Thursday, July 28, 2011


I'm not one to crave red meat or typically American fare, however last week on the elliptical, watching Joe Realmuto grill skirt steak in homemade bbq sauce awakened the small patriotic bone in my body. I decided to plan dinner for my housemates. The menu consisted of skirt steak with bbq sauce, coleslaw and olive bread with garlic and fresh basil. The rave reviews were worth the hour the sauce took to cook. While it might be a bit labor intensive and have a lot of ingredients, making your own bbq sauce is worth the extra time and makes enough to share with friends for not a lot of money. The best idea was adding chipotle to the sauce. It gives a mysterious smoky flavor and saves you a search for liquid smoke. Living in walla walla, I can't always find exactly what I want, so I substituted thin cut rib eye steaks for skirt and it turned out just fine, still lean and tender. I used a Bobby Flay recipe for the coleslaw dressing which I ended up altering completely. I used about triple the apple cider vinegar he calls for and celery salt will kill two birds with one stone if you're looking to pinch pennies. Good olive bread, split in half and spread with a makeshift pesto and warmed in the oven is always a crowd pleaser and very easy to make as a contribution for a potluck.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Summer Vegetable Fiesta

While Saturday's field trip to farmer's market didn't lead Heather and I to the bounty of grillable vegetables that we had invisioned, we did have an enjoyable outing and an even more wonderful dinner. The Walla Walla farmer's market is mostly composed of prepared foods and lots of seasonal fruits. We did, however, acquire 3 beautiful, large zucchinis for two dollars, enormous sweet onions and a bag of mixed rainbow chard, collard greens and kale. I also got one of the most delicious, fresh squeezed in-front-of-my-face, vegetable juices. A mixture of organic carrots, beets, apples and ginger-the perfect summer snack. Upon returning home I sliced the zucchinis lengthwise, cut up some red bell peppers and cut the onions into discs. In one bag, I marinated the zucchini and peppers in a mixture of olive oil, garlic, lime juice, salt and pepper. In another bag, I covered the onions in some oil, salt and pepper. In addition, I blanched a sweet potato until just soft, cut it into slices and marinated it in olive oil, cayenne pepper, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, salt and pepper. Later, after getting into a rather rambunctious tussle with the coals, I threw all of the above onto the grill (well not all at once, we have the teeny, tiniest Weber it took a few rounds). The grilled veggies turned out delicious as usual but the grilled sweet potato fries were a revelation. I got the inspiration from a similar recipe I saw on Grill It with Bobby Flay, though I altered the recipe to fit my preferences. The sweet and spicy with the cinnamon and the caramelized brown sugar?? Genius. These are definitely a new staple. As for the mixed leafy greens? I'm off to cook them for lunch. Details to follow.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Becoming a Vegan...or something like that

Upon my return from France, I found my diet to be lack-luster. Unexciting. Boring. Bland. With the leisure of summer and not having a demanding job, I decided to completely revamp what I eat and become, what some consider to be, crazy. In other words I decided to take a shot at being vegan. Having recently read an article on up and coming vegan chef Tal Ronnen, veganism seemed suddenly possibly, even enjoyable. No longer a black hole of bland rabbit food but open to a wide range of possibilities. Tempeh burgers comparable to those of meat, enchiladas, and cupcake war winner Chloe Coscarelli's chocolate cupcakes with strawberries and whipped cream. With offerings like these, what would you be missing? I also liked Ronnen's taken on veganism. For many, being vegan is scary only because of the stigma that accompanies it: opinionated hippies who refuse to accept the views of others. Ronnen on the other hand does not look down on those who are not strict purists i.e. a vegan who eats bacon can still be considered a vegan with that exception. The fact that he eats bacon on occasion does not nullify the fact that he is vegan on all other occasions. With this new view on the practice I decided to come up with my own take on being vegan. And so I am one week into what I have decided to label "customized vegan". Knowing myself and my often lack of will power, I set up a set of fairly flexible rules. I knew if I attempted to go balls-out vegan, I would end up disappointing myself and cheating after a matter of hours. So I gave myself these, for lack of a better term, guidelines:
Addison will be vegan but:
1) Eat fish
2) Milk is still allowed in minimal amounts-say in coffee
3) An absolute and screaming craving is permitted to be indulged in a small quantity

So far these have been working out quite well. I have avoided meat and eggs in all capacities. Who knew that a banana is a wonderful replacement for eggs in a cake mix for a friend's birthday cake? I now much prefer the banana method, it is much more moist and adds wonderful flavor. The cake received rave reviews Conveniently, a new vegan cafe opened this week in Walla Walla. Vegan cooking for a large crowd can go horribly wrong, but much to my delight they have hit it out of the park. It is absolutely fantastic. There wasn't a dish that went by that I didn't want to try. I had an amazing sandwich called a Hummus Amongus. Soft whole grain bread with thick spread of hummus, kalamata olives, tzatziki, arugula, cucumbers and peppers. Amazing and half the price of what it would be in LA. The duration of this challenge? This answer is still unknown...update to come soon.