Friday, July 17, 2009

I have a Dream

Getting a blog going is tough. So is working with children, having a social life, sharing a car and constantly day dreaming. I haven't been cooking. I haven't been reading. I have, although, been living, I promise. And some of those daydreams are of posting regularly, cooking all day long, falling in love with one thing or another, mastering odds and ends and foreseeing the future.

The last few weeks have been full of 8 hour days with children, social events, questionable text messages and tons, and tons of baseball. Getting off at 6pm I don't run to the store, then come home and cook. Being home all day, I still don't feel like cooking. Those 7:30-2 days are beyond my favorite, and I do cook. Those are just far to rare.

This summer's been a blur. We are headed to the east coast to see family and celebrate my dad's 55th Birthday. The All Star Game has came and gone in more ways than one; we hosted, we attended, we acted amazed, we celebrated a loss, we were the spot light. And while so many locals were unsatisfied at the treatment of Stan the Man (I see their point, to an extent, he is 88; and who knows what he asked for. Maybe we respected his wishes.) I was thrilled with everything. Yadier's selection by fans. Franklin by the Phillies manager. Albert astonded me with every move, even going 0-3 and not winning the Derby - he's amazing, why can't everyone be albert. Go watch an interview with him from last week, he's convinced he's not the best player in baseball - he's wrong. The whole world saw what St. Louis is and will always be (and hopefully learned we don't churn our own butter while dodging bullets).

When I return from the east, I will post over and over and over again.
I. Promise.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Explosions in the Sky. And in the Kitchen.

Let's just start by saying, Hi! Happy belated Fourth of July. Hope you had a great one! S and I did.

Let me follow up by saying that we spent seven hours (that's SEVEN hours) in the kitchen making food for our small cook out to celebrate our nation's independence from England. Which is ironic; I'd rather be there to be honest.

Anyway, we fixed a feast. And if I do say so myself, it was delicious.

The menu?
  • A red, white, and blue potato salad
  • A melon salad featuring watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew
  • Homemade sweet potato and Idaho potato chips
  • A tomato and feta salad
  • Hamburgers and hotdogs with all the fixins.
  • Lemon cheesecake squares with fresh berries
  • Chocolate cupcakes with ganache and praline topping (tip: stick the extra praline in the fridge - it makes for a good candy)
  • Vanilla ice cream
We got a lot of our ingredients - potatoes and tomatoes, especially - at the local farmer's market. The blue potatoes were remarkably elusive, however. We went to or called a grand total of five places before we received the suggestion to try the international grocery store. They were very particular about the potatoes being called PURPLE -not blue- and potatoes, if you're not aware, are very definitely not white. And owing to the fact that red potato skins like to slide off, it really ended up being a white, yellow, and purple potato salad.

But it was awfully pretty nonetheless:

No one, by the way, told me how unbelievably pretty purple potatoes are. For the record: they are really, really pretty.

S came up with the brilliant idea to use the emptied watermelon as bowls, so we had quite a festive summer spread:
S was a seasoned pro at homemade potato chips, I was an eager learner. And they were yummy. Our chips were circles of crispy, smooth, olive-oily goodness:The tomato-feta salad was fresh tasting a light, due to the gigantic, sweet tomatoes from the market. And the dense hamburgers and hotdogs cooked on the grill were the perfect compliment to all the veggies and fruits we had assembled. Speaking of assembled, the kitchen was a regular assembly line:


Dessert was the grand finale before we took off for the fireworks. Even though S is usually the prime pastry chef, I took these babies on by myself and was pleasantly surprised by how well they went. The lemon cheesecake bars were perfectly paired with plump blackberries and raspberries. The dense chocolate cupcakes with buttery praline and smooth ganache practically melted in your mouth.A spectacular evening, absolutely. If anything, those seven hours just encouraged us to do another dinner party (or two). We'll keep you posted.

We'll both be out of town for the next week or so. We'll have lots of stories, I'm sure, when we return.

Till then....

