Kiss Me I’m (not) Irish!

It’s St. Patrick’s Day also known as the day that everyone, even nice Jewish girls like me, pretend to be Irish. I figured if I was going to be Irish for the day, I should whip up something Irish inspired (notice I said inspired, not authentic).

I love this recipe from Food Network for Beer Bread! It’s so easily adaptable so I usually make a cinnamon raisin version using Blue Moon. The bread always turns out heavenly and my whole (tiny) apartment smells like cinnamon! For St. Patrick’s Day though, I decided to use Guinness and Caraway seeds and I am quite pleased with the results. Delish!

Guinness and Caraway Bread

Guinness and Caraway Beer Bread

  • 3 Cups Flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon plus 1.5 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Caraway Seeds
  • 12 oz Guinness
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter melted

Preheat oven to 375. Butter a loaf pan.

Dump all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Pour beer in slowly. Mix well.

Pour batter in to greased loaf pan. Mixture will be very thick and sticky.

Bake for 50 minutes. Brush with melted butter and cook for 5 more minutes.

Enjoy!

Waste Not Want Not

One of the things I find most frustrating when people talk about food issues is the common (and frequently repeated) misconception that we have a food shortage here on our home planet. I assure you this is not the case. We have an abundance of food. There is plenty to go around, the problem is that it’s not going around. While this is a multi layered problem, one of the reasons that people who need the food aren’t getting the food is because much of it is instead ending up in the trash. Let me say that again for effect: INSTEAD OF GETTING FOOD TO PEOPLE WHO NEED IT, IT’S GOING IN TO THE TRASH.

I stumbled on this article on MSNBC today and thought it did a pretty good job of explaining food waste so I wanted to share it. Click the link below to read:

Experts: 30 to 50 percent of world’s food thrown away

I Know Things Now

I used to wear a size 16. For the past five years I’ve worn a size 4 or 6.

A lot of my friends look back wistfully at their high school years and think, “Oh I wish I was still that skinny,” but I never had a skinny period, I was always big. By the time I was 26 I was resigned to the fact that I was always going to be fat. I was living in Boston at the time with a roommate who was certifiabley insane, but rail skinny. The injustice of it all was that she ate like a pig, smoked like a chimney, drank like a fish and occasionally snorted coke (though thankfully never in our apartment). I didn’t have the best eating habits, but at least I cared a bit about what went in to my mouth; I eschewed cigarettes, drank in moderation and have always steered far clear of drugs. My roommate may have looked smaller on the outside, but I knew with certainty that I was healthier on the inside.

This revelation sparked an interest in me to start learning about what foods really made someone healthy on the inside. I read up on “superfoods,” the virtues of eating mostly organically and the importance of eating regular meals and it made sense.

“Well,” I thought, “I’ll be fat for the rest of my life, but at least I’ll be healthier,” and so I began incorporating the things I’d read about in to my life. I started eating breakfast regularly for the first time ever. I ate every two hours and I ate well. I’d always loved vegetables, but now I made sure I was eating a lot more of them and that they were organic. I switched out white flour products for whole wheat and white rice for brown. I refused to settle for anything but the best quality when it came to food. If my choice of snack one day was between a processed, chemical laden “low-fat” cookies or a nice hunk of delicious, full fat, all natural cheese; I always chose the cheese. I started reading all of the nutritional information on my food and not just the fat and calorie content. Most importantly I lived by the 80/20 rule; 80% of what I ate was full of nutritional value and 20% was just for fun. I now knew with utmost certainty that I would always be big, but I would be a healthier big person.

But then guess what happened…

My pants started getting looser and my reflection was taking up less of the mirror. Amazingly, while I was eating real full fat foods, albeit in moderation, and eating every two hours instead of waiting until 2pm to put the first bite of food of the day in my mouth, I started losing weight. I was shocked and happy, but instead of rethinking my new eating habits as a weight loss plan, I kept focusing on being a generally healthier person. I didn’t have a timeline or a goal weight, I truly was trying to make a lifestyle change and see what the results would be. I never weighed myself and I still don’t because I didn’t want to get too crazy focusing on those numbers, instead choosing to notice the changes in my body as I put my clothes on in the morning and looked at myself in the mirroe. I decided that as I made my lifestyle changes, I’d let my body tell me where it wanted to be.

When I got down to a size 12 I was thrilled since I’d only been a 12 once, very briefly, in college. I thought, “A 12 is really nice place for my body to want to be”. But then, shortly after, I was a size 10. I blew through an 8 pretty quickly and had a brief affair with a size 6 before my body settled in to a size 4. I’m 5’2 so a size 4 is nice and proportional for me.

