The Bloomburg

From IAN CHILLAG via NPR 
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Since Bloomberg’s ban on sugary drinks larger than 16 oz was banned, let’s raise oa glass!

To celebrate our right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Diabetes, we’ve created the sugariest drink in the world.

Ingredients:

1 part Coca-Cola

1 part Yoo-hoo

1 part Starbucks Vanilla Frappuccino

1 part Red Bull

1 part Mountain Dew Kickstart, Mountain Dew’s inexplicable new energy drink

1 part Pillsbury Funfetti cake frosting

1 part Marshmallow Fluff

1 part Hummingbird Food (We actually couldn’t find any, due to supply chain issues and a Divine Force protecting us.)

1 part Mrs. Butterworth’s pancake syrup

1 part aerosol whipped cream

1 part Kool-Aid

1 part Cadbury Creme Egg creme (You’ll have to extract the creme yourself, because for some reason they don’t yet sell it on its own. If you’re trying to eat healthy, just use the Cadbury Creme Egg white.)

1 part Nutella

1 part sugar

1 part Country Time Lemonade Mix

1 part Gatorade (for fitness!)

Sandwich Monday is a satirical feature from the humorists at Wait Wait … Don’t Tell MeYeah, we know it’s Thursday.

I really heart Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!!

the Stanford Study

The (in)famous Stanford study that showed organic foods are no healthier than conventionally grown foods made me ashamed of my mother’s alma mater big time. Why?

1) Processed food mega-giant corporation Cargill was major funder

2) “More nutritious” was classifed as only “more vitamins” and as Mark Bittman takes the next logical step, “By which standard you can claim that, based on nutrients, Frosted Flakes are a better choice than an apple.”

3) Discussion of pesticides and antibiotics was incomplete – it’s not just what organic foods HAVE, it’s also what they DON’T HAVE

Mark Bittman sums it up nicely on his blog here: That Flawed Stanford Study.

Conflict Kitchen

Conflict Kitchen Iran Pittsburg

Located in downtown Pittsburg, “Conflict Kitchen is a take-out restaurant that only serves cuisine from countries with which the United States is in conflict.”  Conflict Kitchen is an intriging way to introduce people to a country beyond brief news clips of war and terror. They also host dinner parties via Skype where Pittsburgians eat with young professionals from “conflict countries” like Iran, Iraq or Venezuela. The packaging of the food features interviews of people from conflict-countries, giving diners a first-person narritive of life in those locals.

“Conflict Kitchen reformats the preexisting social relations of food and economic exchange to engage the general public in discussions about countries, cultures, and people that they might know little about outside of the polarizing rhetoric of U.S. politics and the narrow lens of media headlines.”

And from the the looks of it, the food’s pretty tasty too!

More at http://www.conflictkitchen.org/

Snowdrops

Snowdrops by Malcolm R Bell
Snowdrops, a photo by Malcolm R Bell on Flickr.

Spring is on its way! I’ve spied dozens of snowdrops, a few daffodils, some precious purple crocuses and seen buds bursting from the branches of flowering trees.

But while it’s still a bit chilly out, try this recipe from our friend Jean. Another kid-classic turned slightly sophisticated.

Grilled Taleggio Sandwiches with Roasted Grapes

Wash and pat dry red or green grapes, removing stems. Line grapes on baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Add a dusting of fresh pepper and sea salt and put in oven for about 10 minutes at 450 F. Grapes should loose some plumpness, but not be shriveled. The flavor intensifies, turning the grapes into little juicy packages of sweetness with a tangy twist.

Meanwhile, grill buttered country bread sandwiched with generous slices of ultra-creamy Taleggio cheese on skillet. Taleggio is a cheese made for melting!

Personally, I halved my grapes and snuck them into my sandwich, but even if you opt to keep a little distance between them, they should be eaten together!

Enjoy with a Malbec or Pinot Blanc.

Happy Valentine’s!

