March 2007 Roundup

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Columbus, Monthly Roundup

Sorry about getting this out so late – that hospital stay knocked my schedule for a loop, and I’m just barely starting to catch up – if I owe you an email, please be patient – I’m trying to work my way though my inbox.

There I went talking about springing and sprunging and now it’s snowing on my beautiful tulips. Argh. Gotta love this Ohio weather. Hard to believe that just a few days ago it was 80 degrees. We had to turn on the heat and fireplace last night. Brrr.

Looks like Liu Pon Xi is going belly up – not much of a surprise, though. I never got a chance to try them myself, as I’ve been told by more than one person that the food is mediocre and overpriced. However, the 2 restaurants slated to replace Liu Pon Xi in that space sound promising.

There was an interesting article in the Dispatch on whether Whole Foods is straying from it’s progressive roots? – I think any time you roll out a store on a national level, you lose some of the environmental benefits of sustainable agriculture – if for nothing else, because of all the fossil fuels needed to ship organic produce from all over the world to Dublin, OH. I honestly don’t think the audience that Whole Foods is catering to (at least most of them) is all that concerned about the politics or issued. Why do I go? Because it’s winter and there are no farmer’s markets open, they have some of the best looking produce in town, killer pizza, and good cheese. While I do like to support local farmers whenever possible, in winter it’s a little more difficult.

In other Columbus news, it looks like Thom Coffman, owner of the Clarmont Restaurant, is planning on revitalizing the space in addition to adding condos and other stores to the complex. Another one on my “to try” list as I hear they have killer steaks – of course, I doubt they would have stayed in business for 60 years if the food wasn’t good.

Why am I just hearing about Danny’s Deli for the first time now? Oh my Lord is that sandwich massive! And only $7.75?? I usually don’t go downtown during the day (hard to find cheap parking), but this may warrant a special trip…

And speaking of places that are new to me, the Dispatch also did a feature on a Korean bakery on the Northwest side, Choong Hee Bakery and Cafe in the Bethel Center Mall. The offerings here sound unique enough for me to want to check it out…

There’s a new restaurant in town, Rosendales, whose opening night rated an article in the Dispatch and lots of pretty pictures (yum, truffle popcorn!) from The Restaurant Widow. By the looks of the menu, this place is definitely up my alley and one that I want to try ASAP. I love the kind of restaurants Columbus is attracting lately!

In other Short North news, there was an article in Columbus Business First about the influx of new restaurants to that particular area, and questions if they will change the flow and draw of the neighborhood and if there are enough people there to support them. I say, bring them on! I *love* the choices available in the Short North, and will go out of my way (although I hate trying to park there sometimes) to visit my favorites, like Betty’s. On the other hand, there are tons of places I still want to try, but haven’t, because of the parking. Does anyone have any secrets to Short North parking?

This post on spring vegetables over at Counter Intelligence has me chomping at the bit, anxious for spring to hurry up and get here for real already. I can’t wait for the first stalls to show up at the North Market, bearing glorious ramps. :) I unfortunately missed out on them last year.

Lots and lots of links from other sites this month, probably due to me adding so many new blogs to my blogroll. It’s amazing how many great food blogs there are out there – each and every one of them is an inspiration in some way.

