Archive: July 2008

Farewell, and Why Seven Is Now My Lucky Number

I think I need to consult a numerologist. There's something about me, D.C. and the number 7. The numerical patterning revealed itself one afternoon last week while I was strolling through downtown, meditating on my relationship with this town and the things I will undoubtedly miss. I moved here 14 years ago, in July 1994, a month shy of turning 28. The next two-plus years would be about the pursuit of love with a man who loved the bottle more and my constant struggle to pay the bills as an ESL instructor, which led to a variety of part-time jobs and ultimately, a path to a culinary career. (As I've previously written in this space, there are no coincidences.) In the fall of 1996, I got my cooking-school wish and headed north to New York (the man shacked up with his bottle and someone else to take care of him)....

By Kim ODonnel | July 31, 2008; 9:40 AM ET | Comments (18)

Chat Leftovers: Eye of Round Steak Creation, Meatless Farm Market Supper

Surf and Turf: I am having five couples over for Friday dinner. Am planning on steaming shrimp, chilling it and serving it with two different dipping sauces. Want to use a five-pound eye of the round I have in the freezer, too. How long to thaw in the fridge? Also, any interesting way to cook? I guess I envision it sliced and served on a platter. Don't want a hot or heavy dinner. Am rounding out the meal with a black bean/tomato/corn/avocado salad. Please help me with this roast and I would be so grateful. Dear Surf and Turf: Some background on cow anatomy is in order before we get into dinner prep; the "round" offers the rear view of the cow, as in the rump or the big ol' behind. A boneless cylinder-like shape sandwiched between the heel and the rolled rump, the eye might look like a tenderloin,...

By Kim ODonnel | July 29, 2008; 11:52 PM ET | Comments (30)

Much-Needed Tears From 'Onion' Cooking Video

We interrupt our regular program of paper shuffling and dish-towel drama for this special report from the geniuses at Onion News Network (ONN): In the throes of single-handedly packing up the contents of Casa Appetite, I haven't laughed in days, and after watching "Chef Adam Scott" demo the omelet that came to him in a dream, I couldn't stop. Man, I needed that (and just had to share the comic relief). Should I spoil the fun and tell you what my favorite parts are? I think it's when Adam asks "Jim," the apron-donned "Today Now" host to put on his scarf and "get me three pieces of bacon out of the bathroom cabinet" to crumble over the nearly-done omelet. Or is it when Scott says "if you use a fork, Robin Williams is going to come and offer to lend you use his whisk and the two of you will...

By Kim ODonnel | July 28, 2008; 10:36 PM ET | Comments (19)

ELC Guest Bloggers: Jon from D.C. and Sheila from Ore.

From July 19 until July 26, 54 households across America participated in the Mighty Appetite Eat Local Challenge, a week-long adventure of eating food that has been grown or raised within 100 miles of home. Throughout the course of the ELC, we've been featuring local-eating chronicles from guest bloggers around the country; in today's final installment, we hear from two participants on opposite coasts: Jon in the Takoma neighborhood of D.C. and Sheila in Portland, Ore. Finally, I'd like to express my thanks to all of my local eaters, hailing from 15 states (plus D.C.). It was a tremendous first effort, and here's to ELC 2009! Jon Hunter, 31, is policy director for the Endangered Species Coalition, a non-profit organization based in Washington. Originally from Colorado, Hunter lives on the D.C. side of Takoma with a housemate who joined him in the ELC. ELCer Jon Hunter. (Courtesy of Jon Hunter)...

By Kim ODonnel | July 28, 2008; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Last Supper at Casa Appetite East

On Monday morning, a tag team of movers will descend upon my doorsteps and take over the joint, packing up the contents of every nook and cranny (and yours truly, if I'm not careful). A very partial view of the soon-to-be dismantled MA pantry. (Kim O'Donnel) Among the "critical do's and don'ts" on the company-provided moving checklist is a big fat "don't" for hosting a dinner party on packing day. Sounds reasonable, dontcha think? Translated: If I'm to engage in my final act of cooking and say farewell to my Arlington kitchen, I need to arrange my culinary swan song this very weekend and not a minute too soon. Ideally, I'd like to use what I've already got on hand and refrain from buying anything, unless something at the farmer's market Saturday morning (see you there, GAFF!) is calling my name. Besides, my dry pantry is brimming with stuff begging...

