Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hill Country BBQ DC Food Bloggers Happy Hour

Picture courtesy of Hill Country BBQ

I wish I could post pictures of all the fun people that attended the happy hour but the truth is that I was too busy stuffing my face with the abundant and delicious food that Hill Country BBQ provided. I'm serious. If the restaurant was trying to display southern hospitality, they were more than successful. Big thank you to the Hill Country BBQ for all the love and thank to all the great food bloggers who attended. It was a blast.

Here are some bloggers who attended (please let me know if I missed someone):

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Best $7.95 I Ever Spent

Marshall and I picked up this Black Truffle salt while we were visiting family in Boca Raton, FL. We got it at a chain spice shop called "The Tea and Spice Exchange." This is probably the best $7.95 I have spent in the last few years. This simple salt has made me fall in love with eggs all over again (I go through these phases in my life where I love eggs and then I'm blase about them and then I love them again. Right now, I'm in love with eggs.)

This salt has bits and pieces of black truffles in them and the fragrance...lets just say that it was in my carryon bag and I could smell it on the plane. This small pouch packs a punch. A simple fried egg topped with Black Truffle salt and pepper is suddenly something of magic.

I made egg-in-a-hole and it was FABULOUS. Not just because I used a nifty heart shaped cookie cutter to cut out the bread but because it was topped with this great salt and I gobbled it up very quickly. It was just a little pinch of it and it was enough. It made me feel like a million bucks....more like I had a million bucks. It made me feel rich. Again, this was the best $7.95 I've spent in a while.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Anne Burrell's Spaghetti Alla Carbonara

Ok...maybe we overcooked the bacon a bit. It still came out really delicious. This Spaghetti Alla Carbonara is a recipe from Food Network's Anne Burrell. Though I'm not a consistent Food Network TV watcher, it has been keeping my interest lately. The Pioneer Woman's cooking show is actually pretty entertaining. It isn't about all the butter that she puts in her food but I am impressed how they seem to capture how she cooks with love. Another great show that the Food Network produces is a show called "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" where people describe just that. ZOMG. That show always leaves me hungry for whatever they showcase.

I've also been noticing Anne Burell. She has been on the network for a few years but lately I've noticed how simple she makes restaurant cooking look. She makes these complicated dishes really attainable. And she has this badass way about her. In a show called "The Best Thing I Ever Cooked," she demonstrates how she learned how to make Spaghetti alla Carbonara while she was studying in Italy. There is no cream. I know this is shocking because almost every Italian restaurant carbonara I have ever had is dripping with cream. This recipe uses eight eggs that adds to the richness of the dish. Here is the recipe.

This dish is so cheap to make. I paid $1 for the pasta, $3.77 for the bacon, $6 for the cheese (I only used parmesean), $2.88 for the eggs, and probably a $1 for the onions (I diced up some sweet onions and fried them in the bacon fat). So about $15 for a pot of pasta that could easily feed 4-6 people. A delcious steal.

BTW, my favorite Food Network show will always be Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa (love, love, love her kitchen.)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Because I Can't (Won't) SkyDive

Photo from Pesce

Cancer has come up in too many conversations with loved ones recently. Maybe I am at that age when I am forced to recognize that I am no longer invincible and that me and my family and friends will not live forever. Maybe so. I still wish this word "cancer" would go away. Mainly because it can. It is possible.

My good friend Joy's mother, Patty, is a breast cancer survivor. On October 1, Patty jumped out of a plane for her first skydiving experience. It was on her bucket list to skydive and she also decided to turn the event into a fundraiser called "Crazy for a Cure." She was able to raise $3585 for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Patty has been a breast cancer survivor for over 15 years. You can read more of her story here.

Since I am better at eating than I am at jumping out of planes, I've decided to join Dining in DC and many other food bloggers for the "Take a Bite Out of Breast Cancer" campaign. Restaurants across DC are participating and will donate a portion of their profits to "Pink Jams," an outreach and fundraising campaign focusing on early detection in young women and men under 40 years old. To help out, all we have to do is eat out. Pretty simple, right?

I will be dining at Pesce Restaurant in Dupont Circle on Thursday, October 13th. Pesce has kindly offered to donate 35% of their proceeds from the evening to this campaign. I'm looking forward to trying out several dishes from their menu such as the Grilled Sardines, Ocotopus Stew, and their Skate Wing.

Here are other restaurants that will be participating in this campaign: Dining in DC.

