I flew to Asheville this weekend to hang out with my parents. The lasting impression I have is that it’s a foodie haven. My mom and I walked along Broadway Saturday morning for a place to eat and ended up at a tapas restaurant called Curate. Below is the drink I ordered. We also got a salad with eggplant, roasted peppers, onions and micro greens and tortilla espanola (one of my favorites).
For dinner, we went to a vegan restaurant called Plant my parents patronize whenever they visit. The desserts were sublime: key lime parfait and a trio of Mint Chocolate Chip, Thunder Road and Banana-Macadamia soy ice cream.
My Aunt Ginny’s birthday party was last weekend, and my mother and I (and several amazing helpers) concocted and executed a menu for 25 people:
Mini Sandwiches: Egg salad, Tuna salad and Avocado-Cucumber
Potato Salad (contributed by my lovely Aunt Darlene)
Shrimp and Orzo Salad (contributed by my lovely Aunt Candace)
Arugula Salad (my mom made this is and it was far and away the most popular dish; almonds, green apples, fresh Parm, evoo and s&p – adapted from a Whole Foods salad)
Poached Salmon w/ Avocado Sauce and Dill-Tomato Sauce
Tuna Salad Sandwich Rounds (20-24 rounds)
2 cans tuna in olive oil, drained
3 tbsp mayo
1 large roasted red pepper bottled in oil , rinsed, drained, and finely chopped
Finely grated rind of 1 lemon (I used less)
Salt and pepper
Unsalted butter, softened
24 thin slices whole grain bread (or whatever kind you like; we used a mixture of white and wheat)
Small bunch fresh parsley, very finely chopped
Mix the tuna and next 3 ingredients in a bowl; season to taste. Chill for 15 minutes up to overnight. When ready to prepare, Scoop salad onto rounds of bread, top with remaining rounds and lightly butter the edges of the sandwiches. Roll in fresh parsley. Stack, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Egg Salad Pita Pockets (20-24 pitas)
8 hard-boiled eggs, shelled and chopped finely
4 tbsps mayonnaise
2 tbsps Dijon mustard
pinch cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
24 mini pita pockets (we used a mixture of white and wheat)
unsalted butter, softened
watercress sprigs for garnish
Makes 6-8 kebabs (we quadrupled this recipe… it was epic)
1lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 zucchini, sliced very thinly lengthways
6–8 metal or wooden skewers or sticks of fresh rosemary, lower leaves removed, tips kept on
1 handful of fresh coriander
1 handful of fresh mint
3 cloves of garlic
6 spring onions
1 red chili
zest and juice of 1 lemon
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes and place in a bowl. Blanch the zucchini strips in salted boiling water for 30 seconds then drain and allow to cool.
Blitz all the marinade ingredients (except the olive oil) in a food processor, then loosen to a paste with a little olive oil. Add the marinade to the chicken pieces and mix well. Allow to sit for up to an hour. Then weave the zucchini strips in between the chicken pieces on the rosemary sticks or skewers. Grill for around 8 minutes, turning regularly, until cooked.
If you need to keep warm, sprinkle with a bit more oil and cover loosely with foil.
**Recipe from: JamieOliver.com
Poached Salmon with Dill-Tomato Sauce
Sauce (for 1lb salmon)
1/4 cup light mayo
1 tbsp low fat milk
1 tbsp minced fresh dill or 1 tsp dill weed
1 tbsp lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper
1 small tomato, diced
Gemelli with Tomatoes, Olives & Ricotta
8 ounces gemelli (or fusilli or penne)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
10 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons capers, rinsed (optional)
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
1/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
1/3 cup fresh basil, torn
Fresh ricotta cheese, for serving
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook until al dente. Drain. Drizzle with just enough oil to coat, so the pasta doesn’t clump.
Pulse sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, capers, and garlic in a food processor. With machine running, add oil in a slow, steady stream, and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Toss together pasta, sun-dried tomato vinaigrette, grape tomatoes, olives, basil, and salt. Transfer to serving plates. Top with a scoop of ricotta, drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with pepper.
**Recipe from: Zested (the picture here is prettier than mine… check it out)
It was a wonderful party. I got to see my cousin Anna for the first time in years, and our two new baby cousins were there looking precious and perfect. And my Aunt Ginny, who has been there for me my whole life, was I hope at least a little surprised that we were all there!
