Tuesday, December 29, 2009

hot cocoa!

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Portland was hit by an unexpected snow storm today- and while my initial reaction to snow is usually something along the lines of, "DAMMIT! I hate being stuck in the house!" I decided to suck it up and enjoy myself. I took my son for a walk in the snow (click through the photos to my flickr if you're so inclined- he's a pretty cute kid) and when we came home, we shook the snow out of our hair and settled in to make some hot cocoa.

I pretty much always have a pack of these on hand:

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They come in a pack of 3 for like a $1.79 and I just like to have a nibble or two throughout the day to satisfy my sweet tooth without going nuts on a candy bar. I melted the chocolate in a metal mixing bowl over a pot of boiling water:

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I tossed in a small chunk of coconut oil for flavor and to make the melted chocolate a little easier to mix with the milk- I was inspired to do this by a cup of hot chocolate I had recently that BLEW MY MIND. It was when I was tabling at the Icon Holiday Fair selling my drawings, another booth was selling COCONUT HOT CHOCOLATE. I think it was just coconut milk and melted chocolate and some spices, and it was so amazingly rich and thick, I could barely drink more than 4 or 5 sips before I felt totally satisfied. I didn't have any coconut milk on hand, so I just used some coconut oil hoping for a similar effect. Obviously, it wasn't all thick and frothy, but the flavor was nice- very subtle. I'm not a coconut person but as I've mentioned before, I'm trying to force myself to like the coconut oil and it's become kind of an acquired taste for me- I like it in my oatmeal, I don't HATE frying my eggs in it, and I also like it in hot chocolate, apparently.

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I briefly heated some milk in a separate pan, but quickly got impatient and dumped it directly into the bowl with the chocolate mixture. I seasoned it with a pinch of nutmeg and a sprinkle of cinnamon, and even splashed in a few drops of vanilla extract. I whisked the whole thing together over the boiling water until warm, and then poured into cups for my son and I.

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I have to be honest- the end result was not unlike those swiss miss packets of hot chocolate. It was a little gritty, not as frothy as I'd prefer (but I work at a cafe and I steam milk for my warm beverages all the time- I'm all spoiled on foam. I like my chai to be almost all foam.), but it was rich and warmed me up. One chocolate bar, a small chunk (like a teaspoon or less) of coconut oil, a drizzle of vanilla extract, and a pinch each of nutmeg and cinnamon mixed with about 16 oz. of warm milk, ended up being way more than enough for the 2 of us. It was rich enough to satisfy me after drinking about 1/4 of a cup, and I only served my son about half a cup, because- well, because I'm a jerk, haha. I'd say serve it in half-cup portions, so this would be enough to make 4 people perfectly happy.

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It made us happy!
The verdict was: DELICIOUS.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

on healthy eating.

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The holidays are just about over, and I'm happily done with indulging in my mom's food, sugary treats, and booze. Okay, maybe I'll stick with some booze. I HAVE JUBELALES IN MY FRIDGE, GUYS. They aren't going to drink themselves.

Recently I went bonkers and decided that I was going to count my calories- for a few reasons. First, I was just curious. I wondered how many calories I was eating in an average day, and it turns out that I was eating a LOT MORE than I thought I was, even though I was eating pretty reasonably healthy. Secondly, I want to lose some weight. I guess I don't really have to start my sentences with "let me be frank" anymore because most people who know me, or who read this, know that I'm a pretty straightforward person. After I got pregnant, I got pretty fat. I mean, a lot of other shit happened to me when I got pregnant- preeclampsia, bed rest, undiagnosed thyroid issues that have caused problems for years, postpartum depression, pulmonary edema, a leaky valve in my heart caused by excess water retention, MAN THIS SOUNDS PRETTY CRAPPY IF YOU LIST THEM ALL TOGETHER LIKE THAT, HUH? Having a kid nearly killed me, but as much as I'd love to blame my spawn for all my problems in life, having DAILY MILKSHAKES for 9 months probably didn't help my situation much, either. Nor did my daily shuffle to the bodega 2 blocks from my apartment for a fix of Sprite & Twix. Having abandoned my primary vices, booze & cigarettes, I became an eating machine, with a sweet tooth like I'd never had in my pregravid state.

