The Best of Taste of Grandview Heights

4 10 2009

Segway

Rule number one for anyone going to a festival that is focused on food is to come hungry, but not ravenous, and to pace yourself. As much as I love events like Taste of Grandview Heights, this year’s event was tough for me – all of the vendors served their normal portion sizes, rather than the usual 2-3 bite sample size, so I didn’t get to try as many items as I would have liked, but I did manage a respectable showing.

Grilled Artichoke

First off, the grilled artichoke at Third & Hollywood. I love artichokes – really, they’re one of nature’s most perfect foods, especially when they’re seasoned with sea salt and cracked pepper, grilled and topped with an herb and  mayo-based sauce.

Biscuit Sandwich

Next up was this terrific sandwich, also from Third & Hollywood, combining their cheddar herb biscuit with Tennessee smoked ham, endive, and what I believe to be a pimento cheese-based spread. If the reviews of this place are accurate, I’m going back soon, high prices be damned.

Pumpkin Bisque

Gordon’s Gourmet offered up an interesting twist on pumpkin bisque. Ordinarily, pumpkin bisque is heavy, creamy, and filling, so imagine my surprise that Gordon’s did something completely different with it – they started with a chicken broth base and added pumpkin puree, then topped with chantilly cream, which I believe may have been mixed with pumpkin pie spice). It was a little on the salty side, but definitely a pleasant surprise.

Fish and Chips

The Old Bag of Nails brought out their staples – french fried chips, fried pickles, potato pancakes, carrot cake, and their signature fish and chips. At this point, I completely ran out of steam, but I did manage to talk some poor lady into letting me photograph her lunch (I’m oddly persuasive like that!). I can tell you from personal experience that the Old Bag, as I like to say, probably has the best fish and chips in the city.

Fries

Five Guys is a relative newcomer to Columbus, but I’ve been reading about them for a while on various foodie websites – apparently, celebrity chefs love this place and swear by their bacon cheeseburger. Obviously, I didn’t have room for a burger, but I did manage to choke down some of their crispy french fries. Can’t wait to go back and investigate further!

Seriously Big Chocolate Cake

Of course, I had to round out the day with a visit to Cap City Diner’s tent for a slab of their Seriously Big Chocolate Cake to go – all three layers of it. Hubs and I just polished it off and are in total chocolate bliss.

So, what’s the deal with you Segway, you ask? They offered free rides at Taste of Grandview, which is great, but, as usual, my choice of inappropriate footwear impeded my performance. Mind you that I was wearing platform sandals, which put me at an angle anyway (and basically on my toes), plus I have balance issues anyway, so put me on a Segway and I’m completely out of my element. However, the Segway tour guy took pity on me and considered me to be a special case, so he wouldn’t let me off the thing until I had it mastered. It took a while, but at least the other people in line were amused at watching the dork on a Segway.

Repeat after me…the diet starts tomorrow!





Interesting Weekend

28 09 2008

This weekend started like any other – trying to sleep in, but started by being rudely awakened by the alarm clock, reminding us to hurry up and get the girls ready for gymnastics. So, we woke up at 7:45 to get the ladies ready. The Baby, however, wasn’t having it. She wasn’t especially hungry and started the day by throwing her stuffed dog across the table and into her sister’s pancakes (I’m a big fan of pancakes on the weekend. They’re quick and easy to make and they fill those little tummies, but I digress…). A few additional factors made us run a little late today and made things extra-stressful, but we made it.

On a total AW note, I weighed myself today and I have lost 13 pounds in three weeks. No idea how idea how I did it, but I’m totally okay with it!

We went to my friend L’s engagement party tonight. Surprise! It ended up being her wedding, instead! You could have knocked me over with a feather! And my church lady friends are on a retreat this weekend (which I skipped to go to the engagement party/wedding), so I have no one to discuss this with tomorrow morning over coffee!