By Kim ODonnel | July 25, 2008; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

ELC Guest Bloggers: Claire from Ala. and Alison from Tex.

Since July 19, 54 households across America have been participating in the Mighty Appetite Eat Local Challenge, a week-long adventure of eating food that has been grown or raised within 100 miles of home. All week long, we've been featuring ELC chronicles from guest bloggers around the country; today we meet two participants from the south. Claire Crutchley, 48, lives with her husband and 16-year-old daughter in Auburn, Ala., a small college town in the eastern part of the state. She is a professor of finance at Auburn University. The entire Crutchley household has been participating in the ELC. ELC guest blogger Claire Crutchley. (Family photo) All three of us cook; although I signed up for the ELC without first asking my family, we are all enjoying the local fruits and vegetables. I have been trying to eat more local foods for the past few years. I have belonged to...

By Kim ODonnel | July 24, 2008; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Chat Leftovers: Breakfast Tea Party, Snap Bean Nibbling

Breakfast tea: If you were hosting a little breakfast get together, for say 10 women, what would you serve? Keep in mind if people are coming over around 9:30 a.m., you would either want something easy to prepare (so you have time for a shower) or it's something that can be done the night before. Do you have recipes for a stuffed baked French toast and/or a German pancake (filled with berries)? At this time of year, local in-season fruit is a no-brainer, and your guests will love you for having something easy to digest at an early hour. You could cut up cantaloupe the night before, then in the morning toss with an assortment of summer berries. Leave the banana behind (gets brown) and the grapes too. Instead, focus on what you can get from your own neck of the woods. Slice up a few peaches -- or even...

By Kim ODonnel | July 23, 2008; 9:35 AM ET | Comments (12)

ELC Guest Blogger: Kelly from Mass.

Thirty-seven-year-old Kelly Griffin lives in Westborough, Mass., a small town about 30 miles west of Boston. She works in the neighboring town of Malborough as a data administrator for Hologic, a global women's health care company. This week, while her boyfriend is traveling, Griffin is flying solo as an ELCer, but based on her report, below, it looks like she is eating mighty fine in New England. ELC guest blogger Kelly Griffin. (Family photo) In light of the recent tomato salmonella scare, it was very easy to commit to the Eat Local Challenge. However, for me, there are two big hurdles to eating locally. The first is that I live in the Northeast and we are not blessed with a year-round growing season. The second is that I am the senior data administrator for a women's healthcare company. The kick off for the ELC was smack in the midst of...

By Kim ODonnel | July 22, 2008; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

The Eat Local Challenge Has Begun!

Monday may be the dawn of a new week for most, but for those participating in the Mighty Appetite Eat Local Challenge (ELC), it's already Day Three. Since Saturday, July 19, 54 households around the country have pledged to incorporate 10 local food items into their diets for a week-long eating experiment. "Local" in this case means 100 miles from home, wherever home may be. (See the ELC Honor Roll for the geographic distribution of participants.) KOD getting in on the eat-local action, at Arlington Courthouse market. (Farmer Forrest) There are no Eat Local police on the scene issuing demerits for the use of non-local products, nor is anyone going to notice if your local perimeter extends to 150 miles. ELCers need not submit their shopping lists for approval (but they are certainly free to share them in the comments area all week long). Rather, the idea behind the ELC...

By Kim ODonnel | July 21, 2008; 8:02 AM ET | Comments (16)

Drawing Party Lines with a Cocktail

There are pins and T-shirts, front-yard signs and bumper stickers, sippy cups and key chains -- the sundry memorabilia and tchotkes that say I Heart You Presidential Candidate Blue or Red. And now, with the presidential nomination season just five weeks to go, there's the cocktail. Brought to you by the folks at Skyy, there's a color-coded cocktail campaign coming to a lounge near you. "Barack's Rocks." (Courtesy Skyy) For Blue enthusiasts, Skyy is recommending Barack's Rocks, a drinky drink made the color of Windex, thanks to the addition of blue curacao. In non-election season, you might know this concoction as a "blue lagoon." Sips for Thought: Do you think they picked this one because of Obama's Hawaiian birth roots? Do we know if he even likes vodka? And is the window cleaner blue just a tad too girly for the senator? The recipe, below, calls for a slice of...

