Sunday, February 25, 2007


First of all, I would like to let everyone know that I splurged on a bottle of the new Snapple tea. It's a nectarine flavored white tea that actually lives up to its label: "Naturally light taste." It was light, refreshing, and didn't smack of fake fruit flavoring. Also, it's one of the few pre-made teas on the market that isn't cavity inducing sweet. But I didn't drag you hear to read about bottled tea reviews.

More importantly, the creator of Top Ramen, Momofuku Ando, died recently. He obviously wasn't eating too much of his own high sodium product if he lived to 96 years old, though he did pass away from heart problems. Backpackers, soldiers, and college students all mourn. In his honor, I made ramen stir fry last night. Well, alright, I made it because I had broccoli that was ready to flower, but I was damn well thinking about him. Thank you Momofuku for all you have brought us. I raise my tea to you. Cheers!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Soup's On!

Well, February is upon us, and here in South Georgia, the cold weather is finally coming to an end. Isn’t February Soup Month? Even if it isn't, the warming weather isn’t enough to put me off. My best friend, otherwise known as the Bringer of Produce, brought me some kale and collards today. If you’re anything like me, kale is synonymous with soup. My favorite soup in fact. It was a recipe I saw on Rachel Ray’s 30 Minute Meals WAY back when I lived with cable. She made her own version of a Portuguese Kale Soup with chorico, a Portuguese sausage, that she discovered on one of her $40 a Day shows. It looked so good that I never forgot it. Well, until I started making it that is.

Since it’s my favorite soup and I’ve made it a thousand times, I forget what the hell I do to make it so good. I can’t even find her recipe for it anymore since she had two listed on the Food Network. If you can swing with improv cooking and like a good hearty soup, try this. Now. While you can still get kale. Also, the original recipe called for a spicy hard sausage. I prefer chorizo. It’s ground pork and beef with spices. You can find it in the Latin food section. Using any sausage is probably fine, but you’ll have to adjust the recipe since I base the flavor of the soup heavily on the cooked out fat from the chorizo. Also, I’m lazy and like to use canned vegetables. Fresh kale is choice ( I used a mix of fresh kale and collards today), but any fresh, canned, or frozen green has worked with good results. Use your favorite. I like mine as almost a stew, so I prefer less stock to vegetables.

This is my best attempt at a real recipe. Adjust to your own taste.

Spicy Kale Soup

1 qt Chicken Broth
2 lbs kale
1 onion
About 4 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
1 can chickpeas
1 can diced potatoes or about 2 fresh
1 can diced tomatoes or about 2 fresh
2 links chorizo (about 8 oz)

The chorizo needs to be fully cooked first, so sizzle that over medium heat with some onions while you wash the kale. When the meat is cooked and the onions transparent, add the chopped garlic and cook for roughly 30 seconds.

Add the quart of stock or water along with the two bay leaves and bring to a boil. Add the chickpeas, potatoes, tomatoes, and kale all at the same time. (If you’re using chicken bouillon, add it now.) Bring back up to a boil and leave it for about a minute. This will be the last blast of heat.

Lower to a simmer for at least 20 minutes. Test the broth and readjust seasonings.

Tonight, I added a bit of cumin (my favorite spice) and some smoked paprika that I haven’t had a chance to work with much. I’ve missed this soup so much it’s crazy. I don’t care if the meat is fatty- this is as close to vegetable soup as I really get.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Brownie Bloopers

I was in terror the other night when I realized that my chocolate stash was at an all time low. Which is not acceptable. Ever. So, I began a search for the perfect brownies. Since it's been at least a good six months since I've done proper grocery shopping, it became the search for the "perfect with what I've got" brownies. Then it went down the convoluted path of "well, I've got coconut milk and wouldn't that be good, but oh I don't want to go shopping" and I ended up at the same place I seem to find myself every day: doctoring online recipes and hoping for the best. I decided to use a reliable recipe to start with, and everything from the Cooking with Amy blog is pretty foolproof. The link to Amy's "Perfect Brownie" recipe will be linked at the bottom of the post.

