Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Right now I am sitting in the American University TV office waiting for our bi-weekly producers meeting to start. I just told everyone that my banana was under-ripe and they were all like "What? Who says that? You do do 'Veggie Bites....'" hahaa. After the meeting I am coming home to eat dinner and then going out to celebrate two of my friend's birthdays!
Before I tell you about my Passover dish (which is great for all of the raw foodies out there!) I've got to tell you about the rest of this seemingly-endless family weekend that ended two days ago... but I'm still blogging about it....we ate a lot. On Saturday we went to the National Mall and headed directly to the Smithsonian National Air and Space museum. We saw 30-minute film about stars in the planetarium (very cool!), and my cousin Michael ate these rocket ship gummy things:
After Air and Space we were pretty hungry. When I think of food on the National Mall I think of pretzels, hot dogs and ice pops, so I was legitimately worried about what my family would eat in between museums. Thankfully my Aunt Barbara had a suggestion:
Mitsitam is a food court separated by region. Each station serves native food from that area of the United States and I was entirely blown away that this place existed on the Mall. Next time you go to see the monuments you have (have) to check this place out. They have everything from stews to cornbread to corn beverages (not high fructose corn syrup or corn syrup, real corn). Here's a look at Mitsitam:
I ordered a squash and black bean tamale with avocado cream . It was seriously unbelievable:
I also ordered chips with citrus and tomato salsa to share with my brother (he ordered shredded chicken on a puffed flat bread):
Finally, I got an apple tart to share with my dad for dessert, but ended up splitting it with a few others as well :)
After walking around the American Indian museum for an hour or so and hearing authentic native music, we headed over to the monuments. Here I am with my parents by the reflection pool:
Here I am with my Aunt Barbara, cousin Mary, mom and Aunt Cathy on the American University quad:
After a weekend of eclectic foods, I emptied out the two "Passover bags" that my mom brought me. Its contents:
The sesame crunch is awesome Passover or not (bottom right), but my favorite Passover food is Charoset.
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup crushed walnuts
1 cup grape juice
2 apples, peeled and shredded
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. sugar
Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor until thick.
Enjoy by itself, in plain yogurt or on matzah. So. Good.
Our little Passover Seder from last night:
Monday, March 29, 2010
The theme of this episode is France, or more particularly Paris, where I went for a few days while abroad last semester in London. Here I am with my friends Emily, Jeff, Rebs and Brian attempting to look "fierce" in front of the Eiffel Tower:
I got the recipe for the French bread from Jenn Hall at All Recipes. Below is the original recipe, which makes two loaves of delicious French bread:
o 6 cups all-purpose flour
o 2 1/2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
o 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
o 2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
o 1 tablespoon cornmeal
o 1 egg white
o 1 tablespoon water
Follow the directions at the link above to make two loaves, or split the recipe in half for one. Either way you will feel very proud of yourself for baking homemade bread! (And the people you share it with will be pretty happy too :) )
French Green Bean Salad
o 1 pound French green beans, or haricot verts
o 1/2 clove shallot, thinly sliced
o 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
o 2 tbsp. lemono Salt and pepper to taste
Boil green beans in a pot with a bit of salt for 5-7 minutes and then blanch in a bowl filled with cold water and ice, and drain. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sliced shallot, lemon, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and pour the dressing over the green beans. Serve alongside your favorite cheese fondue or roasted potatoes.
o ¼ Pound gruyere cheese, shredded
o ¼ Pound Swiss cheese, shredded
o 2 tbsp. flour
o 1 cup apple organic apple juiceo 1 tbps. lemon juice
o 2 cloves crushed garlic
o ½ tsp powdered mustard
o 1 tsp salt
Shake shredded cheeses and flour in a large plastic bag to coat. In a pot, bring apple juice to a boil and reduce heat to low. Add in crushed garlic, lemon juice, powdered mustard and salt and slowly begin to fold in the cheese. Fold in a handful at a time until cheese is melted and entirely smooth. Serve with apples, bread or other items for dipping.
