Wednesday, October 29, 2014

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday
Get Lost

Panna Maria, Texas

“...but I preferred reading the American landscape as we went along. Every bump, rise, and stretch in it mystified my longing.” 
― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Halloween Treat (No Trick, Promise.)
A Sweet, Maybe Salty, Maybe Spicy, Nutty, Fruity, Chocolaty-drizzled Popcorn Treat

Why should the kids have all the fun?!  

Whether handing out treats to the wee ones a'knocking, or hitting the streets for raucous, costumed celebration, the big kids about this 'hood will be munching on something a tad more creative, and less sugar-soaked than what fills the ubiquitous plastic pumpkin. 

Play around with the components to suit your fancy. I like it a bit salty, a bit sweet, a bit spicy, and I prefer my chocolate drizzle as delightfully dark as I can find (Because memory, y'all), but any easy-to-find chocolaty meltable bark will work as well. 

Note: To make it an even healthier snack, eschew the candy bark coating, and toss in some semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips. 

It's addictive, friends! You'll find yourself sneaking in from the doorstep duty for nibbles....then perhaps give in to your cravings and bring the entire batch back to your post. Maybe hide it with a towel. Pretend you just have that cheapo taffy you got ten minutes ago at half price you're handing out. 

It really has no name, so let's just go with what it is--

A Sweet, Maybe Salty, Maybe Spicy, Nutty, Fruity, Chocolaty-drizzled Popcorn Treat.

There. Isn't that catchy? 

Prepare popcorn according to package directions. Try kettle corn, it really is perfect for this.  

Strew on Silpat-lined baking sheet. (Alternatively,  spray sheet pan down with silicone cooking spray.) Let it mingle with whatever treats your heart desires-- we used almonds, pistachios, and dried mixed fruits. 

Season with your favorites-- we used a little cayenne on one batch, a little chat masala, a popular salt-bomb of an Indian snack spice mixture, so goooood, on another, and simply a little sea salt on a third batch.

Melt chocolate candy coating according to package directions.  I found mine to be thicker than would easily drizzle (glop!) so I transferred it to a handy-dandy squeeze bottle, and went to town.  Drizzle chocolate over the top, as shown.  Pop the tray into the fridge for a few minutes (Really. It only takes a few minutes to harden.)

Now, I talk a mean game, but I'll break down and share it with the neighborhood kids-- the ones I know (because strange neighbors with unwrapped candy are s-c-a-r-y). This year, and this neighborhood, well it will likely be University of Texas co-eds that gather, and hey, co-eds need treats, too, right? To soak off all that liquor they consume? To have a nutritious snack?

I'll gently break off chunks to share in baking treat bags, and maybe a few in cupcake liners for the kids who hang around to pet the dog. (Jack loves Halloween, but wonders why he can't go door to door with the others, and for research purposes, only, where are the houses with the doggie treats?)

Really, the sharing-- that's important. If I don't, I'll likely eat the whole batch (or 2 or 3) for dinner.  

And maybe breakfast the next day, stealing the show from my usual healthy, adult, Saturday morning meal of cold pizza.  I may never grow up.

Now spill the beans!  What's YOUR costume going to be this year?  

I want to go as Edie....but I'm afraid I look more like Andy.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Meatless Monday
Healthy Eats in Austin

It's been quite the change, moving back to the city after six years on a farm. My vocation keeps me hopping, and somewhat erratically--in fits and starts, often with schedule scattered, and on more days than I care to admit, insufficient preparation for insistent hunger.

What I mean is.....

I eat out. A lot

I work for Austin Eats Food Tours. I work with the Texas Farmers Markets. I am a personal chef. I write about, report of, and photograph food. I blog about food. I tweet, I post, I Instagram that stuff every day. Y'all. My days can be some pretty high-calorie affairs. I'm a lucky girl.

Until it catches up with me, and I need to get back to culinary basics as penance for my wild-dining ways. Fortuitously, Austin boasts an embarrassment of healthy-eating riches, and I'm on a quest to discover the best. The healthy, plant-based, pescatarian, ovo-lacto, vegetarian, vegan, paleo, gluten-free, tasty, satisfying, economical.

In an ongoing series, I'll be sharing my favorite healthy eats in Austin, I'd love to hear your favorites, too! Please leave a comment and help me in my search for the best. 

I recently visited the Danish modern funky Eastside coffee shop and cafe, Counter Culture, the emerged-from-the-ashes Hyde Park healthy eats anchor, Mother's Cafe and Garden, and the tranquil oasis of zen-like calm, community, and culinary care, Casa de Luz. My favorite meals included ...

