Comfort Food (PA Dutch / Amish Sandwich Spread) and Someone(s) to Love

I haven’t written in a few days.  I’ve been busy, because I’ve become a mommy, you see.

I introduce to you:

Bruce

Bruce is a boob man.

Mr. Bruce Shitty Kitty Springsteen and Dr. Beth Love.  And yes, I really did find her sleeping in my crock pot.

cat in crock pot

I can haz a crock pot?!

My mom was a firm believer that we get what we want when we need it.  Erm, or something like that.  In other words, I was quasi searching for a pet, and they popped into my life.  I’m not really a cat person, but they were abandoned at the farmhouse of my brother’s coworker, and when he sent me pics of them I fell in love with the cuties.

My semi-odd choices of names?  Well, I like music, and Bruce Springsteen is one of my faves (OMG I touched him during “Hungry Heart” last year at a concert.  Holy shit.) The second day I had the kittens I was listening to his version of “Jersey Girl” (from his live album… and just as an fyi, I can’t stand Jersey, as in the state.).  And anyway, Bruce’s ears perked up, and he had this really content look on his face as he snuggled into my arm. Then another song popped on, and he started going nuts and kept sniffing at my ipod.

Dr. Love’s name came similarly.  She was playing with a toy in the living room, and that commercial with Kiss for Dr. Pepper came on.  She stopped playing and stared at the tv.  I mean STARED. I don’t know if Gene Simmons frightened her or what.  My brother also noticed how she was amazed by it.

The next day, I listened to some Kiss, and just like her brother sniffed and got excited during the whole “Born to Run” album, Dr. Love got excited when I listened to “God Gave Rock and Roll To You.”  She kneaded her paws and sniffed the ipod.  That night, the Dr. Pepper commercial came on TV, and I picked her up and stood in front of the TV… and my little wiggle worm again stared at the commercial (which features the song ‘Calling Dr. Love.’  Hence Dr. Beth Love.

Anyway, I think they are what I needed.  It’s been six years since I had a pet, and even though I’m not overly a pet person, it’s nice to have a companion (or in my case, two!).

They are absolutely adorable.  They use the box and eat appropriate food and don’t scratch.  Dr. Love is shy but sleeps in my bed with me and comes to greet me when I walk in the house.  Bruce is a bit more adventurous and sucks on my ear lobe.

I am not sure if it feels better to love them, or better that they love me.

Anyway, on to food.  I’m going to keep this brief because I’m tired.  I had some good eats this week, but I’m going to talk about my fave meal from this week: the Amish ham and cheese salad sammich / PA Dutch sammich spread.

The Rye-Pumpernickel swirl bread is a nice touch, yes?

I honestly have no clue what this stuff is called.  We always referred to it as “the ham and cheese stuff.”  My mom picked it up from a cooking show that was on PBS; it had some woman who did PA Dutch and Amish cooking and stuff.  No, she wasn’t Amish… I almost want to say she was from Ohio (though we know where the real Amish country is!).

I know it sounds grosstastic, but it’s flippin amazing.  Growing up, this shit was my comfort food.  It was an awesome treat for lunch.  At my last job, I made it for myself on my first day of work.

It is:

Ham (I almost feel like the real recipe was a pound of ham and a pound of cheese, but I don’t make that much at a time)
Swiss cheese
Sauerkraut
Mayonnaise
Caraway seeds (optional)
Rye bread

1.  Alright, by ham and cheese, I mean of the lunchmeat variety.  You cut this stuff into strips.  Julienne?  I don’t know the correct term.

2.  Add drained sauerkraut.  Sorry I have no clue how much.  You drain it, though, because if not it gets sloppy.  I’m so German I totally take a few swigs of the juice before draining the rest down the sink. Gross, right?

3.  Add mayo.  Again, sorry I don’t know how much.  I use light mayo.  I prefer it to the normal stuff.  Just till it looks good, I guess.