Here are Seth and Mike eating their fondue after the shoot!
Now onto my family weekend! Here I am with my cousins Mary, Michael and Greg and my brother, Blake, on the American University campus:
I am very lucky to be a part of a "foodie family" that let me choose where we would go for dinner each night! On Saturday night we all went to Neyla, which is a Lebanese restaurant in Georgetown. Not only is the food super flavorful but they offer a nice selection of vegetarian dishes and have an entire page of their menu devoted to small plates that you can combine to create your own mezza platter. We ordered 15 mezza dishes between the 13 of us (plus a few more after the first round!) including hummus, pickled vegetables, chicken shawarma and tabouli:
My favorite mezza plate was one which my Aunt Barbara suggested called Mouhammara, which is a smooth mixture of roasted red pepper, walnut, pomegranate molasses, lemon and olive oil:
Most of us ordered a homemade lemon and mint drink that is seriously addicting. It comes out like a granita and melts as you drink! I had to step outside to take this picture because there was not enough light where we were seated haha:
Just as our meal was winding down, the music was turned up and a belly dancer appeared. My cousin Michael was apparently too distracted by his video game to watch the woman dancing around him:
Everyone had their heads down from laughing because this went on for a good minute or so before he looked up and said, "What?" Dinner was followed by a Lebanese milk, dough and pistachio dessert that was paired with pistachio ice cream and was then followed by crashing at the hotel after such a long (but fun!) day.
It pains me so to look at these pictures and to think of the delicious, fresh, Lebanese bread (pocket-less pita bread, kind of like Naan but softer) we ate at Neyla because tonight was the start of Passover. Tonight we had a small seder in my apartment to celebrate the holiday and I am actually looking forward to the bread-less, oat-less, rice-less things I come up with to eat this week. Tomorrow I am going to back track a bit and tell you about the unsuspecting place where my family ate lunch on Saturday and share with you one of my all-time favorite Passover foods!
Friday, March 26, 2010
Tomorrow we're going to go to the National Mall to hit up some museums for my cousins and we will end the day in Georgetown and an incredible Lebanese restaurant called Neyla. Every course is sure to be a photo-op so I will definitely be taking a bunch of pictures! The newest episode of "Veggie Bites" is now up on YouTube and I think you will really enjoy it. I'm baking french bread (which is a less daunting task than it seems, I promise) and making cheese fondue with a green bean salad. Directions and ingredients for this will be up on Sunday as well as a recap of my weekend with my family!
Thursday, March 25, 2010
The food that got me through it: 365 Organic honey almond O's with skim milk for breakfast, raspberry soy yogurt, coconut cream pie Larabar (AMAZING) and 1/4 papaya for lunch, organic chocolate chip cookie (from the batch I made last night to keep me motivated!) for a snack, vegan chicken with vegetables and couscous for dinner and 2 caramel squares, chai tea and lemon loaf as celebration foods/dessert.
I got home from school around 10ish, watched "The Real Housewives of New York," (if you haven't noticed already, I love "Housewives" and practically anything on E! haha) and then went on hulu to watch "Jamie's Food Revolution." After watching the show, I have to say that I really relate to Jamie. I think that some people think it's strange that I care about food so much and don't really care to listen when I try to explain to them why I choose to eat the way I do.
People from this episode such as the Dawg radio host or some of the women working in the elementary school's kitchen are out there in real life (literally and figuratively) and those are the people who will prevent our nation from becoming healthy. People laugh about eating foods that have been preserved with chemicals and might even feel that it is the "American Way" to eat nuggets and burgers day in and day out, and will accept high fructose corn syrup-filled Heinz ketchup because it's tradition; however, if a parent is stubborn about the foods they eat and serve to their children, then their kids will be unwilling to try new foods, too. One of the most difficult parts of the episode to watch was when these kids ate their pizza and drank a strawberry sugar concoction and then threw out their untouched apples.
