Thursday, May 20, 2010

Restaurant Review: Poppy

We took a break from our 5 for 50.00 week to go on a date.  As we are a month away from having another little munchkin we thought we better get our carpe diem on and try out Poppy, a Seattle restaurant that food critics stumble over each other to rave about.  Chef Jerry Traunfeld (of The Herbfarm and Top Chef Masters fame) has created a truly unique dinning experience on Capitol Hill.  He has taken the Indian concept of "thali", in which guests are offered a platter of small dishes and fused it with his passion for herbs, spices and seasonal ingredients.  Back in the day, "when we were single" (that is what we call our pre-kid stage) we loved to try new restaurants but now are our time and finances seem more precious.  My point is that I thought I had tried it all and I was beginning to get a little snobby.  Poppy is a refreshing reminder that there are chefs out there that are not only creating new flavor profiles but presenting them in ways that enhance the dinning experience.

I would be remiss to not mention how fabulous the bartender is at Poppy.  They have an amazing list of non-alcoholic drinks like a passion fruit and lavender soda and according to Steve the "Papi Delicious", tequila, curacao, red bell pepper, jalapenos, lime and mint packs the perfect amount of punch.  There are a ton of frutier fare, if I just scared you with that one.

...and finally for those of you who scanned this post to get to the part about desserts.
 I had fully intended on getting the dessert thali, especially after my midwife had gushed about it earlier in the day but I forgot that my stomach was jammed up somewhere in my chest and by the time it was time...tragically there was little room left.  Any pain and discomfort was worth it to experience pastry chef Dana Cree's hot date cake with banana ice cream and butterscotch.  My spoon may or may not have karate chopped Steve's to get a better bite.  Next time I will safe room for the thali so I can get a little taste of everything.

Other things you must try, eggplant fries with sea salt and honey, potato pakoras with cilantro lime sauce, grilled artichoke with white anchovy and herbed aioli, obviously I could go on.

Here I sit, salivating at my keyboard.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Trying Out Martha Stewart's 5 Meals For 50.00

We are constantly trying to get our grocery bill down which is tough when, as Steve quipped last night, "food is a huge part of our relationship".  Indeed.  We found this article in the April issue Martha Stewart's Everyday Food and tucked it away mostly because we found it hard to believe.  Surprisingly, our grocery bill came to 54.00 even though we purchased some expensive organic products.  I would recommend getting the chicken at Costco because they have organic chicken for more reasonable prices than the grocery store.  Another plus with these meals is that they are made for four so we can eat the 2 extra portions for lunch the next day.  I have included the shopping list and all the recipes below.  Steve made the pasta with zucchini last night (out of order but I was craving pasta).  It was very good.  We decided when we make it again we will slice the zucchini a little thicker as some pieces got a little too crispy.  Also, we like more acid in our food so we would recommend adding the juice of the lemon not just zest.

I will give a recap at the end of the week but even if every dish doesn't make me do a dance the process is certainly an excellent reminder that a little planning can save you money and reduce waste.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

How to make your floors shine like the top of the Chrysler building.

So, I briefly mentioned my Shark steam mop last week here and apparently I am not the only person who hates to mop.  While I feel like a bit of a poser giving cleaning advice I am going to channel my Norwegian grandma and share my new system.  I really have Steve to blame for this because he swore that he had seen a friend of ours use a Swiffer that was also a vacuum.  Once we had validated its existence I began to think, hey, is he trying to get me to do some cleaning (he usually does all the vacuuming and dusting) this thing is so light and easy to use.  So instead of waiting until the weekend when he lugs out our mammoth vacuum I can easily clean the kitchen floor daily. This means I no longer walk around my house with bits of basil, granola and chopped onion stuck to the bottom of my feet, hurray!  You can find the Swiffer Vacuum starter kit online for $30-$40 or at places like Fred Myer.  It comes with 2 dry sweeping refills so recommend buying a big box of refills from Costco (much cheaper).  

Now with a debris free floor the issue of mopping must be addressed.  Maybe I was scarred from watching "Annie" one too many times, "You'll stay up till this dump shines like the top of the Chrysler building."  Anyone?  There are two versions of the Shark steam mop.  I have the cheaper version which essentially means that the cord is shorter, has smaller water capacity, and the pad doesn't flip over.  If you want to see all the details go here.  We got ours on sale for around $60 at Fred Myer.  I know that they carry the higher end model for around $100 at Costco.  
Why do I love it so?  
No cleaning solution = no chemicals
Pads are washable = no waste
 It is light

Look at her smile and hold it with one hand.

