tasty nom nom an exception to the daily meal

8Aug/130

War! What is it Good For?

Dear E,

Hi! Phew! Little chicks are a lot of work! This is why we had a leisurely dinner about a month ago and also why I haven't written about it yet!

For dinner, I threw together a couple of salads.

The old summer standby: tomatoes, balsamic, basil, mozzarella.

tomato salad
tomato salad

A new trial: Mark Bittman's Roasted Sweet Potato salad from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. Minus the raisins, plus celery (swapping an E-hated item for a E-slightly-less-hated item?).

sweet potato salad
sweet potato salad

I wanted to like this salad more than I did. It was just ok.

N picked up pre-formed burgers at Golden Steer in Bellevue and grilled them.

E's plate
E's Plate

On the social networks Saturday morning, Alton Brown posted about his favorite summer drink, Cucumber Lemonade Gin Punch. It sounded great so I added it to the menu. I'd drink it again. I kept the gin separate so that anyone who wanted just the cucumber-lemonade could have it solo.

gin cucumber lemonade
gin cucumber lemonade

After dinner, we finally played Risk Legacy (BGG). Talk about contentious!

Risk: Legacy
Risk: Legacy

Wargames and dice-rolling are probably your two least favorite game categories! But you soldiered on and tried to beat G's troops back. Unfortunately he was still able to win.

I found that I started playing the game the same way I used to play Risk, despite not having played Risk in over 20 years. This was not that great of a strategy.

I was sort of sad that we didn't get to open any packets but I was really excited when we got to do the end of game modifications. I really like the concept of a game that changes over time depending on who plays it and how the games are won.

It's just too bad it's a dice-rolling wargame!

See you next time!

20Jul/130

Too much fuss

Dear Dinner People - The fuzzies and I are very sorry that you had to share a fuzzy fussy evening with us. The fuzzy is doing better, we are still tuning the medication. We hope you enjoyed the evening, all things considered.

 beverage, in vintage style blue Ball jars 

I was checking out  chow's patio pounder recipes (that title wins!) but couldn't decide which to make. Then I saw this Carrot Orange Ginger Bourbon cocktail. I took a short cut and used Knudsen's Orange Carrot juice, and G bought Vernor's Ginger Ale (of course). Splashed with booze, and served with a bendy straw. I was wrong in thinking it was a girly drink and did not have enough ingredients on hand for more rounds. I know nothing about dinner people's beverage preferences!

I was starving and think we waited an excruciating long time for G to finish the sausage stuffed little peppers. One of our favorites. I think he was done much sooner but took All The Time lining up the peppers perfectly on the plate, charred side down.

Untitledeat appetizer first

For dinner, we had meatballs made with spicy italian sausage, ground pork, and ground chicken breast, with lots of flat leaf parsley, liberal addition of grated parmesan cheese, long squeeze of anchovy paste, handful of crushed croutons, black pepper and an egg.

Untitledmessy plate 

Meatballs were served with caramelized onions and peppers, polenta, and marinara sauce.  I used Newman's. I forgot about the sauce, and left it on simmer, while I watched the Ticket to Ride Boardgame with Scott video.  When I took the lid off, the red sauce splatter was spectacular. There should be a Kitchen Olympic event for sauce splatter. I added a last minute cucumber red onion salad, so we would have something green for dinner.

We took a break while I settled down the fuzzy. Even though it was touch and go evening, we managed to try a new game - Ticket to Ride BGG. I concur with Boardgame Scott, it is a good entry game. It is a route building game - each person selects routes, draws and spends train cards to build those routes. Points are given when segments are built, then again at the end of the game. I like the part where points are deducted at the end if a selected route is incomplete. I got caught where I didn't realize I do not have enough trains to build a route towards the end of the game.

Untitledtrains on the map of United States

I think we all enjoyed this game. Though there was much table talk about making wooden pieces, to replace the plastic trains. I think we are spoiled by Rio Grande games, where their pieces are usually wood.

Until next time, hope it will be a less eventful evening.

