Monday, August 15, 2011

Back at Home

The end of college has brought me back home to Virginia and much closer to some of my favorite eateries and shops.  The constant growth of this area coupled with its great diversity offers a perfect playground for the palate.  In the few short weeks I've been back East, I've eaten more seafood than I had all four years in the Midwest, plus German, Italian, Greek, and much more.  Yum.  There are so many old favorites I've yet to re-visit, and lots of new spots I can not wait to try.  Get ready for some tasty tips and treats from my old stompin' grounds coming up very soon.

On another note, having a more lax schedule (I spent my first full week here at the pool doing NOTHING) has allowed me time to get caught up on my nutrition and health reading and news.  I'm excited to blog about the MyPlate reactions, progress of the FLOTUS Let's Move initiative, and the new restaurant chain health info requirements. Anything you're interested in learning more about?  Leave a comment and I'll dig through the research; I'd love to discuss.

It's been a few months, but I'm deadset on getting this blog going.  No excuses!  I've got some exciting trips and adventures coming up this year and can't wait to do some major foodie gushing. 

How delicious does this look??  What a delicious morning treat!
Need to start drinking this daily.  (Re-pinned from Curvy Girls Guide)
c/o my new fave, pinterest

Happy Monday!  May your food and you be fresh and fabulous.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Almost there

A sunny afternoon stroll in the snow

So I know I just started this blog, and I know I have already been bad about posting.  But I will get into a more regular routine soon.  In fact, I will get into a better routine after February 15th... my deadline for dietetic internship applications. 
Please bear with me!
Oatmeal Brownie Cookies
If you have spoken to me in the last six months, you know I've been all-consumed with getting reference letters, writing personal statements, and tweaking my resume.  Next week it is all coming to an end, and I am beyond ready for the ensuing relief.  Since I haven't had time to write or even form a complete thought outside of apps, I thought I'd leave a few photos from the past week.  OSU had four snow days during which I baked, cooked, and shared meals with friends and neighbors.  Enjoy!
Fresh farmers market vegetables

Seasoned and roasted...mmm...


Mom and Grandma's Spritz Cookies - These are actually a (perfect) Christmas cookie recipe my mom has made every year starting the day after Thanksgiving since before I was born.  I had a craving, so I re-created them as Valentines.  I felt a little guilty as I cracked the egg into the mixing bowl, because this cookie dough is something so special reserved only for Christmas.

 But when the whole batch was gone two days later (with the help of a few friends), I knew I did the right thing. ;-)
Until next week, ciao!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Whole Lot of Whole Wheat

It is tougher than I thought it would be to find a good, simple bread recipe online.  Maybe I'm just picky, but I had a tough time coming up with the right one.  So, Saturday I ended up comparing a few and creating my own hybrid whole wheat seeded bread recipe. 

Unfortunately, I had a few other plans throughout the day, so my bread-making was a bit distracted (very bad baking conditions).  And for those of you who have not made bread before, I learned that it takes much patience and a touch of technique.  It doesn't bode too well for your starchy results if you get interrupted a couple of times while adding ingredients (like I did)...  I accidentally omitted a sweetening agent from this recipe, which is an important element that the yeast consumes.  It helps the dough rise. 
By the end of the afternoon I had two lovely loaves.  I baked them with seeds in the dough as well as pressed on top.  When compared to plain wheat bread, these added a lot to the texture and flavor.  However, this first attempt was a learning experience, which didn't turn out perfectly.  The product was dense and firm, which is not my goal.  For my first try, though, I am pleased.  The bread tasted great, I know more about bread-making than I did before, and I know how to correct my mistakes for next time.

In the mean time, I took a short cut....
A wonderful friend lent me her breadmaker, complete with a recipe and how-to-use booklet.  I used a recipe for 100% whole wheat bread and followed the manual precisely.  Three and a half hours later, Voila!  While I plan to continue my pursuit of authentic and traditional bread-baking skills and recipes, the magical bread-making machine provides a reliable product; it also kept my confidence up that I, indeed, can make good bread.  The machine is foolproof.
 I was truly in awe of the machine during my fledgling experience.  I kept running back and forth through the kitchen to see the progress of ingredients to dough to bread.  And, unless my friends are just kind liars, the final product was confirmed to be delicious.

I'll be checking out the  local library and bookstores for bread cookbooks and recipes.  Many varieties of bread are yet to be baked, and I am excited to further experiment.  If you have any tips or comments, please send them along!   

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bread and Butter

Today I am looking for the best bread recipe I can find.  As an aspiring baker (in my dreams) I think it's a good idea to start with something as basic as bread.  Once I can master a good, hearty, healthy loaf of bread, I can go anywhere.  It's so simple, but at the same time so complex.  How do those European bakeries get it so perfect?  And why is that so hard to find in the U.S.?  At least, in Stillwater, Oklahoma I have yet to find a quality bakery.  I firmly believe that every town should have a local bakery to supply the people with their daily bread. 
But back to the bread.  I want to make a simple, everyday bread.  Probably wheat, maybe with oats or seeds. 
Anyone know of a simple, delicious, from-scratch bread recipe?