Despite all of that, this weekend was the September challenge for the Daring Bakers – lavasch crackers, with my choice of spread/dip. The recipe is as follows and, might I say that I was quite excited for a savory challenge, instead of the usual sweet one!

Lavasch Crackers

RECIPE – Recipe Reference: The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread, by Peter Reinhart. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA. Copyright 2001. ISBN-10: 1-58008-268-8, ISBN-13: 978-158008-268-6.

Here’s a simple formula for making snappy Armenian-style crackers, perfect for breadbaskets, company and kids…It is similar to the many other Middle Eastern and Northern African flatbreads known by different names, such as mankoush or mannaeesh (Lebanese), barbari (Iranian), khoubiz or khobz (Arabian), aiysh (Egyptian), kesret and mella (Tunisian), pide or pita (Turkish), and pideh (Armenian). The main difference between these breads is either how thick or thin the dough is rolled out, or the type of oven in which they are baked (or on which they are baked, as many of these breads are cooked on stones or red-hot pans with a convex surface)…

The key to a crisp lavash,…is to roll out the dough paper-thin. The sheet can be cut into crackers in advance or snapped into shards after baking. The shards make a nice presentation when arranged in baskets.

Makes 1 sheet pan of crackers

* 1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) unbleached bread flour or gluten free flour blend (If you use a blend without xanthan gum, add 1 tsp xanthan or guar gum to the recipe)
* 1/2 tsp (.13 oz) salt
* 1/2 tsp (.055 oz) instant yeast
* 1 Tb (.75 oz) agave syrup or sugar
* 1 Tb (.5 oz) vegetable oil
* 1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tb (3 to 4 oz) water, at room temperature
* Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for toppings

1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt yeast, agave, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tb of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.

2. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly distributed. The dough should pass the windowpane test (see http://www.wikihow.com/Determine-if-Bre … ong-Enough for a discription of this) and register 77 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

or

2. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), and slightly tacky. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

3. Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).

4. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Press the dough into a square with your hand and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax. At these times, lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes. When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment. If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors.

or

4. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Lay out two sheets of parchment paper. Divide the cracker dough in half and then sandwich the dough between the two sheets of parchment. Roll out the dough until it is a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. Slowly peel away the top layer of parchment paper. Then set the bottom layer of parchment paper with the cracker dough on it onto a baking sheet.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of seeds or spices on the dough (such as alternating rows of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, kosher or pretzel salt, etc.) Be careful with spices and salt – a little goes a long way. If you want to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter (rolling blade) and cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough. You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking. If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first.

5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).

6. When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.

Note: I topped mine with rosemary, sage, and a touch of kosher salt.

Options for toppings

You may use your choice of topping/dip/salsa/relish/spread for your lavash crackers as long as it is vegan and gluten free.

We had a couple of favorites that you might want to try along with your own creations:

Honeydew – Peach Salsa from The Splended Table (http://splendidtable.publicradio.org/re … eydew.html)

Try the salsa with grilled seafoods and poultry, or over rice noodles. Chile could be added to taste. Is best eaten within several hours of preparation. Use organic ingredients if at all possible.

* juice of 1 lime
* 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
* 1/4 to 1/2 cup finely diced red onion
* 1 Red Fresno and 1 Hot Yellow minced chile (seeds removed)
* 1 to 2 teaspoons sugar,
* 1/2 ripe sweet honeydew melon, cubed into bite-sized pieces
* 4 small, ripe peaches, peeled and cubed into bite-sized pieces
* salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 1/3 cup minced fresh coriander, or coriander and mint combined

In a medium bowl blend the lime juice, garlic, onion and chilies. Let stand 20 minutes, then blend in sugar and fruits with salt (a generous pinch) and pepper (to make piquant) to taste. Refrigerate up to 3 hours. Fold in fresh herbs just before serving.

Copyright 1997 Lynne Rossetto Kasper, all rights reserved.

