Summer Pickling

So I’m experimenting with a new food art: pickling. Right now I’m trying out fridge pickles, that don’t require a pressure cooker, but if I get this down who knows?

I thought it would be a skill to learn before our summer garden produces more than we can handle at one time. More on our garden progress to come.

IMG_6124

I started with a batch of pickled red cabbage also know as red cabbage slaw. I’ve made this several times since February’s Super Bowl. For more on this see:

https://agreenesadventures.org/2016/02/19/superbowl-buffalo-chicken-salad/

But this time I decided to use mason jars instead of a bowl. It saves space in the fridge and because of the glass we can easily see when it is ready to eat.

Then I had some leftover carrots from when my mother-in-law was here visiting a few weeks ago. Since we are growing carrots right now in the garden I thought: why not try pickling a few.

IMG_6641

I ended up trying two different recipes. One a asian spicy carrot.These carrots were julienne placed in the jars then covered in a pickling brine of: rice wine vinegar, sugar, salt, sesame oil, fresh ginger, red pepper flakes, garlic and a little star anise. For the original recipe for this see: foodiewithfamily.com : spicy asian pickled carrots.

After taste-testing our progress this past week, these carrots seemed a little heavy on the  anise so we cut back and added more ginger and garlic.

IMG_6642

The second recipe was a Mexican carrot mix. It is based on the pickled vegetables you would see in a taco place in central Mexico. For these pickles I used baby carrots cut longways, although next time I might do them as medallions, and combined the carrots with jalepenos, and red onion. Now I took most of the seed out of the peppers so you would get the flavor or the pepper with out too much kick. For the brine: apple cider vinegar, cumin seed, salt, garlic, bay leaf, and oregano. If I have enough cilantro from my garden I think I may add that to the mixture at some point as well. For the original recipe for this see:mexican pickled carrots

After taste-testing these carrots I’d say they are well on their way to being very yummy.

So the next question is: other than snacking: how to use these pickles to add to our meals? Well more on that to come.

 

Day two: Greenwich Village, Chelsea Market, and the High-line

The next day, we decided on a later start and took the subway over to Greenwich Village. It was a sunny cool spring day with a little wind, unlike the rainy day before. We walked over to Washington Square Park to see the Washington Arch the park view was amazing. We sat there for awhile just taking it in and people watching.

IMG_6268

Then we walked through Greenwich village, a neighborhood full of small artisanal stores, markets, restaurants, churches, gardens, and parks.

IMG_6267

After an enjoyable mid-morning walk we found our way to Chelsea Market. As an avid food network and travel channel watcher, this was a major destination. Even though it was a Tuesday afternoon, the place was packed with locals getting lunch.

IMG_6273

We first walked to Lucy’s Whey a small artisans cheese shop where we ended up buying two blue cheese, wedges including one made of goat milk, and one creamy goat milk wedge with black truffles in it.

IMG_6272

After exploring, we ended up getting in the very long line for Los Tacos No 1. The place everyone says to go for tacos. I got one pork carnitas and one carne asada taco both with everything on them and shared an Horchata with Luke. With minimal seating, many people were sitting on steps or leaning against a wall to eat. We were luck to find a small standing table at one corner of the market to enjoyed our street tacos.

IMG_6278

I know everyone swears they are the best, for me they were the best I’ve had in New York state, but I would say the were on par with most of what I’ve had in SoCal.

IMG_6286

To finish are afternoon snack-age we then walked a few blocks over to Artichoke’s Pizza where you can get a slice for 7 bucks. Although that may seem steep, these pieces of pizza were big enough to share, we order one slice of their classic artichoke alfredo and spinach pizza, they heated it up for us and sliced it in two; it was wonderful.

IMG_6279

We took our second lunch  up a set a stairs and onto the the High-line. The High-line was once a old rail line that has been changed into an outdoor walking park that covers most of Greenwich Village paralleling the water.

