Tuesday, November 30, 2004

sauerkraut, improved

This week's adventurous purchase at the West Side Market was fried sauerkraut balls from Rita's, the Hungarian deli. Foodgoat loves sauerkraut. I find it tolerable at best. But I like the sauerkraut balls. Why? Because anything that's breaded and deep-fried tastes good.

Tryout Tuesday: a recipe edition

On the Tuesdays that we don't go scope out new restaurants, I've resolved to try new recipes. (A creature of habit, I seem to respond well to regularly scheduled programming.) The pile of old cooking magazines tagged with Post-It notes and a burgeoning cookbook collection (though it can't touch my mom's 300+ hoard) are crying out to be stained, splattered, and generally used.

The first dish of the series may or may not exactly count, because I've made the recipe once before. But it was a long time ago and this time I made it rather differently.

Here's the original recipe, swiped from the evah-so-handy epicurious (whose redesign is leaps and bounds better than the old one):

1/2 cup canned solid pack pumpkin
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon (generous) baking powder
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Whisk pumpkin, egg, salt, nutmeg and baking powder in large bowl to blend. Mix in flour (dough will be soft). Dip a spoon into boiling water to moisten & scoop up dough to drop in water. Boil dumpling until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer to colander and drain. Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add dumplings. Sauté until beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Transfer dumplings to bowl. Sprinkle with cheese and serve.
It was good this way, but I liked my revised way better. First off, I used fresh pumpkin. Believe it or not, I happened to have some in the fridge: last week, I baked a whole sugar pumpkin, mostly to see what happened, since I couldn't cut through the skin without fearing for my life. It cooked, I scooped, and that's all there was to it.

I used whole-wheat flour and didn't measure it once. I'm sure I used much more than the recipe called for. I just kept adding big spoonfuls at a time, and mixed until it looked dumpling-worthy, i.e. when the dough pulls away from the sides (this was the first time that description actually made sense to me ... I must be learning something from all those times I've watched Foodgoat make dumplings). No nutmeg, as Foodgoat dislikes it, but did use pepper, paprika, and parsley, which means I have half of a cutesy girl band. I used olive oil instead of butter, and forgot all about the cheese. Otherwise, the technique was the same.

The pumpkin dumplings actually turned out quite well. The whole-wheat flour gave it a nuttier sort of taste, and the pumpkin and savory spices went well with the fried kielbasa sausage. We had a fine photo but the camera didn't think so, since it corrupted it and refused to give it up.

Monday, November 29, 2004

post turkey day

Did everyone have a happy Thanksgiving?

I'm still full.

Of course, maybe that's because yesterday I had a big, splendid brunch at the Last Chance restaurant in Willowick, where the chef is the best beau of Foodgoat's cousin (who, ironically, is the pickiest eater in the family ... go figure). Everyone raved about the pancakes, Foodgoat gave his official thumbs up to the burger, but I ordered a plate of crabcakes and onion rings. There aren't many places you can get that in the morning, and I wasn't going to pass up the opportunity. It may be unorthodox, maybe but it was delish and most satisfying. I even got salad, cream of cabbage potato soup, and vanilla ice cream to boot. See why I'm still full? No wonder I fell asleep later during the shootout.

Another reason I might be full: serving size. I didn't do so well on the new Portion Distortion quiz.

I didn't do a bit of shopping on Black Friday (unless you count a box of donuts), but if I had seen them, I might have been tempted by these oh-so-festive candy cane shot glasses (via not martha).

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Tryout Tuesday: ZaZa

On the eve of my last day on the diet ... screw it. Time for some real food.

Enter ZaZa. Tucked unobstrusively into a somewhat faded strip mall, ZaZa had a lovely ambiance: dark velvet curtains, violet-hued walls, low lighting, and smooth jazz in the background. The cuisine was Nawlins'-style, my favorite kind. It was all very promising.

I declined dipping into the extensive martini menu, but Foodgoat did take adventage of Tuesday happy hour deals to indulge in a Guinness (on tap, too, Foodgoat's signal for his type of bar) to go along with a plate of calamari. It was a fabulous start: the battered and fried squid rings, piled high on a spicy, lemony pepper sauce was spectacular. The squid was light and crunchy; the sauce smooth and flavorful. It was probably the best calamari I've had; Foodgoat went so far as to say it was the best dish he'd ever had at a restaurant.

