Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas!

After minimal amount of plane delayage and confusion, I landed in Boston late last night. I am now quite officially in the Christmas spirit. Presents and shopping and skiing and baking! So while I will most certainly be eating delicious food in the next two weeks, I can't guarantee many (if any) blog posts. I hope everyone has a delightful Christmas and New Years filled with hot chocolate and warm cookies!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Breakfast Couscous

Is it bad that the first thing I do after coming home from work is always checking the fridge? Even if I'm not hungry, I'm curious as to what my mom cooked for dinner without me. If my willpower is sufficient to avoid having dinner as a midnight snack, I'll eat it for brunch the next day. Thus, this morning, I ate half a grapefruit and a steaming bowl of Israeli couscous with fennel and leeks for breakfast. Maybe not your traditional breakfast fare, but it was delicious. 

And that is a picture of my hero in Bon Apetit magazine. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ben's Saltine Things

There it is: the best part of a debate meet. Yes, I like meeting other smart high schoolers. Yes, I like sharing ideas about current events. Yes, I love my debate team. But Ben's saltine things? They're the reason I go again and again, every weekend. Sometimes he doesn't make them for a tournament. I inevitably lose. How does that make your conscience feel, Ben?

Ben's saltine things are the completely perfect debate food, containing nothing more than the necessary food groups: butter, sugar, white flour, salt, and chocolate. Ah. So good. These keep me in the perfect sugar-high ready to debate mode.

While I know that I could easily make these myself, I have never tried. There is something sacrilegious about eating them when not dressed for a tournament. And if I made them, they'd be Bea's Saltine Things and not Ben's Saltine Things, and that doesn't have quite the same ring.

I once thought that my obsession with these cracker cookies was unique. Nobody else quite understood my love for these tasty treats. Imagine my surprise when I found out that the humble cracker is quite a phenomenon! I found them on Smitten Kitchen, the home of all things delicious and heavenly, and then yesterday, they were in the New York Times! Of course, they get the name wrong, with Deb saying "chocolate caramel crack(ers) and the Times saying saltine cracker brickle. I much prefer the ambiguity in the label "things" to the onomatopoeia of "brickle." But maybe that's just me. Either way, I'm glad these crackers have finally achieved the fame they deserve.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cranberries for Christmas

Every winter, we pull out the November 2001 issue of Gourmet  to find the cranberry turtle bars. These impressive little bars are a tradition in our household as my mom's standard gift for hosts or teachers. They are the perfect balance of tart and sweet in a bite-size package.

I tell myself that the addictive cookies are healthy because of the fresh cranberries and the pecans, but there is no way that the number of them that I eat is healthy.

Above is the best Christmas present I have ever received. I know that wherever I end up in life, my matryoshka measuring cups will be at home in my kitchen. Thank you, Shriya!

Making the caramel is the scary part of this recipe. Several times, it was completely ruined and my mom had to start from the very beginning. I think she's got it down, though, because both batches this year have been perfect.

Are you impressed with the left-handed photography skills below? I think you should be.

My mom amuses herself with the chocolate on top. She is a master at treble clefs.

Also, just reminding you in case you don't do this already: always click on the pictures to view them large! That's the only real way to appreciate them. Thanks!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bread And Jam For Francis

1. This is one of many pictures from Thanksgiving about which I completely forgot.
2. Doris bakes the most amazing bread. It is one of the best things about Thanksgiving.
3. At IHOP after the Chesterton debate meet this weekend, several of us who were brought up right had a large reminiscing-about-Frances-books session. Its highly possible that I recited her entire song about soft-boiled eggs. 
4. Congratulations, Francis!


Finally, our kiwis are more than little fuzzy rocks!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Milky Tears

Go ahead and spill, milk, because I'm done crying. 

This is my 100th post.

Friday, December 10, 2010


Sharing a pixie from our debate chocolate fundraiser. Pixies may be my new favorite Fanny May candy, next to Mint Meltaways, of course. The only part I don't like about them is the way that their bottoms are bare. The pecans and caramel are just hanging out for the world to see. How much more difficult would it be to close the underside with a little bit of chocolate?

For some reason, she objected to me melting the edges of the pixie in the Hannukah candles. I don't understand what could be wrong with a warm, melty chocolate turtle! Surely it's not sacrilege when the end result is so delicious.