If this is wrong, I never want to be right. The small slices of the bread didn't have the pumpernickel swirl, by the way. :(

4.  Add caraway seeds.  I guess these are an acquired taste, because I wasn’t a big fan of them growing up but now I’m alright with them.  They pack a wallop of taste, plus add some interesting texture to the mix.  You could just get rye bread with seeds, too.  I’m aware that you can buy Bavarian sauerkraut in the food shop that has seeds in it, but I dunno.  It tastes too sweet to me.

5.  Put this sandwich stuff on some rye or pumpernickel.

6.  Eat.  Say Nom Nom Nom while eating.  It makes it even better!!!

I made this a few days ago, and sooooo good.  It was a super hot day, because we have been going through the  Heatpocalypse (The Snowpocalypse’s evil brother), and I didn’t feel like using a stove or oven or even a grill.

I paired them with some Pepper Relish potato chips.  They were quite tasty!  They had a sweet but sour taste–like pepper relish, actually.  My brother who doesn’t like bell peppers thought they were outta sight as well.  A pickle would have been good, but somehow I don’t have any in my fridge.  Probably because I ate them all. Haha.  Humour.

Alright, I’m outta here.  Super mega tired, and haven’t been sleepin well lately.  I’ve been very unsettled lately, which isn’t a good feeling.

Oh well, until next time… meow.  :)

Dinner and TV… Crab cakes, falafel, and Pete & Pete… FTW.

My brother is far from a picky eater; I am just more experimental in my dining habits than he.  So when I am feeling energized and he’s not around, I make food that he wouldn’t eat.

Friday’s menu was crab cakes, falafel, and baked tomatoes.

The crab cakes (aka crabby patties … No, I don’t have kids, but my nephews lived with me for a long enough period of time in the past that I use terms like crabby patties, porky chops, coufa (couch + sofa),  and poop brain without

Crabby Patties

Call me Spongebob, because I am a crabby patty fry cook. And yes, I whipped out the digi cam :)

any second thought) were pretty good.  They were not frozen, “freshly made” from my friendly neighbourhood grocery store.  Crab meat, mayo, onion, pepper, breadcrumbs… basic seasoning. I fried them up, and bam, they were done. They didn’t taste like they were loaded with fillers, and actually did flake.  I’ve never made homemade crabby patties, because I’m the only one who eats them, but maybe I’ll attempt them when sister-in -law visits next month (plus, I saw an awesome idea for a spicy mayo as a dipping sauce).

Extreme Falafel!! Extreme Closeup!!! You can see the herbs and spices in these puppies.

The falafel.. not bad, not bad at all.  The falafel was found in my grocer’s freezer. I was looking for something starchy, but not the normal potato or pasta deal (though there were

sweet potato pancakes and a sweet potato

souffle that caught my eye).  They were easy–put in oven, bake, voila.  They turned out pretty good… a box was $3.99, which is more than I’d usually pay for a frozen item, but it was kosher ethnic–of course they would charge more for it.  I didn’t make Tzatziki (wow, i just spelled that correctly the first time) or Tahini sauce, but I still have half a box in the freezer, so maybe next time…

So then I felt weird not having a vegetable, so I found some Roma tomatoes,

Tomatoes with Bleu Cheese and Breadcrumbs

I realized I could use zoom and not risk melting my camera.

sliced them in half, and topped them with bleu cheese crumbles and bread crumbs and a drizzle of olive oil, and popped them in the oven  Not so bad for a quickie.  Next time I might try feta and oregano (get your Greek on), but these were decent.  I betcha they would have been ultra rad on the grill, or if I would have properly broiled them instead of just popped them in the hot oven.

A pretty good meal.  I personally like stuff to dip my food in (I like moisture), but the tomatoes helped break up the dryness a bit.

