air_n_darkness: (drink tea)
I'm a foodie. I like to eat well. I like to try new restaurants on a whim, and it doesn't much matter if it's a four-star celebrity place, a chain, or a hole-in-the-wall with a questionable health score. I am a creature of the senses, and a perfect dining experience pings all each one: smell, sight, taste, touch, and sound. It isn't about paying a lot for the food either. I've had meals that I paid entirely too much for that were mediocre, and bites that were near-orgasmic for which I paid a handful of change. I love to cook and try out new recipes. Few things makes me happier than cooking for other people, introducing them to something new and bringing them a little bit into my world.

That said, I wasn't brought up on an overly varied diet. "Back in the day" it was cheaper to cook your meals than buy them at a drive-thru, and given that I grew up in the country, our veggies, eggs, milk, and meats were still sourced relatively locally (I still maintain that milk from the Wiregrass area tastes so much better than anywhere else). A typical dinner was chicken or pork, usually fried or roasted, Veggie-starch(usually potatoes), Veggie x2 (something green + carrots or corn), and Bread (rolls or cornbread). We tended to eat out once every couple of weeks or so, usually at the Canton House, since Dad knew the owners, sometimes at Conestoga (Amazing local steakhouse. If you ever go to Dothan, AL I highly suggest you try them), or one of a few other local places. We didn't have many chains in the area when I was younger. Oh we did hit Red Lobster a fair amount. It was the only "seafood" place we had for a long time.

Going out for dinner was a special occasion. There was none of this going to dinner in a T-shirt and jeans business. We were asking other people to feed and take care of us, and those people deserved a proper show of respect for their establishment and their work- at least, that was how I was taught. In all honestly, it was a couple of years after moving to Memphis before I was really comfortable not getting dressed up to go to say, Applebees.

(I will aside now to say that, even in chains like Applebee's or Outback, or Macaroni Grill, you tend to get better service if you are dressed slightly better and are pleasant to the waitstaff, even if you don't order extravagantly. Also, if I can avoid eating at an Applebee's I will. They have proven to be pretty universally terrible.)

I was also taught- despite having a fairly unvaried selection of food choices- to not be afraid of trying something new. Part of this was because of my Dad and his job. When the nice Japanese gentlemen come over and bring things to eat, you don't refuse because it looks weird. Green tea became a favorite of mine by the time I was eight, and I'd tried foods like duck, squid, and other typically kid-repelling foods by that time as well. Lobster squicked me until adulthood though. Mom brought home two to cook for her and Dad's anniversary one year, and all I could think of was that they looked like overgrown roaches. Also, watching her kill them was freaky. I have long gotten over that issue, having dispatched my fair share of the little buggers and sent them to the delicious afterlife covered in garlic butter and breadcrumb stuffing. But I digress.

Being a foodie doesn't mean I don't eat "crap" food, especially lately. It's cheaper now to buy prepared food than to buy stuff and cook it. It's much, much faster, and time has become something of a premium for me of late. Also, cooking for myself is much less satisfying than cooking for myself and other people. One of the things I love the best about enjoying a good meal is enjoying good company along with it. Running through Arby's or KFC, or whatever satisfies the need for sustenance, but often doesn't satisfy the need for a meal. There is also the fact that sometimes, it's about the food memory. If I'm really missing my Dad, for example, I order Pizza Hut cheese sticks and find Star Trek:TNG on TV. My Granddad? I find those cheap-ass fake orange push-up pops. If I miss Greckle I make dumplings, and Mom? I make chocolate chip cookies. (yes, those cookies)

The point I'm getting to is that I believe one should live to eat, not eat to live.

I've been overweight my whole life, and I've talked to a whole lot of people who are the same over the years. When I have been at my heaviest in my life, I have been eating the most poorly, and the same tends to hold true with others. The less time, thought, and care we put into our meals, the higher the fat, salt, etc content, the higher the preservative content, and the worse we feel overall. The worse we feel, the more we eat, because our body is craving vital nutrients that we aren't giving it. But when we take the time to prepare real food from scratch, when we savor each bite, when we stop and notice the individual tastes, textures, and scents of our meal, we feel more satisfied with our overall dining experience. We feel better, and since we are left full, but not left wanting, we make better choices.