15Jul/130

Crab Walk

Dear E,

I thought it was funny when you were surprised at the menu this time around. "Crab cakes for the main course?" It's not strange to me, Maryland-girl that I am. If you have crab cakes as an appetizer, doesn't that wreck your palate for everything that follows?

crabcakeaction-1217
crab cake action shot

N makes my favorite crab cakes. Ever since he made me a crab cake years ago, I have been spoiled for all others. When he suggested making crab cakes this time, I was fully behind it.

N's crab cakes don't have a lot of filler. He uses some green onion, Old Bay, panko, egg, s&p... but they are almost all crab. He puts the seasoning into the egg and then blends it into the crab meat, which keeps it fairly evenly distributed.

While N made the crab cakes, I threw together a quick remoulade sauce based on this one at Simply Recipes. The tricky flavor in it? Dill pickle juice. I had no idea!

crabcake-1218
plated

Add a little piece of corn and some of my randomslaw, done!

After I set the table, a certain spoiled cat thought I set a place for him at the table. Bad boy!

tomato & fennel salad
tomato & fennel salad

I also made a second salad after I read a few people suggest this as a good side for crab cakes. My new favorite salad! It's an Ina Garten recipe but let's just call it tomatoes, fennel, lemon juice, cider vinegar, s&p, and olive oil. N believes it would be better with some thin sliced sweet onion. I disagree. I ate so much of this salad. I added some of the fennel fronds from the top to it for some green color.

In order to cool it down without popping it into the fridge, I placed a bag of ice on top of it for an hour or two before dinner. I'm looking forward to making this one again soon with some of my tomatoes.

After dinner, I swapped seats with G and we played Uno (you won? I think) and then we played Carcassonne.

carcassonne
Carcassonne Win!

I never win Carcassonne. If N and I play one another, he always destroys me. If I win Carcassonne once against N, G, and you that could just be luck.

If I win twice in a row, the rest of you must have it's-too-hot brain! It was good for my ego to win twice.

Next time you can meet our new residents. They'll be part of Tasty Nom Nom dinners in one way or another soon!

30Jun/130

All mixed up

Dear J - sorry for taking so long, the pets have been keeping me busy, plus I am trying to take advantage of the longer days to get more done Outside.

It was warm on a few Saturdays ago, not like yesterday. Tempted by this recipe picture, I decided to make a cool dish for dinner. And I'd thought we should take a break from cooking with fire.

I stopped by Uwajimaya on my way on home on Friday to pick up ingredients. I saw frozen soba, which I have never had before. Like you, I have no qualms about serving a new dish (or ingredients in this case) to dinner people. I picked up some pea shoots, nori, shiso leaves, and lemongrass tofu.  As I munch on the Korean Sushi on my way home, I kicked myself for not picking up some unnaturally color pickles - takuan. So on Saturday, I ran out to the Korean market and found some, and took the opportunity to pick up some enoki mushrooms also.

Untitledtossed 

After some simple chopping prep, I boiled some water to heat the noodles and assembled. I cautiously portion the ingredients and had a backup plan of store bought pot stickers, in case everything goes wrong.

I am not sure how I feel about the frozen soba. It heated quickly and I immediately dunked the noodles in cool water. The texture still felt a little mushy to me. I was expecting a more chewy consistency. The store bought lemongrass tofu was a hit, of course. Fried tofu is one of my favorite things.

After dinner, we, I, someone picked Modern Art.

Modern Art, a close game. #gamenightwhich artist will make it big?

Your are correct that I did talk up this game. I like the concept, like real life modern art, you never know whose work will be a hit. However, I am terrible on auction games. I am very cautious and rarely able to do the quick math to calculate and anticipate the value 'correctly'. G won that game, by a small margin. I was closer than I thought I would be. Progress on auction game for me, maybe.

After Modern Art, we did a quick turn with our ol'favorite Bean Game.  Oh, here is a Board Games with Scott Thurns and Taxis video on YouTube. Maybe we will try that game soon.

1Jun/130

Grilling Nostalgia

Good afternoon, E!

For Memorial Day last weekend, we grilled. Of course!

N picked up a combination of sausages at Bill the Butcher and Whole Foods. Seven different types of sausage, peppers and onions. The blueberry brats were surprisingly tasty, if a little strange. There was a habanero sausage that I think was my favorite.