While eating, I popped in a DVD from the first season of The Adventures of Pete & Pete.  It was a tv show in the 90s that aired on Nick, and it’s extremely clever.  There are two brothers (both named Pete–their mom wanted them to have rhyming names) who get in all sorts of goofy situations that stem from normal, real life experiences–fighting bedtimes, New Years resolutions, trying to find the ice cream man, killing the school mascot.  There is a superhero named Artie, The Strongest Man in the World who lives in a porta-potty and likes funk music.  Petes’ mom’s metal plate in her head gets props in the intro credits.  It features some crazy ass guest stars, like Iggy Pop, Michael Stipe (from R.E.M.), one of the ladies from B-52s (Kate Pierson, maybe?), and Steve Buscemi.  But above all, it’s super funny and witty, and a great remembrance of my childhood.  I read a review that it was the “alternative” kids show in the 90s, and it’s so true–most of my friends who love the indie and alt scenes were watching this quality programming growing up.  And it’s funny, because I don’t remember anyone else growing up besides me watching it… and not surprisingly, I didn’t really identify with any of my friends growing up.

It’s been a long weekend.  Friday was kayaking, Saturday was cleaning up litter alongside of the highway, and today was a trip to the dirt mall (I got squash for mega cheap, including a Pattypan!  I’m so excited!).  My bed is calling me.  Peace out, cub scouts.

Bruschetta Burgers (nom nom nom)

Before I talk about my dinner in more detail, here are some very interesting facts about bruschetta:

1.  Bruschetta is supposed to be pronounced with a SK sound, and not a SH sound.  This is as heart breaking as when I found out ramen is not pronounced rayman.

2.  Bruschetta refers to the bread drizzled with olive oil and rubbed with garlic AND the tomato and garlic topping.

3.  Bruschetta is horribly over priced in grocery stores, considering it was originally a ‘peasant’ meal to test olive oil.  (thanks, wikipedia!)

4.  Bruschetta is delicious.

When shopping yesterday, my brother and I purchased some hamburger in hopes of having some tasty burgers on the grill.  We wanted to kick it up a notch from regular cheeseburgers in a regular roll, so I decided on bruschetta burgers.  Turned out flipping awesome, I do say.

We grilled the burgers and sprinkled with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and topped with provolone cheese.  Plopped some garlic bread (garlic toast/Texas toast) in the oven (yes, we could have grilled it, but oh well), with

Bruschetta Burgers. Isn't the basil garnish a cute (and completely unnecessary) touch? Apologies for the camera phone quality!

just a little tad of asiago cheese.  Oh yes, also put some  smiley fries in the oven, haha.  They are the best!

How Ms. Ambiguous Foodie made her bastardized bruschetta:

–Roma (plum) tomatoes.  Chop those puppies up.  I drained my tomatoes a tad because I didn’t want things to get soggy.
–Basil.  Thank goodness for my wonderful basil plant.  I love him.
–Garlic.  I used jarred sliced of garlic and chopped some up.
–Olive oil.  Extra virgin olive oil is the opposite of extra whore olive oil.
–Salt, pepper, and a dash of oregano.
–And here’s what probably makes it non-Italian… I add a tiny dash of balsamic vinegar.  Yes, tomatoes are already acidic, but I personally think it gives it a good flavour.

Mix and devour.

Actually, garlic bread, cheeseburger, bruschetta (the second slice if you want, but I personally thought it was a bit overkill and decided to just eat it as an open-faced burger).  Then devour.

I have no clue why bruschetta is so flipping expensive–both in stores and restaurants.  I once purchased the cheapest jar I could find–I think it was Classico–and it tasted like poop.  Well, not literally like poop, but it tasted like super chunky tomato sauce with tons of parmesan cheese.  Believe me–I’m the first one to proclaim my love for cheese, but I felt like I was eating Spaghetti-Os in a chunky sauce, minus the Spaghetti-Os.

Tomatoes were always a staple in my house growing up, thanks to my black-haired, brown-eyed, non-Italian mama.  Think of your stereotypical Italian person–and that’s what she looked like.  Except our people were from Northern Italy–extremely North–as in Germany.  ;-)  (I clearly remember my parents making their own sauerkraut one year.  Mmmm sauerkraut. Mmmm sometimes I buy homemade sauerkraut from the dirt mall.  Mmm sauerkraut.)

