Friday Roundup 2/2/07

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Columbus, Friday Round Up

Consider this the “slow” edition. ;) (considering I’m about two days late getting this posted – I added a bunch of new feeds this week, which brought me to about 5,000 posts I had to look through – it took longer than I expected.)
I’d like to draw your attention to the sidebar at the right, where I’ve added two new features, one which is a food blog directory (I got a bunch added this week, still have a bunch more to add, email if I haven’t added you yet and you’d like to be added), and the other which is a list of contests/sweepstakes with prizes that would be of interest to foodies). I hope you enjoy the new features.

The Dispatch had an interesting article about people like me who are so-so about eating fish, and provides some hints for making fish more palatable for those who don’t really like it.

Stuck for ideas on where to go on Valentine’s Day? The Dispatch has a list of what different restaurants in town are offering on February 14th. Make your reservations now, everyone. :)

Last week, Dispatch readers chose Anthony-Thomas as the best sweetheart treat in town. This week, they’d like to know who has the best Italian sub in town. My choice, Carfagna’s, isn’t on the list, so I’m going to be writing it in. If you go during lunch hours, they will make you a sub to order that beats local competition hands down. Voice your opinion for a chance to win a $25 gift card.

Mental note for me to bookmark the HHDN #9 Roundup of souffles, since I just bought my first set of souffle dishes, and am looking for a recipe to use to break them in. :)

Finally, a round-up of this weeks memorable recipes from around the blogsphere: Meatloaf Surprise from Coconut & Lime, Chocolate and Sea Salt Cookies from Culinary Muse, Chocolate Truffle Tart from FamilyStyle Food, Nutella Cheesecake Brownies from alpineberry, Eggs Benedict Florentine with Creamy Butter Sauce from Culinary in the Country, Meyer Lemon Souffle from Little bouffe, Tartiflette from Lucy’s Kitchen Notebook, Apple Quince Tart from Too Many Chefs, and Gremolata Potatoes from The Wednesday Chef.

In informative posts, we learn how to design your own deli tray on Slashfood, and Kalyn from Kalyn’s Kitchen shows us how to make beef stock.

Well, that’s it for this week, folks…until next week!

Friday Roundup 1/26/07

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Columbus, Friday Round Up, Recipes

Sorry about the amount of time it’s been since my last post. With the health problems I have, I never know when my condition is going to flare up – when it does, I barely have enough energy to function, let alone cook or go out or even think about eating. I’ve been eating a lot of convenience foods this month, and have only left the house a handful of times. So it ended up turning into an unexpected three week hiatus. But I’m feeling much better and hopefully will get back in the swing of things soon.

I already have a bunch of stuff to post about, since I did manage to cook a couple of meals this past month. Plus I still have to post about December’s Christmas cookies (and here it is almost Valentine’s Day already!)

Tom Barlow posts a nice list of Columbus restaurants that would be perfect for Valentine’s Day. Remember to make your reservations early, folks. My husband and I are either going to celebrate on the weekend before or after, or maybe go out of town to a bed and breakfast or something. Haven’t decided yet.

Interesting reading. I’ve been made aware that the Columbus Health Department’s inspection reports for local restaurants are now online. I have to say, I was honestly surprised. Places that I thought would pass with flying colors had some severe deficiencies, while some I expected to have a nightmare record had no problems whatsoever. I can’t put too much stock in that, though. I’ve spent my time in the restaurant industry. If I think too hard about that stuff, I’d never go out to eat again. ;)

Lisa the Restaurant Widow waxed poetic about one of my favorite local meat shops, Thurns. And then graced us with a wonderful recipe for Knackwurst and Kraut to use up those purchases. This place is the greatest – I went after Rosie did a great writeup of the place and mentioned it when we had dinner.

If you haven’t been yet, don’t hesitate for a second to go. It’s one of Columbus’ hidden treasures. You’ll thank yourself as soon as you walk in and the smoky smell hits you in the face. :) Word of warning, though – they don’t take plastic, so make sure you have cash or your checkbook with you if you go.

So Dispatch readers think Bob Evans has the best breakfast? Oy. Not to pooh pooh the opinion of Dispatch readers…but Bob Evans?? I think my mission this year is to convince my visitors to go outside of their comfort zone a bit and try some non-chain restaurants. One of these days I’ll do a post on the best breakfasts in town, and believe me — Bob Evans is not on that list. The Northstar Cafe definitely is. :)

This week’s poll question is about one of my favorite subjects – chocolates and sweets. They want to know who has the city’s best sweetheart treats? No surprise here, for me it’s Pure Imagination all the way! Cast your vote by Monday to enter to win a $25 gift card from one of the winning restaurants.

Lots of recipes and stuff to list here, since it’s been a few weeks since my last roundup.

