Recipe fantasy to food reality.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Things I have never eaten before

I think of myself as a pretty food-literate person, but I still find myself eating things for the first time several times a week. This last week in Vancouver BC allowed me first experience with a lot of foods, so to begin the recap, I will list things I ate that I had never before:

Creme brulee
Montreal Smoked Meat
Olives with pits
Pickled eggplant
Washed-rind cheese
Foie Gras
House wine
Peach cider
Chantarelle mushrooms
Maitake mushrooms

...and that's all I can remember. More soon.

Saturday, August 13, 2005


They're delicious. I might be very late to the party, but I am only now discovering the profound deliciousness of mojitos. Make one. Or several. But don't plan on driving afterward.

PS - Our club soda had gone flat, so we replaced it with ginger ale. This means I might not know the true mojito, but what I know is still damned delicious.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Wedding Bells and Potato Salad

I'm right now boiling potatoes - lots and lots of them - for a potato salad to be served at a wedding I'm going to this weekend (woo Tony and Carly!). I figured if the salad was good enough that they would ask Andy and I, who are hardly professionals in the realm of food, to make it for their wedding, it has to be good.

And, it is.

Feta and Green been Red Potato Salad

1 pound red potatoes, diced
2 cups fresh green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp tabasco sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup crumbled feta

Boil potatoes for 10 minutes in salted water. Add beans to hot water and potatoes, and cook for 5-8 minutes more. Drain potatoes and beans and pour into large bowl. Combine olive oil, lemon juice, dijon mustard, and tabasco in a measuring cup or other small vessel, and whisk. Pour dressing over potatoes and green beans, and mix. Add feta, and mix again. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot or cold (I prefer hot).

(This is a recipe that was given to me by my mother, who got it from my aunt, and I really don't know where it came from originally, though there was something very much like it in a recent edition of Cooking Light, minus the feta. (What were they thinking?!).)

City Mouse, Country Mouse

I live in a town of a certain size and certain location that is judged differently by people, often depending on the size of their own town. Moscow has about 18,000 residents, including the students at the University of Idaho, and is surrounded by a lot of rural land. My hometown, 11 miles away, had 1,000 residents, though that figure is dropping, and we jokingly referred to Moscow as the Big City. I still run into people who say they have a hard time driving in Moscow, with all the traffic and such. On the other hand, 18,000 people is not a lot of people, considering the millions that populate actual Big Cities.

It's funny how this in-the-middle sort of space has affected how I feel when I am in a rural place, and when I'm in a city.

Next week, I'm going on vacation to Vancouver BC, and the trip is intended to be a food-based one. I've researched the advice on Chowhounds Canada extensively, and my list of must-visits include Granville Island, Feenie's, West, and a dim sum place yet to be determined. I have to admit, though, that looking through the menus of the more expensive places, that I was a little bit bewildered at first. I'd never heard the term tasting menu before, though I can assure you I now intend to spend more money on food on this trip than I have on all the meals I've eaten in my life combined. All of this left me feeling a little countrified.

On the other hand, my husband and I spent the last weekend camping with my family and another family, and it left me feeling a little citified. I live in a rural part of the country, but I'm hardly an outdoors enthusiast. It's nice now and again, but if I'm going to live out here, you'd think I'd take advantage of the lovely landscape I'm provided with. I don't, really. In fact, we had to buy a tent to make camping possible - we don't have any of the supplies. We even skipped sleeping bags (since we have none) and brought blankets. It all made me feel a little citified, though I still had a great time.

I'd always had a bad opinion of camping, but I recently started viewing it in a culinary context, and reversed my opinion on camping. When you don't have to hike to your destination, you can bring anything you want; I'd always assumed camping meant eating hot dogs and drinking orange soda. Not so. Last year, the same group of people went camping with my husband and I (a newly minted husband at that point, to boot). Andy and I were just along for the ride, but our hosts brought lots of great wines and beers, and for dinner we ate steak and pasta with fresh pesto. It was also the first time I'd ever eaten pate.

With this in mind, I put a little more thought into our camping trip, and we ate quite handsomely. I brought my dijon/cranberry/rosemary chicken salad, and a sort of made-on-the-fly couscous/fruit/nut salad. The other campers brought meat and blueberry muffins (July and August must be torture for Atkins dieters, with all the delicious fruit around). Pairing this with plenty of red wine, corona with limes, and 90-degree weather along a deep, fast mountain river made for a fantastic weekend.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

This Tuesday Is Our Turn

Every Tuesday, a couple my husband and I know get together for dinner, switching on and off who cooks dinner and who brings dessert. Usually, Andy and I get to planning immediately after the meal we cook. This week, however, we completely forgot it was our week for dinner until about 5:00. Dinner was to be at 7:30. Plenty of time, plenty of time.

We ended up serving broiled steelhead seasoned with dill and lemon, with chopped sweet onions and fennel bulb on top. (I can't take the credit - Andy was in charge of turning the fish from a raw fillet into a main dish.) I made mashed potatoes for the first time ever, Alton Brown's creamy garlicky ones. For veggies we served a spinach salad with peas, basil pesto and toasted pine nuts (something I saw on Barefoot Contessa, though I can't find the recipe online).

Not so bad for a completely unplanned meal. When I walk home from my bus stop with a growling stomach, past one amazing taco van, it's sometimes hard to remember that the extra hour or so it takes to get dinner on the table is usually worth it, and almost always fun.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


While peaches brulee are delicious, pennies brulee are not. I can in no way pretend to attempt making a list of things that a creme brulee torch will cause to explode - sending molten metal and penny shrapnel in all directions, including toward your beautiful face - but apparently pennies are sometimes one of them. Be warned.