Forgive the bad pictures and lack of posts. Today (or should I say yesterday?) was tough, as the last few days have been. This weekend will be worse. Give me a few weeks and everything will be sunshine and daffodils, I've just got to get there.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Day In The Life

Cinnamon toast and chocolate milk

Course 1: half a cucumber wrapped in sliced chicken, dipped in marinara sauce
Course 2: sliced beets and oranges drizzled with olive oil
Course 3: buttered cranberry orange toast

Course 1: sweet potatoes roasted on a mini baking sheet in the shiny new toaster oven
Course 2: salad with pears, grapefruit, and pecans and grapefruit juice dressing

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Why Food Photography Is Superior

Photography can be frustrating. After travelling to hard-to-access locations, lugging around camera equipment, and dealing with annoying models, it must be extremely aggravating to find that your dream can't be realized for a trivial reason. That's why I'm glad my chosen genre of photography is food photography. When the "model" won't cooperate or the equipment fails or the lighting isn't adequate, you always have a nice plate of food in front of you. 

The phood makes up phor any photographic phrustration. Ophphicially.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Snickerdoodles Come Full Circle

There it is. The official first picture in my Summer 2010 Food folder in all of its unedited glory, fresh off of my mom's camera. Snickerdoodles that I baked with my sister were the first thing that I ate after school ended and I began my summer project. That day seems like yesterday, but somehow the better part of a year has slipped by me.

All that's happened between that picture and today rushed past my eyes when I brought out the same recipe this afternoon. I was making snickerdoodles for a bake sale to raise money for a trip that the seniors from Civic Youth Theater are taking to New York this coming summer. Snickerdoodles are my first thought for events like bake sales because they are quick to make and everyone loves them. Today's were delicious: big and soft, just how I like them.

Considering the vast amount of butter and sugar that goes into these cookies, relatively few cookies actually made their way out of the oven. Two possible hypothesis to explain that phenomenon: either each cookie was too big or Orr and I ate too much cookie dough.

Grace is begging you to buy cookies to support us! We'll be selling cookies before each performance of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Making My Morning Cuppa

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I Don't Want Anything More

I don't want anything more
Than to see your face when you open the door
You'll make me beans on toast and a nice cup of tea
And we'll get a Chinese and watch TV

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Black Friday

The distance between Noel and Doris's rural home in Machipongo and any stores has prevented me from ever going shopping the day after Thanksgiving. Instead, our Black Friday tradition is to go out back and pick some kiwis. Each year the number of kiwis grows and the vines get more tangled. Of course, the most beautiful kiwis are always the ones just out of reach. Even with a ladder, picking all of the kiwis is impossible, but that doesn't stop us from trying. The egg cartons of kiwis that we pack to take home don't make a dent in the hundreds of kiwis in plastic grocery sacks in the gazebo.

Packed and ready to head home in my carry-on bag. They're still pretty unripe, but I can't wait for our pretty green slices of Virginia! 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Tradition, Tradition!

Families gather across America each year on the fourth Thursday of November. Sweet potatoes or mashed potatoes, turkey or tofurkey, every family does it differently. I think it's safe to say that my family does it differentlyer than most.

I don't know how to begin to explain the origins my favorite family tradition, so I won't attempt to justify it. All I know is that for the past few years, several days before our Thanksgiving trip to Virginia, my mom stops by her favorite Asian grocery store. We wrap the sweet and savory treats in wrapping paper and load them into our carry-ons.

After stuffing ourselves with the classic Thanksgiving feast, no one has room for the pumpkin or apple pies that are waiting in the kitchen, but when a bag of colorful packages is passed around, everyone takes one. It's not Thanksgiving without trying some of everything: the seaweed, the pocky, the cracker nuts, the dried mango. I wouldn't have it any other way. 

You may remember how much I love pocky. It's a little ridiculous. This time we had original, Men's pocky, caramel milk, and some very fancy patterned one that was excellent.

Dried fruit chips. These are actually not really very good, honestly.

 Hi-Chews are amazing. I love the mango flavor most, but all of them are great.

Dried mango. Mmm. 

I'm honestly perplexed as to why cracker nuts are not more common. They seem like the obvious solution to America's obsession with addictive snack foods. Over the peanut base is a coating made of a cracker and a topping of something powdery, salty, and delicious. When I'm a rich old man who watches football and drinks beer all day long, I will never be more than two feet from a bowl of hot and spicy cracker nuts.

Not pictured: lots of seaweed snacks and many intriguing types of ramen.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Coral Kale

Coral Cale? Koral Kale?

I'm off to Machipongo in twelve hours! Tonight, I will dream of stuffing and sweet potatoes and gravy and fresh baked bread and warm chocolate chip cookies. I'll be back soon with 10 pounds on my hips and hundreds of pictures on my camera. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Potatoes: An I Can Read Book

By Mia, Lisa, and Bea

I'm learning to cook potatoes. We never cook potatoes. Who cooks potatoes? Caroline cooks potatoes! Caroline loves potatoes. I love potatoes, too. I love big potatoes and small potatoes. Do you love potatoes?