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Warning: Habit Forming


I have always had a thing for coffee, but in recent months, or really over that last year, my love for coffee has turned from an obsession to a fascination. I use to just have coffee with my breakfast, or as my breakfast. Slowly it began accompanying snacks. Then after dinner. Now, I have a coffee shop, with a regular order AND time. (This week I've been off on stopping in, due to lack of car - but that's a different story.) It's gotten bad. And I want to blame it on Australia.

Yes. The entire country. Not because they don't drink it, but they ONLY drink espresso.

Wait, rewind. When was I in Australia? August-November 2008. "Your first semester, you spent it abroad?" Yes. I did. Deal with it. Be jealous. Well, yes, do. Long story short, it was/is a new freshman abroad type thing at NU.

So, anyway. For 4 months, I was drinking 1 to 2 espresso based drinks daily. No fresh ground, fresh brewed "American" coffee at the endless caf├ęs just blocks from my apartment. (Some restaurants offered it after dinner, but then it was this weird dissolvable "add hot water" type thing, which is what they also mainly sold in stores.) The Starbucks did have the "fresh" brewed option, but it was gross, burned, brewed wayyy too strong. I just couldn't do it. I came home deprived of coffee. While I had an amazing time down unda', I was, generally, very happy, bubbly, enjoying life in December. And I want to say it was because of the coffee, but I'm sure there were many other reasons. Like actually getting a full night sleep. Or this whole, no work thing. (Not that I'm not happy now, just then I was so relaxed. I literally just sat around all of December.)

Before leaving the country, I'd been to a "cupping" at my now coffeehouse's, original location. A cupping is like wine tasting, but for coffee. It's all fresh ground, steeped in front of you, grinds in your cup, no milk or sugar, straight up coffee. You literally, learn to taste coffee. Then, everything you once knew changes for ever, but for the best. You learn to pick out flavor notes and how dark you actually like the original blend to be. I'm a 3, which is dead center, middle of the roast pile. Not to dark, but not to light. As much as one thinks that they can drown down a dark brew, no amount of milk and sugar can take a 5 on the Kaldi's scale, to there 3. It just isn't possible. Good coffee is hard to find, but once you do, stick with it. You don't want to see it drop off the map. (I still haven't found my local Boston type place. So far, I'm convinced I have to come home for amazing coffee.)

While this whole sharing a car thing has kept me out of my coffee shop, there's another reason I'm not stopping in on my way to the preschool. While I was out west for a few days with friends, I called home to check-in. Mid-conversation with my mom she pauses and says "OH! I have bad news," no idea where she was going. Then she dropped a bomb: "The coffee maker died. We've been using the decaf one. It makes horrible coffee." I then drilled her, asking how it could have died. She said it just wouldn't brew. Then I ask if it was plugged in, and I got reminded I don't live with idiots and that my father is a rocket scientist (but he doesn't drink coffee so why would he try to fix the coffee maker?). It really had died. But. It wasn't that sad. I knew which one would be our next. And well shelled out for it. Cuisinart had a new one out that grinded the beans before brewing, all in one body. I knew it would be mine.

We've now had it two or three weeks, but until Sunday we hadn't tried the grin and brew feature (because we had ground coffee to use up first). Oh boy. Freshly ground beans make a world of a difference. I don't like Starbucks bagged coffee, but it's what we had, and it makes even that taste amazing. Grinding fresh makes all the difference.


And so it begins.

S and I had been talking about a blog for a very long time. It’s quite possible that we talked about starting a blog without realizing it, actually. That’s mostly because our conversations amuse us so much – so witty! so quick! so like the Gilmores! – that we felt we’d be doing the world a favor to share them.

I’m joking. Mostly. But we did want a place to record our adventures – culinary and otherwise - and keep some sort of record of what we love. And this love of love is pretty much this blog.

