1

I’m a Cereal Girl

I ran out of milk the other day. I know, boring story who doesn’t run out of milk? It’s weird though, because there are some days when I’ll have to throw out even a half-gallon (hey, it’s just me drinking it) because I didn’t get it all finished in time before the expiration date. THen there are days when it’s gone in less than a week. It took me a while but I finally discovered why.

Milk disappears when I have cereal in the house.

I am one of those types of people who love cereal. It’s true. Sugary cereal. Healthy cereal. Cold cereal. Hot cereal. It’s ALL good.

This is me basically:

Growing up cereal was a treat in our house. We always had at least one box to share between the three of us. However my mom was pretty choosy over what we could get. We could only get “the good stuff” if it was $2 or less. This meant that getting stuff like Froot Loops or Lucky Charms could only happen when they went on sale. This made it all the more challenging and worth it because you never knew what was going to available at the store. Also there were cool toys and things to be had in cereal boxes but really for us, the actual cereal was more exciting.

I still carry on this tradition to this day as an adult. I only get cereal when it’s on sale for $2 or less. My only exception is granola. But it really is amazing how if you just wait, you’ll be able to get all the delicious cereal at some point. And when they do go on sale, I make sure to stock up. Currently I have Lucky Charms, Golden Grahams, and Reeses’ Cereal. This is why my milk disappears.

My favorite movie theater, the Alamo Drafthouse, has a cartoon cereal party series they host often where for $5 you can watch 2 hours of cartoon on the big screen PLUS get all the sugary cereal you can eat. And milk. It’s the best deal ever. Last time I had about 5 bowls of Froot Loops, Cocoa Krispies, and Apple Jacks. It’s like your childhood dreams have come true.

Cereal is like candy. But it’s also healthy when you want it to be. I do also enjoy a bowl of (Honey Nut) Cheerios or (Frosted) Shredded Wheat. The clusters in Honey Bunch of Oats are the best. Top them off with fruit and you got yourself a balanced breakfast.

There are some cereals that I miss and wish would make a comeback. Rice Krispies Treat cereal. And Oreo Os. Also I have never been a fan of any of the Captain Crunches. Interestingly also we never bought the bag cereal. I realize it’s basically the same but something about a bag vs box makes me choose a box every time. I have also found that the generic cereal is just as good and can be cheaper but if the price is the same, I’ll choose brand name. I know, weird.

Seriously though cereal is the best. It is a quick and easy meal when you don’t feel like cooking. I realize there are folks out there that don’t like it. And it’s ok. We all can’t be awesome.

Like this restaurant. Which is the dream.

Advertisements
1

Good Chinese Food is Hard to Find

One of the things about moving to a new area, whether it’s a cross-country move or a cross town move, is you have to go find new regular spots again. New doctor, new gym, new church, new library, etc.  After all the important things, then you start looking around at what food places are near you to eat. And if you’re anything like me, you will want to find the nearest Chinese take out place for when those cravings hit.

Do you know though how hard it is to find a favorite Chinese food place? It honestly is like trying to find a new doctor. Everyone has their own personal favorites and even if you recommend yours to someone else, it doesn’t mean they are necessarily going to like it as well.

I judge Chinese food places by how they do their lo mein. It’s a simple enough dish: noodles, minimal vegetables, and meat. I prefer roast pork though I will accept shrimp. First off, if the place does not offer pork as an option, well I’m not even going to consider you. The dish should not be overtly greasy yet there should be flavor. Minimal liquid is allowed but not so much that it becomes noodle soup. Noodles should be chewy. If you can pass that test, I’ll look into your other dishes.

Taste and customer service is key to finding a good place. Your food has to taste good but you also have to be somewhat nice when I call to order and when I go to pick up. If you treat me rudely then I’m definitely not coming back either. Even if your pork lo mein tastes like heaven.