Savory recipes I’ve earmarked to try (and there’s a ton of them, bear with me!) are Zuppa Toscana from the Columbus Dispatch, Cauliflower Soup with Gorgonzola from 101 Cookbooks, Red Potato, Turkey Sausage, and Kale Soup from A Fridge Full of Food, Red Wine Beef Stew with Lentils and Whisky from Anne’s Food, Stir-Fried Brussels Sprouts, Shiitakes and Scallions from Bay Area Bites, Troffiete in a Spicy Tomato-Bacon Sauce from Blue Lotus, Chicken Pot Pie from Chez Megane, Cauliflower Gratin from Chocolate & Zucchini, Frikadellen from Cookin’ with Cyndi, Cheesy Grits and Eggs from Copperpots, Spiced Honey Chicken Tagine from Cucina Bella, Zucchini Souffle from The Culinary Chase, Bread Dumpling Soup from Eat, Macaroni and Cheese with Buffalo Chicken from Fancy Toast, Sesame Marinated Steak on Spinach and Soba Noodles from Coconut & Lime, Ricotta and Herb Dumplings from Fresh Approach Cooking, Leek Fritters from Gluten-Free By the Bay, Balsamic and Onion Pot Roast from Kalyn’s Kitchen, Macaroni Gratin from Leite’s Culinaria, Individual Sausage and Egg Casseroles from Little Spatula, Beef Braised in Red Wine with Creamy Polenta from Lox, Stock and Barrel, Black Summer Truffle Penne from Morsels & Musings, Linguica Chili from Slashfood, Tarocco Orange Chicken ala Panda Express from Rubber Slippers in Italy, Caramelized Onion Quiche and Greek Meatballs from Simply Recipes, Gulaschsuppe and Pork Fillet with Sherry Sauce and Polenta Flans from thepassionatecook, and Cheese Dumplings in Chicken Broth from What Did You Eat?

In sweet recipes, I’m bookmarking Creme Brulee for Two from A cat in the kitchen, Chocolate Nut Truffle from Anne’s Food, Chocolate Custard Tart with Homegrown Raspberries from Bron Marshall, Guinness Stout Brownies and Small Batch Chattanooga Chew Chews from Cookie Madness, Chocolate Walnut Tart with Cajeta from crispy waffle, Sticky Buns from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody, Sables au chocolat et a la fleur de sel from foodbeam, Simple Mixed Berries Gratin from La Tartine Gourmand, and Chocolate Crepe Cake by masak-masak.

In informative posts, the Columbus Dispatch instructs us on how to roast garlic, Anthony from Bachelor Cooking shows us how to make homemade paneer, Helen from Beyond Salmon shows us how to make pasta dough, Calendula & Concrete present us with a nifty link to an online tool for planning a vegetable garden, Chez Pim gives us a primer on Pad Thai for beginners, Brys of Cookthink tells us how to prep (and use) avocados, Katerina from Daily Unadventures in Cooking shows us how to clean a spice grinder or coffee grinder and how to use lemongrass, and Slashfood talks about freezing fresh herbs.

In other news, Frank Bruni checks in on the subject of photography in restaurants. Now, I’m approaching this from a purely food photography perspective, and will be the first to admit that I’m one of these fools who uses a flash (if I don’t, my pictures don’t come out with my crappy point and shoot digital camera). I try to be considerate, and go at times other than when it’s busy, or be seated away from other people, etc. But I’m finding that I’m not taking as many pictures as I used to because I don’t want to be perceived as rude. I think I need to stop being so paranoid – it’s not like I set up a photo shoot in the dining room or use a tripod or make the wait staff pose or anything. And really, is it that much different than taking a shot of the people at the table? I usually only take one shot, two tops of each dish. What’s your take on it? It seems to be a very controversial subject.

Am I the only one surprised that Trader Joe’s and Aldi’s are owned by the same company? Am I the last to know? In retrospect, I can see how their business models are similar. Good to know, since I’m a big fan of both stores.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for now. Thanks for sticking around while I’ve been not feeling well. :)

Friday Roundup 1/5/07

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Friday Round Up, Recipes

Short week for me because I posted a roundup so recently – but still lots of good posts in the few days since then. :)

Last week, Dispatch readers voted the Cheesecake Factory as the best dessert in town – while I agree that they have excellent cheesecake, I would have gone with Pistachio myself. :) This week, they’d like your vote on the best Japanese food in Columbus. Voice your opinion by Monday to enter to win a $25 restaurant gift card.

This week, the recipes I’ve kept to try at a later date are Hoppin’ John from A Mingling of Tastes, Walnut and Chocolate Rugelach from Alpineberry, Baked Penne with Sausage and Ricotta from Chez Mégane, Meatballs in Saffron-Almond Sauce from Chicken Fried Gourmet, Drunken Pasta from Cream Puffs in Venice, Curry Chicken and Broccoli Casserole from Cumin & Coriander, Pasta with Swiss Chard and Onion from dinner for one, Meyer Lemon Bites from Erin’s Kitchen, Fondue Mac and Cheese from Married…with Dinner, and Beef Bourguignon from Winter Skies, Kitchen Aglow.

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In educational posts, this week, Brys at Cookthink shows us how to prep (and use) fennel, and Food Chronicles gives us a primer on spices, and Kathryn from Limes & Lycopene shows us what five servings of vegetables actually looks like, and in the same vein, Megnut shows us what 200 calories of food looks like. Definitely enlightening.

