioned, Chicago way: walking door to door and handing people political flyers.  I kid you not, he has almost been vehicularly manslaughtered by the footmen of the competition.  Chicago politics are intense.  When my sister and I were younger, we would get bundled up and go with him (Chicagoans spend about half the year bundled up).

This dedication has paid off in the form of free bowling and food once a year.  Other people pay upwards of $500 for this event.  Our invite always comes stamped "COMPLIMENTARY" right over all the three- and four-digit dinner options.

For years, I have avoided the salad at this event.  It's a pre-mixed Caesar salad.  I'm all for salad.  I think salad is wonderful...with the right dressing.  Caesar dressing is spicy!  There's way too much pepper in it!

But the meal was free.  And it might be my last adventure for at least a couple weeks.  So I grabbed a plate.

Exactly what it says on the tin: a plate full of salad.

And I started eating.  And it was spicy!  And I accidentally got a crouton, which Miriah was generous enough to eat for me.  Still, I adventured.  I have to take advantage of every adventurous opportunity that I can nowadays.

It was spicy.  But I ate it all anyway.  Just call me the Merriweather Lewis of political campaign fundraising dinners.

All of that salad was consumed by me!  I'm amazing!

I rewarded myself for having such an adventurous spirit with a hot dog.  Hot dogs are the best.

Friday, August 1, 2014

A Year of Adventures

One year ago, I decided to actively eat disgusting foods.  But I had (and still have) a very skewed view of what qualified as "disgusting."

My views were not affected by morals.  I do not categorically avoid foods because I am vegetarian, pescatarian, vegan, fruitarian, or any other type of eater restricted by ethical or religious qualms about eating certain things.

(Uh oh, cue minor rant about privilege....) Yes, when possible, I try to get meat and produce from companies that I know treat their animals well or better yet from farmers' markets.  I prefer Heartland meat over anything I can get in Jewel.  But I can afford to prefer that.  Other people cannot afford to buy grass-fed beef over industrial beef.  I respect that and do not judge what people eat based on how it came to be on their plate.  I judge it based on if it's gross.  (End rant.  Thanks for sticking it out!)

But my views on what makes a food gross are also not tied up with cultural norms.  I understand why people eat grasshoppers, squid, livers, testicles, you name it.  While I would not seek out a testicle as part of my meal, I might feel differently if I hadn't grown up in a very specific part of the world.  I also find culturally "normal" foods for my region to be disgusting.  Pickles, for example.  In the Midwest especially, people eat pickles off of sticks like popsicles.  They are disgusting.


Pickle_dog 
Pictured above: Nightmare fuel.  Photo from http://jschumacher.typepad.com/joe/

But a lot has changed in a year.  I have had many adventures, with varying degrees of success.  There are foods that were securely on my "Do Not Eat" list that are now very securely on my "Do Eat" list.  And I have come to terms with the fact that I may occasionally have to eat birds.

These are the foods that have made the jump to the other side:
  • Bell peppers
  • Beans
  • Cooked tomatoes
  • Cooked onions
  • Squash
  • Small amounts of pepper
  • Larger amounts of mustard
  • Ketchup
  • Hollandaise sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
If I can make that much progress in my first year adventuring, imagine what I can accomplish in my second!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Rocky Mountain Adventures, Pt. Two

My dislike of eating birds has been mentioned before.  While I have definitely made peace with the idea of eating winged animals, I would never choose chicken or turkey over pork or beef.  (I would include lamb in that list, but I'm too poor.)

My exceptionally low tolerance for spiciness has also been mentioned before.  I love salt, but most other spices are too much for me to handle.  I say progress has been made on this front.  Joey says I am a baby.

In Colorado, we took turns making massive dinners.  One of the last nights, Joey's lovely first cousin once removed (also known as his mom's cousin) made a chicken dinner.  With jalapeños.  Progress or no progress, I definitely do not eat jalapeños.

But I am adventurous now!

All those green flecks are potentially deadly.  Or they're bits of parsley.