To go along with the tube meat, I made the spinach salad that you implied you wanted again. I made it slightly different from last time, using honey almonds instead of the Sahale pecans. Baby spinach, onions, goat cheese, and honey almonds with Girard's Light Champagne dressing. I love that dressing and can't make anything remotely resembling it. Any ideas?

spinach salad

Along with the green salad, I made a vinaigrette based potato salad from a recipe from Bon Appétit, Fingerling Potato Salad with Sherry-Mustard Vinaigrette.

dinner plate

This potato salad is a lot better warm than cool or room temperature. I added a lot more Italian parsley and a bit more tarragon than the recipe calls for because I love fresh herbs in potato salad. This recipe is a keeper.

I did bake the potatoes on the sheet of salt. I am not sure it did anything special for the potatoes - I am sure baking them my usual way would have been fine.

You managed to impressively fill your plate!

A month or two ago, I was reading a thread about various so-called disgusting fruit salads. One of the ones mentioned was Watergate Salad. I read the description and suddenly I knew it was the salad I grew up loving as a kid. Someone (I believe one of my aunts) always brought it to the family picnics. I decided that I would make it at some point over the summer. If we hated it, we could throw it away or send it to work with N.

Memorial day? Sounded like the perfect time to make it.

watergate salad
watergate salad

I used some sort of fancy no-high-fructose-corn-syrup, no-gluten fake-cool-whip (truwhip?) and mixed in a box of jello pistachio pudding mix. To that I added drained crushed pineapple (recipe says NOT to drain it, but I did), a bunch of mini marshmallows, crushed pecans, and coconut (not in the recipe). I also added a few mandarin oranges but in my stirring they fell apart. I think they might be best to add at serve time. I am fairly certain my aunt used to add the oranges but not the coconut.

I forgot how the marshmallows sort of melt into the whipped topping and don't stay hard. I still love the (fake!) pistachio flavor and the crunch of the pistachio and pecan bits. I still like it, though I can probably go another 20 years before having it again.

After dessert and some chatting, we just pulled out the Uno decks and played to 500 points.

uno
all the wilds!

G gave up a lot of points in this round! Ha. N won this game according to my handy-dandy uno.xlsx spreadsheet.

'Til next time!

11May/130

Not Chicken!

Good afternoon, E!

Last week we celebrated the final birthday of the year: G! Yay! Chester was not impressed.

N decided on kabobs, served in a pita. We had a discussion:

N: How about lamb and chicken?

J: No chicken for G!!!

So instead N marinated lamb and beef in a paste of seasoning for many hours before grilling them on the egg.

grillin'
grilling!

I convinced N to make the salads by explaining that he "makes pretty salads." His Greek salads are usually very pretty: kalamata olives, feta, tomatoes, green bell pepper, cucumber slices, romaine, and pepperoncini.

action shot!
N making salads

N assembled the sandwiches using a plate of fixins: cucumber sticks, feta, shredded romaine, and heirloom tomato slices. I made tzatziki using this recipe. I strained the Greek yogurt and the cucumber chunks, but not for as long as the recipe suggests. You and N thought it was a little too minty!

I also made a bit of quick-pickled red onion for the sandwiches. Yum!

gyrolike-1073
gyro-like

After dinner G picked 7 Wonders (BGG) to play. We had quite a discussion this time about the wonder boards -- apparently we had missed one very important aspect of the boards. Some of the boards have a bonus in the second phase of the wonder instead of more victory points (VP). This is to even out the board scoring since some of the boards are worth 15 VPs as complete while others are only worth 10 VPs. However your board and my board we had some question about whether the second stage had to be built in order to use the item of the second stage. The instructions are not clear about this.

E's 7 Wonders board
E's 7 Wonders board

I really like 7 Wonders because it is quick and not difficult, but still interesting. I understand your point about not having enough interaction with the people around you -- it is a sort of stand-alone sort of thing. Even buying resources from your neighbor isn't that interactive -- you just toss a coin or two his way.

