Monday, July 25, 2011
Friday, July 1, 2011
i understood the confused look, i didn't know what miso was either. one grocer asked me if it was a drink. honestly, i wasn't sure. all i knew was i needed 2 tablespoons of the stuff to finish off my shopping list so i could get to work preparing the vegan version of a nicoise salad.
finally, someone told me to try an asian grocery store. after looking through several listings in the phone book, i went to the closest one (still a 40-minute drive) and walked in, not knowing what to expect.
The woman behind the counter had a pleasant smile ready when i walked in her store. in her broken english, she asked me what i was looking for.
"miso?" i said, hopeful.
"ahh. miso. over here." she stated and with a quick whip of her hair, she darted to the refrigerator and just like that pulled out the mysterious grail i had been on the hunt for.
only, as i found out later, miso isn't so mysterious afterall. it's only fermented bean paste that is hugely popular in the asian food industry and i bet a regular at any major grocery chain in a bigger city. maybe not in southwestern indiana, but in more diverse places, surely.
let's go back. in late april, i was contacted by much and house public relations to do a review for a new cookbook. i am definitely not vegan, in all the sense that the word implies, but I do like to prepare more meatless meals in a week's time than not. so, i took the challenge.
the book is filled with all kinds of recipes with ingredients I can't even pronounce, things like tahini and tempeh, which is usually a turn-off for me. but, since I had committed to it, I decided to make the best of it and see what I am missing out on.
out of several recipes to choose to duplicate, i chose the nicoise salad. a traditional nicoise has a grilled tuna steak to top it off. In ann gentry's version, she uses tofu chevre, which is essentially a "tofu cheese".
Yeah. tofu cheese. i was a little out of my league here, for sure. but, i gathered all the ingredients with the help of my newly found little asian market and started preparing the salad. and the tofu cheese.
the salad? awesome. it combines interesting flavors pulled from kalamata olives, capers, and fresh cherry tomatoes plus steamed new red potatoes and green beans all settled in between chopped butter lettuce. if you haven't tried butter lettuce, or boston lettuce as it is sometimes referred, you are missing out. the texture is different than your standard romaine. it's big thick leaves almost seem 'buttery'. and if you are a reader of my blog at all, you know i loves the butter.
the kicker, though, comes from ann's vinaigrette; a melding of minced shallot, fresh thyme, lemon juice, dijon mustard, and a big dose of ground pepper and sea salt. perfection, really, and i could only think of how many other types of salad it could be perfectly drizzled over.
but the tofu cheese? a big fat failure. even following the instructions on how to mix it properly with the garlic, miso, and olive oil, and then refrigerated, and rolled in black peppercorns and baked until warm....uhhhh, no. mine completely fell apart and was just weird. plus, it tasted like....well, probably how tofu is supposed to taste.
but that's the thing about this book. even though i didn't really enjoy the tofu part of the recipe, i loved the salad, and it's not really a salad i would have tried to make otherwise. it got me out of my comfort zone when it comes to ingredients, which i think is what a good cookbook should do. the tag line "real food for everyone" in the title is just that. real food for everyone, because if you don't prefer the freakin' tofu cheese, just leave it out and you still have a pretty rad salad. and you can say you at least attempted. plus, hello! my new favorite soup came out of this book: black-eyed pea and red pepper soup. seriously delicious. not to mention the desserts! summer blueberry crumble? definitely yes. and several smoothie recipes, too.
oh, and that asian market? while i was there i picked up several other items that i can't wait to try, which i also wouldn't have done otherwise. i mean, i didn't even know we had an asian market in our city. and the owner even got to me to consider trying the sushi she makes, right there in her store on the spot. i definitely wouldn't have done that otherwise, and i promised her i would try it next time i come back.
and if nothing else, i definitely know what miso is now.
check out celebrity chef ann gentry's blog.
Buy your copy (and read an excerpt) of vegan family meals: real food for everyone, here.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
after resolving the situation with t, i climb the stairs, baby carrier in hand to where jackson and bryce are sitting. when i arrive, they bolt, which i knew was coming by the smirks on their sweet little faces. i, of course, act like i didn't even see them which results in them coming right over within reach so i can lecture/tease them about the importance of staying close to mom.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Bryce peeking around the corner at Shrek
Never mind I've chosen to rock the woodgrain panels and original 1986 brown shag to the world: check out that face. It's one of sheer terror and one that makes my heart aflutter. I love seeing my kids scared, the face that accompanies is just the cutest thing ever. It can be a fine line though, understanding the science of scaring. Alas, I know from personal experience.
Right before we moved to Jacksonville, we stayed with Travis' parents for six-ish months. Travis' dad runs dogs, or used to run dogs, and I guess he was pretty good at it because he has among his trophies, one in the form of a stuffed bird. A stuffed bird that used to be ALIVE. Triston, being the 15-month-old animal lover that he was, was naturally drawn to the bird and would point and say "Gunh", which was his word for "Bird" (for, like, ever.) . I would get the bird down and set it on the table at his eye-level and let him look at it, all the while knowing there was a hint of caution in his eye. (I so wish I could find a picture of that bird...it was intense.)
You get bored when you don't have your own home....ahem, something I know all too much about and it wasn't long before I started making the bird move ever so slightly across the table and making soft "coos" that made Triston's head snap up. He would look at me and make the face and I would hug him and tell him it was alright. So cute. But, somehow that morphed into me actually scaring the crap out of him with the bird. I would make the bird "caw" and he would run to me and make the cute face. It sort of became a game...only one he didn't really like. Oh, come on, it was only a few times....and his Nana and aunt helped, so there.
But then, we were at my mom's house one night. Triston had just watched Monsters Inc. and I could tell his "monster awareness" was off the charts. It was getting close to bedtime and he was coming down the hall--the darkened hall. Like a bona fide idiot, I stood in the shadows and jumped out at him and growled. What a mom.
He was never the same. To this day, he still cautiously walks down the hallway at my mom's house. He wants every light on in his vicinity if it's dark outside. We have had many a argument over why I'm not going to stay in his room until he falls asleep, and we've stumbled over him in the morning upon waking because he has made a bed for himself right beside us in the middle of the night. Worst of all, I lost his trust that night. Even now, if he is really scared about something, I can tell my presence does little to calm him. I really have to talk him out of it and every once in awhile he ends up scaring me. (Like when Travis is gone over night...those are the worst.)
I, of course, hadn't realized all the ramifications quite yet at that point and continued to try to scare my kids. All in the name of seeing that face, pretty pathetic, huh? It's just so cute. But, fortunately, Jackson didn't have the same issues and he was unfazed by my eager attempts. Jackson's only terror comes from getting caught doing things he is not supposed to, a trait I will be bracing myself for as adolescence draws nearer. Oh, and bugs. He hates flying bugs.
So along comes Bryce and since we already had 3 years under our belts of whining about being scared, the prize of seeing the cutest face ever just wasn't a prize anymore. You'll be glad to know I've recovered from trying to scare the crap out of my children on purpose and I do what I can to shield them from sensitive material.
Nevertheless, that face ranks among my favorites and when I do get the chance to see it, instead of running to console, I'm usually running for my camera.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
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