Not funny, but worth noting: Just as rumors and winds of a tornado edged toward D.C. Friday evening, The Washington Post Tweeted: “Send us your storm photos, but don’t put yourself at risk for the pics.”
-o- Best 2012 Commencement Speakers -o-
What do Michelle Obama, Aaron Sorkin, Neil Gaiman, and Jane Lynch have in common? They’re all featured by The Wall Street Journal as notable commencement speakers. Here’s the WSJ roundup with embedded videos of the above speakers’ speeches and more.
-o- E-reading trends -o-
Love these. Do people who own e-readers read more books? Which is the most popular e-reader? This infographic even attempts to answer the question of why people read books.
Infographic from Mashable.
-o- Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposes a ban on super-sized sodas -o-
Mayor Bloomberg of New York City has decided to try and ban all sodas over 16 oz. So… cups? Bottles? Cans? All of the above? Seems totally ridiculous to me but… This country is facing a lot of obesity-related health problems. Maybe just getting people talking about this is a good idea.
Here’s a link to Stephen Colbert’s video on the attempt: awesome.
-o- 10 NY literary bars -o-
This is more tourist-y than literary, but still way cool. In a few weeks my Aunt Susan and Uncle Brad are staging NY Peb Crawl Round III; maybe I can get one of these on the list!
Collection from Lonely Planet.
-o- 10 Jaw-droppingly beautiful places -o-
StumbleUpon has become fun again! Gallery (originally on BuzzFeed); I’ve been to Cinque Terre and want to go to that Crooked Forest ASAP.
-o- Top 100 Bestselling Books in the country -o-
List from Publisher’s Weekly. I included this because just today my friend told me she’d read Fifty Shades of Grey at the beach and I hadn’t even heard of it. And THEN my cousin raved about it at my Aunt Ginny’s birthday party. I’ll have to check it out!
-o- Cooking this week: Thai Green Curry Coconut Shrimp with Basil -o-
Here’s the recipe from SkinnyTaste.
(Image source: SkinnyTaste.com)
My last cooking adventure with the lovely Lindsey was SUPER successful… stay tuned for pics of our roasted chicken and romaine with spinach and red peppers.
Okay so technically it’s Tuesday morning… but it’s only been Tuesday for a few hours, and I’ve been sick and therefore slightly lazy. Anyway, thanks for waiting! Here are this week’s selections for “A funny thing happened on the way to this Monday…”
-o- Facebook went public -o-
And then the stock fell. It closed below IPO price on Monday. Did anyone see that coming? Did everyone see that coming?
Well, at least Mark Zuckerberg married his lovely longtime girlfriend. And since he’s changed his status to “Married”, the update has been liked over ONE MILLION times.
(Image source: ABC News)
-o- Forbes‘ Celebrity 100 list -o-
Seven of the top 10 on this list, “The World’s Most Powerful Celebrities,” are women. At least half are primarily musical performers.
I’ll bet you can’t guess who’s number one. Hint: Oprah is number two (J.K. Rowling is at number 85; I guess being uber rich doesn’t translate into being “powerful”… or maybe Harry Potter has had his day). Here’s the list from Forbes.
-o- 18-year-old gets elected to school district board -o-
Josh Lafazan is now the youngest -ever elected official in the state of New York. According to this Mashable article by Alex Fitzpatrick, Lafazan connected with voters in his district using his Facebook page and Spreecast. You can also watch him speak at the link above.
-o- Child knows she is transgender as young as 2 years old -o-
I like that we live in a time when this can happen, when parents can show this kind of support to a son, who was born a daughter. At age four, after being diagnosed with “gender identity disorder,” this MD resident began introducing himself as a boy. He is now called Tyler. Here’s the full story from The Washington Post.
-o- Cool science images from this week -o-
Wow. Jewel caterpillar photographed near Cancun, Mexico.
(Image source: BoingBoing.net. Taken by Gerardo Aizpuru.)
Check out the rest of the slideshow from Popsci.
-o- Cooking this week: Blueberry chocolate chip pancakes -o-
Brian and I began spending time together four years ago. We met in March of 2008 and were in love by June. That first summer, we didn’t really concern ourselves with eating well. We had a lot of pancakes, and then one night we went to 2 Amy’s and had blueberry chocolate chip ice cream for dessert. Lightbulb! For the rest of the summer we bought fresh blueberries and chocolate chips and… gained weight, I’m sure.