Monday, October 3, 2011

DC Food Blogger Happy Hour - October 5 - Hank's Oyster Bar

RSVP Here.

As a kid, I didn't get to eat very many oysters. My only real memory of eating oysters was at a Chinese restaurant where it was sauteed in a ginger-scallion sauce (which is amazing.) It was in college during a trip to Las Vegas when I finally tried raw oysters. We were at the Rio Hotel and they had this amazing seafood buffet with crab legs, boiled shrimp and raw oysters. It was an all-you-can-eat-buffet and it was G-L-O-R-I-O-U-S. My college roommates piled their plates high with these oysters. One roommate mixed salt and pepper with lemon juice, spooned some on top of the oyster and slurped it up that way. Another roommate topped hers with a mix of ketchup and Tabasco sauce. I tried it both ways and instantly loved raw oysters.

Hank's Oyster Bar is one of the places where I have enjoyed raw oysters in DC. The restaurant has this warm cozy feel to it and serves excellent seafood. It is tucked on this charming street on 17th and Q street NW and is a neighborhood favorite. Hank's Oyster Bar is participating with Pink Jams' "Take a Bite Out of Breast Cancer" this year and will be donating 25% of it's proceeds on October 4 and 5th. The DC Food Blogger Happy Hour will be at Hank's on Wednesday, October 5th from 6pm to 8pm. Come out and slurp up some oysters with me.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Free Manhattan Bagels

If you live in the Arlington, VA area (or if you have noticed that a Manhattan Bagel shop has opened up in your area), keep an eye out in your mail box for great coupons. When I picked up the mail the other day, I found a booklet of breakfast and lunch coupons for the Manhattan Bagel shop that opened near the Ballston Metro. It had a coupon that gave me $3 off a Value Pak (13 bagels and two tubs of cream cheese) which was perfect for me to bring in for a morning work meeting the next morning.

Other great coupons include a free large coffee and Free Bagel Fridays. I walked into the shop this morning and announced to the cashier that I wanted a free bagel. I didn't realize how loud I was until I noticed other people staring at me and the cashier was giving me an uncomfortable smile. But hey, I got a free bagel. And it was delicious. Manhattan bagels are boiled and then baked so the insides are good and doughy, not dried out.

The Free Bagel Fridays coupons are good until November 11th. So basically, I can walk in with this booklet every Friday through October and ask for a free bagel. Woot Woot!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Favorite Cold Weather Buy

The weather does not feel like Fall yet in DC. The air is humid and the temperature is almost 80 degrees but the cold is just about to hit us. To prepare, I picked up my favorite winter product; Better Than Boullion. There are several reasons why I love this stuff.

The little jars don't take up a lot of room and for us city dwellers, that means it is light in the bag when walking home from the grocery store and leaves us more room in the fridge for other items. Also, it is nice to have chicken broth or beef broth ready for all the stews and soups that that winter recipes call for. Last, it is cheap. A jar normally goes for $6-$8. There are 38 servings and when mixed with water, a teaspoon of this will make one cup of broth. Before Better Than Boullion, I used to carry heavy cans or boxes of broth home from the store. My arms were more toned back then but I think it was because I actually went to the gym more. Anyways, I digress. Naturally, homemade stock is best but this is a good substitute when homemade stock is not available.

Better Than Boullion is my favorite cold weather buy. They have a variety choices such as vegetable base, reduced-sodium, and organic. I promise they did not pay me to write this post nor did they send me free products. I just genuinely like this stuff.

(*but if anyone reading this wants to send me free stuff, please email me. thriftydccook at gmail dot com.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Bowl of Ramen

There has been a change in me lately and I am trying to decide if it is good or bad. Things seem more serious and seem to require me to be more serious. Sad news comes from the newspapers about people having a hard time finding jobs, my friends are losing jobs or are the ones having to let people go, and then I hear from an old colleague who has been unemployed for three years and who struggles to pay their health insurance that costs $720 a month. All this has made me reevaluate my life. Looking back at past bank statement makes me disappointed in myself. I forget how easy it is to drop $50-$70 on one dinner. The dinners were delicious and a lot of fun but did I need to spend that much money to eat something delicious and have fun. No. Am I worth it? Yes. Is it better to have financial security in the future? Yes.

I started this blog three years ago because I wanted to share the fun I have shopping and creating tasty and cheap meals. Since then, this blog has brought me to meet new friends and to have other adventures. Did I lose touch with the purpose of this blog? Yes. A little.