Among the savory recipes that have caught my eye this month, are Corned Beef and Cabbage Soup Under Cover, and Lindey’s Overglazed French Onion Soup from the Columbus Dispatch, Irish Brown Bread from Mele Cotte, Savory Roasted Pepper and Sundried Tomato Cake from Boxcar Kitchen, Beer, Thyme, and Cheese Spelt Bread from Cloudberry Quark, Hasselback Potatoes with Camembert and Hazelnut Dressing from Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once, Leek Soup from genussmousse, Spicy Empanada Potpie with Cream Cheese Crust from Baking and Books, Boxty from Coconut & Lime, Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs from Cookin’ with Cyndi, Pho Bo from Definitely Not Martha, Popcorn Cauliflower from Dirty Sugar Cookies, Mexican Potato Soup from Eating For One, Potato and Onion Cakes from Fancy Toast, Cream Sauced Pasta and Vegetables from Four Foodies, Ultimate Mac & Cheese from Fresh Approach Cooking, Sweet Corn Bread Pudding from Have a Bite, Brown Butter Flavored Butter from Ideas in Food, Meatballs and Pasta from immaeatchu, Sundried Tomato and Mushroom Risotto Cakes from Kitchen Wench, Risotto with Creme Fraiche, Aspargus, and Lemon from Kitchenography, Skirt Steak with Caramelized Shallots and Red Wine Jus from Leite’s Culinaria, Roasted Garlic Champ with Truffle Oil and Irish Butter from The Mad Chef, Cottage Pie from Melting Wok, Vintage Cheddar Breads from Milk and Cookies, Fried Kibbeh Balls from Live to Eat, Arepa de huevo from Nika’s Culinaria, Giant Cauliflower Puff from One Hot Stove, Spicy Mac from Not Eating Out in New York, Pork Schnitzel with Caramelized-Onion Egg Noodles from Paper Palate, Central Vietnam Noodles from Pickled Garlic, Onion and Shallot Muffins from Superspark, Kapusta from Lorence’s Kitchen, Lisa’s Taco Rolls from La Mia Cucina, Reuben-esque Chicken Roulades from What We’re Eating, Easy Pork Satay Stir-Fry from What geeks eat…, and  Pappardelle with Chicken Cooked in Red Wine and Impossible Spinach Pie from What Did You Eat?.

The sweet recipes I’ve bookmarked are Paula Deen’s Buttermilk Pie with Bisquick from A Fridge Full of Food, Guinness Cupcakes with Espresso Cream Frosting from A Mingling of Tastes, Doughnut Muffins from Alice Q. Foodie, Nutmeg Crunch Muffins from Boxcar Kitchen, Grande Mocha Frappuccino Lite and Double Lemon Poppy-Seed Cheesecake Muffins from The Columbus Dispatch, Cappuccino Fudge Cheesecake from Cherry Leader, Baked Crepe Pudding from Cream Puffs in Venice, Snickerdoodle Muffins from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody, Vanilla Budino from FamilyStyle Food, Bri’s Chocolate Cherry & Rum Cheesecake from Jumbo Empanadas, Fig and Amaretti Tart from Kitchen Unplugged, Iced Meyer Lemon Cupcakes from Alpineberry, Basic Macaron Batter from My Food Geek, Chewy Brownie Cookies from Sugar Delirium, Sticky Bun Muffins from Utopian Kitchen, and Caramel Corn from Bitchin’ in the Kitchen with Rosie.

In informative posts, A Fridge Full of Food shows us how to make sushi, Anthony of Bachelor Cooking gives us a lesson in how to make homemade paneer, Apartment Therapy does an excellent overview of Dutch Ovens, 101 Cookbooks shows us how to make pesto like an Italian grandmother, the Cooking Diva educates on the best fats and oils for cooking, and we can learn how to make homemade butter with Apartment Therapy. Also, Bribe Me With a Muffin shows us how to throw a wine tasting party, the Food Lava Blog gives us an overview of Asian condiments, Gluten-Free Gastro-Gnome gives you hints on eating gluten free on a budget and tells us all about starches, Hooked on Heat gives us our first segment of Intro to Indian, Vegan Grandma tell us interesting things about apples.

I need to get one of these. It sure would beat lugging around a bowl and a plate when I eat soup and sandwiches. But if I gave into every whim of kitchen gadgetry, I’d run out of room (wait, that’s already happened, which is why there’s an overflow of kitchen stuff in the basement).

A must read for all food bloggers – newbies and old-timers alike – the Delcious Days blog gives us Foodblogging – Do’s and Don’ts.

