23 June 2017

Make mushrooms great again!

Last year, I remember eating a lovely little salad of thinly sliced mushrooms with a bright, zippy dressing drizzled over the top at a friend's house. It sounds too pompous to say this was a revelation, but it was--those ubiquitous grocery store white button mushrooms, in all of their blue-collar, mushroomy glory, displayed like a work of art and balanced with plenty of acid to keep them from tasting like dirt (cuz they kinda do).  I buy those 4 oz. packs wrapped in plastic all the time at my local Safeway, but I always cook the living daylights out of them and hide them in a mass of other vegetables. It never occurred to me to make them special.  And now that it's getting too hot in the kitchen to cook again, I thought I would try to recreate that late-summer snack I enjoyed with home brew last year, while talking about the meaning of life and how much better it would be if we ran the world. For the record, a glass of pinot grigio and a ban on all political talk are my current accompaniments. 


Mushroom Carpaccio

Serves 4 as a side or snack

½ pound mixed sliceable mushrooms (white, cremini baby bella…)
cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
Grated lemon rind from half of a lemon
1 garlic clove, minced
Juice from one whole lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 tablespoon small capers


Wash mushrooms and trim any ragged bottom ends, leaving stems otherwise intact. Cut mushrooms vertically into very thin slices; arrange on a platter in a single layer. Combine parsley, rind, and garlic in a bowl. Combine juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Gradually add oil to juice mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Drizzle juice mixture evenly over mushrooms; sprinkle with parsley mixture, cheese, and capers. Grind more pepper over the top if desired. Serve with crusty bread to sop up the dressing.

16 June 2017

Boozy Cherries for your Old Fashioned and Manhattans


These are terrifically easy and delicious, and besides topping drinks, they make a great snack before board meetings...just kidding! Use any cheap brown liquor you have laying around...dark rum, bourbon, brandy...and get to work!  (I would avoid particularly smoky whiskeys or scotches as the flavor will be weird, but you probably want to keep that stuff for sipping anyway.)



Boozy Cherries

1 1/5 cups dark rum, bourbon, etc.
1/3 cup white sugar (maybe a little less if you're using a sweet liquor like brandy)
2 cups pitted dark cherries

Bring the rum and sugar to boil in a small saucepan, whisking to completely dissolve the sugar.  Turn off heat and leave it for about 15 minutes while you pit this cherries.  I don't have a fool proof method for this, but I tend to favor a chopstick.  The guy in this tutorial is also adorbs. Stuff your cherries into a jar, pour the liquid over the top  to cover, and twist the lid on tight. Will keep in the fridge for about a month, if they last that long. If you have any leftover rum syrup, use it to make last week's banana daiquiris!

Now, what are you going to do with them?  May I suggest two classics?

(I'll Take) Manhattan

makes 1 drink

2 oz. rye whiskey
3/4 oz. sweet vermouth
dash Angostura bitters

Put 2-3 cubes of ice into a cocktail shaker. Add bitters, vermouth, and bourbon and shake. Strain into a martini glass and sink a cherry or two in there.


Old Fashioned

Makes 1 drink

1 1/2 oz Bourbon or Rye whiskey
2 dashes Angostura bitters 1 
Sugar cube

Place sugar cube in old fashioned glass and saturate with bitters, add a dash of plain water. Muddle until dissolved. Fill the glass with ice cubes and add whiskey. Garnish with orange slice, and a cherry.



09 June 2017

Banana Daiquiris are my summer spirit animal

Don't think a lot about it. This recipe is quintessential 1950s camp in a glass, and perfect for a casual gathering on your patio this weekend.

Frozen Banana Daiquiri of Your Dreams

Makes 1 drink

2 oz. rum of your choice
3/4 oz. lime juice
3/4 oz. sugar syrup (1:1 ratio of sugar to water)
1/2 frozen banana

Blend with 1/2 cup to 1 cup of cracked ice until smooth. (If you like a thinner consistency, use closer to 1 cup.) Pour into the corniest glass you can find, and top with Angostura bitters and a float of dark rum.


02 June 2017

Another roasted chicken story, but perhaps the best one yet

Did you ever have those epic, heavy Sunday "dinners" (meaning noontime meal outside of the Midwest) involving roasted meat and vegetables, and lots of family members?  Maybe it was after church, maybe not, but there was a coziness to it--a long, luxurious meal focused on comfort food and comforting people. I miss the sense of security and simplicity I got from those meals sometimes, and I find that if you make the right dish, you can evoke a little of that feeling, even if you're all by yourself. This one tries to capture that sense, and leftovers keep well if you don't have a crowd to feed, but best of all, it's very simple and fast, allowing much more time to drink wine and be idle.



