Category Archive: Food

Windy City Adventures

Despite many proclamations from my father that I shouldn’t go to Chicago because I was pregnant, we went to Chicago and loved it!

I’m not exactly sure when and how all this started, but at some point last year I along Daniel and my two good friends Sheena and Joy formed a running and traveling club.

Sheena, my most athletic friend and a former college basketball player, helped me start running very slowly and very short distances in late 2008. While slumbering partying with Joy during an early 2009 visit to see her in DC, she confessed she had been thinking about running (at that point she was walking), and I encouraged her to do so. Then in late 2009, Daniel too decided to run. We finally all ran together this year at the Rock n’ Roll Mardi Gras Half Marathon in New Orleans. Thus the running and traveling group was born.

It was decided that we should aim for two races a year and meet for mini-vacays across the country. Our second race of this year was the Monster Dash in Chicago. The races were as different as the cities, but we managed to have ridiculous amounts of fun at both events. Here is some photo evidence of what we did in Chicago:

We arrived on Thursday afternoon and left Sunday morning. In between, we visited the Art Institute of Chicago, walked through the free and fun Lincoln Park Zoo, enjoyed an Architectural Cruise, caught a city sponsored Halloween Circus performance, rode to the top of the Sears (now Willis) Tower, ran in costume at the Monster Dash, visited the Adler Planetarium, and caught a late show of live comedy at Second City. In between all of that we ate Greek, Filipino, Cuban, and more. Most of the time I had my camera handy, so thus begins the Chicago posts.

Where’s the cheese?

Box macaroni and cheese is not a common site in our household, but when we were having D’s professor and his family over for dinner, we decided to try Annie’s Homegrown Macaroni & Cheese with 25% less sodium to please three little palates.

Like all box mixes, it was easy and fast to make.  It looked like all powdered mac and cheese I’ve ever seen, and the kids gladly added it to their plates.

However, after the first couple of bites, one child looked up at his parents and said, “There’s no cheese.”

When I tried it myself, I could see he was right. It was flavorless.

The kids moved on to other items on their plates and we were left with a bunch as leftovers as I had made two boxes expecting it to be gobbled. When we ate the rest for leftovers, I ended up adding shredded cheese on the top.

A complete disappointment. We thought maybe the reduced sodium was just a step too much and perhaps the regular is better. We haven’t bought either again to find out.

How not to do social networking

Memorial Day weekend I had a friend who has food allergies come to visit.

I took him to an establishment in town known for frozen yogurt. At other places we have been they post the allergens of the yogurts under the flavor names, but my friend has been to some places he had to ask to see the list. Since the allergies weren’t posted, we went to the desk and asked. The employees looked as if we had spoken Greek. We explained that he had an allergy and most places had a list of information and they said we don’t have anything like that here.

We were terribly disappointed. That afternoon I wrote on the business’ facebook wall about our experience and implored them to get their allergy information available. Shortly after posting my comment, I noticed it had disappeared. They never responded to me. Just deleted it.

After visiting a superior yogurt shop this weekend, I tweeted: Loved my stop at Tlousa @yogurtmountain. The best. @localstore needs to take a few pointers and post their allergens!

@localstore replied: @liciabobesha we have a book of nutritional info for each flavor right when you walk thru the door :)

So I let them know that I had asked for this information and had been told it didn’t exist. Instead of apologizing or trying to find out which of their employees was uninformed or when this incident happened they simply said:

@liciabobesha it is always there for sure.

After this exchange of tweets I somehow feel even worse about this business than I did after they deleted my fb post. I expect businesses to acknowledge when they’ve done something unsatisfactory, apologize, and thank me for the feedback. After the Memorial weekend incidents, I drastically cut my visits. After this twitter interaction, I’m going to have to be craving some froyo something serious to go back there.

What’s sad is I really do love froyo. I’ve had many kinds from Pinkberry in LA to random places in NYC and across the east coast. Yogurt Mountain and Pinkberry tie for first place in quality. They have the creamiest texture and most consistent flavors that don’t disappoint. Out of those two, Yogurt Mountain wins as my favorite because it keeps more flavors available at a time and it’s pay by the ounce so I can get my pregnant indulgence on. Plus, the staff has always been friendly, happy, and answered any questions I had. I just wish the closest one wasn’t over an hour away.

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one meal at a time

Having our own eggs challenges us to come up with new egg based recipes like pasta!