Foodgoat went onto a Bourbon Burger with sweet potato fries. The fries were good and crispy (I know because I kept stealing some from his plate). But the burger was a kicker: a massive one pound of meat, topped with mushrooms and red onions in a Dijon, bourbon whiskey sauce, on sourdough. Poor Foodgoat could barely manage to take half of it down. It scared him a little.

As for me, of course I couldn't turn down the Louisiana crabcakes with mashed sweet potatoes. The crabcakes came with a horseradish sauce, a cocktail sauce, and a hot pepper sauce, and a spicy corn salsa. This is a restaurant that doesn't shy away from the spices, for which we're quite grateful. The crabcakes were just delicious (even better the next day as a sandwich for lunch): crunchy on the outside, moist and sweet on the inside.

I think I have a new favorite restaurant in Cleveland.

Monday, November 22, 2004

the wishlisting begins

I'm a glutton for punishment: I've been poring over gorgeous photos of fried chicken and chocolate cakes in old cooking magazines like Food & Wine and Bon Appetit, handed down to me by a woman who was moving and didn't have room for them anymore. Eating Well, new to me, is rising up the list of favorite food mags as a result of its mix of accessible recipes and health news.

On the happy side, 'tis the season of covetousness!

I like this nifty tea set by sarah cihat, not just because of the most unladylike skull and crossbones, but because the china has been rescued from secondhand oblivion. Recycling rules.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Winter chili

Okay, so I had some French fries for lunch, along with my carrot and my cucumber. They count as fresh vegetables, right?

Meanwhile, Foodgoat's adventures continue unabated. Imitiation being the sincerest form of flattery, he was inspired by Igor's chili to try and recreate it. He's made chili many times, but this time he was inspired by Igor's version, and, imitiation being the sincerest form of flattery, this time he used baked beans, an entire can of hot banana peppers, ginger, and roasted peppers. After a whole day of simmering in the slow cooker, Foodgoat also threw in peas and corn for good measure. The result was hot, spicy, and good. Different, filling, and perfect for a cool November night. Chili is never the same dish twice, and yet it's almost always good.

As if that wasn't enough, Foodgoat later broke open a box of Haagen-Dazs ice cream. Pistachio, if you must know. A previous pistachio doubter, he was pretty enthusiatic about this one, reporting it to be not too sweet, incredibly earthy, and a meal unto itself, which may be why he never liked it as a kid.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

detox diet continues

I'd kill for some carbs right now.

Actually, the anti-allergy fast is going well. I'm eating a lot of the few foods I can eat, so I'm not too hungry, though my digestive system seems to be angry at me for the sudden onslaught of fiber. It was torture, though, going to a work event yesterday and seeing tables upon tables of large, soft muffins ... chocolate muffins, blueberry muffins, banana nut muffins ...

Instead, for dinner I had a big plate of salad greens with olive oil, flax seeds, and sea salt.

Which isn't to say that it was a bad dinner at all. The greens were fresh, the olive oil was fine, and I now have a deeper appreciation for the superiority of sea salt. At lunch I have to use the regular salt in the cafeteria, and it just doesn't taste nearly as interesting, nearly as complex, nearly as good, as a sprinkle of coarse sea salt.

By the way, the new Frontline episode on Wal-Mart is excellent.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


It's been a rough couple of weeks for me. The re-election, the start of cold Cleveland weather, and then Judith on Joan of Arcadia dies, then Devon from Crossing Jordan gets killed off too.

And to top it all off I'm still trying battling a mysterious skin ailment, which at various times has been self-diagnosed as an allergic reaction, leprosy, scarlet fever, and flesh-eating disease. The doctors think it's just eczema with a staph infection, but they are from Kaiser and as such are practically useless. So as a last resort to clear up freaky rash, I started a hypoallergenic diet.

This is no small undertaking for Ladygoat. This is 10 whole days of only fruit for breakfast, and steamed or raw vegetables for lunch and dinner. No coffee, no dairy products, no acidic fruits like oranges or tomatoes. No bread or meat or chocolate. No spices, just olive oil and sea salt. This from someone who can barely give up Oreos for Lent every year.

It's day 3. I've had more broccoli than I care to disclose. And the 10-year old grilled sandwich with the Virgin Mary miraculously on it looks mighty good right now. But my hands looks almost human.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Veteran's Day

Though we here in Ohio didn't get so much as a day off (my mom in CA got two days off), today is Veteran's Day. Honor the American soldiers and heroes by reading their stories at the new Veteran's History Project, learing about struggles of forgotten vets, and supporting those who sacrificed.

