Archive for ‘uncategorized’

May 26, 2014

me in Melbourne

wrapped in a blanket of sunshine <3

Well friends, I made it to a new continent and a new country Iā€™ve been wanting to visit for most of my life ā€“ Australia! Iā€™m all settled in my apartment in Melbourne, and trying hard not to think about having to leave in four short months.

So I knew the coffee culture was big here, but no one informed me of the FOOD! I want to eat everything I see on the street, in the markets and at every cute cafĆ©ā€¦ and I probably would were it not so expensive. One of the best features of my apartment is that it is right next to the Queen Victoria Market, a huge (takes up 2 city blocks!) farmers & artisans market where I canĀ score some great deals on the typically priceyĀ produce. The indoor portion of the market is filled with artisan made yogurts, cheeses, breads, pestos, dips, cereals, pastries, chocolates… you name it. They seem very into quality and fresh foods here and I love it.

Some other things my food-obsessed self has noticed since being here…

  • The overwhelming amount and variety of Asian food, especially Malaysian and Indonesian and Korean which I’ve never experienced much of.. but it looks and smells so so good….
  • Australians (or maybe just Melbournians, not sure) are big on brekkie and brunch,Ā in particular something including avo[cado], sourdough and poached eggs. I’m very ok with this.
  • I’m still trying to get the coffee lingo straight (flat whites, long blacks, etc..) and being made fun of for carrying around my ‘huge’—but normal in the US—to-go mug, since no coffee you order here would fill that entire thing.
  • Everything pumpkin. Pumpkin hummus, pumpkin pizza, pumpkin-ricotta-rocket salads… yuuuuumm
  • Turkish cafes and my new favorite food: gƶzleme. Have you had it? It’s made of a dough rolled out super thin, toppedĀ with spinach + feta, folded over and cooked on a griddle to produce a warm, doughy melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness. More on this later.
a very Melbourne brunch with Nora at Common Ground, a cafe just down the street from our apartment.

a very Melbourne brunch with Nora at Common Ground, a cafe just down the street from our apartment.

@ Common Ground coffee

April 15, 2014

Cooking in the land of smiles (and MSG)

preparing papaya salad :)

First of all, many apologies for abandoning the blog and you wonderful readers these past few months! I have no excuse except that I was having lots of fun exploring the southeast of Asia. And as much as I would have liked to write some posts, blogging from a phone without all my photos was just never thatĀ appealing…

So now here I am, back in my home with a much-too-quickly fading tan and an inspired spirit that always lingers after being in another culture for a while. And more wanderlust, which seems to grow exponentially with each trip I take. Luckily, this was only part 1 of my grand adventures of 2014, with moving to AustraliaĀ coming up in merely a month!

But let’s talk about Southeast Asia. Without doing much research beforehand, I had few expectations for this 2-month backpack adventure except to be able to travel cheaply and eat some good food. I was not disappointed :)

(And, having few expectations helps me appreciate every place I goĀ so much more — a key to happy travels I’ve learned throughout the past).

Chiang Mai Flower Festival

Flower Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Our first stop was Thailand, where I was eager to take a cooking class and learn what authentic Thai food is all about. I found our first tastes of Thai fare in Bangkok to be quiteĀ heavy and rich, and much smaller portions than we’re used to – which was a good thing! Along with the sweltering humidity, cramped city feel, and bad traffic made horrendous due to ongoing political protests, I was ready to get my massage on the street and get outta there.

A (long) train ride later Forrest and I breathed a sigh of relief and fresh air as we stepped into Chiang Mai. Our songthaew (pick-up taxi) ride from the train station drove us to the moated old city where flower-coated parade floats lined the streets and a colorful, neon-lighted concert was blasting its music to the whole city. We arrived inĀ this super culturalĀ northern city smackĀ in the middle of the annual flower festival – lucky us!

The laid-back, down-to-earth city of Chiang Mai has all the Thai culture your senses could care to soak up. And more. It was such a relief to be there after overwhelming Bangkok, especially at a time of such celebration and blooming flowers galore! Forrest and I had fun trying to navigate through the narrow alleys fringedĀ with tropical plants and quaint cafes to find majestic temple after temple, each with their own style and color and peaceful aura. We’d pick up a street food snack and a Thai iced coffee (the best) and continue our day of exploring or people-watching in the park until it was time to experience the craziness that is the night market.