Let me try to explain. Nearly everyone has eaten an apple at some point in their life, right? But have you really? Have you ever picked up an apple and weighed it in your hand, noted how heavy it seemed for its size, how taunt and shiny the skin was? Have you ever smelled it and been able to taste the sunlight, the wind through the trees, the floral perfume of apple blossoms before you ever took a bite? Have you ever bitten into an apple, really noting the skin as it snaps under pressure, your teeth sinking into the soft, sweet flesh underneath? Felt its sugary juice running down your chin, liquid sunlight, that first bite quenching hunger and thirst in one?

Did I just totally change the way you'll look at an apple from now on? One can hope.

Eating shouldn't be something we do just to keep our bodies moving. It should be an experience. It doesn't matter what type of diet you follow- traditional, vegan, vegetarian, whatever- chances are what you are eating was once a living organism. Yes, even your Taco Bell taco is composed of things that were once living (even if they are no longer recognizable).

Food, the art of dining- it should be respected. It doesn't matter what you grew up eating or what types of foods were available to you then. It doesn't even matter if you have no wish to broaden your culinary horizons. Enjoy what you eat, respect what you eat- and respect yourself in the doing thereof.
air_n_darkness: (tea addict)
For those who have been asking, here is the recipe for the curried lentils:

I didn't make the lentil crackers, because I just ran out of time the day I was doing the cooking.  I cooked the veggies down in olive oil, and threw in some smoked ham, instead of using bacon fat, and instead of frying the carrots for the garnish, I shaved carrots using a peeler and and roasted them in the oven.  Sprinkled them with a little salt and some coriander.  Better than potato chips, and just as addictive,  

air_n_darkness: (worship me)
Not detox-locked, because it's a recipe, kinda, and who doesn't love a good recipe?

I goofed and picked up chocolate whey instead of vanilla, but it's all good. I loosely (and I do mean loosely) followed a recipe suggestion on the back of the protein powder can, mainly for the powder amount. Here's what I did:

8oz (1 cup) fat free milk
2 large tablespoons of low-fat plain yogurt for tangyness
1/3 cup of the whey protein
half a small bag of organic frozen berry whole mix (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc)
Blend the hell out of it.

I actually wind up with 2.5 glasses of the smoothie, which would be roughly equal to one of the large Bolthouse drinks. This smoothie isn't sweet at all- well, not in the way I think of sweet. It's thick, mind you, but it doesn't have that cloying taste on the palate that I've come to associate w/ protein drinks of any type. I may actually increase the fruit content, because the tangy yogurt is masking the actual taste of the fruit.

Oooooh the possibilities before me now! I will admit, I have some small Bolthouse drinks in the fridge still; I really do enjoy them. But, I'll likely phase the protein ones out of my diet and just stick to their juices. Mmmm, prickly pear lemonade....

I think perhaps I might want a juicer at some point as well. >_>
air_n_darkness: (tea addict)
First, the food porn!

Last night was our coven's Lughnasadh feast/rite. Since this festival is centered around the harvest, we went with a veggie and grain theme for our feast, centered around a Vegetable Curry. Which meant that I, as the resident Curry Goddess, got to make the main course.

I tried out a new yellow curry recipe, and it was wonderful! Easy to prep, and only about 10-15 minutes of cook time. The heat in the sauce can be very easily controlled, and the sauce is actually very refreshing to the palate. What's more, you can use any vegetables you'd like, really. So, for the interested, I'm linking the recipe.

Thai Yellow Vegetable Curry

I highly, highly suggest that if you want to use eggplant, you don't use American eggplant. Search out Chinese or Japanese eggplants instead. They're denser, crisper, and hold their shape. American eggplant tends to be too watery for these types of dishes. Plus, the Asian variety's skins aren't as bitter or chewy as "regular" eggplant. Also, this is not a thick, cooked down curry sauce like many Indian curries; it is a thinner curry and you will want plenty of rice to soak up the yummy goodness. I personally prefer Thai curries over Indian if going veggie.

Cutting the rest, so as not to clutter your f-list )
air_n_darkness: (spider)
Take one bag of Peanut Butter M&M's and one bag of Dark Chocolate M&M's. Mix together in bowl or other appropriate serving dish. Munch by the handful.

