Thursday, October 24, 2013

We've All Gone Bananas!

Roasted banana with brown sugar walnut glaze
In the spirit of the return of the weekly food challenge, the boyfriend picked the magical ingredient: banana.  I could have done banana bread or banana walnut muffins, but I wanted to go beyond the standard banana fare of taste.  I also wanted to keep the dish light since it was also the night the boyfriend cooked.  He is known for at least one dish: pasta with pasta sauce.  Fortunately for me, and for him, he didn't cook his standard of when I'm out of town or before I moved into his life.

He prepared chicken with shredded carrot and mushroom served over mash potatoes.  Now before the carbohydrate police get onto me about the amount of carbohydrates the standard amount of mash potatoes, he put the remainder of the leftover low sodium vegetable broth from my experiment of broccoli cheddar soup (broccoli and spinach with minimal cheese, gluten free and vegetarian) instead of cream or milk.  See, we can be healthy when it comes to certain foods.  Especially now that I'm gone nearly every other week and my choices of "fresh food" come close to nil.

Anyways, for the banana.  I chose to do a roasted banana and roasted walnut brown sugar glaze dish.  The low amount of brown sugar was quickly masked by the amount of lemon juice and minimal butter coating the roasted walnuts.  The roasted banana also heightened the sweet taste factor, so if you were to do this recipe, make sure the bananas are ripe but not ripe enough to want to make banana bread or banana muffins ripe.  The banana should be firm not overly squishy since it has to hold up to 450 degrees for 5 minutes.

Farm Fresh to You: apples, pears, grapes, oranges, kiwi, pomegranates 
This week was also the first week our "Farm Fresh to You" delivery showed up to our door.  I picked out the smallest box, and since the delivery date doesn't come around until Wednesday, we opted for the fruit box.  I just didn't expect as many apples in the box.  Either way, about a 1/4 of the contents within the box is already gone.

My $9.99 do-it-yourself brew kit
What's also cool about this box is that there's a recipe within the box for one of the contained items in the box.  Maybe upon the next delivery, I'll try out the recipe and it can be part of the challenge of the week.  We shall see, what the boyfriend decides, because he's still the guinea pig in all of this.

On another note, the boyfriend took my parents and I to brunch last weekend.  Which was a nice "welcome home," and it also meant no dishes for either of us to do.  It takes a bit to get my parents to get out of the house during the 49ers football season, or at least my dad anyways.  We also had to meet the mom's friend's daughter later in the day in Oakland so we decided to make a day outing.  Between brunch and the bookstore, the boyfriend and I had to get back to the apartment to take care of the pups.  But before we headed back, we all hopped into Beverages and More.  I picked up a beer brewing kit.  Now before I have the anti-drinking wagon on me, hear me out a little.

I enjoy my beer and wine on occasion and my brother took up the hobby within his one bedroom apartment.  My brother-in-law and sister decided to open a hard cider brewery.  So perhaps it is in the blood.  Though my taste buds on beer isn't that refined compared to the boyfriend or the brother or the brother-in-law, so I refused to invest so into a kit when I'm not so sure if I had the gene or the blood to do it.  The average 6 pack of beer costs $8-9 USD, so I took that into consideration when buying the brewing kit.  The listing price was $42.  Absolutely RIDICULOUS if you ask me!  So I am happy to announce this Do-It-Yourself kit was only $9.99 for Beverages and More Club members!!!!

So, I figure, why not?  It will take 2 weeks to brew, and if I put it to set tomorrow (Friday), by the time I have to leave on Tuesday, it'll be ready to set.  Who knows, maybe by Thanksgiving we'll have our own IPA microbrew to present to the be continued.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Farm Fresh to Begin Soon

In spirit of keeping things fresh, local and in challenge requirements, I finally signed up for a service that should be fun: Farm Fresh to You (

I ordered the smallest possible fruit box for both the boyfriend and myself.  I also ordered it for the frequency of every other week since I'm still learning a new job and not always around to enjoy the fruits of my labor (pun intended).  This doesn't mean however that the challenge halts, just makes it even more challenging, I think.