Then the day came to indulge our tastebuds, stuff our stomachs and learn what it is that makes Thai fare so rich and flavorful. We were recommended a school called Smart Cook Thai Cookery School, and the full day involved browsing the morning market to learn about essential Thai ingredients and then heading to the open-air kitchen to learn how to prepare six different dishes. (Yes, that’s a lot of eating!)

January 6, 2014

New Year Soup

very green lentil soup for the new year

Happiest new year to everyone!Ā Hope you are staying warm and happy and healthy and are ready to enjoy everything 2014 brings…. I have some pretty big ventures planned this year so I sure am :]

I know I didn’t post any holiday treats this season, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t indulging in them the whole month of december (see christmas cookies below….)

October 29, 2013

Italy, in food & photos

little bit of italy.

After a lovely two-week adventure through Italy with my mom and sisters this fall, I came up with one solid piece of advice to future travelers out there:

Donā€™t ever go to Italy if you plan on being on a diet. And hereā€™s why:

September 10, 2013

weekend joy

Snippets from an eventful and tasty weekend…heirloom rainbow

An heirloom rainbow, all from the organic farm I work on.

Saturday market

Another Saturday market. Selling our never-ending heirloom tomatoes and the beginning of our fall harvest — sweet potatoes, acorn squash, rutabaga greens, beet greens & radishes.

F&M

Forrest & I at a family-friend’s lovely wedding on Cold Saturday Farm in MD. The big stone farmhouse behind us used to be a hospital during the Civil War.

wedding things

Cute and functional wedding favors!

this guy

this guy…

tahini buckwheat granola

My first attempt at buckwheat granola – and it is crunchy!Ā Perfect in a bowl of kefir and peaches because it doesn’t get soggy so quick like other cereals. I used hello veggy’s recipeĀ and subbed tahini for the nut butter for an earthy sesame flavor. mmm :)

farm party!

My weekend concluded with an end-of-summer potluck up on a hill at my neighbor’s farm. Delicious, healthy food, a beautiful sunset, and chatting with good friends until the only light left was the stars. Hoping to make this the first of many seasonal farm dinners!

Hope everyone’s having a happy week : )Ā -mich

September 5, 2013

my 23rd cake

beachcolors

This is my happy place. Carova Beach, Outer Banks, NC. Once a year I get to be here with the best company for two weeks of laughter, play, sun, salt, relaxation, sandy doggies and lots of good cooking. Oh, and it also involves my birthday, so cake and fancy drinks are always part of the shenanigans.

margaritas + birthday cake!

My 23rd birthday cake to celebrate this new year of life: a blueberry cornmeal cake with lemon curd – neufchĆ¢tel frosting. I thought up the flavor combination when blueberry season was just beginning and had been craving it ever since. So when the day came, I handed the special job over to my boyfriend and supervised carefully to make sure he made it exactly how I imagined :) He did great, topping it off with a decorative blueberry swirl. Thanks Forrest!

*Note: my birthday was in July; I am just now realizing I never got to posting this cake recipe which needs to be preserved forever and ever. And I’m reminiscing of those wonderful two weeks at the beach. Summer, don’t go so fast!

August 21, 2013

August for dinner

calabacitas con elote y chorizo

I’m finding my eating habits to be more and more in tune with the seasons as I grow older. Except for chocolate, which will always be in season to me.

Growing up in a rural area and seeing everything around me blossom, fruit and die in cycles with the seasons has certainly made me aware, as has working on an organic farm, having local food so easily available, and tasting the difference between sweet corn grown 2 miles away versus sweet corn from the opposite coast in the dead of winter. Although it’s been hard to learn that I can’t have it all whenever I want it, anticipating the summer months and watching my edible garden grow makes in-season produce that much more special. It’s like my mom used to say when I asked why she couldn’t make her amazing Christmas cookies all year long — “because then they wouldn’t be so good!”

Now it allll makes sense.

