Sunday, March 31, 2013

Updates on foodage

As I'm sure you've all noticed, there have been a lack of posts on my end. This is mainly because my food has been pretty boring. Two weeks ago, Nick went on a business trip so I was eating a lot of left overs, ramen or at my parent's place. This last week I was home sick most of the time so we were eating takeout or soup. While I could blog about the takeout, it's not anything really new or exciting.

Tonight we are going to my cousin's house to make dinner for my family and hers. My aunt and uncle read my blog religiously and love looking at all the food. My cousin and I thought it would be nice if we actually cooked for them. Being that it is Easter, we took the opportunity to get together and make a meal. So that will be coming soon and hopefully some more interesting meals. Stay tuned!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Tonight's Dinner: March 13, 2013

Somewhere along the way I missed a night's dinner.  Nick was getting ready to go on a business trip over the weekend so we decided to go on a date.  There is an Italian place within walking distance to our apartment that we both wanted try.  It was so-so.  The service was good and the food was pretty good,  but it's not something that I would crave.  We ordered quite a few dishes and none of them got the "whoa, this is really amazing food" rection from either of us.  The crust of the calzone was pretty awesome though.  It is helpful that it's close to, but it's not really a place that I would suggest.  I'm sure we will go back, but I would actually prefer Spaghetti Factory's standard-ness. I know, strange, but true.  I like Spaghetti Factory's uniformity.  Maybe we'll have to try it again to see if it really is a winner...

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Mozzarella sticks

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Veal Scallopini 

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Mushroom and olive calzone

Badger Cove Half Marathon

I've been training for my first half marathon for a couple of months now.  The day finally arrive.  I have to say, it was probably one of the most physically taxing things I've done since I was in competitive gymnastics, but boy, does it feel good when you finish.  My Uncle Daniel agreed to do the race with me.  I think he thought it was pretty difficult too since he normally runs flat half marathon races.  This course was pretty darn hilly at Del Valle Regional Park.  I finished at 2:49 hours and came in 9th out of 12 in my age division.  At least I wasn't last!

We had to do the loop twice. It is so disheartening when you are
doing the first loop and you see a sign that you've hit the ten mile
mark. That just means that you have to do it again AND you're not
even that close to the end.

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The first really large hill that we had to run up had this great view.  The first
loop around the course I didn't take any pictures, but after rounding the large
loop a second time, I deduced that I wasn't going anywhere fast so I stopped
to enjoy the view. 

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On the second loop, these cows came to watch the runners.  They're probably
thinking, you stupid humans.  What are you doing?

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This is one of the hills.  I managed to run up to about where
the second pole is on the right, but walked the rest of the way.

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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Tonight's Dinner: March 15, 2013

Tonight Nick decided to make dinner.  He went fancy on me.  He wanted to try making a banh mi style sandwich with the ground pork patties that we got from the pig butchering.  He pickled carrots, diakon, and jalapenos and also bought some liverwurst to spread on the buns.

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Tonight's Dinner: March 14, 2013

The whole hog butchering class was amazing for our week's meals.  All I had to do was get some veggies and cook the pre-seasoned meat.  It made for quick and easy dinners.  Tonight I wanted to use the largest pieces of meat that they gave us.  We each received a pork steak.  These things were huge!  One piece with the bone on didn't even fit into our pan.  I seared the slabs on each side and stuck it in the oven for 20 minutes at 250 degrees.

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The fat on the end made the pork taste really good, but you just can't eat it.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Today's Lunch: March 13, 2013

This week turned out to be a bad eating out week at the office.  I think Vanessa and I ended up eating out every day of the week.  As hard as we try, we just like eating out.  We tend to bring left overs or healthy lunches and then pass them up for take out.  For some reason, I always get Baja Fresh and Rubio's mixed up.  There is a Rubio's close to our office and Vanessa offered to go.  I decided to try it out and was pretty impressed.  I got a combo plate with a shrimp burrito and fish taco.  They actually put a lot of shrimp in the burrito.

