Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Millennium Picnic

This past weekend, the general opinion in my family was that it was time for an escape. We decided to go to Chicago, just for one night. We arrived in time for lunch on Saturday, did plenty of walking and shopping in the afternoon, and collapsed onto the grass in Millennium Park. There we met two friends of the family. They brought the most perfect and classy picnic food!

Of course there was wine, for those over 21, and sparkling blood orange juice for the minors. There was melon with prosciutto. And my favorite, goat cheese on crackers with Edward's ingenious homemade green tomato chutney. Mmmmm.

Monday, August 30, 2010


This arrow is from snack today, and the gravity defying raspberries are from the archives of summer food pictures.

If anyone hasn't ever eaten frozen peas or corn, I would definitely recommend it. Frozen peas are delicious and nutritious! When I was little, I always ate my frozen peas with ketchup. Actually, scratch out that "when I was little" part. And if you are more inclined towards frozen fruit instead of veggies, frozen raspberries are the best option by far, in my personal opinion.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hansel and Gretel

lollipop from OUTfest

The flavor was hovering somewhere around banana. And banana flavored candy is just plain unpleasant. But it was too pretty to resist.

And I'm adding this in at the bottom days later just because I forgot about this picture but I want to post it and I figured I'd put it with something OUTfest related and the moral of this runon sentence is that these adorable creations were made by a friend of mine and I thought they were so cute!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Playing With Food

I will never grow out of playing with my food. I made myself this for lunch today, simply because snacking on plain sliced turkey would have been boring. I thought the shredded deli meat looked like noodles in a very adorable way, so I entertained myself a little bit.

Due to my love of playing with food, I've always been impressed with sushi. Arranging sushi would be the best job in the world. Here's a quick shot of dinner tonight, at Maru. I was never a sushi fan before I went to Maru. Now I love it. 

In the back is an avocado, asparagus, cucumber roll, a futo maki roll, and a Japanese pickle (oshinko) roll. In the front is a playboy roll, which is my absolute favorite. Inside is tempura shrimp and avocado and on top is tuna, tempura flakes, and roe. The crunchy topping is just so much fun.  In the center is a volcano roll, which is not actually what we ordered, but we ate it anyways. The topping was some scary sort of spicy thing with shrimp, that tasted delicious in a very evil way. Inside was basically a California roll. 

Honey to the Bee

from the farmer's market 

honey to the bee, that's you for me - Billie Piper (God, I miss 90s pop)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Some sugar cookies I baked for OUTfest. I'm a soft cookie person, but I made an exception for these to make them easier to ice. I also had to make these in record time. I made the dough before work in about 20 minutes, then rolled it into two logs and put it in the freezer. After standing for 5 hours at work, I was so tired, but the second I walked in the door, even before changing out of my work clothes (which is usually my first thing to do), the oven was preheating and I was slicing the logs. 
While they were in the oven, I changed and put on a Beatles cd while I whipped up some simple frosting. I used my favorite ziploc as pastry bag trick to make my pretty rainbows with the icing I had dyed with food coloring. And of course I had to make one with straight lines, because straight people like rainbows and cookies too. It was around 11:30 before I finally had a chance to sit down and when I went to bed, considerably after midnight, I could barely walk. I did have some gorgeous cookies, though. 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Cooking Without Water...

...or soap or a stove or pots or utensils or cutting boards or big knives or a fridge or a microwave or... anything else. How did we do it? Excellent planning.

Food was one of the biggest concerns when we started planning our camping and canoeing trip. We needed substantial protein-filled food, but it needed to be able to handle being lugged around in the hot sun. I think we were all pleased with our large bags of trail mix, oatmeal cookies, peanut butter, bags of celery, bags of sliced carrots, bread, granola bars, apples, and oranges. But you can't go for two days without hot food, and I can't go for two days without doing at least a little cooking.

Alex couldn't come to our first day of canoeing, where we would spend hours canoeing eleven miles to the campsite, so we decided that he would drive to the campsite directly and meet us in the evening. He was a life-saver. His car not only carried folding chairs, a guitar, a lantern, paper towels, and an extra tent just in case, but a small cooler and a few bags of food. After we started a fire (thank you Boy Scouts of America), we got to work on dinner.

