A Twist On Zucchini

A Twist On Zucchini

Last year for Amazon Prime Day, I invested in a fancy-schmancy vegetable spiralizer. You know, the kind of kitchen gadget that turns ordinary, healthy veggies into what looks like pasta. If you sauce it just right, you’d never even know you’re eating good-for-you-zucchini, instead of carb-loaded spaghetti noodles.

4 Blades to choose from, but I’ve only used one!

So I thought I’d share an simple 7-ingredient recipe featuring the zucchini noodles.

Zucchini Noodles Caprese
Pesto (I use store bought because it is easier and it’s a truth that I’m lazy)
Zucchini- spiralized and raw
Tomato Slices
Fresh Mozzarella Slices
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Fresh Basil

Yep- that’s it. Toss the noodles in the pesto, layer thick slices of tomato on top, then add a slice of fresh mozza. Drizzle with oil and vinegar, and spice it however you want. Top the whole masterpiece with a sprig of basil and dig in.

Bon Appetite!

An age-old debate: Mayonnaisse or Miracle Whip?

An age-old debate: Mayonnaisse or Miracle Whip?

It’s an argument that has divided families and caused endless marital strife.

[Read more…]

Sunday Brunch at Roscoe’s

Sunday Brunch at Roscoe’s

Howdy!

Did you take a look at the photo above and go ewww, or did it make your mouth water? If you said the latter, then you’ve either been to Roscoe’s or you’ve had chicken-n-waffles at some point in your rich, full life. If your reaction was the former, well…allow me to entice you over to the crispy side. [Read more…]

The Food Debate

The Food Debate

womenI have an ongoing food debate with myself. At forty-six, and no longer having that kick-ass metabolism I had a twenty -six, or even the reasonably robust one I had at thirty-six, I seem to be constantly caught in the love myself as I am vs. get back into shape dilemma.

In the blue corner, and weighing the accumulated heft of being pretty much a constant companion, is my “not good enough” voice, reminding me I need to be thinner, look younger, look prettier. Facing off against that, in the red corner, is my newly emerged 40-something sense of self that really doesn’t give a crap about being anybody else’s version of me.

I have two wardrobes, one for each point of the pendulum I am on at any given moment. Compounding my confusion is my love of food. I’ve never been one of those “food is fuel” types. Perish the thought! I love to eat. Eating good food is a sensual treat for me, and I really think life is too short to forego great food for the rest of it.

Then you add the good health debate into the mix and things really start to mess with my head.

unknown-1The nearest I can come to an answer, is to constantly strive for balance. Somewhere in between “I want to eat my face off every day” and “I need to be a Barbie” there is a happy middle ground. But my middle ground might not be yours. For me, and at this point in my life, I am prepared to forego certain foods for the sake of my shape. My size, rightly or wrongly, impacts how I feel about myself and I need to keep my self-esteem in the positive spectrum. I don’t need to be perfect, but there is a certain size where maintenance is a bit of work, but not all consuming, and I am happy with what I see in the mirror. And it’s not anybody else’s idea of what is right for me, but mine.

Conversely, I am not prepared to make the sort of sacrifices it would take to have the body I did at eighteen. I simply don’t want to spend that much time in a gym, or crying into my kale.

I’d love to say I look in the mirror and love what I see all the time. And I wouldn’t even be writing this if I did. I can blame society, I can blame mass consciousness, I can even blame my mother, but at the end of the day I have to take responsibility for how I view myself. I have allowed all these factors to take up rent-free space in my brain and until I can oust my unwelcome tenants, I need to find a balance that works for me. And as importantly, find a balance that releases my teenage girls from this tangle.

sarahsig

 

Food Trucks – Yum.

Food Trucks – Yum.

This summer in my town (Sheboygan, Wi) we’ve got a new Monday night attraction.

Food Trucks!

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Each Monday night about a dozen or so food trucks show up at one of the local parks. There’s also a DJ offering music.

People bring chairs or blankets and the place really rocks.

College students sitting in the park

A picnic in the park and you don’t have to pack anything.

And the food? Amazing.

I great variety of ethnic foods, burgers, all-American favorites, and deserts to choose from, and best of all, everyone gets what they want. We arrive, set up our chairs and spread out to look for whatever catches our eye.

Fun!

Do you have food trucks in your town?

Let me know in the comments below.