Looking at the big picture, I want my life to be about family, good health, good food, laughter with friends, and stability. And it is time to make use of this blog and keep working at finding great recipes that won't cost an arm and a leg.

So I bring you ramen. The type of ramen I grew up with not only included a block of fried noodles and a packet of sodium loaded seasonings but it also included grilled meats, loads of vegetables, and sometimes...fish balls. (For those unfamiliar with Asian food, this is like a meatball but it is made of seafood. Not as disgusting as as sounds. Or maybe it is.)


1 package of Ramen - You can use any type of ramen but the ones found at Asian markets tend to have spicier seasonings and just taste better. I find that the noodles are less gummy.

1 Pork Chop - Choose one with a bit of fat

2 bunches of Bok Choy

1 Egg

Salt and pepper the pork chop and sear it on an oiled pan. The pork chop we had was about 3/4 of an inch thick and we seared it for 5 minutes on each side. We seared it so that each side had a good browning at the edges. Take out of pan and let it sit for a bit before slicing. Leave pan on low and crack an egg and place it in the pan. This will fry the whites of the egg a bit but will leave the yolk runny.

Boil 2 cups of water in a saucepan and parboil the bok choy for 2 minutes. Take bok choy out of the saucepan and set aside. Place noodles in and bring to a boil. After 2 minutes, add seasonings and cook for another 2 minutes.

Place noodles and broth in a large bowl, add bok choy and sliced pork, and place the egg right on top. Break the yolk so it cooks into the broth. I can't describe the richness that the yolk adds to the broth. It is just delicious.

For those who are worried about the amount of sodium or fat in ramen, there are a couple of things you can do. One, you can boil double the amount of water, put the noodles in a bowl, add some water and let some of the oil come out of the noodles. Drain the water and put the noodles back into the boiling water on the stove. How much fat does that eliminate? Not a ton but it is kind of like blotting your pizza with a napkin. At least you are getting a bit of the fat out.

To reduce the sodium, just use half of the seasoning packet. If you eating the ramen with lots of vegetables or pan-seared meat, there is going to be plenty of flavor in your ramen.

Financially, this meal is a steal. The pork chop cost us a little less than $3. A package of ramen was 80 cents. Bok Choy will be less than $1 for 2 bunches. And eggs are generally $3 for a dozen. A dinner for two cost us less than $6.50.

Ramen can be a beautiful thing if made right. It is quick to make and it satisfies the soul when slurped up on a cold night.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

DC Food Blogger Happy Hour - September 7 - Mala Tang

RSVP Here.

Here is the problem with spending a significant part of my day reading about food and talking about food: I tend to get disappointed when I actually eat at the restaurant. Many times, new restaurants are built up to be these amazing experiences and I leave them feeling a bit down.

I did not feel this way about Mala Tang. This is after reading great reviews, hearing it from fellow bloggers, and also hearing it from my own boss about how good this place is. Here are the reasons why I enjoyed my meal at Mala Tang and why I am going back:

- The food is good. When presented, the meat looks fresh, the vegetables look great, and the broth served is delicious. Also, you can customize your food based on your tastes and there is a lot of food. Everyone in my dinner party took home food. I can recommend the Dan Dan Noodles and the cold spicy noodles. I ordered the beef, napa cabbage, and mushrooms. Delish! The dumplings were only ok. I would stick with the spicy cold noodles for your appetizer.

- Service is good and the place looks clean. When I lived in California near an area called Little Saigon, there was a push by the city to teach Vietnamese restaurant owners how to provide good service to bring in more customers and bring money to the city. They were addressing the fact that most Asian restaurants do not pay attention to service. The concentration is serving delicious food fast and at a good price. That mentality discourages some people from eating at Asian restaurants and this mentality is different at Mala Tang. Our server was especially attentive and even gave us a discount on our meal. I've been to other "hot pot" establishments and trust me when I say this place is clean and the food is presented well.

-Atmosphere is fun. How can you not have fun cooking your own food in a little personal pot of soup? I also like the large wooden tables and the tables are spaced far enough away from other guests that you don't feel like other people can listen in on the conversation.This is the kind of eating that encourages conversation. You talk, you cook, you eat and then you can relax and talk some more. There is no rush to eat your food while it is hot because you are in control of that.

- Mala Tang offers many different ways of getting discounts. I've seen them on multiple "deals" websites and they are currently on Savored.

This is a great restaurant to go with a bunch of friends. I plan on taking Marshall and a few other friends here soon (for instance, September 7th).

