Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Grafton Village - The Making of Vermont Cheddar

Check out this really sweet video from Grafton Village Cheese Company! Learn more about the creamery and watch them make cheese (om nom nom).

They are famous for making a damn good Vermont Cheddar - find Grafton Village at your local store here.

xo D

Cheese of the Week

Hi all -

Just a quick post here in the middle of a hectic week - I have to replace a leaking tire, try to remember that dishes have to get washed, and convince the DMV I am not a raging delinquent. I'm about to throw my hands up, buy some paper plates and biodegradable plastic forks, and just order pizza.

BUT: This weekend I had an adventure. An adventure of epic and cheesy proportions. I made the pilgrimage to the new(ish) SF Mecca of all things sharp and oozy and delicious, Mission Cheese.

Chloe is jazzed about cheese!
I will post more photos when I get home tonight, or maybe tomorrow, BUT - suffice it to say that the cheese I am about to tell you about is one of the best cheeses I have had in a loooooong time.

Lovingly created at Nettle Meadow Farm in Warrensburg, NY, Kunik is a luscious triple-creme cow-goat milk blend cheese. I've been eating it spread on Della Fattoria levain with veggies and an egg fried over-hard. Also I may or may not have been eating it with a spoon.

You can definitely buy Kunik at Mission Cheese (for now - they update their retail list almost every day with new cheeses as stock changes!), or you can see a list of distributers here.

Bon appetit ;)
xo D

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Getting Jazzed in the Morning

Step Up soundtrack: THAT'S WHAT'S UP.

(Google Reader folks, click out for the playlist.)

Nothing like a little hip hop to kick it up in the morning.

xoxo D

Monday, October 3, 2011

Hippie Chow

Being Jewish is a huge part of who I am.. There's no way to write that sentence that doesn't sound a little cheesy but it's so true.

That said, for most of my life, I've stayed away from the majority of seafood (since unless it has fins and scales, it's not kosher). Still haven't ever eaten a scallop I enjoyed (although I've only eaten them twice, so I'm open to the possibility). I used to think I really hated shrimp - I still won't eat the ones you get at dim sum that still have the eyes and legs and everything. Blech. 

BUT. BUT. Thanks to Whole Foods, a very nice Asian man behind the seafood counter, and one dose of mustered-up courage, the other night I found myself the proud possessor of a dozen pre-cooked, delicious pink shrimp. The counter guy let me taste one before I bought and OH MAN it was so gooooood. Guh. Sweet and not fishy at all. Nom.

So: I was thinking to myself, I want to make myself a Bowl of Food. Now, the Bowl of Food phenomenon occurs when you put a bunch of healthy crap together and it tastes awesome. Also known as hippie chow. Here's my awesomely yummy shrimp-kale-grain version!

10-12 medium shrimp (size 31-40)
chopped Red Russian kale
crimini mushrooms
1 svg Trader Joe's 3 Grain Blend (barley, rice, spelt), cooked
dash olive oil
1 thick slice firm tofu
1 clove garlic
soy sauce

1. Cut the tofu into ~1/2 inch cubes. Dry-fry in a pan over medium heat. Let it brown a little bit and then set aside. 
2. Saute mushrooms & garlic & kale in olive oil. Kale should get bright green and mushrooms should brown but don't overdo it. 
3. Add cooked tofu and shrimp and a splash of soy sauce, just for long enough to warm through. 
4. Dump the rice in the pan, stir everything around, add a light squeeze of lemon and a dash of salt and pepper. 
5. Serve in a bowl, with a tiny dish or napkin to put the shrimp tails.

Makes 1 serving.

Hey guess what! More single girl food! W00t. I think shrimp will not be a frequent guest in my home, but every once in a while I can see getting a craving and running down to Whole Foods to get em..

xoxo D

Potato Thyme Cheddar Toast

Oh man oh man. I just... yes. Amazing.

Let me rewind.

1) I have an obsession with food blogs that is rather odd - I bookmark everything and rarely make anything.

2) I love cheese. And bread. Also cheese. You might know this already.

3) It's rare that I make anything without adding touches of my own. Most of the time I don't use recipes and just toss stuff together.

