Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Less than success...

I'm sure there are some dark souls lurking out there on the internet that were waiting for this to happen--but tonight's dinner was not a success.

We made a version of this recipe. Plus chick peas and some red pepper flake, extra garlic and ginger. To be honest, the night didn't start well.


That's a broken Wustoff knife handle, in case you were wondering.  

Nothing happened when I added a pinch of saffron to my rice.

 Yup, still brown rice. Booooorrrrrring....


Lookd like curry, smells like curry, tastes like something decidedly less delicious than curry.  



Matthew was clearly not impressed.  It's also important to note that we didn't even eat at the table.  Lame. 

Rowdypants however, in true Rowdy fashion, still wants a taste of whatever we have.  Unfortunately, it's too tomatoey and too spicy for LBD, he had dog food instead. Also lame, says Rowdy. 

Another interesting thing that Matt and I have noticed since not eating out is probably obvious, but for whatever reason, surprised me.  We've been running out of things. There is more room in our cabinets, there are more empty shelves in our fridge. We usually keep a pretty hefty running stock in our pantry and in our fridge, and now, in addition to using all the things we buy, we're using up what's we have and what's been in the cabinet for awhile.  In addition to fresh ingredients like produce and proteins, we've been having to add pantry staples to our shopping lists.  I can't remember the last time I used up the very last bit of coriander in jar.  That happened this week!  Instead of throwing leftovers away (pretty regularly, which used to happen) we pack them as lunches or use them as fill in dinners.  I'm suddenly aware of how wasteful we were (and are, still, in some ways) and how lucky we are to have a full pantry and fridge.  Even when there is "nothing to eat" at our house, we still have plenty, and that is something we should be thankful for.   

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Bad Habit, A Long Weekend

I have a really bad habit.  I get an idea in my head of what I want to eat and make and then I find a recipe.  Then, I immediately,without ever having tasted the recipe before, think of ways to change it to make it either better or more like what I feel like eating.  This weekend, I had a taste for carrot raisin muffins, and I kept finding recipes online with too much sugar, fat and refined white flour.  So I manipulated somebody else's recipe.  Does this make the recipe mine? Am I just a sneaky plagiarist?

Better Than What I Found on the Internet Carrot Raisin Muffins
1 cup (or a little more) raisins, soaked in warm water for 15 minutes, then drained
3 cups grated carrots (for me this was about 5 medium sized carrots, with the nub ends fed to Rowdy)

1 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1T baking powder
2t baking soda
1t salt
2t cinnamon
mix dry ingredients in a large bowl

4 eggs
1/2 c vegetable oil
1/2 c almond milk (you could totally use cow's milk, soy milk, or even applesauce  here instead.  I had unsweetened vanilla almond milk in the fridge)
1/2 c brown sugar
1 1/2 t vanilla extract (use the good stuff, I don't need to say that, do I?)
Mix these wet ingredients together.  Beat well.


Add wet ingredients to dry and mix completely, but don't overmix.  Fold in raisins and carrots. 

 Scoop batter into prepared muffin tins.  I got exactly 14 muffins from this recipe.


Into a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.  (They smell awesome while cooking.)
Finished product looks something like this: 


Super delicious and while they aren't winning any healthy living awards, I find them totally acceptable for breakfast on the go.  

And now, for your viewing pleasure, some fun images and quirks from The Rowdy House:

No one at our house likes to put dishes away.  This is a problem because clean dishes in the dish drainer and dishwasher mean we let dirty dishes back up more than they should.  Motivational tips for this would be appreciated. 

 Matt started putting the tiny produce stickers on the side of our fridge before I moved in.  I have continued to do the same.  It's weird.  

The plug behind our mixer is so crowded, mostly because we can't live without our airport, which makes music and NPR consumption while cooking a breeze.


Liz and Nick came over and I helped Liz make a delicious tofu stirfry for dinner.  She's a fast learner.  Stay tuned for updates from the Wasabi House Blog.

Stir fry has been covered here at the Rowdy House before, so I won't get into that. However, Liz and I invented a pretty legit after dinner drink while the boys did dishes.  Rocks glass, ice cubes, one shot amaretto, one shot vodka, half shot banana liquor, fill with cows milk (for boys) or almond milk  (for girls), stir, drizzle with chocolate syrup.  Dessert in a glass! 

 
Rowdy would like me to mention that he helped.  This is is still up for debate. 