After doing a little research a while back, I did find a couple of bakeries in Oklahoma City and Tulsa that offer some fresh and delectable baguettes and croissants, as well as some sweet treats and pastries.

Stonehorse Market, Utica Square, Tulsa
The Stonehorse Market and Cafe are a side-by-side, charming and quaint, yet sophisticated shop and restaurant.  They sell many wonderful ingredients foreign to the typical grocery store, like lentils, dried shiitake mushrooms, fresh mozarella, a great salad bar, and, of course, beautiful breads.  I've stopped by this market on several trips to Tulsa to bring home a big brown bag of indulgence.  The baguettes, challah, croissant, and raisin walnut loaf are wonderful.

I have to rave a bit here.  A few months back, just as the Christmas decorations and carols began adorning the calm buzz of Utica Square, I celebrated the end of a one-month, intensive weekend class with lunch at Stonehorse Cafe.  I ate the deliciously fresh and flaky rolls, a divine cup of crab bisque, a fresh tossed salad, and a glass of wine on the outdoor patio, watching the shoppers pass by and basking in the sunshine of an unseasonably warm afternoon -- and all for under fifteen dollars!  It was magnificent, the perfect reward for my hard work.

Ingrid's Kitchen, Oklahoma City
I have not actually made the trek to Ingrid's yet, but I am planning to treat myself to a trip there in the near future.  It appears to be full of German tradition and grandmothers' recipes. 
I want to meet Ingrid and listen to her stories of the Old Country.  I know, I get carried away...
The website is certainly tempting.  Who wouldn't want to indulge in an authentic German roll or sweetbread?

Ingrid's was featured on Food Network's "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," so you know it's good! 

Persimmon Hill Farm, Stillwater
As I spend the majority of my time in Stillwater, I've tried many of the local bakers' fare.  Persimmon Hill sells their bread, jams, and other treats at the Stillwater Farmer's Market every week year round. (I will include more about the Stillwater Farmer's Market in many posts to come.)  They grow many of their own ingredients, such as the produce that they sell whole and that goes into their zucchinni bread, pumpkin bread, jellies, and many other divine creations.

If you find yourself craving bread in the culinary mecca that is Oklahoma (I joke), I highly recommend you try one or all of these fabulous gems.

Until then, I'll let you know how my homemade bread quest ensues...
To offer suggestions, comments, tips, or critiques, send an e-mail to

Digging in

For as long as I can remember, my sisters referred to me oh-so-affectionately as "Jane the pain that's insane with no brain."  I think, by now, I've grown into a brainier, more sane person; though, I'm sure they'll debate that.  
My days center around nutrition classes, a hospital, dog-walking adventures with my faithful friend of 9 years (Roxy), cooking -- especially baking, and Skype calls with my overseas sisters.  

 Through this blog I hope to share my ideas and fun findings revolving (quite broadly) around food and nutrition from the U.S. and abroad.  It is an assortment of facts, tips, news, treats, and some occasional ramblings regarding health, food, policy, and life.
One of my favorite hobbies is food shopping.  From gourmet to outdoor, bargain supercenter to side-of-the-road farm stand, I could wander the aisles (or sidewalks) all day.  I love to see how people everywhere seek out their sustenance; what and how do people everywhere eat?  It seems simple and, perhaps, silly, but food is a way of life.  Through the eyes of a nutritionist I see the effects food has on life, well-being, and our ability to thrive. 

I've visited all sorts of supermarkets, restaurants, cafes, and markets from up and down the East Coast, WalMarts and farmers' markets of Oklahoma, the Food Temple of Hannover, Germany, cafes in Berlin, Rome, and Naples, and elementary school cafeterias of Slovakia.  I have been blessed with opportunities and friendships which have taught me the high value all people possess.  By being healthy people, we can live full and productive lives.  We can be active and do things, rather than sit back and waste our precious little time away.

My final months of college are passing quickly and the fear of my unknown future is setting in.  I'm quite confident that whatever is next for me will be the right thing. So, for now, I'm exploring all the exciting options that lay before me.  Will my next phase be an internship in dietetics?  Or will I visit my sister and Kiwi in-laws in New Zealand?  Shall I pursue my passions for food, language, and travel and apprentice an artisinal baker in Paris?  Or will I take a more practical path and move back in with my parents to save money (surprise, Mom and Dad!) ?  What about following my track to land an editing position at a nutrition publication? 
Oh so many options!  If you know of anyone hiring, you know where to find me...  ;-)