It?s been a while since I posted last because we?ve been without the Internet, so prepare for a long one, folks. It?s been a scorcher out here in Adelaide these past few days. We?ve been in the high 30s and reached 40 yesterday (between 90 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit), which just goes to show that too much of a good thing isn?t always so good. We pulled a stupid tourist move the other day and tried to jog in this weather and nearly passed out. It was so hot, I was forced to bare it all and run in my sports bra and let me tell you, I have not shown the belly since at least summer of 2000. That is how hot it was! But good news? Read the rest of this entry »
It’s technically still the 28th in the States, but here in Australia it is March 29th, the great day of birth of the best big brother ever. Happy birthday, Dilip!
Sometimes he lost me in huge theme parks, sometimes he made me eat soap. One time, he and the babysitter put a bunch of random stuff together from the fridge, baked it and forced me to eat it when I was too young to protest. I vaguely recall blueberries and onions. Thank god he outgrew that stage. Happy birthday, big brother. Way to be born! ~LTG
I hate rainy days. Sometimes I think I’m part plant. I love the sun THAT much. Today was a rainy day in Adelaide.
I understand that eating when you are upset is not a good thing, but when the hell have I ever listened to authority? Look at this beaut!
This is my solution to a rainy day. Well, a rainy day in Adelaide, the official start of winter. Boo. It also means water and tons of humidity. I loathe humidity. And reading about 17th century English medicinal habits and how they relate to the period?s food. I love toasted coconut. I love homemade marshmallows. That made this little gem my best friend…t least until I ate him and all of his delicious brothers. It reminds me of the Kraft toasted marshmallows my mom would buy for us around Passover time (you don’t need to be a Jew to appreciate these bad boys!) but these are fluffier and don’t taste as processed. Toasted coconut marshmallows=little bits of kick ass-ness. This is the rest of my rainy day stash. Tomato foccacia bread, greek yogurt with berries, and of course, the little bits of kick ass-ness.
Rain, rain, go away, and while you’re at it, take your no good half sister humidity and let her play in traffic. Thanks. ~LTG
So I am sure you are wondering what exactly I do all day when I am not hard at work in school. Hell, I often wonder that myself. I am proud to say that I have the attention span of a monkey on acid, and just as much self control. That means that if I study at my house, whatever I am reading will keep me occupied for an hour at most, and then it starts making me hungry (every paper is about food. Can you blame me?). I try to calm my hunger down by reading some food porn, usually Gourmet or Bon Appetit, or if it?s particularly bad, I?ll start surfing my food discussion boards for some hardcore stuff like full out dissertations on the 10 course meal someone was served at Topolobampo. But that inevitably makes me hungrier, so I scheme for something amazing and porn worthy to make for dinner. And then I go shopping for the ingredients. And then I get home and its time to start making it. And then I realize I still have 100 pages of reading to do before the night is through, and my food addiction has royally screwed me up the ass. Thus, instead of being thoroughly versed on the history of wine in 17th century Mesopotamia, I made this:
A stuffed pizza from scratch. I found the recipe in the February 2007 Gourmet, but it called for escarole. I just happened to have green olives, caramelized onions, bacon (AMERICAN bacon!), roasted tomatoes, portabella mushrooms and garlic, so that?s what I stuffed it with. I used pizza dough I bought from the farmers market, but I think you can use the stuff in the grocery stores too. In retrospect, it could have held much more filling. But it tasted like heaven, so I?ll save that for next time. And Pizza Hut can suck my toe. ~LTG
I forgot to feed my hamster. My old cat was always so pissed when I left, she left me little presents on my bed?and couch?and lap. And I once knocked over an entire kingdom of huge fat sea monkeys by throwing a football into my bedroom without looking first. Needless to say, I suck at raising anything. But if I ever want to have little Leenas one day (and I do mean one day very, very, very FAR away, MOM), I have to learn how not to kill or seriously fuck a living thing up. And since those sea monkeys shattered my self confidence, I decided to start small. Everyone, meet Sherman.