As my mom would say, "that's BP" (BP=bad parenting). If you allow your kids to skip their fruits and vegetables at home, they won't see any reason to eat them at school, even if they are right there on the tray. My jaw literally dropped open when the principal of the school told Jamie that his lunch of fresh chicken, brown rice and yogurt did not include enough servings of bread to be served during lunch. This is a requirement that the school must meet through USDA guidelines that I believe are just plain incorrect. As Jamie says, "America's guidelines for schools are all rubbish." When the principal chooses processed, frozen pizza over fresh, lemon-seasoned chicken to serve the school's kids for lunch, there is something going terribly wrong.
The worst part about this whole thing is that these guidelines are out there. Call me crazy, but I have a hunch that the USDA guidelines have something to do with grain, dairy and meat lobbyists, to name a few. As the site states, "MyPyramid helps individuals use the Dietary Guidelines to make smart choices from every food group." The word every is key here. If you look above at what I ate today I did not eat anything from the meat, poultry or fish groups and probably did not eat the exact servings that I should according to the pyramid. In fact, none of the meals I ate today would be able to be served in schools according to the rules portrayed on this episode of "Food Revolution." Think about all of the people you know out there who like to stick to rules in their lives and see if you can't make a connection between this and their food conservatism. These are the people who look at an item such as flaxseed and when they can't fit it into the food groups they were taught in school, have no interest in trying it.
The guidelines used today are outdated (literally, our most current Dietary Guidelines are from 2005) and if what the USDA is requiring of the one elementary school in West Virgina is also a requirement of all schools, I do think that it would be fair to say that these guidelines, along with parents who allow their kids to get by just eating processed macaroni and burgers all the time, have put us in the poor health situation we are currently in. You might be wondering how this childless, 20-year-old could blame something such as obesity on parenting but if a child does not learn to value eating a salad or biting into a pear at home, it will be very difficult to get them to realize the importance of these essential foods on their own (especially when they're three or four years old).
I am lucky to have parents who exposed me to different foods when I was younger. At the age of six I was cutting my own kiwi in half to scoop the insides out with a spoon and by seven I was eating falafel with tzatziki sauce. I may be an exception to the rule because I cannot remember a time in my life when I wasn't interested in food, but I do feel that parents have an obligation to their children to keep them healthy. My Aunt Cathy calls my cousins' diets "beige with a splash of red" AKA bread, chicken and sometimes tomato sauce. So, she bought a juicer and now they are drinking their fruits. Choose vegetable raviolis over cheese ones, bake lightly breaded tofu in the oven and slice up a banana for your children while they are playing or doing their homework. Serve with almond butter and plain yogurt for dipping and they'll see this fruit as a fun activity (you can also do this with boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands and wives, too. Just sayin').
I truly believe that if children get involved with food at a young age they will learn to value it and their bodies, I know I certainly did. In my opinion the right to health should not be about politics, religion or race (::insert health care debate argument here:: Really though, what I'm talking about is replacing french fries with cucumbers, not who gets to be reelected or taxed). No kid should have to be made fun of for being overweight and no kid should be overweight if their health is being supported by their parents, schools and especially the USDA if they are the ones telling these kids what to eat. Watch the first episode, check Jamie out tomorrow on "Oprah" and on ABC tomorrow night for the newest episode and see how you feel about it. I could go on and on and on about this topic but then I would never get to sleep! If you are one of those "by the guidelines" people, I challenge you to challenge the guidelines and follow one of Jamie's recipes for dinner this week.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
It's kind of like brie but has a bit more flavor. I tried it with stoneground wheat crackers and they went together perfectly. Sometimes you've gotta go for a piece of specialty cheese. Yum.
Tonight my mom sent me a copy of an E-mail sent to her by a health teacher in her school district. The teacher saw "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution" and was inspired to send out an E-mail to the teachers and administrators within the district, urging them to look over what is served in the district's cafeterias, to help their students make good food choices and to watch the show. I have heard a ton of reactions to the show (all positive and passionate) and can only imagine how many E-mails like these have been sent out in the past couple of days.