Anyway, back to tomatoes and bruschetta.  I had no clue that a lot of people don’t like tomatoes, because they were such a staple growing up.  It’s a great time for tomatoes because they are starting to go down in price, or plants in the garden are becoming sizable.  The seasonings are things people normally have around the house (well, maybe not fresh basil…).  I think a baguette is fab as the bread part, and that’s a reasonably priced bakery item. I used provolone on the burgers (I betcha smoked provolone would have been awesome), but you can catch mozzarella on sale, or it’s not even necessary.  It’s easy to make… I guess it’s just one of those things where companies know it’s tasty and “authentic” and relatively healthy so they would much rather load it up with preservatives and sell it for much more than it’s worth.

My basil plant is looking quite beautiful, so I think some Caprese sammiches are in my future (toast, tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, and a balsamic mayo… again with the bastardized Italian, but it’s sooo good).  I feel like this could be the year that if I yield enough basil, I might even try for some homemade pesto.

Alrighties, I’m outties.  I’m excited for another lunch of awesome leftovers, plus I’m going out to the lake for my first kayak journey of the summer.  Woo!

Grilled Chicken and Pasta Salad. Nom nom nom.

1.  I have been feeling under the weather lately; I’ll write about that tomorrow (when I’m hopefully feeling better).

2.  There is a commercial on tv for iced tea and iced coffee at Dunkin Donuts.  I know I already said about how much I enjoy coffee, but dang some iced tea sounds pretty fantastic right now.

3.  I was so freaking hungry today when I woke up.

There are a few things to know about me:

a.) I am not a morning person.
b.) I am not a breakfast person.
c.) It takes me a while in the morning to work up an appetite.

When I woke up, my first thought was how hungry I was.  I was hungry for one of those huge breakfasts you get at a diner after a night of drinking, or the breakfasts you get at a chain restaurant when you are on a family road trip.  The bacon, the eggs (over easy), the toast (wheat and butter), hash browns, and about two bites of pancakes (because I think I’m the only person in the world who finds pancakes to be incredibly filling).

But let’s face it–I’m single, jobless, and a little blah feeling.  Am I going to make a huge ass breakfast?  No way.

I found some hot dogs in the fridge.  Boo ya.  I was frying them up, and my phone rang.  It was my brother.

Me:  Hello?
Him:  Hey, do we have any chicken in the freezer?  I am so freaking hungry I can’t help but think about dinner.
Me:  You’re such a fattie.  Yes, I found some.
Him:  What are you up to?
Me:  Making hot dogs, because I’m starving.

That is why we are pretty decent roommates :)

We ended up grilling the chicken breasts (and thus subjecting ourselves to our bizarre neighbours), as well as some zucchini and corn on the cob.  Mmmm.

We added the chicken to a pasta salad we made–pasta, Italian dressing, the packet of dry Italian dressing seasonings (um, what’s it called?  Good

Chicken Pasta Salad

Chicken Pasta Salad and Grilled Zucchini. I really should use my camera instead of taking pics with my phone. Oh wells.

Seasonings? I don’t even know), a cut up tomato, and an olive medley–kalamata, feta-stuffed, bleu cheese stuffed, and garlic stuffed).

Results?  Quite awesome!  We made tons of it, so I’m looking forward to lunch leftovers tomorrow.  When we make our normal pasta salad (like the type you have at a picnic), we add a lot more veggies.  But we decided to go a bit easier today for our entree.

I’ll make this a bit easier–

Ingredient list:

1.  Pasta.  We used what we had laying around the house, which happened to be the trio italiano mix of shells, penne, and rotini.  Salt your water, and don’t over cook your pasta–the pasta will absorb some of the dressing.  Drain and rinse with cool water.

2.  Italian dressing.  I used whatever I had in the fridge–It may have been the store brand, I have no clue.  I personally prefer the low or no fat dressings, because they are less oily.  You could also make your own.  Sometimes we add some creamy Italian dressing for texture.

3.  Packet of dry Italian dressing seasonings.  If sodium is a big deal, I’m sure you can use Mrs. Dash or some other low/no salt flavouring substitute.

4.  Chunked tomato. You could also use cherry or grape tomatoes or whatever you have handy.  You could even use canned tomatoes if you want.  You just might want to drain them before tossing them in.