Steve

My Food Musings

Hard to talk about women and food without a floodof emotions, memories and chocolate. It seems like it plays such an important role in our lives, weaving a rich tapestry that ties together the unforgettable moments of our past, shaping who we are as individuals, mothers, partners. What you ate when your young heart was broken may always stay in a quiet corner of your mind. For those of us who have donned a wedding dress, we probably can recall with amusement what our diet consisted of as the big day neared, trying on that lily-white gown every few days in anticipation.

 

And then there’s cooking. Talk to a handful of women and no two of them have the same story about a childhood favorite dish their mother whipped up to warm them on a rainy day or the same recipe for meatloaf. We have our own tricks up our sleeve, convenient shortcuts, ingredient lists honed by way of picky eaters or allergies or someone’s aversion to mushrooms. Our time in the kitchen can have almost a magical quality to it. Some of our recipes have been passed down through generations, we may pull out cookbooks or index cards so weathered or dog-eared they have the appearance of a rare antique manuscript. Others seem to come out of nowhere. “Where did you learn how to make this?” we may have heard from our partners or dinner party guests, upon tasting a new venture. And the answer could even elicit a laugh. Sick in bed one day, you happened upon a chef on the Food Network espousing the virtues of lamb. Or at the doctor’s office, a years-old issue of Good Houskeeping provided a garlic chicken recipe too mouth-watering not to try. The combination of creativity, skill and sheer luck in the kitchen makes the experience very personal for each of us, and powerful, with successes and failures that mirror life itself.

 

For me, it’s all about keeping it simple. I actually do love to cook, but I’m not a fan of any activity that’s very time-consuming, nor do I usually have that time to spare. I’m always impressed by the kitchen alchemy some people practice, seemingly bringing to fruition gastronomic delights out of thin air, but in reality applying incredible skill, taking great pains in attention to detail and procuring hard to find ingredients. I’m not ashamed to say that for me, this is all a little extraneous. I like a simple recipe with a short list of good ingredients that comes off as hearty but sophisticated with a minimum amount of toil on my part. I learned to cook from Jamie Oliver, the cheerful and gregarious British chef with boyish charm and recipes spanning from his youth in prep school to his current role as husband, father and healthy-eating advocate. My philosophy when it comes to food doesn’t involve diets or restrictions of any kind, beyond my own preferences, which skew towards savory, unostentatious dishes. Food to me can be of course to an extent a source of comfort, and I do occasionally splurge on a few items that have questionable nutritional value, to say the least. But I very much appreciate the nurturing aspect of a great home-cooked dish. Feeding your loved ones, your physical body and your soul with delicious food that was enjoyable to make is one of life’s purest pleasures. For women especially, cooking and eating adds so much value to our daily lives. Sharing intimate moments with each other over half-priced apps in the afternoon lull of a local restaurant or romantic evenings with our partners or watching children eat our lovingly-prepared meals, those things are unique moments in time, emphasizing what’s important when an otherwise routine existence could be stripping the excitement from each passing day. A gourmet chef may not have been my calling, but my experience with food, like a lot of us, has shaped my relationships and to an extent who I am as a writer. Thinking about it makes memories flutter from the depths of my brain and a rumble gently emerge in my stomach.

My Secret Ingredient

My Secret Ingredient

by Xio Axelrod

How’s your Italian? Try rolling this around in your mouth: Colatura di Alici di Cetara.

Sounds sexy, doesn’t it? Like some exotic locale where you could race your Maserati along a road with curves to rival Sophia Loren.

Far be it from me to dash those sumptuous visions but, the truth is, Colatura di Alici di Cetara is an amber liquid made from…anchovies.

Yep.
Anchovies. [Read more…]

The Manly Art Of Lefsa Making

The Manly Art Of Lefsa Making

The holiday season is fast approaching, and that means that lefse day is also on the horizon. Each year bold Vikings strive forth into the kitchen, sword in hand, for that manliest of occasions –  lefsa making.

For those of you unfamiliar with lefse let me just say…you are missing out. This Norwegian flat bread is the basis for an extraordinary cuisine that includes a jelly-like white fish treated with lye and stacked like cord-wood behind the cabin in the winter cold, rich, bland cream sauces, and macaroni boiled to within an inch of it’s life. (In Norwegian al dente means ‘not yet done’.) Thank the Lord for Swedish Meatballs or I would not have survived my church’s annual Lutefisk dinners.

But the shining star of the blond, bland traditional Norwegian cuisine…is Lefse!