I’ve lived in my current location for a little over 4 years and I STILL have not found a go to Chinese food place. There is about a mile down the road that can do in a pinch but they aren’t spectacular. The Chinese food at the Wegmans buffet is actually quite good but for 8.99 for a pound it’s freakishly expensive. I’ve tried different locations but I still have not been able to settle down on one to call all the time. It’s actually quite frustrating. It’s like trying to find the Golden Ticket of Chinese food.

Yes, I also know that American Chinese food isn’t technically real Chinese food. But I have no idea how to cook this stuff so hence why I need the take out. Also Pei Wei and Panda Express just don’t cut it.

This isn’t an easy task and there can be a lot of hit and misses. Plus you could always find the one you really like and they suddenly disappear. Also let’s not get me started on Chinese buffets. Down where my parents live there are a TON of good cheap ones. Up here in the DC metro area? Hah. Expect to pay top dollar for semi decent ones. The good ones are really pricey and the cheaper ones aren’t that good.

I had some rather decent lo mein the other night at my friends’ house the other night. Unfortunately they live 25 minutes away so that’s out of the question for repeat visits for me.

My quest continues.

0

Why is picking a place to eat after church so hard?

“Where should we go out for lunch?” “Uh…….”

This is the dreaded question asked almost every Sunday after church.

It shouldn’t be that hard of a question. I mean it’s just a simple question about food, right? And yet somehow it is.

Almost 98% of the time, no one knows where they want to go out to eat. Despite the fact that we’re located in an area that is filled with many different types of restaurants, we always have trouble deciding where to go.

No matter what someone suggests, there is at least one person who has an allergy, doesn’t like any of the food, or fears trying something new. Sometime the lack of a cohesive answer has made many a person just be like “I give up, I’m out of here.”

I never bother to offer up suggestions of where I’d like to eat. Why? Because you can’t please everyone.

Personally I believe that secretly everyone has their own opinion of where they would like to really go. I think that anytime someone says “I don’t know” or “I’m good with anything”, inside they really know where they want to go but don’t want to say because they think they will get shot down.

I like to think that it’s because of the group mentality that makes us act like this. Are we trying to think about whether other people will like what we like and worry that if they don’t, it’s a reflection of us?

Do you worry that someone will do this with the place you picked?

Or when faced with a spur of the moment decision, our mind goes blank and we can’t think of anything?

It’s also hard to branch out into something new. Which is why you get stuck going to the same generic chain food places over and over again.

I don’t really know if there is a solution to this other than just being bold and suggesting something. You have to be insistent and louder if you really want something to happen. And if people don’t like it? That’s on them not you.

Smaller groups help vs larger groups. Also you can also just predetermine this in advance to avoid all the standing around trying to make a decision. Worst case scenario? Go on your own. Sometimes food > company.

But still sometimes you just suck it up because you want to be around people. You can get better food on another day. You can’t always find good company to hang around. Because at this point, you’re just so hungry you’ll eat anything.

7

For the Love of Superman Ice Cream

This weekend I received some news that made me highly excited.

I was told that there is Superman ice cream in Northern Virginia.

What the eff is Superman ice cream you ask?

Well it looks like this:

supermanice

It has nothing to do the actual Superman or DC Comics. Just that the colors are blue, yellow, and red like Superman’s colors. Now that I think about it would be fitting that my favorite flavor of ice cream is geek related.

I first discovered this wondrous creation in a small ice cream shop in southwest Virginia several years ago. Normally I usually go for cookie dough ice cream or cookies and cream. But that fateful day, I decided to try something new and went with this multicolored ice cream without having any idea how it tasted.

BEST DECISION EVER.

It’s really hard to describe how it tastes other than FREAKIN AWESOME. Some people say it’s just vanilla in three different colors. Others say it’s three types of fruity flavors such as strawberry, banana (or lemon) and Blue Moon (no, not the beer). I say that it’s something you have to try for yourself. You may not like it (all those artificial colors, I know) but I think it’s just delicious.

Anyways, other than that one ice cream shop, the only other place I’ve been able to find it was at a ski resort in western Maryland.

superman

(Yep, I know I look rough here. This was after a long, exhausting but quite fun tubing session.)

