Ray LaMontagne

July 17, 2009

Hi there.  Again, no food for you, but I couldn’t help but ask if you’ve heard this album yet.  It’s called Gossip in the Grain and I love it.  I have to admit, I didn’t love it at first.  My parents got the album for free at a benefit and gave it to me.  I listened to it a couple of times, mostly perusing, and found a couple of songs I liked.  That was about it.  I put it aside for a few months, and then found it a little while ago and gave it another few listens.  I don’t know if my tastes have changed, or if I just needed a little time to digest these songs, but I just started to love almost every song on the album which, these days, is rare.

So let me know what you think!  Have you heard this album?  Do you like Ray LaMontagne?  Went to high school with him? Never heard of him?  Do tell…  If you do get your hands on the album, some of my favorite songs are: You Are The Best Thing, Let It Be Me, Meg White, and (the oh so sad and oh so beautiful) A Falling Through.  You can, of course, check out most of these songs on Youtube.


July 17, 2009

These days, my attention span at work is pretty short.  I think I’ve got senioritis.  I’m leaving in a few days, and with all the exciting stuff ahead of me, it’s hard to stay focused.  But I’m trying, damn it.  Yes I am.  This morning I noticed a wonderful post from Jenifer on Nectar and Light that I’m trying, for the sake of my job, to pretend I didn’t see (at least till I get home!).  Not only is her blog fabulous, she listed a bunch of her favorite blogs, many of which I have never seen before, so I’m SO excited to check them out.  I did a quick peek, and let me tell you, she’s hip to some incredible-looking blogs.  Go check out her post here, that is, if you’ve got time to spare.  If not, stay far, far away from that link.

i’m sorry i lied

July 17, 2009

I’m sorry I lied and said I’d have a non-recipe for you.   Because as we all know, I never posted that non-recipe.  I’m hoping I’ll get to it later today, really.  I also don’t have any new food for you today.  The final stage of the move is happening tomorrow, after which maybe I can begin to resume a somewhat normal life that doesn’t involve digging through plastic bags to figure out what I’m going to wear for the day (yes, I pack my clothes in trash bags.  It makes more sense, OK?).  Anyway, here is a picture of my dog to tide you over.  Let me tell you: Brillo, weird thing that she is, makes everything better.  There.  See her sweet little ears and bushy eyebrows?


Wait for it….

awwww.  What a weird little wonderful creature!


My top tens, and a non-recipe

July 14, 2009

Hello there!  You’re catching me in a rare free moment.  The move has gotten pretty intense.  See the thing is, this whole month has become one giant transition.  My lease in NY started on July 1, and my lease here ends on July 31.  Now, there’s a part of me that considers this a luxury.  I get to move out at my leisure, no rush, no panicked  night-before packing.  But on the other hand, this means that the move takes ALL MONTH.  There is a (very large) part of me that would greatly prefer to just get-er-done.  Yes, maybe it would be a crazy weekend, but at least it wouldn’t drag on.  I’m sure you’ve all had some crazy moving experiences, I’ve heard some great/terrible stories this month that, to tell the truth, have made me really appreciate how many potential moving disasters have NOT occurred (yet).

Anyway, with the kitchen all but packed up, it’s practically toruture to look through food blogs these days!  There are so many recipes that I can’t wait to try once I’m all unpacked and settled down in my new place.  Right now, I’m pretty restricted, but there is one recipe that has become quite the standby.  I’ll include it as number 1 on my top tens… it’s Smitten Kitchen’s Peanut Sesame Noodles.  If you like peanut butter at all, I highly suggest that you make this now.  The thing is, the dish is great as is.  It is easy and versitile.  It can be eaten hot or cold, it’s wonderful either way.  It requires very little heating of anything, all you have to do is boil some pasta, really.  But the best part is that the sesame-peanut sauce is just about the best thing ever in terms of multi-tasking.  Of course I tried it on soba noodles first, but then I had some sauce left over and I started experimenting.  It’s great for dipping veggies.  I cut up some cucumbers and carrots and dipped for a healthy and satisfying snack.  It’s also perfect mixed in with any other grain.  Last night I made some brown rice (with broth in place of water… that’s a valuable secret tip there!) and mixed in butternut squash and some sesame-peanut sauce.  Sounds a little weird, I know, but it was awesome!  It’s also perfect mixed in with greens:  collards, kale, it all works.  I feel like at this point I should note that Deb at Smitten Kitchen is not compensating me in any way to swoon so blatantly over her recipe 😉  Seriously, it’s just good, and it has really made this whole trying-to- eat-well-while-moving thing much more pleasant.

