Farmer's Market Finds

I stopped by the farmer's market again this past Saturday. I was a little shy on cash, so I didn't pick up as much as I wanted, but I made sure to try things I hadn't gotten previously. I love that the winter markets are more than just produce, it's a nice way to muster through the winter. 

Chicken tortilla soup (fixings on the side)


First Time Juicing

Lately, a few of my friends have been on juicing kicks and I've been lucky enough to participate in the making of and drinking. I must say, there is an art to creating a juice blend that is balanced in flavor and actually tastes good. Not that any have been bad, per se, it's just some I'd rather have more than one glass of and some I wouldn't :) For example, there is a fine line in going overboard on greens before it becomes bitter and one tiny lime can overpower an entire liter of juice!

This particular blend of fruits and veggies I thought was particularly refreshing and I hope you do too!

1 apple
4 small kiwis
2 carrots
3 large stalks celery
1 in. knob of ginger, peeled
2 in. knob of turmeric, peeled


Playing Favorites

If someone asks you what your absolute favorite meal in the world is, would you know how to respond? Most people catch on quickly that I'm a food lover but I have a feeling if I'm ever faced with that question, much to people's surprise, I would hem and haw over it, make my quizzical "thinking face" and say something like pb&j, making it sound more like a question to see if I'm right rather than a definitive answer. It's certainly the food I eat the most of, but is it really my favorite? Is it the meal I'd want to make my last?

In order to narrow down to a list of my favorite foods (in the hopes of choosing my ultimate indulgence), I thought long and hard about what makes food good. Is it a comfort dish that has sweet memories attached to it? Is it the ambience of your dining experience? Or maybe the composition of the ingredients was so impeccably balanced that upon the first bite you smiled, closed your eyes and just enjoyed. Why that would be a big fat Yes, Yes and Yes. Crap, this is hard.

In no particular order, here is a stream of consciousness smattering of my favorites. For my own clarification, these are foods I think about often enough so as to distinguish from other dishes that I simply just like a lot. There's a fine line.

Homey & Comforting
  • Pancakes -- plain, unadulterated fluffy flapjacks with frizzled ham on the side -- my Dad's sticky sweet breakfast creation involving thinly sliced strips of deli ham, sauteed up with maple syrup & brown sugar. Oh yes. 
  • Patties -- credit goes to my Mom on this one, she had three hungry children fighting over them. Leftover Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs and egg from making chicken strips bound together to form patties. Fry right along with the chicken.
  • Freshly baked soft pretzel with grainy mustard for dipping
Good Ambiance and In Good Company
  • Icelandic Snúður - the lovechild of a chocolate frosted yeast donut and a cinnamon roll
  • Reindeer carpaccio over arugula and shaved parmesan from The Hotel Framnes
  • House charcuterie plate from Dano's
Feeds My Soul
  • Buckwheat crepes with a lemony herbed goat cheese and sauteed mushroom filling
  • Clam chowder 
  • Nutella panini on sourdough bread, served warm

Well that was a fun exercise.

If I had to pick the most interesting dish I've ever eaten, hands down it would be the reindeer carpaccio from our first night in Iceland. It was beautifully composed and the flavors complimented each other perfectly. The meat was light and succulent and melted in my mouth. However, I don't think it would be my last meal. I hate to be ambiguous, but I would have to see if I was in a sweet or savory mood! Knowing me, though, I would probably humbly ask for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on soft whole wheat bread, with a heart drawn through the peanut butter for good measure, and be completely satisfied. 


Worldly Winter Stew

This stew is a collaborative effort with my Ghanaian roommate. We both have a love of food, but we also have similar health issues, so this stew has lots of gut-healing ingredients. It's a mix and match kind of dish, with influences from Africa and India by way of Italy. A very international dish, don't you think?

