Archive for May, 2010

May 19th, 2010

XOCHITL- My favorite tortilla chip EVER!

I thought I would post about my favorite tortilla chip.  I feel like corn chips are a dime a dozen.  I’ve had quite a few good ones, and a lot of bad ones.  I’ve always favored crisp, thin chips, as opposed to to the thicker ones.  Finding a great organic tortilla seems like it would be even harder!
Most of the chips in the natural section are made with just organic corn and not the oils.  It’s frustrating because it’s also important that the oils are organic as well.  Corn is a grain that is subject to a lot of processing, genetic modification, and chemical pesticides.  Corn is one of the more important grains to make sure you always get organic.
I had never heard of these chips until we had a snow day at a friends house.  She brought some snacks, and these chips were just part of the spread. I was hungry from going up and down the hill, and I was mindlessly eating chips and spinach-artichoke dip.  After I had a handful of these chips, I said, “what kind of chips are these?  These are amazing!”  My friend showed me the bag (it has a challenging name to say), and said, “I guess they got a bunch of awards.”  I’ve been getting them ever since.
They are a little tricky to find.  At some stores, they are in the mexican food section.  They are called Xochitl, pronounced so cheel.  They are thin, delicate, and crisp.  They are salty but not too salty.  I like that this company has 3 different versions to buy.  Two organic kinds, one white corn, and one blue corn, and they have a non organic kind, but still use all natural ingredients, non GMO corn and no preservatives.
This really is a great chip.  Since they are so thin, a whole bowl, 28 grams, is just 140 calories, and 6 grams of fat.
WARNING: These suckers are expensive!  $5.56 a pop.

May 11th, 2010

Tasi: Local, Seasonal Cuisine

I am so lucky to now live in a progressive city.  However, my hometown seems like a dying city.  It’s sort of depressing going back because there are so many big businesses closing, meaning many people have to leave town to find work, leaving the city left gasping for air.  Columbus, on the other hand,  is a thriving city in my eyes.  It makes me happy to know there are others around me care about good, whole, natural, organic food.  It’s still hard to go out to eat, though.  Since I only eat organic, natural, fresh foods at home, sometimes eating out , at conventional restaurants, comes along with a stomach ache.

Columbus is catching on to the “good food” trend, and quicker than most cities.  There is an area of town called “The Short North.”  There are local shops to tickle any one of your fancies.  I personally like the cooking shops.  B loves to boutique style stores for clothing and art shops.  There are lots of restaurants, and it’s ALWAYS busy there.  It’s a very progressive and hip strip of town.

B and I were trying to find a parking spot one night, and we drove past this little restaurant called Tasi.  I got excited because it said “local, seasonal cuisine.”  It was tucked back, behind the main drag, this is why I had never seen it before.  Even though Columbus is progessive, there are still only a few restaurants that focus on healthier, natural foods.  I tried my hardest to remember the name so I could google it when I got home.

On a Saturday morning, I laid in bed trying my hardest to remember the name.  I knew it started with a T.  After sounding it out it finally came to me!  I googled it, printed out the menu and B and I decided we wanted to eat Saturday brunch there.

We walked in and it had a great vibe to it.  Cozy, with a little rustic and industrial vibe.  There were brightly colored stools, red and yellow, and it looked like the tables were made of reclaimed wood.  They had a lot to choose from on their menu, but I got the cinnamon challah french toast with maple syrup, which was like a cleaner version of those mall cinnamon rolls.  It was rich and drenched in warm, local maple syrup.  It was paired with freshly squeezed orange juice.  I definitely did not need to eat the rest of the day.  It was fantastic!  B got the smoked turkey bacon sandwich, with onion relish.  He said it was a simple sandwich, but every thing worked so well together.  The onion relish made it a whole different sandwich.  The sandwich came with homemade potato chip, which were slightly thick and still warm, dusted with sea salt and a little cracked pepper.

Everything seemed like a no-brainer.  The combinations were inspirational.  I can’t wait to go back.  They have so much I want to try, like fresh almond croissants, fresh baked breads, pizzas, delicious sounding sandwiches….so much to look forward to.

I like supporting places like this because they are spending their dollars on better ingredients, supporting local farmers, which in turn, are providing better quality of food for you to enjoy.  Food that is real, not loaded with preservitives and chemicals.  Food that is fresh and seasonal, containing more nutrients.

