poor scientist. will blog 4 food.

the culinary adventures of a self-described foodie


A healthy start to 2012

I don’t make official New Year’s resolutions, but I suppose setting goals is useful no matter what the date on the calendar says. One thing that TC and I are focused on for 2012 is moving towards a healthier, whole foods diet (i.e., not processed), and making vegetarian meals whenever possible. As part of this endeavor, we’ll be getting a bi-weekly CSA box from Eatwell Farms. There were several motivating factors. First, even though it’s not necessarily the most cost-effective way of getting produce, we think it’s important to support local organic farms. Buying a CSA box is more than just getting a box of produce; it’s showing your financial and moral support for sustainable practices. Second, we had the opportunity to hear Nigel Walker, the owner of Eatwell, speak at a round table discussion and we agreed with what he had to say about his farming philosophy. In fact, Nigel made such an impression on TC that a man crush was born that night. (The delectable eggplants, tomatoes, and peaches served after the talk also made quite an impression.) Finally, the CSA box confines you to cook what’s seasonal, and will thereby force me to diversify my cooking repertoire. It’ll be a challenge for sure! Anyway, we’re looking forward to it, and I’ll keep y’all updated on our CSA experiment as it develops.

For this first day of 2012, TC and I were looking for something healthy to help us recover from holiday overindulgence.  We decided to make the Red Lentil Thai Chili from Post Punk Kitchen (thanks to JN for the blog suggestion). We made this same recipe less than 2 weeks ago for a mini dinner party with our friend CN, and it was so good we wanted to have it again.

Red lentil Thai chili - not too pretty, but super delicious and healthy!

What’s awesome about this recipe is that you totally forget (and don’t care) that it’s vegan. It’s very hearty — we both love the sweet potatoes, while the coconut milk and red curry add a unique flavor and richness. The second time around, I added one chopped Serrano pepper and generous amounts of lime juice which were both great additions. It’s also pretty easy — after the chopping prep, the whole thing only takes about 30 minutes to cook. Finally, it makes a massive amount of food, which is always nice because I love leftovers.

Do you have any resolutions or goals, eating or otherwise?


Superbowl of Chicken, Part III (At last!)

Oh where has the time gone? In my last post, I lamented about not writing for 2 weeks. This time, I’ll apologize for not having posted for almost 2 months. Yeah, part of that time was spent packing/moving/unpacking, but truth be told, I just needed a break. I wanted to leave my camera at home and stop thinking about how to frame the next meal into a blog post. Unfortunately, that meant I missed out on documenting some really awesome meals (JG’s crawfish boil for his 30th birthday comes to mind), but overall, I’m glad I took the break. Hopefully, y’all didn’t miss me that much.

The other main reason it’s taken me a while to write again is that I only have so much creative energy in me. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to set up my new apartment. Maybe I’ll blog about some of those things too. Lately I’ve been a little obsessed with curtains. . .

Anyway, where was I? Oh, all the way back to early February! It was Superbowl Sunday, and I had already devoured Zuni Cafe’s famous roast chicken, as well as the most heavenly, homemade buttermilk fried chicken. But was I satisfied? No, of course not. I am a glutton, after all. My friend JC was in Berkeley for a job interview and we met up for dinner at Cha Am, one of my favorite Thai restaurants in Berkeley. I had forgotten that JC, being a good ol’ southern boy, wasn’t a particularly adventurous eater. Nonetheless, he ventured out of his comfort zone and we shared the salad rolls, featuring jicama, tofu, bean sprouts, and vermicelli, served with a tamarind dipping sauce. I was really proud of him for trying it!

The tamarind sauce and jicama are what set these rolls apart from the rest.

For the main course, I ordered the chicken and basil, mostly because someone told me once that chopped (ground) chicken is more authentic then sliced. I don’t know if this is true, but ever since then, I look for chopped chicken dishes. They’re usually a lot more flavorful than chicken breast anyway.

Chicken and basil. One of my favorites.

JC ordered green curry, also with chicken. My favorite part of the evening was when he pointed to various vegetables in the curry and asked me to identify them. “Eggplant, J. Red peppers. Oh, and those are bamboo shoots.”

Green curry with chicken and lots of veggies. Extra spicy!

Believe it or not, I woke up the next morning wishing I could have some more of that Zuni Cafe roast chicken. Luckily, I had brought home some leftovers — one drumstick and some of the bread salad. I think I had it for breakfast!

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Recent Highlights

Yes, I’ve been a negligent blogger yet again.  The main excuse this time is that I was at a conference for the past 5 days, and therefore very busy. But I didn’t forget to take food photos!  The following is a mish-mash (a food mash-up?) of recent eating activity:

Saturday, December 6th: Rockridge Cafe
The Rockridge Cafe is a solid brunch place with reasonable prices, and more importantly, a reasonable wait.  Their menu is comprised of classic brunch dishes, like omelettes and pancakes, with the occasional flare, like french toast made with challah bread, or Mexican-style breakfast dishes, like chilaquiles.

Avocado quesadilla with hash browns

Avocado quesadilla with hash browns

Challah French toast and real maple syrup, with sausage and eggs

Challah French toast and real maple syrup, with sausage and eggs

Wednesday, December 10th: Daimo
On this particular day, I convinced my coworkers to play hooky for the afternoon.  We went bowling for $1/game at the Albany Bowl, followed by karaoke Asian-style (in private rooms) at the Music Tunnel.  Afterwards, JY, IP, and I enjoyed some Chinese food at Daimo, one of my favorite Chinese restaurants in the area.  The portions are huge, the food is well-seasoned and authentic, and because it’s usually packed, it’s great for people watching.  The three of us shared two dishes and we were stuffed.

Walnut Prawns

Walnut Prawns

Pea sprouts

Stir-fried pea sprouts with garlic

Friday, December 12th: Casa Latina
JL helped me run an errand mid-morning, and as we had the City CarShare car for another 45 minutes, we decided to make a quick stop at Casa Latina, a Mexican bakery and restaurant.  We both got the tamale plate, though I’m only showing JL’s because hers came with a prettier red sauce (photo taken on my phone).  Even though we were really full, we couldn’t resist buying pastries on the way out.  JL bought a custard-filled dessert, while I chose the apple pastry.  I’m sorry to report that there aren’t any photos of the desserts, but the apple thing was delicious.

Chicken tamales with red sauce, served with rice, beans, salsa, and guacamole

Chicken tamales with red sauce, served with rice, beans, salsa, and guacamole

Friday, December 12th: Osha
After my haircut in downtown San Francisco with SB, BB and I went to get dinner at Osha, one of a small chain of Thai restaurants in the city.  It is slightly pricey for what it is, but the ambiance is good and the food is solid.  We started with fresh rolls for the appetizer, and moved on to green curry and Thai spiced fried noodles for the main course.  The rolls were unique in their texture; the skins were thicker than at most restaurants, and the presentation was nice.  Neither BB nor I felt the green curry was anything special (and therefore, undeserving of posting here), but we both agreed that the noodles had a nice kick.

Fresh rolls at Osha

Fresh rolls at Osha

Thai-spiced fried noodles

Thai-spiced fried noodles