(Image source: Pip & Ebby)
-o- Happy day after Mother’s Day -o-
I have an absolutely wonderful mother. I got to spend Saturday evening with her and the rest of my family at a gala supporting Single Carrot Theater in Baltimore. We also had a wonderful brunch Sunday morning. My mom is a beautiful, kind, patient, capable, sweet, intelligent, and endlessly forgiving woman. I hope she and all the other mothers in the world had a lovely weekend.
Bonues: Nature’s toughest mothers from BBC.
-o- Which is greener: a steak or a veggie burger? -o-
If you love the planet, you love veggies… right? Conventional wisdom holds that beef – factory raised, hormone injected, delicious delicious beef – is terrible for the planet and you’re terrible for eating each raw tasty morsel. However, people are beginning to realize that its the overproduction of food that destroys its ‘green-ness.’
Raw veggies are of course the best for the energy-in energy-out ratio, but veggie burgers and all of the processes required to make them taste like beef could be worse that grass-fed beef people are trying to replace it with.
Experts weigh in on a Mother Jones forum.
-o- Top 10 Twitter pics of the week from Mashable’s Charlie White -o-
These are always so fun. Love Beyonce’s dress. Check them out: Slideshow.
-o- According to The Washington Post, graduates are facing a better markets this year -o-
Finally some good news on the employment front. While the recession has been relatively easy on those with higher degrees, matriculating students still didn’t have it easy. Now, students graduating have better chances of finding jobs than those who have graduated in the last three years. Here’s the article from The Washington Post.
-o- Van Halen’s “No Brown M&Ms backstage rule” -o-
Turns out he had a really good reason: Over-sexed over drugged rockstars try to get away with whatever they can. While that may regularly be the case, Van Halen’s brown M&Ms were really an ingenuous idea to detect venue neglect. If you haven’t heard the rumors and reasons… check out the NPR piece and video.
-o- Partisan divide in baby-naming? -o-
This is really kind of funny. Is nothing off limits? It’s not that people are consciously giving their kids political names like Bill O’Rights, Ellie Phants, or Don Q. Kong (hmmm…). However political divides apparently influence parents and the names they give their kids. To find out how and to determine if you agree, see the NPR article.
-o- Cooking this week: Pasta Salad -o-
(Image credit: The Parsley Thief)
Thanks to Brian for helping me out this week… and happy four-year anniversary to my perfect man.
Fun fun fun! The other day I decided to take a whole evening to cook. Not go to the gym, not clean, not get ahead on work for the next day… just cook. I got to use new cookware and new recipes, and everything turned out wonderfully! Enjoy!
Brian’s mother Diane found the Dutch oven (right) in a hole-in-the-wall shop in Baltimore and bought me one for a gift. I purchased my first and only piece of Le Creuset ware (left) on Rue La La, my daily temptress.
Skillet Cajun Spiced Flounder with Tomatoes (from SkinnyTaste)
Flounder fillets (I used 2 large, 8 oz. pieces of fish – any other flaky white fish would do as well)
1/2 onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 green pepper, diced
5-6 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped
Approx. 1 tbsp. cajun seasoning (I made my own: paprika, cayenne, oregano, garlic powder and S+P)
Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet large enough to hold all the fish comfortably. I got to use my new Dutch oven!!! Cook the garlic and onion for a few minutes until soft and fragrant.
Add the tomatoes, peppers and spices and saute until the tomatoes and peppers begin to soften, about 3-5 minutes.
Next, add the fish fillets and submerge in the sauce as completely as you can.
Let the fish simmer for 12-15 minutes until done. It will easily flake with a fork.
Enjoy! Here’s the original recipe from SkinnyTaste.com.
Macaroni and Cheese (from What to Cook and How to Cook It by Jane Hornby)
I was SO excited to make this. I’d been staring at the recipe in the cookbooks for over a year and decided it was high time to give in.
