Category Archives: Travel

Minnesota, Homemade Pizzas – made by little helpers. An experiment with Heritage Wheat Flour.

 

We’ve made it back to Brooklyn. Successful, but now the city lacks that adventurous vibe we grew to love on the road. Not to mention the first thing we see upon our arrival into Manhattan was 45 minutes of traffic leading up to the Brooklyn Bridge.  At one point Paul turns to me and says “You haven’t cursed this much for the entire trip”…and I wasn’t even driving.

 

Perhaps needless to say, but I am back on my kick of desperately craving a change of pace from city life and the abundant consumerism that is NYC. I want adventure. In the great wide somewhere….wait that’s Belle (from Beauty and the Beast a la Disney). What I really want is simplicity, purity, and, of course, fresh good food. I want to know how our ancestors survived without supermarkets. I want to be able to live off the land. I want to be the one friends and family gather around for survival after the apocalypse hits!

 

I am only a little bit kidding.

 

I do truly believe it’s important to bridge ourselves away from the convenience of city life and learn to fend for ourselves, at least a little bit, and at least so that we don’t just blindly follow and eat whats put in front of us.

 

Of course this sounds very familiar at this point. I know I may simply be falling into the organic, back to the earth food trend that is moving around the country, but it doesn’t change my drive.  In fact it makes me more curious and adamant about the idea!

 

It was great to see places embracing farmers markets and local products, and non-hybrid crops. When you think about the last, say, ten years and how food trends have changed, and how we buy ad eat food has changed, it almost feels as though we are all part of a crazy science experiment!  Instead of searching for good cheese, we settle for the system shock that comes with the wrong choice.  It really made me wonder about the “allergy trends” as well. Granted I have a terrible memory, but I don’t remember ever hearing the words celiac, or gluten-free, or lactose intolerant or a lot of other intolerances that people seem to have developed (including myself) over the last few years. Suddenly these words and ailments are everywhere!

 

There has to be a connection to all of the genetically modified foods we eat. This is a concept that I had been questioning for a while. Then at the Mill City Farmers Market in Minnesota I found a heritage wheat flour company – wasn’t looking for it, but happily meandered over to question the owners. Their flours are all made with non modified wheat, similar to heirloom veggies – no mutations, no splicing, no combining. Just pure mother earth made wheat.

 

So I bought a bag of pizza flour (which the woman at the booth said is the exact same thing as their all purpose flour, but they label it as such for people who refuse to believe that all purpose will work for pizza). That night Paul, Kelly (my sister), and I made pizza with Paul’s three nieces (all under 7).

 

 

 

This was the best pizza I have ever made – maybe even ever had!

 

Pizza is an indulgence for me in general. When the little fat kid in me comes up and will only be satisfied by a perfect slice of New York pizza, the adult in me caves and deals with the consequences later. This time, using the heritage flour to make our dough, there were no consequences – and I mean none! It was almost jarring to eat an abundance of pizza and not feel the pain afterwords.

 

I just ordered more flour from the Sunrise Flour Mill (I used the “Pizza or All Purpose Flour” for the pizzas)

 

 

When cooking with kids it’s best to keep things simple and colorful. I followed the pizza dough instructions on the bag (3cups flour, tsp yeast, 1cup tepid water; knead for 6 minutes until smooth, and a pinch of salt, knead for 2 more minute, cover and let double in size;)

 

 

At the farmers market I also picked up a bunch of veggies – zucchini, patty pan squash, potatoes, heirloom tomatoes, eggplant, mushrooms, bell peppers, kale – and some fresh cheese. I sliced everything very very thin and made seperate bowls of colorful veggies for the girls to stick their hands into and layer whatever they wanted onto the pizzas. I used a really simple and delicious tomato sauce from a jar – look for something with very basic ingredients, the fewer the better. Also sliced some leftover italian sausage.

 

 

I found it easiest to give each girl a cookie sheet and a ball of dough – they needed some help getting it thin, but had fun dictating different shapes. Then layer sauce, cheese and veggies – let them go crazy!

 

 

Bake at 395′ F for about 15 minutes or until the crust is brown and the veggies are softened.


 

Then for dessert…dessert pizzas! Spread some Nuetella and layer fresh peach slices, bake as above.