So, with that context, I give you elephantine's potato & rosemary pizza... which, in my house, morphed into potato thyme cheddar toast.

A few notes: Make sure to slice the potatoes suuuper thin. Also, you can make this with frozen bread, which I did, since I have a loaf of Sunflower Seed bread from Wild Flour Bakery in Sonoma County (ya rly) hibernating peacefully in my fridge. Also also, try making this with other stuff! Like a milky soft cheese + some kind of spicy salumi + thinly sliced potatoes would also be amazing. Ooh! This one would be great with chives and butter instead of ricotta and thyme!

Without further ado:

2 small pieces of toast
2 tbsp ricotta cheese (I used part skim)
Whole salt (like in a twisty mill thing? What is that called?)
Pepper (peppercorns in a mill)
1/2 medium red potato
2 tbsp(ish) finely chopped Cabot clothbound cheddar
1 tsp olive oil

1. Toast bread lightly to defrost.
2. Spread with ricotta.
3. Slice potatoes very very thinly. Put olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper in a small bowl with potato slices; toss to coat.
4. Lay coated potato slices over the toasts.
5. Sprinkle sharp cheddar over the potatoes.
6. Toast again until cheese is melty and potatoes are sorta cooked.

In the above picture, I would have toasted it for longer - it was a little too soft and not crunchy enough. Maybe toasting the potato slices first on a toaster pan?

Anyway, DELICIOUS. Hell yeah single girl food.

xoxo D

Tangy Leek, Mushroom, Kale & Cheddar Quiche

Hey all! I was looking for a low-cal quiche recipe on Saturday and was so excited to find this post on the MyFitnessPal forums. I'm copying my recipe straight to/from there, so.. no judgment, ok? :)

I LOVE the OP's strategy of using greek yogurt and ricotta and egg to make the custard part instead of milk/cream etc - I think it gave this quiche a really fabulous tangy flavor that it might not have had otherwise. 

Alas, I am a quiche-with-a-crust kind of girl, so my variation is more calories than the OP's - but I used a whole wheat crust, so as to add some fiber. 

1 C part skim ricotta 
1 C fage 0% greek yogurt 
4 whole eggs 
dash nutmeg 

3 lg crimini mushrooms, chopped 
1 leek (white/light green part only, chopped thinly) 
2-3 cups red russian kale, chopped 
2 oz Cabot clothbound cheddar (sharp white cheddar), crumbled 
garlic, 3 cloves 
dash olive oil 

whole wheat crust from Whole Foods, frozen 

1. Saute leek in olive oil for 1-2 mins. Add garlic. Add mushrooms and kale. Saute until the mushrooms are browning and the kale is bright green, but nothing is burning or limp. (at this time, pre-heat oven to 325 F) 
2. Transfer to bowl off the heat; set aside. 
3. Mix ricotta, yogurt, and eggs. The texture will be a little gross at first but give it some muscle and it turns into a nice fluffy, slightly goopy mixture. Add a dash of nutmeg and some salt and pepper. 
4. Add cooked veggies to the custardy mixture. Stir. Also add the crumbled white cheddar. 
5. Pour the mixture into the whole wheat pie crust. The pie crust should be full but not overflowing. 
6. Bake the quiche at 325 F for 60 minutes, give or take. You want the center to be softish but not liquid. 
7. Let the quiche cool for ~5-10 mins. It will collapse/settle slightly - this is normal. 
8. Cut into 6ths; serve. 

So: for a serving that is 1/6th of the pie, the nutrition info is as follows: 
340 calories 
20 g fat 
18 g protein 

If you want to do 1/8th pie servings, the nutrition info is as follows: 
255 cal 
15.1 g fat 
13.4 g protein 

It's really the crust that adds on the calories and fat, so making this without the crust would really bring down those stats. BUT - crust is amazing. Therefore: whole wheat crust. More fiber!

AND IT WAS AMAZING. GUH. I am sad that I can't with any conscience eat the entire quiche right now, but I am heartened that I have quiche to eat for the rest of the weekend/week. NOM!

**UPDATE** Even more amazing two days later!!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cheese Reading

OK, maybe I'm a little bit obsessed.

Currently reading: The Cheese Chronicles by Liz Thorpe.

photo / Amazon
I'll let you know how it is!