I cut six sections of tin foil and spread them on the picnic table. On each, I sprinkled an equal share of potato that Alex had peeled, cut into chunks, and put into a zip loc bag to facilitate easy assembly. After doing the same with a bag of onions and a package of shredded cheddar cheese, I sprinkled on a bit of chili powder, paprika, salt, and pepper. I folded up the tin foil into little packages and cut a few holes with a leatherman. Into the fire went our hobo dinners.
While they were cooking, we stabbed hot dogs with sticks and held them over the fire. Unfortunately, we had forgotten ketchup, which is one of my main food groups, but we feasted on hot dogs with left over cheddar and chili powder. Eventually we grabbed our hobo dinners from the fire with tongs and opened them up. Although the cheese was a bit burnt, the potatoes and  onions were the best substantial camping meal I could have asked for.
And luckily for you, I have it on camera. Due to her desire for a technology free weekend, my sister asked me to put my project on pause during our camping trip, so I went with no camera and no phone. It felt very strange to not take pictures of my food, but hey, many other parts of camping are strange (like the lack of toilet paper). Karen did bring her camera, however. While I didn't record everything, like I usually do, I did manage to snap a few shots of dinner, just for you.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


A peachy paradox: The skin of the peach is my favorite part, yet I adore peeled peaches.

Freshly cooked peaches with toasted pecans and cinnamon sugar

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tuna a la Alex

Planning for our camping trip a few days ago, we got hungry for lunch. Unfortunately, there was a bad case of too-many-cooks-in-the-kitchen syndrome that resulted in a mistake (or perhaps a misunderstanding?) that involved a large quantity of ground cloves being dropped into the tuna with the spices. Once I managed to remove most of the cloves, it was actually not bad at all. I'd call it unique. I especially loved the capers that were mixed in thanks to Alex.

Nothing Says Welcome like Brownies

My favorite step has always been when the molten chocolate is stirred into the egg and sugar mixture. 

Topped with caramel frosting

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Picnic in the Living Room

Because why not?

Sitting crosslegged on an Indian tablecloth in the center of the living room eating with chopsticks is an excellent way to spruce up dinner. We're eating an Asian stir fry with tofu, carrots, broccolini, mushrooms, ginger, and buckwheat soba noodles. 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Plan B

The intention was to make s'mores on the grill outside, but due to excessive gabbing around the dining table, the grill was practically cold by the time it was dessert. Plan B? Stove-top marshmallow toasting! 

The finished product:

Most of my marshmallows were consumed in flames, but still, it is very difficult to make an inedible marshmallow, so I devoured them anyways. 
Why does my sister manage to do absolutely everything better than me? Look at this marshmallow. Have you ever seen a more perfect marshmallow? Why don't mine come out like that?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Some days, you just need some ramen noodles.

I've been touched by His noodley appendage. 

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Good Neighbor Policy

My response to the ringing of the doorbell is usually more of a grumble than anything else. Especially today, when hustling to open the door was much more exertion than I had displayed all day. Still, the call of the doorbell roused me from my headache-induced hibernation at the computer, where my eyes had long since glazed over. Too many hours of monotonous government course homework will do that to you.

I opened the door, expecting the usual request for money, services, or donations. Instead, I had the most pleasant surprise. My neighbor was waiting there, not asking for money, not selling anything, not asking for a favor of any kind. She had a tray of cupcakes, chocolate ones, with blue and yellow icing that were left over. Did we want any? What could be a more perfect way to brighten a gloomy day than free homemade chocolate cupcakes right at your front doorstep?

I recently discovered that I am not the only person who makes little sandwiches out of cupcakes. My initial emotion was torn between pleasure at the newfound kinship with other cupcake-sandwich makers and disappointment that I am far less original and unique than I thought I was.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Pesto, Take Two

I was very pleased with yesterday's smear of pesto, so I tried again for breakfast this morning.

The adorable little egg and the tomatoes are from the farmer's market.

And if you can't tell, yellow is my favorite color. Yellow makes the cheeriest breakfasts.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Watermelon, in Total Seriousness

My mom approached me, a grave look in her eyes. "Bea, I need you to start working seriously on eating this watermelon."
The obedient daughter I am, I did my best.

watermelon with feta and pepper
watermelon wrapped in sliced chicken and basil
watermelon spread with pesto

Like Sunshine and Happiness

Bubble tea is so perfect in every way. Like chocolate, it has the ability to improve any situation and wipe away problems into sunshine and happiness. The perfect combination of drink and toy, I like all the different flavors. If you like ice tea, get the green tea. This one here is a lychee green tea. If you want something slightly heavier, try the slushy ones. 

While I was walking home, sipping away, I noticed how cute the perfect single layer of tapioca bubbles on the bottom of my cup was. I decided that I should take a picture of it, since in my original picture taken at the store, you can't even see the bubbles very well. With this decision, I resolved not to drink the remaining inch of tea until I reached home. I got about a block before the tea's magnetic pull slowed me to a halt. I couldn't not finish the bubbles. I couldn't not take a picture. 