Tahitian Almond Dipping Sauce by Robert Yarosh and Lisa Soto, from The Complete Book of Raw Food, Lori Baird, Editor.

* 1 1/2 cups almond butter
* 1/2 cup pine nuts
* 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
* 1 clove garlic
* 1/4 cup fresh orange juice (you may want to add more juice or add some water, depending on the consistancy you like).
* 1 1/2 tablespoons agave syrup or honey

Blend all ingredients together until smooth (in your blender or food processor). Serve with your favorite crackers and fresh fruit.

Not thrilled with a sweet opping, I did some digging online and here is what I ended up making as a topping, instead (note: I am NOT an olive fan, by any means, and ended up digging the olives out of my serving, but I have friends who love olives, so I made this for them. See? The sacrifices I make for my capadres?! Next time, I’d like to add some sauteed onion to add some depth to the flavor).

Ingredients:

1 can tomato sauce (8oz)

2T chopped black olives

3 large mushrooms, chopped

3/4c frozen spinach

1oz feta cheese

1t olive oil

Pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Put Olive Oil in a small pot or deep sided pan. Heat over medium.
2. Add mushrooms and sautee until their juice as released.
3. Add the spinach and cover the pan until the whole mix loosely incorporates.
4. Add the tomato sauce, cheese and olives, stirring to mix and let the cheese melt.
**If you don’t have feta : riccotta salata and a creamy cheese are an excellent substitution.

Use by topping lavash and baking or store and add to crisped slice of bread and bake.

Next time I make these, I’d like to treat them like gourmet pizzas and top one with turkey, swiss cheese, and crushed tomatoes, another with ham and swiss, and the last one with pepperoni, mozerella and crushed tomatoes, just to appease Hubs. I’ll let you know how that works out!





Hmmm…

11 09 2008

It’s been an interesting last couple of days. Where do I start?

Let’s see, work has been really good lately. The week started slowly and, with that, my sense of paranoia was in overdrive, but all is well now. Also, a couple of bursts of intuition where new business is concerned look like they may be paying off, so I’ve been mentally doing a happy dance for the past few hours.

Meanwhile, after trying to discuss a work-related idea with Hubs and being repeatedly shut down, I sadly came to the realization that Hubs will never really respect what I do for a living and I have to learn to live with that. He thinks that aspects of what my company does are evil, but he’s learning to keep his mouth shut, especially since it’s keeping a roof over our heads. Really, all I wanted, after having been starved for interaction with live humans today (my boss and my buddy were both busy with other things, so I was completely alone for hours) and then dealing with the Baby, who was quite manic (more on that in a sec), I desperately wanted to have an actual conversation with my husband that didn’t revolve around kids, politics, what’s wrong with the world today, or TV. More than anything, my feelings were hurt that he didn’t want to hear about something that’s important to me and that I find exciting.

The Baby has been a handful lately. Yes, I know she’s 3, but I’ve had a hard time with her. She’s been getting really snarky, especially toward me, and I’m not sure how to deal with it. I ask her to do something and she tells me no. I give her dinner and she throws it. Anyone have any parenting advice? I’m not a spanker and time-out’s aren’t working. What do I do now? I’m seriously getting tired of peeling spaghetti off the dining room wall!

The Big Kid’s birthday party is Saturday, so we’re frantically trying to clean the house before the in-law’s arrive. What I wouldn’t do to have a maid for the next couple of days! Looks like the menu will consist of make-your-own pizzas, snacks, crudites (veggies and dip, for those not in the loop), and cake. Very simple menu, but the kids will love it. Now, if only I can figure out what to get her as a present! She’s going to be 10, which is a strange age, as far as gift-giving is concerned. She’s too old for a lot of the toys that are out there, but not quite old enough for the electronics she wants.