Oh my goodness! These bentos are too cute for words! Especially the stretching cat…

The fact that someone made sea salt from Pacific Ocean water is amazing to me – not sure if I’d want to eat it in large quantities due to pollution issues – but just the fact that it is possible is as cool as cool gets.

I’m not a wine person, but this is a great idea. Perfect for tucking in a picnic basket.

After my post about my hospitalization the other day, I’ve decided that even though I’ll post about the healthier eating aspect of weight loss here in this blog, I’m going to dedicate my old Livejournal blog to my weight loss efforts exclusively. Please bookmark it if you’d like to follow along in my journey. There should be some content there starting tonight. :)

Thanks for being so patient with me, everyone. Happy Easter to all who celebrate it. :) Until next month…

Spring Has Sprung!

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Life

For me, the dividing line between winter and spring isn’t a single date on the calendar – it’s the day that my tulips bloom. And this is what I woke up to this morning. This is what spring is all about. Hope. Growth. Starting fresh. Opening yourself up wide and reaching for the sky.

And with spring, comes the promise of good things to come. In the next few weeks, ramps and asparagus and other spring vegetables. Life at the farmer’s market again. A reason to wake up early on Saturday mornings. Being able to take my dogs for a walk, pushed along by the warm breezes. Outdoor picnics. Oh, how I love spring. It has the ability to lift my winter blues instantly. I wish it could be spring all year.

20 Questions Meme

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Meme

First seen at Porcini Chronicles

1. What’s your #1 comfort food?
Please don’t laugh, because it’s a culinary abortion. Hillbilly beef stroganoff - to make a family sized batch, it’s 2 prepared boxes of Beef Rice-a-Roni to 1 pound of browned ground beef to one packet of prepared hollandaise sauce. Yum.

2. If you were on a deserted island, what one food would you want to have with you?
Cheese

3. What is/are your signature dishes?
Chicken divine – I’ll have to make it soon.

4. It’s Friday night, and you don’t know what to cook. You opt for…
Soup and a sandwich. If I’m that indecisive, it’ll be all I have time to make.

5. What’s your biggest weakness when it comes to food?
Oh, so many. Knowing when to stop eating, knowing how to say no, knowing the difference between hunger and boredom.

6. What food can you absolutely not eat?
Liver. I hate it with a passion.

7. You need a drink. You grab a…
Normally, I’m purely a water girl. If you’re talking alcoholic, I prefer girly drinks like fuzzy navels and the like.

8. What’s the most decadent dish you’ve ever had?
Last year at the Taste the Future event, it was Roasted Duck Breast Foie Gras “Sliders” with Figs, Preserved Ginger and Port Wine Glaze, made by Chef Doug Miller at the Winding Hollow Country Club. Normally, I’m not a big fan of any of the individual ingredients in this dish, but put together, it was both decadent and delicious.

9. What’s your favorite type of food?
I really like ethnic cuisine – German, Italian, Indian, Asian, Puerto Rican, you name it, I’ll eat it. I like a lot of flavor in my food.

10. Favorite dish?
Changes frequently. Right now, bulgogi.

11. If your partner could take you to any restaurant you wanted, which one would it be?
Rao’s in NYC, which I hear is impossible to get a table at. As far as accessible restaurants, we hit the Shady Maple Smorgasbord in Blue Ball, PA every chance we get.

12. Are you a soup or salad person?
Soup, definitely. I don’t eat many salads, something I should set about changing. It’s not that I don’t like salads, per se, it’s just that any dressing I’ve had that’s worth eating has made what should be a healthy dish unhealthy. Soups pack a lot of flavor in a small package.

13. Buffet, take-out or sit-down restaurant?
Definitely take out, as long it’s a type of food that withstands take out well. With buffets, I never eat enough to make them worthwhile, with sit-down, I only end up eating half my food and packaging the rest anyway, and with takeout, it usually reheats well. I can’t always say the same for typical restaurant foods.

