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Don’t Be Afraid of Flavor

When trying something new and intimidating, I think most people have the tendency to be timid or cautious. But often, holding back is the worst thing you can do. And it’s funny how you can learn this lesson over and over again in different scenarios: in surfing the worst thing you can do at the top of a wave is hesitate to stand up, my sister recently told me that in art school the hardest part is putting that first mark on a blank canvass, and that sometimes the best thing is to really go for it with lines and color and see where it takes you (I asked Michael for his opinion of a time when it’s not good to hesitate or be cautious, and he said “when confronted by a bear…..or cheetah.” I’m not sure he understood the question).


So, here’s how this works for cooking; don’t be afraid of flavor. This Walnut Crusted Salmon & Edamame Mash recipe from Sprouted Kitchen was good, but it probably could have been great if I wasn’t such a wuss about seasoning the fish (yes simple salt pepper goes a long way) and adding flavors to the edamame mash. Especially with recipes from places like The Sprouted Kitchen, where playing with measurements is encouraged, putting in a little more of a flavor you might like is a great idea!

So next time I’m going to up the ginger and lemon juice and maybe add more seasoning to the fish.


Newbie Cooking Tip #3 – when it comes to flavor, it’s better to use too much than too little

The recipe went well with red wine….everything goes well with red wine on tree coasters.


Edamame on Foodista



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johnwilpers - My moments of cautiousness in cooking to overcome:

1) Being afraid to add more vanilla flavoring to almost anything, but especially pancakes and cookies;
2) Trying beer milkshakes;
3) Adding another fruit to a smoothie … or,
4) In the opposite direction, trying corn on the cob WITHOUT butter! Healthier and surprisingly tasty!

As to when is it not good to be hesitant or overly cautious? Michael has a point: When confronted by a bear — I know a woman who has been enthusiastically un-cautious in her approach to large mammals including contemplating attacking them with a canoe and actually attacking them with pots and pans (banging the kitchen tools loudly).

But in an artistic sense, being afraid to just push the button on the camera and take the picture rather than waiting to get the composition perfectly correct. I have often captured my best photos being adventurous and un-cautious….

Love the pictures! Especially the uncooked fish!

Alisa - Looks delicious.I followed you from the foodie blog roll and I'd love to guide Foodista readers to your site. I hope you could add this edamame widget at the end of this post so we could add you in our list of food bloggers who blogged about recipe ideas for edamame,Thanks!

Quick Healthy Weekday Lunch – Tuna Melt

Weekday lunches are a fun thing to improvise with. I’m lucky enough to work only a few blocks away from where I live. So on days when I’m not super busy, I can rush home to make a lunch (I’m not the kind of person who can get up early so it’s all ready come lunchtime, or plan the night before). So I usually need to be able to put everything together quickly. So far, I have a few go-to recipes for quick healthy, weekday lunches.

Strawberry+Leek Quesadilla (Sprouted Kitchen)
Roasted Mushrooms and Garlic Sandwich (Not Eating Out in New York)
Tuna and Bean Salad (NYT Recipes for Health)
Lighter Tuna Melt (Skinny Taste)
But sometimes I don’t have exactly the ingredients I thought I had, or don’t have time to try and find them, so things get a little improvised. A different type of cheese, a different herb or fruit, a different measurement of vinigrette (mostly because I feel I don’t “have the time” to dig through the utensils to find the measuring spoons). So it’s nice to have pretty basic recipes that can handle a little improvisation. Like the classic, tuna melt. I’ve done this one a lot for lunch, and I’ve changed cheeses, vegetables, breads, and it always tastes good.

Newbie Cooking Tip #2 – when substituting ingredients, don’t just pay attention to taste, texture is also important. So, if you don’t have celery for your tuna melt, but you still want crunch, try substituting something like chopped green pepper. 

I love melty cheese!

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Skinny Fat Kid - I love tuna melts! Its one of those things that you can do a million different ways to suit your tastes and its always delish! Skinny Fat Kid hates canned tuna so more for me!