1 medium-sized onion
1 bay leaf
3 cups milk (I used 2 cups whole and 1 cup 2%)
1 tsp salt
12 oz macaroni (any tube-shaped pasta will work fine)
1/2 stick butter (1/4 cup)
scant 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
7 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 oz parmesan cheese, grated
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
fresh nutmeg (optional)
4 ripe tomatoes, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of water to boil for the macaroni. While the water heats up, add the milk, the onion (roughly chopped) and the bay leaf to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium hit until little bubbles just start to form (see photo). Remove from the heat and let sit and infuse for 10 minutes or more.
Add the salt to the pasta water and then the macaroni. Return to a boil and cook until almost done (8 minutes or so) then drain, reserving about a cup of pasta water.
Once the milk has infused, remove the onion and bay leaf with a slotted spoon discard. Then stir the butter and flour into the milk and cook over medium-high heat, stirring with a whisk until sauce has thickened (the cookbook says 5 minutes, it only took me about 3).
Preheat the oven to 350. Add the mustard, nutmeg (if using, which I did… yay Penzey Spices) and about two-thirds of each of the cheeses to the sauce. Stir well and season to taste. If the pasta has stuck together, add a bit of cooking water to loosen, then pour the pasta and sauce into the baking dish, stirring well.
Sprinkle the remaining cheeses over top and add the tomato slices. Top with a bit more salt and pepper and then bake for about 30 minutes.
-o- Earth Day -o-
I hope you all had a wonderful 4-20! It was a gorgeous Earth Day and I sincerely everyone enjoyed it and put it to productive uses.
-o- Shakespeare’s birthday -o-
If you live in D.C., as I do, you may have celebrated the Bard’s birthday at the Folger Shakespeare library yesterday. Several cities are hosting festivals of Shakespeare’s plays at their theaters. At the very least, consider recalling your favorite Shakespeare-related memory, literary or otherwise.
I’ve recently finished reading Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman series, and William Shakespeare is featured heavily in a few of the stories.
-o- Snowpril? -o-
Snow in April?!?! Thank you global warming for extreme unpredictable weather. One of the little groundhog deniers saw his shadow, so 6 more months of winter.
CNN article on today’s storm.
-o- Over 50% of people learn of breaking news via social media -o-
Shameless self-aggrandizing by a social media site, sign of the times, or both? Social media definitely has a speed edge over tradition sources, but is the speed worth the haste? Often times “breaking news” really is “breaking rumors”
Infographic from Mashable.
-o- Oh my goodness, it’s Moby Dick -o-
How exciting! World’s only all-white killer whale spotted off the coast of Russia. No word yet if giant metaphor is chasing after it.
-o- 67 books every geek should read to their children -o-
List from Wired. My mom and dad introduced me to several books on this list, including: Shel Silverstein’s collections, The Borrowers, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, and the glorious The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. I should buy a copy of that one.
Bonus: What do Lolita, The Phantom Tollbooth, and The Shining have in common? They are all on this list of 10 Great Books to Read Aloud from Flavorwire. Great list.
-o- 10 Beautiful Literary Box Sets -o-
Thank you again, Flavorwire! Here’s the gallery.
-o- Recipe of the Week: Crock Pot Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps -o-
Here’s the recipe from Gina’s Skinny Recipes.
(Image Source: Gina’s Skinny Recipes, SkinnyTaste.com)
*Many thanks to my wonderful Brian for providing the commentary for this week’s post.*
-o- Facebook buys Instagram for $1 billion in cash and stock -o-
Smart, or as stupid as when News Corp bought Myspace? Some think it was a savvy move, cornering the emerging app market and preventing a potential rival from doing the same. Instagram, if you aren’t fully plugged in, allows people to share photos taken on their smartphones over social networking sites. Lets hope that it isn’t a sign of Facebook getting drunk on IPO cash and overpaying… unless you actually want Facebook to go down like the Hindenburg.
Check out the article from The Economist.
-o- Americans do not “walk the walk” -o-
It seems almost common knowledge that America is the world’s most obese country, and now it turns out we are one of the laziest. Apparently, Americans walk the least of all industrialized nations. Is it hard to believe? We all but worship the car and consider cheap gas sacrosanct. Now its coming back to bite us… of only we could run from it.
Here’s the article from NPR.
-o- How many Americans would you guess do not regularly go online? -o-
1 percent, 5 percent? According to CNN it could be as high as 20 percent, or 1 in 5 Americans, who never have used or essentially don’t use the Internet. Perhaps your bubble (I know mine does) makes this hard to believe, but the elderly rarely use the internet and poor and rural households typically can’t afford computers or don’t have access. Maybe they secretly know something us tech-tethered people don’t. If the world’s Internet collapses I know I won’t know how to procure a pizza.