I was not expecting to find it and of course, I’m the weird person who was geeked to eat ice cream in freezing weather.

As it’s originally from Michigan and normally a Midwest thing, it’s nowhere to be found in stores or in any other local ice cream place I’ve been to. Every time I traveled for work, I would search in vain hoping that maybe one place would have it.

Now that I’ve received rumors that Superman ice cream is somewhat nearby this is the current dilemma. According to Google maps, the place that sells this ice cream is 20 miles away so it’s a 40 mile round trip.

How much do I love this ice cream? Is it worth the trip? So many factors to consider. Do I need to be in this area for anything else? How much is the ice cream? Can take home quantities be bought? Do they even have it in stock? Will it taste as good as I remembered it? Can I convince anyone to go out and get it with me? Do I feel geeky?

This is going to be a to be continued post. I will try to see if I can make it sometime during the summer.

Oh the anticipation.

3

Adventures in Trying out New Food

One of the things I’m grateful about living up in the DC Metro area is the diversity of cultures in the area. I grew up being one of the few Asian families in my city. This meant that I mostly acclimated to your basic American culture which is fine. But one thing that I do love about being up here is being exposed to all sorts of different kinds of food.

I LOVE trying out new things to eat. Except for beef (which you can read about here about why I don’t eat it), I’m usually game to try any type of food at least once unless it physically makes me want to throw up. I understand that people are picky eaters or not very adventurous when it comes to eating. Some people also see food as just something for sustenance and not really something to spend a lot of effort, time, or money on. And that’s ok. But for me, I really enjoy seeking out new foods and learning all there is out there.

Whenever I go out to travel, unless I absolutely have to, I avoid chain restaurants as much as possible. Why go to a new place and eat exactly what you can eat back at home? Local and regional restaurants are always fun to try out as ethnic restaurants. It’s also fun to discover new places in your own home. Just like this past weekend when after church, my friends and I discovered a complete hole in the wall Salvadoran restaurant where we were the only non Spanish speakers in the entire place. (What happens when a white girl and two Asians walk into a bar?)

I’m going to admit right now, I don’t normally take pictures of my food while I eat. I will also freely admit that these aren’t high quality pics. But they are a good example of different types of food I have tried over the years that were new to me dishes and INSANELY delish.

20140517_193450

Fried chicken and waffles with macaroni and cheese and green beans with candied lemon.

SAMSUNG

When in Louisiana one must try red beans and rice with sausage. The plate to the right is “extra sausage”. I thought it was going to be ground sausage so I asked for more. Now I know why the waitress looked at me weird.

 

SAMSUNG

A sampler of soups, one is she crab and the other alligator. I can’t remember the third alas.

20131119_122002

Paella

20130613_130140

Eating Korean food for the first time ever. Fried fish with all the side dishes (banchan)

20140518_114407

You can’t see it (obvs) but inside the burrito is chorizo. Nom nom

20130625_130116

Korean BBQ. Pork Belly and bulgogi are grilling.

SAMSUNG

 

Mongolian stir fry. With bacon. And done.

0

‘Ramp’ing things up (Or my first food foraging experience)

I was browsing online the other day like I always do and I came across an article about a list of foods that hipsters love.

I found it hilarious that one of the foods on the list was ramps.

Now I personally had never heard of ramps until exactly two years ago today, one of my best friends took me ramp digging (gathering, foraging?) out in West Virginia. Before the trip, I was like “What the heck is a ramp?” To me a ramp is an inclined surface, not something that one can eat.

The definition of a ramp from Wikipedia: Allium tricoccum – known as the ramp, spring onion, ramson, wild leek, wood leek, and wild garlic – is an early spring vegetable, a perennial wild onion with a strong garlic-like odor (ME: strong is an understatement) and a pronounced onion flavor. 