By Kim ODonnel | July 18, 2008; 6:00 AM ET | Comments (7)

The Edible Money Crunch: Real, Imagined, Virtual?

Yesterday, the bean counters at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released their latest Consumer Price Index (CPI), and on the surface, the picture ain't pretty. According to the report, food prices for the first half of 2008 shot up by 6.8 percent on a seasonally adjusted annualized basis, already surpassing the 4.7 percent annual increase for all of 2007. Based on these numbers, that means that a 10-dollar bag of groceries is now closer to 11 bucks, and that 100-dollar weekly food bill is more like $111. Multiply those numbers by four, and you're shelling out $44 more per month -- for now. Worldwide, however, the jump has been much more substantial. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which tracks global commodities such as rice, sugar and wheat, the food price index has increased 57 percent between March 2007 and March 2008. And...

By Kim ODonnel | July 17, 2008; 9:29 AM ET | Comments (12)

Chat Leftovers: Buckle Topping, Relationship Menu Planning

Morristown, N.J.: Whenever I make a blueberry buckle (like last night) the crumbly topping is less crumbly and more hard and sort of cracks when you press a fork against it. It tastes good, it is just not the right texture. Am I adding too much/too little flour and/or sugar? When I first discovered buckle a few years back, I too had issues with the topping, as did many MA readers. In this case, the topping was too soft (too much fat, not enough flour) and would sink into the buckle batter rather than sit on top and behave crumbly, as a buckle topping should. After several rounds of kitchen tinkering, here's what I've come up with: a buckle topping that yields plenty of crumb with just the right amount of fat to keep it from becoming cement. Buckle Topping, Take 68 1/2 cup granulated sugar or light brown sugar...

By Kim ODonnel | July 16, 2008; 8:23 AM ET | Comments (6)

Thanks, This Dinner's For You

"Say thank you more often, every day, even if you don't say it out loud. Think it." These are the words of the all-knowing Laura, an amazing holistic therapist whom I had the pleasure of meeting in January, when I stretched out on her massage table in Costa Rica. At first, I was surprised by this notion. Who, me? I say thank you all the time! Doesn't everyone say thank you to the driver upon exiting a bus, when a flight attendant offers a blanket or when the supermarket cashier hands you your change and receipt? But what Laura was getting at was something deeper, the metaphysical medium that she is. She was right: I had the whole "thank you" courtesy thing down pat, but a daily practice of giving thanks? Not so much. Seven months since our little chat, Laura's words have stayed right with me on the front...

By Kim ODonnel | July 15, 2008; 9:28 AM ET | Comments (0)

A Day at Polyface Farm

6:45 a.m. Saturday: The clouds have yet to lift off the mountains, but as I peer out the window of the dining room at the Hampton Inn in Staunton, Va. (pronounced without the "u"), the skies of the Shenandoah Valley, are promising plenty of sun. I'm not the only one awake at this fine hour on a Saturday morning; the hotel's breakfast area is packed with people who, like me, are headed just eight miles down a bunch of narrow country roads to the little town of Swoope (pronounced Swope) about 150 miles from Washington, D.C. A view of the Polyface fields, dotted with portable chicken and turkey shelters. (Kim O'Donnel) By seven, my farmer-friend and I pile into her car and join the caravan of cars snaking their way through the valley until we arrived on a dirt road called Pure Meadows Lane, home to Polyface Farm, where we...