I feel hopeful that this is not just a trend, but the beginning of a new food movement.  So, support your local farmers, eat their food and if you’re lucky enough to have these eateries in your neck of the woods, choose those over the big name chains.

Tip: When looking for a great breakfast spot, go to the places that only use real maple syrup.  A place that uses real maple syrup most likely care more about their food.  Places that use high-fructose corn syrup based “syrup” do not care about giving you high quality ingredients.

May 10th, 2010

Up-Cycled Mother’s Day Vase

So, this weekend was a celabratory one for us.  It was Mother’s Day, and my Brother-in-laws 30th birthday.  I spent the day, Friday, making an all-organic vanilla cake with butter cream icing.  I used a new recipe, but wasn’t too impressed with it.  When we celebrated back home, everyone seemed to enjoy it.  

Since I would also be seeing my Mom on Sunday, I wanted to get her something personal she would like.  Growing up, she always said I didn’t need to buy anything, she would rather me make or do something nice for her.  Actually, both my parent’s said this.  My Mom loves flowers. I don’t mean love, meaning she plants a few every year and the house looks nice, my mom buys out their local green house as soon as the weather man gives the go-ahead.  She visits special gardens on vacations.  She has millions of flower catalogs. She has my dad make her custom garden tools.  She loves flowers!  Her garden looks like something in a Martha Stewart magazine.

I never really appreciated it growing up.  She would spend the summer evenings outside, watering and caring for her “babies.” One time when I was younger,  I pulled the guilt card, and told her that she spent more time with her flowers than with me!  This wasn’t true, but I knew I could have her attention for that one night by saying so.

I’ve always thought it was so cliche to get flowers on Mother’s Day. But, for my mom, I realized it’s what she truly loves to receive, especially when I do the arranging.

I went to the store to pick out the perfect flowers and a vase.  The flowers were beautiful, but the vases left something to be desired.  I hate paying money for ugly vases that look like every other vase you’ve ever seen.  I like vases that look “normal” if you had it stored among your other glassware.  I hated what they had to offer at the store, so, I had to think of what I had at home.  In the summers, my mom always delivers her flowers in used cans.   It always looks nice and rustic, very “Martha.” When I got home, I dug around in our recycling can, and  I found a great looking, classic pickle jar.  I cleaned it out and cut up the flowers, shaped a nose gay and this is what I got.

I love how homey it looks and it doesn’t look like anything you got at a store.  It has a personal touch that you can’t buy.  My mom was very happy to receive the arrangement I made her.

We took her to breakfast and I spent the afternoon walking around her garden, asking questions and hopefully gaining some floral wisdom.  I haven’t had much luck growing flowers abundantly, like my mom.  She has bought me lots of plants, some have worked and some have not.  I seem to have the best luck with heirloom plants.  My mom has split a lot of her plants for me and these are better for my lack-luster soil since they have age in their genes.  My parents live in the county, where manure is common and free!  This means lots of big, healthy, gorgeous plants and healthy soil.  Even on Mothers Day, my Mom was gracious enough to dig around in her garden and split some of her plants for me.  It’s amazing to see what healthy plants do and it’s to my advantage, in this case, that they seed, all on their own, and create little plants, just for me.   My mom split a climatus, strawberry plants, a raspberry bush off-shoot, seedeum, a hosta, widows tears and something else that grows like crazy in her garden.   It was a great way to spend Mothers Day.  It seemed very nostalgic.  I guess I knew I was getting older when I started caring about my garden.  I think it’s a Mothers day gift in its self, for my mom, that I know care about gardening.

How to make an up-cycled vase:

  • get a jar you like that looks good.
  • clean it out with soap, maybe a little vinegar, and clean the outside , if it has sticky stuff, orange oil works great.
  • cut a strip of decorative paper, I use scrap book paper and tape it around the jar
  • wrap the jar with a nice ribbon or string (you can use used/recycled ribbon from the holidays or birthday)
May 4th, 2010

Perfect Guacamole

The avocado and I haven’t always gotten along.  It wasn’t something my mom ever made me eat.  Honestly, I don’t know how available it was when I was growing up.  About 5 years ago, I was at a restaurant that didn’t have very many vegetarian options, so I had to order the avocado egg rolls.  I couldn’t hardly stand to eat it, it was so rich.  The manager came to my side and knelt down, and with such concern,  asked what was wrong.  I just told him I just didn’t like avocado and it was nothing wrong with the preparation.  After that, I got the vegetarian default, a salad.  How fun.