We were too tired to do a big romantic dinner so we had a slightly spiffed up version of PB & J for dinner – Ekekiel 4:9 cinnamon raisin bread grilled lightly, with warm and gooey almond butter and strawberry preserves, washed down with Port City beer (some Tidings left over from the last holiday). Comfort kid food, but now were old enough to eat the crusts! And for dessert… my new fave – s’mores cooked over the gas burner of our stove (hopefully that method of cooking isn’t carcinogenic or anything)! I can’t seem to eat s’mores without covering my face in chocolate! Thankfully this is our 7th Valentine’s Day together so we’re not embarrassed by chocolate goatees.

Holiday in England

20120209-194440.jpgAlready our holiday in England seems like ages ago. Back in the throes of work and activities, I’m alarmed at the pace of life. Shouldn’t we still be hibernating? At the very least, let’s reminisce back to our holiday!

We saw great sights, had brilliant company and feasted on goregous food. One of the best things about the trip was eating the most delectable meals and not cooking a single one of them! Plus, with everyone chipping in, the clean-up for our lavish banquets was an ease. To be honest, I don’t mind cooking, it’s the dishes and clean-up afterwords I can’t stand!

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We spent Christmas with Dan’s phenomenal Granny, who’s 97 and still does a fitness regime every morning and mostly looks after herself! As Granny recovered from the full Christmas meal (very much like an American’s Thanksgiving sans pumpkin pie), we enjoyed a shot of sunlight while walking in the Clent Hills.

Christmas PuddingI have to confess, I’m not a huge fan of British Christmas desserts – they all seem like a variation on the same. Christmas Cake is like fruit cake with super-sweet frosting (though, I’ll happily eat the thin layer of marzipan!); Christmas Pudding is fruitcake dosed in Brandy (though I do like when they light it on fire!); and Mincepies are more dried fruits and booze, but baked into little tarts. However, I adore Brandy cream and Brandy Butter – which are a delightful addition to any dessert and may have even appeared on my toast at breakfast.

D&P’s house is always a place of supreme serenity. Pietro coaxes flowers into bloom even in the winter and the lighting is always cozy and perfect for snuggling. Dee made Bana Caldo, an immensely creamy anchovy fondu we greedily dipped an assortment of root vegetables into.

After dashing about the sales in Oxford, we regained our equilibrium with lobster bisque and samphire, a delicate green that grows on the British coasts. We’ve discovered that men’s clothing that is small enough to fit Dan does not exist in the US, so we made the most of the Top Man sales while in England. My dad, upon hearing of a store that sold Dan-sized clothing, mixed up the name, calling it “Little Man”!

We met up with friends in Aylesbury and London – our mini-reunions with Dan’s school friends are always great! Next, we were off to Nat & Umbi’s beautiful flat in Canterbury.

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In addition to it’s fame from Chaucer’s tale, Canterbury has many charms. The old walled city has a large pedestrian-only area with an eclectic mix of cafes and shops that entice you inside. We went for a walk in the seaside town of Whitstable, and took shelter in a small yet picturesque castle when it began to rain. Plus, we discovered a lovely path along the river that allowed us to run on trails, without the customary ankle-deep British mud.

On New Year’s Eve (remembering to wear our red underwear for good luck!) we all headed to London to Matt & Pete’s flat. They have the top floor of a terraced house, complete with clawfoot tub, gas fireplace and tiny garden too! Matt had fixed us a feast for lunch and Pete had made a scrumptious stollen, which I will have to ask for the recipe for.

After lunch, we participated in our annual book exchange, a tradition Dee began, in which we all bring books we have enjoyed to swap with others. We do this in lieu of presents and agree it’s a great way to give something meaningful, without falling into the holiday consumerism trap. This year I gave, Our America, a powerful yet disturbing book based on a project in which 2 young teens were given microphones and cassette recorders to interview people from their Chicago’s South Side neighborhood. If only more of our news was not just about the poor, but from their perspective, what changes there would be!

