I talk about food a lot. And other stuff.

But mostly food.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Apples to Apples

The kids and I did a side-by-side taste test of two varieties of Minnesota apple: The beloved Honeycrisp and the new Sweetango.  

Top: Sweetango with its speckley skin
Bottom: Honeycrisp with its rich color

Apples, switched.  Honeycrisp on top, Sweetango on bottom.

Left: Honeycrisp - sweet and tart
Right: Sweetango - explosion of sweet (doing the tango on my tongue, I presume)

The Sweetango won unanimously.  I have a friend who thinks the skin of the Sweetango has a powdery taste, but it was an absolute landslide for me.  I think if I ate it whole, I might have had a different experience with the speckley, imperfect skin, as my friend did.  But in our house we cut up apples and eat them in slices because only one of us is likely to come close to eating a whole apple.  I also like a super sweet apple, and that's just what I got with the Sweetango.  

Don't get me wrong, Minnesotans, I'm not a Communist or anything; I love the Honeycrisp.  But in comparison one right after the other, I had to go with the sweeter of the two.  (And Sweetango was developed at the University of Minnesota, too, so don't judge me.) 

If you can get your hands on a Sweetango, give it a try and let me know what you think.

Friday, September 24, 2010


Hey, did you hear?  Summer's over!  At least if you live in Minnesota it is.  It happens fast and furious here.  One fine early September day it's 90 degrees, the next day it's 60 and you're lucky to see 73 again til May.

Never fear!  I grill all winter long.  Also, there are oven S'Mores.

Chocolate chips and mini marshmallows in a bowl.

Put 'em under the broiler (or, if you're really impatient, the microwave)

Eat with graham crackers.  Happy Autumn!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Try something new!

The other day I had a hankerin' to try some new recipes.  Well, that and I couldn't figure out what was for dinner so I emptied the fridge and then went searching through my cookbooks for recipes using the stuff I had.  I had a lot of zucchini and summer squash and some left over grilled corn.  Martha Stewart told me to make Creamy Zucchini Soup and Corn Fritters with my chicken.

The soup would have been good if it hadn't tasted only of salt.  The first thing you do is sweat onions and A TABLESPOON of salt.  Yeah.  Don't do that.  I threw in some extra potatoes after the first taste to try to dull the flavor and boost the texture.  No dice.  This soup met it's garbage disposal fate about 10 minutes into its life.


The corn fritters, on the other hand, were pretty awesome.  There's hardly any batter - it just holds the corn together while it crisps up in the pan.  I will definitely make these again.  And if you're ever wondering if you can substitute grits for cornmeal, the answer is yes - but I got cornmeal for next time to make it more corny.  You know I love my corny.

Corny Goodness FTW!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Empty the Camera - Breakfast

Empty the Camera is a series where I share things that don't have enough story for their own big ol' post.  Enjoy, won't you?

My kids' left-over restaurant spaghetti with butter served with a fried egg and bacon.

Sweet potato hash with an omelette with greens, scallions.  I bet there's cheese in there somewhere, too.

Nice Melons.
(Sugar Baby, Muskmelon)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Healthy Weight

I'm reading about healthy weight in this month's EatingWell magazine and went to their BMI calculator.  I'm on the cusp of overweight right now, and have started to make better choices so I can fit back into the healthy range by making sustainable lifestyle changes.  Let's face it, it's also so I can feel good about being in a bathing suit in January, as I did not this summer.  But I was struck by playing around with the numbers on this calculator.  How is it that the "healthy range" for my height has a difference of 42 pounds?  At my lightest last summer, at 156, I was still 4 pounds heavier than the Middle of that range?  The range is 132 - 174.  You mean I would still be in the healthy range if I had kept going and lost another Twenty-Four pounds?! I personally don't think that a 5' 10" 132 pound woman fits into a category called "healthy".  Seems REALLY SKINNY to me. 
Is it just because I'm back on the "heavy side" of that range, or does that seem off to anyone else?  I have a light bone structure.  Even at my heaviest, I still had skinny little wrists.  It doesn't seem like I could even get to 132 unless I stopped eating all together.  And we all know how healthy that would be (and how impossible).  It makes me wonder about the criteria for BMI calculators.  What does "healthy" mean? So I went to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site, and it says a healthy weight is within the range of 5% - 85% percentile of age, height and weight.  Five percent?!  Seems like an enormous range to me.  And if you're going to use 85% as the upper range (with 85 - 95% being "overweight" and 95%+ being "obese"), wouldn't you think that you'd at least even it up an use 15% on the bottom range?  I wonder if the perception of "healthy" is influenced by our concept of "beautiful." 
I recently found another great blog, and these posts, especially, got me thinking.  I posted a few weeks ago about how I want to "Lose Weight" again.  I have since realized really what I want is to feel healthy again.  I want to not be stiff in the morning, be able to run upstairs for something without getting winded, to have more energy, to feel happier because my body is healthier.  I know I'm a little off from where I'd like to be.  I'm often tired, I don't run from here to there as often as I did last summer.  And, yes, there are a few really great dresses I'd like to fit into again.  But I just found out that gorgeous Mad Men star Christina Hendricks wears a size 14 - just like me.  I am so down with that.  I can buy more really great dresses that fit me in the body I have now.  I just want it to be healthier.  Too bad the media calls her fat.  She's a great example of what healthy beauty looks like.  And it makes me feel awful to hear it -for her and for me and for everyone who is like me. What do you think about where you fit on the BMI scale? How you feel in your body?

