Monday, July 24, 2006
Over the weekend, my wife and son went to a new restaurant in Hillsboro that sells mostly American-style quick lunch food, but they’ve also started selling Ethiopian food. Hurray! We’re huge fans of Ethiopian food, but Queen of Sheba is a very long drive from out here in the hinterlands. Sadly, I can’t report on the name of the restaurant, since it wasn’t noted, but it’s off of Elam Young parkway, near the First Technology branch. I got some of the leftovers, and they were very tasty. Better still, they have real teff-based injera, not white flour, which were perfect. I can’t wait to go there in person.
I took my daughter on her first overnight backpacking trip this weekend, which would have been fantastic had it not been for the mosquitoes. Other than that, it was a lovely trip, just to the Southeast of Three Finger Jack.
Anyway, in preparing for the hike I spent some time researching good backpacking food. One thing I had to work to keep in mind, though, was that much of the literature assumes that you are thru-hiking, or taking longer, more arduous trips that you can with a seven-year-old. If you are only walking 3 miles a day, you have to watch out for the high-calorie, low space/weight stables common in the hard core hiking literature. Since my daughter’s a bit “particular” we opted for Mountain House’s freeze-dried mac & cheese for dinner, which went over well, and was tasty enough, although their sweet and sour pork is still my favorite. I want to try experimenting with some cheaper alternatives, like ramen and freeze-dried veggies/tofu, or instant refried beans and rice, which are pretty easy to come by.
I also tried “Ultralight Joe’s Moose Goo”, which is 2 parts honey, 2 parts “corn flour” or masa harina, and 1 part peanut butter. Joe suggests putting it on tortillas, which is what I did. Tasty, callorie dense, and pretty stable. Much less gooey than peanut butter by itself, and pretty easy to work with, at least when it’s 80° out. According to the literature, it’s pretty much immovable below about 40°.
Also a big success was Alacer Corp.’s ElectroMIX: basically unsweetened electolite powder that you mix into a liter of water. It tastes great, with none of the cloying sweetness of Gatorade. Just the thing for hot weather, and it weighs practically nothing.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
It’s been a weird time for me food-wise lately, so I haven’t had much to say. I’m doing an SCA feast this weekend (North Indian/Mughal) which should be big fun, and I’m hoping to get some pictures. Luckily most of it can be cooked ahead of time and frozen.
I’ve gone back on the low-glycemic wagon, so expect to see more on nutrition as the days go by.
I’m also doing some experimenting with lightweight backpacking, so I’ll probably have some pack food experiences to report soon.
Saturday, June 03, 2006
I had to go back for more garlic spears today. To try something completely different, I got a boneless chicken breast, cut it up, and sauteed in coconut oil, then added the last of the lovely carrots, and cooked until just heated, then added the cut up garlic spears.
Once those were just about done, I threw in some Thai “chili and sweet basil” sauce, which is mostly chili, basil, salt, and some soy beans. Next went some bean thread noodles softened in boiling water. Just before serving, I threw in a dash of soy sauce, and some chopped fresh mango.
Once it was off the stove and in a bowl, I added some very thinly sliced, raw red onion, and some pickled turnip. I had some Chinese style “wulin vegetables” but Thai pickled veggies would be good too.
The result was light, not too spicy, and well rounded. I just couldn’t resist the urge to take advantage of the garlic spears before they disappear.
Friday, June 02, 2006
Last night at New Seasons I noticed that the garlic spears have appeared (yay!) so I had to come up with something to showcase their mild, garlicky goodness. While browsing around, I found some truly fabulous looking carrots, so those ended up in the basket as well, along with some frisee/curly endive.
I sauteed the carrots in coconut oil until they were starting to get soft, then added a little salt, cinnamon and galangale, and just a dash of balsamic vinegar. The garlic spears went in next, followed by the frisee, and just as the frisee was wilting, I tossed it all with some whole grain spelt rotini. Quick, full of fiber, and very tasty. The galangale gave it a very nice smell, and the slow sautee of the carrots along with the cinnamon really brought out their sweetness, which played nicely with the slightly bitter escarole.
Garlic spears are one of my favorite heralds of Spring, and since their season is even shorter than asparagus, it’s worth picking some up if you see them.
Thursday, June 01, 2006
I decided to enter a cooking competition at an SCA event this weekend, the theme of which was “30 Viking raiders have shown up at your farm, and if they like your cooking they’ll leave in peace”. A worthy theme. The only thing I didn’t like was that the one sentence comprised the whole rules. Not very specific. I took second to a dish made with (canned) tomato sauce. Go figure.
Anyway, I decided to make a barley pilaf using only ingredients that appear in the archeological record in a Viking context, using techniques and equipment that they had available (again based on the archeological record). I set up my brazier and tripod with a nice charcoal (real, not briquettes) fire and over it hung a big cast iron pot. Into the pot went butter, onions, carrots, turnips, parsnips, and apples. When those were starting to carmelize, I added probably 2 cups of pearl barley (hulless would have been better, but too expensive) and enough water to cook the barley.
When the barley was al dente, I added salt to taste, and some chopped watercress. The result was pretty good, and I think probably represents the kind of food that Vikings were eating day to day.
I had intended to serve it with some chicken cooked with strawberries, watercress, and horseradish, but sadly the chicken wasn’t done on time, and the strawberries went bad in the cooler overnight, so I just cooked the chicken with some apples, onions and watercress and served it up for the evenings pot-luck feast. Pretty tasty.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
I love turnips, especially the baby ones, so I had to try the Mughal style baby turnips
as described by She Spills the Beans
. This one’s definitely a keeper. I loved it, and my son did too. I really liked the depth of flavor, and the spicy-sweet combination combined with the bitternes of the turnips. I didn’t have any spinach, so I substituted some romaine lettuce that needed to go, which worked out pretty well I thought. I served it with some heat-and-serve bhatura from the local Indian grocery, which were a bit hit. I’m thinking collard greens would also work well here. I’m not usually a fan of mustard greens, but they might actuall work in this dish. Hmmm. An excuse to experiment.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
I had to crank out a quick dinner last night so we could make it to Vikki’s CERT final, but I didn’t want fast food. Luckily I had some Chinese broccoli (gai lan) in the fridge, plus a nice fresh block of firm tofu.
I sauteed some garlic in peanut oil, then fried up the gai lan until it was just starting to get tender, then tossed in probably 2 T. of hoisin sauce, and a little ginger paste, maybe 1/2 cup of chicken broth, and the tofu (cubed). As soo as the tofu was warm I dished it up with some white rice.
The whole process (since the rice was already cooked) took maybe 20 minutes, and was quite tasty for a quick meal.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Last night, Vikki and I taught the first version of a class on “survival cooking” for our local CERT
program. We talked about scenarios to plan for, what kind of food to store in case of emergency or disaster, and how to cook it once you find yourself there. If you are interested, the handout from the class (with references) is here
. The class went quite well, and we got to eat the fruits of our labors.
The biggest learning I came away with is that Datrex brand survival rations are much tastier than I would have thought.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
The Old Foodie has a great bit about tomatoes and the law that’s a good read. I’ve often pondered the distinctions between fruit and vegetable and how we mangle them. Also how the difference and distinction are culturally based. We tend to use rhubarb (for example) mostly in sweet dished with fruit, but in Persian cooking it’s used in stews (khoresh) with beef or lamb. Which is fabulous, BTW. It’s also interesting the think that tomatoes have legal status. I wonder if that’s still true…
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