Sunday, March 15, 2015

Seattle dining "Experience" Staple and Fancy

Staple and Fancy Mercantile....I just didn't get the name until I had the pleasure of dining there recently. Located in a renovated old machine shop in Ballard it boast graffiti brink walls,  metal encased wooden tables, a wall that opens completely and planked flooring -giving it a relax vibe. How could I have missed this place?....Its an Ethan Stowell restaurant and was just voted best Italian restaurant in Seattle by the Daily Meal
Staple and Fancy 
"Staple and Fancy is simple, Italian-inspired food and offers innovative à la carte staple choices in addition to a popular chef’s choice fancy menu. The latter is a multi-course feast of seasonal dishes crafted by the chef for each table. We really recommend that you relax and put your dining experience in our hands. We’ll take care of everything."   via the website.
Awwww...now I get it. 


When we arrived we were immediately taken to our table where we were greeted by our server as well as one of the head Chefs. To my delight our dinner companions ordered the Chef's choice Fancy Menu for us so all I had to do was order a drink and sit back and enjoy the show.
Parsnip Puree with fried sage and in the background House made Charcuterie.

Kumamoto oysters served with freshly grated horseradish. Super sweet.

Steak tartare served with toasted points. 


Sashimi hamachi with avocado puree.
Roasted bone marrow. Silky and just so flavorful. Biggest surprise of the evening.

Roasted Dungeness crab
Gnocchi with braised pork
Noodles in a spicy tomato sauce. 
Seared black Cod with fingerling potato and cauliflower. 
Wood fired Sirloin with parsnip puree, bacon and a demi glace that swooned my senses. 
Cappuccino. For me the best way to end a scrumptious dinner. 
 While normally the chef's choice "Fancy" dinner would be 4 courses we were given special treatment. Having one of the chefs in tow with us warranted us what I can only call a fantastic Dining "Experience". 










Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Sugar I love...I hate you....ugh.

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Apparently I am a masochist and I love to torture myself,,,, I have officially given up sweets for Lent. Yup, no sugar for 40 days. Didn't sound so bad 2 weeks ago but today I am feeling it. Could be that I am a stress eater...always have been, and stress has been my best friend and companion these days.
via
Not a practicing christian but I'm spiritual enough that I wanted to respect the upcoming holiday traditions and guidelines and pay homage to my god that when my boss and friend reminded me of lent I quickly did an inventory on my lifes must have and realized sugar has been a major player since Christmas...ok ok, since Thanksgiving. I really didn't think giving up sweets would affect me so much, I knew I liked them but I had no idea the amount of sweets I was indulging in until giving them up. And for that matter I had no idea the effect sugar had on my body until a week after lent began and  I stepped on the scale to find that I was 2 pounds lighter.....this week? yup 2 more pounds lost. All this without changing my other eating habits or adding any additional exercise; I would actually say that I have worked out less than normal these last few weeks. So, how the weight loss then?
Did you know that our body's can only metabolise about 9 tsp of sugar a day? So you think you only eat around 9 tsp or 45g a day. Let's see:
On average I consumed about 79 grams! and that is not even counting the hidden sugar in foods like Chinese foods and spaghetti sauces or the donut binge I would occasionally find myself having.

7 g of sugar- 1 cup of strawberries (breakfast smoothie)
14 g- banana (mid morning snack)
7 g - 2 small sugar cookies (mid day snack)
10g - cup of tomato soup (lunch)
10 g- yoplait yogurt (post work out snack)
4.2 g- mini laffy taffy (just cuz)
10 g - one slice of pizza (dinner)
17 g - cup of ice cream (dessert)

So besides weight gain what are the other effects of fructose? (from Sarah Wilson's I quit sugar article)
A few factoids to get started. To be clear, it’s fructose that’s the enemy, not sugar per se. And here’s why! I’ve learned that fructose:
♥ makes us eat more, because we humans haven’t  evolved an ‘off switch’ for fructose to signal when we’ve had enough (all very well back when we were cave people and sugar was rare).
♥ converts directly to fat in our bodies rather than to energy for our immediate needs.
♥ inhibits our immune system, making it harder to fight off viruses and infections.
♥ upsets the mineral balance in our bodies, causing deficiencies as well as interfering with mineral absorption. 
♥ messes with fertility.
♥ speeds up the ageing process.
♥ is linked to dementia.
♥ has been connected with the development of cancers of the breasts, ovaries, prostate, rectum, pancreas, lung, gall bladder and stomach.
♥ causes an acidic digestive tract and indigestion.
♥ can cause a rapid rise in adrenaline, as well as hyperactivity, anxiety and a loss of concentration.

After reading this article and seeing the 4 pound weight loss I am ready to see if I can "quit sugar".......

.......Who's with me? 