He?s my basil plant. And I almost killed him by going crazy on the few basil leaves he had when I purchased him (I?m a sucker for caprese), but thanks to some self control and H2O, he keeps on truckin. I don?t get a ton of sunlight on my balcony, and I?m not quite sure how much water is too much. He?s not even as big as all the other basil plants, but size doesn?t matter. Being alive does. And so far, Leena 1, Death 0. ~LTG
On the official last weekend of summer in Australia, Adam and I went to the beach for the first time. We took a tram 30 minutes into Glenelg, a local beach town that is a bit touristy, but still really cute. It was around 90 degrees with no humidity and a completely clear sky. And to think, I could be in Chicago, rejoicing over their recent heat wave of 55 degrees with snow still on the ground. Man, I have it hard.
I attempted to tan but only succeeded in getting sand in every tiny crevice on my body. And Adam?well, it is sort of hard not to burn when he takes off his shirt and the reflection of the sun on his belly blinds anyone within a 50 foot radius. But all he got was a side burn?literally. He seemed to miss a foot long strip on the side of his belly with the lotion, and you can even see the hand print in the shape of a burn on it Although it looks like it in the picture below, this was NOT a nudist beach.
We packed a light lunch using one of the recipes from my ibs safe cookbook. I know. I am the ultimate in cool. We had smoked chicken breast sandwiches on flat bread with a homemade fig and rosemary chutney, along with hummus, veggies and grapes. Oh yeah, and we saw a few camels. They were chilling on the side of the beach, just eating some grass and looking humpy.
Did you know that in some parts of Australia there are packs of wild camels? And you can get camel pies to eat in Perth. Those crazy Aussies. They?ll put just about anything into a pie. ~LTG
My friend Jamie has a blog about her family and her scrap booking obsession (ramblingsinchocolate.blogspot.com) and she has been advocating taking self portraits. Not to prove how pretty you are (although, c?mon, look at me!) but more to remind yourself what you look like. This used to scare me. But now I agree with her, and I?m jumping headfirst into my fear. No, this is not a blog about food. But it is a blog about a girl getting ready to study food! So here it is, my first of many self portraits. This is me, getting ready for my first day of school as a Gastronomy student. I think I look calm, collected, and ready to kick some gastronomic ass.
I love cookbooks, but I don?t often cook from them much. When I do, I usually change them to my likings. I happen to have two of Alton Brown?s cookbooks, and if you are not familiar with him, you should be. He makes learning how to cook fun and really understandable (check out his Food Network show, Good Eats, and you?ll know what I am talking about). So I was looking through one of his books, and got inspired by his broiled chicken salad recipe. It?s not really a recipe so much as a story about being at a coworker?s house and needing food even though there was little in the fridge and really crappy cookware. So Alton grabbed a couple of things and made this salad out of necessity, and the moral of the story is, work with what you have on hand and you can end up with something really nice. He listed a recipe for the salad, but taking inspiration from his story, I altered it based on what I had on hand. He used a whole chicken, split in half and cooked under the broiler?I had chicken tenders, so I saut?ed them. He used the fat from the chicken to baste sour dough bread cubes and broiled them to make croutons, but since tenders have no fat on them, I cooked up some streaky (smoked American) bacon and took the fat it rendered out to brush on the bread cubes. Now, I could have used plain old olive oil, but I LOVE bacon fat (some may say I sweat bacon fat I love it so much), so that?s what I used. I threw on a little salt and pepper, and broiled the cubes until they were crispy, stirring it every now and then to ensure even browning. Now, I have been attempting to cook healthier because of my ibs, and pretty much everything I love to eat, bacon fat included, is not allowed. But what I?ve found is that if I put as much good stuff for in a recipe as I can and use the bad stuff sparingly, it doesn?t hurt me. So instead of tossing the bread with the bacon fat, I used a pastry brush for each individual cube so I could monitor