While this may come as a shock to some, I was not always the fresh, whole wheat, fiber loving, gardener, chickener, and runner I am today.

I used to turn my nose at greens, mac and cheese was my favorite vegetable, and I’d push rice around on my plate until my mother gave in and let me eat ice cream and cookies for dinner. At one time I was scared of sushi beyond California rolls. I’m pretty sure I said my first experience with Pad Thai tasted like a wet dog smells.  I would happily eat a McAnything, and my favorite food came in a box.

I would love to say this all ended at age 9, but my appreciation of food has been a slow and dedicated process. After working at McHell in high school, I became a huge fan of anything served out of a window. Yet as my greasy bag meals increased, I began suffering indigestion. Cue the pepto commercial: nausea, indigestion, upset stomach…

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Fooling around

D picking blackberries.

While I was in the middle of tying up fence last weekend, Sheena stopped by to bring me some blackberries she found in her neighborhood while walking her dog.

Blackberries, as I’ve previously noted, with their rich purple tongue staining goodness make me weak in the knees. I haven’t had a good harvest since childhood before all the pesticide spraying cut back on patches that used to grow wild near fences and railroads.

Living in a recently developed neighborhood surrounded by partially developed but mostly now abandoned woods, Sheena suggested we go berry gathering around her place, so last night D and I brought over a half gallon ice cream bucket, and the three of us went into the woods.

The trees were thinned enough to allow light. The grass varied from calf to armpit high on me. It was a berry lovers paradise.

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Field Day

When Daniel told me we had been invited to celebrate the Sri Lankan New Year, I had no idea what to expect.

Turns the Sengali and Tamil Student Association at MSU host what I can only describe as a giant field day, much like the ones in elementary school complete with treats, games, and prizes.

So many games. Many were familiar like the egg toss, while others were not like the one involving running,  finding a piece of candy hidden in flour on a plate without using your hands, and then running again. Then there were the variations on favorites from my childhood like draw the eye on the elephant instead of pin the tail on the donkey. Here’s D and his partner winning  the three-legged-race:

 

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Easter Eggs

While we’ve been dyeing eggs for years, this is our first Easter with our own chickens.

I sat down this past Sunday with my husband and my good friend Sheena and dyed about 41 eggs. Sheena kept a dozen for herself, and took the rest home. Here’s our treasure trove:

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Shopping beyond Piggly Wiggly and Kroger: Cajun Grain

“[I]t got to where you could plow 100 acres and you wouldn’t find one earthworm.” – Kurt Unkel of Cajun Grain, NY Times

The photos of the piglets romping through the buttercups make the site worth visiting alone, but there’s a whole lot more going on at Cajun Grain worth checking out.

After my friend Bobby shared an article the NY Times did about the farm, I added the rice to my shopping list for better eating, and by better I mean better tasting, better quality, better for my health, better for farmers, better for animals, and better for the environment.

Last night we tried out Cajun Grain, which is grown about 388 miles away in Louisiana. What first appealed to me was knowing where it comes from and that it’s not being driven, or flown, or boated across the world to get to me. I also enjoy knowing what the farmers practice and why.  The quote up top about the disappearance of the earthworms in soil farmed with conventional methods particularly struck me. They describe their farming as “a little sustainable, a little biodynamic, not quite organic” which sounds a lot like what I do in my garden and with my chickens. This type of work is not easy as the owner explains:

“It’s a constant fight, every day,” Unkel said, speaking of the demands of his farming methods. “But to be out there with this and the animals are happy, the plants are happy. . . . At sunrise you have these feelings that you cannot buy.”

All the good sustainable, local intentions in the world don’t necessarily make tasty food, but whatever they’re doing in Kinder is working. I love this rice. We did a cup in the rice cooker. The texture was fabulous. It was not as aromatic as I expected, but I was also cooking lamb chops at the same time, so the lamb may have overpowered the rice smell.

No salt, pepper, or butter. The mixture of the natural wild red rice added a variety of texture and flavor of its own. Definitely a little nutty. Definitely rice.

For lunches this week, I used it in a casserole where again the texture and colors shined. I’ve never had rice that maintained consistency so well in the oven, then to the fridge, and then warmed up later in the microwave. I’m excited to try some family favorites and new recipes with this. Cajun Grain has found a welcome spot in my pantry.

Cajun Grain brown jasmine rice available at Amazon for $18.75 or direct from the farm for $34.95.

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