1/2-1 lb goat meat, fat trimmed
4 cups chicken broth (or water and low-sodium chicken bouillon)
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp ground ginger
salt to taste
1-2 tsp Adobo seasoning
1-2 tsp italian seasoning blend
1-2 tsp garlic powder
1 handful carrots, cut into 1 in. pieces
1 handful green beans, cut into 1 in. pieces
1 large white or orange sweet potato, cut into 1 in. pieces
1-2 tsp whole grain mustard
1/4-1/2 a cabbage, rough cut
2 oz. GF pasta

(we didn't measure any of the spices, just sprinkled in enough until it looked right -- the pinch and pour method I grew up on)

Place the goat meat in cold broth/water with your spices and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and allow the meat to cook until it falls apart, about 2 hours (we didn't dice our meat ahead of time). Toward the end (about an hour and a half in), add the carrots, green beans and sweet potato along with the mustard. Skim the fat if there is any. Once the vegetables are tender, add the cabbage and pasta and cook until the pasta is al dente. Check your seasonings and adjust to taste. 


Inspired again

I've been inspired again to get back to the blog. Would you believe that after 5 months (whoops!) it was a tamale to get me back on here? I went to a winter farmers market this morning and there was a vendor selling freshly made Mexican food. I got a chicken tinga tamale and some guacamole to go for lunch. As soon as I got home, I opened the husk and the aroma and steam hit me. I took a bite and I'm pretty sure the world stopped for a minute. The tamales I've had in the past were good, but always, always dry. Not this one. It was moist and flavorful and fresh. I inhaled the rest, along with the guacamole, every bite reaffirming my love of good food. That's when I thought about the blog again.

Please excuse the less than stellar cell-phone pic. These were my other finds from the market: vegan trail mix cookies, thick-cut maple cinnamon bacon and turmeric kombucha! Such a wide variety of vendors, it was awesome!

It's not that I haven't been cooking, just a lot has happened since my last post! Weeks were spent tending to those flowers I planted only to find that nothing but weeds would grow - just in case anyone was wondering... J and I traveled to Iceland and ate our way through the country (I suppose I should do a recap post on our foodie finds). I also moved about 30 miles closer to work. That was a big transition, to say the least. Then the holidays came and went, with lots of cookies being consumed. Seriously, lots. Even for breakfast. It was glorious. Not surprisingly, my stomach problems have flared up again. 

I'm currently embarking on a elimination diet, getting rid of common allergens and then reintroducing foods one at a time to see what the culprit is. This is certainly the cleanest I've ever eaten, which is a pretty big accomplishment I think. But my love of good food has brought out my creativity in the kitchen and I refuse to let the lack of gluten, dairy, soy, peanuts (gasp! the horror), etc, get in the way of making a delicious meal. 

To go with my tamale lunch, I decided to go with a Mexican dinner. The star of the show was a stack of quinoa tortillas, adapted from this recipe.

Yield: 3 tortillas (I scaled down to make this just enough for me)

1 1/3 cups quinoa flour (I ground quinoa and measured out the proper amount)
1/4 cup GF flour blend (I used Namaste Foods)
1/3 tsp salt (not that I measured, I just used a little heaping pinch)
1/2 tsp olive oil 
1/2 cup hot water (plus a little extra in case the dough is dry)

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix until the dough holds together and is smooth. Divide into three dough balls.
If you happen to have a tortilla press, by all means break it out now! If you don't, flatten your dough balls slightly and place in between a piece of folded parchment paper. Grab a saucepan a press down on the dough until it's flat. Alternatively you could roll out the dough. I'm not able to get them super flat this way, but I really don't care. I like that they're a little thicker, it certainly makes them more filling.
Place tortillas in an ungreased pan on medium heat until they brown on one side. The recipe said to cook for 1 minute, but mine were a little thick, so they went about 5 minutes. Flip and cook on the other side. The charred bits are my favorite, so if you're with me on the slightly browned train, let them sit in the pan a little longer. 

Easy, right? How have I not done this sooner? They are so flavorful, too. The salt is key to this recipe, in my humble opinion. 

No this isn't all I ate, just a late night snack of the leftovers! Pardon the nibbled tortilla on the top of the stack...