plumtreeblossom: (dining)
Mad props to The Hampshire House for being happy to create great vegan options for a corporate catered event. I work with many restaurants for these events, and a lot of them think it's fine to offer lettuce on a bed of lettuce with a side of lettuce as the vegan option. We have some vegans here (hi [ profile] seaweedgirle!) and I want them to have great meals when we have catered events. Hampshire House wants them to, too. How does this sound?

Organic Chantenay Carrot Soup with Ginger and Lime

Mesclun Greens and Seasonal Fresh Garden Vegetables with a Champagne Vinaigrette

Crisp Polenta Cakes on a Grilled Portobello Fan over Steamed Herbed Spinach and Vegetables on a Charred Tomato Coulis

Ripe Seasonal Berries in a Grand Marnier Reduction (am looking into sorbet for this, too.)

I would so totally order that myself. I won't be at the event, but I hope it's great. Plus, The Hampshire House always sends me a box of Godiva Chocolates every time I book and event there (keep that in mind, [ profile] eclecticavatar.)
plumtreeblossom: (dining)
My snipe hunt for insanely sharp and delicious cheddar cheese ended nearly in my own back yard. The yupscale White Hen in Ball Square has Cabot's Private Stock, which someone suggested in reply to my post a few weeks ago. I finally bought some last night. [ profile] beowabbit was with me and I bought a block for him too because he is awesome and because he shares my appreciation of things like insanely delicious cheese.

I broke right into it as soon as I got home. This is, hands down, the best cheddar cheese I have ever put in my mouth. It is very sharp, yes, and the first bite was even a bit stingy on my tongue. But, four slices later, it tasted intensely smooth and rich. Just let it melt a bit in your mouth, don't wolf it.

The wine pairing simply suggested "Merlot," which I can definitely see, and will try. I have pears at home too -- I know what I'm having when I get home. I want to cook with it, too. Wabbit mentioned a fancy macaroni & cheese recipe involving heavy whipping cream and butter. I think we have a menu to plan. :-)

Interesting though -- 1st place in the Extra Sharp Cheddar division of the 2006 United States Championship Cheese Contest went to McCadam Extra Sharp, McCadam being a subsidiary of Cabot. I'll have to try that. There may be even more goodness out there... and I will find it.
plumtreeblossom: (Default)
Last night I made my first white lasagna. I'd been trying to come up with some hearty pasta dishes to make for [ profile] beowabbit, who Does Not Do Tomatoes. I'd never seen an alfredo-based lasagna and basically came up with the concept on my own, though investigation proved that it's actually an existing and well-loved dish.

Far be it from me to actually use a recipe -- I made it with lasagna noodles, alfredo-pesto sauce, ricotta, parm, mozz, mushrooms, sauteed onions and red bell peppers, and crumbled sweet Italian sausage.

Pretty good for a freshman effort, but for future tweaking, it needs more cowbell. It's a good mild base, but could be improved by the addition of:

More garlic
White pepper (I didn't have any)
Artichoke hearts
Maybe spinach
Maybe asparagus tips

Folks over at [ profile] food_porn encouraged eggplant, but I'm not a fan and I don't think he is either. I think I would swap out the sweet Italian sausage for seasoned ground beef, but I'm not sure what seasonings.

I love cooking for my sweetiedarling. If I make this again (perhaps for a pot luck?) maybe I'll have the Wabbit help so he can learn lasagna architecture. It's a fun dish to build, such that when you're done, you have the uncontainable urge to stretch out your arms and sing "TA DA!" even if you're all by yourself.

Food Waste

Jan. 31st, 2007 02:30 pm
plumtreeblossom: (eat em up)
I'm strongly in favor of paying for fast food by its weight, like you can do at some salad bars (but hardly anywhere else). Being able to order only the amount you actually want should be a more widely available option, as well as the option to order half-portions or share a plate. If more food places operated on this template, we could each pay only for the amount of food we can reasonably eat, and significantly less food would be wasted in a hungry world.

This morning I was out on a work errand in Downtown Crossing, and I stopped into the food court to get some Indian food for lunch. The takeout box contained more food than I could have eaten in two sittings. By the time I was a quarter-way through I was full, and by half-way through I had chicken tikka masala jetting out my ears. But because I had more errands and the rest of the workday at the office, it wasn't practical to schlep the gloppy box through all of that and then home.

I just sat there poking in the leftover food -- a full meal, really -- and thinking about the waste of this perfectly good food that would fill the belly of a hungry person. And of all the other people all over America who can't finish the oversized meal they had to buy because it's one-ginormous-size-fits-all in this country.

I dine-out more often than I dine-in, and bringing home doggie bags is very seldom practical, especially since I don't have a car and am usually not heading directly home after a meal. When I think, over the course of my life, how much food was left on my thousands of plates because the portion was insanely too large for me, and when I imagine it all together and fresh and edible, it could keep a village feasting for weeks. If I think of all the money I would have saved if I'd been allowed to order half-portions, I could afford to travel to that village and deliver the food myself.

Worse are memories of when I was a young person working in restaurants, and the mortifying food waste that regularly happens there. Like at Friendly's (which is anything but) which does *not* donate day-old or surplus food to homeless shelters, for "liability" reasons. I was heartsick when I was forced to dump two gallons of perfectly good chowder down the sink, particularly when I was critically impoverished and nearly homeless myself. At Wendy's, I was glad when it was my turn to take whole bags of burgers that had been sitting more than 30 minutes to the dumpster. That way I'd know where in the dumpster they were when I got off my shift.