Epic Cheese Post, #1

All right, as long promised, welcome to my first epic cheese post. A word of warning to the wary: this is no place for those whose palate favors only the bland, the unassuming, and the basic. Or those who are lactose intolerant.

To start off, of course I have to be a bit narcissistic and recommend to you my Favorite Cheeses of the Moment (in no particularr order):

1. Humboldt Fog - king among unusual, indigenous-to-Northern-California goat cheeses, this delicious specimen is ash-ripened and aged. For more information, visit CypressGrove.com.

photo / Cowgirl Creamery

2. Cana de Oveja - a rarer, sheep's milk version of Spanish Cana de Cabra, this Bucheron-like cheese is both buttery and sharp. I had it for the first time as a part of Absinthe's cheese plate, paired with white-wine-apricot preserves. Three words: To. Die. For.

photo / Cowgirl Creamery

3. Casatica di Bufala - A water buffalo milk cheese! According to Cowgirl Creamery, water buffalo milk "has twice the cream as cow's milk." It makes for a fantastic, bloomy-and-aged on the outside, soft-and-rich on the inside cheese.

Casatica di Bufala
photo / Murray's Cheese
4. Cabot Sharp White Cheddar - I first discovered this via a bowl of chili with my friend Kristin K. I thought that our bean-and-turkey-and-veggie-with-a-splash-of-beer chili couldn't get any better, and then then not only did we toss some fresh avocado on there, but she pulls out a hunk of white cheddar and proceeds to blow my mind. This cheese is seriously addictive - be careful!
photo / Cabot Vermont

5. And finally, last but certainly not least, Abbaye de Belloc - semi-hard, smooth but a little bit of a bite to it - the perfect cheese to eat with some membrillo. I love it, I love it, I love it. According to Cowgirl, it's made in the Western Pyrenees.

photo / Cowgirl Creamery
Apparently, you can buy all of these cheeses on Amazon! Can someone explain to me how that works? Does a man in a jumpsuit just arrive at your door with a refrigerated case? "Houston, we have delivered the package. Over and out."

Things to eat with your motherlode of cheese that you have undoubtedly purchased by now:
  1. Mitica membrillo - I found this at Whole Foods but you can also get it online. 
  2. Anything from Happy Girl, especially:
    1. Apricot jam
    2. Strawberry preserves
    3. Wildflower honey
This post is ideally just an overview, but in case you get impatient waiting for me to write a "how to assemble an awesome cheese plate" post, here are a few good ones from Joanna Goddard of A Cup of Jo

Clearly you need Cheese Supplies:
  • Cheese paper - ideally this keeps the cheese "alive," instead of suffocating it in plastic. I've found that plastic keeps the cheese fresher, but using paper deepens the flavors. Hmm, might have to write a post on the pros and cons of cheese paper - stay tuned!
  • Cheese box - I mostly want one of these because it's adorable. But I imagine if you have some super stinky cheese, it would contain the smell and make it so the rest of your fridge doesn't smell like death. 

Cheeses on my bucket list:
  • Azeitao - tough on the outside, creamy on the inside Spanish sheep's milk cheese.
  • Bucheron - tangy French goat cheese coated in ash.
  • Carmody - made with buttery Jersey cow milk, dense and smooth. (just bought a wedge! so excited!)

Types of Cheese AKA Whole Foods' CHEESE 101
Note: I didn't write any of this, all courtesy of Whole Foods. So useful! 
Like bread or wine, cheese falls into basic categories based on its texture and the process with which it's made. Luckily for cheese heads like us, the categories are simple:
  • Fresh: Think of these cheeses as the ones without rinds. This category is where you'll find casual favorites like goat cheese, fresh mozzarella, ricotta and cream cheese.
  • Semi-Soft: If you're making a grilled cheese sandwich, consider these guys. Semi-soft cheeses—ones like Gouda, Provolone, Havarti and Jack—are great for eating out of hand and even better for melting.
  • Semi-Hard (a.k.a. Semi-Firm): Cheddar is the king of this category, which includes tasty favorites like Edam and Gruyère.
  • Hard (a.k.a. Firm): Grating cheeses (see Cheeses that Grate) and cheese tray stand-outs like Mimolette and aged Asiago rule this category.
  • Washed-Rind: Cheeses like Tallegio, Limburger and Muenster bathe in salty brine, sometimes with a little beer, wine or liquor added to gild the lily. The brine in turn helps cheese to form an edible rind around its soft or semi-soft interior.
  • Bloomy-Rind: These cheeses are purposely exposed to mold spores to create a gently fuzzy rind on the outside. The rinds on these cheeses, like those of Brie and Camembert, are generally edible, though some folks choose to skip to the creamy insides.
  • Blue: Love it or hate it, blue cheese is here to stay. These pungent, delicious cheeses are marked with blue mold, introduced when mold spores are injected or added to the cheese. Stilton and Maytag Blue are stand-out examples of blue cheese done right.