So I cut off a piece of Joey's chicken of death.  And I tried it.  It definitely had a kick, but it actually wasn't too bad.  The little bits of jalapeños were easy to avoid.  I managed to get the gist of the spiciness without any of the real fire.

It would have been better with pork, though.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Rocky Mountain Adventures, Pt. One

On our recent vacation to Colorado, Joey and I ate what might be considered by some to be too much.  But we were on vacation!  We were allowed to over-indulge!

Because vacations are meant to be relaxing, I didn't make adventuring a priority.  When we went out to eat, I ordered the cheapest thing that I knew I would like.  That's my usual restaurant strategy.  And it's a good strategy.  When we ate the house, I ate whatever I felt like from the large group meals that were prepared (one of ours was a very successful previous adventure!).

Nevertheless, two adventures were had.  One at a restaurant and one at the house.

Let's talk about the restaurant first.  There were fifteen of us, so (to save money) we only ate out twice as a big group.  The first time, we went to a restaurant a few miles from downtown Estes Park.

I picked a pretty safe entree and the table ordered some appetizers.  One of the appetizers was a pretty delicious Hummus.  Joey also put in an order for Spicy Corn Dip.  He's a sucker for anything that says "served with sour cream."

The aforementioned sour cream on top of slightly digested corn--I mean corn dip!


As an appetizer, I was allowed to adventure with very little financial risk.  It did not look particularly appetizing.  But it did look adventurous.  So, knowing I could wash any foul tastes out with yummy Hummus, I sampled the Spicy Corn Dip.

Kind of a disappointment.  Not the adventure I had been mentally preparing for.  It was very mild.  The sour cream immediately balanced out all the spice.  The corn was too sweet for the whole combo of sour cream and mildly spicy.  It was like those pizzerias in the Midwest that will throw corn on your pizza for no additional charge just because it's lying around.

As much as I like corn, there are things I wouldn't pair it with.  This dish either needed more spice (the first time I've ever said/written that!) or no corn.

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Pre-Vacation Adventure

Few things are as American as baseball, apple pie, the Ferris Wheel, or barbecue.  So when Joey and I ate out before heading to the Rocky Mountains for more adventures, barbecue seemed a natural choice.  Except that barbecue is scary.

Barbecuing is not grilling.  These two cooking methods are very different.  You grill a hot dog or hamburger.  You don't barbecue them (adding sauce after cooking is not barbecuing).  Grilling is applying open flame to a meat to cook it.  Like pan cooking but without the pan.  Barbecuing is steeping meat in sauce and then applying the smoke of an open flame and some of the heat to cook it slowly for hours till it's so tender it practically falls off the bone.

I can hear your confused cries.  "But that sounds delicious!  Meat so tender it falls off the bone!  How can you possibly go wrong?"

I'll tell you.  It's the sauce.  The sauce is what makes barbecue so scary.  It's also what makes barbecue so popular.  There are so many different sauces.  America has practically a thousand different barbecue sauces.  Most of them involve scary spices such as pepper or mustard.

"But, Kayla," you say, "you have come so far!  Surely a little mustard or pepper doesn't scare you anymore!  This a meal where you don't even need teeth!"

You see this was not a meal I was eating in the comfort of my own home, where I could make another dinner if I didn't like this one.  This was not a meal that I assembled at a fraction of the cost of what I would pay in a restaurant.  I paid to take the L to this restaurant where I paid to eat food that someone else made and, if I didn't like it, I was just going to go home hungry.

Thank God I know I like cornbread and mac and cheese!

I ordered Carolina Pulled Pork.  Joey said I would probably like.  He's known me long enough that I trust his judgement.  Also, I really like pork.

I was nervous when it was brought out to us, and not only because I would be one of those people who takes a picture of their food in a restaurant.  I had gambled a lot of money on this plate.  I really hoped it would good.

It was better than good!  It was delicious!  Carolina Pulled Pork seems to use a lot of brown sugar, and that cuts the bite of any pepper or mustard.  It was super tender and delicious, and I was so glad I ordered it!