A lot of people rave about avocado!  They want it on everything.  Not me!  I’ve slowly become friends with the avocado but we have very strickt terms.  It’s not to be hot, that just intensifies its richness which I don’t like, and it needs to be salty and has to have something to cut the fat…  Guacamole!  Duh!  I don’t know why I’ve never really been one to sample it before, but I don’t like all guacamole.  I don’t like when it looks like baby food because I feel like that ruins its texture which is nice.  I also don’t like just straight avocado mashed up.  When I started making my own I finally figured out the perfect combination.  Whenever I make it, people scarf it down and then, when they’ve realized they’ve ate the whole bowl, they say, “dang, that’s really good!”.  The secret ingredient is greek yogurt.  It does all the things I need it to do.  Cuts the fat, since it’s tangy, adds volume without being too burdensome on the waist line (greek yogurt has tons of protein!), and rounds out the flavor of the avocado.

I’m glad I eat it now because it’s a great health food.  It has healthy fats that nourish your brain, skin, hair, heart, it contains antioxidants which is great for cell renewal and to fight cancer cells, and some use it’s anti fungal properties for skin problems, avocado facial anyone?!  It’s even a great baby food.

Perfect Guacamole Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 avocado
  • 1/4 C. greek yogurt
  • 1/2 a small lime
  • 2-3 T. finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 1/2 t. flakey sea salt
  1. Cut your avocado from top to bottom in one cut line.  Pop out the pit.  Take a spoon and dig out the flesh.  Use a pastry cutter for easy chopping or just mash it with the back of your fork.
  2. Add the yogurt, lime juice, salt and chopped cilantro and mix well.
  3. Serve with organic tortilla chips.  My favorite are Xochitle, thin and crisp.
May 2nd, 2010

The Seasonal Closet

This spring weather has me confused.  I don’t know whether to wear shorts or jeans, a tank top or long sleeves.  I’m also a proud owner of a mean tan line on my mid thigh.  In early April, I thought I would just sit outside for an hour on a freak 80 degree day, store up on some vitamin D and a little color.  One hour later, my rolled up yoga pants gave me  a “reverse shadow” effect on my legs!  No shorts for me for awhile.  The next week I had to drape my flowers and cut some spring buds that were in danger of freezing because a cold snap was rolling through.  I guess that’s the beauty of Ohio weather.  It will drastically change on you, in one day.

I have been teasing my self with my summer clothes.  They’ve been hiding away, under the guest bed, just waiting on the right time to make their debut.  I  have been taking out piece by piece when the weather is nice.  I just can’t commit to totally changing over my closet, since I know there are going to be a few chilly days.

As a kid, I was always confused when I would see “big girls” change out their seasonal clothes.  I mean, for a kid, it makes sense, you’re growing, and you aren’t going to fit into those clothes next season.  As an adult, you have the luxury of having all your clothes in your closet at the same time.  I practiced this since from age 14-24.

When we bought our first house, we renovated the back half of the second floor.  Down to the studs.  The original master only had one small closet.  Since we were taking out a bed room ,we had room to add to the master.  B designed, and built me an almost walk-in-closet.  There was a lot of room and great organization. It only made sense for me to have the larger closet, I’m a girl!

A year later, I realized B had (has) way more clothes than I,  so one day, I decided, after much discussion, to make the switch.  I had just realized I couldn’t manage the awkward shape and overwhelming  space.  I was already practicing the  seasonal closet, so moving to a smaller closet wasn’t a problem.  It was on my side of the bed, so it was more accessible and I was more likely to put my clothes away faster.

I get tired of looking at the same clothes, colors, etc.  The seasonal closet is perfect for me.  It de-clutters your space, makes you appreciate your clothes more, causing you to look forward to them more and buying less new clothes.  When stored properly, it makes them last longer. Your closet has more room to breath, so your clothes smell fresher and there is less room for bacteria to linger.   I’m trying to make an effort to buy more “classic” pieces of clothing so that they will stay in style longer.

If you want a fresher, roomier closet, give the seasonal closet a try, it won’t hurt.