Saturday, February 28, 2009

Who knew?

First of all, this magazine I spotted at Costco yesterday. Cowboys & Indians? WTF? Apparently it's been around for 10 years. With Captain Kirk on the cover, I thought, "Surely this is a hoax." But no, it's for real.

Next up, limestone water. Used in Thai cooking to make things crispier. You buy pink limestone powder (yes, rock dust), shake it up in the water, then soak things in it before frying them. I was looking into making taro chips (more on that later) and found that info and photo here.

Learn something new every day.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Breakfast at Pete's Kitchen – anytime

I wanted to go to Jonesy's EatBar to try their sliders, but nooooo. Their website says they are open until 11 p.m. daily, but when we arrived at 10:15 p.m. Sunday, they were shut up tight. Big points off already.

Disappointed and ravenous, we ended up at the place that never disappoints and never closes: Pete's Kitchen. Open since 1942, Pete's Kitchen is your quintessential greasy spoon, serving all the classic Greek diner fare.
The place is a little worn around the edges, but comfortably so. The service is infallibly fast, friendly and efficient. And the food is tasty and affordable.
I got the corned beef hash with eggs, hash browns and an English muffin. The Sergeant got a gyro sandwich (from which I vultured a fair amount of yummy feta).
I saved enough corned beef and potatoes for my lunch the next day. Add a couple more eggs over easy and you're good to go!

Pete's Kitchen
1962 E. Colfax Avenue
Denver, CO 80206

Thursday, February 26, 2009

More flores

If I lived anywhere else, I'd be pretty jealous of me right now.
What few flowers are blooming, the bees are finding. I watched my hive for a little while and saw some girls coming in with pale yellow pollen in their baskets. I don't know where they're finding that.
I just love these little spring iris. Delicate, yet bold.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Silly kitchen gadget No. 40

Here's a trio of food-savers I spotted outside Patricia's Pantry in the Alameda Marketplace a while back.

What is the attraction of food containers shaped like food? Do you have to have a different kind for each type of food you're storing? Couldn't they make a generic one, or is there really some kind of subtle difference among these that tailors them to the food they store? Would a L'Eggs egg work just as well? (Do they still make those?)

And do you really need a container for garlic? I just leave mine sitting out. But I go through it fairly quickly.

Each of these containers costs $3.99. I might consider an onion one because I think it's cute. But really, it would be just one more thing to find a place for.
How do you store your garlic, onions and lemons?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I spy

But Sophie doesn't.
Wow, talk about super-fabulous weather! Warm and sunny all week, and reportedly this trend will continue, thanks to La Niña. Really, I should be concerned about our declining snowpack (Denver's main source of water), but it's hard to complain about such nice days.

Sophie's due to get her winter coat removed in a couple of weeks. We'll probably have a deep freeze and three feet of snow the next day. Meanwhile, we're out walking and seeing what we can see. Or in Sophie's case, smelling what she can smell.

And as I've noted, the bees are out, too:
I hope spring comes soon for you, too!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Like bees on honey

With temps in the 60s, the bees are out and hungry, but there is nothing blooming yet. I'm not counting my handful of crocuses, which could never satisfy this mob. I had some raw honey that solidified, so I smeared a hunk on the bee log. Once they found it, look out! They were slurping it up like crazy.

I also put some sugar syrup in a ceramic lid, with twigs in it to keep the bees from drowning. I filled it three times today.
If you want to see how really frenzied they were, check out this video:

But for all that frenzy, they still weren't fazed by my taking close-ups or moving the dish around. I have yet to be stung once.

Love your leftovers: Potato pancakes

How do I love thee, potatoes? Let me count the ways.

Well, I won't count 'em all, but here are two: mashed potatoes and potato pancakes. Mashed potatoes are so easy to make, and I usually toss in something extra. In this case, celeriac (celery root). I just peeled and quartered the bulb and tossed it in with the potatoes to boil. Mashed through the ricer with some roasted garlic (this was last week, from my Valentine's chicken dinner). A handful of shredded cheese. Butter. Milk. Nummy.

And then it gets even better. Mix a handful of flour and a beaten egg with the remaining potatoes. If you want to mix in some sautéed onion or some chives, you can do that, too. Put a dollop in hot oil, cook it on one side, flip it over and mash it down with a spatula to cook on the other side.
Serve with apple sauce and sausages or whatever else you're having for dinner. Or just eat them all by themselves. Crispy on the outside, creamy and delicious on the inside.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Run the Republic 2009

As I've mentioned before, part of my exercise routine (if you can call it that) is climbing stairs. So I've entertained the notion of doing this event, a fundraiser for the American Lung Association, but never gotten around to it.

Then my friend Maureen said she'd signed up this year but couldn't make it, and did I want to take her place? Before I could think too hard about it, I said yes – despite the crazy start time of 8:15 a.m., immediately after the elite runners.

Here they are, ready to climb fifty-six stories. That's 1,098 steps.
The No. 1 guy, bouncing up and down, is Ricky Gates, who also finished first.

Here's a video of the start:

Now here's me! Standing in line, waiting my turn and thinking, "Wait, why am I doing this? Where's the coffee?"

