25 August 2017

Lazy end-of-summer meals

Because I do a fair amount of traveling during the school year, I am always asked again and again over the summer, "so, are you going anywhere exciting?" The answer is occasionally yes, but the summer months are frighteningly lean for a freelance classical musician, and so the answer is, quite often, a big fat NO. That's OK, because I live in a state other people save up to visit on vacation, and we have created a modest yet cozy habitat here in Northern Colorado, homemade patio, messy vegetable garden, and all. So while I spend my days at home writing, practicing, and teaching flute lessons, I would much rather mix up a cocktail and fix the quickest snack I can at the end of the day in order to maximize that precious patio time. With summer drawing to a close, I feel all the more impatient to hurry up and sit down without resorting to Doritos for dinner. Here are some ideas I've played around with this summer; perhaps you'll find something here to help you live the good life a little sooner, too. 

Current lazy girl dinners at the DFT house:

  • Finely chop cauliflower, garlic, and onion, sear in a lightly oiled pan over high heat, then crack in an egg and cook till set.
  • Mix together chili oil, soy sauce, sesame oil, and black vinegar while you cook soba noodles. Toss noodles in sauce. Top with sliced green onion. Fry an egg and add it to the bowl. 
  • While you cook noodles, blend together avocado, lime juice, cilantro, and salt. Toss hot pasta with the sauce, top with freshly ground pepper, and chopped cilantro. Toss in some chopped tomato.
  • Fry garlic slices in oil. Add a can of clams, chopped herbs, and butter. Then stir in cooked pasta, along with a spoonful of its cooking liquid, and a splash or white wine or light beer. Zest a lemon over top.
  • Fry up leftover bits of any cured meat or a lone breakfast sausage with a little sliced bell pepper, stir in greens, dump in a container of takeout rice or leftovers form the freezer, and warm through. Splash in some rice vinegar and soy sauce before serving.
  • Mix canned tuna with canned chickpeas or white beans, diced red onion, olive oil, and lemon. Plop onto salad greens or toast.
  • Warm a can of black beans and a can of fire-roasted tomatoes together on the stove, seasoning as you like. Spoon over a pile of tortilla chips. Top with avocado slices and a fried egg.
  • Dip slices of bread into beaten eggs seasoned with a salt, pepper, cayenne, finely grated Parmesan, and chopped chives or scallions. Fry like French toast, then eat with hot sauce.

18 August 2017

Chillin' in Uptown (ish), Minneapolis

I had this nerdy flute thing to go to recently in Minneapolis.  It was at the convention center, but I was able to land a sweet cheap Air BnB room in Uptown for the week, and here's what else I spied while I was there...

Lake of the Isles Park is this insane chain of three lakes with little islands in the middle and bustling city all around.  It is a supremely pleasant place to walk/jog/bike, or simply sit and gawk at the city's skyline and the natives' adorable dogs.

If you need to bring some snacks or hooch to the park (I don't even know if that's allowed), hit up Kowalski's on the way. It's like a cheaper, local-centric Whole Foods with a great wine selection.

LynLake Brewery: I liked the Rubbish Oat Amber Ale and Sideburns Milk Stout because that's how I roll, but my friend's pint of Dirty Heffer with Pineapple was pretty good, too.

Muddy Waters, open daily from 8am to 2am keeps the kind of rock and roll hours I wish I could.  I had Cuban hash with chorizo, black beans, yucca, chiles, and eggs, with a great cup of coffee, but I would totally go back and try some of their many whiskeys when I don't have a presentation to give.

Quang is affordable, super fresh Vietnamese and seems to be kind of an institution in the 'hood. Get ready to have your heart broken on Tuesdays, though, because they are closed that day.

Spyhouse is a Minneapolis coffee chain, but I don't feel bad going there because Minneapolis is so super cool, anyway. Their baked goods are nice and I would describe their coffee is very "coffee flavored".

Art that is not exactly in Uptown, but it's walkable and you should go:

Minneapolis is a great city to visit if you love art.  Please visit all of these places when you go.

Walker Art Center: contemporary visual arts and design exhibitions; dance, theater, and music performances; and film screenings. Free admission first Saturday of every month and all Thursdays from 5-9pm. They're the ones with the big spoon with a cherry on it outside.

Minneapolis Institute of Art: This place is free.  Seriously.  They have some nice Chagall right now, too.

Minneapolis College of Art and Design:  Also free and student-run; it is very exciting to see what great art students are inventing right now!


The American Swedish Institute is a beautiful castle-like structure with an amazing amount of  history and art, and the even make good (albeit Swedish) food in the cafe.  There's another one for Danish people somewhere, but who cares.

11 August 2017

"Pairs well with..."

Alright, this is my last one before I get my shit together and start packing for the National Flute Association annual convention.  Stay tuned next week for all the non-flute highlights from my stay in Minneapolis. I do find that whiskey gets me in the right frame of mind for these things...

Pineapple Whiskey Sour

Makes one drink

4 oz. pineapple juice
2 oz. whiskey
1/2 oz. lemon juice

Put all ingredients and shake over ice until your hands are cold. Pour over some fresh ice.

Pairs well with...

Quick Zucchini Tacos

Makes 8 petite tacos

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped white onion
1 minced garlic clove
1 medium serrano chile, minced
8 corn tortillas
Possible toppings: sour cream, crumbled goat cheese, sliced radishes, sliced avocado, chopped tomato, chopped cilantro, lime wedges

In a small skillet, heat the oil over medium and add the onion, garlic, chile, and zucchini. Season with cumin, salt, and pepper and saute until onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Serve with warmed corn tortillas and all the toppings you desire.

04 August 2017

"Pairs well with..."

It looks like I've created a mini-series of alcoholic drinks paired with snacks.  I'd like to dedicate this one to long-suffering American hero, OJ Simpson. P.S. He totally killed his wife and America is OK with that.

Classic Tequila Sunrise

Makes one drink

2 oz. tequila
3 oz. orange juice
1/2 oz. grenadine

Pour the tequila and orange juice into glass over ice. Add the grenadine, which will sink to the bottom and look all sunrise-y. Do not stir. Garnish with a maraschino cherry and serve.

Pairs well with...

Heidi Swanson's Avocados and Mustard Seeds
Yields about 1 cup 
1 ripe avocado
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Scant 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1/4 cup coarsley chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon black or brown mustard seeds
1/2 small yellow onion, mined
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon Indian curry powder
1 small serrano chile, minced

Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit, and scoop the flesh into a small bowl. Add the lemon juice, salt, and most of the cilantro. Mash the avocados a bit with a fork, but don't overdo it-- you want the mixture to be quite chunky. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add the mustard seeds. Keep a lid on hand because the seeds will scatter as they pop. When the spattering stops, after about a minute, stir in the onion and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Stir in the garlic, curry powder, and chile. 

Count to ten, and then remove from heat. Stir in the avocado mixture, but just barely, and transfer to a serving bowl. Serve warm or at room temperature with crackers or tortilla chips. Garnish with remaining cilantro.