I think I can say with confidence that I enjoy Carolina barbecue.  Maybe Kansas City will be next....

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Excuses, Excuses

Here's the part where I make excuses for my lack of posts.

Firstly, I've been watching a lot of Netflix.  A lot of Idiot Abroad, Supernatural, Doctor Who, Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, and some D- and C-list horror movies.  But that's not my only excuse!

Secondly, I've been eating a lot of salads and stir-fries.  Not super adventurous.  Especially now that I kind of love green peppers.  (In fact, they were in every meal I had yesterday!  Talk about progress!)

Thirdly, it has been outrageously humid this whole week.  Chicago has been itching for a giant thunderstorm since at least Monday.  The forecasts have predicted rain every day.  We've had about two itty-bitty little rainstorms.  Nothing to really break the humidity.  Last night, it finally stormed.

What we've all been waiting for.

Humidity doesn't sound like it should be such big deal.  But in a house with a gas stove and no central air conditioning, it means you're not going to be doing a lot of cooking.  Most adventurous meals happen to be hot meals.

Next week, it should be less humid.  Hopefully I'll be able to adventure then.  And less lazy....

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Adventures in Westeros

I have a new found respect for women who existed before modern appliances.  (And I say "women" because the home/kitchen has traditionally been the woman's sphere of influence.)  I don't know what I'd do without a crock pot.  Especially if I had small children to take care of.  There's a reason I make cupcakes when I babysit and not soup.

But, yesterday, I did make a soup.  I also made a dinner pie and lemon cakes.  Because, yesterday, we had a Game of Thrones party.  And I own A Feast of Ice and Fire.  (The authors' blog is here!)

We feasted on Bowls of Brown, Medieval Cheese and Onion Pie, and Elizabethan Lemon Cakes.

Joey and I decided on the dishes together.  However, I had the final okay on the menu because I'm the pickiest.

There is an insane amount of meat under those apples and carrots!

Bowls of Brown involve pretty much every type of meat imaginable.  It's rumored in King's Landing that sometimes they fill the bowls with a bit of human meat.  I used pork chop bits, beef ribs, top round bits, chicken thighs, and a whole Cornish game hen.  It was delicious.

I also made the pie dough myself.  I was feeling very domestic yesterday.

The only dish I had any qualms about, the Cheese and Onion Pie called for 4 onions.  That's a lot of onions.  I'm getting better with onions, but I still wouldn't choose to eat them.  At least, I wouldn't choose to eat them a year ago.

The recipe also called for cheese (obviously), fresh herbs, 8 eggs (I know, right?), and dried currants.  I love dried currants.  In fact, dried currants were the reason I okayed this recipe for our feast.

When I tried the Cheese and Onion Pie, I was very prepared to hate it.  The onions had been cooked enough to be a bit soft, so they didn't have a bite to them.  The cheese was very light and helped play up the sweeter notes of the onions.  But the best part was easily the currants.  They plumped up during the baking and were little pearls of concentrated sweetness.  Delicious!  They helped make this my dish of the night!

A little bigger than they were supposed to be....

The Lemon Cakes were also delicious.  The lemon flavors were much more subtle than modern lemon desserts.  My completely unresearched guess is that lemons were not easy to come by in Elizabethan England.  So maybe they flavored lemon treats a bit more sparingly.  The lovely people at the Inn at the Crossroads would probably know better than me.

The main courses of our feast!

The citizens of King's Landing definitely know how to eat like royalty.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Adventures in Etiquette

I work with two very lovely people.  We share an office and a love of eating.  Recently, one of my coworkers made pasta salad for our little office.  I was super excited because I love mozzarella cheese.  But I was also nervous because her pasta salad had olives and grape tomatoes as well.

Raw grape tomatoes.  I've come around to cooked tomatoes, but raw is an entirely different story.

So colorful!  But I only eat half of the foods pictured.

I figured I could get away with not eating the olives.  Olives are a controversial food.  It's pretty acceptable to dislike them.  However, most people like tomatoes.