I cannot wait to watch that first "preview" episode on Thursday once I've handed in all of my work! I will get back to you all Thursday night after watching the show and let you know my take on it! In the meantime, tomorrow night I will be making the lettuce wraps that I made in London, you can find the recipe here.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
The first thing I do before my lovely crew comes over on the morning of a shoot is move everything off of the top of the fridge onto our dining room table and push the table to the back wall to make room for the cameras. We have stools under the breakfast bar area that you see in the show so I push those aside too:
Next I take out everything we need for the first segment and put it out on the breakfast bar. This is a wider view than what you might see on the show:
We use two different microphones for the show. The first is the mic from the camera that shoots the frame shot, which used for most of the show, and the second is a lavalier that is attached to the camera that does the close-up and at the stove shots. We drag the wire from the lavalier along the right side of the breakfast bar and hide the mic at its edge:
Sneaky! The harsh streak of light you see comes from the track lighting on the dining room ceiling. These lights make for very convenient "studio lighting" and are the reason why no matter how much makeup I wear I still look like I have none on! The track lights came with the apartment so we were very happy to learn that we had them! We push all three of them to face the breakfast bar and use oven mitts to move them around if needed because they get really hot!
I also wanted to show you the faces behind the cameras and monitor screen. These three are the major players in making "Veggie Bites" a show but we also have people such as my friends Seth and Nate helping when we need an extra hand or two. First up we have our editor Jordan who seamlessly edits out all of my word jumbles:
An interesting fact about Jordan is that she works at her mom's pub, The Jolly Drayman which is located in the beautiful state of Maine. Her favorite episode is the Greek food episode where my friends and I made spanakopita, tzatziki sauce and vegetable kabobs!
Mike is on the main camera and is our go-to man for technological problems (which happen at every shoot, we call it the curse of "Veggie Bites"). Note the light coming from track lighting above his head:
Mike's interesting fact is that he is the only vegetarian working on "Veggie Bites" and his favorite episode is the pizza episode where we made two different kinds of savory pizzas plus a candy pizza. The pizza and Greek episodes were shot in the kitchen of one of the dorms at American University... oh how things have changed!
Kelli does all of our close ups and at-the-stove shots:
Her interesting fact is that she puts butter on all of her sandwiches because of some time she spent in Germany when in high school. She also said that the Germans she was with only drank apple juice with seltzer so she does so too! Her favorite episode is the couscous episode (scroll to the bottom of the page!) where I made a lemony couscous with chickpea cakes and my Great-Grandmothers Romanian eggplant. This episode was taped in the first floor lounge of another dorm at American University that we never knew we could tape in! I still like taping in my apartment best because now I don't have to lug an enormous container of all of my cooking equipment around campus!
I hope you enjoyed learning how we do things on set and feel free to let me know if you have any questions about past episodes!
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Today I drank this:
Mango juice with a splash of ginger ale (you can also do ginger ale with a splash of Jameson if you're really in the Irish mood).
I wanted to drink something festive, non-alcoholic and bubbly for St. Paddy's to represent the 12.5% of myself that is Irish. The only carbonated beverages that I really like are seltzer, cream soda (Virgil's makes the greatest cream soda I have ever tasted) and ginger ale. Ginger ale cans are notoriously green so I got out a glass, filled it 2/3 with 100% mango juice and topped it off with ginger ale.
Mango juice is great because it's so darn tasty and is packed with Vitamin C. I picked up a carton of Ceres mango juice and its got 190mg of potassium and 1 gram of dietary fiber per serving. Parents of the world: switch out your kid's regular glass of morning orange juice with mango juice to open them up to new juicy flavors!
Tonight for dinner I made an Irish dish that cannot be disclosed because I will be making it for Veggie Bites! We are taping our last two episodes of the season this weekend and I am so excited for you all to see what we've got up our sleeves!
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Grape juice (the only one without High Fructose Corn Syrup-- eek!), an orange, a quart of chicken noodle soup, a half pint of fruit salad, blueberries, a container of garlic steamed vegetables and 2 bananas.
