Party Recipes and Notes

Just a quick aside to those of you who attended the BBQ here yesterday and asked me for recipes – like I said, nearly everything I made has been blogged about before, but to save you some time from looking through the archives, here’s a quick list of links to the recipes.

The pears were drizzled with Lavender Honey from Mockingbird Meadows. You can buy it at her stand at the Worthington Farmers Market.

The cheeses that were on the cheese plate were Rogue River Blue, Cypress Grove Purple Haze, Brie with Rohini’s Medium Hot Cranberry Chutney, Rembrandt (Aged Gouda), and Port Salut. You can get Rogue River Blue at Curds and Whey at the North Market, and the Cypress Grove can be found practically anywhere (it’s on sale right now for $5.99 at the Whole Foods on Lane Ave). Brie and Port Salut can be found in any supermarket. The only place I’ve been able to find the Rembrandt locally is Giant Eagle. Rohini’s Chutney can be purchased on Saturday at the Worthington Farmers Market or Wednesdays at the Westerville Farmer’s Market.

I haven’t blogged about the fruit dip yet, but it’s a simple recipe – 1 box of Jello Vanilla Pudding mix to 1 small container of Cool Whip to 1 pint of sour cream. Mix it all together and chill overnight. I made my version low-fat/low-sugar by using light sour cream, Cool Whip Lite, and No Sugar Added Vanilla pudding.  The little yellow orbs that were on the fruit plate next to the grapes were ground cherries. I got them this past weekend at the North Market farmers market at the Wayward Seed Farms stand. The grape variety was Canadice, also available at the North Market Farmers Market at the Orchard of Bill and Vicky Thomas. The yellow fleshed watermelon is from Wish Well Farms (also North Market Farmers Market).

The variety of wine I poured was Piemonte Moscato 2005 and/or 2007. It’s currently my favorite wine. It’s available for $9.99/bottle at Grapes of Mirth in the North Market.

I hope this has answered any questions you all had about what was served. If you have any more, don’t hesitate to ask. I had a wonderful time, thank you everyone who came and brought something for making the party a success! (Anne, could I please have your yogurt cheese recipe? It was wonderful!)

Happy Birthday to Me

Today is my birthday, and I have just got to say that I’m the luckiest girl alive. See what my wonderful husband made me, from scratch? :::swoon::: It tastes as good as it looks.

Italian Cream Cake

Italian Cream Cake
recipe courtesy Southern Living Magazine
serves 12

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
5 large eggs, separated
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup flaked coconut

Nutty Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 cup chopped pecan, toasted
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 (16 ounce) package powdered sugar, sifted

Beat butter and shortening at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating until well blended after each addition.
Add vanilla; beat until blended.

Combine flour and soda; add to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in coconut.
Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; fold into batter.

Pour batter into three greased and floured 9-inch round baking cakepans. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans, and cool on wire racks. Spread Nutty Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake.

Nutty Cream Cheese Frosting: Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla at medium speed with and electric mixer until creamy. Add sugar, beating at low speed until blended. Beat at high speed until smooth; stir in pecans.

A Change in Focus

As most of you know, I had a revision to my gastric bypass back in January, to an extremely malabsorptive surgery that means that my body doesn’t absorb much of what I take in. Because of that, what I take in has an order of priority – protein first, then veggies, then carbs, and I should be avoiding sugar. I have been kind of blowing that off a bit in recent months, and now my health is starting to suffer for it. My weight loss has stalled, and I’ve been running into issues where my levels of protein and iron are really much lower than they should be. So much so, that I’ve been losing hair like crazy. So with my health in mind, I’ve really got to change to focus of the way I’ve eat, concentrating on that which is good for me, and cutting out (or at the very least, cutting down on) that which is hurting me.

Not only that, but the downturn in the economy is hitting us especially hard, and we’ve been trying to cut costs as much as possible. I’ve been participating in a lot of weekly/biweekly/monthly events, like Tuesdays with Dorie, Taste and Create, the Barefoot Bloggers and Whisk Wednesdays, where I’ve made a committment to make certain things at a certain time. Often, because of that, I end up having to make things I would normally never make or eat, and then the results get given away or thrown away – a huge waste that I just can’t afford anymore.

