23 March 2009

Tuna and beer (yes, you read that right)

After the rich food overload of the winter months, Ian and I had been craving something a little lighter. I've had quite the miracle food breakthrough with my picky eater husband as of late, and since I'd already introduced him to scallops (something he *refused* to try when we first started dating) and the wonders of mahi mahi, I decided it was time for the mecca: seared tuna steaks.

Luckily, the Clarkston Costco is a hop, skip and a jump away from one of my other jobs (it will be wonderful if one day I just had *one* job) so I hopped on over for a seafood special they had going a few weeks back. For three tuna steaks, locally produced (er, 350-400 miles local, that is) I only paid $10.50. I believe I even skipped out the door until someone in a cowboy hat gave me the "that's unlady-like" look. Damn you, Idaho.

In addition to the light dinner we prepared for a lazy Sunday afternoon, we also happened to find a new beer offered at our local Moscow Co-Op: He'Brew Pomegranate Ale. As a Jewish person in the middle of Christian nowhere, I believe I also did a little skip to the car. Until some hippie in Moscow gave me the "oh dear that's so uncool" look. I can't win in Idaho. 0-2.

The combination of He'brew and tuna steak salads was just the spring pick-me-up I needed, and even though he seemed a bit apprehensive biting into pieces of rare tuna, I think Ian might agree. The Origin Pomegranate Ale had a little bite to it, which was a great companion to the Cajun seasoned steaks. Even though we only dressed the greens in a little balsamic and olive oil, the fresh ground black pepper lightly sprinkled on top was like gefilte fish to this girl's soul.

Seared Tuna Salad
(Note: Salad greens and veggies are not listed because....it's a salad. You know what you will eat!)

2-3 thick tuna steaks
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 tbl. olive oil

1. Pat steaks with the pre-mixture of spices listed above and cook in a skillet with olive oil on medium-high for 1 1/2 minutes on each side (rare), or cook until desired. Serve over greens and veggies (only you know what you like!) drizzled with good quality balsamic, olive oil and a sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper.

15 March 2009

An epic fail snack and finally finding Chobani

So being here in the middle of a wheat field, it isn't exactly easy to find interesting snacks that aren't your run of the mill Doritos or Triscuits. It's perhaps even harder to find snacks that are organic, healthy and tasty, so I went to my fantastic Moscow Co-Op to try and find a suitable replacement for salty, unhealthy tidbits.

I found some interesting Brown Rice Snaps, and decided the Tamari Seaweed flavor was just provocative enough to complement the homemade hummus and Sicilian olives I had in my fridge. With a watering mouth, I sat down to watch Gilmore Girls with my loot, and with an excited hand I dipped my first snap into the hummus and.....gagged. Two more bites confirmed it--these were perhaps the grossest thing I had ever tasted.

My dogs liked it.

There was one wonderful outcome of my trip to the Co-Op, and that was finding Chobani yogurt. I had been hearing good things about Chobani for awhile, but it simply isn't easy to find a New York-based product out here. Imagine my surprise when I found Chobani's fruit on the bottom strawberry yogurt! I think I might be in love...

12 March 2009

An Interview with Monique

Monique, the awesome diva at Food Snob, has agreed to return the interviewing favor, and her answers to some of the food world's most pressing questions (since when isn't comfort food a matter of national security, folks?) are pretty awesome. Interview below, and don't forget to check out her blog.

1. You blog about food, but what other hobbies or interests do you participate in that are blog-worthy?
Thats a good one. Well, from time to time I blog about personal mishaps that, as my friends say, "only happen to me" so I sometimes add that into my daily foodie adventures for comedic effects- but a long time ago I considered writing a blog about the many misadventures of my life but I never got around to it. I guess I am more captivated by food. I also would probably blog about learning how to tap. Its an extremly BiPolar experience. One minute you are loving tap and the next you are cursing it. As of right now, I love it.

2. Does your job/career facilitate the range of topics or content of your food blog?
Not at all. Although at work people know I love the kitchen. When I first started working as a secretary in my office, I would bring in baked goods like Amish Bread or Pumpkin Bread and I guess I won them over with food. I work in the Legal field. There is no food associated with this whatsoever...unless you count all the things that officemates bring in to tempt me with!