Our adventure had us go into the woods of West Virginia (don’t ask me where we went, there were lots of windy curves and we were in the mountains somewhere. I alternated between falling asleep and trying not to throw up. I would make a horrible witness.) to find this specialty vegetable. Since I had no idea what I was looking for, I let everyone else do the hunting while I got to hold the the bags we brought to collect the stuff. “So this is what it was like in the 1800s when one had to look for food,” might have been the thought that was running through my head during this whole expedition.

Eventually I figured out what I was supposed to be looking for (after numerous occasions of only pulling up weeds) though I became an expert at shaking off dirt from ramps that were collected by everyone else. I even got to eat a ramp raw, fresh out of the ground (with the dirt washed away of course). Erhm, that wasn’t an experience I’d like to experience again. As I stated in the definition above, the flavor is very STRONG. My face while tasting it generated a lot of chuckles.

The foraging part was quite fun. It was really nice being out of the woods and getting away from the noise of living in the city. It was really quiet and the air felt fresh. Granted, I was a bit nervous that a bear might come rambling out of the woods at any moment but my companions had protection and were well versed in all sorts of survival training. I may or may not have pretended I was in Survivor or Little House on the Prairie at certain times as we climbed over fallen logs, walked through streams, and got smacked in the face with tree branches. Also for the record, seeing a guy forage for food is pretty hot.

When it was all said and done, we got BAGS of these things.

ramps

Bath Time!

ramps2

Before you ask, those hairy arms do not belong to me.

ramps3

Ramps reading for cooking!

ramps4

These things can be used in a variety of dishes. I found that I liked them best fried with potatoes. Once cooked you can’t taste the strong taste anymore and it pretty much is like an onion at that point. It was quite tasty that way. So basically, I got a bag of ramps for free. Which is an awesome deal because apparently this is how much a jar costs:

20140130_143513

Basically I did something that apparently many hipsters and foodies in big cities would pay $$$ to have that same experience. And the best part is I did it all without having any idea how “cool” it was. WHO’S THE HIPSTER NOW?

For more information about ramps from people who are more experienced than I am, check out:

http://foodriot.com/2014/04/23/gather-ye-ramps-ye-may

http://thegr8fate.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/feast-of-foliage-ramps-wild-leeks/

 

2

Eat. Read. Enjoy.

I love to cook. I enjoy feeding others. While I’m not a total foodie, I do enjoy trying out new foods. Confession: when I’m eating at home, I like to watch the Food Network or food shows on the Travel Channel because it makes my food taste better. And sometimes there can nothing quite as pleasant or satisfying as enjoying a novel that has tons of food in it.

Why are books about fiction satisfying? Because I get to learn about new foods. I get to read about how food is prepared and enjoyed. It’s just enjoyable reading about cooking and eating in a novel format vs reading a cookbook (which while sometimes can be satisfying as well provided there is narrative in it). The story doesn’t HAVE to be 100% about food. But it can talk about the food in the characters’ lives and how they revolve around it. The key to a good foodie fiction is an excellent story with the added benefits of the love of food thrown in.

You can totally tell when an author is just putting food in the story just because they have to and when they really enjoy it themselves. Characters don’t eat just because it’s a necessity, they enjoy and savor their food.

Here are some recommendations of foodie fiction (all with glorious recipes so you can enjoy what you have just read) that I have enjoyed over the past year:

A Table by the Window by Hillary Manton Lodge (2014, Waterbrook Press)

My blurb: Online dating adventures plus Italian/French food plus family secrets with a surprise dash of Doctor Who references = I WANT TO EAT THIS BOOK

The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan (2014, Sourcebooks Landmark)

My blurb: Paris. Chocolate. Storylines that alternate between here and now? More helpings please?

Out to Lunch by Stacey Balls (2013, Berkley Trade)

My blurb: Friendship, food, and geeks. What more could I want in a book? (PS HAWKEYE GETS A SHOUT OUT. SO MUCH WIN)

Stones for Bread by Christa Parrish (2013, Thomas Nelson)

My blurb: Thanks to this book, I have totally learned to appreciate what good bread is. Plus learning about reality cooking shows.