However I try to keep an eye on what my neighbors are doing -- what resources they have, how beefy their military is, and come Age III, how many of each type of cards they have. The guild cards won me this game once again, mostly because you had a LOT of yellow cards and I used one of the guild cards that gave me VPs for the yellow cards my neighbors had in play. I think the game tries to make it interactive -- you can't ignore your neighbors completely if you want to win -- but at the same time, you're not doing many actions with your neighbor.

I won again! #gamenight #7wonders
A winner is J!

I also beef up my resources in Age I as much as I can because it seems to help in the later stages. But there are so many different ways to play and win this game. I've seen games where the person won on Science cards. On Guild cards. On free points from the Buildings. I like that aspect of it, too. There's always a way to eke out a victory, even if you're behind in some category.

So: I still really like 7 Wonders! It's a bonus that it's quick to play and not difficult to set up.

When you told me that G had requested ice cream cake for his birthday, I thought that meant you were going to make one. Ha ha ha! Instead you ordered one from Coldstone and we were all pleasantly surprised at how good it was. A++++++ would order again!

birthday ice cream cake
G's birthday cake!

As for G's gift of Memoir '44, I was looking for something in the Axis and Allies vein without the lengthy gameplay and possibly with a little more interest for you and I. It's supposed to be good! (though I admit I feel a little guilty for adding another game to your stack when we haven't played all of them yet). I hope it's fun!

Happy birthday, G!

20Apr/130

Decision Process

Good afternoon, E!

Late last week, N and I had a discussion that went a little like this.

J: It's your turn to plan a menu, ok?
N: How about burgers?
J: We already had burgers twice this week.
N: Grilled individual pizzas?
J: There's not enough time for me to make and ferment the pizza dough.
N: Steaks from the freezer?
J: Meh.
N: You are not being helpful!

N gave up on me and did some web searching for inspiration and landed on stuffed flank steak. The flank steak was stuffed with bacon instead of prosciutto, spinach instead of arugula, and N added bell peppers to the filling as well. He also made a quick mushroom sauce to go with it. Mm.

I made Smitten Kitchen's ribboned raw asparagus salad with lemon to go along with the steak. We also roasted some quick potatoes when you informed us that unfortunately G was not going to make it.

Game night dinner
j's plate

As we picked up the flank steak at the butcher, we decided that it wasn't enough meat for four people. N and I conferred on what to add to the meal and N decided on his version of Daniel's Broiler filet mignon teriyaki steak tips as an appetizer. Yum!

Teriyaki steak tips
teriyaki steak tips

After dinner, N wanted to play a simple card game, so we pulled out Nuts! (BGG) Nuts! is sort of juvenile and not in the least bit complicated, but it is an alright filler game.

Nuts! Boobies. Hazelnuts
Nuts!

After a 3-player game of Nuts!, we finished off the night with some Uno and dark chocolate pretzels from nuts.com. Mmm pretzels... See you next time!

14Apr/130

Doing it wrong

Dear J - It was gorgeous on last Saturday. I took advantage of the weather to do some work Outside - mowed and gave some ferns haircuts. All of which meant our Saturday meal suffered.  Not only was it a poorly planned meal, none of the food pictures turned out. Good thing too, since N said no one wants to see what we had for dinner.

However, I do have an unrelated picture, a trail for another grill item, for another time.

DSC_2502unrelated item

We started with some chicken pate, a repeat. This time, I had to cut a lot of fat and nasties from the liver, so I didn't have the full amount of liver the recipe called for. It was a lighter texture, mousse like.

I wanted more chicken wings. Because having chicken wings at Kukai earlier in the week was clearly not enough. I tried this Korean chicken wing sauce recipe. Doesn't taste at all like Stone Korean Restaurant chicken wings. I was not happy with how these turned out.. The flavor was not balanced for grilled wings. That just means I have to try again. More. Chicken. Wings.

I also tried spiral cut hot dogs like you do. Fortunately, there are no pictures to show you how poor of a job I did. I agree this technique requires a bigger hotdog.

A simple salad, your tots, and store bought potato salad rounded out the meal.

After the meal and trouble shooting our house's electrical issue. We played a new game in honor of Tabletop night. (Really? there is such a thing?!)

