Category Archives: Finds

Fabulous Finds for March 26, 2010

Three of my favorite outdoors things — beer, barbecue and bluegrass — on one day in downtown Raleigh, the North Carolina Cuegrass Festival. According to the web site, “The Pit’s famous barbecue, cooked by The Pit’s legendary pitmaster Ed Mitchell, and North Carolina beers from LoneRider, Mother Earth, Carolina Brewing Company and Big Boss, will be served throughout the event.” Woo hoo, see you there!

You know The Thinker, don’t you? I thought I did too, but even a visit to the Rodin Museum in Paris didn’t tell me his true beginnings, or maybe it did but I was too tired to read the French. The North Carolina Museum of Art’s blog tells the story with a guest appearance by Robert Pinsky. I can’t wait to go. Their grand opening is on April 24.

I’ve always loved Jamie Oliver‘s cooking shows (Naked Chef) and recipes. In his recent TED talk he sounded the alarm about the food we’re providing at home and in school to children. He says that this generation of American children will die ten years earlier than their parents because of diet-related disease (already the biggest killer in the US). He is starting a ‘food revolution’ here, beginning with his anti-obesity project  in Huntington WV with accompanying TV show that debuts tonight. The sad thing is that  it’s a lot easier for busy people who don’t really know how to cook to buy processed junk than to make something from scratch. Maybe it’s time to put home-ec back onto school schedules.

I’ve been coming across a lot of info about canned sardines lately. There’s even a sardine society. I love love love all fishy oily fish. I have fond memories of my first taste of grilled fresh sardines in Portugal, where the aroma takes over the streets. Canned sardines are a good source of Omega-3, plus you can keep them handy in the pantry. I like them on crackers with cream cheese (with a dash of hot sauce or sriracha), and I’ve added them to pasta, but neither of those are ‘wow’ experiences. When Alton Brown lost 50 pounds, sardicado sandwiches (sardines and avocado) were one of his regular good eats. There’s definitely some wow potential there. And more wow in this Spanish potato recipe, Viudo (Widowed Potatoes). Better go check my sardine inventory.

I’ve been learning more about my Lithuanian heritage lately, including the fact that one of my heroes, Michael Jackson was partly Lithuanian. No, I’m not talking about that Michael Jackson, definitely not a hero, sorry. I’m talking about Michael Jackson the English beer writer, the one you haven’t heard of. I have Tom Cizauskas to thank for this bit of info about his Lithuanian heritage — Tom is one of my go-to sources about all things Lithuanian and craft beer. In a post (to be published tomorrow – I got a sneak peek in my Reader) he pays homage to Michael Jackson — tomorrow would have been his 68th birthday. I’ve written about Michael Jackson before on my other blog. He’s my hero because he was the one who really kindled my passion for craft beer. His books were my guides for travels and tastings. Sveiks!

Fabulous Finds for March 24, 2010

My maternal grandmother was Lithuanian and she was definitely the family matriarch. We spent many weekends and most holidays with her, grandpa (the Irish one) and lots of aunts, uncles and cousins. Grandma was always trying to fatten us up and lived in a neighborhood full of bakeries (Lithuanian, Portuguese and Italian) in east Cambridge (MA). I miss going to the Lithuanian festival in Baltimore (and later in Catonsville MD) with my brother, seeing faces that looked like our family, and the food, viryta (honey kick-ass liqueur) and good Lithuanian beer. This video, by Michael Gebert about the closing of the oldest Lithuanian restaurant, celebrates the end of an era in Chicago and got me thinking about my one-quarter (the strongest quarter) Lithuanian heritage.

I’ve just discovered (thanks to this old Baltimore City Paper article) that viryta (aka Lithuanian Nectar of the Gods) is not Lithuanian at all but Lithuanian-American. My friends in Arlington VA know all about viryta since I would always buy a bottle or two at the Lithuanian festival from the Baltimore Lithuanian Athletic Club. As one of my friends said, “it’s quite warming.”

In my hunt for a viryta recipe, I got distracted by kugelis recipes. Kugelis is a Lithuanian dish made from potatoes, bacon, onions and eggs, yes, it’s a bit heavy. I found an old blog post by Bob Skilnik titled “Kugelis – Break Out a Baltic Porter and Eat Like a Lithuanian.” I had to click. It’s been a long time since I’ve made kugelis and I think I’ll start with his mother-in-law’s recipe.

Speaking of potatoes, snack food alert: Lay’s Tangy Carolina BBQ potato chips, as if I needed any help with my bbq/fat/salt jonesing. I’m imagining what type of dip would go best with them. Something with horseradish.