The Girls’ Guide to Love and Supper Clubs by Dana Bate (2013, Hyperion)

My blurb: If you don’t know what a supper club is before reading this book, when you finish you will have already joined one.

What are some of your favorite fictional books about food?

4

Where’s the beef?

Rib Eye Steak November 26th, 2009

If you’ve ever eaten a number of meals with me, you’ll soon discover that I don’t eat a certain type of food.  Except for one incident, I haven’t eaten beef in over six years.

Why, you may ask, would I give up a source of delicious protein that eliminates steaks, corned beef, and hamburgers from my diet?  No, I’m not a vegetarian. It’s not because of religious reasons. And I’m not allergic to it.

Well you see, it’s because of Five Guys. Back when I was studying at Virginia Tech, a new burger place opened in the shopping center across from my apartment. Being completely naive, my boyfriend at the time and I went to eat there soon after they opened and both ordered burgers and two orders of large fries. Now if you have ever eaten there, you will immediately know what our mistake was. There were enough fries to feed half the Virginia Tech football team in that order. But the bacon cheeseburger I got was so delicious. At the time, my experience with burgers had mainly been the fast food kind, meaning I had never really had a real burger. I quickly became quite addicted to them. When I moved back home, I found out that there was a Five Guys that had just opened in the Virginia Beach area (the only one at the time) and I found myself driving out there to get my fix. I soon discovered that eating these burgers was becoming slightly unhealthy for me. And while one may argue there are many things that could have been done, I decided for me that the best way for me to stop was to cut beef out of my diet completely.

One of the last Sundays in September 2007 was when I made the conscious decision not to eat any more beef. I actually had started a few days ago, but after going into a sandwich shop in Richmond I completely forgot that a Reuben was made out of corned beef. It was my last Reuben sandwich and the last time I ate beef for the next six years.

Well I take it back. I was in Philadelphia for a work trip in May 2012, and well, I was in Philly. I had to eat a cheesesteak IN Philly. So we went to Tony Luke’s  where I got a cheesesteak with American cheese. It was pretty good. Nothing spectacular. I was slightly worried that I would get sick afterwards but I ate slowly and all was fine. It didn’t make me crave beef afterwards, and neither do I crave more cheesesteaks. It was one of those, I had do to it at the time moments and now I can cross it off my list.

Are there any times when I do crave beef? Not really. I’ve found that I can find substitutions for almost anything. If I want a burger, there are some really awesome turkey burgers out there. I mean I don’t go crazy and order them every night but they are becoming more mainstream. There are some awesomely delicious ones and then some that taste like dry cardboard. I also might get a veggie or black bean burger if that is a choice as well. And yes, I have been known to order non meat burgers and still ask for bacon on it. Ground turkey (or basically any ground meat) is also a great substitute for any recipe that calls for ground beef. You can’t really tell the difference at all.

Most steakhouses also offer ribs, pork chops, or chicken if you’re not going to order beef. I do love going to Brazilian steakhouses because even though there are all the obvious cuts of beef ready for you, there are plenty of pork, chicken, and lamb options as well. One can easily get stuffed without touching any of the steak at all.

Actually the only thing that you can’t really substitute is corned beef. Missing out on a traditional corned beef dinner on St. Patrick’s Day and all the Reuben sandwiches is a bit tough. I have yet to find another cut of meat that mimics the taste. But it is ok. I’ve lasted 6 years without one. I can go another 6 more. My friends have been pretty awesome with this. I try my darn hardest to not make it an issue since it’s not a health or religious reason for my non-eating. They have been glad to get other options for me and it warms my heart when I hear that turkey burgers or hot dogs were bought specifically for me without asking and it’s not a problem at all. As far as I can tell, I hope I have not been an inconvenience.

So if you dine with me or I feed you, I have no problems with eating beef or cooking it for you. Just be prepared for me not to eat it. And now you know why.