I started my pregnancy at a decidedly non-scrawny 155 pounds (I'm about 5'5") - the results of college binge drinking and lousy eating habits. (Hey! Vegetarians! Bread on top of bread is a bad idea. Put DOWN the wheat gluten.) The day I gave birth I think I tipped the scales at about 245 pounds. HEY GUYS, GUESS WHAT? GAINING NEARLY 100 POUNDS IN 9 MONTHS IS EXTREMELY UNCOMFORTABLE. A good 40 or 50 pounds of that was water weight from the preeclampsia, which was taken care of with medication after I nearly suffocated on my own body fluids (awesome!). The rest was all milkshake. After teaching myself to exercise and forcing myself to stop eating so many goddamn cookies, I've managed to lose all but 5 pounds of that, but my body still feels all out of whack.

The last 3 years have been a huge exercise in trial and error in trying to figure out what was wrong with my body and then trying to fix it. I've learned to treat food like medicine, and so when I occasionally indulge in something I know I shouldn't be eating, it does feel a little like a crack binge, to be perfectly honest. Which is to say, TOTALLY AWESOME FOR ABOUT 15 MINUTES, and then totally shitty for the next few days. I mean, that's what I assume a crack binge is like. I swear I don't smoke crack, don't listen to what my sister says- she has no idea what she's talking about.

Anyway, I guess what I wanted to say was, here's to a new year- a new decade. I've made huge lifestyle changes over the last 3 years, and this next year won't be any different. I have PLANS, guys. I just want to take care of myself.

AND HEY WAIT- before you get all butthurt and start asking yourself shit like, "Oh crap, if *I* want to be healthy, does that mean I don't get to eat fried sausage on toast for dinner? Because that looks pretty good!" Consider the following: This awesome pork sausage fried in bacon fat tops the scales at about 310 calories- that's adding in the minute amount of bacon fat that probably got absorbed by the sausage. The bread, a piece of dry whole wheat toast, was like 90 calories. The beans were drizzled lightly with olive oil and roasted in the oven for a little while, probably a total of 30 calories, tops. So this dinner was a pretty respectable 430 calories, dudes. Don't get all weird about the fat, either- bacon fat, while being made up of about 40% eeeee-vil saturated fat (which, according to some sources, isn't all that evil after all) is also about 60% monounsaturated fat. THAT IS THE HEALTHY STUFF IN OLIVE OIL, GUYS. That means that more than half the fat in bacon grease is "healthy" fat. So get over it. Drop a teaspoon of bacon fat into your pan and fry some sausage. Just don't eat like 5 of them and you'll be all set. BUT WHAT THE HELL DO I KNOW? I'm just some jerkoff who writes a food blog. If you're really interested in what you're eating, start doing some reading. Read labels on your food, read books about good health. Learn to view dietary fat as an ally and not an enemy. Cut your portion sizes. Get up off your ass and move around. Don't use synthetic oils or fake butter or any kind of "replacement." Lay off the damn sugar.

Have a good night.

(And hey, dudes roasted green beans are awesome. Next time I'm gonna leave them under the broiler until they start to crisp a little more.)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

tollhouse chocolate chip cookies.

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Let me be frank: I don't screw around when it comes to cookies. I pretty much don't ever bake cookies, and I didn't even bake these- my husband did. But when it comes to chocolate chip cookies I'm not going to go hunting for some fancy-pants blogger's recipe. I'm just going to use the one on the package of the goddamn chocolate chips. And you know what? THEY ARE THE BEST COOKIES ON THE FACE OF THE PLANET. DON'T FRONT LIKE YOU DON'T THINK SO. I don't want a single, "Well, actually- I think they're too sweet." Or whatever boo-hoo crap. YOU KNOW THEY RULE, THEY ARE THE UBERCOOKIE, SO GET OVER IT.

My husband and son banded together in the kitchen this evening to bake a batch of cookies for Santa:

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We even wrote Santa a note (oh yeah, the carrot is for Rudolph):

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And no, I'm not going to post the recipe here. (wait, haven't I posted about these before?) Just go buy the dang chocolate chips and make some cookies already.


OH YEAH, MERRRRRY CHRISTMAS!!!

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Also, on a semi-related note, I'm incapable of drinking celebration ale without getting, "It's a celebration, bitches!" stuck in my head. Grab a drink, grab a glass. After that I'll grab your ass.