3. What chefs do you admire?
I am hooked on the food network! A good day, in my opinion, is spent on a Sunday watchign all the wonderful shows. I like chefs that use ingredients that are easily accessible because some of them use things that are too deep for my pockets or too annoying to find. Bobby Flay is a favorite of mine along with Paula Deane (Minus all the butter) and in the non-chef category I love rachael Ray, Sandra Lee, and Robin Miller.

4. Is there a particular dish you have made your own?
Fritatta, Hands down one of the most effortless things yet most delicious things one can make that is versatile and always a crowd pleaser! I have at least 10 different fritattas on my blog!

5. Let's say you were a chef stuck on a deserted island, and you could only bring ten ingredients to sustain an island's worth of eaters. Which ingredients would you choose?
Eggs, Cheese, pasta, garlic, broccoli, chicken, beef, Zucchini, onions, milk.
The possibilities here are endless. I got like three seperate recipes right now!

6. Do you have a comfort food?
Oh yeah! Mac and Cheese! I used to go to Saritas Mac and Cheese in NYC almost every other day. then I moved out of mom and dads house and started to pay rent. One my of favorite mac and cheese recipes comes from a restaurant in Brooklyn. Its called DuMac and Cheese (DuMont) I ordered it one day and commented on how good it was to the waitress and I think she misjudged my food knowledged when she accidentally told me there was a bechamel sauce in the dish. So I went home and made my own version with Gruyere and parmesean, bechamel sauce, panchetta, and bread crumbs! YUM!

And here, just for your amusement, is a photo of Johnny Cash lol-style.

09 March 2009

I can has interview??

Monique over at Food Snob has posted a (dare I say it?) awesome interview with yours truly. Hope everyone is weathering the weather onslaught!

On deck this week (I promise. I swear): Chicken Jalfrezi, adventures with seitan, and I finally found Chobani Greek Yogurt!

In the meantime, I think I will grade another of 170 exams and/or essays. Blarg.

07 March 2009

Midterm Mea Culpa

So....I've not been in contact with people this week. I've kept up with my normal routine of warring with that pesky dissertation and grading stacks of papers that only seem to replenish once finished, but I've for sure neglected the things that serve as outlets for my frustration when I'm thoroughly buried. Including this blog.

Let me begin by showing you a photo from my office this past week. I went to the office with the painful premonition that snow was on its way. If I had cable, the Weather Channel probably would've confirmed this, but instead I went to school in heels. Luckily, the lovely people at Washington State University Fac Ops cleared the walkways. Bless them... After meeting with students and teaching all afternoon, the snow seemed to taper off for a bit.

And then, it only got worse. That hill doesn't look steep from my 4th floor window, but believe me, in windy conditions and heels, it definitely isn't fun.

Even worse. It started blowing ever so slightly sideways.

The only snacks I can muster in this kind of weather are the sandwich kind. So I reached for the cream cheese (I don't really use sandwich meats--too high in sodium for me), alfalfa sprouts, sliced cucumbers, ground flax and sunflower seeds (pressed into the cream cheese), sliced tomato, and radish on whole wheat bread.

If y'all haven't discovered the wonders of goji berries yet, I promise to post on them later. Wonderful stuff, and the dried variety (the only variety offered in the US because goji berries spoil before they reach their import destination) are great mixed with cream cheese for sandwiches, or sprinkled in salads. I opted to sprinkle them over a sliced Granny Smith apple for a little sweet treat. Quick lunch for a quickly progressing snowstorm.

02 March 2009

Pet Profile: Happy Birthday, Mr. Zanzibar

So it's a certain being's birthday, and I feel the need to gush about him. Zander the Howlin Wolf, my giant 125 lb. Golden Retriever, is five whole years old today!

Zander has many names and he answers to them all: Zanzibar, General Zandissimo Franco, Walter (my mother liked this name, and so did he apparently), Zan Zan and of course just making a "Z" sound with one's mouth elicits quite the affectionate brushing. The only problem with using any of these names? He hugs you with enough force to take down even the sturdiest human.