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My Favorite Word Other Than "Coupon"

Free. That is my favorite word other than coupon.

All these vegetables above were given to me by my co-worker Lucy. Lucy and her family are on vacation this week and she asked me if I would like her CSA shipment "Absolutely!" (or maybe it was "Hell Yeah!) was my reply.

This CSA is from Potomac Vegetable Farms in Virginia. This week's bag consisted of peppers, eggplant, chives, basil, carrots, corn, a melon and a large bag of tomatoes. Everything looks so beautiful and so fresh that it is making me want to sign up for my own CSA bag next year. Let me know if you have any other CSAs that deliver in the Arlington area that you can recommend.

Big thank you to my co-worker Lucy for giving me all this great loot.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Coupon Mania

I've been told by multiple people that this book is proof that I am certifiably insane. Yes, I got bit by the "Extreme Couponing" bug. I have always been a fan of coupons but I have never taken it this far.

The picture above is a 3 inch binder full of coupons. It is filled with over 75 pages of baseball card sheet protectors. At first, I just got coupons from our Sunday paper. When I realized that in order to really take advantage of good deals, I would need multiples of the good coupons, I started looking around. It made no sense for me to spend money to get coupons if I didn't have to. First, I found a recycle bin at a Starbucks near my office on a Monday where they discarded the Sunday papers that were not sold on the previous Sunday. Score! There were at least 5 sets of coupons that I picked up. Each Monday since, I have woken up early just so I can stop by the Starbucks on my way to the office. Second, one morning when I happen to be up really early, I ran into the man delivering our newspaper. I chatted him up and asked what he did with the extra coupon inserts and he told me they destroyed them. I told him that if he ever had any extras, I would not mind getting them. That very day, a few extra copies were dropped off at my door step. Some weeks I would get a few sets and some weeks I did not. It is all good. I appreciate

Since I started building my collection of coupons, I started to realize a big change in me. One, I had no filter. I started asking the most random people what kind of products they used so that I could tell them whether or not I had a coupon for it. I emailed people that I am acquainted with and eagerly wanted to know what brand toothpaste they used so that I could pick up tube for them on my next shopping trip. My good friend Jason just moved into an apartment by himself and I found myself asking him, "Can I use one of your closets for my stockpile?"

Second, I haven't slept in on the weekends since I got started. On Saturday mornings, when the coupon inserts get delivered to our door, I wake up excited at 7am so that I can make my cup of coffee and flip through the coupon pages. On Sundays, I get up and haul my 50lb binder to the supermarket to stroll through the aisles when it is least crowded to see what kind of deals I can get.

Is this healthy? Probably not. People have suggested that I try out for Extreme Couponing but it is not going to happen. I don't have the time to sit and plan out each shopping trip with the detail that is required to get all those items for free and I don't have the storage room to stockpile the products. Also, I'm a food snob and wouldn't buy most of the food products that manufacturers provide coupons for. On the other hand, I've been able to save a lot of money on things such as shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrushes, face wash, lotion, cleaning products, toilet paper, paper towels, etc. I've stocked up enough items that I probably won't have to do any shopping (other than for food) for another 4 months.

So this weekend, I've packed up all the coupons I would not use and even some that have expired so that I can ship them to military families overseas. I first heard about it from Extreme Couponing and then Couponomics posted a message on twitter that gave a link to a non-profit that arranges for these coupons to be sent overseas. Families overseas can use expired coupons up to six months old. This non-profit requests that any coupons sent to them not be more than one month old so that they can be sure that the coupons will be good when they reach the families overseas. It feels great to know that all the coupons I don't use won't crowd up my binder and will also get used to help those in the military.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Peach Honey,Y'All

***This is a repost from August of 2009***

The thing about writing a food blog and actually telling people that you write a blog about food is that you start having conversations similar to this "We should make tamales! It will take all day, maybe two days, but its totally worth it." Or "Have you ever made sushi? We should try making sushi." I'd like to say that I am the on the receiving end of these suggestions but I will admit, most of the time, the suggestions are coming out of my mouth. I need to remind myself that the blog is called "Thrifty DC Cook" and not "How I Lost My Life to My Addiction to Cooking." The problem is...I LOVE (need?) it. In addition to that, I have a lot of friends who are game. So far we have Southern Fried food day that will include fried chicken, fried okra, and fried green tomatoes. We also have a seafood day, a tamale day, and "breakfast for dinner" day. Stephanie and I have already done a Bun Bo Hue day and have several other Vietnamese dishes we would like to try out.
Justify Full

When my friend Jenny suggested that we try canning something, I was intrigued. The process included us heading out to a farm (or farmers market), getting produce, and canning it whole or creating something like tomato sauce. Jenny described to me all the things we could do: jams, jellies, pickled okra, relish, whole tomatoes, whole peaches, etc. I have to admit, Jenny got me mighty excited. We set a date. Our friend Anna was in. The mission was going to be...