Meanwhile, the diet is coming along swimmingly. I have lost 8 pounds (yay, me!) by pretty much going against all of the advice the diet gurus publish – I skip meals, I don’t work out, and I probably drink too much water. While I may have a headache occasionally from missing a meal or two, I’m starting to fit into the pants I was about to toss into the box to take to Goodwill. Again, yay me! I was bulimic at one point, so I seriously have no idea how to lose weight without involving disordered eating of some sort, so bear with me and my funky eating habits! Seriously, for the most part, I am doing pretty well – I am eating a lot more fruits and veggies than I usually do and I’m getting pretty good about eyeballing what a portion size is supposed to look like (1 ounce of cheese is about the size of a domino, a serving of meat is equal to the size of a deck of cards, use a salad plate instead of a dinner plate, and fill your plate 1/2 full of veggies and then divide the remaining half between protein and carbs), so don’t fear. I AM eating and I’ve come to the realization that I will never be a size 2 supermodel and I’m okay with it. I do want to be healthy and energetic. Basically, the goal is to be smarter, daintier, with a better wardrobe, and just plain fabulous by the time I’m 40. Dang it, I wanna be a MILF!

The garden is doing great! My herbs are flourishing, so I may have some to harvest soon. The tomatoes are going crazy, so I will soon be making roasted tomato bisque. The zucchini, broccoli, snap beans, and lettuce are growing quite nicely and are loving the cooler temperatures and rain we’ve been having, so it could be a great harvest this fall!

Finally, I have to give props to the crew at ALDI. I zoomed in there 5 minutes before closing time and did a commando-like sweep of the store in my 15 minute shopping trip. While I’m sure the crew wasn’t too thrilled to have me there right at closing time, they were still kind and gracious. So if they were thinking, “Gawd, lady! Would you leave already,” you’d never know it and I appreciate it.





Phew!

9 08 2008

This has already been quite the weekend and it’s only half over. For starters, I took the Baby to swim class and it went really well. She had a ball and was blowing bubbles like a fool. When class was over, all of the kids got in the big pool, including the Baby, who usually approaches it with great trepidation. She was having fun and decided it was time to get out, so she tried to climb out of the side of the pool, rather than using the ramp or a ladder. Her tiny foot went out from under her and she fell backwards into the pool. I saw this happen and immediately ran to the pool, but her teacher beat me to her and fished her out of the pool. The Baby is fine. She scraped her foot and it bled, but she did not hit her head (thank God) and started blowing bubbles as soon as she was under water. She was scared and her foot was bloody, but she seems to want to go back for tomorrow’s class and her instructor told her how proud she was of her for remembering to blow bubbles.

Earlier in the day, the Baby and I finally got the fall crops planted. All of them – broccoli, beans, lettuce, and zucchini, plus dill and basil. The spinach has yet to go in, but that doesn’t get planted until September 1st, so we’ve got a few weeks to get the soil ready. Lots of hard work and the Baby got bored waiting for me to dig the trenches for the seeds because she was all about putting those suckers in the ground, but we got it done, so we should have quite the harvest from September through late October/early November.

The weekend started on a not-so-great note. Hubs was let go from the Worst Job in the World, which, while shocking, is a relief because it was just plain awful. He does have a follow-up interview Tuesday for the job he really wants, so, really good things are in store for us, it’s just a matter of timing its arrival just-so.

On the agenda for tomorrow – writing a presentation or two, cleaning, and possibly baking muffins for breakfast. I was going to make apple scones, but since I don’t have actual butter, I’m thinking that margarine is not the way to go here, so I’m sticking with what I know – muffins – diet, be damned. Hubs wants to go to the pool, but I think I’ll sit this trip out so I can get stuff done.

And, really, now that I think about it, when did I get this adept at multitasking? I would love to be as single-minded as Hubs and the kids and just live in the moment for once instead of worrying about what has to be done and constantly looking ahead so I’m not unpleasantly surprised. Anyone else come to this realization?

