January 26, 2012


My back is much, much better today. I could walk at an almost normal pace, sit down without easing myself into the chair, and drive without wincing when I moved my foot from the gas pedal to the brake. I have high hopes that in the next few days I'll even be able to bend at the waist. Such dramatic improvement!

I'm doing well on my goal to keep a clean pantry. I don't even want to reveal how bad it was before. The first step is admitting you have a problem. Here's the damage as it was on January 2:

And as it is today:

I took an inventory of everything in the cupboards. The most interesting realization was that I had 15 varieties of salt:
  • Mesquite Smoked Maine Sea Salt
  • Black Cyprus Flake Mediterranean Sea Salt
  • Alea Coarse Hawaiian Red Sea Salt
  • Hawaiian Red Alaea Sea Salt (former bought in bulk at Whole Foods and latter packaged by faerie's)
  • Slovenian Fleur de Sel
  • Gusto Mundial Hibiscus Flor de Sal
  • RealSalt All-Natural Sea Salt
  • Morton Table Salt
  • Morton Kosher Salt
  • Fleur de Sel
  • Saltworks Smoked Serrano Salt
  • World Classics Fine Ground Sea Salt
  • Bolivian Rose Fine Salt
  • Lemon Coarse Salt
  • Alderwood Smoked Sea Salt
Certifiably insane! I'm glad I didn't order any Guerande or Maldon sea salt as I wanted to last month. Completely crazy. I also have 8 kinds of honey and 7 types of vinegar, but only 4 kinds of peanut butter, which may be a record low.

Good progress on my other resolution as well - I haven't eaten out this month, or to be specific, I haven't paid for a meal out. I've spent $282.97 on groceries so far this month and feel confident I can ring in under $300 for January. And that total includes the cost of a dinner party I hosted for 8 people. Not bad at all for me. More details on the dinner party to follow.

The next project is to transform the other kitchen cupboards into a picture of organization that would make Martha Stewart proud.

January 25, 2012

Le Petit Gourmand

I've camped out at Mom and Dad's for a few days because of a nasty pain in my back that makes any movement excruciating. The highlight of my day was when Katie and Nancy came home from the library and Nancy showed me the book she chose for herself.

She curled up next to me on the bed and we flipped through recipes for Croque Monsieur sandwiches, Sole Meunière, and Clafoutis.

My niece has very discerning tastes. She asked for seconds of a 72% dark chocolate and sea salt bar from World Market.

Another high point was finding that I could laugh without writhing in agony, so you know, small victories today. 

January 10, 2012

Dark Vador Burger

Now that I've been back from my trip to Belgium for 3 months, I figure it's time to blog about it before it becomes like the Alaskan cruise that I never wrote about or the New Orleans trip about which I still have posts sitting in the drafts folder.

There's a burger chain in Belgium and France called Quick Burger. While we were there, Katie and I saw ads everywhere with two burgers in battle mode that read Hard Pepper vs. Strong Bacon. I laughed every time I saw it. Best photo evidence I could find online here and here.

My friend Shelley sent me a link to a story about Quick's new Dark Vador Burger, which has a terrifyingly black bun.

Who do you think will win that battle?

One of my favorite parts of traveling is walking up and down city streets. It's especially fun when you've traversed cultures because there are even more things to gawk at, very discreetly, of course.

A few pictures we snapped in Antwerp:




And if you were wondering what language Smurfs speak, it's clearly Flemish. Clearly.


January 3, 2012


Happy 2012! Does anyone have any resolutions or goals with regards to food? I'll go first.

For the month of January, my goal is to not eat out. It looks like I spent about $180/month at restaurants last year, but I didn't count the calories. I'm hoping that I can cut expenses and pounds by cooking my own meals. Wait wait, I just checked my supermarket purchases for last year, and they averaged around $260/month. I don't know if eating at home will save me any money, but I do know that I have an overstocked pantry right now that I could probably eat on for a month. Which brings us to goal #2...

My goal is to keep my kitchen pantry organized. No expired foods. No partially opened bags spilling in the cupboard. No pushing unwanted items to the back of the cupboard to be forgotten for years. I'm doing a pantry purge now and it is not pretty. I was well past the point of needing an intervention. I realize that I can be a hoarder. I'll try to combat it with an inventory list and by trying to make do with ingredients I have on hand, Chopped-style, no matter how crazy the combinations may seem. I accept the culinary challenge.

I'll evaluate my success with not eating out at the end of the month. I already know I'll make an exception if I go out of town. And I'm not offering to cook at my house if I am asked out on a dinner date. It could happen. I'm not very confident in my motivation to maintain the pantry inventory list, but as of now I'm resolved to do it. I hope it will reduce the amount of food I let go to waste.

As for the pantry purge, I think the winner, or rather, loser, of my game of expiration date roulette was the seaweed package with a use-by date of July 26, 2006. I know I didn't buy that because I can't read ANYTHING on the package except the expiry date. I assume the rest of the characters are Japanese. Now I'm trying to remember why someone gave me seaweed.

Seaweed Potato Chips