Peach Honey, Y'All
Recipe adapted from Jenny's Mom
Makes about six 1/2 pint jars

(Note: We tripled this recipe, reduced the amount of sugar, and it was perfectly sweet.)

5 lbs of ripe peaches - $2.49 per lb (we bought free stone peaches from Eastern Market - its much easier to get the seed out when using free stone peaches)
6 1/2 cups of sugar - We spent $6 for 10 lbs of sugar.

Blanch the peaches in boiling water for 30 - 45 seconds, then put in ice water. Slide peels off, cut peaches into pieces, and discard stones. Puree in food processor to make 4 cups of peach pulp. Combine pulp with sugar in an enamel saucepan and stir over moderate heat until sugar is dissolved.

Bring to a boil, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes or until thick, stirring frequently.

Pour the "honey" into hot, sterilized jars (1/2-pint is a good size), filling to within 1/4 inch of top rim. Wipe rims clean with a clean, damp cloth and seal jars with the lids. (This is very important because the jars will not seal unless the rims are perfectly clean.)

Process the jars in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes. Cool completely. Store in a cool, dark, dry place.

They came out so perfect. We were a little concerned when they were stewing because we were not sure what kind of consistency we were looking for in the honey. It seemed runnier than we wanted. After a quick call to Jenny's mom, she reassured us that we got it right and that it would thicken after it cooled a bit. How did it taste? Like ripe peach flavored honey. It was so good. We ate it on bread with some butter. Delish. Since then, I have put it in my tea and made sweet peach tea. At Jazmin's party, we poured it over some brie and served it with some crackers. I've made peanut butter and peach honey sandwiches. They are great for breakfast.

The process took about 6-7 hours (not including time shopping for materials.) We ended up spending about $25 on peaches, $6 on sugar, and made 18 jars. You could spend a lot less on peaches since most grocery stores have been selling peaches for about $1 per lb. The day ended up being a lot of fun because we just sat on my couch (in between processes), watched the Next Food Network Star marathon and talked and ate food. We also squealed every time we heard "PING" as the jars were sealing. It was great.

Big thank you to Jenny who shared this recipe with us. She actually hand wrote the recipe for Anna and I. (She is so sweet.) She got me so excited about canning that she had me driving out to Woodbridge with her so that we could pick up two large canning pots for $15! Yay Craigslist!

I'm waiting for they day when someone says to me that we should ship some sand from Hawaii (because no one in their right mind would trust any sand in DC) to build a sand box and dig a hole, fill it with palm leaves, smoke a pig and have a big Hawaiian Luau. My response would be "Where can we get a deal on a whole pig?" and "I need to find myself a hula skirt."

Monday, July 11, 2011

DC State Fair Bake Sale at Zorba's Cafe - Sunday, July 17

Picture by Olga Berman of Mango Tomato

Look at this pie. Doesn't it look delicious? I recently made my first cherry pie from scratch (not pictured above) and I am slowly falling in love with pie making. It is all about the crust for me. The fact that a delicious, buttery, flaky crust can come out of flour, cold butter, and cold water is just amazing.

To support the DC State Fair events, there will be a bake sale at Zorba's Cafe near Dupont Circle on Sunday, July 17 from 8:30 a.m. to 11:00 am. Please come and support this community event by purchasing some delicious baked goods. I know many of the bakers personally and they make some amazing stuff. I'm looking forward to see what they bring on Sunday. Please join us!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

We Cannot Watch This Show While We Eat

Marshall is a big fan of this show and I have to admit that I've come to enjoy watching it too. It is terrifying. If you ever want to save money by not going out to eat or if you want to find a way to make yourself not crave food, watch this show. The things that the restaurants featured in this show do will make your stomach turn. It will encourage you to cook your own food.

I have a rule when it comes to watching this show: we cannot watch this show while we eat.

The Washingtonian's Best Bites Blog posted that the producers are accepting nominations in Washington, D.C. Which restaurants in DC would you nominate?

