29 August 2007

Find a penny...

Let's assume you, the reader, is smart and can finish the rest without my help. Does that make me lazy? [*COUGH* rhetorical question *COUGH*]

Oh, the penny. I found a penny while walking and decided to pick it up when I walked back. I forgot, not to mention the penny was tail-side up. Seeing as I'm not superstitious it isn't much of an excuse. Pardon me. I was too caught up in my walk. OOOOOOOOH, I MISSS RUUUUUnING!

The initial phase-in to my walk-run program is a fortnight of walking, 4 times a week each. First week is 20 minutes, second week is 30. Guess how long I walked today... *cue Jeopardy theme song* You [me points finger at you] are wrong! I went for 30 because I'm stupid. However, I decided to have two each of 20's and 30's each week. So I did 30 and also some shin strengthening exercises, as well as attempting to do a handstand prior and am about to do some yoga after I finish with this.

My dinner is a small salad, grilled pot roast, potatoes au gratin, and homemade rolls. The latter two I have not started yet... I'll post pictures later, I promise.

27 August 2007

I'm... Walking

I have just been reminded of my blog.

My plan was to have a formal introduction to the running portion of this blog, but something happened today that needs to be said. When I was mowing earlier this guy ran by. *Enter normal running thoughts play in my head*. He runs back. About fifteen minutes later he starts running back again and I said to myself, "He either must really love to run or he's training for something." But then, out of the corner of my eye, I see this little head bobbing by his waist. I look up and he's got his son with him, who can't be more than 5-6 years old. It was incredible to see this dad running slowly alongside his son, taking time for him after he finished his run. For about 30 minutes, too.

Alright, day 1 of my walking is over with. I have seven more, three 20's, four 30's, before I start integrating running into my walks. If ever you feel the need to torture me or if someone asks you how best to torture me, reply by telling them to make me walk a certain distance without being able to run. I'll go insane, job done.

Dinner was excellent: Mexican pasta sauce (zucchini, ground turkey, tomatoes, garlic, onions, seasonings) on spaghetti, sprinkled with dried red peppers for added heat and queso fresco. My snack was less than excellent: Lucky Charms. It turned the milk an unappetizing shade of gray.

I haven't been fooding much, or taking pictures of recent cooks/bakes, but I will the first week of September. It'll be beignets and gelatoooooo. Moooo.

26 August 2007

Mindless and Boredom Eating

That's pretty much what I have done all day. It started with (to digress for a moment, I'm attempting to write this while eating snack-size Tootsie Rolls and I'm making repeated typos so I I stopped. I don't know why I felt the need to share that with you except it helps to show my mindless eating... Reese's Puffs...) oatmeal and semi-rotten strawberries, then something else which I have forgotten, chocolate cake (sans frosting, because it didn't come out of the pan so I've been hacking pieces off), flourless peanut-chocolate cookies, ginger cookies, rice pilaf -- I just grabbed another Tootsie Roll -- and other stuff. Um, I'm not going to do that tomorrow. Oddness, I don't even feel very stuffed. I feel like eating popcorn.

You know how I said this is my running and fooding blog? Do you recall me having talked about running since then? I will tomorrow. Oh, the answer to those questions were yes and no. I'm also starting my walking-to-run training tomorrow. About time, I really miss running.

What wasn't mindless was dinner. I made chicken satay and sesame rice noodles with stir fried shredded carrots and zucchini. I based the latter off of a recipe from Culinary in the Desert, but I added fish sauce for a tablespoon of the soy sauce called for in the rice. Very tasty and an excellent addition to the satay. The peanut sauce I messed up a tad, as I used too much natural peanut butter and it came out a little chalky, and the ginger-garlic flavor wasn't as pronounced as I would have liked. I'll tweak it next time. (I didn't take any pictures because I was tooo hungryyyyyy! After eating all the other food? I know... *hangs head in mock shame*)

On another note, I made a really good stew Saturday night with fennel, tarragon, some sort of red wine, beef cubes that I browned a bit first, fresh tomatoes, carrots, onion, garlic, some flour to thicken the sauce a little, and hot water. It came out very good and the biscuits I made were excellent. I ate three, one plain, one with the stew, one buttered with a sliced white peach and drizzled with honey.

I still feel like eating something...