IMG_6284

 

In-spite of the crowd, we still found a semi- quiet spot to rest and eat. Then to work off our double lunch, we walked a good portion of the Highline, which provides a great view of the city.  It was a clear day and we could see blocks away: the cherry trees just beginning to blossom against the brick apartments and iron fire-scapes of the neighborhood.

 

It was a beautiful afternoon.

Rochester Lilac Festival

It is finally and truly spring here. Once spring comes so do the festival, one or two every weekend.

This past weekend Luke and I celebrated another semester of teaching over by going to the Rochester Lilac Festival.

IMG_4704

This is the largest Rochester city festival lasting two full weeks and weekends. It takes place at Highland Park with food tents, many concerts from various local bands, a home and garden show, children’s shows and more. During the week they also have a Lilac run, wine and chocolate and craft beer tasting events.

IMG_4699IMG_4697

Fortunately Luke and I had heard that MCC provides parking for 2$ and a round trip shuttle back and forth to the festival. We were happy to not have to struggle to find a parking spot or fight the crowd.

IMG_4717IMG_4716

Once we were dropped off at the festival sight we briefly walked around the most crowded area where the food vendors and concerts were. Crossing the street into the larger park area we enjoyed strolling through the lilac trees which are in full bloom with purple and pink flowers and a strong fragrance.

IMG_4706IMG_4709

We passed many acoustic musicians in the park and families taking pictures or resting under the trees and shade. We came down the hill from the lilac bushes to the annual pansy bed and found several food trucks.

IMG_4710IMG_4711

We decided to try a dish from Brick N Motor, a local seasonal menu food truck. We shared a small plate of bim bap: rice, korean beef,  and kimchi topped with carrots, thai basil, sesame seeds and a poached egg. It was delicious.

IMG_4714IMG_4713

After our rest we continued back up the hill toward the reservoir through the azaleas. Past the reservoir at the top of the park hill art vendors were selling their pottery, wood vases, lilac oils and candles, clothes, photography etc. alongside with a few other food vendors.

IMG_4722IMG_4723

Passing the conservatory we decided to make our way back down the hill and finish off our tour of the festival looking at larger food tents and vendors while listening to a little music.

IMG_4720IMG_4726

It was a warm day and crowded but it was a fun festival, with free entertainment and great food.

To find out more about the festival click: Lilac Festival

Variations on Teriyaki Chicken

I have always loved teriyaki chicken. It was one of my favorite meals growing up served with broccoli and brown rice and a little pineapple in the summer time. But I fell in love with it even more when moving to Seattle; where everyone has their favorite teriyaki place, which they claim has the best rice, sides, or sauce.

As I have mentioned before I have learned  to adapt some of my favorites from the West coast into my home cooking challenges here on the East coast. Teriyaki chicken is no acceptation to this.

(See https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2013/05/31/bbq-teriyaki-bowl/).

IMG_2824

I am lucky to have gotten a basic marinade from a good friend and past tutoree from Japan. I won’t give out specific portions (because it’s mostly up to personal preference) but I use mayo, honey, soy sauce (and a little ginger) mixed together.

Here are some recent summer variations off of one of my favorite meals:

IMG_2831

1. Teriyaki chicken burgers

I took two boneless, skinless chicken breasts and cut both into patty shapes. Then I took the time to pound down the meat with a tenderizer to make sure that they are as even as possible for grilling. If the “patties” are too thick the outside could crisp up before the meat inside is cooked. Then I placed them in a gallon size bag with the marinade. I placed the sealed bag in a bowl in the fridge until grill-day (the longer it marinades the better it tastes).

IMG_2828

The day- of I defrosted our hamburger buns gluten free for me and regular for Luke. When the chicken and corn on the cob goes to the grill I cut up the pineapple and prep the table. We chose to eat them simple: with fresh pineapple chunks , chicken, and provolone cheese. But you can add typical hamburger fixings such as lettuce, tomatoes, onions and/or more teriyaki sauce.

It was wonderful!!

IMG_2863

2. Teriyaki chicken kebabs

I took the cut off pieces from the burgers and combined them with two more boneless, skinless, chicken breasts cut into kebab size pieces. Then stuck the chunks in a gallon size bag and added the marinade then placed the sealed bag in a bowl in the fridge.