To say that this post from a fellow foodie pissed me off is an understatement. Why don’t you just round us all up and ship us off to an island where you don’t have to see us like they used to do with the lepers? I’m not a waitress, but don’t care if my waitperson is fat/skinny/whatever, as long as they are friendly and competent.

I’m having refrigerator lust over Sylvie’s new fridge. When I finally get around to remodeling my kitchen, that’s the model I want. Definitely. :)

I was just over at Trader Joe’s a couple of days ago, and I didn’t see these! I want some, but don’t want to make a special trip to TJ’s to get them because I know I’ll end up leaving with way more than those…

Until next week, folks…

December Roundup

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Friday Round Up

It’s been a busy, busy, busy month for me, and before it ended, I just wanted to take a few minutes to round up everything that caught my eye in the blogosphere this month for posterity. I’ll be returning to the normal Friday roundup format next week. Weekly events will now be replaced by a Event Calendar that you can find on the right side pane.

If you haven’t made plans for tonight yet, here’s a list of the various places in town that have something going on. Many of them require reservations, which may be filled at this point, but it’s a place to start.

And speaking of the New Year, I guess it’s time to reflect on what I’d like to accomplish, at least with food, in 2007. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

- I’d like to have a healthier relationship with food in 2007. I’d like to gain enough control over it to lose 100 lbs. by this time next year. This will mean more moderation on my part, something which I severely lacked in 2006, and also increased activity, which means I’ll need to incorporate exercise into my life. Kalyn’s post about the South Beach Diet is almost enough to convince me to give it a try, especially considering my known insulin resistance problem.

- I’d like to attend more food related functions this year – last year I attended the North Market Apron Gala and Taste the Future, which I hope to attend this year as well. I’d like to attend more industry functions and more festivals next summer.

- I’d like to learn how to take better photographs, which means learning how to use my new photo in a box for lighting, and acquiring and learning to use a DSLR by the end of the year.

- I’d like to learn how to preserve food, either by canning or cold storage, so that I can enjoy nature’s bounty in the months of no local food.

- I’d like to expand the site to include links to more restaurant menus, more local resources for foodies, and more things that make this a Columbus-centric site rather than having the focus so much on myself and my family.

- I’d like to get to know more local artisans and food producers.

- I’d like to eat out more often – I’m shooting for one restaurant review every 2 weeks, since we have plenty of places in town yet to try.

- I’d like to either establish or join a supper club this year.

There are many more small things I’d love to do, but these are the biggies for 2007.

In local restaurant news, it looks like DaVinci, which had been torn down several months ago to make way for a new strip mall, has reopened as a much smaller Caffe DaVinci at the same location. I wonder if they still have that wonderful lunch buffet?

Speaking of pictures, check out the amazing color of the fruit in this entry by winoandfoodies.com. It makes me long for early summer and Ohio strawberries!

I wish I would have seen Dumneazu’s post about Katz’s Deli before my trip to New York. I had the hardest time trying to find a decent corned beef sandwich while I was there.

Savory recipes that I’d like to try are Pork Goulash and Sauerkraut Casserole from the Columbus Dispatch, Wasabi-Crusted Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Apples, Curry, and Honey from Acme Instant Food, Roasted Butternut Squash Puree with Caramelized Onion, Goat Cheese and Sage from Adventures of a Digestive Diva, Leek and Vegetable Gratin from Albion Cooks, Migas and Holubki from Coconut & Lime, Chicken and Dumplings from Cook & Eat, Osso Buco from Cookthink, Risotto with Leek, Broccoli, and Feta from Dinner for One, Tramps on Horseback from Eat, Mustard Pork Chops and Colcannon from English Patis, Porcupine Meatballs from Flavors, Hungarian Chicken Paprikash with Pierogi from Garlicster, Kalyn’s 2006 Herb Blend from Kalyn’s Kitchen, Chicken Thighs with Balsamic Vinegar from The Kitchen – Apartment Therapy, Potato Latke Master Recipe from The Kosher Blog, Two Onion Tart from Live to Nibble, Truffle Egg Pasta from Local Eats, Farfalle with Pistachio Cream Sauce from Pinch My Salt, Orecchiette with Cherry Tomatoes and Arugula from Smitten Kitchen, Poblano Rice Cake from Too Many Chefs, Bread Pudding with Ham, Leeks, and Cheese from Trivialissimo, and Finnish Meatballs and Hummus from The Wednesday Chef.

Sweet recipes that are keepers: Fleur de Sel Caramels from 28 Cooks, Ultimate Turtle Brownies from Cooking Debauchery, Croissant Bread Pudding with Pecan Toffee Sauce from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody, 2006 Holiday Cookies from Dessert by Candy, Salted Caramel Ice Cream from Gastronome, German Pancakes from Smitten Kitchen, and Rolo Pecan Candies from Something So Clever.

In informative posts this month, The Columbus Dispatch tells us all about cheese, and in an older (but new to me and related to cheese also) post, Cake and Commerce tells us how to assemble a cheese plate. Also, Candy Addict gives us an amusing, but insightful look at Boxed Chocolate – Rules of the House. Cooking for Engineers explains how to temper chocolate, and Cookthink shows us how to prep and use leeks. The Ethicurean answers the question, What is a Whole Grain?.

