Tomato Rice

Picked up this neat trick on YouTube.

Prepare rice like you normally would (in a rice cooker).
IMG_0922
I like to add red lentils in my rice.
Add one whole tomato in the middle.
Add pepper.
Add a drizzle of oil.
IMG_0922
Once cooked, break up the tomato and stir it in the rice. It’s easy and delicious!
IMG_0926

C-ville

Spent a weekend in Charlottesville, VA. Yes. The Deep South. Confederate flags and all!

We stayed at the Econo Lodge.  It was $70 a night and felt like it.  The package came with squeaky beds and audible upstairs neighbors having a lovely evening which immediately bumped up my rating of the place.  I don’t mute Keeping Up with the Kardishians for just anything.  Live entertainment is always better then TV.

Charlottesville doesn’t seem like much of a food destination.  It’s not bad, but it’s nothing memorable either.  We ate at Bodo’s Bagels, Firefly, Mellow Mushroom, and Mellow Mushroom again.  Granted, that’s not much of a sample size.

We also visited a brewery bar – Three Notch’d Brewery.
Three Notch'd Brewery
Good beers.  I learned that I’m not a fan of very very hoppy beers. Of the ones we tasted, Jazz Fest (sugar cane and pecan ale) was our favorite. You can definitely taste the pecans. Hydraulion Red was number 2. It was just a very balanced beer that was a little bit caramelly sweet. And number 3 was Jack’s Java Espresso Stout. It definitely tasted of coffee. Probably our least fave was Ghost of the 43rd American Pale Ale. It tasted of hops, hops, and more hops.

Our two main attractions while visiting Charlottesville were the McCormick Observatory and the Paramount Theater’s children’s musical, Alice in Wonderland.  

The Observatory was a long line where each person got to take a peek through the giant telescope to see Jupiter and 3 of its moons – Io, Callisto, and Europa.  
McCormick Observatory
It was mostly for historical purposes, just to get an idea of how people in the late 19th century studied the stars. Nowadays there are more advanced telescopes (Kepler/Hubble) that sit in outer space. The experience included a good bit of waiting in line while a staff member gave each person a few quick seconds of a look.  I love looking at outer space things.  They’re kind of magical and beautiful.

The Paramount Theater is in “downtown” Charlottesville.  The performance of Alice in Wonderland was given by the Missoula Children’s Theatre by local children in the area.  The company brings the props, a director and other staff and they audition local children and rehearse for about a week and put on the low budget show.  It was pretty cute to watch kids (I’m guessing they were K-12) running and dancing around the stage in costumes. It was as cute as one can imagine. Little kids dressed as lobsters and singing flowers. They waved to their moms, forgot their lines, tripped and stumbled, mumbled their lines and missed some cues. Pretty adorable stuff! Still, even though it was all rather sweet it felt more like something the family or friend of a performer would enjoy more.

And what is a trip without some shopping? I started out at the conventional shops. Ann Taylor. Banana Republic. I didn’t find anything I liked that much. Then while we were at the Paramount Theater, I overheard a mom raving about their local Goodwill stores. She said the best time to shop is when all the university students leave for the summer. I mentally smacked my head, duh! Of course the Goodwill store. So after the play and lunch we went to a Goodwill store.
Thrift Store finds
I got these 4 items for $16! One still had the tag attached and one was a pink cashmere sweater that appeared unworn.