14. What’s the most impressive dinner you’ve ever made?
Last year’s Thanksgiving dinner. It darn near killed me, though.

15. Do you consider yourself a good cook?
Good enough, I suppose – but I’m no chef.

16. Do you know what vichyssoise?
Yes, but I prefer my potato soup hot.

17. Who’s your favorite TV cook?
Alton Brown, by a long shot.

18. Can you name at least three TV cooking personalities?
Sure, thanks to the Food Network. I miss Justin Wilson, though.

19. Homemade or homemade from a box?
Homemade. Made with local ingredients, if I can find them.

20. Name three or more other foodies you are going to tag.
I never tag because I don’t know who has already done this, but if you haven’t yet, and you’d like to, consider yourself tagged!

Monkey Wrench

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Life

You know what they say about best intentions, right?

As some of you may know, I had gastric bypass surgery in 2001. While I have had some success with the surgery, I’m still obese, and still have most of the health problems that caused me to have the surgery in the first place. I’ve experienced significant regain in the past few years, partially due to my bad food choices, and in the past year, mostly due to the decline of my mobility because of fatigue issues and arthritis.

So on Thursday night, it was business as usual for me, I was working on the monthly roundup, and ate dinner as usual. A few hours later, I was in complete agony, with waves of horrible abdominal cramping and dry heaving that were so bad, that I had my husband take me to the emergency room.

Several anti-nausea and pain medication shots and a CT scan later, they determined that I possibly had a partial bowel obstruction (a known possible complication of bariatric surgery) and decided to admit me. After 2 days in the hospital without food or water, they now know a few more things. If it was a bowel obstruction, it’s cleared itself up – while I still do have dilation, the contrast went all the way through, which is a good thing. In addition, I definitely have an incisional hernia which may have caused the condition, and in the most surprising of news, I may have a gastrogastric fistula, in which there is “communication” between my pouch and my remnant stomach, which I can assure you shouldn’t be happening. All of these conditions above need surgery, which I’ll probably have at some time in the near future.

But here’s where the major life-changing news comes in. While talking to the bariatric surgeon at the hospital, he let me know that my bariatric surgery was doomed to fail for a multitude of reasons (wrong surgery for my BMI, having the surgery without actual losing some weight through other methods first, breakdown of the actual surgery, not dealing with the food issues first, etc.). The situation isn’t hopeless. When I follow up with him, we’re going to look into revising my original surgery to place an adjustable gastric band around my pouch, ensuring that my intake is restricted as it should have been if my original surgery was intact. We’re going to deal with the food issues. And part of the dealing with the food issues and part of *this* solution being successful means that I have to lose some of my weight (roughly 70 lbs.) before I can have surgery, in order to ensure that I would get good results this time. He said that the amount a person loses though surgery is roughly the same for everyone (150-200 lbs), and that by originally starting out at 500 lbs, my “result” would be that I would still be obese. By starting at ~350, I can expect to get into a comfortable and much more healthy weight for me. And getting part of the way there by myself will allow me the time to get my head on straight.

So what does it mean for this blog? Not much will be different. I’ll still appreciate all of the decadent things in the blogosphere and in Columbus, just with a little more moderation. I’ll still like to eat and appreciate good food. But as I meet with the nutritionist and learn to eat in a way that works for my body (South Beach, anyone?), the meals I make may be a bit more different, and I’ll definitely be taking advantage of local meat and produce, that’s for sure. Once I’ve had surgery, if I eat out, I’ll probably be taking bites of my husband’s meal rather than ordering my own. But for the time being, it will be business as usual – at least until all this gets sorted out. My trip to Philly and New Jersey is still on for next week, and I still plan on eating stuff I really miss while I’m there. Once I get back, though – it’s down to business.

Hopefully all of you will come along with me on this journey as well. It’s definitely very scary to contemplate! BTW, expect March’s roundup in the next couple of days. My unexpected hospital stay shot my deadline for getting it up (yesterday!) all to hell…