11 weird things sugar does to your body
I quit sugar 
Thanks Diana for sharing this post on sugar. 

Monday, March 09, 2015

Aging....gracefully?

As I stand in the bathroom with one arm outstretched at a 40 degree angle and the other wrapped around my head holding my face up and back, tongue out and breathing out loudly I have to ask myself...am I aging gracefully? What does that even mean? Does it mean that I will be content with fine lines and wrinkles that most experience at my age or a body that lacks energy and strength? Heck NO.... Don't get me wrong. I am not at all ashamed of my age nor do I think one must act their age or dress their age or any of that other nonsense. I am a 44 year old woman that thinks aging gracefully means fighting it all the way....
Let me explain. 

2002 I'm in the back on the upper left of the photo.

My son and I ten years later. October 2012
My son and I. October 2014
I try to live a clean life....less toxins, less processed foods, less prescriptions, less worry -let's face it; less is more. And although stress and worry is a little hard to avoid these days with the pending divorce and life changes I make sure that I am not consumed by it all. I give myself the days I need to morn my old life and stress about my future or the "process"  (I call it my fetal position moments) but most days I appreciate what is in front of me and the relationships I do have. I eat healthy and by that I mean whole foods with the occasional treat. Life is about experiences and food to me is one of the best ways you can experience a culture. I cut out most of the toxins in my skin, body, hair and cleaning products. I exercise regularly. But for me the number one way of staying young is to learn new things and having new experiences.

Here are a few things that will help slow down time. 
  • Dress for you: Don't worry if you think it is too trendy for your age or your daughter says you are dressing like a teenager, dress for yourself. As long as you pick clothing that fits you appropriately and makes you feel good inside... wear it. We face so many negatives in a day so why not face it feeling confident and beautiful? And a frilly little dress never hurt anyone.
  • Eat: Take time to enjoy your food. I know everyone is in a rush and we seldom have time to sit down and enjoy a meal but food is such a pleasure. Dieting and fast food will kill all the joys of eating. My rule about food: Cook your food- you will know exactly what goes into it, Listen to your cravings- if it a sweet or something truly bad for you then just have a nibble of it (I'll have three bites) and snack in between meals- I always have carrots -sweet crunchy ahhh.
  • Exercise: Sorry but exercise is a very important age retardant. Moving gets your circulation going- circulation keeps your skin radiant. The benefits to the skin alone gets me working out at least 3 times a week but my whole body benefits- posture is better, energy is up, and I am strong. Not like a body builder but I feel strong and vibrant which gives me confidence. Take a walk, clean the house, hit the gym, take a bike ride....JUST move for 30 minutes a day along with some kind of weight lifting. 
  • Skincare: I make most of mine but there are so many non-toxic skincare products out there that are just as effective as ones chock full of them...we have options people! Your skin is your largest organ and what you put on it goes IN it. Check out my toxic post from the past. 
  • Skew your view: Where you were, where you are now and where you are going. Mistakes and/or experiences have molded you and made you the person you are today so stop judging yourself harshly and move forward. Take the time to appreciate the moments in your day whether it is a conversation with a friend or a cup of coffee on a chilly morning or a quiet morning without interruptions; the more we re-train our minds to think positively the more it will happen on its own. It is too easy to get caught up in the negative....What's the saying? Make lemonade out of lemons, when life hands you lemons squirt someone in the eye...well, you get what I'm saying.  
  • Learn something: Keeping your brain active and body excited is my number one secret to aging gracefully. How can you NOT feel young when you are doing something for the first time. I love that awkward feeling and complete concentration when doing a task that is unfamiliar. Why can't we experience something new for the first time in our 40's...50's.....60's? This year alone I am learning to cook, taken archery lessons, became a server in a taproom once a week, taking accounting classes, practicing facial yoga (as described in my first sentence) and in the process of learning to brew beer. Of course expanding on all these things should keep me busy for many months and/or years but that's the point isn't it? Keep learning peeps. 
You really don't need to live by anyones standard....do what feels right, don't take yourself too seriously, and learn to let things go. 

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Aioli....We should talk

What is aioli anyways? Wikipedia says, 
"Aioli is, like mayonnaise, an emulsion or suspension of small globules of oil and oil-soluble compounds in water and water-soluble compounds."

I would agree that it is similar to mayonnaise only that it is too made of egg yolks and oil and that they are both emulsions. Aioli hails from the southern French region of Provence and typically begins in a mortar and pestle and is hand whisked to perfection. I have seen aioli whisked to different degrees of thickness; for instance our Tot-choes had a southwest aioli that was slightly thinner letting it flow over the tater tots like a volcano of goodness. If we were making one to use on hamburgers or sliders our aioli would be thicker so we could dollop the sauce easily on the buns. 