PAC MAN + Garbanzo Mock Tuna 

Counter Culture Cafe

2337 East Cesar Chavez
Austin, TX  78702

Tues-Fri: 11 AM-10 PM                
Sat & Sun: Brunch 11 AM-3 PM    Reg Menu: 3-10 PM

This vibrant kale, carrot & chia seed salad, with a creamy garlic dressing and the addition of garbanzo mock tuna salad, is gluten-free, economical (the side salad plus scoop only set this vegan-seeker back a mere six bucks), fiber-rich, and satisfying. For a dinner entree, opt for the full size, with scoop, for $10.00.

Counter Culture is a great place to hunker down over a steaming cup of dark joe with your favorite thrift-store pilled and worn-soft sweater and an engrossing novel. Maybe a beret, you beatnik, you.

Szechuan Stir Fry 

Mother's Cafe & Garden

4215 Duval Street 
Austin, TX 78751

Mon-Fri 11:15 AM-10 PM
Sat-Sun 10 AM-10 PM
Sat-Sun Brunch 10 AM-3 PM

Fresh vegetables stir-fried in canola oil with tofu, green onions and mushrooms. Finished with a sauce of fresh ginger, garlic, toasted sesame oil and Szechuan spices and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Served over organic brown rice with black beans. $10.50

Mother's is laudable in catering to special dietary needs, and this dish was satisfactorily adjusted to meet the requirements of a detox diet, with the omission of brown rice and black beans, however when served as described, the full entree is enough for one, and a take-home parcel for the next day's lunch, (or perhaps a midnight snack. No judging.)

Mother's Cafe is just a goldmine for people-watching. Get a two-top to the left of the door, and sit back and enjoy everyone under the sun.  Discreetly, of course, Hedda Hopper.

Mixed Vegetable Taco with Guacamole and Salad of Garden Greens with Fresh Basil, Walnut, & Pecan Dressing.
Casa de Luz

1701 Toomey Road 
Austin, TX 78704

Breakfast: 7:00 to 10:00 AM
Lunch Menu: 11:00 to 2:30 PM
Dinner Menu: 5:30 to 8:30 PM

Casa de Luz offers a set menu of macrobiotic, vegan, organic and gluten-free meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner in it's zen-like 'campus', an oasis amid the encroaching development boom of Barton Springs Road.

Prix Fixe Meals which vary by day (check the website for daily offerings) are $9.00 for Breakfast, and $12.00 for lunch and dinner. A favorite meal of this diner is served weekly on Thursday, and with some variations, might feature Vegetable and Yellow Split Pea Soup, Salad of Garden Greens with Basil, Walnut & Pecan Dressing, Mixed Vegetable Taco with Guacamole on homemade corn tortilla, Black Beans with Sun Cheese, Blanched Greens with Lemon, Rice Pilaf (or other grains), and Pickled Vegetables. Includes Beverage.

Though a family-style dining room accommodates gatherings of all types and sizes, I love to dine alone at the southwest shore's urban ahhhh of a dining retreat. Don't go in a hurry. Breathe. Take it all in. Indulge in gratitude for a peaceful and well-prepared meal.

These meals, and more, are featured in Full and Content's guide, Eight Tasty Vegetarian Meals to Enjoy in Austin.  Check out more of what my friends find to be their beloved nutritious meatless meals in the city. And if you're vegan, don't miss Lazy Smurf's Austin Vegan Guide.

Whether in Austin, or points beyond, I'd love to hear about your favorite healthy meals and restaurants. Please share your best-kept delicious dining out secrets!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Tips for Tuesday
In Season: October

artichokes + arugula + asian vegetables + beans, green + beans, shelling + beets + bok choy + broccoli + broccoli rabe + brussels sprouts + burdock + cabbage + cactus pads (nopalitas) + carrots + cauliflower + celeriac + celery + chard + chicory + collard greens + corn + cress + cucumbers + eggplant + endive + fennel + garlic + gingerroot + herbs + horseradish + jicama + kale + lambsquarters + leeks + lettuce + mushrooms + mustard greens + nettles + okra + olives + onions + parsnips + peas + peppers, chile + pepper, sweet + potatoes + purslane + radish + rutabagas + salsify + scallions + shallots + spinach + sprouts + squash, summer + squash, winter + sunchokes + sweet potatoes + tomatillos + tomatoes + turnips

Fruit and Nuts
almonds + apples + chestnuts + cranberries + pears + pomegranate

duck + lamb + partridge + pheasant + rabbit + venison

clams + lobster + mussels + scallops

And a couple of great links, with maps, charts, and interactive resources, to keep yourself, and those you love, eating well:

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