5.  Olives.  I used olives because they are a comfort food and look pretty, but you could also toss in some bell pepper (bro doesn’t like peppers).

6.  Chicken.  Eh, it’s not necessary, but we wanted some more substance.

Mix.  Done.

My personal fave version of this salad is pasta, Italian dressing, tomatoes, cucumbers, and tuna and served with a crusty Italian bread.  Mmmmm.  I was raised Catholic.  Even though I don’t practice anymore, I still find it difficult to eat meat on Fridays (not just during Lent, either! My mama was raised during the times of Latin mass).  This is one of those perfect easy Friday meals.

We also grilled some zucchini and corn on the cob.  We must have had a crappy spring for growing stuff, because zucchini is still a little pricey here.  We drizzled it with olive oil and some of the dry Italian dressing seasoning packet.  It got a little dark (I guess that’s what happen when you grill in the dark, haha) but it was still tasty–it looks worse in the picture.  We pulled the silk off the corn (but still kept on the green leafy stuff), soaked it a bit, and tossed that on the grill as well.  Your leafy stalky green stuff will get black, charred, and burnt, but that’s OK–my fave part is when some of the kernels get a bit brown as well.  Mmmm it was delish–didn’t need butter or salt or any of that stuff.  For dessert, we had some sort of melon (Casaba, maybe?) that was alright–tasted a little overripe and probably the reason why it was on sale.

A pretty tasty and simple dinner, if you ask me.  I love these kinds of meals in the summer.

Alright, I’m out.  One of my sad, happy highlights is that I got sick of waiting for my basil plant to grow (I got a late start growing my herbs), so I purchased a very beautiful looking basil plant.  I’m also looking for a dill plant, but I couldn’t find one at the dirt mall or a local supermarket that has a pretty decent selection of potted herbs.  I’ve never had any problems finding dill in the past (and in my experience, it’s one of those easy to grow herbs), so I’m not sure what’s going on.

Most interesting thing I learned today:

Bac-Os (like the bacon bits) are apparently vegan.  I’m not vegan, but holy crap. The things you learn!

Eating Cheaply and Feeling Filled from Salad

This is a typical conversation between my brother and I:

Me:  What’s for dinner?
Him:  I dunno.  What do you want?
Me:  I dunno.  What do you want?
Him:  I don’t care.
Me:  Me neither.

[long pause]

Me:  what about ________?
[looks over at brother, who is asleep]

Him:  Zzzzzzzzz.

Fin.

Anyway, sometimes I look for holidays or happenings to get an idea for dinner.  Cinco de Mayo?  Easy–tacos (while celebrating the Mexican victory over the French, thankyouverymuch). Flyers game last week? Cheesesteaks.  Guy Fawkes Day?  Fish and chips.  Cheesy and cliche?  Incredibly, but it helps with the ol “What’s for dinner?” dilemma.

Yesterday held beautiful blue skies and a chill in the air that reminded me of fall.  I could almost smell that distinct autumn scent in the air, which is pretty odd, because it’s June.  I was also craving a mega salad, so I combined the two.

Does anyone else remember growing up and a salad was not a big deal?  For

This is a mega awesome salad I had in Tokyo a few years ago. Sashimi (raw tuna and salmon) and some raw octopus and some ginger with a wicked wasabi soy vinegarette. Note the lack of croutons. Booooooo!

us, a salad meant lettuce, tomato, and cucumber.  Sometimes, if we were good, we got croutons (which I totally pronounce as crow-tins, thanks to the Cosby Show).  I have the feelng that this basic salad was commonplace until one day someone decided to put meat and whatever else they had laying around the house in their salad.  This has grown to the point where now in some salad entrees, there are more calories than its evil, child molesting uncle, the cheeseburger.

I was shopping last night, having a slight idea of what I wanted to put in the salad so it would have those autumn elements.  I was craving an apple, so I decided that would be a good start for my salad.  Walnuts go well with apples, plus the texture of nuts in salads are A+.  Cheese… ahhh, i think some nice bleu cheese would blend well with the apple and provide just the right amount of bitterness.  My brother helpfully added, “What about tomatoes?”  Hmmm not really what I was going for, but sure–the grape tomatoes were buy one get one free.