So from here on out, the focus is going to be on eating what I need to eat – high protein, lower or better carb, lower (or no) sugar, fat doesn’t matter. I’m pulling myself out of all the recurring events like the ones mentioned above. I’ll cook along (since the recipes are listed for the groups) when I can, or when it fits into my plans or lifestyle. The change will be gradual, as I still have a ginormous backlog of posts (like 40+) that will be sprinkled throughout intermittently. Does this mean I’ll never make pasta? Or desserts? Or cook with sugar? Or eat out? On the contrary. I’ll still be doing that, but on my terms, and what fits into my lifestyle. I’ve been so obsessed with blogging events that I’ve let it take over my menu planning. If something in my backlog happens to fit in with an event, or a planned dish coincides with an event, sure I’ll still participate.

Gluttony got me where I am now. And with all of the desserts and rich foods I’ve been making, I’ve fallen back into bad habits. Right now my health is the most important thing. And this food blog still fits into the equation, but as with me, it evolves. It still has a Columbus focus, it still is about what I cook and where I go out to eat, it’s still about eating local and visiting the farmers markets, just in a different (more healthy and frugal) way. I hope to cook my way through my huge pantry and freezer stores by the end of the year (gotta clean house in order to make room for the more healthy stuff). I hope those of you who come here for my event posts will still visit, as I will still visit (and comment when I can) on all of your blogs.

And for those of you who aren’t into that sort of thing, and who won’t visit anymore because of the change of focus (and I hope that there aren’t many of you), I want to give you a hearty and hearfelt goodbye. Your visits and supportive comments over the course of this blog have meant the world to me, and I’m sad to see you go. Please do take the time to say goodbye, as I’ll miss you.

Meanwhile, onward and upward, and hopefully I’ll see the numbers on the scale go down while the protein and iron climb up. :)

Grill Lust

::pant::pant::pant::

That’s it. I absolutely must have it. I’ve been planning my outdoor kitchen for a while, never finding quite what I was looking for. Then I spied this, just before I was going to order the grill I had settled on.

I wants it. And I will haves it. My Precioussss. 40,000 BTU grill. 15,000 BTU searing burner. Rotisserie. Sink. Refrigerator. Granite countertops. 2 burners and a griddle. It’s modular, so it will fit my deck. It’s nicer than my indoor kitchen, and I just may take all my cooking outdoors this year. Impulse buy? Maybe. But all you locals are invited over for BBQ later this summer. :) Off to wear out the credit card…

All Apologies

It’s come to my attention that I’ve been a really bad blogger, pretty much flaking on everything blog related for the past week or so, in lieu of food taking a back seat to pretty much everything else going on right now. I apologize profusely.

However, my absence doesn’t mean I didn’t eat or cook – I certainly did, and do have so much to talk about. So in the next few days, keep your eyes peeled for:

  • my Tuesdays with Dorie assignment this week, making marshmallows! (Actually, I’ll be posting this in a couple of minutes)
  • my Jewish inspired meal from this weekend
  • my trip report (unfortunately, no pics – I forgot the camera) of my trip to G&R Tavern in Waldo for fried bologna
  • my (almost) local German meal that I made here at home
  • an update on my progress with the Kitchn’ Cure 2008 – I’m combining the first few weeks together, and am getting there slowly but surely
  • and the results of my first attempt at using a pressure cooker!

Thanks for checking up on me, I’m AOK. :)

8 Step Kitchn Cure 2008 – Week 1 (Before)

OK, I have a major confession to make: my kitchen is a frickin’ mess. I’ve got a big problem with stockpiling food. I think it stems from being really poor (I had three jobs – 1 full time and 2 part time, all paying minimum wage at the time; if that’s not a good reason for going back to school and getting my GED and later on a bachelor’s degree, nothing is!) and not being able to afford to eat when I was first out on my own, and now that I have money to afford food, I overcompensate and buy way more than I can ever use. I am the person that hungry family members come to when they want to go shopping in my pantry. I’ve given away nearly all my pantry stores and restocked them more times than I can count. When we had to throw away nearly 100 lbs. of food last month after the mice came to visit, I didn’t blink an eye because I’ve given away that much (or more) to food pantries or family members in the past. What you see here is what’s left AFTER getting rid of what the mice ate – I haven’t restocked at all.

So knowing how pathetic I am in this area, and knowing that I really need to get things organized (I’m sure I still have spices that have been around since I got married in 1996), I signed up for Apartment Therapy: The Kitchen’s 8 Step Kitchn Cure 2008. I’m sure the assignments will take me a little longer to complete since I’m probably the worst of the bunch, but believe you me, I’m committed (or maybe should be, given the state of my kitchen!). It’s not going to be pretty, folks. But if you’re curious to see what Columbus Foodie’s kitchen looks like in the “before” state, click on over to Flickr. Make sure to hover over the pics to see my notes, and read the comments below each one. Wish me luck, this will probably take me all weekend to get through. If I’m lucky. And do nothing else but.