Of course, this was just the prototype. I was bound and determined to add one of two cans of coconut milk I had on hand. The recipe calls for 1 cup of butter and 2 tablespoons of oil. I ended up using about 2 tablespoons of butter and coconut milk to stand in for the rest. Now, these brownies were a surprise. She was absolutely right about the cocoa powder being sinfully chocolately and handy. But unlike her recipe where they were supposed to be midway between fudgey and cakey, mine ended up so light and moist I thought they were undercooked. The top was almost sticky and slightly chewy while airy is the only word I can use to describe the center. It was a dense crumb and almost spongy, so it held together well. It was also incredibly moist, but not greasy. What was supposed to make about 16 brownies condensed down into about 5 portions.

I resorted to using a Bundt cake pan for them since my other baking pans were occupied. A Bundt brownie was a bit of a novelty, but made it much easier for me to handle and cut. I think it tasted better the second day, with the coconut flavor coming in a bit stronger. Either way, my blooper ended up being a bonus. I think it needs a bit more work, but I could be on to something.

To try Amy's delicious looking recipe go here:

To listen to the same song I danced along to while I was brownie-ing go here:

Monday, February 12, 2007

Back in November of last year, I attempted my first beer review. I've tried dozens of beers since and am now able to distinguish this as a wheat beer. Yes, I am the master. Regardless, I wanted to rip this off of my blog and post it here as the start of probably many more liquor reviews. Upon rereading it, I was actually pretty pleased with how much I got out of that one beer. Now, without further ado.

Alright, here is my first attempt to judge a beer. My little virgin lips and fingers are tingly and I almost feel as if the bartender is peering suspiciously over my shoulder, wondering what the hell I think I’m doing. Really, I’ve got no idea. Yet, I am making a brave attempt to start. So, including a lot of new fancy shmancy terms I picked up through reading and no real knowledge of how to differentiate between a true Belgian pale ale and a crap American version, I bring you the Zylo results of Blue Moon disregarding the judging categories and the ratings associated with them because they still make no sense to me. Onto the beer:

My friend is a bartender for Ruby Tuesday and has Blue Moon on tap. Upon asking, she declared it drinkable. Mostly, I just bought it because I wanted beer and it was something other than Bud. It’s classified as Belgian White or Belgian-style wheat ale. So, it’s unfiltered, wheat, and spiced, meaning I had no idea what it would taste like. Beer, I guess. But, in my extremely limited experience, I’ve never had one quite like this. I was raised on cheap Canadian beer, which is more colored soda water than real beer, and Bud light, which is just damn near undrinkable unless served with food. Even my last experience with regular Bud a week or so ago was futile and slightly nauseating.

This, however, is closer to what I think real beer should taste like. First off, it’s a medium apple juice color with visible sediment, going along with the unfiltered thing. It gave me some bad head though. Yes, I laughed as I typed that, give me a break. Thin and gone in seconds. It left no lace, but ran down the side like water. I’m not sure how much carbonation there should be, but it seems enough here. Slightly fizzy, but not overwhelming like soda. The label claims that it’s spiced with orange peel and coriander. Very exotic it seemed until I looked it up and that’s fairly common. I live in a small town- that IS excitement dammit. It’s recommended to be served with an orange wedge, and people have claimed it helps, but I’m not so sure how it would. I’ll have to try and see.

The taste is nice and light overall. I could tell it had a citrus edge, but my palate isn’t able to distinguish “hmmm, orange peel I think” yet, not to mention coriander. It wasn’t overwhelming or bitter, though there was an edge of sourness to it and a slightly sour aftertaste. This is the first drinkable beer I’ve had in… ever, so Zylo is happy. And this is my first beer review, so double yay for diving in “head” first. Cheers.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Happy Hour: The Wine List

Like most people of my generation, exploration with alcohol happened much earlier than is strictly legal. Special occasions, a stronger cup of coffee, older friends who buy you beer, ect. I couldn't wait to turn 21 and delve fast and headlong into the mystic world of liquor. So, not suprisingly, I accumulated several hundred dollars worth of alcohol in the few months after my fewfound legality.