24 August 2007

Foodie BlogRoll

I joined the Foodie BlogRoll, a way to connect foodie blogs everywhere. If you talk about your fooding more often than not, you should consider joining.

23 August 2007

Thai Food

Great title, I know... At least it's to the point. At least.

Yesterday, I ate at a little restaurant in downtown South Bend called . I've been there once before and (sadly, I'll add) haven't been there since, though not because it wasn't good.

You walk into Siam Thai and you're met with a little partition, behind which you wait to be seated. Unless you're shorter than the partition, in which case step to the side (as I did, though my dad is taller, but there wasn't anyone sitting in the table right behind the partition and it helped them notice us). Personally, or not, as my dad thought so too, they could do without two or three of the tables. It's a little compact but without the claustrophobic-inducing feeling (I don't know how that is), though the problem is the noise. Once the majority of the customers start talking, the only way to hear the conversations you have with your friends/parents/siblings/hobbits is to raise your own voice. (Another option is either to just sit silently and stare at each other or become mimes, the latter which has the potential to get you kicked out for frightening everyone else.) The atmosphere makes up for any shortcomings. Each table has it's own table lamp, which emits a lovely golden glow once it gets dark outside (there is wall-to-floor glass windows at the front of the restaurant), and the lightening the restaurant has is soft. It's enough light to analyze your food with -- I hate eating in the dark.

Firstly, we ordered a pot of the regular green tea, which had a nice, light flavor without being over-powering. Secondly, for an appetizer we ordered the fried stuffed mushroom that came with what seemed like an MSG-less sweet-and-sour dipping sauce. It didn't have that sickish fully red hue and it wasn't gloppy. Glop-glop. The mushrooms were good, though I prefer portobellos because regular mushroom just taste watery to me. The filling was good, a somewhat moist pork filling? I forgot. And the outtards (the fried part) was neither greasy nor too thick. It all came together and was a perfect with the sauce. I can also recommend the satay because last time I got it, it was good, and the peanutty sauce was excellent.

Dad ordered beef with broccoli and mushrooms in some sort of a sauce that... It was #17. It was good. I don't remember much of it besides the beef not being dry (!!), the sauce being flavored perfectly, and that I really like broccoli in saucy dishes because it acts like an edible sponge, emitting a flavorful burst of saucy goodness. I ordered #15, the chicken with carrots, green cabbage, green onions, mushrooms, and red onions in a ginger sauce. I was apprehensive about ordering chicken because most chicken is overcooked but I needn't have worried. The chicken was thin and moist, sopping up the sauce, the vegetables were between raw and too limp (i.e., you bit into them is it was firm, giving a nice chew, without being like crudites and not being mushy), and the sauce? Stellar, it was amazing. This light ginger sauce, not over-powering but the perfect amount of flavor, which was enhanced when you bit into a piece of ginger, but it still wasn't over-powering (you know how too much garlic stays with you for days? This didn't have that effect). Each entree, unless it's a noddle-y entree, comes with jasmine rice to aid in sopping up every last bit of their perfectly seasoned sauces. The portions were generous without being gluttonous, leaving you room to eat more, if you so desired. Interspersed throughout the bites were my dad and I taking turns saying things like, "Wow, this is so good!" "Amazing, absolutely perfect!" "I don't know what dessert I'd want to eat after this."

Which leads me to the desserts. There are two cheesecakes offered but we both thought that it would be horrid after such a meal. Cheesecake is a meal unto itself. There's a dessert wine, Japanese plum-something, but I don't drink. The truffles I had next door at That Cheesecake Place (where they also get... the cheesecake from) and I didn't like them. I won't get into that right now. The only dessert that intrigues me is the fried bananas (it might be like banana wontons, or it's fried in a tempura batter, I don't know) with... a sauce. With vanilla ice cream. Sprinkled with sesame seeds. My memory just failed me. But we didn't want anything because we enjoyed the taste of the entrees so much, we didn't want something else to take it away. I think they should have a lemongrass sorbet, or any sorbet, something light. All the desserts seemed a little heavy and wrong to follow the sort of food they serve. They do have chocolate-covered mint sticks accompanying the bill. (Cheapo *cough*. No, I'm kidding!)

The appetizers are around $5, the entrees are $8 to $15, and a pot of tea starts at $3.99. You can dress either casually or you can dress up. A reservations is required for large groups but you can't get one otherwise. And it closes at 9 pm.