So, with that said, here are my top tens.  You can bet I’ll be tackling a lot of these recipes in August once my life calms down a bit.  If you try any of them first, let me know how it goes!

1. Peanut Sesame Noodles from Smitten Kitchen

2. Chickpea “Blondies” from Have Cake, Will Travel (by the way, I LOVE the design of that site!  So simple and pleasing.)

3. Warm Butternut and Chickpea Salad with Tahini from Orangette (although truthfully, almost all of her recipes are on my to-make list)

4. Thyme-Rosemary Bread from StephChows.  This is the perfect use for my overgrowing Thyme!!

5. Pad Karpow Moo from Chez Pim

6. Aglaia Kremezi’s Fried Potatoes with Yogurt Sauce from The Wednesday Chef

7. Cookies and Cream Cheesecake from Bake or Break (oh man, I don’t even know if I could handle this- so rich looking! but it makes me drool…)

8. Otsu from 101 Cookbooks (looks like the perfect fresh-n-easy summer recipe!)

9. Crispy Halibut wtih Wasabi Panzanella and Early Grey Potatoes from No Recipes (this one’s fancy but looks awesome!)

10. Noodles with Mushrooms and Lemon-Ginger Dressing from Simply Recipes

Well, there’s my list.  I can’t wait to start cooking for real again!  My non-recipe recipe is coming soon, I promise.  I’ll be back later this afternoon.

Some more

July 9, 2009

So I am in the final stages of packing up my apartment, which means that I’m not doing much cooking at all. My “cooking” has consisted of such gourmet dinners as: “Figs with peanut butter” and “Leftover Ethiopian Takeout”, which, to tell you the truth, I’ve kind of been enjoying. Sometimes it’s nice to eat in a really simple, ramshackle way. Anyway, since I don’t think you want my recipe for figs with peanut butter (or in case you do, here it is: cut dried figs in half and spread them with peanut butter. eat.), I’ve decided to give you some more photos. This batch is also from the 4th of July.

Above: That’s the art museum in the background, and the street lights leading up to it on the diagonals. I just love the soft light in this one.

This little girl was so sweet. She seemed really overwhelmed by all the people, but excited for the fireworks!

This girl was cute too… Totally enthralled with the glow sticks.

More to come tomorrow… have a great night!


July 8, 2009

It’s been a tough week for me, but there have also been a lot of beautiful moments and a lot of things to smile about.  The fourth of July was definitely one of those things.  I went to see the fireworks at the parkway (the road that leads up to the Phila Art Museum) and I brought my camera.  I’m generally pretty shy about taking pictures, but I challenged myself to just go for it.  Glad I did.


July 7, 2009

Hello everyone! I’m back, at least temporarily. It’s going to be a crazy week for me (I’m moving most of my stuff up to NY this weekend) but I did want to stop in and post the Top Tens Roundup. I also wanted to thank you all for your kind comments, you made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside!

To give you a quick reminder, Top Tens is my monthly event, and each month has a different theme. This month’s theme was Blog Envy: Recipes You’ve Been Meaning to Make. I asked you all to round up the top ten recipes you’ve been dying to make, and then to get on with it and make one of them. And you delivered!

This was one of my favorite Top Tens so far. Why? Well, just look at all the great recipe ideas below! Your top ten lists inspired me so much, and gave me tons of new ideas for what to cook. And yes, that’s what I was going for. I hope you all find some new recipes that you can’t wait to make too.

And without further ado, here are the lists. I’ve got four to share with you, hope you enjoy!

1 Cod Cheeks with garlic, shallot sauce from Cod Cheeks. I love cod cheeks they are one of my favourite pieces of fish, although it is difficult to find them in the fish mongers.
2 Scotch eggs from Becks and Posh. Scotch eggs are one of my favourite things, when they are home made it reminds me of the ones my mum made for me to take on school trips. I think the use of Toulouse sausage is inspired.
3 Sausage and Fennel Risotto from Cooksister. I am always looking for new ways to have sausages and this is something that I am definitely looking forward to.
4 Moroccan Lamb Meat Balls from Amateur Gourmet. This looks brilliant, I am quite keen to use more North African flavours in my cooking as this is something that I don’t have a great deal of experience with.
5 Courgette Ricotta Cheesecake from 101 cookbooks. This looks like a great way of using courgettes that is a bit different from the pasta dishes and roasted veg that I normally go with.
6 Pig Cheek from What Geeks Eat. I love pork and always like to try the bits that are less commonly used. This looks like a tasty slow cooked dish. The best ribs that I have cooked were made with trotters in the sauce.
7 Pain Depices from David Lebovitz. Fruit cakes are wonderful things they remind me of good times. This looks like a really nice version and one that I will certainly look to cook at some time in the future.
8 Choc Chip Cookies from Foodie at Fifteen. Ultimate Choc Chip cookies is quite a claim, but it looks good and tasty.
9 Boozy Truffles from Chez Pim. There is no better way of having chocolate as far as I am concerned than truffles, but I am far more familiar with the eating of truffles that making so I am really looking forward to making these sometime soon.
10 Radish Leaf Pesto from Chocolate and Zucchini. I have wanted to make some Pesto for some time, but not managed to. So seeing this recipe when I had just bought some Radishes I thought when will there be a better time.
The recipe that I have made is the Radish Leaf Pesto, because I had meant to make some pesto for ages but never got around to it.

