Thursday, October 14, 2010

Post-Nuptiual: The Marriage Ceremony

Around one month ago I went into Bridal Mode and descended into the depths of RSVPs and table arrangements.  I have come up for air.  The marriage ceremony went well, the wedding went well and the additional reception went well (think we're tired? Yes.)

Sammit and I hatched a plan about a month ago to get legally married on the Friday before our wedding.  He wanted a large ceremony and reception with all of our friends and family - immediate and extended - and he was getting that.  His parents wanted a large Indian bash in a grand hotel with 400+ people - and they were getting that.  I wanted an intimate quirky ceremony with our close friends and family - immediate only.  And so, we decided that I was getting that as well.

And I did.  We were married at our rehearsal.  It was a surprise - outside of us, just the minister and my mother knew about it.  His parents, my parents, our wedding party and an assortment of others (about 50) watched as we exchanged personally written vows.  Sammit read his off his iPhone and I read bawled mine from notecards handwritten by my bridesmaid, Lisa.  There was a pirate theme - hats, eye-patches, booty and all.  Our guests and we a great dinner at a local place called One Trick Pony.

Yolanda, Stephany, Monica
Front: Lisa, Dillon (Me)
Missing: Devin, my sister and First Mate (taking the picture)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sausage Soup

4 Sausages, cut into 1 inch pieces (we used Costco’s Apple/Gouda Chicken Sausages)
2 Large potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 Medium onion, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 can of chicken broth/stock (we were out of bone broth so I used a can of Swanson)
1 can of diced tomatoes in their juices (we used a quart if home canned tomatoes)
1/4 cup red lentils (optional, we had some...I threw them in to see what happened)
1 (or 2) Tbs. butter (we used delicious Kerry Gold Pasture Butter, which has a richer taste, imo).
2 pressed cloves of garlic
A few sprinkles of red pepper flakes
A few sprinkles of salt & white pepper
1 bay leaf (pulled out before serving)
2 sprigs of fresh oregano (on the stem, pulled out before serving - use a tsp of dry otherwise)
1 sprig of fresh thyme (on the stem, pulled out before serving - use 1/2 tsp of dry otherwise)

Also, I would've loved to put some carrots or turnips in here, but alas, we had none.  I think the carrots in particular would enhance the flavor.
Throw it all in the crock pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours. While I enjoyed this out of the pot, I couldn’t get enough of it on the second day when I took it for lunch. By the time I thought about taking a picture I was slurping down the last few drops of golden buttery broth.  I will try to remember next time.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Garden Y1-W10

Another [quick] garden update - week 10 is rounding into the end of June/beginning of July.

Week 10 Beefsteak (and my photographer's distorted hand)

Cherry Tomatoes, ripening in the sun

Sungold tomatoes - our first ever!

That large dark spot in the back is our 10 week old cucumber -
picked just a few days later and enjoyed with some salt and pepper

Summer Squash - enjoyed by Su-mama (my soon-to-be mother in law)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Why We Work With Leftovers

...or alternatively titled: The Reasons Dillon Hates Dining Out

Sammit and I frequently have to resist the urge to eat out - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner or Dessert (yes, that seems to be it's own meal) - it doesn't matter.  We like to eat out - Sammit loves trying new and exciting things (or variations on the same old thing) and I like not having to think and the unrelenting supply of cold water delivered directly to my glass.  I do not exaggerate about the water.  If you have ever been to a restaurant with me you know that I have to have my own pitcher or every glass on the table will be empty before we've opened our menus. 

But when I really thinking about it, laziness and water are the only things I like about eating out.  I don't like how much money we spend for two damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't reasons. 1) I hate feeling like I've been taken advantage of when I know how much less it would have cost me to make the meal from scratch.  2) I hate the feeling I get when I've contributed to the Food Industry Complex because the price we paid for our meal is well below the actual cost of the livelihoods, human or animal, of those involved in producing it.

I hate not definitely knowing what is in my food - not being able to choose healthy fats over unhealthy ones, not knowing the quality of the ingredients, not trusting the waitstaff to provide me with accurate information or just having a hard time resisting trying to educate the waitstaff about food.  I love when Sammit and I happen at a place that serves Salmon.  We always ask where the Salmon is from if the menu does not divulge such information.  If we're not in a serious [read: expensive] fish place this question usually catches the staff off guard and after they walk to the back to "find out," we get one of two outcomes: 1) The staff person returns and tells us they don't know where their Salmon comes from but it's really good or 2) The staff person proudly states that they carry only the finest Farmed Salmon.  They are often confused when we then order the Tilapia. 

[Note: Due to high mercury levels and devastating overfishing in the Atlantic as well as the gross lack of nutritional value and treatment of farmed Salmon, we tend to only eat Wild Alaskan Salmon - a sustainable choice.  For more information on sustainable seafood choices, google it.]

I hate not being able to customize my order.  This doesn't happen at all restaurants, but it happens frequently and is another two fold problem.  1) They can't customize an order because everything comes premade, usually frozen, from a parent or outsourced company.  2) They would be happy to customize an order for a small fee, which hits a nerve I have about customer service now-a-days...but that's for another post.

