Check out my foodie adventures at Foodspotting and Foodgawker

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

dinner after the gym

I am not a runner. Let me repeat. Not a runner.

Somewhere near the two mile mark I feel like I might die. Really. I'm the jerk you don't want to have as a partner when you have to do "Indian Runs" at boot camp because I hold up the whole group puffing and panting. Sorry, Elizabeth!

So I was pretty shocked when one year ago a podiatrist told me that my really high arches were causing plantar faciitis. Common for runners. Pfffftwaaaaah??

Doesn't this foot look like it was born to be in heels? Instead, I got myself some orthotics and simultaneously signed up for grandma-in-training courses. It helps. A friend of mine who just finished massage school offered to study up on some foot massage techniques. Couldn't hurt. And I found that changing up the types of workouts helps a lot.

Here's what my past week of workouts looked like:

Saturday: 2.5 miles on elliptical + 25 mins swimming laps
Sunday: 25 mins swimming (while daydreaming about what I can make for lunch)
Monday: 60 mins strength training using free weights at 24Lift class
Tuesday: [rest]
Wednesday: [rest]
Thursday: Urban Bootcamp. Yeah, I did hold up the team. But I also did lunges, squats and push ups.
Friday: [rest]
Saturday: Whitewater rafting! (Seriously, that company is the BEST)
Sunday: Whitewater rafting!

When I come home from the gym and I am starving, I pull out all the veggies I have in the fridge and make a BIG chopped salad.

Spinach, corn, black beans, tomatoes, carrots and mozzarella!

Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette: Small spoonful of yogurt or vegenaise + balsamic vinegar + salt & pepper.

Served with Anderson's pea soup (my favorite canned soup) + grilled flatbread made from my sourdough starter!

I usually try to make soups I can store in the freezer. But, in a pinch, you can't beat this pea soup. It has a simple list of ingredients, the smoothest texture that makes it seem oh so creamy and naturally fat free. Zing!

It's really hard to cook when you are starving and tired. So I buy pea soup by the case because I come home hungry and tired a lot.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sourdough Bread

A couple of weeks ago, my friend, Arie, came over to teach us how to make beer bread. I'm not talking about a quick bread made with beer. I'm talking about chewy, yeasted bread that uses wort in place of water! Wort is the amazing liquid created during the process of brewing beer. The boiling of grains and sugars create a sweet, malty aroma. Imagine a big giant bath of honey, grains, maple syrup, oatmeal, and brown sugar. Are you picking up what I'm putting down? The wort lends all of these flavors to create some of most flavorful bread I have ever tasted.

One of my favorite qualities about Arie is that he truly loves teaching and sharing his knowledge. I'd love to share that knowledge with you, but there were spreadsheets involved!

Like, Excel spreadsheets.

He busted out the metric scale and started talking about mathematical equations, baker's percentages and hydration ratios and I packed up my bags to leave my own house. No, I didn't. I got my hands dirty in the floury mess. But don't worry, Arie has detailed his process to share with you too!

The process starts with boiling malt grains to make wort that is typically used for brewing beer. I can't wait to show you what else you can do with these boiled grains!

If you get the chance to pop into a local homebrewing shop, go sample the various types of grains! The grains range from light beige to pale gold to caramel to amber to deep, rich chocolate. Crunchy tasty.

You gotta have a starter--a simple mixture of flour and water that sits out and collects the naturally occurring yeast in the air. Then, you add the wort and some bread flour to your sourdough starter and let it hang out. It sits out at room temp and bubbles up to make a "sponge".

This is where the spreadsheets come in--you weigh how much starter and water you used to determine how much bread flour and salt to add to create a dough.

The dough is heavy and dense and you can tell right away that it will pack a nice yeasted malty flavor.

After kneading and letting the dough rest, you can shape it into rounds or baguettes and let it triple in volume. Then, like a kid putting sprinkles on the cupcake, you can decorate with seeds, salts, and spices as you wish. Using a sharp knife, you can cut some slashes in the dough if you want to get really fancy.

I have always loved "everything" bagels, so I put on a coating of sesame seeds, dehydrated garlic, poppy seeds, oregano, fennel seeds and salt.

Bake. Bake. Bake.

And wish for a more evenly heated oven.

Thank you, Arie, for sharing your bread knowledge with me. With us.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Potato cake

I was digging through my kitchen pans and re-discovered some long lost items! The design of my apartment kitchen is less than desirable. There are small cabinet doors that open to deep large spaces with little to no shelving. In order to find a pan, I have to twist my head to the side and reach my hand into the darkness and hope I can pull out whatever it is I'm looking for out of the pile of pots, pans, dishes, and lids. It's terrible!

I did this blind digging hunt recently and found my mini cast iron pans. LOVE these!

The thing about these little skillets is that you sometimes need to adjust recipes that use a normal deep dish cast iron skillet and you definitely need to alter the cooking times! I've made things in the little skillet that definitely overflowed, overcooked and underwhelmed. So, I checked around the internets to see what you guys are making in these little skillets.

I like to use these mini cast irons for making fancy potato cakes. You use a mandoline to slice a russet potato into paper-thin slices, arrange them in an overlapping circle with a sprinkle of parmesan to glue the layers together. It creates fantastic texture--crispy, ruffly edges with a soft creamy chew to it. They look like something you'd see at a steak house, no?

You could put your favorite cookie dough recipe into the skillet and make a homemade pizookie.

You could make mini cornbread cakes.

You could make mini pear tarte tatin's with brandy.

You could make Heather's gorgeous rustic apple tart.

Got any good ideas? I want to put these little babies to work!