One Dish Maple-Mustard Roasted Chicken Thighs with Vegetables

Serves 6

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or with skin, or bones…)
4 medium Russet potatoes, cut into ½-inch cubes
½ yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 stalk celery, diced
6-8 white mushrooms, thickly sliced
¼ cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Salt and black pepper

Preheat oven to 425⁰F. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, and maple syrup.

In a large casserole dish, toss all the vegetables (potatoes through mushrooms as listed above). Season with salt and pepper and stir to mix. Lay the chicken thighs on top in a single layer, trimming extra fat and spread out when possible. Season thighs with salt and pepper. Pour the vinegar sauce evenly on top and place in the oven.  Roast for 35-40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. 

This dish is meant to be eaten straight from the oven, but it is equally delicious the next day as cold leftovers, and you can also shred the meat and mix it all together with some broth for a soup OR turned into a curry by heating it with coconut milk and curry powder. I like to serve it the first time around with steamed green beans or broccoli seasoned with a quirt of lemon juice and salt on the side, and those can also be throw in to your leftover soup or curry.


26 May 2017

I went to northern California and missed a bunch of famous stuff, but I still had good food.

I took an epic (well, super long) road trip along I-80 to northern California last week, and here's what I learned:

Drive through the Bonneville Salt Flats and stop to read about this totally weird place.


Elko:
B.J. Bull Bakery has the best pasties and tart rhubarb pie, and the coffee even tastes like coffee.



Reno:
Branding Iron Cafe in Bonanza Casino: the ranchero asada is a terrific steak, and the beer is cheap. No photo for this one, but I'm still washing the smoke and general sadness out of my clothes.

Kenwood, CA (Napa Valley):
Cafe Citti: Homestyle Italian & wine

Glen Ellen, CA (Napa Valley):
Jack London State Park: This guy was seriously fucked up, but he built a lovely farm. Some skinny redwoods on the upper hike.












Truckee, CA:
Morgan's Lobster and Fish Shack has amazing chowder, but also great salads and California wines
And if you're into hostels, Redlight Lodge is very thoughtfully laid out, with a super funky bar up front. Also, cool naked man bathroom art. Mellow Fellow is a dive/townee bar with a great selection of taps.






San Francisco:
Good Mong Kok: great dim sum
Sun Fat Seafood Company: oysters, smoked whole crab


Tourist crap: Yes, Golden Gate Park is worth visiting. Plan lots of time to wander. And outside of town, Muir Woods will provide your Redwood fix without driving almost to Oregon. And although it's touristy as hell, the Ferry Building Farmer's Market is a handy place to get dim sum, crab, French pastries, and much more. There's a Peet's (they make a mean matcha latee), and the marble eggs at Imperial Tea Court were amazing.













05 May 2017

Last week it snowed, so I made soup...

Last weekend it snowed for two days straight here in Northern Colorado (and yes, our tomato plants are now dead).  So, after eating so many springy meals, I wanted a spicy, sinus-clearing soup.  I didn't have any kimchi on hand but I did have all of the basic ingredients that become kimchi hence the title of this recipe.  I imagine you could add some gojuchang if you miss the funkiness of truly fermented kimchi, but I didn't think of it until just now. Also, I realize it's Cinco de Mayo today, but you don't need another margarita recipe from me, do you?

Of course, now I'm wearing shorts again, but surely this soup will come in handy for someone out there, sometime...



Imitation Kimchi Stew

Serves 8 

1 teaspoon peanut oil
4 cups chopped green cabbage
1 small carrot, cut into matchsticks
6 scallions, sliced (green and white parts)
4-5 radishes, cut into matchsticks
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon Sambal Olek (or to taste)
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
8 cups water
1 small block firm tofu, cubed
8 oz. mung bean sprouts


In a Dutch oven or stock pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the cabbage, carrot, and radish and cook, stirring constantly, until cabbage just begins to soften (about 5 minutes). Add the scallions, cilantro, Sambal, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic, and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant (about 2 minutes).  Add the vinegar and water, cover and increase heat to bring to a boil. Once the soup is boiling, turn off the heat, stir in the tofu and mung beans, and add more Sambal or vinegar if you want. Serve piping hot. 