But most of works, the steam filled pad picks up all the fine dust and dried up spills.  

If I had a time machine I would go back and help little orphan Annie off her knees and hand her a steam mop.

I am sure I am forgetting important info in my over enthused state so, comment, email or Facebook me any questions.

**I should mention that this "method" works for all surfaces but carpet.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Island Pork Tenderloin Salad

I should have had you all over for dinner last night.  I halved the recipe and we still laughed as the two of us sat down to eat.  I love this salad because the flavor profile is so different from what I am used to.  The pork tenderloin is rubbed with; cinnamon, cumin, and chili powder and seared in a pan.  Then it's topped with a paste of brown sugar, garlic and Tabasco and roasted in the oven until the pork is tender and juicy.  The dressing has orange and lime juice and lots of toasted curry powder...definitely not something that I would think up.  I'll shut up and give you the recipe now.


I decided to make this salad to try out my new Calphalon non stick pan.  I haven't made it recently because you need a non stick pan that can go in the oven.  All my pans are All-Clad and I really love them except for the non stick which, after five years is ruined.  Very disappointing.  According to the reviews I have read I am not the first to complain about this.  Anyways, I found this 12" pan at TJ Maxx for half the price and I love it.  It is non stick all the way through, unlike the All-Clad which appears to only have a coating.

Quick tip: We don't buy salad dressing very often.  It is often loaded with a lot of things I can't pronounce and I find making it to be pretty easy.  I just use a jar, add all the ingredients and shake until emulsified.  You keep the leftover dressing in the container you made it in and there is little clean up.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Fireplace Planter Box

After all that talk about de-cluttering and easy cleaning I have gone and done the stupidest thing.  But my desire to live out my own childhood fantasies has trumped common sense.

So, come visit little dust mites,  build your web here spiders.  I don't care because if I could I would climb into this patch of flowers and take a nap with the butterflies.  Yes, I still kind of believe in fairies.
Last time you saw it looked like this.

After a visit to the dollar store I was armed with flowers and floral sponge.

I let Pearl poke all the flowers into the sponge, which was nice of me because it is oddly satisfying.  All I had to do next was arrange the rectangles in the box.  I had to use rocks to hold down the tall flowers.  

Once everything was in place I bent the flowers to give them a more natural shape and added dollar store butterflies.  I am searching for a little metal watering can so Pearl can "water" her flowers.  I think I have found the fountain of youth.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Floating Nightstands for the Allergy Kid

Have I mentioned that I am the allergy kid?  Nicknamed "The Fog Horn" in college I have suffered both ridicule and congestion for far too long.  So, I am changing my ways and trying to de-clutter our house so that there are less places for the dust to hide.  I am serious about this people.  We bought a Shark steam mop (which rules by the way) and I am literally lifting furniture off the floor. 
Case in point: My ever growing stack of books and nightstand house a colony off dust bunnies (and you know how fast bunnies multiply).  I have refrained from showing Steve's side of the bed because he didn't sign up for full disclosure.  Today I had the brainstorm to turn two Ikea crates we had into floating nightstands. 
A few screws later and I am practically dancing with my steam mop. 

Matching nightstands.  Dreams really do come true.  I still need to find a window covering and some bedside lights; but I am breathing out of both nostrils so life is pretty much perfect right now.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Healthy Eating: Color and Presentation Matter.

Does the way our food look matter?  It certainly must, in that many foods contain harmful dyes used to add a pop of eye catching color. Cereal, jam, noodles, soup you would be shocked to know what goes into these foods to make them more visually appealing. We truly tend to "eat with our eyes first" but this doesn't have to be a bad thing.  I got to thinking about this today around lunch time...shocking I know.  Growing up my mom always made sure that the dinner plate had a variety of colors on it, which I found quite odd.  Turns out it wasn't some bizarre Norwegian maxim.  In fact, some guy (the director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition, no less) even wrote a book called, "What Color Is Your Diet?".  Go mom.  So, we can eat healthier by making sure that our meals are diverse in natural color and we can take a little time on the presentation (even if it is just for ourselves), so that the feast isn't just for our stomach but for eyes as well.

I love to eat this for breakfast or lunch.  Whole wheat toast, Laughing Cow garlic herb cheese, a slice of prosciutto, topped with an egg, sunny side up.
To add some color; avocado, tomato, and basil.

I find that I eat my food slower when it is pretty to look at.  Not surprising in that beauty often causes one to linger.

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