 

 

For the record, I am not a doctor or nutritionist or in any position to guide anyone to try this product if you have severe allergies. I would however recommend trying this flour to anyone who is mildly gluten INTOLERANT – best case, like me you’ve found a solution, worst case, you have discomfort like any other day you cheat a bit.

 

(again if you’re allergic and could have a sever reaction to gluten, maybe talk to a professional first)

 

I hope you enjoy reading my crazy tangents followed by generally useful info! More to come soon.

 

ENJOY!

 

On the Road to Seattle. Food. Fun. Campfires. Tenting. Sightseeing. Happiness.

At 8 o’clock on Monday morning Paul and I loaded up the car, buckled the dog into the back seat, and hit the road. Our first layover was Richmond, IN – a quick 11 hour drive from Brooklyn.

As a self-proclaimed adventurous and frugal person I insisted on camping anywhere along the way that we don’t have a free place to stay. The only reason I say this with a hint of negativity is that I forgot that driving 11 plus hours (we had to stop often for the dog) means we get there in the dark.

i.e. we set up camp in the dark.

i.e. not so great lighting for setting up a tent, or building a fire, or taking good photos…

But Paul and I work well in “survival” situations and managed to get the tent set up and a nice fire going before ten pm…pretty good if you ask me!

 

For our road-food commencement dinner I cooked the first of our chicken packets. You remember those frozen olive oil and fresh herb filled ice cube trays? Well once they were frozen I assembled packets with chicken and other tasty freezable foods.

 

 

Here’s a photo of chicken with peaches and a garlic basil olive oil cube…

 

I placed the tightly folded packets on a grill surface over a roaring fire. Then as my impatience grew I placed the packets directly onto the coals for a another few minutes. The only issue with cooking this way is that it’s basically impossible to tell when it’s done. So the solution is to guess, then open the packets very carefully (there is a lot of steam involved) and check whether the chicken is cooked through. All together these took about 12 minutes – 8 on the grill and 4 on the coals.

 

Here’s a not-so-great shot of the cooked chicken – this is the tomato, garlic and basil cube.

So the verdict for freezing herbs in olive oil is definitely a big thumbs up! They may not stay frozen on the road very well, but the flavor is there even when it’s melty. Not to mention how great it has been to have a really fast meal to throw on the fire after a long day of driving and sight-seeing.

 

The next morning we drank in the surrounding beauty, packed up the car and headed to find some grub to eat on the road.

When I booked this leg of the trip, I knew nothing about Richmond, IN. Now after being there, I still know nothing of the history, but I have discovered that the old district is really charming.  You can sense the hard work that went into and took place in the buildings. A lifestyle and working-style long forgotten, but maintains a sense of pride and strength. The few people we spoke to were funny, friendly, and talkative. A skill that is lost in New York. Don’t get me wrong, people talk CONSTANTLY in NY, but the people in Richmond spoke truly , rather than of self-indulgence.

 

 

Our breakfast quest led us to a little cafe called Paulee in old Richmond, where we split a surprisingly tasty Sausage and Egg Biscuit – maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I expected greasy and convenient as opposed to the well seasoned, not at all greasy little sandwich that we had!

And onward we go to Kansas City and beyond!

ENJOY!

Getting Ready to Camp! Recipes for the Road.

What do you pack for a month-long road trip across the country? If you’re anything like me, the answer is food. I’ve spent the last few weeks scouring for inspiration. I’ve come across recipes from the simple find a stick and spearing a hotdog onto it to the complex need to bring your whole kitchen camping with you. I’ll settle for something in the middle.

 

Because we are going to be on the road for so long (we’re heading to my best friends wedding in Seattle!) I’m thinking frozen sauces, soups  and prepped accouterment is the way to go – basically my thought is that I’ll have the flavoring ready to go and we’ll pick up the meat on the road, with the exception of the first few days worth.

 

One tidbit I picked up was, of course, on Pinterest. I’m beyond obsessed with Pinterest! Use the link on the top left to check out my boards – they are numerous and vast!  But back to the tidbit. a fellow Pinner claims if you freeze fresh herbs in olive oil they will stay good and won’t become waterlogged the way they would if you freeze them alone or with water.