So I ate maybe a third of the tomatoes.  And I hated them.  But the big old hunks of mozzarella made up for the grossness of the tomatoes.  And the fact that I even ate that many tomatoes is a testament to my need to be polite.  I didn't want my coworker to see me eating her pasta salad and think that I didn't like it.

I'll give raw tomatoes another chance sometime in the future.  I'll try them in a salad filled with other things.  Maybe I'll try them again this summer.

I think I'm going to need at least a year to work up to olives.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Brits and Jim Beam

As someone of legal drinking age, I enjoy legally drinking.  I enjoy vodka, gin, wine, hard cider, and schnapps.  In the past couple years, I've really come around to beer.  But I cannot stand bourbon, whiskey, scotch, or Tennessee sippin' whiskey.  They are gross.

But I had a whole bunch of pork belly to cook up.  And this lovely recipe from the BBC for Bourbon-Glazed Pork Belly Chunks.  It's British, I'm American.  I had to adore it unquestioningly.  It's what Americans do!  The British have never made mistakes!!

So I went to my beloved 7-Eleven and bought the smallest bottle of Jim Beam they had.  And I baked my pork in bourbon.  And I made a bourbon-honey-ketchup glaze.  And then I continued to bake my pork in bourbon and covered in the bourbon-honey-ketchup glaze.  And I thought, "I'm going to be so pissed off if this ruins my delicious pork belly."

Then the timer went off for the final time.  I took the pork out of the oven.  I set up a little dish of sour cream because the Brits said so.

It looks beautiful.  But we all know the Brits can be quite deceptive.  You could also ask Native Americans.

First, I decided to try the pork belly on its own.  I loved it.  In fact, I wish I had more than the five pieces right there!  The bourbon was almost drowned out by the honey and soy sauce.  Combined with the ketchup, it tasted like a sweet barbecue sauce.

Barbecue flavors are not something I expect from the people who sell Tangy Cheese and Cool Original Doritos.  And barbecue flavors are not usually something I enjoy.  But with the sweetness of the honey (and the fact that bourbon is sweeter than my true nemesis whiskey), it was a very soft barbecue taste.

Then, I thought, "Well, the BBC said I should eat it with sour cream."  So I tried it with sour cream.  Even more delicious!  The sour notes of the cream combined in perfect harmony with the somewhat sweet bourbon glaze to make a ying-yang of absolute tastiness in my mouth!

I just need to remember to hold off making this recipe again until my un-air-conditioned kitchen isn't 80 degrees.  This is a recipe for a cooler night.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Return of the Alumni

Emily, Joey, and I decided to visit our alma mater last weekend.  Not much appears to have changed at Grinnell (other than G-Tones' apparent fall from grace), but I think I have changed a lot.  Well, at least when it comes to food.

We made our triumphant return to La Cabaña.  I already knew I was going to get a peach margarita.  But, for the first time, I was going to order food as well.

When I was at Grinnell, I would "pre-game" our trips to La Cabaña.  By pre-game, I mean go to the d-hall and get dinner before I went out to the restaurant with my friends.  Usually Joey would come with me and get something tiny, like carrots, to munch on while I ate my real dinner.  At La Cabaña, I would order a margarita and nothing else while everyone else got Grande Burritos or Cheese Enchiladas.

Not this time.  This time I ordered food and a margarita.

Behold.  Food and alcohol.  The waitstaff of La Cabaña has never seen one of these in front of me.

And it was delicious.  So cheesy and not spicy at all!  I probably would have enjoyed it even before my adventuring began.  I was just a scaredy-cat.  Maybe next time I'll try a burrito....

Sunday, May 4, 2014

May Day Adventure

On May Day, Joey and I tried another recipe from his running cookbook.  This one was called Bean and Vegetable Chili.  It involved beef, beans, zucchini, eggplant, carrots, tomatoes, and spices.  The recipe also called for mushrooms, but I'm not adventurous enough to eat fungus.