The good things are certainly worth waiting for, especially when it comes to juicy sweet corn, heirloom tomatoes and zucchini in the summer. I enjoy this dish as soon as the first sweet corn arrives at the market and for as long as the season lasts. It was one of my blog’s early recipes: Calabacitas con elote, or Mexican Zucchini with Corn. The past few summers we had enjoyed it as a side dish, but this year I’ve decided to take advantage of its versatility. The sautĆ©ed squash, corn and tomatoes are such a simple combination, but something about them simmering together in their ripe juices with a little fresh oregano gives the dish a rich flavor I can only describe as purely summer.

calabacitas con elote y chorizo

Lately we tried adding local pork chorizo from our neighbors at the farmer’s market, which was a delicious way to make a one-pot meal — and quite the rich & hearty one. For a lighter option you could add pulled chicken, taco-seasoned ground turkey or tofu, or black beans to the mix for a filling and nutritious entree. Another thing I want to try is using the veggie dish as a taco or enchilada filling or adding a little broth to make a summery soup. So many possibilities for this simple dish!

August 19, 2013

Nikki’s healthy cookies, revisited

favorite banana cookies

One of my first posts was my adapted version of Nikkiā€™s Healthy CookiesĀ from 101 Cookbooks, a “classic” healthy cookie of the blog world. Butter-less, flour-less, egg-less, and sugar-less, these continue to please as my go-to healthy cookie and friends still ask me for ā€œthat banana cookie recipe you always made.ā€

Well with time after time of baking these and my unending obsession with changing up recipes, I have for you my new and improved healthy banana cookie. Itā€™s peanutty, banana-y, coconutty, puctuated with drops of creamy chocolate (or carob), and to me the flavors never get old. Substantial + healthy enough to eat for breakfast, ideal for a midday snack, and decadent enough to satisfy my sweet cravingsā€¦. what more do I need to say? :)

Get baking and have yourself some guilt-free deliciousness!

July 9, 2013

a happy garden & a harvest roast

garden harvest 7/7/13

The garden is thankful for the love we have shown it this year, and I am thankful that it is thankful, because look at this beautiful produce! This was our first harvest of squash, beginning of the tomatoes, first jalapeƱo, and finally decided to pull the garlic that’s been chugging along since last fall.

Along with taking a greater interest in gardening lately, my boyfriend Forrest and I decided to build 4 raised garden beds, fill them with nutrient-rich compost and soil, and surround the entire garden with a deer fence, overall providing a huge improvement in looks and prosperity.

It was a slow, cold spring, and I would stare out my window at the garden every morning, daydreaming about the day when it would be lush and thriving, out-of-control with tomato vines, when it would have too much fruit-producing energy for me to keep up with. And the day is here—it has been here for several weeks—but now we are getting deep into the heart of the summer harvest, when my basket is a rainbow like the photo above.

fence-building around the garden

June 5, 2013

Cajun oven fries!

crispy Cajun oven fries

I am about to write a post that came about from a trip to Five Guys and Subway. Never in envisioning my ā€˜healthy cooking blogā€™ did I think something like this would come up. But inspiration finds you in unexpected places, I suppose.

So here we were, my boyfriend and I waiting out the thunderstorm in a (particularly awesome) tavern before a great night of baseball: the Nationals vs. Orioles at the Nats stadium in DC. I had the thought of maybe grabbing a sandwich at Subway across the street rather than paying $12 for a greasy something-or-other in the stadium. Forrest was in, although he decided to go all in at the Five Guys next door. I admitted to him that I did love their friesā€”way back when I ate hamburgersā€”so he promised to share with me all the little fries I desired, as they stuff an entire brown bag full of them. What a treat!

The fries ā€“ their cajun seasoned ones which I had never tried ā€“ were greasy but delicious, with a much more ā€˜homemadeā€™ taste than any other fast food fries Iā€™ve had. And the cajun seasoning was just meant to be with them. I knew Iā€™d be cooking up a healthier version as soon as I got home.

And that was that. Inspiration for my next recipe came to me from a greasy burger joint outside a ballpark. Although I love cooking and eating foods that are inherently healthy (kale salads, lentil stew, etc..) there is a great satisfaction that comes from ā€˜healthifyingā€™ something that’s typically not so great for you. So here are some oven baked fries, smothered in Cajun goodness, thick and tender and crispy enough to rival any fast food joint.

Nats v Orioles, photo by Forrest

crispy Cajun oven fries

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