By Kim ODonnel | July 14, 2008; 12:14 PM ET | Comments (7)

'Emeril Green' Comes Out of the Oven

A few months ago in this space, we told you about a casting call for Emeril Green, celeb chef Emeril Lagasse's new show on Planet Green, the 24/7 eco-channel at Discovery. Now the show is ready for prime time, and it's coming out of the oven Monday, July 14, at 8 p.m. Emeril has cooked up a batch of 80 shows, each of which profiles a "cooking-challenged" home cook from the Washington area, including a handful of Mighty Appetite blog readers. Deepening the Washington connection is the Whole Foods in Fair Lakes, Va., where the entire first season has been taped, according to producer Marie Ostrosky. Typically, the show will air Monday through Friday at 8 p.m., but the debut will be a "mini-marathon running six shows back-to-back, " says Ostrosky. "Then it's two shows a night for the first two weeks." Two MA readers are part of Monday's lineup,...

By Kim ODonnel | July 11, 2008; 8:55 AM ET | Comments (11)

In a Tomatillo State of Mind

Local tomatillos showed off their pretty chartreuse-y skins at my neighborhood farm market last weekend, which means only one thing at Casa Appetite: salsa verde. Tomatillos waiting to be sauced. (Kim O'Donnel) If you've never had the pleasure, now's the time. As a member of the nightshade family (eggplants, tomatoes, peppers), tomatillos show up when it's nice and warm. Even though it kinda looks like a tomato and it's got tomato as part of its name, the tomatillo is not a tomato, nor is it a green tomato waiting to turn red. Think of it as a distant cousin with a sweet-tart disposition. Super-low in calories (1/2 cup is just 20 calories), the tomatillo is also a good source of potassium and Vitamin C. See for yourself what a great sauce she makes, proving her mettle in all kinds of flavor scenarios -- with grilled mains, rice and beans, scrambled...

By Kim ODonnel | July 10, 2008; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (8)

Ten Ways to Get Your 'Loupe On

Summer of 1988: I was a new college grad, making six bucks an hour at two jobs and living in a group house in West Philadelphia. It was ridiculously hot all the time in that skunky Philly sort of way. Other than developing a penchant for tequila, I remember my obsession with cantaloupe and vanilla yogurt. I made it for breakfast before heading to my six-dollar-an-hour job on my bicycle called Shirley, and I made it for dinner because most of the time, it was just too hot to cook. I'd buy my 'loupes from Al the Fruit Man, an old codger who sold produce on the U. Penn campus, or I'd pick one up at Sue's, a Korean-owned fruit shop on a corner in Center City. Cantaloupe with honey and pecans. (Kim O'Donnel) There is one caveat with loving cantaloupe melons -- and that's the uncertainty of the tasting...

By Kim ODonnel | July 8, 2008; 11:50 PM ET | Comments (19)

The Duh Factor of Quinoa

I'm hardly new to quinoa, the ancient plant native to the Andes, but I have to admit, it had been a while. But over the weekend, Mister MA and I did a dinner date out on the town, and had the pleasure of sharing a bowl of toasted quinoa to partner with our fish entrees. (He claims it was his quinoa debutante dance.) Toasted quinoa. (Kim O'Donnel) It only took a few forkfuls to remember how much I love these nutty, fluffy seeds that pop open almost like tadpoles (a squiggly little comma emerges) when cooked. It's simple fare that cooks up as easily as a pot of rice, but unlike oats, millet or other gruel-style cereals, quinoa is more complex, both nutritionally and gastronomically. For thousands of years, the Incans have referred to quinoa as "gold" for its uber nutritional content. Not only is it high in protein (about...

By Kim ODonnel | July 8, 2008; 8:48 AM ET | Comments (0)

Road Rules for the Eat Local Challenge

Due to riotous levels of enthusiasm, I am thrilled to announce the first annual Mighty Appetite Eat Local Challenge! Beginning Saturday, July 19, MA readers across the country will embark on a week-long eating adventure that includes food grown or raised within 100 miles of where they live. For this inaugural adventure, I challenge you to incorporate 10 food items from your local food shed over the course of the week. If you're having trouble figuring out exactly how far away 100 miles is from your hometown, have a look at this handy mapping tool put together by the 100-Mile Diet folks. If you've already e-mailed me, you're now a part of the ELC Honor Roll, which will be updated until July 14. During the week of July 14, I'll select five readers from different parts of the country who are interested in chronicling their ELC adventures. (For those getting...