Matthew makes a delicious weekend breakfast.  Fried eggs, whole wheat english muffin, and swiss chard with extra garlic right out of the garden.  We are lucky people. 

That's our report from a lovely long weekend.  I will not mention any details of wedding dress shopping here.  Just know that it happened. To be continued.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Did you miss us?

Sorry for the radio silence.  It's a good thing we don't blog for a living.  We've had a lot to do and some travel on the books since our last posting.

We shared quiche with our most fabulous graphic designer (you might recognize her from running related stories.   Leah is also making our save the date cards and invites and things!  We repay her with dinner. And love.) Unfortunately, there are no quiche photos,  only dessert photos.  Sometimes we eat dessert!  Blueberry cobbler, even!




eating blueberry cobbler makes me fulllllllllllllllllllll.....

There was also million veggie minestrone.  (please note, "million" is an estimate)


Not all veggies were photographed. 
  


We were gifted with a lovely trip to Naples, Florida for Christmas!  (thanks, Pete and Sallie!)  We unfortunately booked our trip for a weekend with record setting low temperatures. However, we had wonderful company and ended up having a most excellent time.  A few photos:




We tried to catch a sunset every night we were there.  We finally caught one on our last night, pulling over at a lovely state park on our way to dinner with my parents in Fort Myers.  (They were vacationing in Sanibel at the same time we were down south!)


While we were away we ate out a lot!  But we also had several opportunities to cook with Pete and Sallie at their condo.  The fresh grouper was out of this world.  Unfortunately, we didn't photograph our dinner, so you'll have to imagine it.  Grouper marinated in garlic, parsley, white wine and olive oil, grilled and served with mango butter and warm Israeli couscous salad.  As in Florida tradition, Key Lime Pie for dessert.  We were living the good life, for sure.  

We're back to the grind!  Thanks for checking in, we'll be back with more fun from the Rowdy House!  

Monday, February 6, 2012

PJ's last night in town and an evaluation...

When we embarked on our "no eating out challenge" we decided that we would see how it went for the month of January and then decide what our plan would be moving forward.  Since I was gone for the last bit of January and Matt was gone for the first part of February and our wonderful reunion fell on the last night that PJ was in town, the evening called for a bit of a celebration.


Just kidding, Peeeej, you can stay as long as you like!

When you've got a friend who hates on Baltimore, who has never had a dark and stormy, and who appreciates the fine line between fine dining and dive bar there's only one place to take him.  That's right friends.  Matt and I officially ate out on our own dime for the first time since the challenge began at the much heralded Captain Larry's.  PJ, Matt and I met up with newlyweds Nick and Liz for delicious eats, strong drinks and great company.

Dark and Stormy:
Pint glass, half ginger beer, topped with dark rum--just the way it should be. 


Apps:

These fish tacos hit the spot every, single time:


 Build your own grilled cheese:

I realize this is not a flattering photo of Lizzy, but look at that cheese! 

Crabby Cakes:

Peej decided to truly embrace his Mobtown experience, and ordered the crabcakes.  These things were huge and done in the proper Maryland style, with little filler and lotsa flavor.  Seriously gigantic, he had to take one home. 

Pirate Cupcakes:  
Matt had to give his cupcake a talking to before he demolished it. 

Cupcakes make PJ a little creepy. 

Patty Piratecupcakes is always a highlight of a trip to Larry's.  She creates fresh often whacky and always delicious flavors.  This lady is so creative, a million flavor combos that I would never think of.  We've ordered her treats for my birthday party for a couple of years now.  If you ever need cupcakes in Baltimore, look her up!  You won't be disappointed. 

PJ remarked that Captain Larry's has a bit of an identity crisis, and he is totally right.  It's part dirty sailor bar, part art gallery, part family friendly restaurant, part Ravens' Roost and all fun.  Just the way I like it. 

After enjoying our meal out and a busy weekend, Matt and I took some time to evaluate our challenge and how we'll move forward. Soon, we'll report back with more specific financials, but we are definitely saving some cash by eating in--even considering the extra money spent at the grocery store.  We are most certainly spending more time together and with Rowdy at our little house, which is a pleasant side effect I didn't expect.  No word on our health just yet, but eating in still feels really, really good.  I've personally been really encouraged by all the people who comment on the blog, in person, here or on Facebook.  The accountability is a great motivator and it's nice to hear from folks who are following us on this journey!  