 

I am VERY excited about this concept! What could be better than foil chicken with an oil-ice cube with fresh rosemary? all the work is done and the flavors will melt and cook right in!

 

 

Today I prepped my trays with many different kinds of herbs, some chopped tomato, and some freshly roasted garlic (yum – see bellow), poured over the olive oil, covered with plastic wrap (incase they spill and so that the flavor doesn’t permeate into my freezer) and froze those little bad boys up!

 

Rosemary and Roasted Garlic

 

 

Tomatoes, Basil and Roasted Garlic

 

 

Thai Basil, Roasted Garlic and Lime Zest

 

 

All with the Olive Oil Poured over

 

I wait patiently now. The next step will be to assemble some pre-packed foil packets with chicken and shrimp, freeze those and load the cooler at the last possible second before we head out on the road!

 

Roasted Garlic:

Place 6 whole heads of garlic in a loaf pan and bake in the oven at 335’ F for about an hour or until a sharp knife will poke through with ease.

 

Allow the heads to cool until you can stand to touch them with bare hands. Cut the bottom off a head then squeeze the softened garlic, from both ends, into a bowl, be careful not to add any skins to the bowl, repeat with each head. Smash it with a fork to get a creamy consistency.

 

This is a kitchen staple! Use it in pretty much anything, mix it mayo for a sandwich, use it in stir-fry, spread it on bread with a little butter and parsley for a quick garlic bread…you get the idea!

 

Chocolate Cranberry Coconut Granola…Almost a Kitchen Fail.

 

You can’t win’um all folks.

 

This week I wanted to make a batch of granola – something I’ve done many times with consistant success.

 

This week did not want me to make a batch of granola. Timing was off, I didn’t have the ingredients I like to use, and it was a thousand degrees and humid. But I was feeling headstrong and stubborn, so I persisted. The record for me versus the anti-granola-making-energy is a tie leaning towards the anti-granola-making-energy…and easily arguable that that stupid energy won.

 

Normally I use a slew of nuts and seeds and coco nibs and thick luscious liquid to bind everything together, but this time I didn’t have enough of the nuts and my liquid element wasn’t thick enough for everything to come together. I also attribute a lot of the issue to the fact that there was 80% humidity that day. Looking back I realize it was a loosing battle to try and remove the moisture from food when the air quality wants nothing but to surround said food in a bubble of water.

 

With that said. This recipe may be great on another day – add more maple syrup, nuts and chocolate and you’ll have a winner.


 

SIDENOTE: you can tell based on my enthusiasm that I wrote out the recipe before the granola came out of the oven…

 

Chocolate Cranberry Coconut Granola:

1 cup pure cranberry juice – unsweetened

½ cup pure maple syrup – not the fake stuff

½ cup coconut oil

 

4 cups rolled oats – not quick oats

2 cups unsalted raw sunflower seeds

¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

 

½ cup crushed almonds

 

1 ¼ cups shredded coconut – not sweetened

 

In a sauce pan over med-high heat bring the juice, syrup and oil to a soft boil. Meanwhile in a really large mixing bowl combine the rest of the ingredients, excluding the shredded coconut, toss a bit to combine and set aside.

 

Once the sauce is boiling add in the coconut and stir to combine. It will look a little strange – sort of foamy and, quite honestly, a little gross. Let it cook for just a minute, then turn off the stove and pour the mixture over the ingredients in your big bowl. Carefully mix to combine (I have basically thrown granola all over my kitchen trying to mix too hastily).

 

Divide the mixture onto parchment lined cookie sheets or into coconut-oil-greased cupcake tins.

 

If you go for the cookie sheet press the granola into a thin even layer.

 

If you go the cupcake tin direction press the granola down so that it comes up about ¾ of the way up the tin, again make sure it’s even.

 

Bake in the oven at 225’ F for about a half an hour or until it’s nice and golden. Don’t forget to check regularly after the 15 minutes mark as it can go from raw-looking to dragon-fire charred in a matter of seconds.

 

A little trick I’ve picked up with granola is that if you want cereal consistency, break the granola up right away, but if you want clusters or bars let the tray dry COMPLETELY – this is especially necessary for the cupcake tin version. It’s tedious, annoying, and I often don’t have the patience for this, but there is something extra tasty about clustered granola – plus it’s better for travel!