Here’s a random thought – if you’re part of a couple, have you ever noticed that there seems to be a system of equilibrium involved whenever one partner loses weight? It’s like the universe has designated a certain amount of weight between Hubs and me, so that if I lose weight, he gains, and vice versa. Seriously, why is that?!

So tonight, I’m working on a presentation and watching the Olympics (that is when I’m not annoyed by the incessant ringing of Hubs’s cell phone. It’s his friend who is home alone, drunk and bored and quite possibly irritated because he can’t figure out why a married father of two isn’t rushing to take his call at almost 11pm). I just watched Michael Phelps win his first gold medal. Loved the opening ceremonies last night. I was so touched by the little guy that marched into the stadium next to Yao Ming (look up the story if you haven’t heard it already. It will be well worth your time!) – what a little hero! And the way they lit the torch was beyond amazing!





Things I’m Obsessed With…For Today, Anyway

18 06 2008

Design.

I recently discovered my love of Brocade Home and I can’t get enough of their design blog. The website is truly amazing. Certainly French-infused and definitely inspired by fashion. Here are some of the latest photos from the design blog. I’ve already printed a few and have them tacked up near my desk.

Things I want to do with my life.

1. Help Hubs find a job. Yes, it’s about the money, but it’s also about helping the guy find his place in the world and to get on the path he’s supposed to be on.

2. Raise an amazing kid. I admit it, The Baby is the most amazing and perfect child ever born. Sue me. I can only hope that she grows up to be as amazing at 30 as she is at 3.

3. Ditch the crappy clothes and become fabulous, in general, before I’m 40. ‘Nuff said.

4. Travel. How sad is it that I’ve only been to two countries other than the U.S? My list of places I want to see before I die is growing by the day!

5. Stop feeling like everyone else has a better life than I do. Again, ’nuff said!

Cooking.

I’m on a cooking tear. I think it’s because I want to lose weight in the least painful way possible and I’m tired of not feeling good because I don’t eat right. Yes, I mostly eat the right foods, although too much of them and I don’t make time to work out (does chasing a 3 year old count as exercise?), but I also eat a lot of processed foods because they’re convenient. Let’s face it, when I’m dead tired, it’s a lot easier to pop a Lean Pocket into my lunch bag, rather than go to the trouble of chopping veggies and making a big salad.

Really, I had the best of intentions this week. Sunday, for Fathers’ Day, I made an old favorite for Hubs:

Sweet Pepper Stew

Extra virgin olive oil (twice around the pan)

1 medium red onion, julienned

Garlic

4 peppers – 1 green, 1 red, 1 yellow, and 1 orange, julienned

2 T capers

1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes (I like to use Italian seasoned)

salt and pepper to taste

In dutch oven, heat olive oil and garlic (use your judgment. I use about a clove, but some people like extra garlic). Saute onion until translucent. Add peppers and cook until soft – roughly 10 minutes. Add capers and tomatoes. Cover and simmer for about 25 minutes.

This stew is fabulous on its own as a light meal with some crusty Italian bread and a great red wine. I’ve also been known to reduce it and add broiled chicken, and serve over pasta. Next time I make this, I will probably add either andouille or chorizo and see what happens. I’d also like to add shrimp sometime, but I doubt that will happen anytime soon as Hubs hates shrimp.

Writer’s Block.

Lately, this has been a part of my life, like it or not. I’ve been trying to write something for the past day or so and the words are just not coming to me. Of course, at this point, frustration is making it that much harder. Aaaargh!

Stupid Movies.

For whatever reason, I can’t seem to get enough of Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, especially the quotes. Try to work some of these into a conversation tomorrow:

“Ouchtown, population: you, bro!”

“Pepper needs new shorts!”

“You’re about as useless as a poopy-flavored lollipop!”

“I’ve had better runs in my shorts!”

“Go, you crazy son of a bitch, gooooooooo!”

At this point, I’m working on my list of greatest stupid movies of all times. Any and all suggestions are welcome!
That’s about it for now. Here’s to a great rest of the week!