By Kim ODonnel | July 7, 2008; 10:46 AM ET | Comments (0)

Eat Local Challenge Honor Roll

This list will be updated daily until July 14. If you'd like to be included, send me an e-mail with your city, state and size of household. In the subject line, please type "ELC." Kristin Adair Arlington, Va. Lisa Austin Washington, D.C. Rebeccah Ballo & Frankie Ali Alexandria, Va. Rebecca Bladen Evanston, Ill. Julia Boyle Annapolis, Md. Tiffany & Tom Bridge Arlington, Va. Emily Carnes Arlington, Va. Beverly Carson Charleston, S.C. Laura Chally Chesapeake, Va. Beth Chaney Baltimore, Md. Justine Christianson Hyattsville, Md. Deb Conrad Ithaca, N.Y. Erin Craig Washington, D.C. Claire Crutchley Auburn, Ala. Leah DeWolf Arlington, Va. Elizabeth Eastwood Arlington, Va. Elizabeth Edwards Arlington, Va. Elena Falls Germantown, Md. Melissa & Andy Friedman New York, N.Y. Ken Garno & Jody Tarallo Syracuse, N.Y. Sara & John Gilliam Lincoln, Neb. Shayne Ginder Rockville, Md. Aly Gniady Arlington, Va. Kelly Griffin Westborough, Mass. Beth Hamilton Germantown, Md. Erin Hare Centre...

By Kim ODonnel | July 6, 2008; 11:33 PM ET | Comments (0)

Relishing the Idea of Homemade Chowchow

With the Fourth on the horizon, let us turn our attention to chowchow. If you're from the south or have canoodled with the Pennsylvania Dutch, you might know about chowchow, a type of sweet-n-sour relish made primarily from cabbage. But before we move on, let's define relish. Cabbage gets a fun makeover as chowchow. (Kim O'Donnel) Relish is a highly seasoned condiment made from pickled vegetables -- and sometimes fruit -- except when it's called a chutney. Just so everyone is on the same page, "to pickle" means to preserve food in a vinegar-based brine. In this country, 'pickle relish' means pickled cucumbers but if you travel to the West Indies, India or South Africa, you might hear the word achar instead. The word "chowchow" seems to have interesting, diverse origins as well. For starters, it sounds like chou, the French word for cabbage, and some historians claim that it...

By Kim ODonnel | July 3, 2008; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (6)

Chat Leftovers: Fourth of July Vittles

We're going to the beach Friday! I'm excited, and wanted to make a picnic for lunch. What do you suggest would be a good, but cheap main course. I was thinking of baking chicken wings with a sweet soy glaze of some sort. Any other ideas? You'd get more bird for your buck if you roasted an entire chicken, quarter it and pack it in foil for the cooler. You'll have more variety of nibbles and a cut-up bird should prove to be less messy than a mountain of glazed wings. Here are the details for my naked chicken, a whole skinless bird infused with a curry-style rub. Bring along a baguette and you can make sandwiches. Getting into the Fourth spirit, circa 1970. (Family photo) Speaking of sandwiches, I've got cold meatloaf on the brain. Make the meatloaf the night before, but refrain from slicing it until the next...

By Kim ODonnel | July 2, 2008; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (23)

Kind-Hearted Cake

Last month in this space, I wrote about a dear friend who had undergone coronary bypass surgery and how it has forced the issue of quality of life and diet to the front burner. A little slice of heart-healthy heaven. (Kim O'Donnel) Flash forward six weeks, my buddy Pop Rocks is 20-some pounds lighter with a good report from the doc and has been given the green light to return to work. Yesterday, a group of us at washingtonpost.com celebrated his first day back on the job. The question, though, was: How to fete a hardcore cake lover with a health-appropriate crumb? Although equipped with an armory of heart-healthy cookie recipes, I realized that my heart-healthy cake repertoire is quite lean, and I had better get on the stick. After all, for the unofficial cake cutter at washingtonpost.com, there could be nothing other than cake. Without a tube pan in...

By Kim ODonnel | July 1, 2008; 10:09 AM ET | Comments (12)

 

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