Alisa - I get hypnotized with photos of melted cheese dripping out from sandwiches.Makes me crave for some grilled cheese sandwiches

vincent - Hello,

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John Wilpers - On second thought, I think I have to add the Roasted Mushrooms and Garlic Sandwich from Not Eating Out in New York, too! It's only 8:35 in the morning and I can't wait for lunch!

john Wilpers - Those lunches look SOOO much better than my daily lunch: whatever lunch meat was on sale that week dropped on a slice of whatever bread was on sale that week "garnished" with mustard and topped by two low-fat cheese sticks, and, if I'm not feeling rushed, a little ground pepper on top!

I will have to come visit and have what are easily the most tasty sounding lunches on your list: The seared scallops and grapefruit salad from Skinny Taste and the Strawberry+Leek Quesadilla from Sprouted Kitchen!

Great pictures, too, especially the melty cheese pic!

Foodie Books – "The Sweet Life in Paris"

So, at five o’clock in the morning, when Delta has kidnapped your boyfriend and you’re going to be stuck alone in the airport for 4 hours…..what book do you think you’d pick up? The one with the delicious looking croissant on it? Yesssssss.

While Sanibel was an amazing vacation, the trip to get there was….let’s just say we’ll each be getting a free Delta flight in the future due to the airlines fantastically ridiculous mistakes that day. It all worked out in the end though. And while Michael was peacefully asleep on the plane, not realizing I had been left behind in New York, I was kept company in the madness of LaGuardia by David Lebovitz. The croissant lured me in, and the writing and recipes did the rest!

“The Sweet Life in Paris” was a great companion, because not only did it make me drool, but I was also  literally laughing out loud in the middle of LGA, even after everything had gone horribly wrong. Anyone familiar with navigating in a new culture, especially in a foreign language, can appreciate the author’s stories of misinterpretations (sometimes leading to misunderstood nudity), miscalculations (living above a square known for it’s common and fervent strikes), and mispronunciations (“red currant” jam, can come out sounding a lot like “big-turd” jam in French if you’re not careful). I was excited about trying new foods, new cultures, and new recipes when only minutes earlier I had been fuming.

The fact that the author is an amazing chef doesn’t stop the book from

being accessible to even a beginner cook and food lover. I’m definitely going to try a few of the recipes – especially the Plum and Raspberry Clafoutis (and I don’t even know how to pronounce that last word!). The book also made me want to go back to France. Not because I remember how fun it had been (I was 3), but because this book and these pictures are enough motivation for a trip.


So Missa . . . . when are we going?!
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Melissa - OH MY GOSH! ABIGAIL, after reading this post and looking at the amazing photos from your France trip my jaw is dropped and then to add on top of that the blog star award!!!!!!!! abigaiL!!!!! ahhhhh! you are amazing! i can't believe i never saw these france photos before, you, mama, and daddio all look so chic. I love the one of you with the monsterous bread! haha and the one where mama is looking gorgeous and a street vendor is talking to you :) there is such life in your blog, so personal but still interesting to so many people outside our family! as being proved by your new followers and award!! Abigail your sister is in Savannah beaming with pride for you. I LOVE YOU and can't wait to be a part of some posts this summer! anddd obviously FRANCE, we ARE going.

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Josie - This sounds like such a good book! Airport impulse shopping is a killer, honestly.
xo Josie

Ms. Dinners-Dates - I just found your blog on foodie blogroll…I began following you and look fwd to reading your posts! —beautiful pictures. The jazz festival looked amazing!

Medifast Coupons - I will have to see if I can't find a copy.

The Search for the Elusive Ramp

I went searching for ramps yesterday. They are a big part of this noodle recipe from Not Eating Out in New York. They are also in season, which is my next goal – to eat seasonally (I’m worried). So I went to the Union Square Farmer’s Market, thinking the place would be crawling with ramps. This sign on the way in gave me hope.

Newbie Healthy Shopping Tip #1 – have a backup plan. 

I came home with a succulent from Cherry Lane Farms, wheat grass for the cat from Green Pastures (I can explain), asparagus, a really old wedge of cheese (yes, I forget everything they told me about it, but it’s really good), ginger and red pepper maple candy . . . .and no ramps. Apparently, they are very popular and you need to get to the market “much earlier” if you want a chance of snagging some ramps. Whatever they may be. I still don’t really know.

