Happy Monday? Did you enjoy your Super Bowl Sunday? Even though I was a bit of a zombie after work, I threw myself in the shower and headed down to my friend’s place for a lovely gathering. Aside from the Super Bowl, the Puppy Bowl was also playing, and there was a pool table and quite the spread of edibles. We had a good laugh over how domesticated she is now—adorable!
Do you use labels for food at parties? Do you ever write cute things on them?
Last night my family celebrated my mom’s birthday at El Parador, an old favorite Mexican restaurant. I wasn’t really in the mood to take photos (dark lighting), though I can say everything was excellent. I loved the fish special I ordered—light but just the right amount of spicy. It’s also hard to beat their guacamole.
One thing I will never come around to, though, is flan. I just…can’t. It could be, objectively, the best flan in the world and I would still want no part in that. However, I’m in the minority, there, so it was included in the celebratory dessert portion of the evening. My mom asked me to take a photo of that and the tres leches cake. Because I am a stunning food photographer, both shots came out spectacularly bad. I think the flan shot, however, wins for Worst Food Photo I Have Ever Taken:
I love my sister for telling it like it is. At 10:45 she texted me to say, “Your flan picture looks like a big areola.” And there you have it.
Speaking of winning, I still have my Christmas tree up because I keep forgetting to take it down. I’ve been a busy lady, what can I say?
Do you like flan? Have you ever taken a really bad photo?
On Saturday night, I used a Groupon to check out a class at Cook & Go, a culinary studio that started in France and found its way to the US a few years ago. The concept is that you cook the food in class and then take it home to reheat and eat. In the warmer months, they offer picnic-themed classes, too. Most of the food is actually prepared in foil carryout containers, which makes it so easy! Another plus: free wine for evening classes.
I did the Healthy Living menu, which included
- Roasted eggplant with tomato and goat cheese relish
- Apricot chicken with rice
- Flourless chocolate cake with chantilly cream and berry coulis
What was neat was that each person made their own meal (aka no strangers touching your meat). The instructor passed ingredients around along with spoons we used to add the amount needed for one portion. It was very informal and low-stress. The recipes are very simple, so you can feel good about eating mostly whole foods and can use as little or as much salt as you like. The only thing I didn’t love was that we used Splenda in the chocolate cakes, but in the grand scheme of things, a couple teaspoons of the stuff isn’t a deal breaker for me.
One thing that I find odd about cooking classes, though, is that I’m usually the only person flying solo. Maybe I didn’t get the memo that cooking classes were a couples-only thing? Whoops. Not like that would stop me. Of course, there are those occasional funny/awkward moments. This class was no exception. It started in the first two minutes:
Instructor (to Jess, motioning to the empty space next to her): Are you waiting for someone?
Jess: (turns and waves to other 24 students) I’ll be your token bachelor for this evening
Instructor: Don’t worry, there’s always someone like that.
Hm. “Someone like that?” What does that even mean?
Throughout the class, we were instructed to share things like stalks of fresh herbs with our “partner.” Several times I had to raise my hand to ask questions like, “What should we do if don’t have a partner to, uh, share an eggplant with?”
Share an eggplant. I guess that’s what the kids are calling it these days?
Anyway, my classmates actually were really nice and a fun bunch of work with—there was a lot of laughing. I also left with a pretty nice spread to enjoy at home:
Because I had enjoyed some wine at class, I ditched the rice, since I don’t really care about white rice, and I enjoyed the eggplant salad over some greens I needed to use up. Just to be fancy, I served the chicken in a fancy little cup, like, so:
I heard that we’re getting some low, low temps in the U.S. Coldest in decades. Guess I’d better get on that whole “someone to share an eggplant with” thing, if only for the body heat. Or I could just keep hamming it up in cooking classes and blogging about it and just, you know, wear a lot of sweaters.
Have you ever taken a cooking class? Does your partner like eggplant?
I didn’t know what my favorite fruit was until last year. Even now, I don’t even have a one specific favorite, but more a favorite…genre. Genus? Whatever the agricultural equivalent to “genre” is, that’s what I’m talking about.
Anyway, maybe it was all the wine tasting-and-writing or moving to a neighborhood with better markets, but I finally realized sometime in 2012 that I freaking love stone fruit: plums, peaches, nectarines (especially white nectarines), apricots, and especially plumcots.
Because roasting things is easy and almost always yields delicious results, I enjoyed a celebratory “my sense of taste and smell are back!” dessert last night of a roasted plumcot served with Greek frozen yogurt and the most gorgeous blackberries I’ve seen in a while. I’m glad it’s only August—I’m so not ready to move on to apples, pears, and pumpkin things yet. Give me a few weeks, and I’ll be ready. Haha now I’m thinking of this song…I’m afraid to count the many David Byrne/Talking Head nods on this blog. Then you’d all really know what a nerd I am.