So, moving forward, our plan is to continue to eat in as much as possible.  We're going to plan a meal out once a month and we're going to try and plan it ahead of time so we don't succumb to laziness or lack or preparation or pressure.  We will each be allowed one coffee shop coffee drink a week.  We will consider invitations for meals out for special occasions and celebrations.  Sound good?  

Is there something we're forgetting?  Is there other information we should include here?  Something else, you readers (all 22 of you) want to see?  Just let us know!  Thanks for following along!  

xo, julia

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Rowdy Houseguest

Tonight's Rowdy House Menu has a special guest.  My buddy, PJ, who I've gotten to know through work functions is in town for a few days and requested 2 things for dinner:  1.  to help cook and be a featured guest on the blog and 2. "healthy fooooooood"

I of course, told him he came to the right place and we got to work as soon as he arrived.  (He's en route from North Carolina to Ohio)

We whipped up a batch of homemade veggie burgers using a recipe I found on Daily Garnish awhile back. I've actually had the pepitas (pumpkin seeds) in the pantry for awhile now, they have been sneaking into other meals the whole time.  Whoops.

A fun meal in pictures:


Just back from a 3.5 miler.  Making burgers.  



We served our burgers with sweet potato fries and salads. 


I thought about including a recipe for these, but then I would need to change the name of the blog to "Julia Roasts Veggies in the Oven" or something like that.  I will tell you that I generously sprinkle these guys with chili powder, black pepper, salt, cumin and coriander before they go in the oven.  But you could totally put anything on these.  You could even go sweet, with cinnamon and sugar.  Yum.
  

Lookin' good.  I didn't think they would be firm enough, but they firmed up. 


Burgers were dressed up with whole wheat buns, avocado,and more hipster barbecue sauce. 


That's a happy weary traveler.  

I swear Peej is a nice guy, but Rowdy seems a little disappointed that it wasn't Matt following me in the door this evening.  I'm sure he'll warm up to our Rowdy Houseguest, though!


Cranky little man.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Table for One

Now it's my turn to dine alone at the Rowdy House.  Rowdy doesn't really "dine" per se... he mostly just makes a giant mess as he picks the chewy bits out of his food pushing his bowl around the room.

Tonight's dinner was nothing special. Just some warmed up leftovers on a bed of spinach with a glass of wine.

However, I wanted to take a minute to talk about my trip to Alabama and a cool little side trip that I went on while I was there.  Base camp for the conference was Camp McDowell, which is a lovely spot with a dynamic program and lovely, lovely staff that showed first rate hospitality and tons o' fun. Mark and his crew were spectacular and we had a great time.  I'm sure that Rowdy and one of the camp dogs, Beans,would have had a great time hanging out together.

My friend Teri and I took an afternoon hike together to enjoy some of the sights (and thrills, right Teri?) from Camp McDowell's swinging bridge.

 These photos don't really do any justice to how wide the river is, how swingy the bridge is or how steep those steps are!  What a great afternoon.

While at this conference, participants have the opportunity to take an afternoon field trip and I was super pumped to find that one offering was to the Jones Valley Urban Farm.  I was really inspired by the mission and work done by the staff of the farm.  They established themselves in a food desert in downtown Birmingham and work to provide a variety of resources and programs to promote healthy eating in the city.


The farm has several individual garden plots that nearby residents without yards can rent and use to grow their own fresh produce.




The farm also provides education programs to local school students and school food service managers about the importance of balanced nutrition and fresh fruits and vegetables in a balanced diet. 

Oh, you know, just a field of winter greens right next to a major highway, no big deal.  




Jones Valley Urban Farm also provides locally grown produce and herbs to local chefs who help promote the farm's mission and education programs.  On top of all that, they have a summer farm stand!  Busy, busy farmers over there. 

I cannot mention my trip to the farm without mentioning this ugly creature that I met there.  


It's a TURKEN!  It's 2/3s of a turducken, but ALIVE! This charming character is a crossbreed between a chicken and a turkey.  Who knew those even existed?  This guy was seriously ugly with his half bald turkey neck, and was kind of a farm yard bully.  Meeting him was a definite highlight.  I just couldn't leave him out. 

My point is this, if you're ever in Alabama, stop by Camp McDowell and the Jones Valley Urban Farm.  Lots of good work is being done down there!  Enjoy!

(sorry about the cell phone photos, I do what I can...)