1. Bruschetta with tomato and basil from Simply Recipes.

2. Sweet/Savory Pies by Culinarty

3. Chocolate Cherry muffins from Passionate about baking

4. Creamy Oreo Pie by the Purple Foodie

5. Dulche Le Leche from Cafe Johnsonia

6. Fruit Soup by Sweet Basil

7. Sheermal by Health Nut

8. Flaky Pineapple pastry by A Bountiful Kitchen

9. Chicken of the Woods with Walnut Mayo by Eat like A Girl

10. Momos by World Foodie Guide

And I made the momos! World Foodie Guide’s blog doesn’t quite have a very detailed description of the recipe so I made my own just getting the general idea from the site.

  • Here’s another great Top Ten list from Sara at The Application of Heat. She made the cream cheese cinnamon rolls, and man, are they making my mouth water. Cinnamon rolls fall into the category of yeast pastries, which I’m kind of scared of, so Sarah, I commend you!

1. Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls from Joy the Baker

2. Lava Cookie from Cake Spy

3. Guiness Bread with Molasses from Simply Recipes

4. Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream from David Lebovitz’s Blog

5. Brownie Chunk Cookies from Jumbo Empanadas

6. Raspberry and Pink Peppercorn Macarons from Cannelle et Vanille

7. Vanilla Bourbon Bread from Genesis of a Cook

8. Cake Doughnuts from Bakerella

9. Biscuits with Sausage and Sage Gravy from Pinch My Salt

10. Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake from Smitten Kitchen

  • And finally, we have one more list from Jen at Beantown Baker. You can see her whole post here. Like me, life got in the way and she didn’t get around to making one of the recipes, but I like to keep it casual here at Food*Nerd, so no worries Jen! Great list. I’m definitely eyeing Dorie’s Chipster-Topped Brownies. They look delicious!

10. Rainier Cherry and Goats Cheese Pie from Peabody – I love goat cheese and this combo sounds awesome
9. Chocolate Bacon Cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream from Scrumptious Photography – I’ve been dying to try the chocolate/bacon combo
8. Fresh Strawberry Cake from A Good Appetite – Strawberries are in season and this cake looks awesome
7. Dorie’s Chipster-Topped Brownies from Engineer Baker – I’ll probably leave out the nuts and add ganache to the top like Bakerella did
6. Chocolate Goat Cheese Truffles from Divine Domesticity – I’m intrigued by this recipe…
5. Bagels from Smitten Kitchen – I’ve been wanting to make bagels for a while, but they kind of definitely intimidate me…
4. Choc-alot Cake from Confections of a Foodie Bride – You knew I was going to have a super chocolatey cake on here
3. Billy’s Vanilla Cupcakes from How to Eat a Cupcake – I’m still searching for the perfect vanilla cupcake…
2. White Cake with Fresh Strawberry Buttercream from Peabody – again, strawberries are in season and how awesome does this cake look?!?
1. Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake from Smitten Kitchen – Um, hello?!? Cheese cake, ganache, and brownies in one dessert – heaven!

Thanks everyone! I hope you enjoyed the event! Top Tens will be on hold for July, but I’ll be back in August for sure.

A little note to all of you:

July 2, 2009

Dear lovely readers,

I just wanted to say a quick hello.  I know I haven’t been around here much lately, but I promise you all, the haitus will be short.  The thing is, out of nowhere, life came and smacked me in the face.  Now, I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way.  I actually kind of like periods of intense change, they make life more interesting, and they give you a chance to see things in a new light when everything settles down.  Without going into too much detail, here’s what has been going on for me.  A very long, intense, and wonderful relationship came to an end about a month ago.  This person was a huge part of my life, and was (and still is) someone that I have an incredible amount of love and respect for.  It was time for things to change, and I do think it’s all for the best, but that doesn’t make it easy.  M, if for some reason you’re reading this, I love you no matter what.