With ramps, or without ramps, it was a gorgeous day for the market. A day for trying new things…….

I passed by a Wheatgrass stand boasting “great gift for your cat!” It was packed with people, and I thought, “Weeeeiiird, New Yorkers will buy anything for their pets, even grass!” Then I saw that they were also grinding the grass behind the stand to make wheatgrass shots. About half the crowd was buying grass for their cats, and the other half was throwing back shots of lawn. Just as I turned to leave and pass judgment on the cat people and hippies, a woman rushed up to the line asking if I was as excited as she was. I can “smell the shots already!” she said. She seemed normal (aside from that first comment) so I confessed that grass shots sounded like a terrible idea to me. She insisted on buying me a shot. “It’s so good for you, and leaves a really sweet taste in your mouth!” She offered me some ginger maple candy too, in case I didn’t like it.

She downed her green dixie cup like a champ. Next was mine. I didn’t want to be rude, and at this point was pretty curious (the kind of curiosity that kills the cats these New Yorkers were all buying grass for) so I joined the masses and tossed back my shot……and it was good. It was much sweeter than I had expected and was really complimented by the ginger maple candy.

My cynical ego crushed, I figured I’d ask what the deal was with the grass for the cats. A really nice guy working at the stand said, “it’s great for indoor cats to chew on. And, it really helps with any digestive problems.” Any other day, I would have said, “Oh that’s nice. Thanks for the shot.” However, that morning, I sat down for breakfast and narrowly missed stepping in a nice pile of partially digested pellets Harlem had left under the chair for me. So, destroying my ego completely, I bought the grass too – making it a day I became both a grass drinking hippie and an official cat lady.

Good thing I bought the grass for Harlem to eat. Because she sniffed it……..yawned and stretched next to it……….

……and decided to lick herself instead.

I can see this is helping her.

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hhislandgirl - Love the cat pictures! My cats go outside and eat grass, yes it's supposed to help their digestion. but more often than not I end up cleaning up grass-puke the next day – so I don't really get (or appreciate) the concept!

Josie - I worked at Jamba Juice in high school and did a bunch of wheatgrass shots — personally, it's not my taste, but the health benefits are really great!
xo Josie

johnwilpers - DRINKING grass??!! Smoking grass, yes. Mowing grass, yes. Mulching with grass, yes. Lying on grass, definitely. But DRINKING it….??!!

I can get talked into a lot of things, but DRINKING GRASS would be a pretty tough sell. However, looking at the photo of the delightful woman who talked you into it makes me think I might have caved in, too!

Can't wait to come down and hit that same market and, maybe (a BIG maybe), give that grass drink thing a try!

Love seeing how Harlem really bought into the new grass thing in her life!! Vintage ho-hum, oh-you-amusing-humans cat reaction pictures!

How to Be One of the First to Buy Beer Made Entirely from Local Grain at Union Square Greenmarket

Show Up!

The New York Times Diner’s Journal had an article on the first local NY beer to be sold at the Greenmarket – Mark VanGlad’s Tundra Brewery (pretty sure Tundra, pictured below, should be on their label). According to the article, his beer will be the first to be brewed entirely from NY grain. 

Ma-Pale, the beer that will be sold this Friday at the Union Square Farmers Market, is lightly flavored with maple syrup from his family’s Wood Homestead Maple Syrup.  So beer may not be the healthiest food group, but if you’re at Union Square Greenmarket, it would be hard to walk away without other incredible healthy produce (or a bunch of pussy willow branches). You can check out a list of the farms and farmers at the market on this site.

After reading the article, I’m hoping this will be my new light summer beer! Good thing it’ll be here tomorrow. Because I’ve decided it’s summer now. 

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Abby - Bear dog, OR beer dog!

Melissa - num num num! and You are so right, tundra would be a wonderful bear dog!

johnwilpers - Bring some home for me!!

And I'm cool with your decision that it's summer NOW!