Check out the article from CNN.
-o- About J.K. Rowling’s new “realist” novel for adults -o-
Can J.K. Rowling strike gold twice? Her name alone will probably induce millions to buy it. However, if it flops, she could tarnish her image. I personally love that she’s trying something new.
Here’s the piece by Ethan Gilsdorf of Wired.
-o- If famous writers had written the Twilight series… -o-
I LOVE this kinda stuff and LOVE that the internet delivers it to my fingertips. My favorite:
“Cormac McCarthy: In the opening scene, Edward dashes Bella’s head against a rock and rapes her corpse. Then he and Jacob take off on an unexplained rampage through the West.”
Hilarious. Thanks to Elisabeth for finding this! Jen’s favorite?
“James Joyce: Edward’s rapacious love for Bella reflects the way globalism has pillaged Ireland. It’s entirely written in Esperanto, with sections in untranslated Greek, except for Chapter 40, which is inexplicably rendered as a script page from the musical “The Book of Mormon”.
Check out this piece by Lizzie Stark on io9.com.
-o- Sunrises, frogs, hippos -o-
Two photo galleries from The Washington Post. Here’s a sunrise, sunset gallery and here’s the collection of exotic animals from around the world, including hippos, polar bears and sphynx cat. AWESOME.
-o- Cooking this week: Artichoke Dip Mac and Cheese -o-
(Image credit: The Scrumptious Pumpkin)
-o- No, you can’t deduct that -o-
I thought I was almost done with my taxes when I remembered I was a Teaching Assistant at George Washington last Spring and forgot to include that. Talk about a con of a freelance (read: unorganized) lifestyle.
Anyway, for a piece that ran this weekend, the NPR staff spoke to several accountants and other knowledgeable sources and asked them to list some of the most off-the-wall attempts their clients made at deductions. Among them? Cosmetic surgery, haircuts, and vet bills. Check out NPR‘s article by Jacob Goldstein.
-o- Weight as factor in employment decisions? -o-
A Texas hospital that includes body mass index (BMI) in their hiring policy has come under criticism. Well, yeah, it’s hard not to feel upset about that. Here’s the HLN article.
-o- Eggs as Art from all over the World -o-
Easter is over for another year, and pieces of plastic eggs litter my apartment. Ah, cats. Before leaving decorative eggs and nostalgic memories of hunts behind for awhile, check out this gallery from NPR.
-o- Snow White’s in, Vampires are out, but at least Kristin Stewart is still around -o-
(Image source: Wikipedia.com)
Vampires, werewolves, dystopian futuristic worlds… Snow White? Not so much a logical progression. But Annalee Newitz makes some intriguing arguments in her piece on io9.com “Why is Everybody Obsessed with Snow White?” Check it out.
-o- 10 Crazy and Unusual Book Designs -o-
This is my favorite thing I found last week: “10 Crazy and Unusual Book Designs” by Emily Temple. Here’s the list from Flavorwire. Among them, and my favorite (perhaps predictably)… edible books! The first book on this list is an edible cookbook with pages that can be baked into a lasagna.
-o- Cherry Blossom Festival in pictures -o-
I was just on the Mall this weekend and, sadly, I think the blossoms are mostly gone for the year. Check out 100 years of cherry blossoms in Washington D.C. in pictures from the BBC.
-o- Best and Worst Beers -o-
Worth a read, but I wish “taste” were a category. Here’s the slideshow of 40 beers by calorie-count, carbs and alcohol percentage by Eat This, Not That. Going through this was actually kind of a bummer but… drinking beer was never a super calorie-conscious option to begin with…
-o- Recipe of the Week: Over-the-top Mushroom Quiche -o-
Cooking this week! Amazing-looking mushroom quiche. Here’s the recipe from Punchfork.
(Image source: @ Deb Perelman)
Sadly, Brian doesn’t like mushrooms, so we’ll also be making this soup with the abundance of asparagus in our fridge right now; here’s the recipe from thesolitarycook. Mmm… what an unusual and delicious-sounding combination: “Asparagus Soup with Sriracha and Avocado Creme Fraiche.”