28 April 2017

Thai Brussels Sprouts with Rice Noodles

Inspiration for this dish came from Momofuku's Brussels sprouts with fish sauce and a couple of standard traditions in my own kitchen (namely, fried shrimp with pasta and bacon + Brussels sprouts). The result looks and sound like a hot jumbled mess of stuff, but I promise is it delicious, and leftovers are heavenly hot or cold.  It's pretty salty, but nothing a nice glass of white wine can't mitigate. (PS--you could totally make this vegetarian by swapping out the shrimp for tofu and just omitting the bacon. I hear there's even a good version of vegan fish sauce recipe out there if you care to make the time.)



Thai Brussels Sprouts with Rice Noodles

Serves 4

1-1 ½ pounds small Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
1 cup broccoli florets
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ yellow onion, thinly sliced
6 slices bacon
12-15 medium sized shrimp, deveined and shells and tails removed
8 oz. medium rice noodles (like what you’d use in Pad Thai)

For the vinaigrette:
½ cup fish sauce (adjust to taste -- some fish sauce brands are saltier)
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
¼ cup sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 serrano chile, thinly sliced, seeds intact
2 tablespoons each chopped mint and cilantro

Place the rice noodles in a large bowl and completely submerge in hot water.  Soak for thirty minutes, drain, set aside.
Preheat the oven to 450⁰F. On a foil-lined baking sheet, combine the Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and tablespoon olive oil. Spread out into a single layer, season with a little salt, and roast until there are browned spots to your liking, about 20 minutes.  You’ll probably want to check on it and give a stir about 15 minutes in.

Meanwhile in a large skillet, cook the bacon on low heat until browned and crunchy. Drain on a paper towel, crumble, and set aside.  Combine the shrimp with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon brown sugar in a small bowl, then add to the bacon grease in the skillet.  Cover over medium-high heat until golden, about 5 minutes per side. Add the onions and sauté until they just turn soft, about 4 minutes.

Lower heat to low. Combine all vinaigrette ingredients in a bowl, whisk to combine, and add to the skillet. Add the drained rice noodles and stir thoroughly to coat.  Stir in the roasted vegetables and the chopped mint and cilantro, and serve immediately.


21 April 2017

Quick trips: Pittsburgh

I used Pittsburgh as my home base last week for a couple of university appearances, and I will preface this post with the truth: you could spend a lot more time in Pitt doing a lot more super cool things. But here's a little something to get you started while you're buying your opera tickets and looking up all your favorite galleries.

Lawrenceville neighborhood:
Coca Cafe has to-die-for egg sandwiches with kimchi, excellent coffee, and a chill, funky vibe just a few blocks off the Allegheny River. Afterwards, talk a short hilly stroll to enjoy the Art Deco architecture of Arsenal Middle School and the grandiose Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, which kind of transports you back to Victorian Europe. Pints on Penn makes for a break across the street from 19th Century composer Stephen Foster's home, too.

 


















Crafton neighborhood:
Authentic family-style Italian-American food is pretty easy to come by in Pittsburgh, but I loved Sarafino's for its raucous close-knit atmosphere, perfectly dressed pasta (the red clam sauce was delish), and a soaked almond creme cake which puts all other cakes to shame. They don't serve alcohol, so make like the locals and come prepared with your own bottle or two (or in one case, a martini shaker and various bottles of brightly-colored liquors). Big Daddy's Donuts is good, too, but be forewarned, they're not actually open 24/7 as some websites might say. They are super fresh.





Some other cools stuff to see:
Andy Warhol Museum
Heinz History Center, with a display of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood
Nationality Rooms at University of Pittsburgh, honoring the various origins of Pittsburgh's melting pot

07 April 2017

The salad that eats like a (light, springy) meal

I love grain salads; they travel well for not-sad desk lunches, and they make interesting sides to fish, tofu, or meat. This one has me finally using up that enormous tub of Israeli couscous I bought on a whim last winter (don't skip the toasting in the recipe below!), and it makes the most of early spring vegetables, if they're available in your area.



Israeli Couscous Salad

Serves 6 as a side, 4 as a light meal

For the couscous:
2 cups Israeli couscous
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2+1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Using a medium saucepan, heat couscous and oil over medium heat for about 6 minutes or until the grains are golden brown.

Add water and salt, stir. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Stir. Reduce heat to low, cover and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Remove pan from heat and let stand, still covered for a few minutes. Next, grab a baking sheet. Spread the couscous in a single layer and cool. Set aside.