I've never had eggplant.  Just not a food we really have in the house.  I had no idea what it would taste like.  I figured that since it was a chili, it would have a sort of mushy, stewed-veggie sort of texture.

Pre-mushy veggies.  Eggplant doesn't look too offensive.

I couldn't finish my chili, but it wasn't because of the eggplant.  I was right about the texture.  If eggplant has a taste, I couldn't pick it out in the chili.  I couldn't taste the zucchini or the carrots very much either.  I'll have to try eggplant again.  Maybe I'll try that Eggplant Parmesan I hear people talking about.

Post-mushy chili.  Beans, beef, veggies, and deadly spices.

I couldn't finish my chili because it was too spicy.  But I managed to eat about three fourths of my bowl before the cumin won!  That's progress!

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Bean of a Different Color

April has proved to be a busy month.  About a week ago, I had an adventure that I haven't had time to write about until now.  Hopefully, my next adventure will make it on-line in a more timely fashion.

Joey's running cookbook has a recipe for Stir-Fry.  We were going to follow it pretty exactly, but then we got a little lazy.  So we basically made this Stir-Fry recipe from one of my Betty Crocker mini-cookbooks.  We've made this meal dozens of times because it's easy and delicious.

This time there was one major difference.  We were using the ingredients from the Runner's World Cookbook recipe.  And one of those ingredients was green beans.

Green beans are gross because they are like peas (gross) but with an even grosser pod.  If I'm not going to eat peas, I'm certainly not going to eat green beans.  At least I wouldn't eat them before I started adventuring.

The worst type of bean in the world!

I still don't like green beans.  I will not eat them by themselves.  They taste like pure vitamins, and that's gross.  But I can eat them in other things, I think.  For example, my mom makes delicious Chicken Pot Pie.  Sometimes it has green beans in it.  Maybe now I won't pick them out.

Lima Beans on the other hand....

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Adventures in Dixie (Part Three)

There are actually a multiple types of picky eaters that exist in this world.  Some picky eaters avoid certain colors.  Conversely, some (usually only for a very short time) eat only certain colors.  Some picky eaters avoid certain textures.  Some have very sensitive taste buds.  Some turn out to be allergic to those foods they were avoiding, thus achieving what picky eaters rarely ever achieve: vindication.  Sometimes these different pickiness manifestations play out in a need to keep all food separate.

I do not like for my food to touch each other.  When we order Chinese food in, I get multiple small plates to avoid the sauce from the Bali Maki Steak from mixing with the Sweet and Sour Sauce for my Egg Rolls, which the eleventh commandment states shall not touch the Beef Fried Rice and Soy Sauce.  It's quite a spread.

Even though I like all these dishes and food is touching each other within the dishes, I freak out if the main dishes touch.  I do not like it, Sam I am.  Boundaries are important.

When Joey's dad said he was Spaghetti Carbonara, I (obviously) asked him what went into the dish.  "Bacon, eggs, and spaghetti.  You like all those things, right?"

What a loaded question!  Of course I like all those things!  But I wouldn't put them all together!  Not on one plate!  Certainly not in one pot!

But once you've committed to adventuring, there's no turning back.

Eggs, bacon, and spaghetti all in one pot.  Anarchy.  Pure anarchy.

Spaghetti Carbonara was not my favorite Dixieland adventure (which is not a ride in Disneyland surprisingly).  Luckily, the fresh black pepper was big enough that I could pick it out.  The bacon was delicious.  I still like eggs, and I still like pasta.

I just prefer for some of my foods not to touch.  While Spaghetti Carbonara was not the trauma that I thought it would be, I definitely enjoyed the outing to the Indian restaurant more.  In fact, the Indian restaurant might have been the best adventure of my vacation.

A side note about how far I've come: I ate a small bowl of baked beans!

OTC allergy medicine for scale?

Eight months ago, I was bragging about eating a tablespoon.  Now I can eat at least half a cup!  Truly a sign of progress!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Adventures in Dixie (Part Two)

Thursday, we went out for Indian food.  Yup, Indian food.  Talk about trial by fire, huh?  My only consolation was that it was a buffet, so I could pick and choose exactly what I wanted (or felt I could handle).

