31 December 2011
Twelve Days with a Grateful Heart: The Austin Food Blogger Alliance and the Austin to Boston food swap
My Austin to Boston swapmate was Halley from Blunder Construction. Halley writes an awesome blog, which features recipes, great pictures, and stories about her cat Jelly, amongst other things. You should definitely check her blog out. She also happens to be named after a comet and works as an engineer, it's as though the swap matchers could read our minds (or profiles). Yay for STEM people who also write food blogs!
Halley sent her package early, which was good, since we were leaving for Michigan not too long after the swap deadline.
Halley sent along zaatar spice+crackers from Sofra Bakery in Cambridge, REAL maple syrup, cranberry vinaigrette, plum jam, a vegan peanut butter cookie (not pictured), a cute little teddy bear, some eco-friendly pinch bowls, and ginkgo leaves that she mod-podged onto some mini canvases.
So far, we've tried the cookie (which was delicious, hence did not make it into the picture) and the zaatar spice. When I saw the zaatar spice, I immediately made hummus so that we could sprinkle some on, and ate it with a bit of olive oil and pita. Sooo good and definitely a fun reminder of all the great Middle Eastern restaurants at home. The maple syrup has been earmarked for pancakes that will be made on New Year's day and the cranberry vinaigrette is going on a salad for tomorrow evening. With all of the great items in the package, I knew that I'd have to bring my A game to my bundle.
I managed to get out my Austin to Boston package on time, but I totally pregnancy-brained on the taking pictures of what I sent. Fortunately, most of this is available on the internets, so here's a run down of what/why I sent.
I tried to send things that were both from Texas as well as a couple items from Michigan.
Round Rock wildflower honey - nothing gets more local than honey and I really enjoy their wildflower honey
Confituras pear caramel sauce - Confituras is just one of those quintessential AMAZING Austin small businesses that put out ridiculously high quality products. I ventured over to the farmers market to see what they had and this looked pretty darn good.
Fredericksburg Farms Dusseldorf mustard - I use this as an everyday condiment and I've sent it out in care packages as well.
Native Texan BBQ sauce - BBQ sauce is something that I find a must to make barbecue enjoyable and Native Texan is one of my favorite brands.
Clint's Texas Salsa - Colby loves this stuff and salsa seemed like a must on the list of all things Texas.
Vernors pop - I sent this with a recipe for homemade vanilla ice cream to make the Detroit-invented, but appropriately named, Boston cooler
Al Dente spinach fettuccine - The only time I've ever seen this pasta was in specialty grocers in Michigan, so imagine my surprise when I saw it at Central Market. They're located up the road from Zingerman's in Ann Arbor.
You should check out the posts that Halley also wrote about what she sent me and took pictures (which are way better than anything I could ever take!!) of what I sent her.
sun dried tomato spread
serrano ham+cheese plate from Antonelli's
chocolate chip cookies
apple cranberry pie
|sweet corn dessert at Uchiko|
|rabbit and duck liver pate at Luke New Orleans|
30 December 2011
for one that was decidedly less pretty
Why yes, that IS a macadamia nut stuck on a paper clip over a pie tin that's been lit on fire. How perceptive of you! It turns out that they burn just like candles due to their high fat content.
Chris brought macadamia nuts to Austin as part of our annual New Year's Eve festivities. Kyle's here too and by this time tomorrow, we'll have a full house filled with friends from all over the country. Life, it turns out, is pretty okay right now.
27 December 2011
Today I'm grateful that I'm not driving first and that Colby decided that we needed to replace our balding tires before we made the trip up to Michigan. The trip down is going to be slightly more strenuous than the way up since we're doing it in one go. Now that we're leaving Michigan for Texas, it finally snowed. I'm sad that we're leaving before we had a good chance to play in the snow, but I'm excited to get back to my own house complete with my own kitchen and queen sized bed.
26 December 2011
This one is short and sweet. Apparently there's been a big debate in some of the science blogs about the legality of trading pdfs of papers. I haven't followed along very closely, but today I'm grateful for the proxy server through the University of Texas' library, so I didn't have to pay $70 for my light holiday reading.
25 December 2011
24 December 2011
23 December 2011
Today I'm grateful for Michigan State University. Aside from the education, networking, and friendships I acquired, I would never have the cutest little baby in the world in my life without it:
|Turns out my Kimchi fits into 6mo onesies. :)|
|cheesy bagel chips|
|Pistachio-encrusted walleye covered in a dijon cream sauce with roasted potatoes and green beans|
|Asian Lettuce Wrap with spiced pulled-pork and Thai curried mayo and fries|
I'm still waiting on that dessert, though.
22 December 2011
Today I'm grateful that December has 31 days, because apparently posting 12 times is a challenge. I've started a post about the Austin to Boston swap, though my super-on-top-of-things partner Halley beat me to posting about what I sent. You can see her post here.
Meanwhile, I'm going to slink away to sleep because apparently the third trimester woes (the crazy tiredness, heartburn, backaches, pelvic pain, etc.) have attacked me in full force. And, just for fun, I was going to post a picture of my hugely growing belly (holy crap, I'm 29.3 weeks preg), but it's not cute and it just kicked my computer again.
19 December 2011
17 December 2011
We're currently in transit to Michigan, making our way though northern Arkansas/southern Missouri. We stayed in a hotel last night and I found this in the bathroom:
Today I'm grateful for passive aggressive notes that make the 24hr drive even a little bit more amusing.
06 December 2011
Here's another ugly meal that not even natural lighting and a DSLR could fix. However, this one is crazy tasty.
2-3 strips bacon
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/3ish c chicken stock
1/2 c sour cream
1/2 c cream or evaporated milk
salt+pepper, to taste
In a pan, heat olive oil, season chicken with salt+pepper, and pan fry until cooked through and golden. Slice the cooked chicken. In a separate pan, render bacon until crisp. Set aside the bacon and crumble. Leave at least a couple Tbs of bacon grease in the pan, which might mean not removing any of the rendered fat. Saute the onions with a pinch of salt until at least translucent. I usually try to caramelize them a bit. Add in mushrooms and season with salt+pepper. You may need to add a bit of oil if you've used most of the bacon grease for the onions. Saute the mushrooms until they've released their liquid and start to brown a bit. Stir in the garlic until fragrant. Add in the chicken stock and stir to pick up any browned bits of mushroom and onion and let the chicken stock reduce a bit. Turn down the heat and stir in the sour cream and cream until combined. Don't let this boil because things will separate. Add in the crumbled bacon and chicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over rice or egg noodles.
I guess conventional wisdom says that I should use the pan that cooked the chicken to make the sauce, but I wanted a fast dinner, so I cooked the chicken simultaneously with the sauce. After the chicken was out, I remembered that I wanted to make asparagus, so the chicken-y goodness didn't all go to waste. I added a bit of stock to the pan to stir up the browned bits, added in my asparagus and cooked them until tender-crisp.
So yes, I am thankful for my DSLR because with a little bit of natural light, I'm able to take foods that weren't actually that tasty and make them look delicious. Similarly, they elevate ugly dishes to things that maybe look palatable. While this dish is pretty gnarly, it's actually really tasty.
|zucchini fritter with way too much onion (way more pretty)|
|chicken and mushroom dinner, with the chicken-y asparagus (way more tasty)|
04 December 2011
Blame it on the hormones, but to say that I haven't exactly enjoyed pregnancy is a massive understatement. This was a huge surprise and I'm still coming to terms with the reality that between now and March, I need to grow up a lot. That's not to say that I didn't want to expand my family, it's just that in my immediate future I saw a baby dog, not a baby human. And why is it that I want another dog? It's because of this face: