Sunday, June 29, 2014

Food Reviews, Poems, and a Summer Recipe

I announced a few months ago that I have started working for the Crazy Wisdom Community Journal. Well, after my column "Crysta Goes Visiting" debuted, I was approached by the editors about an idea for a restaurant review column. I like to post restaurant reviews occasionally on this blog when I have a neat new place I checked out (or wish to warn people about places to avoid, though, thankfully, those are rare). Since it is once again submission and editing time, I haven't had much time to write my blog, and a lot of my food adventures have been reserved for the Journal. (I say this to entice you. The next issue will be out September 1st.) 

Quite frankly, I am worn out. I am in the middle of a twenty day work week for my two hourly wage jobs, plus working on articles for the Journal and going back and forth with the editor of Valves and Vixens, which was just released in eBook format (my story is number two in the line-up!), in my "spare" time. This all means no fun new update for the food blog this week. 

Instead, I offer you this: I've written a few poems about food for this blog and linked them here for your reading pleasure. 

Also, here is a recipe for zucchini and yellow squash casserole. You should be able to get the ingredients fresh from your local market!

Happy eating, everyone. And resting.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Hello! Ice Cream

Hello! Ice Cream is a loal company that shows up in the form of an adorable old style ice cream truck named Ingrid, or sometimes a nifty cart that doesn't appear to have a name, that likes to park at various events in the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti area and sell delightful "Italian style ice cream and frozen treats made fresh." I have kind of been stalking them online for months, but I was just never able to make it to an event they were working. Then I learned that Hello! Ice Cream was going to be at the Ann Arbor Book Festival where I was going to be womanning the booth for Crazy Wisdom, the bookstore where I work. I agreed to work the even provided we could have our table by the ice cream truck. And I got my wish! 

I actually saw Ingrid for the first time the week prior at the Kerrytown Farmers Market where I was passing out coupons for my other job, Catching Fireflies. Much to my great despair, I did not have the right amount of cash on me, so I could not get gelato. HUGE SIGH.

But then at the Ann Arbor Book Festival, my table was kitty-corner from Ingrid, and I was very excited. My three options were chocolate-raspberry, chocolate stout (which I know my boyfriend Greg would have jumped on), and gianduia. First, I asked how to pronounce gianduia because that's the kind of word-loving person I am. It's said like "John-Do-Ya," as in "John, do ya like chocolate hazelnut ice cream?" because it turns out that is what flavor gianduia is. Wikipedia tells me that Nutella was originally called Pasta Gianduja. 

The gelato vendor went on to tell me that a previous customer had told her that "gianduia" is the name of a clown character from a particular region in Italy known for its hazelnuts, rather than a translation of "chocolate-hazelnut" as she had originally assumed. (Read Wikipedia for a fuller explanation.) So not only does this gelato flavor have an interesting name, it has an interesting backstory. I had to get it. Sorry, chocolate stout! I'm not a fan of stout anyway. 

It was creamy, delicious, and oh-so satisfying after I had spent two hours in the sun. I would love to hunt them down again (or have them come to me; that was pretty great, too) and try more flavors. Maybe I will give the chocolate stout a try, though I still think I will leave that to Greg. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Kale Sauteed in Olive Oil and Garlic Insanity

A little while ago, I picked up a huge bunch of kale at Meijer for pretty cheap. I had intended to use it in smoothies, which I did do once or twice, but I also had a hankering for kale chips, so I made a couple batches of those, too. (The first one burned because I misjudged the difference in temperature on this stove versus my old one. Sad times.) There was so much kale that I didn't go through it all before it started to go bad. I put it on a turkey sandwich just to use it, which gave the sandwich an odd peppery taste. I don't think I will be putting kale on a turkey sandwich again any time soon. But the kale was turning yellow, so I needed to use it immediately! An easy solution for cooking most (if not all) greens is to saute them in olive oil, which is just what I did with the remainder of the kale.

First, I heated a couple tablespoons of olive oil in my largest frying pan. As it was heating up, I added a few dashes of this spice I found in the cabinet called Auntie Arwen's Ultimate Garlic Insanity. Greg and I love garlic, so this sounded great to me! I always like to add my spices and herbs to the oil and let the flavors combine before adding whatever it is I am trying to cook. In this case, kale.

I let the kale cook down just a little bit before turning off the heat. I find that if I turn the heat off early, then by the time the food is cool enough to eat, it has been cooked to perfection. If I wait for it to be fully done, the residual heat from the pan will push the dish past prime. I learned this technique from baking cookies, actually. If you want soft cookies rather than super crispy, remove the tray from the oven just before the cookies are technically cooked. They will continue to cook on the hot pan out of the oven.

Kale has a natural, almost peppery flavor to it, so I didn't add any pepper, nor salt this time, preferring to let the Garlic Insanity and oil do their thing. I ended up using this as a secondary side dish because there wasn't very much of it once I had thrown out the bad kale and cooked down the good. The escarole is coming back from last year in one of our balcony pots, and this is basically how I cooked that last year and hope to do so again. It's simple, quick, and delicious! I recommend trying it with any green.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Cooked Carrots With A Twist

In my ongoing quest to find interesting things to do to plain vegetables to make them more appetizing, I came across a few recipes online for cooked carrots. (Mine happened to be canned carrots, as well.) Since I didn't have all of the ingredients to follow any one recipe, I sort of did my own thing using my findings as inspiration. This is a very quick and easy dressing up of carrots!

First, get some carrots. As I said above, I used a can of sliced carrots. Fresh carrots would probably also do, you would just have to cook them longer. I dumped my can of carrots in a microwave safe glass dish and heated them on high for a minute before proceeding.
Next, I sprinkled on some ground cumin, dried flakes of parsley (my favorite herb in the world), and drizzled on some honey. The honey was actually pretty solid, so I nuked the carrots with the herbs and honey in the microwave again to melt the honey to a consistency that I could use to coat the carrots. 

That is basically it. Cumin, parsley, and honey over cooked carrots. C'est magnifique.