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A few new foodie sites have launched. Among them is Serious Eats, a collaboration of several food bloggers, and FoodCandy.

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Anne from Anne’s Food had a post last month about what she misses from the US. Since I’ve moved from my hometown, it inspired me to reflect on what I miss from places of my past.

- I definitely miss Philly cheesesteaks something fierce. The stuff we get in Ohio doesn’t even come close – I miss the honest to goodness steaks at Jim’s Steaks, served on an Amoroso’s bun “wit Whiz” and fried onions.

- I miss cheesesteak strombolis, which are IMPOSSIBLE to find outside of the Philly/South Jersey area. If you’re lucky enough to find someplace in Columbus that makes strombolis in the first place, they will look at you like you’re insane if you ask if they can make a cheesesteak stromboli. I’ve yet to find a place that will.

- I miss Tastykakes, specifically Peanut Butter Kandykakes. So much so, that when we visitors from the East Coast, the price of admission for our accommodations are a couple of boxes of Tastykakes. We had some fantastic absolutely fresh Butterscotch Krimpets in a little corner deli in NYC, and it was pure heaven. Probably the best thing I ate my entire vacation.

- I miss Yocco’s Hot Dogs, based in Lehigh Valley, PA – this is my husband’s home area, and he introduced me to the crack which is a Yocco’s Dog. Paired with an order of three deep fried Mrs. T’s pierogies, this is manna in a paper bag. Again, we ask our East Coast visitors to bring a Doggie Pack with them when they visit.

- I miss Grandma Utz’ potato chips, the thick cut chips that are hand-cooked to perfection in lard. Sometimes, with the folded over chips, you get a caught dollop of lard, which is pure bliss.

- I miss Italian subs from Giovanni’s Deli on the corner of Oak and East in Vineland, NJ. Absolutely the best Italian sub I’ve ever had in my life, and from what I hear, 20 years later, the place is still going strong and is still the best Italian sub in Vineland, NJ.

- I miss apple strudel from Friedman’s Bakery in Vineland, NJ. This place closed a few years ago, and I haven’t been able to find a suitable replacement since.

- I miss Philly/NY style pizza. Pizza in Ohio is either cracker crust or too thick. NY style pizza is huge slices, thin soft crust under the toppings (which makes it foldable), and nice chewy outer crust. The best of bost worlds. The closest I’ve found locally is Whole Foods, believe it or not.

- I miss Puerto Rican food. You absolutely, positively can’t find it here. I keep telling myself if I opened a Puerto Rican restaurant in Columbus I’d make a killing, because the food is so delicious. In particular, every time I visit my home town I must visit Penalvert’s. Of course, this desire for Puerto Rican may be driven by the fact I have a pernil roasting in the oven as we speak. ;P

Please comment and tell me what foods you miss the most, if you’re far from your hometown in this holiday season.

Have a happy new year, everyone. I hope to be back in 2007 with lots more stuff!

Friday Roundup 12/1/06

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Columbus, Contest, Events, Friday Round Up, Meta, Recipes

If you’ve commented or emailed me in the past few weeks and not heard back from me yet, just an FYI – I’m going to spend some time this weekend catching up with answering email. Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about you, and I have read each of your comments, just haven’t had much time to respond with the holiday last week. Life is finally getting back to normal here.

About the potluck – from those of you I’ve heard from, it seems like the 16th works for most of you. I’ll be sending out an evite to everyone who has emailed me so far, so we can get together in a centralized place and maybe plan things out a bit (we wouldn’t want to end up with just desserts, right?). If you haven’t emailed me yet, drop me one before the 15th so I can get the evite out to you as well. And if all of a sudden the 16th isn’t working for anyone, let me know that too, so I can find an alternate date that works for most people who are interested. Even if you have already told me you can’t make it, you’ll be getting an invite anyway, so I can get a list of Ohio bloggers together in case this becomes a regular thing. And I’ve also sent it to a couple of people who I know are local bloggers. But don’t think that you need to be a blogger to attend. Anyone is welcome, really. I love meeting new people! If I missed you, give me a heads up. Also, is there any interest in doing a cookie swap during the potluck? Let me know.

Last week Dispatch readers voted Max & Erma’s as the best gourmet burger. What’s up with the slant toward chain restaurants in these surveys? It makes me wonder if everyone is going to them in lieu of the independent places. Or is it a price point thing? Who knows? This week, they want to know who has the city’s best bagels? I used to think it was the Great American Bagel Factory (right off of 161, by Frantz Rd in Dublin), but they closed, so I haven’t been able to find a replacement yet – I’m going to have to go with Panera on this one – I love their evverything and asiago cheese bagels. Submit your vote for a chance to win a $25 gift card.

Also in the Dispatch this week was a review for a place I’ve never heard of before called Cafe del Mundo, that has a fixed price menu of $18 for a salad, pasta, main dish and dessert. Has anyone been here yet? Is it worth a trip?