S and I met when I complimented her bright green shoes in our Algebra class when she was a new freshman and I was in eighth grade. We didn’t talk for the rest of the year. But as the next few years rolled around, we bonded first over tennis, and everything else just followed suit. I don’t really know when the cooking thing started, except that before I knew it, I was Sarah’s official sous-chef and we had made batches upon batches of chocolate chip cookies, a whole mess of cakes, and had moved on to marinated chicken on a shiny gas grill. Food&Wine and Bon Appetit has transformed from a magazine with really pretty pictures to one with a whole other world. I’m not exactly sure what happened, but me and my stomach are awfully glad it did.

We have an entire list of things we’d like to accomplish making this summer. For me, at least, risotto is at the top. It’s probably one of my favorite foods in the world. However, a gnocchi cloud has been hanging over my head for awhile now, and I’m pretty sure a carrot cake with cream cheese icing is about to take over. And preferably all this with fresh, local ingredients. For living in an occasionally lackluster Midwestern city, we have kick-ass markets all over the place. We are locavores, hear us roar!

Other things that I love? My family and friends. They’re all fabulously strange and lovely. I love reading and writing and books, and yes, I was probably that girl you saw at your favorite coffee shop who let her chai tea get lukewarm because she happened to get wrapped up in a chapter of beautiful writing. I’m a photography fiend, and I miss the darkroom constantly. I like design – whether that’s on a plate, in a room, or around a person. I’m a big fan of big conversations on kitchen floors late at night. I want to see the entire world. I watch trashy television on an embarrassingly regular basis, but Mad Men has become my new obsession. The New Yorker is my Bible. My favorite color is cobalt blue. Balance is my mantra. I can’t help it: I’m a libra.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Up and Running


I headed home this summer with the goal intention of blogging, all summer, with K. But our families midwestern duties (you know, cattle feeding, butter churning and having to lay the broadband internet wires ourselves) took up May and June. Actually, K had to graduate, I had to get comfy at my various summer jobs, spend 10 days out west with old friends, name my chef's knife Jethro and get Nemo [cat] to stop barfing daily.

We lead busy lives, full of other peoples children. I work with 3-24 month olds at the preschool I attended as a tot, then will (usually) babysit 2+ nights a week. K has regular families, with regular date nights. So by the end of the week, we are tired of chicken fingers, peanut butter sandwiches, mac and cheese and various preschool hot lunches. That's when we team up with Jethro and the authors and editors of Food and Wine, Bon Appetite and (our new discovery) epicorious.com to make creations that my 13-yr brother won't touch, but that we (and our parents) devourer.

I make lists upon lists, hidden away in my head of various things I want to master in order to get ahead in the foodie world. (I dream of writing for a food mag, btw.) My favorite coffee shop has unbeatable peanut butter cookies, which my Grandmother Kitty's recipe almost topped. I've only made risotto once so far, but will again, and again until it's prefect. A white wine butter sauce and I became friends last night. The simplest salads and I have yet to meet, dressings haven't arrived at my door. I need to prefect my grilling (on my natural gas grill yet to be named). I need to read more. I need to experiment more. I need Jojo [13yr brother] to do dishes, constantly. It goes on, and on, and on.

While food is my life, other things make me smile just as much. Like, the St. Louis Cardinals (Yadier Molina [Cards catcher] and Albert [Pujols]), my cats, people switching to Apple, Jethro Gibbs [CBS's NCIS], the Food Network, really bad parking jobs by people other than me, TV relationships and affairs, really bad reality TV, coffee, etc. The list goes on, so stay tuned.

Also, follow me on Yelp.com: smoomaw.yelp.com
(I think they call it 'be a fan', or freind! me on Yelp!!)



(A salad, a really good one, that I had out in LA a few weeks back. I forget the name of the place, but I'm on it.)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Come and open up your folding chair next to me


Hi All!
It's K & S. Welcome to The Anthropological Foodies.
We'll be filling the blogsphere with stories and pictures of our adventures in food, people, and other pretty things.
While we live in the hot and sticky midwest currently, we'll head northeast in the fall to attend school in two different cities. Divide and conquer - ing at it's finest.
We'll drop in separately later to introduce ourselves more personally, but we can't wait to meet you!

Love,
S & K
Title lyrics: "Folding Chair" by Regina Spektor