I've been walking down memory lane since I realized it was Zander's birthday, and I have to tell this story since Zander has always been so much a part of my life. When I decided to go to graduate school, I was living in an apartment with a very good friend of mine. I don't think I could have wanted anything more than to cast myself into the wind and pursue a field I really believed in (and still do, despite any whining or crabby provocation....or student loan debt). I have been writing since I was a little girl, and I have loved dogs since I was a little girl, and Zander's story is very much intertwined with the work I do every day.

Imagine the year: 1991, third grade. I *begged* my parents to add a Golden Retriever to our family. Of course my parents have always been dog people so they happily obliged my birthday request, but what we learned from that dog has/will last(ed) me a lifetime, even if Nikki died my freshman year of college (long life for a dog her size).

So as a pet owner for almost my entire life, what have I learned? Well, for starters, I've learned not to take on too much responsibility at once. I decided at a pretty young age that kids were not something to jump into lightly when, after the dog had gone on a terror following six hours home alone, my mom and I spent most of the night cleaning up and/or mending things that had been in her warpath. Pets tend to make clear just how responsible one must be to maintain and/or mend a human life.

I also learned what it's like to nurture another being. When Nikki was a pup, I was also a human pup, and thus walking and running her every day until she passed out into puppy paradise was no problem, but as I got older, I realized that dogs need just as much care as humans do, often if not more. When my roommate/best friend and I--PJ, for those of you who know him--adopted Zander, I threw all of my energy into raising him. When we moved to Pullman, Washington, I don't think I noticed how different everything was for several weeks because I was so invested in acclimating this fragile yet strong life into his surroundings.

*Sappy alert*

When I met Ian and his dog, it seemed as if our dogs had met their soul mates, and it was pretty clear that I had met my match in Ian. Ian/Erin and Zander/Zelda have yielded to a slightly hairy (them, not us...) family, and I take the greatest joy in spending each day with them and our new addition to the family, the very grumpy and always affectionate rescue kitty, Johnny Cash the Cat with Black.

The dog praise continues....

One of Zander's favorite things to do (and perhaps what makes him such a great companion) is to hug the person he loves, even if he only hugs your hand. He can hold this pose for quite awhile, or at least as long as my arm can take (which isn't long given his size, I'm afraid).

I'm sure pretty much everyone has seen this photo before not to mention it was taken when he wasn't full grown (!), but I'm always blown away by the proportion. His head is twice the size of mine! And I am definitely not tiny at 5'10".

When Zander met Zelda. A great love story, no?

01 March 2009

Healthier Veggie Quiche

There are few things I love more than quiche. Eggs and cheese perhaps, but alas! They make quiche! Quiche isn't exactly a light meal however, so the challenge of lightening a rather unhealthy meal was definitely one I feared would compromise the overall taste. Luckily it was a fear that was not realized.

My husband likes to scramble egg whites along with a whole egg in the morning, and from what I can taste, just one yolk is enough to satisfy my craving. About a month ago I also purchased egg substitute from Costco, and since I'm swimming in egg products, I decided that egg whites, egg yolk and egg substitute would make a fantastic lighter version of quiche.

I also tend to use quiche as a way of cleaning out my fridge, often relying on just vegetables to make an appearance in the pies (as opposed to the meat laden versions I often see in restaurants). With some goat cheese and reduced fat feta on their way to the great expiration date in the sky, these pies were not only healthier than the original but full of depth and sharp flavor.

Healthier Vegetarian Quiche

2 prepared pie crusts (someday I'll post a recipe for this...)
4 egg whites
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 cups egg substitute
1/4 cup fat free half and half
1 tsp. oregano
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (I used fat free)
1/4 crumbled goat cheese
3 tbl. grated Romano cheese
1 1/2 cups assorted fresh vegetables
Ground flax seed, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350. Lightly brush olive oil over the prepared pie crusts.
2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg yolk and whites together with egg substitute and fat free half and half. Add oregano, fresh ground black pepper, and cheeses. Gently fold in vegetables.
3. Pour half of the quiche mixture into the first pie shell and half into the second pie shell. I sprinkle ground flax on top for a little pseudo crust (it also keeps the eggs from browning for some reason--you could also beat the flax into the eggs in step 2).
4. Bake pies for 35-40 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Mixing and cleaning out the fridge at the same time...

See the flax??

Eat. Then curl up with a zoo of cuddly animals, if you can fit on the couch with them....