For the salad:
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
kosher salt and pepper
2 shallots, sliced thin
3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice, plus more for finishing
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 ounces or 4 cups of baby arugula spinach, or other tender greens, roughly chopped
1/2 cup largely diced cucumber
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, torn
1/2 cup feta cheese
1/2 cup sliced almonds

In a small saucepan, bring vinegar, sugar and a pinch of salt to a simmer over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add shallots, stir, cover and remove from heat. Allow to cool for about 30 minutes. Drain and roughly chop shallots. Set aside.

Whisk together the oil, lemon juice, mustard, red pepper flakes, and salt in a large bowl. Add couscous, arugula, mint, cucumber, 1/4 cup feta, 1/4 cup almonds, and shallots. Toss gently. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a pretty bowl. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of feta and almonds. Add a squeeze of lemon juice over the salad. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

**Pickle shallots before making couscous to save time. They'll keep for a few weeks in the fridge. 

06 April 2017

Cocktails for These Political Times: so, do we still have healthcare?

I was trying to remember when the whole Trumpcare debacle happened, and although it seems like at least thirteen controversies ago, it was just on March 24!  And I didn't even make a toast! So, this one's for all of my self-employed friends, many of whom are entertaining you with their amazing music/art/acting/dancing skills, teaching your children self-esteem and pride in a job well done, and making absolutely no contributions to the destruction of this world.  For the record, I always believed you deserve medical care.  Congrats on keeping it a bit longer. I added some juice for extra vitamins.



Healthcare, Hell Yeah!

Makes 1 drink

5 ounces unsweetened blueberry juice
2 ounces plain vodka
sugar to taste
ice
fresh blueberries
coarse sugar for rim of glass

Wet the rim of a chilled martini glass with vodka. Place coarse sugar on a plate, rub the edge of the glass with sugar to coat. Taste your blueberry juice to see how sweet it is. Add ice,vodka, blueberry juice & sweetener (if needed) to a martini shaker. Shake & strain into sugar rimmed martini glass. Float fresh blueberries on the top of the cocktail.
* You could totally replace the vodka with sparkling water (in which case, don't shake!) if you're scared you're about to lose your health insurance.


31 March 2017

Lentil + Cheese + Rice = Love

I love lentils and rice all the time, but I also love cheese, and sometimes the two get combined.  I don't know what else to say about this--it's a snap to make, leftovers are delish, and it's super filling. Just go make it. 



Cheesy Lentils and Rice

Serves 4

2-2/3 cups vegetable broth
3/4 cup dried lentils, rinsed
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup uncooked rice
1/4 cup dry white wine or additional broth
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded mozarella, divided

In a bowl, combine the first 11 ingredients; stir in 1/2 cup cheese. Transfer to a 1-1/2-qt. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Cover and bake at 350° for 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until lentils and rice are tender and liquid is absorbed, stirring twice. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 2-3 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Yield: 4 servings.

30 March 2017

Cocktails for These Political Times: And also for the broken hearted

I never gave much credence to Valentine's Day, but I do vaguely remember that it served as a not-so-friendly reminder of my alone-ness whenever I was alone on that stupidest of holidays in my youth (which was often, surprisingly!). I think that's kind of what the Trump presidency feels like so far: I see photos of Justin Trudeau being awesome, and Angela Merkel being a grown-up (reminder: she's got a PhD in physical chemistry), and I just feel so...alone.  Bereft. Totally fucked.  So, I'm going through my Valentine's Day favorites to cope this week.

Just Go HERE.  I can't even.




24 March 2017

Brown Sugar Shrimp and Pasta

Consider this a kind of quick-and-dirty, Italian-ish sweet and sour dish.  And spicy, and garlicky...



Brown Sugar Shrimp and Pasta

Serves 4

12 oz. large shrimp, deveined and peeled
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt, divided
2 teaspoons olive oil
small bunch kale, washed and cut into thin strips
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into a small dice
2 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
4 scallion, thinly sliced (green and white parts)
1 tablespoon capers
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or more)
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon butter
1 package spaghetti-like product of your choice

Bring a salty pot of water to boil. Cook pasta al dente according to package directions.

Place the (thawed) shrimp in a bowl and add the brown sugar and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Stir to coat thoroughly and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil and saute the kale, red bell pepper, garlic, and green onion over medium heat until everything is tender, about five minutes. Push to one side and add the shrimp to the middle of the pan. Cook until golden, about five minutes on each side. Add the crushed red pepper and capers and stir everything together; taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary. Stir in the vinegar, scraping off any brown bits in the skillet.

Add the cooked, drained pasta to the skillet along with the butter. Stir to combine everything thoroughly and serve immediately in bowls.