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Tonight's Dinner: March 10, 2013

I spent the day in Livermore at a bridal shower for a college friend, but had invited my family over to watch the new show Are You Tougher Than A Boy Scout?  On the way home, I stopped at Sprouts to pick up supplies for our typical Hawaiian BBQ home made dinner. I developed this about a year ago when we were eating Hawaiian BBQ pretty frequently. After a while it gets pretty darn expensive. I figured that I could replicate Chicken Katsu at a fraction of the cost. I was right. I was able to make dinner for my family as well as Mr. and Mrs. Fong (we invited them over last minute) for $31.00 and had a ton of left overs. We even had a blueberry pie!  Normally, I buy chicken tenders for this dish, but to help cut costs, I purchased gigantic chicken breasts and cut them down to the size that I wanted. For most breasts I sliced them in half butterfly style, but for some really large ones I sliced them in thirds. These breasts were mondo! Although shopping at Sprouts makes me feel better about the quality of food that I buy, no natural bird could be that big without hormones. The breasts looked like small turkey breasts.  I don't mind this much because it makes me think that I get more bird for my money.  I'm not sure if this is true or not, but it does make me feel better.  I was pleased that both the Fongs and my family enjoyed the dinner. 

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I could have sworn that I posted my chicken katsu recipe before, but I can't seem to find it.

Allison's Chicken Katsu 
1 lb chicken tenders
1 c flour
1 tsp salt
3 eggs, beaten
2 c panko bread crumbs
1/2 c garlic flakes
1 1/2 c vegetable oil 
Use three flat dishes.  In the first dish mix the flour and salt.  In the second dish, beat three eggs with a splash of water.  In third dish, combine bread crumbs and garlic flakes.  Coat chicken tenders in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs.  Once all pieces are breaded, heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.  Once oil is rippling, gently place chicken pieces in oil.  Cook on each side for 3 minutes.  Place on cooling rack in a warmed oven.  Chicken should be lightly browned as they will continue to brown once out of the oil.    

Tonight's Dinner: March 9, 2013

Nick had procured two court-side tickets to the Warrior's game the evening after butchering the pig.  What a day for him!  Knowing that he was going to be gone, I invited Bonnie over for some wine.  We ended up watching NCIS for six hours straight and only took a break to walk to the sushi place down the street for takeout.  We ordered a ridiculous amount of food for two people and sadly finished it all.  By the time Nick came home all of the sushi was gone and we were still watching NCIS like how he left us.  Ahh, I love my Bonnie nights.  It is a step up from watching Too Cute: Kittens on Animal Planet.  We once did that and realized that we would die old cat ladies if we kept it up.  Cheesy cop shows will just make us paranoid old ladies.

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When Bonnie went into the restaurant to pay, the lady commented that it was
a large order.  She pretended that it was for more than just the two of us.  

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Look at all those California rolls all for me!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Emmy's Treat

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Do you have something for me Daddy?

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OOhhh for me?

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Okay, if you insist.

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Nom, nom, nom.

Whole Hog Butchering

One of the things on Nick's bucket list was to see Formula 1.  With that checked off the list, I had to think hard about what to get him for his upcoming birthday.  Next bucket list item, butchering a pig.  I found a place in Napa called the Fatted Calf that hosts whole hog butchering classes.  Perfecto mundo! I'm not exactly sure what I'll do for the rest of our lives together, but I will take it one birthday at a time.

I had to book the class months before since they are apparently very popular.  Who would have thought that something like that would be?  To my surprise, I was the only female in the class.  It was a great experience nonetheless and I won the "estrogen award".  Many of our classmates had received the course as gifts from their wives and girlfriends and then were dropped off while their lady friends went wine tasting.  I thought it was great!  Admittedly, I didn't as much butchering as Nick did once the wine came out. I got my money's worth in info, charcuterie  wine, and food consumption.  I would definitely do a class again.  My only complaint is that we didn't get to bring home as much pork as I thought we would.

I don't have pictures from the very beginning before we started chopping up the pigs, but I have the pictures from midway through.  Nick has the instructional/beginning part on his camera. I'll have to remember to get those and post an addendum.  When we first arrived the were three pig halves on large butcher tables.  There were four students per swine half and an instructor per table. The instructor taught us how to chop off the legs and then the best way to deconstruct the pigs.  From there we each had a piece of pig to work on.  I learned how to de-rib the pig.  Pretty cool.