For now, Siam Thai remains my favorite foodie restaurant in South Bend.

Siam Thai
(574) 232-4445
(574) 233-2233

Eat Kashi

Kashi is giving away free food in the form of a granola bar, crackers, or their chocolate chip cookie. All you have to do is answer some odd questions such as, "Are you right-handed, left-handed, ambidextrous, or do you prefer to use your feet?" And, "Do you feel better when you eat healthy?" You better say yes, because that's the only option (how's that for dictatorship ;) ). So check it out, yes, right now. NOW! Food for free! ... I shouldn't be too happy about that...

Kashi™ Snack Drive

22 August 2007

Pretzel Powa!

Loverly, with stone ground mustard

Pretzels have power, in case you were clueless of the fact. You know, carbohydrates = calories = energy = powa! Why, what were yoooou thinking? It doesn't matter, even if pretzels weren't powafull I'd still eat them.

I'm not speaking of tiny, crisp pretzels (though those are amazing dipped in various dippins, such as natural peanut butter, flavored peanut butter, hummus, white bean dip, tuna... I'll stop while I'm ahead), I'm speaking of soft pretzels (which would also taste good dipped in the aforementioned dippins).

Before I elaborate on how it went down, my dad was talking of the lye dip, and hearing what he said confirms that I will never be lye-dipping. The pretzels. He said that he and his friend were contemplating how to remove the really bad clog of his friend's kitchen drain. They decided to use lye (something about that particular brand... Drano, I think it was, that used to have lye? Okay, after a quick search, they use sodium hydroxide, which is soda lye... holy horrors, it's made from ashes... eww, and toothpaste, cologne, body wash... This is a sick world we live in, SICK world!) and decided to pour down more than the recommended amount because the drain was REALLY clogged. The good part is that the drain cleared up. The bad part was the fumes became so intense, they had to immediately evacuate the premises for a few hours.

Need to knead
Kneading action

Oh, the shapes, squares and snakes!

Back to soft pretzels. I made them. I ate them. Okay, that was stupid! For reasons of unexplainable reasons, I have never made soft pretzels before. Making them confirmed my stupidity. Heed from my mistakes. YOOU! Make da pretzel, harness tha POWA! But don't fight the power -- that'll negate the soft pretzel effect.

I did briefly boil these in boiling water and baking soda and I think it helped the crust come out closer to what you would associate a soft pretzel to taste like than a non-dipped pretzel. The outtards (or in bread terms, the crust) were nice and chewy, a bit crispy from coming out of the oven but not like artisan crispy, and the innards (or crumb) was soft, tasted better than a regular white bread despite being practically the exact same dough. Hmm, not practically, it was. But it had a different taste. Not sourdough-y, but seemingly richer and with a heightened flavor. It was good, so there.

Post-boiled pretzels

See the baked-ness of it?

I used the recipe from Emeril Lagasse's There's A Chef In My Soup, with a few tweaks in the process. He has you mixing the oil and all the brown sugar with the yeast/milk mixture, I did a teaspoon of sugar and added the oil after it finished the yeast activation. I didn't grease the bowl with two tablespoons of oil. The rest of the brown sugar was mixed with the flour and salt, and when I added that to the yeasted milk, it was a bit dry so I added enough water to maintain a stiff and slightly tacky dough. Then, I boiled it per the method of The Fresh Loaf's pretzel process. Then, I sprinkled some with kosher salt and baked until a rich, golden brown color occurred.

This was reeeaaally gooood, mwfuwahchomp-ness

The next day, I chose the pretzel that didn't have any holes because of how it rose/how I formed it, and it made the most amazing bread for a sandwich, ever! I opted for a vegetable and cheese sandwich, mainly so the bread's taste could come through, and how it did! I faintly remember eating a sandwich from Bennigan's that was made with pretzel bread and this reminded me of that.

This is actually the first sammich (that I can recall) that I've had this month

sammich innards
The bread was dense enough to not become a lump of wet bread, but not dense enough to be dry and disgusting

Now, my brain has gone into overdrive by trying to come up with ways to make flavored pretzels. Cinnamon-raisin, orange-cinnamon-raisin, asiago cheese pretzels, sun-dried tomato pretzels, the possibilities are endless!