23 March 2017

Cocktails for These Political Times: rated R for language

It's hard to come up with a Supreme Court-themed cocktail, you know? But I am your humble servant, and so I try...


GET TO KNOW Neil Gorsuch, Supreme Court nominee. Born in August 29, 1967, this silver-haired fox and virtuous Virgo wants you ladies to ask permission before doing stuff with your bodies (you will be told no), and you truckers can just sarcastically freeze in your trucks, I guess. He is also a steadfast hand-shaker. Get to know what else he stands for with this Denver Post cheat-sheet and drink away your fears with the ...


Rocky Mountain Mother F*cker

Makes 1 drink

1/2 ounce amaretto almond liqueur
1/2 ounce whisky
1/2 ounce lime juice

Combine ingredients in a shaker over ice and chill. Strain, pour into a shot glass, and serve.




17 March 2017

DFT goes to the Mississippi Delta!

March is a great time to visit the Southeast; the flowers are already starting to bloom, and the temperatures/humidity are nowhere near oppressive yet (by May, in this Yankee's opinion, it's best to steer clear of the Mason-Dixon line if you care at all about physical comfort). It's a great place for lovers of blues and its history, Southern Gothic novelists, Roman(ish) columns on EVERYTHING, and of course, barbecue. I went last week on a short master class tour and a visit to the inaugural Music by Women Festival at Mississippi University for Women (a unique experience in itself), and here's what I can recommend:

Cleveland, MS: Home of Delta State University (go Fightin' Okra!) and a (though not theGrammy Museum. The tiny downtown is adorbs and can be walked in about 10 minutes. 



Mississippi Grounds
219 S. Court Street
(662) 545– 4528
Coffee House with great breakfast burritos and a killer cappucino

Mosquito Burrito
301 Cotton Row
(662) 843-4822
www.mosquitoburritoms.com
Fresh-Mexi Cuisine for the hipster student crowd

Hey Joe's Cafe & Record Shop
118 E. Sunflower Rd, Suite C
(662) 843-5425
www.eatheyjoes.com
I didn't try the gourmet burgers, but the local craft beer menu was impressive.

Starkville, MS: Home of Mississippi State University and a bigger downtown.  They host a film festival March 2-4 (or thereabouts) every year and a restaurant week charity event in mid-April. This place is pretty hoppin', actually. 

Nine-twentynine Coffee Bar
VISIT WEBSITE
106 E. Main Street
Starkville, MS 39759
(662) 268-8014
Not only beautiful inside, they will make coffee however you can imagine for it to be made.  The pour-over was divine.

UMI Japanese Cuisine
VISIT WEBSITE
315 Highway 12 W
Starkville, MS 39759
(662) 323-5258
Two tasty rolls for $6.95 for lunch? Yes please.

Lost Pizza Company
VISIT WEBSITE
325 Highway 12 W
Starkville, MS 39759
(662) 324-0050
Chewy crust and a plethora of toppings, this is a local favorite with several locations across northern MS.

The Little Dooey
VISIT WEBSITE
100 Fellowship Street
Starkville, MS 39759
(662) 323-6094
If you want a proper plate lunch, this is the real deal.  Suggested by a local, I do not regret the gut-busting plate of spicy pork, potato salad, and turnip greens that kept me full for over 24 hours (see below).



Harvey's
VISIT WEBSITE
406 Hwy 12 East
Starkville, MS 39759
(662) 323-1639
Upscale local chain (there's one in Columbus, below, too). Known for the broccoli bites, which as far as I can tell are delicious blobs of broccoli smothered in cheese sauce, battered into balls and deep fried.  And the bartender makes a mean Old Fashioned. 

Oxford, MS: I was there to visit the flute studio at Ole Miss, but of course couldn't resist driving by Faulkner's house (disappointingly surrounded by gas stations and other modern crap on the edge of campus, but still...). This is the center of intellectual and artistic activity in northern Mississippi, and it shows.  Oh, and the campus is ridiculously beautiful (below).



Burns-Belfry museum about African American history:
710 Jackson Ave. East
Oxford, MS 38655
Sunday 1:00 to 4:00 and Wednesday through Friday 12:00 to 3:00
Admission is free

Civil Rights Monument on campus:
University Circle,
University of Mississippi,
University, MS 38677

I did more wandering than eating here, but the local chain deli Newk's on campus was actually super delish.  The Square is also a great downtown area for shopping and eating, it would seem, but alas, I had to hurry back to a rehearsal in...