Eeek! A Mouse!

I have meant to work my way through the pantries for ages now, but now I’m at the point where some unwelcome visitors in the house have forced the issue.

We were searching the other day for matzo ball mix, and when we finally found the box, it was stuck to two others, with a mouse sized hole through all three and totally empty. Yikes, that’s one hungry mouse. Since then, we’ve been going through the pantry throwing away anything the mice got into (or got infiltrated with mice droppings/urine), and after only having gone through the bottom of each pantry, we’ve already had to throw away about 70 lbs. of food with about 3/4 of the pantry left to go through. Anything that is untouched/still usable but susceptible to mice (in boxes, bags, etc) are going in jumbo plastic bins for storage until the mice have been erradicated. All we’ve been able to determine so far is that one is Jewish (hence it’s love for kasha and matzo ball mix), one’s on South Beach (because it ate all my whole wheat pasta, and left the regular stuff alone), one has celiac disease (because it ate all of the gluten free pasta and bread mix), and one wants to go on vacation (because it has eaten all the tropical stuff like coconut and dried tropical fruit).

We still haven’t figured out how they got in (we have a fairly new house, only 3 years old), or where they’re currently hiding (let’s just say that as we’re going through the pantry we’re convinced we’re going to come across them sooner or later, and have our guard up), but hopefully with the aid of some mouse catching baits and traps, we can get rid of this problem, and fast. In the meantime, it’s a battle of speed and wits with me vs. the mice, and I’ve been very motivated to do a lot of cooking out of the pantry lately.

Snow Shoveler’s Breakfast

I fed the husband before sending him out to shovel snow. We figured he’d burn off this burly breakfast in no time flat. And he did. Even though he has only finished half the driveway so far. Suddenly, paying the neighbor boy $15 to shovel the rest doesn’t seem like a bad deal. But I think we’ll wait until it stops snowing.

snowshovelersbreakfast

Nonetheless, breakfast was GOOOOOD. Something about being snowbound and having nothing to do and nowhere to go makes lazy Saturday afternoon brunches (and the time it takes to make them) seem worthwhile. Clicky through if you want to see a tagged version of what we had.

Blizzard of 2008

Here I am reporting directly from Blizzard Central, where it’s STILL snowing, and will continue to do so for several hours. It looks like I didn’t have to worry about making it to the farmer’s market anyway, as it got cancelled.

Here’s a picture of our deck, with a foot already on the ground and another 3-5 inches yet to come. Notice the dog shaped path through the snow. Our Beagle was doggie-paddling through it, with our Shih Tzu close on her heels as the snow was over her head. I don’t think I’ll be leaving the house for days….

Update 3PM: Still no signs of stopping, and coming down like gangbusters. The news says that we still have a ways to go, and have set new records with a total snowfall of 18 inches in less than 24 hours. If you have plans to dine out tonight, make sure you call the restaurant to make sure it’s open today – many popular ones are closed at least for today (like Bexley Monk, Elevator, Cameron Mitchell Restaurants, The Clarmont, Boston Market, Rotolos, Rusty Bucket, Schmidt’s, to name a few). Keep up with the lastest closings/cancellations here. We’re under a Level 2 snow emergency here in Columbus at the moment, but please – it’s bad out there. Don’t drive unless you have to. Stay warm and stay safe. More updates later….

Admin Note: More Medical Woes

Just a quick note to let you all know that I’m not dead…yet. I’m having major setbacks with healing from my surgery, and will be heading to the ER and probably the operating room later today. I’m not sure how long I’ll be in the hospital – could be 2 days, could be 6 weeks, depending on whether or not they can get out all the infection or if there are any complications. I will try to have Paul bring the laptop so I can update, but can’t guarantee it. If you want to keep abreast of what’s going on with me medically, keep an eye on my surgery journal. Either Paul or I should be updating it regularly. Thanks everyone for your well wishes, and for your patience while I’ve been a very lax blogger.

Update: Apparently the antibiotics are doing their job, and when I went to the ER, they told me that I had no infection and as long as the wound heals properly, I’ll be fine. Thank goodness for better living through science.