Monday, November 22, 2010

School Lunch Salad

I ate lunch in the Delphi Elementary cafeteria on Friday, and while it wasn't the worst hamburger I've ever had, it made me infinitely thankful for the food that I eat on school days at lunch. Today, when I came home to find a half of a grapefruit from the high school's orchestra fundraiser waiting on the counter, I tossed out the boring peanut butter and apple sandwich I had been planning on making. Instead, I concocted a refreshing salad with crispy lettuce and juicy pomegranate seeds tossed with nothing more than olive oil, salt, and pepper. The grapefruit juice dripping from each lettuce leaf brightened the grey day.

In the past few days, we've been eating roughly one pomegranate per day for two people. I wish pomegranate season would continue forever.

Forgive Me

Lamb with garlic, parsley, shallot, cumin, and cracker crumbs.

I suggested that perhaps we ought to be vegetarian most of the time; we would eat meat only on weekends. Incredulous, she replied, "What would we do on the weekdays?" Silly me! I guess I didn't think that part through before speaking.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Jeni's Splendid

Jeni's is to ice cream as wine is to grape juice. While wine is fundamentally the same as grape juice, just liquid derived from a grape, no one grabs a plastic bottle of wine from the vending machine for lunch or pours a tumbler of wine for a toddler. No grape juice connoisseurs evaluate a poetic description of the flavors before buying a bottle and no one holds expensive events centered around exploring grape juice's scents and tastes. In much the same way, Jeni's, in a simple world, is ice cream, yet it is anything but. Jeni's is not to be piled onto a warm slice of apple pie, dolloped into root beer, or doused in Hershey's syrup. I find that to be best appreciated, Jeni's should be served in small quantities: one spoonful in a tiny bowl or a frozen bite of ice cream licked off of a single spoon.

The strange thing about my relationship with Jeni's ice cream is that despite the number of pints of Jeni's that I have helped to consume, I have never actually been inside one of their stores. I know the ice cream only from afar because of the pints that my mom has tucked inside a cooler and driven home from Columbus, Ohio over the years. As my sister and I treasured each spoonful of these eagerly-awaited treats, my love for Jeni's grew into a passion.

This past weekend, my mom came home with a special load of Jeni's. Instead of a boring cooler filled with ice packs, she came bearing a styrofoam cooler with a large chunk of dry ice that cooled a total of six pints of ice cream. This fortune was stored away in the freezer for a party of my mom's, but even though I missed the get-together, I still managed to try all of each of the six amazing flavors. After our Munster debate meet, I brought two friends over for a brief ice cream taste test. While most teenagers would be watching tv, Shriya, Alex and I were sampling one flavor at a time. And I must say, they were the two best people with whom I could share my treasure, never complaining or making fun of my mild obsession.

Of these six specific flavors, the only one that I had already tried was Gravel Road, a delicious blend of caramel, salt, and almond flavors. The next was Askinosie Dark Milk Chocolate. I was a little worried that for a dark chocolate lover like me, this would be too sweet and creamy, but that wasn't the case. The ice cream was perfectly creamy and smooth, but it was mixed in with real dark chocolate that balanced out the sweetness. The Grapefruit Hibiscus sorbet was the fan favorite, although it wasn't my personal favorite. It was the only non-dairy one in this batch. That's fine with me, because my favorites are the rich, decadent ones, but sometimes a lighter sorbet is perfect. According to Alex, eating the sorbet was exactly like eating a frozen grapefruit. 

Below is the Star Anise with Candied Fennel, one of the more gentle flavors that we chose, topped with extra candied fennel seeds for crunch and color. I love the idea of licorice ice cream. It makes so much sense, yet I've never seen it done before. My two favorites were the most surprising flavors of the batch in that if you heard their names, ice cream wouldn't pop into your head. The first is Olive Oil with Sea Salted Pepitas. Olive oil ice cream is apparently unpalatable to some people, but it makes me feel like a Greek goddess being fed spoonfuls decadent, divine ice cream. The second is Oakvale Young Gouda with Vodka-Plumped Cranberries. Gouda, one of my favorite cheeses, is a gentle flavor that blends in to the cream at first, then develops as a flavor of its own. The cranberries manage to be juicy, not dry, and extremely delicious. 

Six flavors, all uniquely delicious. And because my descriptions can never match the real thing, look at the seasonal and signature flavors on Jeni's website. Cocoa Zin, anyone? Blackstrap Praline? I can't wait for Mama Mia's next delivery of hand-picked Jeni's flavors.