On my recent trip to Chicago, I was given a 22 oz bottle of Flossmoor Station Pullman Brown Ale by a friend who knows of my love for good beer. I had heard about Flossmoor Station but had never had their beer. This one was delicious — a very dark substantial brew, lip-smacking and roasty with hints of molasses (it’s one of the ingredients) and coffee, and a silky feel from oats. It reminded me more of a porter than a brown ale. It’s worth seeking out if you’re in the area. Now, I’m thinking about Baltic porters. Might be time to go hunting for one!

Fabulous Finds for March 19, 2010

Today it’s all about sexting, gingerbread, Tarantino clapper, abbatoir and beer.

Everyone in a relationship should read this one about sexting, yes, sexting. Don’t be a prude, let your honey know that you’re thinking about him (or her), you don’t need to get explicit. I first met Natasha Crawford at Ignite Raleigh. She was a fabulous presenter with lots of insight about improving relationships, well, she is a licensed therapist after all. I sexted my guy that night!

If you have any Guinness (or any stout or porter) left over from your festivities Wednesday night, you can put it to excellent use in this recipe for Gingerbread from Claudia Fleming. I haven’t been able to tear myself away from this recipe to make any other, it’s moist and incredibly delicious. Let me know if you try it.

Because I love Tarantino, this movie (Inglorious Basterds) and now this clapper lady, here’s a video showing her work. And god, what an alluring accent. I would like to come back in my next life as an indy film star who talks like that.

I love eating local but don’t do it as much as I used to in California and Virginia. That’s mostly due to me watching my wallet — launching a new business will do that to you — and not developing new shopping habits here. As I’m settling into the Raleigh area, I’m starting to get antsy about where I shop, and so I’m looking forward to farmers markets opening closer to me this spring. I like seeing stories like this one in the Washington Post about Joe Cloud (a true meat hero!) and his abbatoir (aka slaughterhouse) True & Essential Meats. It explains all the different ways that eating local meat is the best way to go for everyone, except maybe those feed lots and processors out west.

If ever you find yourself in downtown Chicago, check out Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap. They have an awesome beer list and friendly staff who know their beer and, if you’re sitting at the bar, might give you samplers too. In two visits last week, I tried a bunch of local brews — Metropolitan Krankshaft (kolsch), Goose Island Matilda (heavenly Belgian style pale ale, love this style!) and Green Line (pale ale), Two Brothers Monarch Wit and Half Acre Daisy Cutter (pale ale). Plus I had a Port Brewing Midnight Sessions (schwarzbier) from California that was out of this world, no surprise.

Fabulous Finds for March 17, 2010

Here are some items that tickled my fancy today.

Julia fans, another book! Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announced that it will publish in December “As Always, Julia,” more than 200 letters written from 1952 to 1966 between Julia Child and her agent Avis DeVoto.

A few weekends ago I was lucky enough to spend the day at TEDxRTP – a one-day version of the TED conference organized by some local angels. It was incredibly stimulating. There are more than 400 TEDx events now scheduled across the world for 2010. I highly recommend that you find one near you.

This guy is just ridiculous and I can’t stop watching him. Stevie Riks does impressions of British rock stars.

Many years ago at the Minibar in Washington DC, a really cool dining experience from Jose Andres, my cocktail before dinner was a Margarita that I sprayed into my mouth like Binaca. Now I can get an inhalable espresso. How handy!

And a Twitter follow for you – what do you get when you combine Anthony Bourdain’s snarky attitude with Ruth Reichl’s poetic tweets? It’s Ruth Bourdain.

That’s all for now!

Saturday Night Football Chili

There was one consolation on Saturday night when the Eagles lost their playoff bid – the chili I made during the Jets-Bengals game.

I grew up in Massachusetts, so I’m a Patriots fan, although I don’t like Tom Brady. I also have an affection for the Redskins based on living in the DC area for 25 years, and a slight allegiance to the Raiders since I lived in California for a while and one of my favorite pizza pubs is in my brother’s old neighborhood in Oakland. Nowadays I’m also cheering for the Panthers since I’m here in North Carolina. But my boyfriend grew up in southern New Jersey and is the loudest and most enthusiastic football fan in my life so I’ve become an Eagles fan by default. I have a lot of loyalties.

We’ve had chili many times this season but this version is by far the best. I made some changes to the recipe.

  • Didn’t have the cumin and coriander seeds in his kitchen (my kitchen is a different story), so skipped that step and added cumin powder instead along with chili powder;
  • Added a few cloves of garlic to the onion/pepper mix;
  • Used one green bell pepper instead of two red;
  • Doubled the chipotle pepper;
  • Used Sierra Nevada Porter since I had it on hand as my dark beer;
  • And topped my bowl with pickled jalapeno in addition to the garnishes listed.

During the game there were many refill trips back to the pot and unanimous consent that the chili was awesome. I think I found a winner.


Recipe – Serious Eats