Category Archives: Food

The Pancake Debacle

My new spring obsession – pancakes!  This started on a weekend brunch venture to Walnut Creek where a friend introduced me to a new brunch place.  I loved it so much I brought boy back.  And when we had the pancakes there, we couldn’t help but go back a few times a month.  See, boy and I aren’t dinner people.  We aren’t bar people.  We aren’t stay up late at night people…. We’re let’s get up early and go to brunch people!  That’s right, we’re getting old.  And seriously, I go to sleep thinking about my first meal of the day because nothing compares to the very first bite of food in the morning on an empty stomach when you’re starving because you’ve stopped munching after dinner time because you’ve noticed that an extra roll has started to fall out over your pants and… well, you get it.  I get up, I’m hungry, and I want to eat.  What better than PANCAKES!

To be totally honest, weekend pancakes started when we finally moved back in together last November.  We started making pancakes together once a weekend morning and it stuck.  But we didn’t really care about what kind of pancakes we were eating until we had them at Katy’s Kreek.  Me, boy, and C-dog sat there over brunch and fawned over these delightful pancakes…  Vanilla, definitely vanilla.  But it was C-dog who tapped the secret – citrus.  Lemon.  So. Incredibly. Yummy.  Really fluffy.  Creaminess of vanilla.  Lightness of lemon.  So good.  Thick, too.  Puts the cake in pancake.

That’s how it started.  The search for the perfect pancake recipe.

I started over at Vegan Yum Yum.  Why?  Because this is my favorite food blog, always simple, straight forward, EASY.  (See those homemade cinnamon rolls in the pics off to the side there?  Yep, thanks vegan yum yum.  She has a cookbook coming out this fall.  I’m going to get it and so should you.)  And the pancakes are good.  But they are definitely silver dollars.  And Katy’s Kreek pancakes?  Those aren’t silver dollars….

So I tried random recipes all over the web.  Allrecipes which offers a ton…  But it was a colleague who pointed me to these, Cracker Barrel Buttermilk Pancakes.  Close, good texture.

Attempt #2: add vanilla…. closer.

Attempt #3: add lemon juice…. closer.

Attempt #4: add REAL buttermilk, not just sour milk…. wow those are some thick pancakes.  oh, so close.

Attempt #5: (yes, this is in the space of about 2 weeks, I eat a lot of pancakes) add lemon zest and fresh squeezed lemon juice with real, expensive vanilla with the real buttermilk and sift the dry ingredients very carefully….  these aren’t quite Katy’s Kreek, but these are some damn fine pancakes….

So this past weekend, boy and I went back to Katy’s Kreek.  We both got the short stack.  We took it bite by bite.  Sitting at the bar, I called the waitress over.

“It’s vanilla and lemon, right?”

“Oh, that’s very good of you!” she responded.

I kept eating.  Then I called her back over.

“But is it REAL buttermilk you’re using?”

She stopped, looked side to side, looked at my kind of pitifully….

“Honey, it’s just bisquik.”

I think my mouth dropped open full of fluffy pancake goodness that suddenly started tasting a little dry, baking powdery…  pre-made…

Bisquik.  I haven’t seen a box of bisquik since college when I would whip up a half cup bisquik with soy milk and make 4 sad little biscuits to go with my little fake sausage patties and call it dinner for 5 days in a row.

Bisquik.  Wow.  My $8.00 short stack turned into a $7.00 plate of ambiance for $1.00 pancakes.

But, you know, kudos to them for the lemon/vanilla additions, because that really makes it…

Except…

Except when I went to the store to buy my own box of bisquik.  The Andronico’s market on Shattuck.  I marched heavy footed to the frozen goods, box in hand.  I stood at the end of the aisle, boy inspecting something at the other end.  I raised the box and shouted:

“The RECIPE is ON the BACK of the BOX!”

That’s right.  Bisquik pancakes come in 2 variations: the melt-in-your-mouth variety that suggests adding lemon juice.  And the Supreme Pancake variety that suggest adding vanilla.  Right.  So WHO WOULDN’T THINK to combine the two for the BEST PANCAKES IN TOWN?

I was irate.  Still am.  But 2 things: I still bought the damn box of bisquik.  And I’m still most likely going to return to Katy’s Kreek.

I’m also going to open a bakery.  Yup.  Tollhouse and little debbies.  Think anyone will notice?  Not as long as it’s served on a fancy plate with a little doily underneath.

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apocalypse sandwiches

I don’t care much about food.  I could eat a bowl of popcorn and a bowl of edamame and call it dinner.  But I do love  a good sandwich.  Boy has an appreciation for a good sandwich as well.  He has his list of favorites: Bill Grey’s veggie burger in Rochester, The New Yorker, Ciao Bella’s, and Schlotzky’s in P’cola, SemiFreddi’s, Bella pastry shop, Jimmy Beans and Toy Boat here in bay area.  I like Toy Boat and Jimmy Beans, that swiss and sprouts at a place in P’cola, Putnam Street Deli in Saratoga Springs gets me drooling.

