Sunday, November 23, 2014

Food for thought

"I celebrated Thanksgiving the old-fashioned way.  I invited the neighbors over for a huge feast, then I killed them and took their land."

-  Jon Stewart

 Getting Fried

Tuesday, November 18, 2014



Desperate English Housewife. Not only did she hook me up with FREE Downton Abbey perfume, but her blog posts, chronicling her English take on life in America - complete with more British-isms than one could experience binge-watching these shows on Netflix (I highly recommend Derek and Sherlock) - keep me in stitches and offer a unique perspective on life in the USA. Like her Facebook page to keep up with her!

YouTube. I've learned so many things from you: our first dance at our wedding, the basics you need to know when traveling to London (Look right! Mind the gap!), Lil Bub's latest antics. How would I know the best way to open those pesky closed pistachios if it weren't for you? (You're welcome about the pistachios, by the way)

This hilarious site I just found. I want all the shirts. Especially the ones with cat or Harry Potter references. Oh, and the punny ones. And the ones that refer to eating all the turkey.

Cleaning off the desk. Sure, all the piles of papers were just transferred to a big bag (the intent is to go through them in a methodical and organized fashion as soon as possible, of course), but it's a nice clean desk now nonetheless. I can finally think.

Annie. I had a major flashback to my musically-inclined childhood when a movie I was watching mentioned Savile Row, and I told Sous Chef I've always wanted to go to Savile Row, and he wondered why, so of course I immediately jumped up and launched into a full-throttle rendition of "You're Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile" ("Who cares what they're wearing on Main Street or Savile Row...") but there was a line I forgot so I streamed it on YouTube and Sous Chef was quite impressed that I remembered it as much as I did after all these years.

A Sous Chef who is amused by things like that. It's very convenient to live with someone who lets you be you.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Food for thought

"Researchers have developed a 'red wine pill' that gives all the benefits of red wine without the alcohol.  It's called a grape."

-  Norm Macdonald

Photo by reydoo

Thursday, November 13, 2014

#HoCoLife Ep 13: Gobble Gobble: Thanksgiving options in Howard County

I've hijacked the podcast today! So of course, I'm talking about my favorite thing:


Specifically, Thanksgiving!

I've got the lowdown on where to go to get your turkey with all the trimmings, whether you're cooking it all yourself, need a special bird or some help with the side dishes, or are so afraid of "fowling" the whole thing up that you're letting someone else do the cooking for you!

The new Whole Foods in Columbia has everything you could possibly need for Turkey Day, from specialty birds to savory side dishes to vegan dishes to amazing desserts (along with that sinful sweet potato casserole I mentioned the other day). Order your turkey (or quail, or duck, or goose) and whatever else you need either in store or online.

Alexandra's at Turf Valley (you already know how much I love them!) offers two options for Thanksgiving: a Turkey-To-Go program where you pick up everything on the Wednesday before the big day, or an extravagant Thanksgiving Day buffet.

Highland Inn, Seasons 52, and Tersiguel's are also hosting Thanksgiving dinners, with special menus that will blow you away.

You know what I'm thankful for this year? Living in a place with such amazing dining choices!

Go to iTunes or Podbay to listen and get ALL the details!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Thanksgiving options at Whole Foods

Oh, Columbia Whole Foods. You make it so easy to fall in love with you.

You're located in a beautifully refurbished building. You have really nice people working for you. You tell me where my meat comes from. You have a really good prepared foods section for when I'm in a time crunch (or if I'm craving chicken thighs prepared in a variety of ethnic ways).

And you invite me to an intimate, sit-down, chef-hosted full Thanksgiving dinner three weeks before it's actually Thanksgiving.


Last week, the Whole Foods marketing team put together an awesome sampling from their Thanksgiving holiday menu, composed of dishes that you yourself (yes, even you in the back pretending you don't lurk on my blog) can order for the big day. A limited number of HoCo food bloggers were invited to participate, so Sous Chef and I jumped at the opportunity.

Way more than we were expecting - Whole Foods pulled out all the stops!
Fresh turkey (natural free range, organic, and kosher are just some of the options). Cooked turkey. Soups. Stuffings. Side dishes. Full throttle, all-out, you-don't-have-to-do-a-damn-thing-except-put-up-with-your-extended-family meal packages.

After an Asian-inspired amuse bouche of coconut shrimp and a shrimp dumpling, we dived right in to the Turkey Day fare. We started off with two organic soups - triple squash and cream of mushroom. The squash soup was light and sweet but still had a savory edge to it. My favorite of the two was definitely the cream of mushroom: rustic and grounded, with an earthy flavor you expect mushroom soup to have.

I love culinary fungus.

Organic cream of mushroom and triple squash soups
When the staff placed the second course in front of us, you could hear the collective gasps of surprise - we had been expecting tiny samplings of things, but what we got was a full-on meal.

Roasted free range turkey with gravy (we were told the turkey we were eating scored a 4 out of 5 on the animal welfare rating scale Whole Foods uses - awesome!). A tart cranberry orange relish that just begged to be dolloped on top of the turkey, perfectly cutting through the richness of the meat. Organic biscuit and mushroom stuffing. Yes, biscuits in stuffing. Thick and creamy mashed potatoes. Roasted Brussels sprouts that - go pigure - managed to be delicious even though they weren't accompanied by bacon. Glazed carrots with pecans.

And a butternut sweet potato casserole that almost made me cry. Tiny bits of melted marshmallow and even graham cracker were swimming among a creamy pillow of sweet potato. I don't know how Chef Pat did it, but I'll have a lot of fun figuring it out in my own kitchen.

I didn't even need dessert after the sweet potato casserole, but I did take a few bites of my pumpkin pumpkin pie (so named because the pie was topped with pumpkin mousse). After that, we were more than stuffed - we were satisfied.

Chef Pat explaining the Thanksgiving holiday menu
Whole Foods offers ordering options for any need - whether you want to make the whole meal yourself and just want to spring for a special heirloom bird (or other game bird, like goose, duck, or quail to name a few), or need a few side dishes that are ready to go, or an easy yet decadent dessert, or if you want to just sit back and let Whole Foods do all the work for you. It's all pretty darn affordable, too; $200 can get you a full meal for 12-16 people - that works out to about $12-16/person. 

Check out the online ordering site for more info.

A special thank you to Mia at the Whole Foods marketing team, Chef Pat for his lovely introductions to the food and for sticking to his whisks and not telling me his secret recipes (I admire your tenacity), Suki (manager of the prepared food department) for her energy and positivity, and everyone else involved!

P.S. Did you know that the artwork on the signs throughout the store (colorful pictures and designs decorating displays and end-caps, for example) are hand-drawn by store employees? Jesse and Courtney, the artists at the Columbia store, are super-talented - make sure to take note of their artwork the next time you're shopping!