Budget wise, I think it will be okay since I don't spend a lot of superfluous or access on stuff.  At $25.00 every other week, I think it is going to be a nice treat and bargain.

Progress not Perfection

Since moving into a new place, I have been trying to get everything organized to where I know where things are, including my numerous spices.

The OCD of Spices, err, I mean my spice collection thus far
I tried to label them with masking tape, but the masking tape didn't quite stick very well to the jars on hand.  As a result, the boyfriend bought me some dot stickers to put on top of the spices.  Fortunate for the both of us, I have the small and neat handwriting.  At the same time, my OCD took over me a little with the multicolored dots. I almost wanted to say, the purple mean this type of spice, the yellow this type and the green another type.  Sadly, my OCD didn't kick into overdrive.  The different colors don't signify any difference in spices, just the labels themselves.  If you look carefully, the writing is actually legible.

Cornstarch Pudding Pie

After about a two month forced break from the food challenge of 2013, I think we are back.  I was to do lychee before the whole mold and moving apartments fiasco, but by the time things got settled within the new apartment, fresh lychee became nonexistent here and canned lychee was not a favored option to me or the boyfriend.
Cornstarch Pudding Pie
As a result, the boyfriend sent me his grandmother's cornstarch pudding pie.  I have to admit, cornstarch pudding doesn't exactly entice me much.  If we added a little bit of rum, I think I would've been okay with the taste of it.

The results of this brought back a number of memories for the boyfriend.  Which I think is ultimately the point of the food challenge.  The memories he has growing up in the Midwest before moving to Washington D.C. for Graduate School then back to the Midwest to now the San Francisco Bay Area, result in him opening up a little more.

We are both onions when it comes to our emotions.  Every layer that is peeled is every layer exposing our inner selves.

Either way, the food challenge of 2013 is back for the remainder of the year.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Fresh Japanese Eggplant from the Garden of a Friend

Today I had lunch with an old friend of mine from school and with her gluten allergy, we had to determine what she could and couldn't have.

I am fortunate that I don't have food allergies and my friend is fortunate that she is able to manage her food allergies with her a lot of better and a lot more places know a lot more about gluten intolerance than they use to.

We chose to have Vietnamese food and even though things were rice based, sauces tend to be a concern for the one with allergies.  Fortunately, the sauces predominately used in Vietnamese food are gluten free.

After lunch, we went by her house for her to get ready for work.  She showed me around her newly landscaped yard and had me sample some of the goodies that the yard produced.  I tried out a couple of different varieties of strawberries, super sweet, and took home some of the overabundance of Japanese eggplant from her yard.

Fortunately, I don't mind Japanese eggplant and it is one of the few veggies with a high protein content that allows vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike to take part in a tasty vegetable.  That is assuming one likes vegetables or eggplant.

As far as this batch of fresh Japanese eggplant is concerned, I'm at a loss as to what to do with it for now.  Fortunately, the boyfriend is at class tonight so I took off cooking detail so I have some time to figure it out.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Return of the Waistline...

After about a month of no cooking challenges due to the mold in the boyfriend's old apartment and getting settled into our apartment, yes that's right, we moved in together, the return of the challenge is to start next week.

I spent a good deal of the afternoon resorting the cabinets in the kitchen for easy access of spices and other kitchen essential items.  It isn't perfect, but for the time being and sanity sake, it will work for both of us.

I'm still looking for the "perfect" spice rack that will make my challenges a little bit easier since as of now, we are using an old lazy Susan to host the 20+ spices with have.

I might also add that with the sorting of the "pantry" I found the maple syrup that my parents gave the boyfriend from their quick trip to Canada.  For awhile, it had gone missing into the forest of disorganization and I had been making fresh fruit compote as a substitute for syrup for the pancakes.  We've  been good and only eat 2 medium sized pancakes per week so our waistlines aren't expanding because of it.

I've also been reading more into my friend's textbook (Le Cordon Bleu's Professional Cooking) to better enhance this blog.

Onward, the more I talk on food, the hungrier I'll get to want to experiement and my food intake for the night is done.

Until next week, Silly Beans will have her nose in the books.