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In this week’s keeper recipes: Indian Rice Pudding from A Fridge Full of Food, Apple Pastis from Cream Puffs in Venice, Gingerbread Cupcakes with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody, Pumpkin-Sage Pasta with Blue Cheese Crumbles from Culinary Fool, Easy Taco Soup from Kalyn’s Kitchen, Chicken Tortelloni Soup from Mantia’s Musings, Chocolate Espresso and Mascarpone Tart from Milk and Cookies,and Cashew Cookies from Tasting Life…

In informative posts this week, Cook Sister! gives us a primer on the many different kinds of salt, and Cookthink shows us how to cut cabbage.

If I ever get around to turning the basement into a rec room, I must have one of these for the bar area.

And the moment you’ve all been waiting for – the winner of the chocolate contest! It’s Lisa of La Mia Cucina. Congrats! Daniel was kind enough to donate the prize gratis once I told him about the contest. :)

And speaking of chocolate, Godiva’s new pie collection look excellent – but at that price? Ouch. They can keep them.

Until next week, folks…

Friday Roundup 11/24/06

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Columbus, Friday Round Up, Holiday

This week is a little quiet on the blogging front, with most posts focused on Thanksgiving. There are only so many ways to roast a turkey, so I’ll focus on the posts that really stood out to me.

And let me just say now, Penzey’s Turkey Base rocks my world. Looks like The Food Ass agrees with my Penzey’s love. Why did it take me so long to discover the place?

Since the holiday is done and overwith, now we all have a bunch of leftovers to use up. The Columbus Dispatch suggests Turkey Panini with Farmhouse Cheddar and Cranberry Chutney or Mashed Potato and Turkey Soup.

Last week, Dispatch readers voted Bob Evans (?!? you’re kidding, right?) as best Turkey dinner. To say I thoroughly disagree is the understatement of the year. Blech. This week, they want to know who has the best gourmet burger in Central Ohio. Out of the ones I’ve tried (about half of the list), I’d have to say Elevator for eating in, Red Robin for takeout (have you guys seen the way they pack up to go orders? Awesome!). Contribute your two cents for a chance to win a $25 gift certificate.

I found it interesting that yet another publication is reviewing the Trattoria at Whole Foods – while as a whole, I’ve been unimpressed with the hot prepared foods at Whole Foods (with the pizza being an exception – their pizza rules), and have been wary to try them, this is like the 3rd or 4th in a row good review of the Trattoria that I’ve seen. I may have to give it a try soon, seeing how often I end up at Whole Foods anyway.

This week’s recipes that caught my eye: alpineberry’s Chocolate Hazelnut Tartlets, cookiesinheaven posts Bill Nicholson’s Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding with Butter Rum Sauce, Cooking Debauchery’s Butternut & Apple Risotto, Cream Puff in Venice’s Hot Buttered Pretzels, Culinary Concoctions by Peabody’s Candy Cane Meltaways, Culinary Fool’s Apple Chutney, and The Expatriate’s Kitchen’s Vanilla-Sweet Potato Pie with Pecan-Brown Sugar Crust

In instructional posts, Helen of Beyond Salmon teaches us how to work with leeks.

Well, like I said, it’s been a fairly quiet week. Until next week, folks…

Friday Roundup 11/17/06

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Columbus, Friday Round Up, Recipes, Supper Club

Wow, it looks like us locals are coming out of the woodwork! There’s yet *another* Columbus food blogger, Charise from more bread and cheese, please!. Check out her site, still very new but very promising!

Speaking of which, a few people have emailed expressing interest in some kind of potluck or supper club for the Ohio bloggers, and I’d love to host a potluck at my house sometime next month. I’m assuming that weekends are better for everyone, how is everyone for December 16th?? And which is better, afternoon or evening? Anyone who is remotely interested in either (a supper club or one-time potluck) drop me an email to columbusfoodieATgmailDOTcom with any input you have, and then I’ll send out an evite when I’ve determined a time/date that will work for most.

Dispatch readers chose the Buckeye Hall of Fame Cafe for the Best “Beat Michigan” Party – this week, they want to know which restaurant offers the city’s best turkey dinner. Another area where I have no opinion, as I always cook at home on Thanksgiving. If you have a preference, let them know and be entered to win a $25 gift card.

I was glad to see that the Dispatch did a review of Latitude 41 this week – this is one of the places I’ve been wanting to try, because of their use of local ingredients.

Everybody in the blogosphere is focused on Thanksgiving, naturally – and I came across a bunch of interesting posts on the subject. Like Saveur’s Guide to Buying Turkeys that was posted by megnut, Thanksgiving 101: Planning for Thanksgiving by the San Francisco Chronicle, and Slashfood brings us information on mastering turkey gravy and whether it’s best to cook a turkey at a high temp or low temp. They also have a link to the different holiday hotlines. I think that’s going to be the most difficult thing for me this year, with regards to getting a non-commercial turkey – no white pop-up timer to tell me when the bird is done, LOL.

Also at Slashfood, an interesting article about a bakery in my tiny hometown of Vineland, NJ. Also, the new Jones Soda 2006 Holiday Pack flavors were announced. Blech. They got me last year, not this year, no way. They were *all* yucky last year.