For a very long time I still couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that I was so much smaller, but now that I’ve been at this size for a good five years it feels natural to me. I still live my life the same way I did when I started this journey, indulging ocassionally in something like candy corns around halloween or creme eggs in the spring, but mostly eating only things made with ingredients that I can pronounce, and I plan on living like this for the rest of my life. I still believe that being healthy isn’t about what size you are, but about what you’re putting in to your body.

I say all this not for a pat on the back and not to tell anyone out there how to live their own lives. I say this simply to explain to you why I feel so strongly about what kinds of fodds people should be putting in to their bodies so please take my opinions as you will with the understanding that maybe I know a thing or two about what I’m saying.

Get to Know Me: Foodie Style!

My friend Lisa posted this meme over on her blog and I thought it would be fun to try it using only food related answers.

I am a damn good cook.
I think every single person can (and should) use their votes, voices and consumer dollars to bring about real change in the way food is produced and distributed.
I know that eating real food is better for you than eating processed crap.
I have a great love of anchovies.
I wish I were the next Martha Stewart (only sexier).
I hate ketchup, popcorn, raw onions.
I miss the milk in Denmark.
I fear GMO’s!
I hear a lot of evidence that organic farming methods can in fact feed the world and I hope other people are listening too.
I smell basil and instantly get happy. It has to be one of the greatest smells on earth.
I crave carbs when I’ve had a bad day. You can keep the ice cream, give me pasta!
I search for new recipes all the time.
I wonder if Mario Batali realizes that if he met me, he’d love me as much as I love him.
I regret the unhealthy relationship I used to have with food.
I love strawberries more than any other food on the planet!
I ache for a big beautiful kitchen to cook in.
I am not much of a chocolate person. I mean I think it’s ok, but I don’t get what all the fuss is about.
I believe in pretty much everything Michael Pollan says.
I dance at weddings, but don’t eat the food. Big catered events are tough with food allergies so I pack a sandwich in my purse and find a minute to step outside and eat it.
I sing sometimes when I’m cooking. Growing up my mom and I would often sing Broadway show tunes while I helped her in the kitchen.
I cry every single time I cut an onion. That’s one of the not so great things I get from my mom. We’ve both tried every trick, but even the mildest onions bring on the waterworks.
I fight to bring about a real, lasting, sustainable change in our broken food system.
I win all of my friends and family’s vote for best homemade cranberry sauce they’ve ever had. Seriously, I can’t tell you how many people I know who swore they hated cranberry sauce until they tried mine.
I lose my cool when I hear people espousing the virtues of whatever the latest fad diet is.
I never eat fast food.
I always have a well stocked spice rack which, in my opinion, is the number one rule for being a good cook.
I confuse curly leaf parsley and cilantro when I see them, but all you need to do is get a good whiff of them to know which one is cilantro.
I listen to restaurant reviews, but in the end rely on what real people say about their experience.
I can usually be found exploring markets when I travel. I love seeing the kinds of things they sell and the way in which they’re prepared and shared, it can tell you a lot about the culture.
I am scared of pink slime
I need better knives.
I am happy about this blog.
I imagine a world where everyone has access to good quality, affordable healthy food and I believe that’s possible if we all work together!

B is for… Brazil: Have Your Cake and Love Yourself Too

Ola!

Brazilian flag

Brazilian women would never eat cake, right? I mean how could they when they are all perfectly manicured, bronzed beauties; cinched and waxed and oiled to perfection within an inch of their lives. Brazilian women can’t eat cake because they might gain an ounce and these women obsess over their appearance and strive for an unattainable level of beauty.

Wrong!

Last July my friend Karen organized an amazing trip to Martha’s Vineyard and for the first time I met her college friend Carla. Carla, originally from Brazil, was down to earth, laid back and loved her beer as much as I do. I liked her right away.

A couple of days in to the trip we were all chatting when Carla mentioned that by and large Brazilian women to have a much healthier body image than there American counterparts. I was confused, I mean everything I’d ever seen in the media told me just the opposite about Brazilian women who were consumed with their looks and a quest for perfection.

When I mentioned this my friend Karen, who had visited Carla in Brazil some years before, said, “Oh that’s not true at all. If you ever want to feel good about yourself as a women go to a beach in Brazil.” Apparently instead of a beaches filled with supermodel wannabes, the beaches of Brazil are filled with women who are skinny and fat, tall and short, old and young confidently striding along the sand, having a good time and loving life!