IMG_2854IMG_2856

The Kebab assembly is very similar to how I made my steak/beef kebabs for memorial day weekend. (See https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2014/05/30/memorial-day-steak-kebabs/) To review; I cover baking sheets with tin foil take the chicken meat out of the fridge and cut up fresh pineapple, green peppers, and onions. Then combined them on the kebab skewers and they were off to the grill!

These kebabs are great on their own but are also good with BBQ’ed corn on the cob, a light salad, or some fresh fruit.

Do you have a favorite marinade? A favorite grilled meal?

Why I am Tree-nut Free: Part 2

So I left off Why I am tree-nut free: Part 1  with saying that my experiences with my tree-nut allergy are different as an adult then as child.  As I have traveled to other countries and discovered more foods and languages, I have come across new and different challenges.

images-4

During college I had the privilege of traveling out of the country several times. On my first trip out of the states (beyond a brief bit in Canada) I didn’t have too many problems with my allergies.  But my choir trip to Italy on the other hand was a whole different story. If you  know anything about Italian dessert and baked goods then you’ll know they enjoy their pistachios, hazelnuts, and walnuts.

Italy choir tour 08 267

lemon gelato on the Island of Capri

images

My first encounter was a gelato stand in Venice in which they did not use separate scoopers for each flavor. I got pistachio and hazelnut oil in my nut-free gleato. From then on if we wanted a frozen treat I was cautious to only go to vendors with separate scoopers for each flavor. Since tree-nuts are such a large portion of desserts there is no one easily translated generic name for them as in English. Each tree-but has a different unqiue name.  Although English was widely spoken in Italy some places we visited I was not able to clearly ask about the more traditional baked goods many of which were coated, rolled, covered, or filled with tree-nuts. One night after celebrating with a local Italian choir  I found what I thought was a safe chocolate wafer cookie. It didn’t take long for me to realize it was nutella rather than chocolate. My mouth broke out into welts/sores. Of course I had benadryl with me but it was still not a fun experience.

Unknown-1

baked goods from Lucca Italy

Unknown

Like Italy, on my semester-abroad I discovered tree-nuts were common in many foods in the Middle East. In fact we went often to a store-front around the corner from our flat in Cairo to get candied, salted, or chocolate covered nuts ( of course I got peanuts). But these types of store-fronts are found all over the Middle East alongside bulk spices and candies in bazaars or souks.

172Unknown-2

When we visited Syria we went to what is supposedly the oldest ice cream stand in old Damascus. Here you order ice cream then it is carried down an assembly line being las of all dipped in fresh chopped nuts. I wanted the ice cream but was unsure how to communicate I didn’t want the tree-nuts. I knew some arabic but was limited. I knew that generally “mish” was meant “without” so I tried to communicated “mish” while shaking my hands and head. The man laughed but some how got my gestures and I got nut-free ice cream.  At the same time I also laughed because I remembered that “mish-mish” actually means “apricot”. I am glad he was able to determine by context I wasn’t asking for apricots.

26932_1304714657948_1232940436_30952911_3694630_nimages-2 damascus14

For some people allergies go away with adulthood or start up like my allergy to Barley (for more see Why I am barley-free Part One ).  What I have found with my tree-nut allergy is that I can now detect how my body reacts differently to each type of tree-nut. In a very limited amount (such as heath bar/toffee, or oil) I can ingest almond or coconut with little to no reaction. But hazelnuts, as I mentioned earlier, will give me welts on the inside of my mount. Walnuts will make my stomach cramp and if I eat too many can give me hives. Whereas cashews are the one tree-nut my body is unwilling to digest-once it hits my stomach it forces itself right up again.

images-3

I found this out the hard way several times. Most recently was at an Indian restaurant when visiting Corning NY a year ago. We were looking for a place to live and decided to eat at a Indian restaurant in town, our meals were good but I took a sample of one of Luke’s dishes only to find out, not long after, it had cashews in it.

