Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The one with no food photos

I have two full days left in Cincinnati. I had to keep reducing that number as this draft grew older and older.

I can’t believe this past month has completely slipped away. It’s been fun, but I think I wore myself out. I came down with a cold (and I never get sick!). Let’s look back at some of what I’ve been doing, and see if we can figure out who gave me the germs.

Task One: Spend local Groupons

This treated me to another visit at Poco a Poco (not quite as impressive as the first time, but good), a pottery class, and an afternoon bike rental.

It’s entirely likely I got the bug at the pottery place. I had a Groupon for two open-wheel sessions at Funke Fired Arts. Now, anyone who’s tried pottery knows that you can’t master the wheel in two sessions. Instead, the instructors guided each student to create at least one piece to take home. As in, my hands on the clay and the instructor’s hands on mine. Not as sexy as Ghost, though. And although I rinsed my hands thoroughly to clean off the clay, there was no soap until I got home.

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Last Saturday, we had gorgeous weather. This was perfect for taking a ride along the Loveland Bike Trail. Along the trail, we saw two turkeys (incredible!), a deer, and a beaver. And squirrels, including one suicidal squirrels that froze just in front of my wheel. Alex and I went from Loveland to Morrow (about 12 miles each way) on the “coaster” bikes. I was getting a little tired after mile 19, but I didn’t think anything of it (even went to Oktoberfest that night), but I woke up around 3 a.m. with my knees in excruciating pain. I was a real grump, but after a couple of days, I am happy to tell you I’ve made a full recovery.


Alex with his coaster bike (pedal backwards to brake!), the trail, a view of the Little Miami we rode along the whole way. What a great day.

Task Two: Everything else, in no particular order

The following morning, I woke up bright and early (yes, after the 3 a.m. pain) to make one last trip to Hanover College. I advise a group of students there, and although they’re not as snot-nosed as elementary kids, I can’t help but think my comprised immune system might have picked up something from them. Plus it was a dreary, rainy day.

Since I’ve written, last meals include: Loving Hut, Shanghai Mama’s, Allyn’s, Melt (for brunch), and Green Papaya. No food photos – I ordered my favorite stand-by at each.


Me at the Loving Hut, at our table right in front of the strange little fountain full of figurines. If you think you have misophonia, like me, it’s tough to eat by the gurgling fountain. Or anywhere else, really.

Freezer clean out includes: frozen tofu, edamame, artichokes, homemade waffles, Five Star Foodies burgers, chickpeas, flour, and various Trader Joes’s fruit floes.

Packing is in full force. Also, I think I may stop blogging so much about food. Sometimes it just doesn’t feel healthy, and I’ve learned so much (why I started in the first place). I enjoy eating and trying new recipes -- after all this eating out it was refreshing to make dinner Sunday night! -- but for October I’m taking part in Our Wired Lives 30 Day Photography Challenge. I may be a few days late getting starting while I wait on my internet installation, but I’m pretty excited about it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Eating through the Freezer

I’ve learned a lot of things since I’ve taken cooking and what we eat more seriously. One is, cooking dried beans is easy and way better than canned. And, more notably, beans are really good in tofu scramble. So, I made Mexican-style tofu scramble.


So in my efforts to eat everything in my freezer, I had a bag of cooked kidney beans. Not my favorite beans (sorry!), but still not something I wanted to throw out. I also had some frozen potato cubes, hash browns, whatever they may be called. Those are no problem to eat up, but made a good side.

I threw sauteed green bell pepper and onion in with the taters and topped them with salsa. I seasoned the tofu with spices like your grocer’s packet of taco seasoning. And I tossed in the kidney beans, some corn, and cilantro and green onion. Yum-and-yum.

The best part about this was that by adding so much stuff into the scramble, I had lots of leftovers. So, this morning I enjoyed a breakfast burrito.

What’s left in the freezer? I’m not ready to think about it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Summer Roll City

I made a list of places in Cincinnati I want to visit again before we leave. We’re working our way through. Some of them – like Bangkok Bistro – I think I’ll be okay not coming back to. I can’t quite say why. Others – like Suzie Wong's – might be on our “last week in the Nati” list. We went again last week, and it just can’t be the last time, can it?

Saturday for lunch, we headed over to Saigon Café. This place just opened a few months ago, and we’ve already been about four times, and it looks like we might be back at least once more.

It’s funny, though, because every time has been different. On each of our previous visits, we’ve gotten two different entrees and shared both. This time, we both went for the bun. The first time it came with no roll, the second and third time it came with a crispy spring roll. 

Expecting our meals to come with fried rolls, we each ordered a summer roll as a starter. On the menu, they were listed as one roll for $2.50. So we ordered two. Turns out, there was some confusion somewhere – and we got two each.


Our bun vegetable came with a cold summer roll. This was a  surprise, even to our server, but not really a disappointment (even though I prefer the crispy roll). Thankfully there were plenty of crispy tofu strips.


And so marks the day of the summer roll. If you were counting, that was six rolls in total.

If you’re not familiar, this dish is made with cold rice noodles, fresh vegetables (lettuce, carrots, and bean sprouts here – sometimes you’ll get lots more veg, like cucumbers and daikon), shredded tofu, and peanuts. Toss this all together with sauce* and it’s a delicious, hearty lunch that isn’t too heavy. This will leave you fueled and ready for a nice walk on the first beautiful day in a week. 

One thing I’ll miss about my current neighborhood is how walkable it is. I’m checking out walkscore.com for my new address (63), but I think it’s a little misleading because of all the traffic we’ll face in the big city. Turns out Saigon Café didn’t make it on our current walkscore (72) because it’s more than a mile away. I mapped it on the walk back, still walkable.

How’s your neighborhood for getting around?


*Check to see if the dressing has fish sauce. I didn’t want to pollute the spring roll focus with fish sauce scares, but I know someone will think I don’t care if I don’t mention it.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Local Goods

The best things in Cincinnati: Grippo’s potato chips, LaRosa’s pizza, and Gold Star Chili. That is, if you were born here.


For the purposes of the goodie box, I expanded my definition of local. Too bad I couldn’t include some of my favorite things, like the finally veganized Belgian waffles (apparently out of production!), or un-shippable frozen treats like Five Star Foodies burgers or PhroZen ice cream, or something made by Fab Ferments.


Here’s what the lucky winner got. The rest of you, if you choose to accept, will get to see my final days in Cincinnati as I do my best to enjoy everything I can until I leave.


You see, the Gold Star has made an appearance! I actually ate it, once. Also included is Bourbon Barrel Foods worcestershire sauce, Kentucky bourbon barrel ale, and my favorite ketchup, which is actually from Indiana. I will be bringing several bottles of that with me when I move, and I might just have to try to make my own ketchup if I run out.


I’ll leave you with something possibly symbolic: the Phillies beat the Reds for four games straight. We went to one, and it was slow and boring. The best part, though, was being able to park (for free) on the street a few blocks away, being given free tickets by a nice guy who had extras (I totally thought they were fake, but no), and, after deciding to leave early, being able to drive home in 10 minutes and watch the end of the game on television. For a minute, it looked like Cincinnati was coming back, but in the end, Philadelphia won.