After we finished cutting up and preparing our take home portions, we sat down for a delicious meal that the Fatted Calf staff put together for us.  They served a delicious roast with baked beans and artichoke halves. I would have eaten way more, but since we were in front of a strangers I decided it was best to look like I had the appetite of a normal female.

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We had an unlimited charcuterie plate to share as well as local wine that was
extremely tasty. 

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Nick sawed through half of the pig once the legs were cut off.  They use a
hack saw to get through the main bone and then a boning knife for the rest
of the cutting. Using the boning knife prevents tearing of the meat. 

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Hard at work getting the shoulder joint out.  They were nice enough to wrap
up the bone for us to take home for Emmy.  She sure did enjoy it. 

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After deboning the pig halves, one of the instructors taught us how to season
and then tie up the pig.  They leave the skin on, which crisps up in the oven and
turns into delicious goodness.  

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Look how gigantic this grinder is.
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Using a huge industrial grinder, they ground up fatty
pieces of meat to make pork patties wrapped in caul fat.

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As part of the hands on potion, we got to wrap the meat in
caul fat to bring home. 

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The caul fat acts as a self baster.  

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Pretty cute even in its dead, furless state. 

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The ears are already cut off.  Those suckers are pretty big!
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The instructor took off the skin in just a couple of minutes.

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I thought this was really cool.  It even looks like the snout!

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The Fatted Calf's curing room.
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This is a sample of the large roasts that the instructors showed us how to
roll up.  They cooked this on low heat for about five hours.  Holy moly it
was delicious. 

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Baked beans

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Pork, artichoke hearts, baked beans, and a mustard dressing for the pork.  

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Next door was a small Hog Island Oyster restaurant.  While Nick went to get
some ice cream for dessert, I got myself half a dozen oysters. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Tonight's Dinner: March 7, 2013

Just a quick dinner tonight so this will be a quick post (like the last few).  I've been extremely pressed for time lately with being slammed at work, training for my upcoming half marathon, and trying to get our wedding website up and running while also still making healthy meals.  That being said, I sliced chicken breasts in half to get a few extra pieces out of them and also for them to cook faster and more evenly.  To get a little crust, I floured the chicken before putting it in the pan fry.  I also had a bunch of lovely, giant button mushrooms which I sliced up and made a pan sauce with soy milk.  We've found that substituting real milk with soy makes everything significantly sweeter.  It's not too big of a deal, but real milk is definitely better. Since milk bothers the both of us, I've been trying to buy soy instead.  I've also been making salads with our meals in an effort to fill us up with good vegetables instead of the main meal.  I think it's been working, though sometimes we just eat both and then feel overly stuffed.

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Heirloom tomatoes with avocado and balsamic over mixed greens
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I used the left over biscuits from Black Bear to make an impromptu biscuits and

Monday, March 11, 2013

Tonight's Dinner: March 6, 2013

Nick's parents invited us over for dinner and we try not to pass offers like that up if we help it.  Since I get off earlier than Nick, I planned out a run to his parent's house while he drove over.  As it turns out, the Fong's place is only about five and a half miles away from our apartment if I take the running trail.  It was quite a nice run also.  What I found interesting is that a lot of the homes that line the trails don't have privacy fences into their backyards.  Being the nosy one that I am, I was looking at all of the different backyards.  There are some nice houses along the trail!

Mrs. Fong is an amazing cook.  She made us three crabs, three pieces of turbot fish, tofu with mushrooms, gai lan, and rice.  Oh man, it was so good.  Mr. Fong and I were the last ones at the table eating the crab.  My favorite!

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Gai lan

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Tofu with mushroom

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Turbot fish

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Crab, crab and more crab!!!  Mrs. Fong prepared it as a
Chinese Ginger and Scallion Crab.

Tonight's Dinner: March 5, 2013

After a quick workout, I went out to Los Panchos to meet up with Linda and discuss her wedding invitations.  Turns out that we talked about her invitations for about ten minutes and then gossiped the rest of the night.  We're girls I guess and also creatures of habit.  We each both have our favorite dishes.  I love beans, rice, and cheese burritos and Linda loves Pastor Tacos.

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Pastor tacos

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BCR dinner