So, in short after the long, with a little creativity (Sammit like to try new things), planning ahead (I like not thinking), and ice (cold water), Sammit and I can enjoy all the elements we like about dining out without trudging through the elements we don't!  It also makes those few places that provide cost effective healthy meals with outstanding service really hold a warm place in our hearts.

Believe it or not, this whole post started with wanting to simply document a night of double leftover usage. 

Last night's dinner/this afternoon's lunch:
  • 1 1/2 cups of roasted chicken (leftover from an actual roasted chicken), shredded - heated in coconut oil with minced garlic, onion and a few spoonfuls of taco seasoning.
  • Added 1 can of pinto beans, 2 diced Serrano peppers and 2 beefsteak tomatoes from the garden
  • Stirred in leftover BTB [a great burrito place in Ann Arbor] from lunch: little bit of rice, shredded chicken, salsa and black beans - seriously, about a spoonful total.
  • Stirred in 2 heaping spoonfuls of Sour Cream and 1 cup (cough-2-cough) shredded cheese
We ate it with the last of our corn chips from Costco and has some peaches and a swig of *Vruit/Pineapple/Orange juice for dessert.

*Vruit has it's pros and cons - one of the pros we like is that it's corporate headquarters is located in Saline, MI and it has partnered with Eden Foods, a Clinton/Ann Arbor based company that was a pioneer in eliminating BPA in canned foods years ago.  Both Eden Foods products and Vruit are sold in our local Food Co-op.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Garden Y1-W4

In an attempt to catch up on blogging from a crazy summer and to keep my gardening posts up to date, I'm posting pictures from week 4 of our garden growth.  I attempted to grow from seed but two curious cats and a week long trip to India put a stop to that.  Nothing that I started indoors (under grow lights from my apartment gardening days) made it much bigger than a dandelion.  A convenient trip to the farmer's market helped me recover from the sad little sprouts and start my first fruitful patch - two full flats of anything I wanted for 20.00! (Bringing out garden total up to 70.00).  In short, this is to explain that my week 4 garden is larger than it would be if I had grown from seed.  But enough from me, let's get to the garden porn - these pictures are from mid-June:

Our toms at week 4
Peppers (don't get too attached) at week 4
Our paste tomatoes in the back and some brussels' sprouts at the far right.
Cucumbers in the back - getting wild.
A lettuce mixture attempted from seed.
Lettuce in the front with a crazy batch of weeds.
Close up of the baby cukes

Zucchini and Summer Squash in the back
Carrots from seed in the front

Monday, August 23, 2010

Garden Year 1-Week 1

While Sammit and I are in the process of moving into our new home, a 4 bedroom house owned by Sammit's brother in a Detroit suburb, nearly 3 months ago I started a garden next to the driveway. At the time, I knew we wouldn't be moving in until August or so, but after trying to grow produce and herbs in my apartment throughout college I could not stomach the idea of letting one more summer pass without an outdoor garden of my own. A few weeks after Mother's Day, when I was sure the soil was thawed and there would be no more frosting, I went to work on a a plot next to the house on the other side of the driveway. The plot had been a rose garden when the previous owners lived here, but there was only one rose bush and a plethora of weeds left. Sammit escorted me to Lowe's and Home Depot and we collected a shovel (for $5!!), some compost and topsoil, and a few red stones to make paths.

For about $50 and a lot of sweat over the course of two days, we I weeded and turned the garden by hand. Now, I must admit that I am proud of turning the garden by hand. When people see the size of our plot (5'x25') they are impressed by my work. I wish I could chalk it up to some manual-labor-loving-extreme-survivalist attitude, but really we just didn't have realize we had another option. It wasn't until the bed was complete that Sammit's brother, who was not impressed at the hand turned 100 square feet, told us he had an electric rototiller. I have the rest of the seasons to decide if I'd like to use it next year. While it would be faster, I really did love getting sweaty in the dirt.

Being geeks, we measured and used an excel spreadsheet to plot out our garden, taking into consideration the spacing needs of each plant we intended to harvest. While I will do this again next year, my eyes were bigger than my dirt patches when I went to the farmer's market for flats and we ended up throwing the spacing out and planted whatever the hell we wanted. We divided the plot up into 6 beds separated by a line of red bricks to form a walkway around each of them.  I alternated topsoil and composte and fit as many plants as I could.

Week 1
Bed One: Tomatoes (Cherry, Sungolds, Beefsteaks) & Fruit (Watermelon in back)
Bed Two: Fruit (Cantaloupe in back) & Tomatoes (San Marzanos) & Peppers (Bananas, Seranos, Habeneros, Jalapenos)
Bed One: Unknown Lettuce, Unknown Lettuce from Seed, Brussell's Sprouts, Cucumbers, Dill at the base of the path.
Bed Two: Cauliflower, Broccoli, Green Beans, Spearmint at the base of the path
Carrots (4 rows), Summer Squash, Zucchini, Chives at the base of the path
Herb Garden: Rose Bush, Rosemary, Sage, Oregano, Parsley, Cilantro, Thyme, Basil