 

 

All-in-all the taste is mostly there it just never got crispy darn it!

 

May you have better luck and more pleasant weather!

 

ENJOY!

Fourth of July Picnic and James Taylor at Tanglewood.

The past few years have brought on uneventful fourth of Julys. To be perfectly honest I don’t really remember what we did…other than eat mass amounts of some sort of meat. Though again it’s more a hazy fog of burgers, pork, and hot dogs than a specific tantalizing bite. This year was a little different.

 

There was very little meat to speak of – just a few slices of ham and prosciutto. Otherwise, Paul and I had a very relaxing fourth at Tanglewood in the Berkshires, sitting on a red, white and blue sheet, eating a random spread of foodage, and listening to the so-close-yet-very-far-away songs of James Taylor. Neither of us are particular fans of James Taylor, but my grandma gave us the tickets and the picnicking part sounded like a great way to spend an evening.
So I hastily packed our cooler with a few essentials – forks, a steak knife, a spoon, napkins, two empty Tupperware containers, and water. and we headed for the market.

 

 

There we picked up tomatoes, avocado, shallots, lemon, tortilla chips, prosciutto, ham, provolone, greek yogurt, bread (I know it’s not gluten-free this time), watermelon, basil, fresh mozzarella, and wine! I also snagged a few packets of salt and pepper – they usually have these in markets that have ready to foods. much easier than packing my shakers, and they’re free!With our strange assortment of edibles we drove on to the concert, parked on a crazy steep hill, found that everybody else had been there at least three hours before we arrived, and found a patch of grass behind two buildings to spread out, enjoy the view, and listen to the music from a far away stage. Oh and people watching! It was great.

 

 

Picnic blanket Guacamole:

1 avocado

1 shallot – cut into thin slices don’t worry about even slices if you’re in a park

½ a lemons juice

A handful of cherry tomatoes – cut in half

Two little packets of salt (about a tsp)

Two little packets of pepper (about a tsp)

 

Place all into a tuperware and shake until destroyed (in a good way)

Eat with tortilla chips or on a sandwich or just bread…or with a spoon.

 

Cut.

 

Combine.

 

Shake.

Eat.

 

A couple things to take note of from my “packing list” I forgot a cutting surface, so I ended up using the top of my Tupperware. I forgot plates, or any sort of eating surface, so we just did without. and I forgot cups, so I ended up sawing the top off of one of our water bottles after chugging the water and we drank our wine from the butt of the water bottle. I only travel and eat with class.

 

 

 

Quick awesome all-purpose dip/spread:

 

1 small container of greek yogurt

½ a lemons juice

1 little packet of salt (about ½ a tsp)

1 little packet of pepper (about ½ a tsp)

about 6 leaves of fresh basil – torn into strips/small pieces

 

combine all in a tuperware and shake until combined.

 

 

 

Park Pork Sandwich:

Crusty Bread

Provalone cheese slices

Black forest ham – nitrate free!

Prosciuto

awesome all-purpose dip/spread (see above)

Basil leaves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caprese Bites:

Fresh Mozzarella – any size is fine, if big, cut to bite sized pieces (in water is better here)

Bunch of fresh basil

Cherry tomatoes

Water – to rinse things that need it

 

Stack and eat.

 

 

 

Watermelon Salad:

pre-cut watermelon

Fresh Basil – torn into pieces

 

Open the container of cut watermelon. Sprinkle over the basil….yeah, that’s it.

 

 

 

Next time I might sprinkle just a little bit of salt on the watermelon to bring out more of the flavors. I am a big fan of salty-sweets. Otherwise this turned into a very memorable picnic! Of course you don’t have to make all of this in the park. I just enjoyed the challenge/didn’t plan ahead properly, but everything we made was very easy to put together and tasted fresher in the great outdoors!

 


It was a good day :)

 

ENJOY!

 

Parlez-Vous Francais?…yea me neither…yet

So Paul and I have been making strives to better ourselves, e.g. restarting the blog, Paul quitting a full-time job to work on other projects, cleaning, you get the idea.