I dropped to my knees on the hot sidewalk. I took off my headphones and put down the tea and rooted around in my purse, emptying most of it onto the sidewalk before pulling out the camera bag. I proceeded to snap a few shots under the sweaty sun. A person or two stepped over me on their way down the street. The drivers passing slowed slightly, curious why a girl was bent in half over a mostly-empty plastic cup in the middle of the sidewalk. Luckily, I stopped before actually melting into a puddle. I replaced my sunglasses and headphones, piled my life back into my purse, and headed home with my pictures and an empty cup.  

Do I post too much ice cream?

There's always room for one more.

Tonight, at Snow Bear, I had simply no idea what to get. I was chatting with the friendly ice cream guys as I decided, and the topic came to blue moon ice cream. Yes, the blue one with no real flavor that only little kids get. Except me of course. If you actually try blue moon, it is really delicious. The flavor is elusive, mysterious. The faint flavor hiding behind the sugar is familiar, like something from "a half-remembered dream" as they might say in Inception (but not creepy or haunting like the movie, of course). Anyways, the ice cream guy mentioned that he likes his blue moon ice cream with European chocolate ice cream. So I had to have it.

This picture doesn't quite capture the proper blue color, but I'm sure you get the idea. The blue/brown combination is quirky and cool, and the flavors are excellent together. I definitely recommend this combination to first time blue mooners!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Salad a la Mama Mia

Trust my mother to come up with the craziest food combinations that turn out perfectly every time. Tonight, a quick dinner consisted of what she dubbed a "Unique, Warm, Mediterranean Nicoise-Inspired Salad." She started with sauteeing onions, eggplant, and zucchini. These warm veggies were added to hot boiled potatoes, fresh juicy red tomatoes, canned tuna in olive oil, parsley, basil, capers, and lots of lemon juice. Tossed all together, the warm and cool components melded into a room temperature concoction. The flavors of the lemon, capers, olive oil, and tuna work in their perfect combination to create a salad that was, in her words, "truly exquisite" and completely unique.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

"I think eating is nice." "So do I," said Frances.

Albert took two napkins from his lunch box. 
He tucked one napkin under his chin. 
He spread the other one on his desk like a tablecloth.
He arranged his lunch neatly on the napkin. 
With his spoon he cracked the shell of the hard-boiled egg.
He peeled away the shell and bit off the end of the egg. 
He sprinkled salt on the yolk and set the egg down again.
He unscrewed his thermos-bottle cup and filled it with milk. 
Then he was ready to eat his lunch.
He took a bite of sandwich, a bite of pickle, a bite of hard-boiled egg, and a drink of milk.
Then he sprinkled more salt on the egg and went around again.
Albert made the sandwich, the pickle, the egg, and the milk come out even. 

-Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban
(and the title, too)

In general, I manage to subdue my inner Albert, and I try not to be obsessive about food coming out even. But some foods just have to be eaten such that they come out even.

For example, I love eating nuts and dried fruit. My favorites nuts are walnuts and pecans; my favorite fruits are dried cherries and raisins. And whenever I eat them, I have to turn this:

into this:

A few days ago I was eating walnuts and raisins in the car at night, and it was so difficult. I had to squeeze each item to figure out if it was squishy and raisiny so that I didn't accidentally end up eating two nuts or two raisins at once instead of the perfect one-to-one ratio.

Fifteen Salads of Summer

Summertime is the time of the farmer's market, and the farmer's market is salad lover's heaven. Over the past few months, I have had salads of every type with every imaginable vegetable and fruit combination. With ingredients so colorful and bright, we often enjoy playing with our food, so many of the salads are pretty as well as delicious. Plus, I just like playing with my food.  

1. peaches, blueberries, feta, and basil

2. tomatoes, croutons, basil, and vinaigrette with nasturtiums

3. lettuce, cucumbers, green beans, eggs, and currants

4. carrots, raisins, and apples on a lettuce bed

5. chicken, blueberries, and corn on a bed of lettuce

6. tomatoes, cucumber, and basil

7. lettuce, green beans, and cherry tomatoes

8. potatoes and beets with green beans and wax beans, olives, and parsley

9. mango, avacado, and cucumber

10. a variation on the above salad with mango, avocado, and chicken

this is also delicious with just mango and avocado. if you have never had these two together, try it! it is amazing. dress with lemon juice and a drop of olive oil with plenty of salt and pepper

11. tomatoes, cucumber, corn, and basil

12. lettuce, green beans, and a soft boiled egg

13. tomatoes and peaches

14. carrots, blueberries, and walnuts

15. tomatoes, basil, and egg