Thanks for the cheese primer, Whole Foods!

Best Places in the Bay Area to get cheese:

    • Excellent selection and knowledgeable cheesemongers.

    Berkeley Bowl West cheese department 

    • The guys at the cheese counter are always pretty busy, but if you catch them in a quiet moment they can be a valuable source of information. Keep an eye out for the sale cheese of the week! Nom!
    Cowgirl Creamery 

    • The Cheese Mecca - always an adventure! Take a number, and then be helped by an enthusiastic cheesemonger who only wants to get you the most delicious cheeses. Tell them what you're looking for or what you're planning to eat/drink with the cheese, and they'll take care of you.
    • Locations in the SF Ferry Building and in Pt. Reyes, among others. 

    In Conclusion (Now that I have overwhelmed you with yumminess):
    All right, bat's all for now, folks. Hopefully I have inspired some excitement in the cheese-loving members of my limited readership :) If you love it, share! If you have any ideas or feedback or cheese recommendations, comment! I always love to hear from people.

    Yours in deliciousness,

    Sunday, September 18, 2011

    Dreams That Feel Like Waking

    Why, this moment.

    A speck of truth

    Splinter in palm, corrected as such.

    Oh, to be an architect...

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    Big Cheese Post Coming Soon!

    Hello all - I've been swamped with a project at work, but that doesn't stop me from eating lots of cheese! Good thing excellent cholesterol runs in my family!

    Cana de Oveja, photo courtesy Cowgirl Creamery

    Expect a thorough cheese post coming soon... with my favorite cheeses of the moment, where to buy in the Bay Area, a few yummy pairings, and an essential cheese accessory or two.

    xoxo D

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011

    Amusing Things Part 1

    OK, this video never ceases to amuse me.

    Taking a Sick Day for Anxious People

    I've never quite thought of myself as a workaholic, but it's funny to see how hard it is for me to take a day off since I started working. Now, this isn't a day off like "I need a mental health day" - that's a whole different can of worms. I do believe those days are necessary, but tell that to my guilty conscience and overbearing standards for myself!

    Today, I've got: a sore throat, an achy body, a head full of cotton, and a stuffy nose. Now, if that's not a nasty cold that actually DEMANDS a day off - I don't know what is.

    So here's the catch - I CAN'T RELAX. I mean, I slept until about 10. I ate Indian food for breakfast (possibly not the greatest choice, blurg). I set myself up a sick box next to my bed with everything I could possibly need in it (external hard drive with movies/tv, ibuprofen, tissues, headphones, journal, crossword puzzles, etc). I should be lounging about, reveling in the excuse to do nothing. But all I feel is stir crazy.

    I can't be the only person who feels like this, right?!

    This is a pretty hilarious post about 20 things to do on your sick day.

    Here's how my day has gone so far:

    1. Wake up at 7am, body's natural get-up-for-work clock is on it. Go back to sleep.
    2. 9am - "Are you sure you're not going to work?" zzzzzzzzz.
    3. 10am - GODDAMMIT I can't stay asleep any longer because my nose is threatening to explode.
    4. Get hair under control (I look like I got electrocuted).
    5. Lie on bed moaning.
    6. Blow nose. (repeat every 5 minutes)
    7. Peruse Google Reader. (repeat every 5 minutes)
    8. Lose tissues in bed. 
    9. After 15 minutes of raging, find tissues on floor at foot of bed.
    10. Watch 3 episodes of Community in a row before I remembered that I planned yesterday to try to space out tv watching with other, more productive things. Fail. Watch another episode of Community. 
    11. Eat Indian food leftovers from last night. Begin to regret eating Indian food.
    12. Indian food seems to have settled, thank the baby Jesus.
    13. Decide to go see The Debt in theaters because it is the only movie that looks even remotely worth watching. Showtime: 2:15pm. Current time: 11:37. DRAT.
    14. Blog.
    So. There we have it. Still no idea of how to tame my inner workaholic/meany voice. Mostly I think I'm just bored. 