 

 

One thing that I have always regretted is not being able to fluently speak another language – what’s worse is that if I had truly begun to learn a language, with any amount of dedication, when I first realized the thought to do so I would have been fluent in multiple languages by now! Alas, I am a procrastinator. Mais il y’a fini maintenant (“but that ends now” – that’s probably way off)

 

 

We are going to start french lessons, AND we are going to promote the “immersion” side of learning by hosting dinner parties at which all participants will only speak french.

 

 

I want to go back to France and speak to people with confidence. Oh, and eat lots of amazing food.

 

 

Sunday Dinner- Camembert and Herb Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Cheese!

This weekend included a trip to upstate, NY to visit my grandparents.  It was a perfect opportunity to escape from city life for a few days and really appreciate the beauty of ‘simpler living’….which I seem to crave more and more.

My grandfather suggested that we visit the Old Chatham Sheepherding Company, which is a sheep farm about 3 hours outside of the city and twenty minutes from where we were. We did, and we loved it!  As a side note, this farm is American Humane Certified – these sheep seem to have a wonderful life and the cheese is delicious.

The Milking Barn.

This one was scratching his neck on the fence…don’t worry he’s not stuck.

I loved walking around the corner and surprise! there was a donkey!

Inquisitive sheep!

Babies!


and the cheese.

Of course we had to support the farm by buying cheese.  So the inspiration for this weeks Sunday dinner came from an amazing sheep milks Camembert.


When you use an ingredient that has such a strong flavor you want to use simple compliments.  Camembert is a cheese with an amazingly woodsy robust taste. The wonderful thing about this sheep’s milk Camembert is the way the flavors, while powerful, soften and melt in your mouth.  This product really make you appreciate the care that goes into raising the sheep and the cheese making process. 

My concept for this dish was inspired by the cheese and the farm where we bought it.  I wanted to keep things simple and maintain the ‘green’ feeling of the farm in the recipe. And above all honor the cheese.



Camembert and Herb Stuffed Chicken Breasts:

2 large chicken breasts – skin on
2 1/4” thick slices of Camembert – big enough to cover a large portion of each chicken breast
4 tbsp fresh Sage – chopped
4 tbsp fresh Tarragon – chopped
a handful of baby arugula
1/3 cup Olive oil

Heat the oven to 350′ F. Trim any extra fat and skin from the chicken. Using your pointer finger, gently separate the skin from the meat – you want to loosen the skin without poking holes or removing it completely – think of it like the pocket of pita bread, with enough room to shove all the other ingredients in there.

Insert a slice of cheese under the skin of each breast. Toss together your herbs and arugula and stuff on top of the Camembert slices.  Pour a few tbsp of the olive oil into the bottom of a 8”x8” baking dish and place the chicken on top. pour the rest of the olive oil on top of the chicken to help it brown.  Sprinkle with a generous amount of salt and freshly ground pepper.  Cover with tin foil and pop it in the oven.

After about 45 minutes – time will vary based on the size of the breasts – remove the tin foil and allow the chicken to brown.

On the side I wanted to keep with the theme of light and fresh, so we have two side dishes roasted asparagus, and quinoa with roasted tomatoes and garlic.

Roasting vegetables is not only delicious it’s super easy.

Prep the asparagus by bending them in the middle and let them snap at the natural point or cut off about and inch from the bottom. Place the spears onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet, pour a little olive oil over the top, salt and pepper, and place into a 400′ F oven.  Cook for approx 15 minutes or until the tips just start to look crispy.



For the tomatoes and garlic it’s basically the same process. Dump the cherry tomatoes into a parchment lined pan. Peel a handful of garlic and cut each piece in half.  Push each piece of garlic down into the tomatoes, generously pour olive oil over the top, sprinkle with salt and pepper and place in the 400′ F oven.  These take about 20-25 minutes. You want the tomatoes to pop and release their juices and have the juices almost start to burn, the tomatoes should just start take on a nice char.



While the tomatoes are baking, cook the quinoa according to the package.

When the tomatoes are ready, mix them in with the quinoa. Salt and pepper to taste. like I said, super easy, and super tasty!


The perfect welcome to some much needed spring weather.

Enjoy!