Category: Cooking

Contest Entry Post, Sometimes You Win Things!

Last week Beryl over at the lovely lifestyle blog Beryl Lynn had an Etsy giveaway.  I entered (lots and lots) and guess what, I won something!  I won a set of gorgeous business cards from Avie Designs.  Here is what they look like:


Pretty, right?  I have been wanting business cards for awhile, because I feel that they are a mark of being a serious adult.  I wonder what gave me that idea…

Oh, right.  Anyways.

So now I am going to write a blog post to get myself more contest entries, namely, I want this, and luckily the nice folks at Big Girls, Small Kitchen are giving some away as part of their brown bag lunch challenge week.

Now I don’t know about y’all, but when I worked I almost always brought my lunch to work with me.  Now that I am semi-employed I am still bringing my lunch with me–today it was leftover whole wheat pasta tossed with some tomatoes, mozzarella, white beans and pesto to make a quick and easy pasta salad.  I got my inspiration for the dish, which is a favorite of mine, from Deb over at the Smitten Kitchen.  Just make her version of a caprese salad (really tasty on its own mind you) and toss it with some cold pasta.  So so so easy y’all.

I love bringing my own lunch to work, most people look at me all jealous and it gives me a sense of satisfaction: I am feeding myself and I am being frugal!  Often lunch is delicious leftovers, such as butternut squash soup or some lentils.  Sometimes I whip up a quick tuna salad on some lettuce.  Sometimes I am really in a rush and I just make a quick peanut butter sandwich.  I always accompany my lunch with a diet coke (also brought from home, no need to spend a dollar on a can from the nearby deli!) and bring some Greek yogurt or a banana for a snack later on.  So easy, so sensible!

And you know what would make my from-home lunch even better?  An adorable BuiltNY lunch tote in which to carry it.  So I hope that my online contest entry luck stays strong and that the Big Girls, Small Kitchen folks pick me as a winner! 

State Farmer’s Market and Restaurant

On Sunday my friend Annah and I went to the State Farmer’s Market in Raleigh, a year-round market that runs every day, regardless of the season.  Since we are in high summertime there was a lot of fresh produce, and the open-air produce areas were packed.  Annah came away with quite a haul: the last of the in-season strawberries, blueberries, okra, tiny red-skinned potatoes, white peaches, some pattypan squash and a lovely gardenia bush.  I came back with a smaller haul of sugar snap peas, a jar of honey, and a small rosemary plant which is now sitting next to its basil siblings on the back patio.  I know I should be shopping at more farmers markets but the general hubbub and mass of vendors and farmers and choices is extremely overwhelming.  I am glad I went with Annah, as she’s a farmer’s market veteran.  One of my goals is to eat more produce, and local is the way to go (fresher, cheaper, better for the environment etc.) so I guess I should make it my mission to get to more farmer’s markets!

After doing a bit of shopping we went to lunch at the nearby State Farmer’s Market restaurant, which has the atmosphere of an upscale Cracker Barrel.  The menu is primarily Southern soul food so I decided to go ahead and get the fried chicken, which comes with two sides.  Annah got the side sampler platter.  The meals also came with a basket of biscuit and hushpuppies (both very good), because lord knows we didn’t order enough food.

My fried chicken was fantastic: a huge portion, juicy and tasty and crunchy.  I ordered a side of sweet potato casserole (on the sweeter, gloopier end of the spectrum, if you like that sort of thing) and string beans (soggy and pork-water logged).  Annah seemed pleased with her side sampler, which included macaroni salad, fried okra (although she said this wasn’t her favorite), a picked cucumber dish, and a corn and bean dish with which she was very happy.

Both our meals came with dessert: banana pudding, also on the sweeter, gloopier end of the banana pudding spectrum.  Needless to say neither of us finished our meals and we both left the restaurant extremely full.

We spent a bit more time wandering the Farmer’s Market.  There is an indoor, air-conditioned area selling sweets, baked goods, dried goods, meats, dairy, and out of season/out of state produce.  There is also a seafood restaurant that mostly does fried seafood combos.  After a bit more wandering we were quite hot (and sleepy from our enormous meals) so we headed back to the car.