Joey's dad is a spicy food junkie.  It can never be too hot.  He loves Indian food.  The restaurant Joey's parents were taking us to (Bombay Palace) is one of their favorites.

And Joey's parents knew I was trying to adventure.  They also knew that I love naan.  And there was the sense of safety that only a buffet can provide.  So Indian didn't seem like a bad idea.

Since it was a buffet, I got a bunch of different things.  Some were awesome, some were fine, some were unbearably spicy.

Plate #1: (Starting at the bottom and moving clock-wise) White Rice, Egg Rice, Cabbage, Saag Spinach, Mutter Paneer.  To the side, in bowls, are Yogurt and Kheer.

White Rice is White Rice.  No judgement needed to be passed.

The Egg Rice had not only egg but also tomato and onion in it.  But I ate it anyway!  Major grown-up points awarded!

The Cabbage was pretty innocuous, and I already like Cabbage.  It tasted mildly vinegary.  Very yummy.

Ah, the Saag Spinach.  Much spicier than I thought it would be.  I had to mix it with a lot of rice to eat it.  Even after diluting it, I left more than half of it on my plate.  But two out of three ain't bad, am I right?

I thought the Mutter Paneer would be the spiciest, but it was much milder than the Saag Spinach.  Still not a huge fan of peas, but I ate most of the sauce mixed with the Egg Rice.

Off to the side, I had dishes of yogurt (to put out any fires) and something called Kheer.  Easily the best thing offered at the buffet.  I loved it.  It was like almond milk rice pudding with hints of cardamom and sugar.

Then I went back for Round Two.

Plate #2: More Egg Rice and a small helping of Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala.  Doesn't that sound terrifying? Well, it actually wasn't.  Aside from the fact that I'm still not a fan of chicken, the sauce was mild enough that I could eat it.  And it was creamy enough that I didn't taste much tomato.

All in all, highly successful outing.  I'm almost ready to head up to Devon and test my new-found ability to consume Indian food!

Almost.

(One more adventure in Dixie!  Check back tomorrow!)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Adventures in Dixie (Part One)

Joey and I went down to Nashville to visit his family last week.  His family has always been very kind and welcoming to me, especially in regards to my strange (or childish) eating habits.  His father does most of the cooking and always asks if I am willing to eat a certain meal.

But now they know that I'm trying to eat different foods.  So when we pulled in Wednesday night, Joey's dad said, "Do you like Barbecue Pork, Kayla?"

"Uh...," was my eloquent response.

"I'm going to make macaroni and cheese, too."

"Sounds good!"

So Joey and I took off our shoes and settled into the couch.  I had just lost my sense of smell to allergies, but Joey told me dinner smelled great.  When his mom got home from work, we were all ready to sit down and eat.

You will notice the generous portion of macaroni and cheese.  That's just how I roll.

Despite my not-very-supportive olfactory senses, I think I can safely say that I liked the Pork.  It was less Barbecue and more Teriyaki, which definitely worked in its favor.  I actually wish there had been more sauce!

And I managed to limit myself to three helpings of mac and cheese.  It was a successful start to the trip.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Another Small Step in the Grown-Up Direction

March is one of the best months for food.  We can thank St. Patrick's Day for that.  I believe it is a well-established fact that corned beef is the best culinary invention humans have ever created.  People love to eat corned beef on St. Patrick's Day, so corned beef is dirt cheap in March.

After St. Patrick's Day, you get to have a week or so of Corned Beef Hash.  This is the best breakfast in the world (besides banana bacon pancakes).  I just finished up our leftover corned beef, and simultaneously made another step toward real adulthood.

Corned Beef Hash, the way we've always made it, involves onions.  They lend the dish a good flavor, but are generally kind of nasty.  Usually I leave them in a pile on my plate.  I then throw them out and go about my day.