The book I received is God of the Small Things by Indian author Arundhati Roy. I haven’t read it yet, but it won a Booker Prize and many Pizzo’s recommended it!

That evening, after a curry supper, we headed up the hill to Ally Pally with mulled wine in hand. The park overlooks practically the whole of London and so eyes darted back and forth, watching fireworks light up the silhouettes of St. Pauls, Big Ben and the London eye against a velvet sky. In front of us, revelers set of small fireworks and sparklers, while in the distance larger displays sparkled on and off spastically. It was dizzying trying to watch all the colourful sparks.

At that was it, good-bye 2011, hello 2012!

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February

Dreamcatcher by Betsy Walton

It feels like spring is just around the corner! I know February can be one of the coldest months here, but the days are getting longer, the ground is soft, and today the air is warm. The first of February greeted us with highs of 65°F/18°C!

Tonight I made this phenomenal one-pot meal – Quinoa with Sweet Potatoes – from my new Moosewood Cookbook. The link sneakily doesn’t show quantities, but you get the idea – quinoa with sweet potatoes, spinach, currents, and toasted pine nuts. Delicious, nutritious and very filling!

Unfortunately, I still have to do the dishes!

P.S. Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad!

A taste of touring

Bit by bit, with the aid of some strong prescription drugs, the pain from Dan’s 8 root canals subsided.  So, the weekend of the 16th of July we were able to go on a mini-touring trip.   It was a fun weekend away, but bittersweet since we’d had to cancel our mountaineering trip to California that was due to depart that same date.  Still, even if Dan wasn’t up to tackle glaciers, it was brilliant that he was up for a weekend of cycling!

We packed a few items into our panniers and headed off from our front door on the W&OD path, stopping along the way for kombucha and chocolate covered ginger at the little natural food stores we love in Leesburg  and Purcellville.

Then we worked up an appetite for a phenomenal dinner at The Market Table Bistro in Lovettesville.  We both got salads, but they were more like edible artistic masterpieces.  The food was delectable and most of it hailed from local farms – we recognized many from our local farmers market in Reston.  The Chef and Owner Jason Lage even came out to chat with us about the food and assure me that the bacon on my salad came from “happy pigs” that forage freely in the woods of a family farm. But even with such gourmet fare, we were warmly welcomed in our sweaty spandex attire.

That evening my gracious aunt & uncle hosted us at their lovely home and also rescued us from a rookie mistake of not having the right attachment on our bike pump when we got a flat the next day.  With inflated tires once more, we crossed over into Maryland and took the C&O canal to Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia.

 

The weather was glorious and we stayed cool with intermittent dips in the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers. Then we followed rolling hills south along the Shenandoah river. With the sun kissing the wheat fields, the wind cooling our faces and the front porches of old farmhouses greeting us, I feel under the spell of the pastoral idyll. But by the time we reached Front Royal, the gentle hills seemed more like rugged mountains and my legs ached and rebelled with every rise. But we made it to the cute cabin Dan’s colleague had generously offered us for a blissful nights sleep before setting back home again the next morning.

In the end we did about 50 miles Friday, 70 Saturday and 50 Sunday – not bad for our first foray into touring. And doesn’t it sound more impressive if I just say we biked through 3 states in 3 days? Despite our sore bones and muscles, we were already scheming on where and when to do our next biking trip!

scrumptious smoothie

Dan is a master smoothie maker. Every time he makes one they’re slightly different but this was one of his YUMMIEST creations yet. A mix of:

        • blueberries (frozen)
        • non-fat greek yogurt
        • spinach (fresh)
        • apple (fresh)
        • strawberries (frozen)
        • banana (frozen)
        • a splash of grape juice

There’s no need to choose between healthy food and tasty food as this phenomenal smoothie clearly demonstrates. For a preview, just scratch & sniff your computer screen now.