Untitledtwo, out of four rows left

Coloretto (BGG link) This little game exceeded my expectation, thus it was 'good'. It is a definitely an end of the night low brain wave game. The art is pretty good, pretty colors.

The object of the game is to maximize the number of cards of the same color.  The 4th+ colors are negative scores. Each player takes turn drawing cards, to place in one of the rows, or the player may take the row. G tried a technique of drawing a lot of cards.

Coloretto, I don't think you're doing it right. #tabletopdayG collected a lot of cards

I think we agree take the whole stack is not necessary a winning strategy. However, he did win the second game. Even thought there is a lot of luck in this game, which I normally do not enjoy, but it is pretty good for an end of the evening game.

But wait, you just found we missed a major rule. We were doing it wrong!

Until next time.

Filed under: games No Comments
1Apr/130

Two Steps Forward

Hi E!

We grilled the last two weeks. Is spring here?

Snowy backyard
backyard

I guess not, since I woke up to this on Friday morning. One step back to winter and away from grilling.

Chester didn't get the memo that G was back this week.

In the farm share this week, I got two huge bunches of spinach along with a recipe for the Afghan dish Qorma e Sabzi. It's not complicated -- sautéed onion and spinach with some spices.

I love Afghan food. My favorite Afghan dish is kadu/kadoo, a delicious braised pumpkin whose sweet taste goes very well with lamb. I wasn't sure how it would go over so I decided against it (thinking about it this morning, I wish I had made it anyway).

To go with the spinach, I made what is often called the national dish of Afghanistan, qabili pilau.

lamb, rice, spinach
Afghan

Making the quabili pilau was a dance with the french oven. Sear the meat. Remove the meat. Cook the onions. Add the meat back. Cook. Remove the meat. Sauteé the julienned carrots separately. Add the rice and half of the spices to the main pot. Wait. Add the carrots, meat, and rest of the spices to the pot. Cook. Lots of moving pieces. I was a bit skeptical.

I did double the spices and meat and omit the raisins (ahem). It was alright. A hearty meaty pilaf.

The farm share has us swimming in apples and pears in addition to spinach. I decided I'd throw together a crumble, my favorite of the pie-cobbler-crumble trifecta.

apple crumble
apple crumble

I have my own crumble recipe in my head, but a quick web search handed me this Dave Lieberman recipe. I thought the inclusion of pecans in the crumble topping sounded delicious. I added more apples and only used about 2/3 of the topping since I was using a pan slightly smaller than the recipe-suggested 9x13. It still turned out more dry than I expected, but tasty enough with some vanilla ice cream.

After dinner and dessert and some conversation, we played a round of Settlers of Catan.

catan setup
Catan Start

N kicked our butts. You got blocked in with nowhere to build. I just stopped getting resources despite being built on 6/8 -- all the 7s I was rolling didn't help! G started to catch up but a little too late. Dammit.

Our Catan board is making me mad.

25Mar/130

Finally: Grilling Season

Dear E,

It seems every winter we tap our feet impatiently waiting for the weather to dry off and warm up just enough to grill.

This was that time! Unfortunately G was out of town and didn't make it. At the store, N and I couldn't decide between his current obsession with spiral cut hot dogs or steaks. Easy answer: both, with dogs just grilled up as a sort of snack to munch on while N grilled the steaks!

Spiral cut dogs???

Here's how to make a spiral cut dog: www.youtube.com/watch?v=NyieI2bxyIk

I guessed that you'd like the spiral cut dogs for two reasons: tube meat & more crispy bits. It will be interesting to have them on a bun with condiments since the cut is supposed to help hold things like chunky relish on them. Mm. Maybe later in the grilling season.

Nothing interesting this meal - steak, grilled asparagus, and a salad I threw together. Simple stuff.

E's plate
E's plate

This ongoing cold N and I have combined with your allergies and the lack of G made this a low-energy evening! Simple dinner followed by the simple game Carcassonne (BGG).

Carcassonne
low brain game

We played two rounds. I won the first round handily, which is a sign that N was SICK. I never beat him at Carcassonne!

If we grill next time, can we agree that grilling season has begun? See you!