Foodwise – I’m not sure I need to bother talking about Bodo’s Bagels or Firefly. They were both decent but nothing stand-out. The best place we ate was Mellow Mushroom which is why we went there twice. The first time was better than the second though. My first impression was, hey, this is comparable to Lost Dog Pizza here. I got a mushroom hoagie.
Hoagie @ Mellow Mushroom
It was mostly bread, but with a good dollop of marinara sauce, it was decent. Some red onions would have made it even better. On the plus side, it came out very hot and the bread was nicely toasted.
The second time we went, I wanted to try their pizza. So I got a veggie pizza with no cheese.
Vegan pizza @ Mellow Mushroom
Here’s what I got. Looked and smelled good but tasted bland and dry. This is a vegan pizza made by non-vegans. They don’t consider that without cheese, it needs something more to add flavor or moisture. This thing needed oil or a lot more marinara sauce to help improve the lack of cheese situation. This just isn’t a pizza. I realize this isn’t fair to Mellow Mushroom. They sell traditional pizza and I turned it into this monstrosity by choice. So when I opine that it’s sub-par to Lost Dog, I took those particular dings out of the equation. What makes Lost Dog better is the crust, which is thinner and lighter (less dense doughy-ness), the marinara sauce, and more even distribution and generous portions of toppings. To boot, LD on a busy day churns out their food a lot faster than MM on a quiet day. Mellow Mushroom can hack it in Charlottesville but I’m not rushing to go to any of the locations here.

The one place that showed a lot of promise that we didn’t get to was Bluegrass Bar & Grill. The waiting time for lunch was an hour!! After no breakfast, and an hour of hot yoga, we decided to head back to Mellow Mushroom instead of waiting.

The surprising highlight of our weekend turned out to be attending 2 yoga classes. I planned them as time fillers. These were heated vinyasa flow classes and I came out of there totally soaked through with sweat and feeling calm and energized.

And what is a trip to C-ville without a visit to TJ’s UVA?
The Rotunda
Yes, this is The Rotunda. It’s under repair.

Kimchi Rice Bowl

Since I made kimchi last month, I’ve been having it all the time. I’ve already finished 2 big jars of it – one napa and one cubed radish.

Here’s how I enjoy it sometimes.

I cook beans in the steamer cooker (my rice cooker) and then I cook them again with rice to get:
IMG_0481
Rice and beans.

I add any kind of vegetable side dishes I have.
IMG_0484
This time it was mung bean sprouts.

In goes the kimchi and also a cut up avocado. Mmm-mm! A filling and delicious meal.
IMG_0488
The kimchi and kimchi juice provides all the flavoring.

If I don’t have cooked rice ready to go, I’ll boil noodles which takes no time and make a noodle bowl instead.

Baked Ripe Plaintains

I’m not sure what this is. A snack? A dessert? It’s anything. It’s good. My coworker told me this is how she eats plantains, but she emphasized that they must be ripe. Like spotty black ripe!

I washed the plantains first.

Then sliced them in half lengthwise.
IMG_0475

Then baked at 350 fahrenheit for about 30 minutes.
IMG_0477

That’s it!

Is this even a recipe?? It’s like boil a potato. Or boil water. 1 ingredient. Add heat. Enjoy.

Mukbang

I have been resucked into the world of mukbang – broadcasted food eating. For a while I was watching videos on YouTube featuring eaters speaking Korean and even though I didn’t understand what they were saying I still loved watching them. The enjoyment of food needs no translation or explanation. They ate some pretty bad garbage though. American cheese, ramen, fried chicken, fast food burgers. Often enjoyed with kimchee. (That’s what inspired me to make kimchee actually. It’s been a long time since I’ve fermented any vegetables though. I’m still eating my way through a large jar of fermented cabbage.)

Anyway I stopped watching Korean mukbangs for a long time and recently rediscovered it on YouTube when I stumbled on this English-speaking mukbang hosted by MommyTang. She’s a loud-mouthed, opinionated, stay-at-home mother of 4 and I love her. Her children are often featured in her videos, which is entertaining. Oh and she also happens to be vegan and I’ve picked up some good simple vegan recipes. Asian cuisine really lends itself well to being vegan. So I am hooked! Also, true to mukbangs that I’ve seen, she eats kimchee with almost every meal, even Dominoes pizza. It fired up my desire to make kimchee once again. A meal just isn’t complete without some good ol’ kimchee! So that’s what I did last weekend.