how much fat I put on there. I also used spray oil instead of olive oil to saut? the chicken, because spray oil puts out much less oil than oil straight from the bottle, and its better for me than olive oil, which is what I typically use. Plus, I had a little bacon to put on the salad. Alton broiled cherry tomatoes, olives and scallions until the tomatoes had some color, and I had it all except the scallions, so in that all went too. I love cooking cherry tomatoes. They get so juicy and melty! I also chopped up some cucumbers and avocado, which Alton did not have. Finally, I washed some rocket (arugula in the States), and that was in the recipe. Alton used champagne vinegar and just splashed it on the salad, but all I had on hand was balsamic and rice vinegar. I like a little more flavor in my dressings than just vinegar, but oil was a not an option, so I reduced some of the balsamic with chicken broth, and ended up with a nice, almost syrupy liquid that was sweet and savory and ibs safe. I tossed the warm tomatoes and olives with the arugala to wilt it a bit, and then added the reduction sauce, and tossed in the rest of the ingredients. This salad rocked so hard, people in China were rubbing their asses wondering, what the hell was that? OH! Leena?s kick ass salad. Avocadoes were such a nice, buttery touch too, I highly recommend using them. ~LTG
I?m an American. To further complicate matters, I am a biracial American. Americans don?t really have a type of cuisine, like Italians or the French. America is basically a giant conglomeration of a bunch of different cultures, and some of those cultures, the unlucky ones at least, end up having their cuisine westernized and turned into fast food restaurants a la Taco Bell. Being biracial and an American, I don?t see myself as having one specific ethnic cuisine that is traditional. I like it all. In class, we read an essay that spoke about ethnic cuisines, and how they are often the last thing a person holds on to before completely assimilating themselves into a new culture. It makes them feel at home, and brings back memories of good times past. There are many cuisines that make me feel like I am at back at home in Chicago. Mexican is one of them. Australia seems to have a severe lack of Mexican restaurants and food, and the little they do have is so westernized, I don?t even want to eat it. So when I found a package of corn tortillas at Woolworths the other day, I damn near had a food orgasm. And while there are many ethnic cuisines close to my heart, Indian cuisine included, perhaps the one that truly gives me the warm fuzzies is Ethiopian food. I discovered it less than a year ago at a restaurant in Chicago, with an adventurous friend and fellow food lover insisted on showing me what good food really was (Thanks, Todd!). I ended up moving into a neighborhood because it had three Ethiopian restaurants in it, I loved it that much. So you can only imagine how I felt when I arrived at the Adelaide African Festival this past Saturday and saw not one, but THREE booths serving Ethiopian food. I felt excited, dizzy, hungry, but most importantly, I felt like I was home. Here is Adam, deliriously happy by the booths.
My partner and I indulged in a plate full of spicy yemsir watt (red lentils) and dinich alicha (carrots and potatoes) a top of fluffy and tangy injera bread. The only sad part was when we went back for seconds (we shared the first plate) and all the booths were closed! Such a mouth tease!
This is an African rapper dressed from head to toe in hop hop wear. It was interesting to see the different people there…some had on traditional and colorful African clothes, and the rest wore American hip hop clothing!
It was all held at the Adelaide Festival Center, and there was a pretty lake running behind it. Here we are enjoying the fact that we were not covering in snow like our Chicago compadres.
It is amazing how I have been living in this city for three weeks (although it feels like three months!) and how many different things I have eaten. Nothing made me feel like this food did. For some people, home is where their family is, or the town they grew up in. Home is where they have built a solid base of friends or where they work. For me, home is where the food is, the food that has put so many good memories in my mind and my belly. Once I realized even Adelaide has Ethiopian restaurants, I accepted that for the time being, home could be Adelaide. Me, at home, belly half full of Ethiopian.