Friday, June 24, 2011

DC Food Blogger Happy Hour - July 6 - Cure Bar & Bistro

RSVP Here.

It is going to be July soon and it is going to be hella hot outside. Come cool off at Cure Bar and Bistro on Wednesday, July 6th at 6pm. Thank you to Mary from Girl Meets Food for organizing this happy hour. Looking forward to seeing everyone!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Grilled Okra

Here is another simple recipe to enjoy this summer. Looking at my past few recipe posts, they all have been simple and quick dishes. I guess that is what summer is about. Enjoying fresh produce and finding quick ways to prepare them so that you can run outside and enjoy the sun.

Grilled Okra
Adapted from AllRecipes.com.

Whole Okra Pods - rinsed well with stems trimmed short
Cajun seasoning
Olive Oil

Soak wood skewers overnight or at least for 3 hours. This will prevent the skewers from burning. Pour some olive oil in a bowl and roll each okra pod in the olive oil. Pierce the okra pods near the stem and put on as many as possible. Don't crowd the pods so that the sides can get a bit of char on them too.

Season with as much Cajun seasoning as you or your guests can bear. I have some friends who are very sensitive to spices so I was conservative with it. I placed the skewers on a medium hot grill and let them cook for about 8-10 minutes on each side. Use a spatula to help you flip the skewers. After they cook for a bit, the flesh of the okra pulls away from the skewers so they end up hanging loosely on it. A spatula will help you flip all of them at once. Some of the skewers sat on a part of the grill that was not too hot and so I had them sit in for a bit longer.

After taking them off the grill, sprinkle with salt and allow to cool before eating.

These little pods are great appetizers. Most people are not okra fans because of how slimy they can get but the sliminess seems to dry out on the grill. What you end up with are slightly spicy, salty, delicious okra pods that have a slight char to them.

Okra can vary from $1.99 a lb to $5.99 a lb (and should be even cheaper soon as the weather gets warmer and they come into season.) It is such a light, almost weightless vegetable that even at $5.99 a lb, you can get a small bag full for well under $5.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Our Herb Garden

There is no way to describe how happy our little garden makes me. Since moving to DC, I've attempted an herb garden twice. My first time was with a few pots in front of the rowhouse I lived in on 16th and T street NW. Sadly, the herbs did not survive the rats that came to eat at the leaves at night. My second attempt was one pot of basil that I grew on a window sill. That one didn't survive the fact that I never transplanted into a bigger pot to fit it's roots.

So when Marshall got a pot of mint from the 14th & U Farmers Market to garnish his drinks, it triggered hope in me that we could actually have an herb garden this summer. We figured out the one corner on the balcony that got the most sunlight and moved around some furniture to accommodate "Bourby" (named after all the bourbon drinks the mint will be garnishing.) A few days later, I got a small pot of basil and a small pot of cilantro. A few weeks later, we had a pot of sage and a pot of lemon thyme. And then Jana from Cherry Tea Cakes gifted us with some oregano and sage from her garden. After picking up some flat leaf parsley, chives, and Thai basil from the Columbia Heights Community Marketplace, I finally felt like we had a garden to be proud of.

Unfortunately, there has been one death in the family. Our cilantro plant did not survive our over watering. It was disappointing but after talking to Twitter, farmers, and friends, I found out that cilantro is a temperamental plant that should be grown from seed. I might try my hand at it but for now, I am happy with what we have. I've made pesto with the basil, have used the thyme to top a roasted beets flatbread, and the mint has been used for many drinks.

Most of the herbs cost us less than $5.00 each. The lemon thyme and the large sage was purchased at Whole Foods and were $7.99 each. The basil and cilantro were purchased at Home Depot for $3.70. The flat leaf parsley, chives, and the Thai basil were $2.50 each. The massive mint was $5.00 a pot. If these herbs last us all summer long, they will more than pay for themselves. My hope is that we will also pick up some Vietnamese mint, rosemary, tarragon, and maybe grow some tomatoes and lemongrass.

In the morning before work, Marshall and I water our herbs and talk about how they are looking. On the weekends, I drink my coffee out on the balcony and stare at them. I can say with all sincerity, herbs make me happy.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Foodie Friendly Lipstick

One of the reasons why I don't wear lipstick is because I eat so often that I don't see the point. The lipstick comes off while I am eating and wiping my mouth. I get so frustrated that I spent $10+ dollars on something that only stays on during the walk or car ride to the restaurant.