    Monday, August 22, 2011

    Single Gal Dinner #3

    In other news, goat cheese pizza from Trader Joe's!

    Seriously, Trader Joe's frozen stuff is amazing. Some things from TJ's I like:

    • Green Chili & Cheese Tamales (eat with some good nutritious soup & some fruit)
    • Individual quiches of varying kinds (my fave is broccoli & cheese)
    • Potato latkes (ya rly)
    • Veggie lasagna
    With this delightful little pizza, I ate:

    And drank:

    Pellegrino and red wine (not mixed together, of course!)
    Live a little :)

    Exotic Cheeses, Every Day All The Time

    My favorite kind of day is one that includes many different kinds of cheeses. Luckily, Kate and I are of a similar mind on this front!

    We started the day at Absinthe in Hayes Valley - lovely lovely lovely as always!

    Kate the villainess

    Faced with an entire menu of beautiful brunch goodness, we decide on cocktails and cheese with a side of Peach Brown Sugar pancakes. Of course. Because that's how we roll.

    Abbaye de Belloc cheese with white-wine apricot preserves
     We also had a tasty Hudson Valley domestic Camembert with apple slices and toasted walnuts, AND (my favorite of the three) a magnificent Cana de Oveja from Lorenzo Abellan’s Farm, Murcia, Spain with fig compote.

    Of course, not ones to do anything halfway, we made the pilgrimage to Cowgirl Creamery in Point Reyes in search of more cheeses - stinky, bloomy, delicious, the lot of it. (Also, what is this place? I want to go to there.)

    And we came away with some LOOT:

    What an amazingly fabulous and cheese-filled day. Separate post coming about what we made for dinner...

    Love! D

    Friday, August 19, 2011

    Rainy Day Movies

    Listening to rainymood.com at work keeps me sane most of the time. The ocean or the rainforest or any of those other ambient sounds never relaxes me enough, but the sound of rain is only the best thing ever.

    I know that when winter comes, I'm only going to want more sunshine.. but more often than not, when it's sunny I feel the weight of the tyranny of a beautiful day.

    My lovelies, what are some of your favorite rainy-days movies? The ones that you watch over and over again even though you've seen them a million times, that feel almost as good to fall into as your bed covered in pillows?

    Mine are:


    The Breakfast Club


    Casino Royale

    Enjoy your weekend! I'll be snuggled up tonight with my deluxe Snuggie (hell yeah don't judge) and probably some hot chocolate and maybe caprese salad (just to confuse my sense of the seasons even more).

    xoxo D

    Tuesday, August 16, 2011

    Time Gaps

    I've been thinking a lot lately about wasted time. I spend two hours a day on the bus on the way to or from work. Then I drive home. Often, I wait for something. For the bus, for someone to meet me, in line at the grocery store or the post office.

    I read an interesting post today from Marc and Angel Hack Life. I find a lot of their posts to be a bit trite or overdone, but every once in a while they hit the nail on the head. This particular post was about doing "good-karma" things with your little bits of free time (anywhere from 5 mins to 3 hours). I don't know about you-all, but sometimes it's the waiting, the bits and pieces of time I have, when I'm too agitated to just sit and be, that get me - I tend to fall into thought-spirals or stare at my phone waiting for it to entertain me. It got me thinking - what is my list of good-karma things to do in my "time gaps"?

    **Note - I hate the idea that we have to fill every minute with something. I'm not endorsing that kind of anxiety - in fact far from it. This is rather an exercise on my part - to spend my extra pieces of time doing something productive or wholesome instead of refreshing Facebook obsessively.