Better yet, give a little something to our guys & gals overseas now. Send your grocery coupons to their families, then send a care package to the troops for the holidays, which needs to be sent in the next few weeks to ensure that they arrive in time. A few weeks ago, I heard a local military mother speak about how her 6"3" son in Iraq so often didn't have enough to eat because contractors do not deliver food consistently when conditions are dangerous, that he dropped down to 130 lbs. Frequently requested foods: beef jerky, kool-aid powder, energy bars, non-dairy creamer, canned tuna, hot chocolate, canned fruit. The military isn't so much known for their fine gourmet meals, so let's help a soldier out.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Tryout Tuesday: Day and Night

Last Tuesday morning, before going to vote, Foodgoat and I had an impromptu Tryout Tuesday breakfast at Eat at Joe's. It's a tiny neighborhood greasy spoon tucked away in a strip mall down the street. The waitresses seem to know all the customers by name and walk around with a pencil behind their ears and a coffee pot in one hand. That's my big pile o' blueberry pancakes and side of hash browns, and that's a patty melt that Foodgoat's digging into at 9 in the morning. Definitely one of the most filling breakfasts we've had in a long time (usually we just settle for coffee), though it hardly prepared us for the heartbreak which was to come later that night. Clearly, these were more hopeful and optimistic times.

It's a nice place. The food is plain but comforting, and the atmosphere is as down-home and right-neighborly as it gets.

In contrast, yesterday's Tryout Tuesday meal was a dinner affair. Foodgoat agonized over the decision, but after driving around in circles for a while, we ended up at Arrabiata's, a Mayfield Heights Italian place favored by Foodgoat's relatives. Just in the nick of time too: we managed to catch their Early Bird menu. In this case, the early bird gets great, big, fat worm: you get soup, salad, side of linguini marinara, beverage, an endless basket of warm bread, AND your choice of a wide variety of tasty Italian entrees, all on a white tablecloth and with attentive, excellent service, for a mere $10 a person. All just for showing up before 6:30. No wonder the place was packed!

Here's Foodgoat in the mood lighting (why disturb it with flash photography?) with his Chicken Marsala (which he give a thumbs up!).
And this is my cheese ravioli, which was hot, cheesy and delicious, just the way I like it. The portions were almost just the right size, maybe just a little bit too big, though I won't complain: we managed to eat every last bit (plus two extra bread refills ... I never turn down free bread).

Definitely worth a repeat visit :)

Friday, November 5, 2004

Frogs and Ravens: A Note to Offended Readers

From Foodgoat to his family:

Please read this blogger's post. She expresses, much better than I have been able to, how I felt and how I feel now. You must also understand what a blog is: an online journal written in and for the moment. Again I ask you to read this, for any unintentional hurts you might have felt.


p.s. It's kind of funny my friends didn't get upset at all.

Foods for depression

complex carbohydrates (boosts serotonin activity in the brain):Broccoli, Rice, brown, Potatoes, Blackberries, Pasta, wheat, Squash, winter

folic acid (deficient in people who are depressed): Asparagus, Beets, Spinach, Avocados, Brussels sprouts, Bok choy, Cabbage, Savoy, Beans, dried, Chick-peas, Soybeans, Lentils, Oranges, Peas, fresh, Turkey, Broccoli

magnesium (acts as a muscle relaxant): Spinach, Chocolate, Pumpkin seeds, Oysters, Sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts, Amaranth, Buckwheat, Avocados, Quinoa, Almonds, Barley

niacin (nerve cell function, relieving depression as well as feelings of anxiety and panic): Rice, brown, Chicken, Pomegranates, Tuna, Lamb, Wheat, Turkey

omega-3 fatty acids (a building block of human brain tissue): Salmon, Trout, Tuna

wrapping voters in the warm rhetoric of a Republican security blanket

It is now three days since a slim majority re-elected Bush, despite what I and many others believe to be serious and misguided policies. While Foodgoat’s anger has loosened his blogging tongue, my sadness and confusion has stifled mine. I have been trying to blog, trying to put in words my questions, my convictions about this President, and my fears over a Republican-controlled government. But especially, I’ve been trying to come to grips with the turn of the American people so far to the right. It is this reactionary political and cultural climate, more than the details of either candidate or their campaigns that concern me. What is it that Americans want?

Over and over again in the past few days, what I have heard is that what we want, it seems, is “security,” “strength,” and “values.”