When you're sick you usually want to stay away from food, and although I have very little appetite I've been drinking juice and water and eating some fruits and vegetables. I feel like getting nutrients from the source and not a powder pack (I'm not naming names) might leave me better off. Am I crazy? Possibly. I'll let you know how this works out for me.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
The first indicator of sickness in my world is loss of appetite. Even when I was younger my mom knew I was sick if I couldn't eat dinner (because I always eat dinner). Today I had no appetite but I wanted to get myself some health through food. For breakfast I had Nature's Path Flax Plus oatmeal:
For lunch I had chicken noodle soup at Au Bon Pain and an Acai smoothie with Immunity Booster (I think it was Vitamin C, Echinacea and some others) from Planet Smoothie:
On the train to D.C. I had some cashews and almonds and plain Soy Crisps. No photo because the person next to me already had to deal with enough what with my sneezing! For dinner I had 365 Brand Maple oatmeal (sorry for the awful picture!):
Today was my very uneventful last day of blogging everything I ate, but I definitely learned about my eating habits through it! If you have any natural solutions to my sneezing please let me know!
Saturday, March 13, 2010
We went into Manhattan to see "West Side Story," and we had a 4:55pm reservation at Becco for dinner. Seeing this, and knowing that I would want to spend most of my days' calories eating beautiful pasta dishes, I ate an Au Bon Pain cheese stick and mini Cherry Pie Larabar for "lunch" during the intermission:
The show was FANTASTIC! It also helped that being inside allowed us to escape the buckets of rain! I took this from under the crowded awning:
Once the show ended, we leapt through puddles for three or so blocks until we arrived on Restaurant Row. Becco has to be my all-time favorite Italian restaurant. The restaurant has a special out-of-Manhattan feel and with an open kitchen and the Executive Chef calling out orders himself, you know that you will get nothing less than top quality food. The space is painted with warm colors, includes a brick wall and hosts servers clad in jeans and button-down shirts. As you walk through the restaurant you will see people of all ages dining together and conversing over a bottle of wine (or three!) and silver platters of the day's pasta dishes circling about.
As an appetizer we (my mom, her friend Robin and myself) ordered fresh Burrata which is mozzarella with a mozzarella and cream interior. I have never had a smoother cheese in my life. It was served on a piece of toasted bread with broccoli rabe:
The restaurant is known for its Sinfonia Di Pasta, which features three fresh pasta preparations daily. The Sinfonia includes unlimited pasta with your choice of a Caesar salad or an Antipasto Misto. Today's pastas were mushroom ravioli, linguini with clams and farfalle with basil and marinara. I ordered the Antipasto Misto with my Sinfonia which included monkfish (left) and octopus with potatoes and red onion (right):
This also came with an antipasto platter. My favorite part were the string beans which were drizzled in a horseradish sauce:
Before our dinner arrived, Executive Chef William Gallagher sent us over a platter of prosciutto with mozzarella which was topped with pignoli nuts and pesto. My mom knows Chef Gallagher because his children went to the high school she is an Administrator at and she originally found out about Becco through them! After what was now my third course, the pastas came:
Fresh and flavorful; the perfect pasta course.
After our plates were cleared the Floor Manager, Angelo Ruggiero, came to our table to let us know that Chef Gallagher would be sending over dessert. He sent out not one but nine different samplings paired with three glasses of sparkling dessert wine:
Raspberry, mango and muscat-pear (I think!) sorbets.
(Clockwise from left) chocolate mousse cake, bread pudding, ricotta cheesecake (the BEST) and panna cotta.
The most unbelievable strawberry ice cream I have ever tasted!
Zabaglione with strawberries and blueberries.
If the desserts were not enough, Chef Gallagher came over to our table to see how we liked everything. I was floored that he stopped to say hello on a busy Saturday night and when I told him how much I loved the desserts he said, "Well, everything is fresh!" I told him that I had been snapping pictures all evening for my blog after which he took a photo with us:
Not only does he create intriguing, "fresh" dishes, but he is also a really nice guy! After our three-hour meal I was full, happy and wondering what I would order at my next Becco experience!