I’m sexy and I know it! Brazilian Model Fluvia Lacerda

Of course, still harboring a bit of disbelief, I did some Googling which only confirmed what Carla had said. Research paper after research paper and article after article all ended with the same conclusion; Brazilian women of all ages, shapes and sizes have a healthy body image and a great confidence and respect for their bodies.

So if you try this recipe for Bolo de Cenoura com Cobertura de Chocolate (Brazilian Carrot Cake) try channeling some Brazilian spirit and don’t beat yourself up for eating dessert, just cut yourself a sensible slice and enjoy! I promise you, you’ll still be beautiful in the morning.

Bolo de Cenoura com Cobertura de Chocolate

Cake:

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 large carrots, pealed and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9×13 pan.

Put eggs, sugar, carrots and oil in a blender or food processor. Blend on high until smooth

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl. Pour in the carrot mixture and stir being careful not to over mix.

Pour in to greased pan and bake for 30-40 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.

Chocolate Glaze:

  • 3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 6 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 Tablespoons butter

Mix all ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium high heat and bring to a boil.

Boil for 4-5 minutes until mixture thickens (sauce will thicken, but won’t become thick).

Pour hot glaze over warm cake.

Allow cake to cool and enjoy!

Brazilian Bolo de Cenoura com Cobertura de Chocolate         

FINAL VERDICT: A

Oh this is soooo my kind of dessert! This cake is super moist and light and not too sweet and the hint on chocolate is just enough to compliment the cake. It’s also surprisingly buttery, which is odd since there’s no butter in the cake.

If you like frosting heavy, sugary sweet desserts this cake might not be for you, but I loved it and will definitely make it again!

Bom Apetite!

Restaurant Marc Forgione

Last night my parents and I went out to celebrate my mom’s birthday. At the birthday girl’s request we dined at Restaurant Marc Forgione. I had already set my mind to blogging about the experience and so took pictures of every course however, I didn’t pull out a pad and take notes instead choosing to enjoy the meal and my parents company.

To that end I’m realizing that my restaurant reviews are going to be mostly lots of pictures and one or two sentences about my overall experience because I’d rather enjoy my meal while I’m eating it.

Our meal at Restaurant Marc Forgione was amazing from start to finish. When we sat down our waitress simply offered us ice water which leads me to believe that they only offer bottled water upon special request. As I am fiercely opposed to bottled water so this immediately scored points in my book.

I’d called ahead, as anyone with food allergies should do, and told them about my dietary restrictions so the waitress was already aware of my needs when we walked in and assured me that the kitchen would take good care of me.

Perfect dinner roll type bread; crunchy on the outside, soft and doughy on the inside served with caramelized onion butter.

After we placed our order we were given an amuse bouche. Mine was different from what my parents were offered since there’s had something in it that was unsafe or me (it looked like maybe poppy). I was given a ceramic spoon with a “One Bite Caesar Salad,” which involved molecular gastronomy too complicated to explain and literally burst in your mouth, next to a bite sized burnt orange square that was some heavenly spicy/sweet carrot creation. unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture.

Before the appetizers were served the waitress came to ask me if I could have soy sauce. I told her that I couldn’t, but I’d happily choose another appetizer. The waitress told me not to worry, the kitchen was happy to leave the soy sauce out and this was my reward:

Chili Lobster. Chunks of perfectly cooked lobster in spicy broth with buttery toased bread to soak it all up.

I ordered the filet mignon and short rib combo for my entrée. The picture came out a bit dark, but it was cooked to a perfect medium rare which is the most cooked that I will ever eat my meat. My theory is if it’s not mooing it’s time to eat.

Filet mignon, short ribs, bread pudding. The steak just melted in your mouth.

Along with our meal we sipped on a delicious Syrah.

2009 Domaine Yves Cuilleron St. Joseph Les Pierres Seches

I’m not usually that much of a dessert eater. I mean I like a sweet now and then, but I’m more of a savory kinda gal. Sometimes though, I have a dessert that makes me rethink my position on sweets and this was one of those times.

In addition to not having much of a sweet tooth, desserts can be difficult with my food allergies so I was thrilled when the waitress brought us our dessert menus and told me she’d already checked with the pastry chef and listed which desserts would be safe for me. Of the desserts she named, she recommended the S’mores tart telling me it was her favorite. I took her advice and man am I glad I did because it was amazing!

S’mores Tart with Toasted Marshmallow ice cream. Chewy/gooey/sticky texture. Pretty much perfect.

The verdict:
Food rating: A+
Service/food allergy accommodations: A
Overall rating: OMG