But not yesterday.  Yesterday, I ate the onions.  But I made sure to cook them in butter for a while first.  And I made sure that I had a lot of carrots and corned beef to balance out the onion.

New phone takes much more narrow pictures than old phone.  Good to know....

As the human race discovered millenia ago, butter makes everything taste better.  Probably because it is pure fat, something humans love more than anything.  It has such a reassuring taste.  Butter says, "Yeah, I know you have to eat this disgusting vegetable, but I'll be with you the whole time."  Of course, put too much butter on your vegetables and you're negating the health benefits of vegetables.  But the meal will definitely taste delicious!

So I fried up my Corned Beef Hash in butter.  And I ate an onion.  And it was pretty good!  Thanks to the magic of butter, I joined a club I don't often qualify for: The Clean Plate Club.

 Behold!  A plate clear of all onions!

Thanks, butter, for making this all possible!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

If You Eat Enough Fruit, Can You Make Spring Happen?

In case you have been hibernating, I want to make sure that you know what this winter has been like.  It's been cold.  Like stay-inside-if-you-want-to-live cold.  Chicago has gone through multiple polar vortexes.  Snow sat on our lawns and piled up in our alleys for months.  Even the schools were closed for a few days!  That last one is definitely more impressive the more familiar you are with the Chicago Public Schools.

But finally, the snow is starting to melt.  Emphasis on starting.  We still have insane amounts of snow piled up in our alley.  So does this mean it's finally spring?

Probably not.  This is Chicago, and it is March.  I'd be foolish to be so hopeful.  But even though it's currently 27 degrees outside, I can eat hopefully.  And adventurously.

I recently bought my runner boyfriend The Runner's World Cookbook.  So last night he decided to make a runner-minded burger.  (Check out his blog for the results!)  I opted for the Almond Butter and Pear Sandwich.  Because I want it to be spring already, gosh darn it!

The ingredient list looked super tasty: almond butter, cinnamon, honey, vanilla, pear.  Even goat cheese is pretty tasty.  But there it was.  The lone gross factor.  Chopped dried apricots.

Look at them.  Pretending to be candy.  Pretending to be a tasty fruit.

Apricots are gross.  They're not quite oranges, not quite nectarines, not quite something I want to eat.  But I'm an adult.  An adult who is trying really hard to eat foods she wouldn't normally eat.  There had to be a reason dried apricots were included in this otherwise tasty sandwich.  So I put them in my sandwich.

The finished product minus the second slice of bread.  Look at all those little bits of gross.

How did those little bits of gross taste?  Pretty inoffensive.  The other ingredients were more pronounced than the apricots.  They provided a chewy texture, which I liked combined with the smooth texture of the almond butter and goat cheese.  I really liked this sandwich, apricots and all.  I'm glad I made the choice to include them.

It was too many dried apricots, though.  I'll cut the amount in half next time.  And I'm still not going to eat them on their own.  I'll stick with pretty much any other fruit.  I just don't see why you would choose an apricot over another type of fruit.

Also, I don't know why I didn't just spread the goat cheese on the other slice of bread.  That would have saved me a lot of trouble trying to make everything evenly spread.

Hopefully my willing consumption of apricots will prove that we are more than ready for spring.  Hey, tomorrow it's supposed to be 35!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Lycopene for the Lycanthropically-Challenged

I don't like tomatoes.  They are super gross.  One of my earliest memories involves tomato sauce fighting its way up from my stomach.  I lost the battle, and tomato anything and I have been mortal enemies ever since.

Tomatoes are also very healthy, digestive pyrotechnic episode aside.  They are filled with lycopene.  Lycopene, sadly, has little to do Remus Lupin other than Remus Lupin had a prostate.  I have already cited my lack of prostate as a very good reason for me to never consume tomatoes.

But what if Remus Lupin came to my house for dinner?  As a lycanthrope with a prostate, I would want to make sure I was looking out for his future with his child.  This is, after all, my hypothetical situation.  Remus is suddenly starting to focus on his health because life isn't just about marauding anymore.  It's about his family!