Until I found the item pictured above (queue music from a harp to emphasize this magical moment.) It is a lipstick/lipstain from Revlon called Just Bitten. One end has a marker that stains your lips and the other is a moisturizer (like chapstick) that gives you a bit of shine. I like this product enough to post about it for several reasons:

1. The color does not come off after the first swipe of your napkin. I really hate going to a nice restaurant and then wiping my mouth only to find that I have left a glaring red mark on their nice white, cloth napkins. I am sure some etiquette book will tell me that I should pat my mouth gently but I'm a girl who likes a clean mouth. I swipe.

2. The marker allows you to line your lips so that the lipstick looks like it was applied with precision and not smeared on. It makes me look like I know what I am doing.

3. This lipstick only cost me 50 cents. I found some on clearance at CVS for 75% off. Add on the $2 off coupon from the Sunday paper, I got the lipstick for $0.50 (plus tax.) Even at $2.50, it would be a steal. It would be pretty hefty for me to spend $10 on it for the fact that it actually stays on my lips, I rather spend $10 on this product than any MAC product.

4. The color is still on my lips after noon when I apply it in the morning. This is after coffee, breakfast, mid morning snacks, and such. That is impressive.

Happy Eating!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Happy Hour at Vento

Good times. Happy Hour at Vento with fellow DC food bloggers was a fun time. Thank you to Daphne for co-hosting and doing all the leg work to set up the happy hour. She is pictured above with a random egg farmer who happened to be having dinner at Vento that night. He gifted her with eggs. You can find more photos of the happy hour here.

A list of the blogs of the bloggers who attended:




















Tuesday, May 31, 2011

DC Food Blogger Happy Hour - June 1 - Vento

RSVP Here.

Time flies. This time last month, I was worrying about fitting into a bridesmaid dress and which restaurants to take my family to while they are here for my cousin's wedding. The wedding is over and it was a blast. My family got to try out Saigon Cafe in Falls Church, Tysons Buffet in Rockville (truly a good deal), and Rays the Steaks in Arlington, VA. Unfortunately, my brother did not get a chance to eat some Maryland blue crabs while in town so, as a gift for getting into medical school, my cousins and I sent him half a bushel from www.crabplace.com. The cost was reasonable when you compare the cost of taking 4 people out for crabs at any local DC crab joint. And, he loved it.

And the first Wednesday of the month is just a couple of days away and that means it is time to meet up with some food bloggers. We will be meeting at Vento in Dupont Circle. The happy hour specials are $5 wines and cocktails, $4 beers, and half off the bar menu.

Hope to see you there.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Going Raw

There is a new restaurant in town called Elizabeth's Gone Raw and I am really interested in trying it out. The price is a bit steep ($75 for a 5-course prix fixe tasting menu) but the message behind the food is what really makes me want to eat there. Elizabeth is a cancer survivor who has used raw and vegan food to assist with her recovery. Vegan eating is tough but vegan cooking...that is a true challenge. How do you make anything delicious without butter and cheese?!?

In my small attempt to make something vegan, I found this recipe in Everyday Food by Martha Stewart. This is a really simple and delicious dish that even my guy had to say that it was pretty good (it must be pretty good if "Mr. MeatPotatoesBacon&Cheese" says so.) I think you will be impressed by how sweet raw corn is and how well it pairs with the lime and salt that is added to the dish. I sliced the zucchini thin enough that it felt cooked after sitting in the lime juice for a bit. Great summer side dish to bring to BBQs.

Raw Corn and Zucchini Salad
Adapted from Everyday Food

2 ears corn, husks and silks removed
2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
Coarse salt and ground pepper

Cut off tips of ears of corn; stand corn in a wide, shallow bowl. With a sharp knife, slice downward to release kernels (you should have about 1 1/2 cups); discard cobs. Transfer kernels to a medium bowl. Add zucchini, lime juice, olive oil, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper and toss well to combine.

This dish is very cheap. The corn was $4 for 5 cobs (this will get cheaper in a month.) The zucchini was $1 per lb so 2 cost less than $1. Limes were about 50 cents. I used cilantro from my little herb garden on the balcony.