This week’s keeper recipes (and there are so many, due to everyone posting their Thanksgiving menus!) are Sweet Potato Cake with Coconut Pecan Cream Cheese Frosting and Cornish Hens in Cider from the Columbus Dispatch, Creamy Cauliflower Gratin from A Veggie Venture, Chewy, Chunky Blondies from Bakingsheet, Creamy Tortilla Soup from Cookin’ With Cyndi, Flaky Apple Turnovers and Chocolate Torte with Walnuts and Cognac from Cream Puffs in Venice, Breakfast Panini from Is It EDible?, Cooks Illustrated Crumb Cake from Jumbo Empanadas, Braised Pork Chops with Apples from Just Braise, Pumpkin Spice Pancakes from Laura Rebecca’s Kitchen, Corn Chowder from Limes & Lycopene, Granny Smith Apple and Brown Butter Custard Tart from Food & Wine, Creamed Corn Gratin with Fried Onion Rings and Bacon from Epicurious (link originally posted by Restaurant Widow), Caramelized Nut Tart and Toasted Turkey Cranberry Arugula Sandwich from Simply Recipes, Cashew Cookies from Tasting Life…, Pasta with Sweet Onions and Sundried Tomatoes from The Way the Cookie Crumbles, and the No-Knead Bread that everyone’s been talking about.

In instructive and educational posts, Michael from Cooking For Engineers shows us how to temper chocolate, and Daily Unadventures in Cooking tell us how to fix or season a cast-iron pan.

Megnut mentioned that Hellmann’s has changed their mayonnaise formula – say it isn’t so!! I *thought* that it tasted different, and kept telling myself “maybe I just don’t like mayo anymore!” – now I know. Hopefully it will be like new Coke, and sales will go down enough for them to revert back to the old formula. I don’t know what I’ll do in the meantime – I’m a Hellmann’s only girl for mayo, and a Heinz only girl for ketchup.

Whew, off to plan my Thanksgiving menu – expect a post about that subject tomorrow! Until next week, folks…

Friday Roundup 11/10/06

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Columbus, Eating Local, Friday Round Up, Rant

There’s a new Columbus food blogger in town – Jule from The Food Mill. If you get a chance, check out her site. It’s fairly new, but has some good recipes and food porn. I still say that we locals all need to get together for a potluck. Maybe sometime in mid-December? Any one else interested?

I also stumbled across another Columbus food-related blog – The Hot Zone Online. While I’m not a huge spicy food person, I did love their review of the local chicken wing joints. And not in Columbus, but nearby in Cincinnati, is Sorry Fugu. Check them out!

Lots of talk about Thanksgiving, with it coming up so soon now. There was a good article this week in the Dispatch about local Thanksgiving boxes and turkeys, and different options for locals. I’m personally purchasing my turkey and Thanksgiving box from my CSA, Just This Farm. I love the focus on eating local in this article.

Lisa the Restaurant Widow put together a nice list of local sources for Thanksgiving ingredients and places that will cook for you in addition to the Dispatch’s list of restaurants that are offering Thanksgiving dinners. If you’re cooking at home, check out the list of USDA Turkey Cooking Guidelines that was posted on Slashfood. And mental note: before I die, I must try a turducken.

Speaking of the Dispatch, they wrote a review on one of my favorite local brewpubs, Barley’s. We haven’t been for a while, but I’m having a craving for their sauerkraut balls and naked wings. Yum. Also, a nice mention of one of my favorite local bakeries, Pistachio, which I wrote an entry about not too long ago. Speaking of Pistachio, I just noticed that they’ve updated their menu to reflect the fall season. It looks like my husband will be making a stop there on his way home tonight! :)

So last week, Dispatch readers chose China Dynasty as the best Chinese food in town. I’ve probably passed the place a million times, but have never tried it. Now I think I’ll have to, since good Chinese is so hard to find. What I find hard to believe, though, is that a chain (P.F. Chang’s) won out over Hunan Lion. Although P.F. Chang’s is good, I have to respectfully disagree.

This week, they want to know which restaurant offers the city’s best Beat Michigan Gameday Party? Unfortunately, this is another one I’ll have to abstain from. As a New Jersey transplant, I don’t bleed Buckeye red (could care less about football, actually), so I’ve never been anywhere near a restaurant during the Michigan game. But all of you die-hard football fans, give them your input and you enter into the draw to win a $25 gift card.

With fall in full swing, and winter right around the corner, most of the recipes posted by others have been just the right thing for the cold days ahead. I’ve bookmarked a ton. Here’s this weeks keepers: Brown Sugar & Spice Pumpkin Bars from [Gluten Free] Goddess, Apple and Pear Flognarde from Cook & Eat, Chocolate Stout Cake from Smitten Kitchen, Applesauce from Gluten-Free Girl, Roasted Kobocha with Brown Butter from Oishii Eats, and Pear Clafoutis from Slashfood.

In informational posts, Chrispy of Experimentation of Taste tells us everything you ever wanted to know about winter squash, Kalyn’s Kitchen posts an archive of South Beach Diet friendly recipes, Jenny of Lox, Stock and Barrel show us how to roast garlic (old link, but first time I’m seeing it), and Slashfood provides us with a list of surprisingly healthy foods.