I strolled over to the produce section.  I was feeling lazy, so hello bagged greens.  I went for an Italian blend; I think it had Romaine, Raddichio, and Arugula.  I think.  Even better?  It was on the special “Let’s haul this shit outta town” rack, so it was cheap.

I suppose this is where I’m going to go on a tangent about cheap food.  I’m an advocate of stuff on clearance.  My salad blend was pretty cheap because the sell-by date was tomorrow.  I like this particular grocery store, because they tend to sell their perfectly good stuff for cheaper instead of just trash it.  They have pretty decent (and reasonable) meats for a supermarket–I picked up some hot italian sausage patties (the ground pork ones, not the pre-shaped kind) for 99 cents–I plan on breaking it up and adding it to some sauce for spaghetti.  It looked fine but the sell by date was nearing, hence the cheapness.

Back to my salad.  Here is what it was all about:

The Autumnish Salad

The Autumnish Salad. Don't hate me because of the fake plate.

–The green stuff.  Lettuce.  Salad mix.  You know.

–Gala apple, cubed with my brand new Chef’s knife that is super sharp that I got for cheap.  Galas were on sale and not too bad looking considering it’s not apple season.  Woo.

–Bleu cheese.  I got the prepackaged cheap crumbled stuff in the plastic container, because there were no hunks of bleu that were like, under $8.

–Walnuts.  Halved walnuts were on sale, woooo.  I saw a pretty sweet little package of candied walnuts and cranberries that probably would have been good, but they were way more expensive than the bag of plain walnuts.

–Grape tomatoes.  I don’t know how I survived before these became huge (haha, I’m funny).  Oh wait–because my mom cooked all my food for me.  That’s why!

–Olives (optional).  I gotta admit that I put some kalamata olives in my salad because they are a comfort food to me, and I’ve been feeling sorta blah lately.  My brother opted against them, because they still had pits in them.

–Grilled chicken breast.  We got this big bag from Sam’s Club–they are seasoned mesquite and grilled, you just plop them in the microwave or oven.  They are tasty to the extreme, and great for salads or just as a sammich.

–For dressing, we used a rapsberry vinegarette.  It was alright, but I think it overwhelmed the salad a bit.  I betcha an apple cider vinegarette would be the bomb diggity on it.

–We had premade garlic bread as an accompaniment.  Quick and sleazy.
Next time, I think I’d like to maybe add a hardboiled egg to it, or maybe some chickpeas or lentils to make it a little more dense and protein rich to go with the autumn theme.  Listen to me, BS’ing about this shit like I know what I’m doing, haha.

Anyway, I totally give it a thumbs up.  It was nom nom nom tasty.

Additional notes:

–I know I got my ingredients from the grocery store, but the dirt mall (aka farmer’s market) is my best friend in the summertime (sorry to my human best friends… I’ll be pals with you again when it’s cold).  My local one combines the elements of flea market, yard sale, and produce stands to make it a true dirt mall.  Much of the food (not all) in the summertime is from local farmers, so you are supporting local growers, the produce is not shipped from a thousand miles away so it’s fresher, and it’s cheaper than your local supermarket/Megalomart.    You can also buy pirated videos (Because I think we all need a little Girls Gone Wild on VHS in our lives), cheap socks, antiques, and fried chicken livers (I don’t get near that stuff… gross) at my local dirt mall.  They also now have a tattoo stand at my local one, which is a total WTF.  Also look for your local produce markets if you need your fix of fruits and veggies during a non-dirt mall day.  I live in the middle of nowhere, and we manage to have some places with great products and great prices (my dad bought 40 lbs. of bananas for 5 bucks one day because his wife told him to get her some bananas.  Hilarity, Pops.).