I made this last weekend for my friend's vegetarian party and I used lemon juice instead of lime and I omitted the cilantro (for my cilantro hating friends.) It was very refreshing. I'm sure you can play around with this dish and customize it based on flavor preference.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bread, Radishes, Butter, and Salt

There are so many things to love about spring and summer but on top of that list has to be that eating good can be so cheap. Over the weekend, a good friend had a vegetarian and yoga get together. While shopping at Eastern Market, my friend Jenny mentioned that she read on DCist that radishes were in season and that they are delicious sliced on top of bread and butter and sprinkled with a bit of salt (I later found out that the great U Street Girl wrote the post). We picked up a rustic baguette for $2.50, got a bunch of radishes for $3.00, and got some good butter from the dairy vendor for $1.50.

We sliced up the fresh bread, buttered it, and topped them off with the radishes. Delicious. The creaminess of the butter mixed with that bit of a kick a radish gives you (some say peppery but it seems different to me) just matches up so well. And I love biting into something with a grainy sea salt sprinkled on top.

This is a simple dish to put together for a summer party. And very pretty.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

LivingSocial Instant Deals - Tuscana West

Today, I ate lunch by myself. This has been happening more and more lately since my favorite co-workers have moved on to other jobs. It may sound very lonely but it is actually nice sometimes. I bring myself a Food & Wine magazine and sometimes I bring nothing so I can think....actually think about things. (I'm not be facetious here. There are times when I am so busy, I have little time to think things through.)

My office is located in a part of DC where I have many choices for lunch. My usual lunch spots are Corner Bakery, Subway, Cosi, and such. They are close by and I know I won't have to wait long for the food. My problem is that going to these places is actually starting to give me anxiety. Have you seen the way a Cosi salad is made? (No tossed salad jokes please.) But in all seriousness, it is difficult for me to eat a salad that is so violently handled.

I checked the LivingSocial website this morning and saw a deal for Tuscana West which is half a block from my office. For $10, I could get $20 worth of food. And I did not have to print out any voucher. The program sends a message to a smart phone/cell phone and all I had to do was show the waiter my phone.

Trying to stay lean, I ordered the Insalata al Fritti di Mare; a seafood salad with fresh scallops, baby shrimp, calamari, mussels and monkfish marinated in a light lemon dressing with vegetables and served over fresh endive and radicchio. It was light, refreshing, and filling. I also ordered Spinaci al Aglio Olio; sauteed spinach with garlic and olive oil. Delish. I finished off my meal with a cappuccino.

My meal would have been under $10 if I didn't indulge in the cappuccino but it was worth it. I was seated in a beautiful dining room where sat, enjoyed my food, and thought through some things that needed to be thought through. It was lovely.

Try checking the LivingSocial website before you go out to get lunch one of these days and see what you end up finding.

***Lunches like these can be enjoyed on occasion. Frequent lunches like these can cause a big dent in your bank account.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

DC Food Blogger Happy Hour - May 4 - Smith Commons

RSVP Here.

I heard that if you meet with a group of people once a month, it can make you happier. Food bloggers definitely make me happy. Come out to Smith Commons on Wednesday, May 4th at 6pm to meet some DC food bloggers and have a drink. I will see you there.


Happy Hour Drink Menu
drinks are $5 from 5pm – 7pm

Draft Beers
Ommegang Witte
Mama’s Little Yella Pils
Arrogant Bastard
Dogfish Head
Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale
Flying Dog Raging Bitch

Appleton White
Jim Beam
Wild Turkey

Horton Vineyards White Wine
Horton Vineyards Red Wine

It Has Been Awhile

It has been awhile since I have shared anything on this site. Life is good. My office conference is over but now we are busy with follow-up work. My cousin is getting married in two weeks and I will get to see my family soon. I've cooked some very fun things and am looking forward to a summer of visiting the farmers markets and grilling.

Since this is my first post in a long time, I'm going to go a bit easy on myself. No recipes will be shared but just a shopping tip. Mother's day is coming up in a week and by looking at the sale papers, it is the right time to buy some kitchen appliances (as politically incorrect as it is.)

My favorites have been a Kitchen Aid Professional Mixer for $100 off. All the attachments are also on sale. This 14-Cup Cuisinart Food Processor is also pretty great. I'm in need of one for summer salsas and pie crust making. The great thing is that Macy's has some good codes to get an additional 10% or more off. If you spend over $99, shipping is free.

So go shopping and buy yourself something pretty. Until next time....

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

DC Food Blogger Happy Hour - February 2 - Indique Heights

RSVP Here.

Mango Martini, here I come. Indique Heights has been gracious enough to host us food blogging nutcases. There will be happy hour specials and lots of foodie gossip. See you there.