Sunday, June 25, 2017

Getting back on the horse: Blogging again.

But the horse never bucked me!  The problem is life.  A demanding job.  A longer commute. Facebook.  Too many things happening!  I've missed blogging dreadfully, and I have so much to share that I'm making a promise to myself not to be gone so long in the future.

Since food is fun, comforting, and emotionally easy to address, I'll start with that:

Here was last night's dinner - Chicken Tortilla Soup.  It was truly delicious.  I followed The Pioneer Woman's recipe, more or less.  I've been turning up the heat in my kitchen a bit more for the last couple of years after reading of all the many health benefits chili peppers offer.  I know, I'm late to the party.  In addition to Vitamin C, carotenoids, and antioxidants, they are great to help regulate insulin in the body, and even helps break up gallstones!

Can you tell I'm getting older?  Now food not only has to taste delicious, but it has to have some redeeming healthy quality, if only to justify it to myself.  My heat tolerance is still low, compared to that of most of my friends, but it's definitely improving.  If you attempt to make this recipe, take it nice and slow with the hot spices, until you find the level of heat with which you are comfortable - and be sure to have some sour cream on hand to cool things down in a hurry!

Our interest in Mexican food was rekindled recently during a visit to Rick Bayless' "Topolobampo" restaurant here in Chicago.  We waited for our table next door at "Frontera Grill" sipping sangría (we are not into margaritas), admiring their alebrije - a Mexican folk art sculpture of a fantastical creature. 

. . . and enjoying the most unusual, but delicious Chef's Choice Guacamole, made with mashed avocado, infused with morita chile, grilled onions, oregano, chorizo and queso fresco.  It was fabulous!

And that was only the beginning because the 5-course meal that followed at Topolo's (as the name is frequently shortened) was inspired.  The courses were described elaborately and presented with flare, but when it came down to it, the food was of the utmost freshness and simplicity.  It took us three and a half hours to finish the meal.  I felt like I was in Europe, in one of those delightful suppers that never seem to end, and in which the conversation flows like good wine.  If you have the opportunity to visit one of Rick Bayless' restaurants, don't miss it!  It's definitely worth it!

Martha Stewart posted the beautiful picture above of  her Leftover Salade Niçoise, and it spoke to me because it reminded me a bit of my grandmother's salad  - Carmela's Salad, of which I have previously written.  I felt like Martha was challenging me to take it up a few notches, so, of course, I had to try making it . . .

. . . even down to making up a batch of my own Roasted Red Peppers.

Voilà!  I omitted the anchovies, because neither my husband nor I will eat them (although I don't mind them in a Caesar Salad Dressing, where their fuzzy texture is obliterated by the blender, another day, perhaps). Everything was Martha-worthy - organic, locally grown, grass-fed, antibiotic-free, pesticide-free, and wild-caught.  We feasted on it for two days.  Challenge met, Martha!

North Carolina Pulled Pork was another new entrée to feature at our table in a recent weekend dinner.  I convinced myself that because it was dressed with apple cider vinegar and honey, it had to be healthy. The pork came out very tender, but we decided we really missed the barbecue sauce, so I'm not sure if I'll be making this one again.

My attempts at healthier eating aren't always successful, but sometimes they are.  Dr. Hyman's Green Breakfast Smoothie, which he touts as probably "the healthiest smoothie in the whole world" has been part of my breakfast for the last few months, and I'm enjoying it! It is actually very tasty, and easy to make with the help of a good Vitamix blender, and my wonderful husband, who prepares the veggies for me.

Since our recent trip to Hawai’i we've welcomed papayas back into our lives.  I don't know why we've ignored this delicious fruit in the past.  My mother was very fond of it.  In Cuba it is generally known as "Fruta Bomba" - Bomb Fruit.  In Havana, especially, the sophisticated town mice would never utter the name "papaya" which in Cuban slang represents the female genitalia.  This article will help explain this Cuban idiosyncrasy.  I guess it's better that it look like a bomb than a part of the female anatomy.  We humans are so sexually repressed!  Ha!  In any case, they've been exceptionally good this year, and we have indulged.  Go buy a papaya before the season runs out!

Ah!  Food!  We can't avoid dealing with it daily.  And what joy it brings when we do it right!

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” —Virginia Woolf

I'm back!