Now I'm not afraid to admit that I'm a girly drinker. I can hold my liquor like a damn bear, but mostly I like my drinks sweet, colorful, and with an umbrella, thank you very much. Since the entire liquor market is chock full of both new and new-to-me ideas, I'm still on a roll with experimentation. I have a feeling either brandy or gin is next on the list to explore in depth.

But that's not what I wanted to talk about. I always had an idea of how deep the culture of beer and wine afficiados was, yet really had no idea until I was able to join in. It's still almost shocking to me just how much there is to know and explore in these areas. It is not only the deep history and mystery that drags people into this kind of experimentation; it's also the fact that it is limitless. Right up my ally.

Now truthfully, I prefer a good beer anyday, but my love for ye olde wine is growing at a rapid pace. I've realized recently that my run with wine hasn't been nearly as bad as I thought it had at one point. I took some advice and have started on distinguishing the French grape varietals first so as to form a base I can use against wines that name by place of origin rather than type of wine. As with my first attempt at a beer review, it was rather uninteresting and I don't have the handle of vocabulary that people who really understand what they're drinking do. So, I don't think I'll really even go there. Yet.

I started off with the poor man's staple: Sutter Home. Their 2004 Merlot to be exact. It's not surprising why I hesitated then. Though I suppose I should explain that my type of hesitation usually lasts all of two minutes before I'm at it again. I decided to be smart and find some recommendations. These were much better. I moved on to a Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and a Pinot Grigio before I started to aquire my first inklings of nose and taste. Out of about 13 things listed on the label, I could pick out and taste about 3. This was really the first time ever I felt like maybe I was getting somewhere. I mean, test me on book knowledge and I'm all over it, but developing a completely new skill where no one is really able to help you and you're going to feel like a genius on your first step.

This is an incredibly long way of staying that I found a wine that I want to share with everyone. I had been sifting through liquor reviews on the slashfood site, when I came across this article: (

I never expected to find this wine since I live in Southern Georgia, but strangely enough it was stocked at a liquor store in a bigger town. I originally went for something else, but picked it up anyway since the review was so nice. And let me tell you, that review wasn't wrong. This was the first dry red I've ever tried. It was a smart wakeup call when I took my first sip since I thought that maybe the cork had poofed into dust inside my mouth or something. Aside from the initial start, it is actually a very smooth, drinkable wine. I was worried that I might not be able to take it. I'm not yet able to really convey how much I enjoyed this bottle, so do yourself a favor and pick up a bottle of Rodney Strong's 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon. Cheers.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Drink Specials

I picked up three cans of exotic looking drinks a few months ago at Harry's. Really, I talk about it a lot, but it's only because I bought several new things I'm excited about.

The Bright Tamarind Juice ended up in my cart because I had been seeing recipes that called for tamarind powder like crazy and wanted to see what it tasted like. I know I've tasted it before. The juice was a little pulpy and it was a thick, syrupy-sweet experience. It tasted wonderful, but with a whopping 57 grams of sugar per can it was entirely too sweet. I found a few recipes for other tamarind drinks with far less that I think will suit me better. Now that I know what it tastes like, I'm itching to use the actual... root?

When I saw a can sporting some awefully lucky looking foliage on the label, I couldn't just walk past it. I've heard of pennywort in suppliments before, though I have no idea what it does for you. What it does for me is not good. At all. It tasted like the water for boiled peanuts. No, I shouldn't say that, because I actually like the brine. It tastes more like unsalted, dirty boiled peanut water. It even had the green-brown color to go with it. Three sips, because I really am a glutton for pain, and it was down the sink. I couldn't care less if this was the cure for cancer, I'm not touching it again.

I had much the same reaction to the basil seed drink as the pennywort. When you do ever see things like this in American food? Can you blame me for being excited? Unlike the picture on the front of the can, the drink itself is a vibrant green. It also has the seeds in it which just tickles me pink. Together it resembled a very strange frog spawning phenomena. I knew I recognized the scent immediately. I had my ah-ha moment when I looked at the ingredients and saw artificial cream soda flavor. It tastes like sweet, flat cream soda with a strong vanilla flavor. Very nice.

So that was the highlight of my day. I finally got around to trying my happies. There is another drink post on the way, so expect that in a few days. Cheers!