PS -  I wonder if part of the reason I liked being pregnant so much (besides the fact that I was Growing A Person! How cool is that!?), was that I was fat and gorgeous and people smiled at me because I was perceived as gorgeous "even though I was fat."  Now when I dress, I'm afraid that people will think I'm pregnant when I wear an empire waist shirt or dress.   How did I go from feeling great about my shape to shameful - just because I'm not incubating a human being?  I'm still beautiful - belly and all!  My friend Molly brilliantly has this to say about the subject, and some fabulous advice for us all. 

PPS, I'll get back to talking about food next time.  Promise.

Photos here and here.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Great Minnesota Get Together

Oh, Minnesota State Fair, I love you so much!  We went twice this year.  Once Monday Morning with the kids, once last night without the kids to see Weird Al Yankovic.

I didn't eat enough the first time around, but I made up for it last night.  This year I wasn't disappointed by anything (oh, woe was the year they first had deep fired candy bars - mostly batter, mushy candy inside...yuk).

So, the first day I put on my ugly yet comfortable sneakers:

And I ate:


That's a stick with a meatball, tater tot, meatball, tater tot, meatball on it. 
Battered and fried.  
Served with a cup of wild rice mushroom soup sauce.
I ate it at 9:30am.  YEAH! Breakfast at Ole and Lena's FTW!

We also ate foot long hot dogs, mini donuts (I only had one - turns out I'm not as big a fan in my adulthood), and honey/sunflower nut and chocolate/almond ice creams at the honey building (I remember liking the honey ice cream last year - this year, not so much).The kids went on lots of rides and we all returned home hot, happy, and in some cases, asleep in our carseats.

Then last night we left the kids with my parents and headed off on the shuttle bus from Southdale Mall (where we saw our awesome babysitter and her friends) to the Fair again.  This time to get a quick bite of some of the things we missed on Monday, and to see Weird Al Yankovic at the Grandstand.

(On a stick)  (With lime chipotle sauce)

(Do you eat yours with ketchup? 
I liked them better without.)

Then off to the show.  We found our seats - and sitting next to us were our friends Katie and Trace!  My cell phone pictures are crap, but here's a nice one of the crowd.

 So. Many. Cell Phones.

After an amazing two hour show including high kicks, about 25 costume changes and a lot of big laughs, we lined up along the side of the stage.  The Beaulieus and we had backstage passes and were led into a tent with about 50 other people.

Then this guy came out and called Trace's and Bill's name as well as Mad Magazine artist Tom Richmond's name.  He was there with his wife and two of his kids.  It was like the best incarnation of being called to the principal's office.  The eight of us went out to Al's trailer and chatted for a little while and took pictures.
 Trace, Al, Bill

Not only is Al a terrifficly talented performer, he is also an amazingly nice man.  He greeted me with a big hug, "Virginia!!" as if we were old friends.  Bill did a show with him last December, and I spoke with him on the phone then, but this was the first time we met in person.  I only had one nerdy  moment, right after this picture was taken, where I told him I was at the 1986 State Fair show when he opened for The Monkees. I was so happy to meet him, and he was just lovely and easy to be around.

On our way out, we got Sweet Martha's cookies.  It was the end of the night, and I'm sure I got about three times as many cookies as I would have been allotted at 3pm.
 The three that made it home for my kids.

In conclusion: If you have a Fair near you, urge them to get Hot Dish on a Stick (Ole and Lena's stand) and Big Fat Bacon.

Also, if you ever get the chance to see Weird Al Yankovic in concert.  Go.  Even if you "don't know his music", by the end you'll not only realize you knew his music, you'll have seen an amazing, energetic, wonderful, funny two hour show by a truly talented (and really nice) man.