Making Aioli:

Ingredients: 
4 cloves of garlic bruniose or fine diced (see photo)
1 egg yolk separated
1 tsp mustard (dijon or stone ground NOT yellow)
3/4 cup sunflower oil
3/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp cold water
Salt
2 tsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp of lemon juice
Here is where you get to be creative. You can add spices that will work with what you are making it for. Want a dip? Maybe use cilantro as a base. 
Optional ingredients; (Cheffy's recipe for our southwestern tot-choes)
1 tbls smoke paprika
1/4 tsp chipotle
1/4 tsp cayenne
2 tsp lime juice instead of the lemon juice.

We did not use the morter and pestle for our recipe. The cheffy and I wanted our tot-choes to have texture to it so we chose to finely dice the garlic. 

How to: SEE VIDEO (so much easier)
Aioli is a water in oil emulsion....what that means is that water needs to be combined in oil to make a creamy texture. 
Combine egg yolk with water, mustard and garlic. Whisk whisk......whisk
While whisking begin slowly adding the oil (olive and sunflower)
Once your emulsion is stable and you have added about 1/2 cup of oil you can add all the spices, salt, vinegar and lime juice. Whisk whisk....whisk
Continue adding the oil slowly until it is gone.
DO NOT break it....see video! really, you should watch it. 
but if you do.....start in a new bowl with 1 egg yolk, 1 tsp mustard and 1 tsp of water. Whisk thoroughly and add the broken aioli very slowly while whisking. 



Basically I want to spread this aioli on everything. It's creamy goodness with a kick of fire erupts my senses. You can actually use all kinds of different ingredients to create the perfect aioli for any dish. We have made roasted red pepper aioli for sliders but this spicy version would also be a perfect topping for hamburgers or fish and chips.

The best tot-choes
So there you have it...In the time it takes to bake tater tots you can create a tot-meal. 

Wanna see how to make the Tot-choes? Go HERE

Friday, March 06, 2015

TOTchoes

Tater tots are serious business. We all love them but there are only so many ways you can eat them so Cheffy and I have come up with TOT-Nacho recipe. In the time it takes to bake the tater tots we'll have you on your way to making the very best totchoes known to man....well, at least I think so.
We hope you enjoy.


So let's get the tots in the oven....Pre-heat oven to 425F

Finished product

Ingredients:

Tater tots
1/2 Red Onion diced
1 Red pepper diced
2 cloves of garlic sliced
1/4 pound Ground beef
1 can Black Beans drained
3 oz Cheese shredded
1/2 Avocado diced
2 tbls parsley chopped
1 tomato diced
2 tbls sunflower seeds
Salt to taste
aioli (see recipe below)



How To:

Place desired amount of tater tots in the oven for approx. 25 minutes or until crispy at 425 F.
Meanwhile preheat pan at medium heat 
Sweat onion, garlic and red pepper until translucent
Add hamburger till done then....
Add beans
Finish with parsley, salt and blk pepper to taste
While bean mixture is cooking shred cheese and chop avocado and tomato for the garnish.


Sweating onion and garlic

Bean mixture

Cheese, parsley and avocado

Remove tater tots from oven,
Layer tater tots with cheese, bean mix, avocado, tomato, and sunflower seeds and throw back in oven to melt the cheese. 
Garnish with aioli.

Making Aioli:

Ingredients: 
4 cloves of garlic bruniose or fine diced (see photo)
1 egg yolk separated
1 tsp mustard (dijon or stone ground NOT yellow)
3/4 cup sunflower oil
3/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp cold water
1 tbls smoke paprika
1/4 tsp chipotle
1/4 tsp cayenne
2 tsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp lime juice
Salt

How to: SEE VIDEO (so much easier)
Aioli is a water in oil emulsion....what that means is that water needs to be combined in oil to make a creamy texture. 
Combine egg yolk with water, mustard and garlic. Whisk whisk......whisk
While whisking begin slowly adding the oil (olive and sunflower)
Continue to whisk, After you have added about 1/2 cup of oil add all the spices, salt, vinegar and lime juice. Whisk whisk....whisk
Continue adding the oil slowly until it is gone.
DO NOT break it....see video! really, you should watch it. 
but if you do.....start in a new bowl with 1 egg yolk, 1 tsp mustard and 1 tsp of water. Whisk thoroughly and add the broken aioli very slowly while whisking. 



Basically I want to spread this aioli on everything. It's creamy goodness with a kick of fire erupts my senses. You can actually use all kinds of different ingredients to create the perfect aioli for any dish. We have made roasted red pepper aioli for sliders but this spicy version would also be a perfect topping for hamburgers or fish and chips.

The best tot-choes
So there you have it...In the time it takes to bake tater tots you can create a tot-meal. 
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