poor scientist. will blog 4 food.

the culinary adventures of a self-described foodie


CSA Update 9/30/12 + Highlights from Eat Real 2012

Here’s what we got last week in our Eatwell Farm CSA box:

heirloom cherry tomatoes
shady lady tomatoes
heirloom tomatoes
Middle Eastern cucumbers
poblano peppers
bell peppers
sweet potatoes
collard greens

In my last post, Tammy mentioned she had never seen a Middle Eastern cucumber before, so I made a point of taking a photo before I ate them. I think they are the same as Persian cucumbers, but I might be wrong. Any cucumber experts out there?

Some of the veggies from our box last week: tomatoes, sweet potatoes, Middle Eastern cucumber, and onions.

We decided to roast the sweet potatoes (~1 hour at 400F). Since the oven was already on, we baked chicken thighs with garlic and onions. To complete the meal, we cooked the collards in the cast iron with some of the chicken juice.

Since we had plenty of tomatoes and cucumbers, I made an impromptu salad featuring those two veggies in homemade balsamic vinaigrette. It was easy and delicious.

quick and easy cucumber tomato salad

This was the last box of our CSA subscription. I know that last time I mentioned that we would be renewing our subscription, and we still are planning on it, but we decided to hold off for now. That’s the bad news. The good news is that TC and I are moving in together in mid-October! So, between packing, moving, and unpacking, neither of us wanted to stress about cooking CSA produce. Honestly, I think the break will be good. This series of posts has gotten a little stagnant, in my opinion. Hopefully, when it returns, it will be full of new and exciting things!

p.s. Can’t get enough of CSA goodies? Check out this week’s link party over at In Her Chucks to check out CSA boxes from all over the country!


Rather than writing a separate post on Eat Real, which I’ve blogged about in previous years (2009, 2010, 2011), I thought I’d show you some of the pictures from last weekend’s eat fest.

I had made plans to go to Eat Real on Sunday with LF, but TC and I couldn’t resist the siren call of the hand-made spicy beef corndog from Tante’s. So, we braved the crazy crowds on Saturday to get our hands on them. Unlike last year, we knew better than to try to share this deep-fried perfection. It was totally worth it.

I know, this corndog looks sorta weird, but trust me: it was awesome.

On Sunday, LF and I were sensible enough to make it down to the festival around 11:30, when it was much less crowded. Here’s a sampling of what we ate:

Deep fried daikon cake and beef pho rolls. Both very good, though pricey at $5 each.

A little bowl of shoyu ramen. Broth was too salty, noodles were so-so. LF’s miso ramen was bland.

“Is that a corndog in your purse, or are you just happy to see me?” We were stuffed, so LF got the corndog to go.

We also had Eritrean/Irish food which was very good in both taste and value. For drinks, we enjoyed watermelon basil agua fresca that was delicious and refreshing, as well as a beer each. There was a not-very-serious attempt to wait in the chowder mobile line; we waited for about 10 minutes and jumped ship after realizing the line was not moving. Just as the festival was getting crowded, we grabbed one last corndog for LF, retrieved our bikes from the bike valet, and headed home. Another fantastic experience at Eat Real!


A-foraging we go!

Last week, my friend Andrea took TC and I on a hike through Redwood Regional Park to hunt for edible plants. Andrea is the most well-versed person on plants that I know — in fact, she has a great blog that you should check out if you’re interested in learning about plants as food, poison, medicine, or just something pretty to look at.

Anyway, we hit the jackpot almost immediately, and spent the first hour traversing only 1 mile or so. Luckily for us, there were so many things to look at and learn about. I took tons of pictures, which are featured in the slide show below.

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We’ve already decided to return in July for berry picking. In addition to currants, thimbleberries, and wild strawberries, we also saw a lot of blackberry bushes. So exciting. Many thanks to Andrea for being a wonderful guide!

UPDATE (4/23/12): Andrea wrote up her thoughts about our foraging outing here. If you want to know more about the plants we found, I encourage you to check it out!


Noodle Heaven = Shan Dong

Y’all know that I love me some noodles, so it’s a shock that I haven’t written about my favorite noodle place in the Bay Area: Shan Dong restaurant in Oakland. They have fresh, hand-made noodles that cost $1 more per dish, but it’s a no brainer: you gotta get them. I’m not exaggerating when I say that their noodles have the perfect texture.


I am particularly fond of the Szechuan noodles (dan dan mien), pictured above, as well as the satay beef noodles. The chow mein is decent, even though I don’t usually order it. Unfortunately, I can’t speak for the noodle soups, since my dining companions are not usually in the mood for them. However, the waitress once obliged my request for a stir-fried version of one of the noodle soups, which was excellent. (Did I mention the servers here are super nice? Well, they are!) Not all of the noodles are good here, however. I’ve been disappointed by both the ja jiang mien and the sesame paste noodle. Both were oily without much flavor.

Anyway, the other thing that’s very good at Shan Dong are the potstickers. I used to order dumplings (steamed), but I was always a little disappointed by the thick skin that quickly became soggy after only 5-10 minutes. When I saw the potstickers on the menu, I was like, “Eureka!!” Since that glorious day, I have only ordered potstickers. The thick, homemade dumpling skin is perfect for frying. The filling could be better, but I’m not going to complain.

potstickers with pork and chives

fun with potstickers, I

fun with potstickers, 2

OK, on to the non-noodle dishes: I must say this is Shan Dong’s weakest point. Granted, I haven’t tried that many dishes, but the ones I have tried (e.g., mu shu vegetables, dry braised green beans, sizzling rice soup) were nothing to write home about. But, really, who cares? I will gladly trade great noodles for so-so Chinese dishes.

Dry braised green beans. Pretty OK.

When TC and I found out that my new apartment would be a mere 6 blocks from Shan Dong, we made a pledge to limit ourselves to one visit every 2 weeks. So far, we’ve done really well — only one visit over the last month. There are just too many other places to try, but I know that Shan Dong will definitely be in our regular rotation.

p.s. It’s Thanksgiving on Thursday! Just want to remind you of these fun posts/recipes from years past:
What to do with that turkey carcass
Looking for a cranberry sauce recipe? – I tested 4!