IMG_0479

Hot Sauce Mania!

We got a lot of hot sauces as a gift which was just in time for a dinner with some friends (chili night!) so we had a hot sauce tasting evening. 
IMG_0360
Aside from a few others we have already, we tried 2 of these new ones. The Calypso Sauce was the favorite of the evening. It was hot with a hint of mustardiness. It’s almost empty actually.

The Yellowbird is also very good. Not as hot as the calypso so I use it less cautiously.

The Palm & Equinox

Spring is almost here! I finally come out of the metro in some remaining daylight, which is a pleasanter way to end the workday.

A while back, we went out to The Palm for dinner. It’s a nothing-special kinda’ steakhouse. Their vegetable sides were on the greasy/salty side. Meh. Pass. Their wine list was pretty decent though. We shared a really good bottle of Justin Isosceles Red Blend, unfiltered. I’d never heard of them before but hey, they’re local-ish, from CA. I don’t normally pay too much attention to wine because I don’t look for any specific make/model wines when I shop but this one is worth remembering for me.

The other place we dined at was Equinox. They have many plant-based options besides just a plate of sides so that was nice. The portions were on the small side though so I think you’re supposed to order 2 or 3 per person. The food was good, but rather rich/heavy. Their cocktails, again, good, were probably a bit too sweet. I could go back, but no rush.
IMG_0238
This is fried artichokes. Good but a little greasy/salty.

As much as I like staying in, watching TV, and cooking, it’s nice to get out of the house and have other peoples cooking for a change.

Rancho Gordo Beans

I got 15 pounds of Rancho Gordo beans during my last visit to California and painstakingly hauled them back amongst other heavy items.  Like an ass.  Double entendre, double entendre!  Double up on ya!  Then I find on Rancho Gordo’s website that you can order them on the Internet and they will deliver them to your place of residence.  Of course. None of this analog shopping.  

IMG_0166

It’s 19 pounds of beans. Well, maybe not all beans. There’s a few corn items in there. I’ve found these Rancho Gordo beans to be good and easy to cook and I love their variety. Although all their beans are reliably good, I’d say it’s only worth ordering if there’s a type that you can’t find elsewhere. For example I haven’t seen Rio Zape’s anywhere else and they are incredibly creamy and delicious.
Still, for this order, I got some pretty typical beans such as black beans, black eyed peas, and yellow eye beans. Their beans are very fresh so I wanted to try them compared to my usual beans.

Nha Hang Chay

This place is located in the same shop that used to be our go-to Thai restaurant, Thaispoon.  When that closed we weren’t too surprised, but still sad.  It was a good place and we ate there fairly regularly. but it never seemed all too busy.  It’s located right on the fringe of the Eden Center so it’s not easily noticeable.  But not too long after, we saw this new place come in and tried it about a month ago.  We got their Hue’s spicy noodle soup and a broken rice dish.  The soup was full of stuff.  Vegetables.  Tofu.  Ingredients!  And it wasn’t overly spicy or salty.  The broken rice dish was very flavorful and fresh too.  Since the weather has turned frigid I’ve been hankering for a good hot noodle soup again.

This time we got hot pot broken rice and the spicy noodle soup again.

Still as good.

Fall Squash Simmer

I love fall squashes. When the season comes around, I always end up buying 2 or 3 at a time and then woefully regret my greed when I’m hauling them home because they are heavy.

  • 2 Acorn Squash (or any fall squash) – peeled and cubed
  • 2 big onions – diced
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic – chopped/minced/whatevered
  • Salt/Pepper – easy on the salt, generous with the pepper
  • Turmeric – generous
  • Water (2-3 cups)
  • Oil

Stir fry the onions, garlic, and salt in oil for a few minutes.
IMG_9875

Add pepper and turmeric. IMG_9878

Add the squash.
IMG_9880

Add the water

IMG_9881

Simmer until the squash is soft.