The other major change is that I’m moving from Philadelphia to New York.  I’m starting a masters in Occupational Therapy, and I’m really looking forward to this new and exciting chapter in my life.  It took me a loooong time to figure out what I wanted to do with myself career-wise, and although this might not be the final stop, it is certainly a next step.  I’m thrilled to be moving forward and am practically giddy about staring school again, but I have mixed feelings about the move.  Counting school, I’ve been in Philadelphia for eight years, and it has truly become my home.  I’ve done a lot of growing up here, and have made friends that I know I’ll keep for life.  It’s really starting to hit me that in two weeks, this will no longer be my home base, and as excited as I am for what’s next, I’m feeling very strange about leaving.

So… as you can imagine, I feel a little bit like the rug’s been pulled out from under me.  I will try to post when I can, and will definitely get the roundup together for June’s Top Tens within the next couple of days.  I just wanted to say, you guys have really been wonderful.  Ever since I started the top tens event, I’ve gotten to know a few of you a little better through comments and emails, and I’m loving it!  I’ve never really had blogger-buddies before, and go figure, it’s fun!  I’m really looking forward to getting to know you guys better, but for now, I just wanted to say thanks.

I’ll be back here soon, even if it’s just a quick note, and keep an eye out for the June Top Tens roundup.  Also, I have now become part of the twitter world, and if you’d like, you can follow me.  If any of you have twitters, let me know, I’m looking for people to follow!

Well… thank you again for being so great.


Basil and Thyme ideas??

June 19, 2009

basil and thyme

I’ve got all this beautiful basil and thyme and need ideas of what to do with it!  I’ll make a pesto for sure, but outside of that, any suggestions?

So simple: Quick Salmon Tacos with Collards

June 17, 2009

Hello there!  I’m here today to give you all yet another non-recipe recipe.  And you know what?  In my opinion, these are really the best, especially in the summer.  Here’s what happened.  Dinner time rolled around and I was stumped and lazy, as usual. I remembered a beautiful piece of salmon that I had purchased a couple of days before, and not wanting to risk letting it go bad, decided to base the meal around it. Next came the vegetable component. I don’t know about you, but for me, I need a vegetable at almost every meal, preferably even breakfast! It just makes me feel good. So I had some collards in the fridge, which is great, because I love to pair salmon with greens. Then I just needed to finish it off. Now, one thing I’m really into these days is putting things in corn tortillas. I actually used to be vehemently against corn tortillas, preferring their flour-based cousins, but I’m a convert! They’re lighter, they are arguably a whole grain, and they’re also small and cute. I’ll also add, and of course this is just a personal opinion, but I really do think that food is more fun to eat when you can wrap it up in a corn tortilla. So there you go… end of rant.

The “recipe” is embarassingly simple. I seasoned the salmon with salt and pepper and then pan fried it in olive oil until it got a bit of a crust. Then I threw it in a 400 degree oven on a baking sheet to finish cooking. While the salmon was in the oven, I sautéed the kale with olive oil, garlic, cumin, and cinnamon (and s+p, of course), and sliced up an avocado. All that was left to do was warm up the tortillas and throw it all together. So simple. A quick squeeze of lemon brought it all together and brightened it up. That’s it!

Quick Salmon Tacos with Collard Greens

1 lb salmon filets
salt and pepper, olive oil for pan

1 bunch of collard greens, jullienned, washed well
1 big garlic clove, or two small, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
about 1 tablespoon olive oil for sauteeing

2 ripe avocados, sliced
8 corn tortillas
1 lemon, quartered

Start by pan frying the salmon.  Warm a glug of olive oil in a non-stick pan over high heat.  While it’s heating up, season the salmon with salt and pepper.  When the oil glistens and moves easily around the pan, carefully place the salmon in the pan and let it cook (without moving it) until it gets a little bit of a crust on the non-skin side.  Remove the salmon from the pan, place it on a baking sheet, and put it in a 400 degree oven for 5-10 minutes (depending on thickness) to finish cooking.

While the salmon is in the oven, make the collards.  Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the collard greens (it’s ok if they’re still a little wet from washing, this will help them steam a little as they cook) to the pan.  Add the garlic, stir to combine, and cover the pan to let the greens steam for a few minutes.  When the greens are tender (about five minutes), add the cumin and cinnamon, stir, and continue cooking until all water has evaporated and the greens are tender.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

In a hot dry pan, heat the corn tortillas, one at a time, turning often until they are heated through.  Place the tortillas on plates (2 per person).  Remove the skin from the salmon and break it up, dividing it between the tortillas.  Add some collards to each tortilla, and top with avocado slices.  Finish with a squeeze of lemon.

Serves 4.