    1-5 minute gaps
    • send someone a nice text about how much you love them or with a funny joke.
    • grab one thing you don't need anymore and throw it away (or start a Goodwill bag)
    • read a quick inspirational text to get you thinking (here are some examples)
    • grab your own grocery bags to take to the store, or put them in your car
    • smell a pretty flower; maybe pick it to put in your hair
    • put one thing back in its place
    • wash 3 dishes
    • think of someone you haven't seen in a long time and wish them well with all your heart
    • watch a funny Youtube video to make you laugh (these ones are pretty great)
    • hug an animal (make sure you ask if he/she/it doesn't belong to you!)
    • click t0 get sponsors to donate at the Hunger Site (no commitment, just literally clicking a button and then advertisers donate $)

    15-30 minute gaps

    • flip through your recipe box or a cookbook or your browser bookmarks (I know you use Chrome by now..), pick a new recipe, and put it on your calendar to make it sometime in the next 2 weeks. [these look tasty!]
    • write a postcard to your family member/best friend and include an observation of something beautiful.
    • go on a walk with a jar of water and water 1 plant that looks sad and like it needs some love.
    • call your best friend and talk about feelings (sometimes this may take longer if you are me).
    • find a place you'd like volunteer for an afternoon or a few hours.
    • plan a day to volunteer and put it on your calendar.
    • call your grandma or grandpa and ask them to tell you a story. (grandparents are awesome!)
    • do something silly to make someone else laugh.

    1-3 hour gaps
    • Make dinner for a friend who is overworked and hates cooking! Tell them they can bring something if they want but no obligation.
    • Plan an afternoon with your friends to go somewhere and volunteer together, like a community garden or a shelter lunch.
    • Educate yourself about something new. Google Books, How Stuff Works, and hell yeah Wikipedia are a good place to start. Also the real-live library which is my favorite!
    • Take at least 1 bag of giveaway stuff to Goodwill. They take just about everything and have store everywhere.
    • Think of 1 way you can improve your home and plan it out. My current ideas are: 1) organize the corner of my living room that should have a couch in it, 2) convince my building owner to order a compost bin for the building, 3) figure out a good laundry system that prevents a month of laundry backlog.
    • Invite someone over to do nothing with you. Drink wine, read poetry to each other, whatever you want. Just enjoy being with someone you think is awesome and who you know thinks you're awesome.

    Enjoy.. of course the irony is how long I've spent on the computer composing this. Oh well. Worth it. Gonna go read poetry in bed now.

    Monday, August 15, 2011

    A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning

    AS virtuous men pass mildly away, 
        And whisper to their souls to go, 
    Whilst some of their sad friends do say,
        "Now his breath goes," and some say, "No."                     

    So let us melt, and make no noise,
        No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move ;
    'Twere profanation of our joys 
        To tell the laity our love. 

    Moving of th' earth brings harms and fears ;
        Men reckon what it did, and meant ;
    But trepidation of the spheres, 
        Though greater far, is innocent. 

    Dull sublunary lovers' love 
        —Whose soul is sense—cannot admit 
    Of absence, 'cause it doth remove
        The thing which elemented it. 

    But we by a love so much refined,
        That ourselves know not what it is, 
    Inter-assurèd of the mind, 
        Care less, eyes, lips and hands to miss.

    Our two souls therefore, which are one, 
        Though I must go, endure not yet 
    A breach, but an expansion, 
        Like gold to aery thinness beat. 

    If they be two, they are two so
        As stiff twin compasses are two ; 
    Thy soul, the fix'd foot, makes no show 
        To move, but doth, if th' other do. 

    And though it in the centre sit, 
        Yet, when the other far doth roam,
    It leans, and hearkens after it, 
        And grows erect, as that comes home. 

    Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
        Like th' other foot, obliquely run ;
    Thy firmness makes my circle just,
        And makes me end where I begun. 

    -- John Donne

    Sunday, August 7, 2011

    Here Today

    Gone tomorrow.

    [I do not end where I'd begun.]

    Thursday, August 4, 2011

    normal day music

    Have some music!! (Google Reader Folks, you have to click through to the actual website. Deal with it.)

    The Bird and the Bee is AMAZING. <3