14 August 2007

Of Cinnamon and Coffee

Most people have a favorite place to stop for coffee. I'll stop at other places but a certain feeling of happiness comes to mind when I realize I'm going to Victorian Pantry.

There are really only two reasons why I go. Being the creature of habit that I am (which is both bad and good, because I only want the same thing, each and every time, unless they are out of what I came for, then I must contemplate what else to try. That takes a bit, considering all their other fine offerings), I order the same thing each time. Coffee and one of their amazing cinnamon rolls.

Double C
A practically perfect pairing

Let me preface my sinful cinnamon roll fascination: One of my favorite breakfasts, desserts, or snacks that I like above all else, the treat that makes me feel like I'm eating a ray of sun from a chilly fall day (which sounds odd, I know, but I equate this with chilly, nippy, sunshiny fall days), is a really well-made cinnamon roll. Unfortunately, when I think of a purchased cinnamon roll I think of a of mildly-sweetened Wonder Bread or an overly greasy mound of globular waste, with a streak of cinnamon making a brief appearance, leaving you with a stomach ache for the rest of the day. And most likely the beginning of the next because it was the size of your head. (Even a small-sized head is still too big for a cinnamon roll.) Top all this off with a saccharin-sweet and vanillin taste that it makes the ye ol' Twinkie look like a delicacy. As you can tell, unless I make my own there is no equal.

Enter Victorian Pantry. I humbly bow my pastry-making skills before the best cinnamon roll I have tasted to date in my short existence on earth, their croissant cinnamon roll. You can tell by one glance that this is something special, something to write home about. The buttery, flaky crust, combined with the intense cinnamon filling that penetrates each bite you take, is one reason I put my health food etiquette aside for a moment of pure bliss. It's sweet but not of the gag-me-I-need-wawa variety. The spread of icing blends perfectly with the overall taste. Not the thick icing used to disguise the aforementioned Wonder Bread cinnamon roll, but the type of icing that melds with the rest of the flavors while intensifying the pleasure of the cinnamon swirls. The buttery crumb and the moist filling have great mouth feel -- not too chewy, no raw dough (I actually call it "cookraw" when something is a happy medium between overcooked and raw, so it's perfectly crisp on the outside while maintaining chewy, moist innards), but a lovely bite that pairs wonderfully with a sip of the Victorian Pantry's house blend, Walnut Roast Coffee.

Rare is it I find a place I like to sit with a book, a good pastry, stellar coffee, and just spend a few moments. Victorian Pantry is that place. I love the fact that it isn't part of a chain where the music drowns out your musings (the fact that the I dislike burnt coffee doesn't help matters much, either). Usually I find good coffee and okay pastries, but rarely both. All the better is the generosity of the chef and owner, Steven Stogdill, who gives free coffee refills (because that's just the sort of thing nice people do... Ahem. Starbucks...).

Notice the perfect swirls of pastry goodness

You can tell how awesome this will be simply by looking at the innards

3eeDee fork
Bites waiting to be eaten with giant fork

Victorian Pantry, Inc. Bistro & Catering
226 W. Cleveland Road
Granger, IN

Phone: 574-271-7881

13 August 2007

Welcome To My Place

This blog is a compilation of my running and fooding life. You see, I run, I eat, and I'm a foodie, which makes for an interesting combination. I've often thought of what I would like to eat after I run, the races I go to every year just to stop at that certain place to eat, timing my bread-making around my running schedule, things of that nature. I must say, having to eat to be able to run well is something I've come to love.

Besides documenting my baking, cooking and running adventures, I'll also add reviews of restaurants I've been to and special foodie outings. Speaking of eating to run, I haven't gotten the hang of eating and drinking while running. The former I don't need to do as much because I don't run long distances yet but the latter I need to be able to do. I started running when I was 16. I kept seeing ads for the Sunburst races so I decided to train and race the 5K. It ended up being the third or fourth 5K I entered and I finished in 24:58.

Baking and I have gone back way back when. Back to the ages of fanciful youth when the cookie was irregular, flat and... What that means is that it was the act of baking and not always the end result, as it is now. My mom did a wonderful job teaching me and for that I owe her part of my soul. She accepts payments of bread, desserts and dinner.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you check back often.

I like this dish.

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Chronicling my adventures from the kitchen to the road, and back again.

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