Recipe search time. This is a new feature in the round-ups, where I’ll post what I’m looking for, and maybe one of you can point me to a recipe for it. If I’m posting it here, trust me – I’ve searched high and low for a recipe and haven’t found one. This week? I’m looking for a recipe for bassma (Middle Eastern pistachio pastry) and roast stuffed breast of veal (w/ a bread stuffing). Also, anyone know of a local source for veal breast?

Gastroville wrote an entry about their experience at the French Laundry. What surprised me was the cost of the meal. $900 to $1500?? For one meal?? Good Lord. My mortgage payment is less than that. Even the cost of the meal before extras and beverages ($420 for a couple) is more than I usually spend on groceries in a month.

I fancy myself a foodie, and in the social circles I run in, my tastes are a little more “gourmetish” than most of my family and friends, but…lets face it folks, I’m no gourmet. And I never will be. I like food that tastes good. I could afford to eat at The French Laundry if I wanted to – but (and bring on the flames here if ya’ll want) I don’t think I want to. The descriptions of most of the food really didn’t do much for me. I’d love to try Waygu beef, but not if it’s going to cost me $100 extra on top of the $210 I’m already paying for two tiny little slices (not even a whole steak!). Give me a nicely marbled ribeye from Bluescreek anyday over that stuff.

I’m not crazy about gourmet food, which is probably why I’ll never be a regular at The Refectory or L’Antibes or any restaurants of that type. It’s pretty to look at, and it tastes good (at least most of the time), but I feel out of place eating there. It’s just not me. I’m all about comfort food, food that reaches out and hugs you in the memories that are wrapped in it. It’s all about the nostalgia factor for me. Like reproducing my Oma’s dishes in her honor and to get back some of what I lost when she died. My favorite restaurants have comfort food on the menu, almost exclusively.

I’m not crazy about wine. I, for the most part, just don’t like it. But we get strange looks in nice restaurants when we order water or pop with our meal. I’m no less of a foodie because I’m not asking for the wine list.

So even though I love to experiment, and try new things, most of what you’ll see here is the embodiment of me – simple, unassuming, excited about food and my love of sharing stuff with other people and cooking for those that I love. Plain and simple. It may never make a top 10 list of best food blogs, but it is what it is. Enjoy the ride. :)

Not to disparage those who do molecular gastronomy or high end gourmet. I love to look at your pictures, read about your experiences. I love to live vicariously through your entries. You’ll just probably never find those entries on my blog.

We’re off to Cleveland for a concert on Tuesday. Any suggestions for a good place to eat?

Until next week, folks…

Friday Roundup 11/3/06

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Friday Round Up, Meta, Recipes

Really short roundup this week, folks. It’s been hectic around here, and I haven’t had as much time for food blog reading as I usually do.

Dispatch readers voted Dub Pub as having the best happy hour in town. This week, they want to know who has the best Chinese food in town. My vote goes to Hunan Lion (up on Bethel in northwest Columbus), top notch quality food every time I’ve been there. Cast your vote and be entered to win a $25 gift card to the winning restaurant.

I’m starting to have quite a collection of recipes from other bloggers – so much so that I’ve been printing them out and making a nice little cookbook of “to try” recipes. This week, I add these recipes to the collection: Pork and Sauerkraut Supper from the Columbus Dispatch, Luscious Lemon Bars and a Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart from alpineberry, Snicker Cookies from Cookie Madness, Decadent Sausage and Lentils from Becks & Posh, Crostata di fichi from foodbeam, Apple Spice Cake from Just Braise, and Salted Caramel and Milk Chocolate Mousse from The Wednesday Chef

In educational posts, Rachel from Coconut & Lime shows us how to de-seed a pomegranate, and Stefanie from Cumin & Coriander teaches us how to make naan.

Until next week, folks…

Friday Roundup 10/27/06

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Columbus, CSA, Eating Local, Farmer's Market, Freebie, Friday Round Up, Meta, Produce, Recipes

Well, I’m back – computer problems are mostly handled (I got a new system out of the deal, but there was a ton of stuff on the old computer that I really need – food photos, my calendar, etc. – which I may or may not be able to get back, don’t know yet). We’re trying to get the old system to operational status – since the boot drive was the one that went paws up, that means we have to install a new hard drive with a new OS, and try to access the dead drive as a secondary drive. It will take me a little longer tonight to get out the events posting, since all of my links to the different Columbus event sources went bye-bye with the hard drive.

I had the pleasure of meeting Lisa the Restaurant Widow this week, and let me tell you, folks – she’s as friendly and warm in person as she is in her entries. She even brought me a copy of Donna Hay magazine when she realized I had never heard of her (thanks again, BTW!) I’m going to be having dinner with Rosie and her husband this weekend, and can’t wait! :) We Columbus food bloggers should all get together and have a potluck sometime soon. Or a get-together at a restaurant. Or something.