–I think I’m going to make a summer version of this, replacing the apples with raspberries or blackberries (or even strawberries).  The bleu can stay, but maybe a feta and olive combo would make for an interesting combo with a dressing that has lemon.  Hmmm…

–I know a lot of people put some sort of dressing on their salads, but I once saw on tv that you should always season your greens.  I normally grind some pepper (if you don’t own a pepper grinder, run RIGHT NOW and buy one) and a dash of salt in my salad mix, and I think it does do something to it.

–I looked in the fridge at the salad today and the apples weren’t really brown.  I’m trying to figure that one out… hmmm.

–I think this salad would have tasted supremely yummy with some beer biscuits.  You can make some awesome homemade rolls using Bisquick, beer, and sugar.  If you search the internets for a recipe, you’ll find one.   Using a heavier beer in the recipe makes for a good autumn food… those biscuit/roll/muffins and a oven roasted harvest veggies = heaven.

–It’s rainy and yucky here.  This morning, I listened to Coldplay.  It made me think of when I listened to Coldplay on bleak, rainy days in college.  I normally don’t listen to them, but there was something absolutely perfect about listening to them on grey days five years ago.  Though my musical palate has been refined a bit more since then, it still feels like a good fit.

That is all.  Good day, good night, and Go Flyers!

They grow an awful lot of coffee in… Seattle?!

If you were super stalkeresque, I’m sure you could figure out my approximate age via my first post.  I’ll make it easier for you–I’m in my mid 20s.

Anyway,  I was looking to customize my blog a bit… looking for the right photo of some tasty food as a header.  I didn’t find it, but I did find a photo of a croissant and macchiato from a trip to Seattle.

You know that ambiguous part of my user name?  Yeah, it’s like Ambiguous and Indecisive.  I’m not a hardcore coffee drinker.  I like coffee, A LOT!  But I have found that when I drink it every day, I don’t appreciate it as much.  Oddly enough, most of my friends abhor coffee, which renders the whole “Let’s grab a coffee!” invite useless.

How do I take my coffee?  Oh, it doesn’t really matter.  That’s how you can tell I’m not a hardcore drinker.  My dad was straight up cream man (well, actually 2% milk… he has since  graduated to half-and-half.  Damn bourgeoisie!), but my mom was a sugar (eventually Equal) and cream type of gal who could drink without sweetener if necessary.  I would sneak sips of their coffee in the morning, and would get caught and threatened that it would stunt my growth.

I scoffed and grew to a whopping 5’1″.

Anyway, I take my coffee however.  I prefer sugar and soy milk, but I’m OK with cow’s milk too.  Generally I avoid half and half or cream because the oil on top of the coffee just drives me nuts.  Sometimes I don’t feel like a sweet coffee, so I’ll take just milk.  I’ve enjoyed straight up espresso in the past, including a super shot that made me tremble and stutter in one memorable Japanese class in college.  “Docheera kachee… Doocheekaraki…  Dochee… Doh!” (I can say “Doocheera kara iirashiyamashitaka?” quite OK now.  Excuse the horrible spelling!)

But I’m also a sucker for sissy, fussy coffee drinks too.  The coffee shop (No, not Starbucks!) at my alma mater made some amazing carmel macchiato’s and iced coffees.  Dunkin Donuts… god bless them and their iced coffee’s and Coolattas (their low-fat/calories one blows, though).  I’ve had Starbucks quite a few times, including their frappuccinos, but I need to admit that I can’t tell you precisely everything on their menu… People are shocked when I tell them that the closest Starbucks to me is 30 miles away.  I’m quasi-rural, I guess.

Anyway, I was visiting my friend Kris in Seattle, and decided to check out some coffee.  For my first coffee spot, Kris took me to Trabant Coffee & Chai (don’t know if I was at Pioneer Square or the Uni District).

Our barista was hip and pretentious, of course.  I asked her what she recommended, and she looked at me like I had lobsters crawling out of my ears (or perhaps it’s because I was wearing clothes that weren’t black, brown, olive green, or navy blue!).  She told me to order whatever I usually order.  Guess what?  I took the Seattle oppositional personality disorder (aka rebellion… I did it for you, Kurt Cobain!) and got something I usually don’t order–a macchiato.