When I was studying abroad in Paris, I did the whole Rome, Florence, Venice train trip that so many people take (b/c it’s super easy.)  I almost bailed on my traveling mates not long into the trip.  I was out of my element and, more importantly, out of my meds I was taking at the time.  I was a ball of nerves and insecurity, about 10 lbs heavier with a cropped boy haircut (what’s popular in the US, not so much in Europe.)  But in the middle of that trip, the full day we spent in Florence wandering, what felt like going in circles, we hit a sandwich shop.  And it was the best sandwich of my life.  I don’t remember the shop, I don’t remember what was on the sandwich, but I do remember sitting on the sidewalk by a mile-long row of parked mopeds and devouring the best sandwich ever.  I remember the courtyard and the sun dried tomatoes and the archway that hid the sandwich shop and I’m convinced that if I ever find myself in Florence again, on the same axis as the sandwich shop, I will be able to find my way back.

So when boy woke up the other morning and said he had a dream about us and the end of the world, I had to ask what we were doing.

“Wandering the demolished streets looking for a restaurant,” he said.

“Well I hope it was a sandwich shop we were looking for.”

“Of course.  What else?”

It makes perfect sense to me.

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the black-bottom cupcake incident

I hate sharing food.  When I eat, I’m hungry and I usually intend to finish everything on my plate.  Really, I don’t like to share anything.

Why?

The black bottom cupcake.

One night several years ago (more like 4) boy and I spent the evening walking around Rockridge.  We bought some desserts from that little pastry shop by Peabody’s before driving back to the Creek where, at the time, we lived together.  I sat on the floor leaning against the couch and he was sitting on the couch and we watched TV in the dark eating our desserts.  I offered him some of my cupcake before I finished it.  And when he gave it back to me, all the cream cheese was GONE.  He stripped the cupcake of the best part, the part I was saving for last, because it was the BEST PART!

In his defense, he thought I was offering him the rest because I didn’t want any more… (as if I’d ever not finish a cupcake?)

And I entered into one of those completely unjustified rages that had me throwing a temper tantrum and him offering to drive all the way back to buy me a cupcake and I narrowed my eyes and sharply said, “no. but you owe me.”

And since then, he cannot pick food off my plate.  Ever.  And when I divide desserts in half, if there is a slight size difference, I get the bigger piece.  And if he looks away, damn straight I’m going for that raspberry in chocolate sauce on his plate.  But if I see his fork near my honey chocolate crepe, he will be reminded of the cupcake.  The one where he took the best part, and left me the crumbs.

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sometimes he’s glad i’m a red neck

I really hate to cook.  So when boy asked what I want for dinner, I sat around for a good 30 minutes and moaned and groaned, “I knoooow we have tofu, but I just don’t feeeeeeel like cooking…”  So I kicked off my shoes, pulled my hair back, slumped into the kitchen, and pulled some stuff together.  What else did we have besides tofu?  Chips.  So here it is, potato chip tofu.

 Crunch ’em up.

 Coat tofu with the chips and broil ’em.

 Flip.

 Serve with potato salad and tomatoes I stole from a neighbor.

and for dessert – Bananas Foster!  I always go on and on to boy about how my dad used to make bananas foster and how it really is a New Orleans southern thing and it’s the best.  So I finally was able to totally show off my flambe skills and make it for him.

 Brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, bananas and a goofy pose.

 Add rum and FIRE!

Served it up with some toffuti ice cream.  Boy was very impressed.

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In need of a good salt lick

I realize that for some this will come across like me complaining about something like, I don’t know, those girls who can’t put on weight and complain about it?  Yes, we all know about those girls.  But this little issue has actually made a big difference in my day-to-day life.

I have low blood pressure (110/60 usually).  And for some reason as I get older, the numbers keep getting lower.  Which I can only guess is a combination of genetics and running (oddly enough, high blood pressure runs in my family, but I somehow managed to dodge it, quite unlike my sister…)  And about a year and a half ago I started seeing stars when I stood up too quickly or dizzy spells.  At one point when walking around Old Navy I had to grab a clothing rack and racing through my brain was what do I do if I pass out and I’m by myself and did you know that if you have to go to the bathroom and you faint you usually end up going in your pants? (no, it has never happened to me, but I hear ODD stories having friends and family working in retail…) Anyway, that idea kept flashing in my head as well as I entered into dizzy panic.  An Old Navy employee passed by me clinging to the clothes rack and gave me that she’s hiding something glare.  When the dizzy spell passed I jetted out of there to make sure I was safe at home in case it happened again.