I can’t believe that tomorrow is the last farmer’s market of the season! :( I’m playing around with the idea of stocking up on necessities (like potatoes, onions, squash, root veggies, etc) and doing some cold storage this winter. Probably not, though, as I didn’t leave much time to prepare. I’ll definitely get enough to last me the better part of the next month, though. Now that I’ve made eating local a way of life, winters are going to depress the hell out of me. Next year’s plan? Lots of canning and food preservation, so I can still have the taste of June strawberries in December. I don’t think I’m going to do the CSA next year, though. It was a great experience, but just too much food and too much waste when we couldn’t get through the share every week. There’s about 3 more weeks of CSA left. :)

Speaking of CSA, is it sad that I’m already planning out Thanksgiving dinner? I’ll be getting a 15-18 organic pasture raised turkey from Just This Farm, the same place I have my CSA share with. Along with that, he’s offering a box that includes most of the ingredients you need for Thanksgiving (enough to feed 6-8 adults) for $48. Turkey is $3.49/lb. so I’ll probably end up spending about the same as if I were going conventional. I’m still undecided if I’m going to do my typical spread, or if I’m going to try some new recipes this year. Probably a mix of both, with some new dishes thrown in along with the old ones (for example, my husband would kill me if I stuffed the bird with anything other than my usual stuffing recipe). I’ll probably have my menu finalized in another week or two. We’re playing around with the idea of buying some grass-fed beef from him too, to get us through the winter. I usually get these things at Bluescreek or at the farmer’s market – we’ll see if we have the freezer space available.

I was so glad to see that Blogging Ohio reviewed one of my favorite restaurants in Columbus, the Starliner Diner. We’ll be heading there this weekend, so expect me to post a review of our meal there sometime next week. :)

Also featured in the Dispatch this week was one of my favorite places to eat breakfast, Nancy’s Home Cooking. Totally uncomplicated, down-home comfort food, just like eating at mom’s. If you get down that way, give it a try. You can’t go wrong with *anything* on the menu.

Go to any Chipotle location on Tuesday, October 31st dressed like a Chipotle burrito, taco, bol or salad, and they’ll give you a free burrito. I think I’d spend more on wrapping myself in foil then I would paying for a ‘rito. Just saying.

L’Antibes is for sale. Along with The Refectory, you can count the number of French restaurants in this town on one hand. I haven’t had the opportunity to try either yet (although I’m dying to get to The Refectory for their three-course prix fixe bistro menu for $21 per person – from what I hear, one of the best deals in Columbus). I don’t know if I should keep putting off my visit to L’Antibes, though – if it does sell soon, there’s no telling how much the menu will change, let alone whether or not it will remain a French restaurant. Is anybody familiar enough with both restaurants to tell me which one *you* prefer? Thanks. :)

Dispatch readers said that Giammarco’s has the best lasagna in town. Can’t say for sure, haven’t been there. To those who have, is it worth a visit? Even though I like most of my Italian rustic, I like lots of stuff in my lasagna, which is why I usually prefer to make it myself. This week, they want to know who has the city’s best happy hour? I’m going to have to sit this one out, too – I don’t usually eat out during happy hour (and I’m not a huge bar person), so I wouldn’t know. Put in your two cents and enter to win a $25 gift certificate.

My goal for November, in honor of National Blog Posting Month, is to blog every day of next month. I came close this month until my computer decided it wanted to die. November is my month! I can feel it! :)

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My “keeper” recipes for this week (ones that I want to try ASAP) are: Creamy Delicata Squash from A Finger in Every Pie, Creamy Pumpkin Cheesecake with Ginger-Pecan Crust from alpineberry, Spinach and Feta Quiche (wow! I wish my pictures came out like that!) from Bron Marshall, My Favorite Beef Stew from Chez Mégane, Warm Tarragon Dressed Potato Salad from Coffee & Cornbread, Crunchy, Hearty Oatmeal Cookies from Cookie Madness, Baked Oatmeal from Everybody Likes Sandwiches, Paneer Makhani from Hooked on Heat, Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Apple Cider Jus and Autumn Vegetable Stew with Mashed Sweet Potato Topping from Ja Mange la Ville, Crock Pot Carnitas from Kayaksoup, Garam Masala from The Kitchen – Apartment Therapy, Paneer Pad Thai with Bok Choy from Mahanandi, Potato-Ricotta Salata Gnocchi from Porcini Chronicles, Creamy Macaroni and Cheese from Smitten Kitten, Kitchen Sink Eggs from Tigers & Strawberries, Scotch Eggs from tsogb,and Spiced Candied Pecans from Slashfood.

In informative posts this week, Dave from KitchenSavvy answers the question How Long Can Cooked Food be Left Out?, and learn all about making soup with WhiteTrashBBQ.

CarbWire talks about huge portion sizes in restaurants this week, and I’ve honestly got to agree. I’ll go to a restaurant, order beef stew, and get the equivalent size bowl and serving as what fed my whole family of 4 in a meal when I was growing up. The only way I can come close to finishing a serving these days is to not eat an appetizer or dessert. Most of the time, I’m boxing up darn near everything, and get the “was everything OK”? question from the waiter/waitress. Yup, everything’s fine – just can’t eat this much food in one sitting! I’d rather get half as much food for half the price. I think that’s why I’ve been wanting to go to places like the Refectory lately. Smaller serving sizes, but rich enough to satisfy. My mom and I were having this discussion a while ago. I’d rather have a small serving of really good food, rather than a huge serving of crap. Anyone with me on this?

Until next week, folks…