So, I left my still half-full container of Indian food on top of the food court trash bin, for homeless or freegans or whoever to take if they wanted. If I'd been able to order half as much, I'd have more money and less food would end up in the garbage, which this box probably did.
plumtreeblossom: (Default)
I'm still bubbly over how sailingly well the Thanksgiving potluck went. This was the first event that [ profile] beowabbit and I have hosted together, and on a special day for us -- the exact 1-year anniversary of the first time we were introduced to each other (by [ profile] pheromone). And here we are a year later, well fed with wonderful friends, a fridge full of leftovers, and memories of a very happy holiday.

Perhaps only [ profile] heliopsis and my mother knew of my severe turkey-roasting anxiety -- it was my first. But with their help and advice, I was able to do a little dance of joy when the "done" button popped up on the beautiful, golden-brown bird, all 22-pounds of it. It came out juicy and delicious, with enough drippings for [ profile] heliopsis to make gravy, which [ profile] beowabbit and I agreed was the Very Best gravy either of us had ever tasted. [ profile] mangosteen brought over a selection of very fine scotch and tequilla (for sipping, not mixing!) that was liberally enjoyed. [ profile] kalliejenn2 supplied punch and pie. The Wabbit made his famous garlicky sweet potatoes, while I covered mashed potatoes and stuffing. Pies flew in from all directions (6 in all, I think). [ profile] docorion sage-n-onioned us, and I got to meet [ profile] mattlistener and [ profile] mud_puppy for the first time. It was a cuddly squeeze in the livingroom with plates-on-laps. But as [ profile] mangosteen observed, "This is what a family Thanksgiving really is." Much snuggling, much laughter and leisurely fun.

I am, without mentioning it often, painfully and cringingly shy about hosting or letting people see my house. Look up "humble abode" in the dictionary, and you'll see this crow's nest that [ profile] vanguardcdk and I share. The kitchen is is similar to a ship's galley, with all the pots and pans hanging hodge-podge from the walls, and the floor unlevel. The apartment is appointed with yard sales goodies and prize trash picks, and the cats have the run of the house. Peculiar bric-a-brac catches the cautiously curious eye here and there. The house has a vague Weasley flavor to it -- one might expect the dishes to leap up and do themselves, albeit a slapshod job. It isn't a planned decorating scheme; it's just what we have. But seeing it filled with friends and merrymaking let me know that, in spite of my doubts, it is indeed a place where merry can be made.

I have such a lot to be thankful for, and felt so much of that gratitude on this lovely holiday. After the last guests trickled out, [ profile] beowabbit and I went a bit wild and used the kitchen in a manner for which it was not designed. ;-) And why not? A feast goes beyond food, when one is blessed with the twin treasures of love and an oaisis of light-hearted time.

A happy holiday weekend to all, and a wonderful year ahead.

plumtreeblossom: (meow)
Yesterday Andy and I spent the afternoon hiking all around Mt. Auburn Cemetery. It was the best choice of things to do together. We walked and walked and had plenty of time to talk in a low-pressure environment. We really got to know so much more about each other -- our histories, aspects of our personalities... and that we're both comfortable making jokes in grave yards. We walked 3 or 4 miles, all told.

We were hungry after that, so we went to dinner at Stella's in Watertown. It's a somewhat pricy but very good Italian place. I had a glass of malbec and he had a merlot. We shared a roasted beet salad that was out of this world. It was something I never would have thought to order myself because it contained horseradish which I hate, but I couldn't taste the horseradish at all, just the luscious beets, walnuts, and endive. Then I had an amazing wild mushroom fettuccine that featured sauteed portabello, crimini, shiitake, and porcini mushrooms (I'm trying to be like [ profile] lillibet in remembering what I ate). It was dressed in a truffle oil and light cream sauce with freshly ground black pepper. Oh. My. God. It was mushroom lover's paradise. It clearly reminded me that I could be a vegetarian if I had dishes like this all the time. Mushrooms are meat.

It was a great day together. But now he has a business trip (teaching at a seminar) and I won't see him for a whole week. :-( I like how this all is actually starting to take on a shape, but I don't want it to lose momentum. Guess e-mail will have to do for the week...
plumtreeblossom: (corona)
Commonwealth Shakespeare's production this year is going to be Taming of The Shrew. That should be a fun romp, and definitely worth organizing the annual big group outing for. But once again I didn't get my way -- every year I always hope their selection will be Antony and Cleopatra. Ostensibly because I've never seen it performed, but really because I want to have an Egyptian Picnic.

In thinking of Shrew picnic themes, I guess we'll just have to settle for "PMS foods." Chocolate, ice cream, chocolate... what else?
plumtreeblossom: (Default)
I'm going to go to bed so early tonight. It'll probably still be light out. I can't wait; this week has wiped me out. One of the things I always forget to be thankful for about singlehood is the absolute freedom to hit the pillow any time I want, and no one can stop me.

Except I'm not sure if I'm entirely single or not. I seem to be somewhere halfway between single and boyfriended. Every time I say that this current situation just isn't going to work out, we have a lovely date, like last night. We have another date tomorrow to go hiking in the afternoon and probably to dinner afterwards. Well, I put my foot down that he had to make time for me on weekends, and he did indeed toe the line. This will be the first date that we're not at a show or noisy event, and will really be able to just walk and talk.

Unrelated: Would anyone be interested in Sunday dinner out? [ profile] stephkarto and I think it would be swell, and maybe you do too, especially since Monday is a state holiday for many of us. I was thinking it might be nice to try out the new restaurant 400 Highland in Davis, but if that's too pricy I'm wide open to other suggestions.


plumtreeblossom: (Default)

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