Conculsion: Yummy! However, the peanut butter ones are much larger than the dark chocolate ones. I suggest 1 1/2 to 2 bags of dark chocolate to one bag of peanut butter, to insure maximum application of the Chocolate In My Peanut Butter Syndrome.


Sep. 24th, 2007 02:31 pm
air_n_darkness: (big butts)
So, my dear f-list, you may if you wish give me virtual pats on the head.

Some time ago, I was showing [ profile] slackeremeritus Starship Jesus and Our Lady of the Mothership and we noticed a "Farmers Market" that appeared to actually be an combination Latino/Asian market near my house. Well, I promptly forgot about it, until today, when I needed preserved lemons for a recipe. Having exhausted our normal ethnic food haunts, I thought I'd try this place.

I'm so glad I did.

Now, it a big place; I think it used to be a Schnucks. And it's not pretty, not the cleanest looking store, and it well, smells a bit funny. More on the smell later. But it is fucking fantastic place! One third is a fruit and vegetable market. The prices are very reasonable, and considering how fragile some of the specialty items are, I know they are either being flown in fresh on a very regular basis or being grown locally. Cheapest prices on Portabellas and Shitakes I've seen in awhile, too. The lemongrass was gorgeous, and since I'd under-bought the other day, I snagged some more.

There is a substantial seafood and meat counter; looks like they do alot of custom butchery. And that smell I mentioned? They have several varieties of LIVE fish to choose from, not to mention the frozen and fresh-on-ice selection. Best looking seafood I have seen in Memphis to date. I was actually very surprised. What I love is I can get WHOLE snapper, mackerel, sole, squid, and octopus. Also, not that I will ever feel the need to, if you want to buy a whole pigs head for a dish? You can.

Roughly half the shelf space is Latino dry goods. Mostly the stuff that you'd expect. I did snag a couple Cokes. In glass bottles. SCORE! I also made note of things for later.

The other half, plus one whole run of chest freezers, is Asian, mostly Vietnamese and Korean based on ingredients, but they really touch on all the big food styles. The noodle aisle alone had me in heaven; I think I'll just randomly start trying different ones. And in the canned and pickled items aisle? I found my lemons!

Add to that the fact that I now have Rumpleminz chilling in the freezer, and I am a happy, happy Cyn.
air_n_darkness: (Default)
So here’s to my first post of the new year! I decided that much like [ profile] sandykidd I’d do mini-updates on things from my 1001 in 101 list, just to keep myself motivated. Reinforce the positives and all that.

One of my 1001 was to cook one completely new recipe each week. It’s so easy to get in a food rut. I thought, just to make it fun, I’d also post the recipe at (roughly) the beginning of each week. That way, if you’re looking for something new, ya got something to try! The recipe will be behind a cut, for the uninterested. This week’s new recipe will be Chicken Tarragon )

Also on the list was to restart the monthly book reviews. January’s book will be Laurell K. Hamilton’s latest Mistral’s Kiss .

Since my last weigh-in, which was around the time I posted the list, I’ve lost 2.6 poundsJ! I know it’s water weight, but hey, that’s okay.

I’ve been lotioning my feet regularly; but I did skip one day this week.

I’ve taken a break from cleaning the kitchen to type this, but it’ll be done tonight.

Not a lot, considering the list, but every step counts!
air_n_darkness: (magical)
The Chocolate Soup recipe

4 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (don't skimp here, get the best you can. I suggest Scharffen-Berger or Valrhona)
5 tablespoons cornstarch
5 tablespoons cold water

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together the whole milk, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla bean. Bring the mixture almost to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and let it steep for 20 minutes. Strain and return to the pan. (Rinse and dry the vanilla bean and save it for another use.)

Put the pan on low heat, add the chocolate, and whisk until the chocolate melts. Combine the cornstarch and water to form a slurry. Add the slurry a little at a time, whisking constantly, until the soup is thick and smooth. You will know it is ready when the bubbles are gone and the chocolate has thickened, about 5 to 7 minutes.

At this point, I like to have additives, so people can doctor their "soup" to their liking. STuff like candied ginger, cayenne pepper, salt (chocolate loves a little salt), flavored oils-like orange or hazelnut, mint, etc.

WARNING!!! This stuff is VERY rich!


air_n_darkness: (Default)

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