We also took a detour to the Grand Asia Market in Cary, where we looked but didn’t buy.  It wasn’t as big as the new Li Meng’s Global Market in Durham, and I am no judge on Asian markets but I think they’re comparable, although Li Meng’s might have more in the way of standard grocery store fare.  However, Grand Asia Market has DURIAN which is amazing because I haven’t seen it anywhere but on the Travel Channel.  Both markets have a wide variety of fish…but the fish smells a little fishy, so I’m not sure I’d buy it either way.  I mostly love looking at the varieties of produce, and also the prepared food sections up front (whole roasted duck!).  Grand Asia Market had two gentleman behind glass making dumplings and pork buns, all of which looked yummy.  I’m sure you could get a decent lunch in the prepared food sections of either market, but I’m betting Grand Asia Market’s prepared food section is a bit better, just by the look of it.

So that was our very foodie Sunday!

Pan-ethnic food adventures

Multi-cultural adventures in food, commence!

Lately Jon and I have been obsessed with these chicken meatballs we found on epicurious.com.  I can’t remember ever making meatballs with my family, and my vision of meatballs has always involved some sort of swimming-in-sauce, but these meatballs are none of that.  They are, despite a healthy dose of pancetta, light (well, as light as meatballs can be), and not smothered in sauce.  Ground chicken, pancetta and sauteed onions, parsley, some breadcrumbs, all topped with a light tomato sauce and served with some excellent pepperonata (we like to chop ours up in a food processor a bit, just to make it chunky).  Serve it with some garlic bread and you have an awesome dinner.

Mm, delicious meat-a-balls.

Last night was Cinco de Mayo, which isn’t a holiday I ever get behind because I am far too snobby to partake in these Americanized Ethnic Drinking Holidays.  Yes, I am that girl who sneers at St. Patrick’s Day, go ahead and hate me.  I do, however, love me some Mexican food, so Jon and I decided to celebrate Cinco de Drinko with some pan-fried fish tacos–panko-breaded mahi-mahi in a white sauce with some lettuce and radishes, totally yummy.  We made some guacamole to round out the meal as well.

Mm, pan-frying some panko-breaded mahi-mahi awesome

The finished product

So, those were delicious as well.  Tonight I made Giada de Laurentiis’ recipe for raspberry ricotta mousse–no picture, because it basically looks like pinky-purple pudding.  The taste is fantastic, light and airy and perfect for today’s ridiculous 90 degree weather, but I am trying to figure out how to lessen the gritty ricotta texture.  Maybe more time in the food processor?  Who knows.

My failures as a blogger

Hi friends.

So remember last summer, when I was in NYC, and I posted on a regular basis and my life was way more fascinating?  Well, that all sort of stopped so, sorry about that.

But I guess life should be fascinating all the time, not just when you are living in New York City and interning at the Whitney Museum of American Art.  So I am going to attempt to find the interesting in the everyday.  Please forgive the cheesy Hallmark Card sentiment.

Okay, so, what have I been doing?  Well, I still work here, but I’m also working on changing that.

I’m watching a lot of this:

That’s Deep Space 9, just in case you are wondering.  The station, built by Cardassians and formerly called Terak Nor, hangs out in space near the planet of Bajor, in a guardsman position to the Wormhole to the Gamma Quadrant.

In layman’s terms, this is a Star Trek series, and probably my favorite.  Deep Space 9, being a stationary series as opposed to an explore-the-galaxy series, enables sweeping and epic storylines about religion and faith and prophecy and war and genocide and other mega-themes.  It also stars this sexy man:

That’s Benjamin Sisko, played by Avery Brooks.  He’s the commanding officer type on the series.  He’s also the Emissary to the Prophets.  If you want to know what that means, you should watch the show.

I’m eating some too.  I’m making a lot of this chopped caprese salad from Smitten Kitchen, because it is fresh and easy.  Tonight some chicken meatballs might happen.  Lately there have been a lot of salads, also.  I’ll post as things become exciting.

Oh, also, I went to Mama Dip’s on Saturday night, but since it was a last-minute trip I had no camera.  I got fried green tomatoes, which were excellent and had a corn mealy crust.  I had fried chicken, also reliably good, some better-than-average macaroni and cheese and some decent cole slaw.  I’m sure that at one point this restaurant was awesome and soul foody, but I guess it has gone downhill since Rachel Ray or whomever discovered it.  Also, I rarely eat fried food, so it always leaves me feeling heavy and gross.  Probably won’t go again, but I can finally say that I went, and it was fun to break cornbread with friends who I hadn’t seen in awhile.

I have done some other things as well, such as visit New York City and check out the new North Carolina Museum of Art.  I’ll post on those later, just to keep y’all reading.

Okay, this is my endeavor to get back to it.  Let us hope it keeps working.