Because let me tell you, there were a lot of very fit people there, all decked out in their cardio-gear, heart monitors strapped on, calf muscles bulging, ready to kick some ass.

Well, I wasn't about to let my own ass be kicked, dammit. So, here's me at the starting line, about to step onto the blue mat that picks up the signal from a chip tied to my shoe.
And here's me on the 35th floor – more than halfway! – stopping for water. There were three or four water stations along the way. And cheerleaders!
Next thing I knew, I was at the top! I thought there was another flight left, so I didn't have my camera ready. Just got this one crappy shot of grabbing my medal.
I did it! And I didn't even need the barf bucket. (Yes, some people did.)

The view was pretty spectacular, and a photographer was on hand to document the moment. I got her to take a shot with my camera, too.
My face was pretty red!

Now, you maybe wondering what my time was. Ricky Gates, age 27, the No. 1 guy, ran it in 5:51. Cindy O'Neill, age 46, the top female finisher, ran it in 8:05. Me? I walked it in 20:50. Putting me in 26th place, however briefly.
Yes, those are just the preliminary results. Runners were starting every 8 seconds until 1 p.m., so if I stay in the top 1,000, I'll be doing pretty well! I'll find out in a day or two.

Thanks, Maureen, for helping me get my butt in gear!

Fifty-six flights

Republic Plaza is that tall building in the background. And today is Run the Republic. I can't believe I'm doing this.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Boycott Chef Al Rosas and Rosas Farm

Wondering why? Ask Cook Almost Anything and Rasa Malaysia.

This outfit operates in Florida at farmers markets, and also sells via catalog and online. Don't buy their stuff.

Indian street food rocks!

When Manisha of Indian Food Rocks! said she was hosting a Stitch 'n' Bitch, I had the best intentions of hauling out my knitting and getting rolling again.

Who am I kidding? I was really there for the food. Indian street food.

When I walked in, the potato patties (or "patis") were sizzling away on the stove. They consist of boiled potatoes mashed with turmeric powder, red chili powder, dash of lemon juice, some chopped cilantro and salt, then rolled in some farina (in this case, Malt-o-Meal).

Manisha was ladling mustard oil with cilantro and sesame seeds on the dhokla, which is a kind of spongy cake made with rice flour and dal (and sometimes the Indian equivalent of Alka Seltzer! That made me laugh).
On the table was a fabulous spread of dishes and condiments:
The patties are covered with a heaping ladleful of ragda made of, in Manisha's words: "dried yellow peas soaked overnight and then pressure cooked with onions sautéed in oil + ginger + garlic + green chillies + cumin powder + turmeric powder + salt."

Atop that you can add a variety of chutneys: sweet tamarind, made with dates or apples, cilantro/lime/mint/green chili, and and red chili/garlic. Plus onions and some crunchy lentil noodles (sev).
To cool the heat of the dish, you can have a bite of sweet yoghurtlike shrikhand. Or you can add to the fire in your mouth with a snack of dal biji (Haldiram's is the best brand).
Then it was time to pull out the stitching.
T. was working on a hat like the one above, J. was considering scrapbooking, and F. showed off the swimsuit she made for her daughter, a champion synchronized swimmer.

(Interesting side note: The swimsuit has to be stretched out as big as possible on a frame before you start sewing decorative elements onto it. Otherwise, the swimmer would never be able to get the suit on, because those beading stitches don't stretch.)

Manisha, meanwhile, was working on her own creative endeavours:
The elements: lipstick, "Bitch" wine and Gorillapods (mine and hers). I slipped in and snapped a shot, too:
There was a lot of talking and laughing but not much actual stitching going on. And the eating wasn't finished, either. Manisha brought out some gulab jamun (dough balls in sweet syrup) and ice cream.
Nom nom!

What a fun time it was! The drive home was a bitch (wet, icy, snowy roads and drivers alternately super-timid and dangerously oblivious) but I was comforted by the bundle of leftovers on the seat next to me.

Thanks, Manisha!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Blew and blue

That wind! It wasn't so bad when I took Sophie for a long walk earlier, but now it feels like the whole state is about to be peeled up and flung over Kansas. A good day to enjoy a nap.

But first, some blue items. I am not really into the whole meme/tagging thing but sometimes I see something on another blog that I want to imitate. Today Betts started a "rainbow week" of posting items of different colors, starting with blue. It was easy enough to pick up my camera and join the game.
Many of Mom's paintings have blue skies or blue backgrounds.
Nice to have such a talented (and generous) artist in the family, eh?
Then there are the vases: Chinese enameled ones that were a gift from a student, a deco potpourri vase from my great-grandmother's house, and one of a pair of urns, also ancestral, that holds an umbrella palm in water.
In the kitchen, James Peterson's "Splendid Soups" caught my eye on the cookbook shelves. It's a splendid resource.
On the kitchen windowsill, a pastis carafe. I frequented a Parisian cafe for about a week once and asked the waiter where I could get one. He sent me to the flea market, but when I came back empty-handed, he slipped this one to me.
My grandfather was a great photographer and I am lucky to have many of his bird shots, including this great blue (!) heron.
And finally, ephemeral and lovely, a blue crocus that is blooming in my front yard today. Where has winter gone?