So I never made the connection between low blood pressure and dizzy spells.  But recently I read about a nutritionist who had the same issue.  Solution?  Salt on your food.  She had never done this before because as a nutritionist she preached against it.  But you know what?  Not eating overly processed foods and eliminating cheese from my diet, I really don’t consume much salt.  (sugar on the other hand, let’s not go there…)  So I started by eating a bunch of saltines before studying.  And honestly, I felt better.  I was able to concentrate while studying and I felt like I had more energy.  (lack of concentration is also an apparent side effect of low BP, but can I honestly attribute my procrastination to that?)  So now I add a dash of salt to at least one item on my plate, if I remember… 

Because heaven forbid I faint and pee in my pants in public.  Or I start acting like Liza Minelli on Arrested Development.

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a bad moment for food

My dream last night involved me needing a double mastectomy and my ovaries removed.  So I went about it by removing one ovary with one breast at a time.  I made it through the first operation and looked down at my stitched up chest with no nipple and started mourning my breast more than the missing ovary.  I know, totally weird.

So what does this have to do with anything?  I don’t know.  But here’s what I think it may be somehow related to, in a convoluted way that just shows how messed up I am.

I have been completely off routine the past 2 weeks.  Between birthdays, holidays, and a broken fridge I have been at boy’s for 2 weeks straight, not running a whole lot, not eating great, not doing a lot of homework (not good).  My diet is the worst.  I have been eating a lot of sugar and over-eating at meals and feeling really crummy afterward.  And then tonight, I had escargot.  yup, that’s right.  Boy and I have discussed my past love of weird foods – (I’m talking frog legs, pastrami, canned vienna sausages – yeah, I used to LOVE that stuff) – I thought I was over those days.  But apparently not.  I like escargot, really, I do.  But what upsets me most is that I had no qualms about eating it.  Nothing.  Not a stir.  And I’m having issues this evening about losing my convictions.  I used to feel passionately about eating well and responsibly.  Where’d that go?

So what does this have to do with losing a breast and ovary in my dream? (why yes I did wake up and grab my boobs first thing in the morning and was quite relieved.)  I have been eating crappy, I feel crappy about myself, wether it’s true or not I feel like I am putting on weight, so I feel like I look like ass, and in my contorted reality, feeling feminine involves being lean.  So if I feel like I look like ass, I feel like I am losing my femininity, hence losing my boobs and ovaries.

Hopefully next week will be quiet.  And boy is leaving to geek it out at comic con.  Just me and Jack and a whole lot of studying to catch up on.  I look forward to becoming a creature of routine once again.  And rejuvenating my energy level by being alone.  BlogHer hasn’t even started and I’m already drained by the amount socialization required for my job.

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i’ve been cooking!

Sort of.  I really hate to cook.  Actually, I hate just turning the stove on.  So my usual meals involve assembly. Cucumber hummus sandwiches, dipping things in hummus, pre-steamed lentils and unbaked tofu, pretzels, I’ve even gone so far to get my greens in by eating collard greens raw.  Won’t be doing that again.  But lately, I’ve been cooking.  And here are my 3 favorites so far.

Cucumber soup.  Love cold cucumber soup.  My mom has made it every summer since I don’t even remember when and I got the recipe from her and continue to make it.  I just substitute the broth with veggie broth and the creamer with soy creamer.  4 cucumbers, 1 onion, 2 cups broth, margarine, 1 1/2 cups cream, cayenne and curry and it’s lunch for a week.  The best summer soup.

Avocado smoothies.  I know, it sounds weird and gross and green.  A friend turned me and boy on to these at our favorite vegan Vietnamese restaurant and they are so good!  1 avocado, soy milk, berries, honey and it’s yummy yummy.  It almost tastes like a banana, but not quite, and it’s really smooth.

Lastly, I have no idea why I have never been to Monterey Market in Berkeley.  Probably because Berkeley bowl, the other local grocer, is a pain to get through with lines stretching to the back of the store.  But Monterey market is awesome.  So I went there tonight and loaded up for tonight’s dinner.  Lime-chili tofu with mango and kale.  Soy sauce, chili paste, rice vinegar, oil, brown sugar, and lime for the tofu.  It was really good.  And I’ve been meaning to get kale since it is an excellent source of calcium and I lack that in my diet since I avoid milk and cheese (don’t worry mom, I take my share of daily supplements.)  Even boy ate the kale, which I didn’t expect.

My fridge has been broken so I haven’t been keeping many groceries, but I think once it comes back on I’ll start loading up from Monterey Market.  Especially kale, I want to make it a daily staple in my diet.  Now I just need my scooter so I can take quick trips to the store.

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