I’m still struggling to understand what these mean, because they don’t seem to refer to specific policies, but to a broader, overarching feeling, more visceral than any one issue. It only seems like these are only code words for a generalized desire for certainty, any kind of certainty, in an unstable world. While it is politically correct for everyone to give lip service to racial, ethnic and cultural, religious, and sexual diversity, I suspect that at the heart we find difference and plurality to be troubling things. We fear they introduce uncertainty, and that they signal weakness. The freedom of choice we have in so many things may be liberating or it may be paralyzing. When the industrial and manufacturing jobs abandon the cities they built for foreign soils, when the family farms sell out to multinational agribusinesses, the freedom of rebuilding new economies may leave us with nostalgia for apple pie and Mayberry. When the common enemy that bound us together for over half a century collapses under the weight of economic overspending, we may wonder, like a new divorcee after a contentious but stable marriage, where we go from here. When women want to marry women, when two men adopt children, we may wonder what ever happened to the Cleavers.

Every generation of the modern era, as technologies and the accompanying practices become obsolete with ever-increasing frequency, has felt the burdens of facing brave new worlds. In such times security may mean not only missile defense systems but also familiarity. Strength may not only be unwillingness to concede misjudgment but also a façade of stability. And morals and values may be but a flickering, powerful memory of when men were men, and America was great.

The trouble is that you can’t go back. The world no longer looks as it does on the board of Risk or on Axis and Allies, if indeed it ever did. And in a world where it is the multinational CEOs and IMF economists that increasingly determine the status of our jobs, where the euro is fast rising over the dollar, where the implications of worldwide environmental exploitation are hitting closer and closer to home, where we can recognize the injustices of earlier times, I don’t believe we should even try.

And yet that’s what I see happening.

I know my anger

I believe I now understand why I am so angry at this past election. I am angry at what happened to the Republican party- I am mad at them for no longer being a party that is about protecting the constitution and gaining profits. They have become an extreme party – they now have become the Religious Right. It wasn’t about the economy, medical costs, or even tax cuts – it was ALL MORAL issues. “Jesus Christ, we can’t have two men fucking and having the same rights as me. Those damn terrorists think their god wants us dead – well our God is going to kick their asses.”

GOP what has happened to you?

We Dems have extremes too – damn PETA and tree hugging nation. BUT we didn’t bow down to them – if fact, we pissed them off so much they started their own party.
The GOP knew they couldn’t win by being a moderate party, so they went to the extreme. They used FEAR much like the preacher uses Hell to get people to do their bidding. This election had nothing to do with Kerry – it could have been anyone, and the GOP would have portrayed him/her like the serpent. “You can’t trust Kerry – he turn over control of our scared country to the rest of the heathen world.”
So please, if there is any republican still reading, PLEASE take back your party. The religious right should scare the hell out of you.
And to you Dems, I know some of you are upset about how we ran our campaigns – that we didn’t attack more. I for one am glad we didn’t. To become that.. to win… isn’t right [ or left ;) ]

Thursday, November 4, 2004

I still hate you

Day 2. Do I feel any better about the world? fuck NO. I still feel a great deal of hate to all of those idoits out there. Food is far from my mind - in the past 36 hours I only ate some bread late last night.

Today's rant: During the camPAIN - the Bushies spread FEAR. Fear that we are going to be attacked - and fear that if Kerry was in charge you were going to DIE. Why? voters, why did you buy this? Bush was only being a Fucking terrorist. Holding YOU (not fucking me) hostage to vote for his ass. Sure, it is easy to call someone of a different religion / living in a different part of the world a terrorist - because it sounds scary. But Bushies ran terrorist kinds of policital ads.

By the way - WAR on Terrorists? What the hell is that - like the war on Drugs. A war that can't be won because it isn't a WAR!!!!! You declare wars on countries, not ideas. FUCKING IDOITS!!! I am declaring WAR ON HAPPINESS... Because with bush in charge this country will see less joy in there lives. 50% of the people can't believe he was re-elected (unhappy) the other 50% are so scared that they cannot be happy. So I guess our WAR is going well.

Other little rant: sticker ribbons on cars. the stupidity is so obvious.


Wednesday, November 3, 2004

U.S. you make me sick!

Jesus, people- what the hell is wrong with you!!!! After 4 years of this crap, you want 4 more. What the hell are you thinking - oh, wait you are incapable of thinking. You just hear what you want to hear- thinking is beyond your abilities.

To Ohio: my beloved OHIO- why? oh why? Cleveland is great- the rest of you are assholes! Get you heads out of your own asses and learn a little about what it is to be a human being.

To my friends and family: Fuck you.... that's right just fuck you. don't call, don't write, just leave me alone.