Monthly Archives: January 2010

Kroger Expansion!

I’m writing to spread the joy I felt several weeks ago upon entering my college town’s newly expanded Kroger. Although I had gone in before, it wasn’t until a few days ago that I decided to explore around and discover all of the new food items available. Usually I only allow myself an hour in Kroger because if I don’t set a time limit I’ll walk around forever, but this time I let the wanderlust I feel for grocery stores inspire a little more exploration. Even though I try to support non-chain food consumption such as buying from our farmer’s market, I can’t deny the inevitable happiness that comes from being able to buy ingredients used halfway around the world.

What I will ever do with tamarind pods I have no idea as I’m not skilled with South Asian cooking (or any kind of cooking for that matter-hah), but I can tell you that seeing them whole, hanging in cellophane near the produce (as opposed to the occasion powder in the spice section) got me really excited. Same goes for the cactus that was sitting next to the peppers and cucumbers. I don’t have a clue how to use cactus in any kind of digestible way  but seeing the spiky green-ness available for consumption rather than decoration certainly does open up a lot of doors. I’ve never tried either but I plan on it, hoping of course that they’ll taste somewhat fresh and not so well traveled (what does a fresh cactus taste like?).

I also found Greek yogurt which isn’t really any kind of special thing, (although I guess neither are tamarind pods or cactus to those who use them regularly), but this was particularly exciting because last year when I made my first attempt at Tandoori chicken without Greek yogurt, using regular instead, it was a big flop.  And just to add to the Greek yogurt excitement, it has 16 grams of protein in less than a cup of the vanilla flavor (and no fat), as opposed to about 8 grams of protein for a cup of regular vanilla yogurt. I’m not typically one to count calories and be super health conscience but I have to admit, that’s impressive. Those are going to become a staple item after workouts for sure…once I start working out regularly that is *bashful face*.

Sort of going along with the tamarind pods, there was also lemon grass available, another Asian staple that I don’t know how to use. The other day I decided to branch out from my usual Chinese American food (vegetable stir fry rice and egg rolls) and get some kind of soup on the menu that had no little peppers next to it indicating spiciness. I can only imagine what the soup with three chili peppers next to it would do to me since even eating the kind with none left multiple beads of sweat on my upper lip about half way through. I’m such a spice wimp. Anyways, the soup’s ingredients had two things I remember; coconut milk which kept separating from the soup and settling on the top, creating a swirly cloud of sweetness, and lemon grass, a flavor I cannot recognize on its own yet. The Vietnamese woman who did my nails a few weeks ago told me lemon grass was used in just about every dish she can remember eating from home so at some point I’d like to buy a few stalks and see what happens in the pot I throw them in. My cart at Kroger will always have grapefruit, hotdogs, onions and orange juice in it but it’s definitely a fun surprise to carry home a new something for a new flavor. Even if it ends up in disaster at least the apartment will smell like cooking, right?

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Pan-Seared Steak with Red Wine Reduction Sauce

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My creative juices are in short supply tonight and like everything else in my life I’ve procrastinated on procrastinating so that I have about 20 minutes of unused caffeine left until I fall asleep on my couch, cat in lap. However, I would like to discuss with you one meal that I’ve been enjoying a lot lately thanks to Wal-Mart’s discounted meat cuts [yay mass-marketed, anti-biotic fed cow meat (*sadface*)].

My urges for meat seem to overpower my animal friendly personality most of the time, especially when it comes to thick-cut, slightly over-crispy bacon. I can’t help but think about our chickens we had as pets whenever I eat anything that was once living. Goldilocks and  Midnight (our first two chickens that were golden yellow and black—there’s my 9 year old creative name-giving genius) would often take a stroll through our kitchen, stopping along the way to ride on my dad’s shoulder or hang out with the family for awhile. They were our family chickens and I miss them. After midnight died we got another black rooster that was decidedly much more rooster like and far less friendly so my dad started calling him MTET-Midnight the Evil Twin.

Surprisingly to some who may not have had the luxury of having a house-roaming farm animal growing up, every chicken has their own personality. It’s always sad to me that my taste buds win out in the battle against my conscience. Anyways, I found out how to make a good steak and a simple sauce to go with it. My mom preferred it grilled but I think it’s pretty tasty cooked this way.

1) Heat up enough grapeseed oil (or other oil) on medium-high heat to just cover the bottom of a cast iron skillet (or a normal skillet)-a few tablespoons.

2) After patting each steak dry with a paper towel, and salting and peppering both sides of your steaks, put them in the skillet. After about 30 seconds, flip them over.

3) Right after you flip the steaks onto the un-seared side, put them, skillet included, in a 500 degree oven. After three minutes, open the oven and flip the steaks back over, letting them cook for 3 minutes on the other side. The time will vary depending on the size of your steaks and how well done you prefer them.

4) Take the pan out and let your steaks rest on a plate. Cover with foil. Put the skillet back on high heat and pour the red wine of your choice over all of the steak bits stuck to the pan. For 4 steaks, I used about half a bottle.

5) The red wine will reduce down as far as you let it. I reduce it to about half a cup of sauce. It helps to whisk in a little flour to thicken it up. You can also get creative and add herbs/spices to the wine as it’s cooking. Thyme is a good one. So is a little liquid smoke.

6) Enjoy!

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