In all seriousness though, take care of yourselves, eat junk food unrepentantly for a least a day or two, and be nice to your family, if you can.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

ned ludd, i love you.

meat

My birthday's on Monday, y'all! I'm gonna be 26 years old, how... moderately exciting? 26 isn't a very rad birthday, what can I say. Anyway- last year we had plans to visit our friend's restaurant, and we got SNOWED THE HELL IN FOR LIKE 2 WEEKS. Then we got the flu. Then we got a STOMACH VIRUS. We had to wait until freakin' January before we finally managed to go out. And when we did, it ROOOOLED. Since then, it has become our favorite fancy date spot, and by that I mean we've gone back like 2 other times, haha. (We don't go on very many fancy dates.)

We almost went someplace else because there's just SO MUCH TO EAT here in Portland, it's hard to want to do repeats at the same restaurant when you could be trying something new, but what it really boils down to is friendly faces and ridiculously awesome food. We did snacky plates and shared a bunch of stuff- the pickles were amazing (PICKLED APPLES? The pickled mushrooms were my favorite), the cheese plate was awesome, we got a MEATPIE, the chef sent us out a bratwurst on a bed of red cabbage that BLEW MY MIND, and I imbibed the Love & Squalor Riesling, mostly because it was delicious, but again mostly because I'm a huge dork. The best thing we had though, was roasted winter squash with date molasses and bits of thick-sliced bacon. THE BACON TASTED LIKE A CAMPFIRE. IT WAS AMAZING. And the squash was all caramelized around the edges, it was awesome. I wish I had a picture of the face my husband made when he took his first bite. For dessert we got a local chocolate sampler! I don't think I've ever been to a restaurant that has something like this on their dessert menu but I thought it was awesome, because I was STUFFED, and it was just small bites of really excellent chocolate. (Note to Jason & Ben if you're reading- the chocolates were awesome, but you need to get some Lillie Belle chocolates on that tasting menu! They have good shit.)

Uhhhhhh anyway. We had an awesome meal, went out for a movie, and now we're sitting on the couch like lazy old people because I have to work in the morning. A+ pretend birthday!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

pea soup, slightly improved.

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The other night I made a pretty boring pot of split pea soup. It didn't even have BACON in it. I just wanted something cheap and healthy for dinner, so vegetarian pea soup it was. It was... ok. I mean, it wasn't the best soup I've ever made, that's why I didn't bother posting a recipe.

I put the leftovers in the fridge, planning to eat them for dinner last night, but when dinner time rolled around I was like, "Ugh, dude- really? I'm NOT in the mood for pea soup, I don't know." But, laziness trumps appetite so I warmed some up on the stove anyway. Then, a stroke of not-quite-genius, but still pretty rad, I scooped in a couple of dollops of massamun curry paste that I had in my fridge.

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Here you can see me cleverly hiding the date I wrote on it when I opened it- it's been in my fridge for awhile, but if you're curious, the brand is "Thai and True," it's made locally, and it's pretty tasty! I like the massamun the best. Normally I just put this into a can of coconut milk and pour over a stir fry for more like a thai style curry, but stirred into leftover pea soup, it tasted just like indian food!

Anyway. I uh... thought you all might be interested. Sorry, last night was my husband's company holiday party and I got drunk and made an ass out of myself doing karaoke, so I'm just gonna sit here in a cozy sweater and try to sleep things off, if you don't mind.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

kale chips.

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Dude. If it wouldn't take 8 billion years, I'd eat my weight in kale chips. I mean, you can't really go wrong with hot crunchy salt in any form, but this is my new midnight snack that I want to eat by the BUCKETFUL.

All you have to do is tear up some kale, drizzle it with a little bit of olive oil, sprinkle it with coarse kosher salt, and bake it for 10-20 minutes at 350ยบ, keeping a close eye to make sure they don't burn. PRETTY IMPOSSIBLE TO FAIL AT.

Let's talk about coarse kosher salt for a minute, by the way- we were on a sea salt kick for awhile, but we ran out and I grabbed a box of coarse kosher to replace it, and it was like OH HI OLD FRIEND, HOLY CRAP YOU TASTE DELICIOUS. Screw sea salt, seriously. The best part about the coarse kosher is that you barely use any, but everything you put it on is magically transformed by the crunchy salty goodness. You can drop hella bucks on those silly fancy finishing salts at the gourmet groceries, but I just have a deep love in my heart for the old school stuff, what can I say? God, I love salt with texture.