Columbus, MS: Birthplace of Tennessee Williams and home of Mississippi University for Women, now a coed school that prefers to be known as The W. Also an insanely beautiful campus, this one has a certain kind of private school opulence you can only find in the good old South (I think).


There's another Harvey's at 200 Main Street, I can tell you now that the Cajun Pasta (very much like Crawfish Monica) was fantastic.  Still liked the Old Fashioneds here, too. 

Mississippi State Committee of the National Museum for Women in the Arts Exhibition. Visit www.muw.edu/as/art/gallery for information on this and other W exhibits.
Gallery hours are Monday - Friday, 8am-5pm. The exhibits are free and open to the public.
1100 College Street MUW-70 
(662) 329-7291


Other restaurants recommended to me by locals, but which I did not get to try, include

121 S 5th St
Columbus, MS 39701Phone number(662) 327-6500
Cajun/Creole: great fried green tomatoes

Jackson Square Grill
1927 U.S. 45
Columbus, MS 39701(662) 328-8656
Big on seafood and with a great brunch

Hana Korean Restaurant and Market
4226 Mississippi 373
Columbus, MS 39705
(662) 434-8881
Cheap and comforting stone pots and curries.


16 March 2017

Cocktails for These Political Times: Ode to the ACLU

I went through the ACLU's Lobby Training Day in Denver Tuesday, and it was so eye-opening.  We had a brief meeting followed by a morning of wandering around the state Senate and House of Reps offices bugging politicians (and often their aides) not to torture incarcerated minors and to protect free speech  on campus.  In all of my years, and multiple civics classes I was required to take but never took seriously, I never learned so much about how bills are introduced, amended, and voted on. And after seeing up-close how many people are working tirelessly to go through every piece of legislature with a fine-toothed comb to ensure American's civil liberties, I have a renewed sense of appreciation for the ACLU (as do many of you; in Colorado alone, the number of volunteers jumped from 30 before election day to 1700 after their first legislative battles with the so-called Muslim ban).

The ACLU is a non-partisan group invested in calling everyone, on both sides of the aisle, on their bullshit. And if you can't get behind that, then you don't deserve this drink or any other except maybe prune juice.



The Black and White

Makes 1 drink

Ice cubes
2 fluid ounces heavy cream
1 fluid ounce vanilla flavored vodka
1 1/2 fluid ounces chocolate liqueur
Chocolate swizzle sticks, for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the cream and vodka. Cover and shake vigorously, or stir, until combined and chilled, about 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Slowly pour the chocolate liqueur into the center of the drink to make a layered black and white cocktail. Lay a chocolate swizzle stick across the top rim of the glass. Serve. (Stir the layers together with the swizzle stick before drinking.)

10 March 2017

The Better-than-Chipotle Rice Bowl

I don't eat fast food unless I'm travelling and either trying to be cheap or am in a big hurry. But when that is the case, I do like Chipotle.  I love the green rice, and I appreciate the variety of fresh-like ingredients I can add to my nicely cooked black beans.  But it's way too much food! One burrito will keep me full for over 24 hours, and I'm pretty sure that's not good for your system.  

Work a little less hard to digest your food while enjoying that comforting Tex-Mex flavor at home with these fast and easy chicken (if you want), bean, and rice bowls! And as with most of my recipes, you can easily swap out ingredients to make this more your own. Mine, below, is a facsimile of the included recipe, but doused with Tapatio hot sauce, as well. 



Better-than-Chipotle Rice Bowl

Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 small serrano, thinly sliced (remove seeds for a milder meal)
1 chicken breast, cut into 2-inch chunks
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 large garlic cloves, minced
¾ cup corn kernels
2 15-oz. cans black beans (drain one, use the liquid from the other)

Green rice:
1 cup long grain white rice
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon lime juice
Salt to taste

Garnish:
Small avocado, cut into chunks
1 medium tomato, cut into chunks
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
Salt and black pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan or your rice cooker, cook the rice according to package directions. 

Meanwhile, heat the oil on medium heat in a large skillet. When it shimmers, add the bell pepper, onion, and serrano and sauté until soft, about five minutes. Add the chicken along with the cumin and chili powder and some salt. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the chicken is almost cooked, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the garlic cloves, corn, and black beans, reduce to low heat, cover and let simmer about 15 minutes.

Prepare the garnish: combine all ingredients in a small bowl.

When the rice is done, fluff with a fork while stirring in the cilantro, lime juice, and salt.


To build bowls: place equal amounts of rice into the bottom of each bowl.  Top with equal amounts of the bean mixture and then the garnish.