What are your favorite fruits? Are you ready to move on to fall fruit or are you enjoying a summer sweet-spot? Pun totally intended : )
I love summer. I even love the sticky humid days that come with it. My theory is that the heat helps me relax because my muscles aren’t as likely to tense up like they do in cold temperatures.
For better or worse, I’m that dietitian who will run down to the kitchen to get someone a meal they’ll actually eat, especially if it’s someone I’m a little worried about. I’m happy to do it, but it does get exhausting. I have so much respect for nurses and CNAs who are on their feet running around all day long taking care of people. It’s also interesting that I spent so much time talking about weight management with people who want to lose weight only to find myself focusing on getting enough calories to keep up the pace.
Sweating under my lab coat in the humidity isn’t exactly sexy, but when I hang that thing up and head out for the weekend (even if I stayed late to finish all my work), I have almost no trouble transitioning into Personal Life mode. There’s something to be said for putting on a dress and getting out into the summer evening air.
Another thing I love about summer is how much easier food prep is. Meals are just simpler—fresh, in-season produce, less cooking—it’s a beautiful thing. Last night I saw the fruit stand on my way home had some gorgeous black figs for sale. For whatever reason, figs are one of my ultimate comfort foods—they’re just so luxurious and—dare I say it?—a little bit sexy.
One of my favorite ways to enjoy figs is roasted. They’re the perfect addition to many a sweet and savory dish. In the spirit of easy summer desserts, I enjoyed some over a little frozen Greek yogurt with dark chocolate chips. It was absolutely perfect—and a great way to celebrate my one-year-anniversary in my apartment.
This morning I took a great yoga class that focused on the heart chakra. It was an awesome reminder of how much stronger I’ve gotten in the past twelve months—mentally, emotionally, and physically. Like I often say, Always an adventure.
What do you love about summer? Any favorite summer foods?
Too easy. I made a large batch and froze most of it for moments when I want ice cream but do not feel like shelling out for a bunch of processed crap.
All you need is:
- 3-4 peeled frozen bananas (sliced in half)
- 1 tsp bourbon (optional)
- sweetener, if desired
You throw it all in a blender and blend away until you end up with the consistency of ice cream. Serve immediately or pour into a freezer-safe container for later. Enjoy with whatever toppings sound good. I like a little drizzle of coconut oil and bittersweet chocolate chips, but you can play it as safe or go as crazy as you want.
There are many conflicting viewpoints on eating close to bedtime. Personally, I need to eat something an hour or two before bed, otherwise I wake up ravenous in the morning or even in the middle of the night. When it comes to exercise, I like to get up and get to it first thing when I wake up, and I’ve found that having a balanced snack in the evening gives me the energy I need to do that.
I don’t usually make “fancy” desserts, but while I was having coffee at Le Pain Quotidien with a friend last week, their cute little chia pudding parfaits caught my eye. I’d totally forgotten how much I like chia pudding. Nothing like getting reacquainted with an old favorite. Especially an…easy and satisfying old favorite?
Why does my head always go to sleazy dating metaphors? I don’t actually have any old favorites left—that’s what 2011 & 12 were for. I have to stop joking that I’m going to die alone with hypoallergenic cats because the universe might hear me. Anyway, may as well enjoy the ride (and the ridiculous, smack-your-forehead “dating in NYC” stories that make me wonder wtf is wrong with the male of the species) and eat some delicious food that happens to be conducive to a long and healthy life, hypoallergenic cats or no.
- 6 oz milk of choice (I used unsweetened soy milk because that’s what I had—I’m sure coconut milk would taste especially wonderful)
- 2 tbsp chia seeds
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1/4 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 cinnamon (optional)
- stevia or other sweetener to taste
- Whisk together ingredients.
- Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours.
- When ready to eat, heat or enjoy cold. Top with desired toppings.
I added a few chocolate chips, shredded coconut, and blackberries, but this would be great plain or with additions like nuts or whipped cream. This whipped coconut cream sounds particularly amazing.
Just a heads up, depending on the milk and toppings you use, this dessert packs around 10 grams of fiber. If you are like me and have the stomach of a goat or follow a plant-based diet and are, like, “10 grams of fiber, nbd,” then full speed ahead. However, I just want to put that out there for people whose digestive systems aren’t used to eating that much fiber in one sitting. Drink plenty of water with this and maybe avoid eating after a really high-fiber meal. Or you know, wing and it maybe be pleasantly surprised that you can enjoy almost half your daily fiber needs in one delicious go.
What’s your favorite “fancy” dessert to make? Do you like to eat before bed? Do you know wtf is wrong with men?