Lefse

This incredibly versatile and almost tasteless flat bread is made of mashed potatoes, flour, cream, butter and salt. Now come on, can you get any blander than that?

Okay, I hear you asking…what’s the big deal?

My friends…here is the big deal. Behold my vast array of lefse making tools:

Lefse tools

What is that implement in the center you may ask? (go ahead…you may ask.)

Lefse Sword

Yes, that is my Lefse Sword. If ever one food reflected the proud bearing of a cuisine…a people…Nay, A NATION! it is Lefse. For Lefse is made with a sword!

Oh how those hearty Vikings, fresh from the rape and pillage of Europe must have looked forward to wielding their swords in the kitchen upon their return to Norway. Hearty men in horned helms flinging bland flat bread on to table and shield in a quest to find something…anything…that would make that lye soaked fish palatable.

Now women, stand back, for this is a manly art, and not for the faint of heart.

Balls of cold dough…

rolled so thin you can almost see through them.

Then the sword is applied…

to move the thin pastry to the griddle.

It is the truest mark of a man’s skill at arms.

At my side will be my trusty sword-mate (my niece’s husband) Matt. He learned the craft at my knee a bare five years ago. The boy became a man that day, and has since upheld the annual tradition that is Lefse Day.

Lefse will soon be once again available for meals, for snacks (it isn’t just for breakfast anymore). A dinner roll replacement with butter, a wrap for sandwich fixings, a basis for hundreds of different meals, snacks and desserts. This flexible food has limitless options, and only wants for a bit of imagination. Don’t take my word for it. Look here (I ♥ this restaurant. Lefse year round.): http://norskenook.com/menu-lefse-wraps-specialties/

If we are frugal, our batch will last through the holidays, though most years I am forced into making a second batch. Gladly do I draw my sword and march once again into battle. For we must have lefse for  Christmas. But there will come that day, usually late into a cold, snowy January, when the lefse runs out. Then we must wait, and do without lefse, the rest of that cold, dark year, for the grand tradition that is…LEFSE DAY!

Steve

Stepping back in time.

Stepping back in time.

Douglas Adams, in his book The Restaurant at the End of the Universe writes about Milliways, a dining establishment that uses a wormhole to take customers to the future where they dine and watch the universe explode. What fun.

 "The Universe as we know it has now been in existence for over one hundred and seventy thousand million billion years and will be ending in a little over half an hour. So, welcome one and all to Milliways, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe!" ”   	 — The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

“The Universe as we know it has now been in existence for over one hundred and seventy thousand million billion years and will be ending in a little over half an hour. So, welcome one and all to Milliways, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe!” ”
— The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

But of course we can’t go to the future (well, not yet anyway). But sometimes it is possible to step into the past.

We’ve all seen them, those wonderful throw-back diners, and in my new home town, Sheboygan, Wi, I’ve discovered a great one.

Harrys1       IMG_0111

Welcome to Harry’s Diner. Welcome back to the 1950’s.

You’re greeted at the door by the King himself. Where else do you get this treatment? (Okay, maybe Las Vegas)

Elvis     Harrys2

The wait staff is appropriately attired, the music is all from the era, and the food is excellent. What more can you ask? It’s just plain fun.

Memorabilia lines the walls, making it easy to fall back into a bygone era.

IMG_0118    IMG_0121

My wife and I made a special trip in, early, early, so I could get these pictures. The place is usually hopping and bopping. Breakfast was, as usual, a delicious dining experience.

So, where’s your favorite throw-back restaurant? Let me know in the comments down below.

And if you’re ever in my neck of the north woods, stop in to Harry’s.

Steve

Cooking with a blowtorch.

Cooking with a blowtorch.

A few years ago, while dining at a fancy restaurant, my wife and I discovered Crème Brulee. If you’ve never tried it, do. This is some seriously delicious stuff.Crema brule - Crme brle

 

Now, we rarely do dessert at restaurants, but crème brulee on the menu always makes us reconsider. So it soon became apparent I needed to learn how to make this incredible treat.

 

A little research turned up some recipes, and a list of equipment needed. Seriously? A blowtorch? Okay, a small, kitchen torch, but wow. I had to get me one of those.

Off to Williams-Sonoma. Not only did they have the torch and special baking dish with ramekins, but the torch came with what has become our favorite crème brulee recipe. You’ll find it here: http://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe/creme-brulee.html

Bon Appétit.

Steve