Unknown-3Unknown-4

So what does that look like for me now? I am cautious, read labels, ask questions, and I am more than use to refusing delicious looking food. It doesn’t bother me usually as much as it bothers the one who made the food. As we approach the holidays I will probably have to turn down desserts, stuffing or other sides dishes, some salads, and possibly green beans if they are topped with almond slivers. My solution ,when I am not eating with family, is to volunteer to bring a dish I know normally would have tree-nuts in so I get to eat it.

Do you have any allergies, food restrictions, or strong food preferences?

How do you get around not eating what you can’t/don’t want to during the holidays?

How do you handle your allergies or food restrictions when traveling especially out of the country?

Why I am tree-nut free: Part 1

Last spring I wrote several blog-posts providing the details of the discovery that I was allergic to barley and how this allergy changed my diet. (for more see Why I am barley-free: part 1Why I am barley-free: Part 2). If you have explored my blog enough you would know that I am also allergic to tree-nuts though I have never really shared how I discovered I was allergic to tree-nuts or how this allergy affect my life. Well here I go:

Unknown

Unlike my barley allergy which mainly affects my skin (though it may tear up my intestines a little too) my tree-nut allergy is much more deadly and I have had it my whole life. When I was two years old I was at the San Diego zoo with my whole family: cousins and all. Sometime during our visit I was given half a macadamia nut to try. Still new to harder foods, my family was attentive to see how I would handle it. When they noticed I did not seem to be breathing well they thought I had choked on it. But  fortunately my firefighter uncle recognized the signs: my throat was closing up due to an allergic reaction. We rushed to the hospital. My mom not knowing how bad I was tried to sign us in to wait, but once the medical staff saw my face they rushed us in. With my anxious family unsure what to do, I was taken in and given shots of benadryl. The swelling went down and I recovered.

Unknown-2Unknown-1

After that my parents were cautious of foods with tree-nuts; keeping any far from my reach and being careful when baking with them in the house. Many times there were baked goods made in two versions nut-free and with nuts. By the time I was in elementary school I knew what to watch for: homemade desserts, certain candy bars and the like. I learned quickly to always ask, to read labels, and not assume something was tree-nut free.

images

I always carried benadryl on me, just in case something happened, there were few instances at school were a treat for the class or special event meant unfamiliar dishes with unknown ingredients that I thought were safe. But after a bite I could tell my mouth would start itching,  then my chest would get tight, my eyes well with tears, my nose would run and then I would get what almost looked like scratch marks around my face. Now this did not happen everytime. It really all had to do with how much I ingested before realizing the harm. For the most part I would only get a itchy mouth, take some benadryl and I’d be set.

Unknown-3Unknown-4

Now before I go any further let me make this clear, I am not so allergic to tree-nuts that if I touch one and get the oil on me I go into shock, in order to go into any form of shock I would have to ingest a large amount (and I mean a huge amount) of nuts and not know it. I also am not allergic to peanuts which are technically a legume or peanut butter. That is a different allergy all together. I love my pay days, apples and peanut butter, and the occasional reeses or reeses pieces. So no issues there.

Unknown-6Unknown-5

I as I already stated, had learned to expect tree-nuts in desserts mainly but as I got older I learned they can be found in unusual dishes as well. At a holiday meal, again with the whole family, I decided to try a family member’s chili, after a few bites and recognizing the familiar crunch, I mentioned I thought there were nuts in the dish. This was not stated on the menu. My family was skeptic but when we asked the waiter sure enough there were cashews. A little benadryl and again I was fine.

images-2Unknown-7

In high school for a friends birthday party we went to a restaurant that sells huge warm cookies in small pizza dishes. I ate half of one that was oatmeal raisin. It tasted great, until the very end, when my stomach started to cramp up. I asked to look at the menu: the whole thing had macadamia nuts in it.  How would I know that? The crunchy texture I took to be only crispy oats. I was taken home quickly and fed plenty of benaryl. My parents had me stay awake in front of the TV and monitored my breathing etc. I broke out into hives, and could barely breath between the tight throat and running nose. My eyes were swollen and watering. I had a hard time, unlike other instances staying calm. But like previous experiences  the medicine did it’s magic and I was fine.

Unknown-8images-3

These are some of my early life experiences with my tree-nut allergy. In all of these encounters I have never discovered what any of the individual nuts taste like. Name it: pecan, walnut, cashew, pistachio, hazelnut, macadamia, almond, I do  not know what any of them taste like -to me no matter how delicious you say a dish is if it has nuts in them all I taste in a itchy tongue.

images-4

So that is the start to my story of why I am tree-nut free my experiences with my tree-nut allergy are different as an adult as I have traveled to other countries and discovered more foods and languages. But more on that to come.

A Taste of Home

During the past almost year of living New York,  there have been several missed elements from my home state of California (for some see I miss my old life). One of the items in short supply (or quality) is Mexican food. I was spoiled in SoCal.  Mexican restaurants are more plentiful than Mcdonalds’. Each restaurant or fast food joint had their best specialties and all were authentically delicious. Mexican has always been my comfort food so it was hard to leave behind the tamales, enchiladas, chile rellenos, and good guacamole rice, and beans.

IMG_0036

Luke enjoying west coast Mexican food on our May vacation to Oregon

IMG_0037

Luke and I have kept an open mind and while trying the few Mexican restaurants here. We’ve been to chains and hole in the wall places  we have been everywhere from Rochester, to Ithaca, to Buffalo, to Oswego and everywhere in-between. Each time we were disappointed. The meat was not marinated and bland. Tomato sauces tasted more like Italian pasta sauce. And the beans and rice? Rice had not kick and the beans no flavor. We kept hoping for one half decent place to get that taste of home.

149907_1527262375642_905564_n

enjoying some famous Olvera st. taquitos in LA

IMG_0581

On our way back from our anniversary trip (see Niagara Falls Anniversary ) we stopped for a late lunch and gas in Batavia. Here we decided to brave once again a little mexican restaurant called Ranchero Viejo. We ordered our typical taste-tester foods and were surprised, it wasn’t half bad. The rice had flavor, the beans had a little too, the salsa had kick, but the meat was still a little bland. Overall we were grateful even if it wasn’t on par with what we are accustomed to.

images

When we first moved to Corning there was a small mexican restaurant called Toto’s on Market Street. It was never open  and before winter was over it had closed completely. The store front sat empty for months. On a drive last week through downtown we were shocked to see a new mexican restaurant had moved in and opened! Fiesta Brava! We were skeptic but willing once again to try.

Unknown

Where my family is used to getting Mexican food in SoCal

Unknown-1

On Sunday we met some of our friends at Fiesta Brava for lunch after church. I was nervous the food would be bland. But as we waited for our friends to arrive we started with the salsa-best we’d had in the state. Then we looked at the menu: it was the same menu listing as the restaurant in Batavia! We soon realized that they must be connected. This gave us a little hope.

Unknown-2

the-hole-in-the-wall mexican place across the street from Luke’s old apartment in SoCal

Unknown-3

When it came time to order I chose a risker lunch combo of chili relleno, taco, beans, rice and guacamole. Luke ordered the same fajita burrito he had eaten in Batavia but ordered chicken instead of beef. When talking to the waiter he asked if the chicken was marinated in the same seasoning as their carne asada like he had had in Batavia. The waiter-in a very proud confident voice stated very clearly their food was  better than Batavia. And he was right. It was the best Mexican food we have had on the East Coast so far.

images-1

not my actual plate of food but close enough

My Chile Relleno was delicious lightly battered in egg, the pepper had a kick to it and the beans tasted like actual mexican refried beans. I never thoughts I’d judge mexican food based on such a simple dish. The rice had the spicy tangy flavor I’m used to and the taco dripped with juicy ground beef. I was beyond happy. Then Luke offered me a taste of his fajita chicken-the marinade they used was excellent far from the boiled shredded flavorless protein we’d had so far.

I am grateful for this little new Mexican place full of flavor and life.  It is a small blessing to once again get a taste of home thousands of miles from it.