Macchiato and Croissant from Trabant Coffee in Chai in Seattle

Macchiato and Croissant from Trabant Coffee in Chai in Seattle. I don't remember the croissant too much, except it was very flaky.

OMG, heaven heaven heaven.  Coffee heaven.  It was thick and strong and stained my lips and teeth.  My eyes rolled into the back of my head… coffee heaven.

And then I had a sip of my friend’s chai.

I like tea, but prefer it iced over hot.  I’m a sucker for a decent chai, though.  And OMG. OMG. OMG. Chai heaven! The macchiato made me roll my eyes back and die, but the chai.. I died, was reborn, died, and so forth; became enlightened yet refrained from entering Nirvana in order to help others… it was that good.   I picked up a bag to take home with me.

Starbucks around every corner...

Starbucks around every corner...

Some memorable coffee that I had:  I grabbed a Seattle’s Best latte.  It was horrible!  If that’s Seattle’s Best, I hate to know what their worst tastes like.  I like strong coffee, but Seattle’s Best is super strong, with a slight pungent taste.  No wonder–I later found out that Seattle’s Best is owned by Starbucks.  I don’t know if they use the same blends or what, but it explains the bitter Starbucksesque taste that latte had.

The cheeky barista from Commuter Comforts

The cheeky barista from Commuter Comforts. Excuse the blurriness--we were stealthily taking his photograph.

The best soy latte that I ever had came from a little coffee kiosk/shack called Commuter Comforts located at a ferry port (Sorry, can’t remember which, except it was the non-Seattle side).  I like to ask servers, bartenders, baristas, etc. what they recommend–they know which items suck and which ones rule and which ones have been spit in.

So I ask this cheeky barista what his specialty was, and his response was “Standing here and looking handsome.” I enjoyed his cheeky response, and was later told by my friend that he probably wanted to “get wit me.”  Damn me and my social awkwardness!  I thought he was being cheeky and did that to all his customers!  Sheesh!  Anyway, I ordered an iced soy latte with amaretto.  It was fanfreakingtastic.  Thank you, Mr. Cheeky Barista!

I had some awesome homemade coffee–thanks Kris! I had another good drink from a coffee shop on the University of Washington campus (they have 20+ on campus):  an iced soy carmel macchiato.  Even the cup of plain coffee I had on a ferry (it may have been Seattle’s Best) was good–fresh and hot.

I went to a coffee exhibit at a museum on the campus–The Burke (sp?) museum.  Quite interesting… I learned that there are more flavour and smell hints in coffee than in wine (like how Chardonnay is supposed to have an oaky

Tarbu

I asked my friend what the heck a Tarbu was. Then I realized... it's a Starbucks with trees out front hiding some letters. Epic fail.

taste, etc.).  That was pretty interesting, because it’s true–there were a whole bunch of beans there, and it was amazing how slight changes in bean type, roasting temp, or roasting time can change the smell of the bean.

So my unofficial coffee tour was pretty good.  My final conclusion is that people in Seattle know good coffee (with exception of that odd Seattle’s Best latte I had).  People know how to drink their coffee, and they know how to order their coffee.  Heck, I even lost my craving for Dunkin Donuts within a few days of being on the west coast (DD=probably my fave “to go” coffee).

It’s hot outside–I’m not a big fan of hot drinks during hot weather (especially in the middle of the day!).  But perhaps there is a iced coffee somewhere in my near future… mmmm.  Let me check those flights to Seattle first…

Inspiration

Hey.  So yeah, this is a new blog.  Excitement, right?

Not going to lie, this is not my first blog, but this is definitely my first guided/”themed” blog.  So I guess I’ll explain how and what and why… (and yes, this is long, but even more than a person who likes to make food, I like to write. So deal :-) )

About 10 years ago, I could not cook.  I would question my family about how to boil water correctly.  I set a bag of microwavable popcorn on fire.  Okay, so maybe we can blame it on being a teenager.  However, considering my mom was an awesome cook, my brother is a pastry chef, my grandmother worked at a restaurant into her 80s, and I have another family member who works in a bakery, you would think that the genes would have rubbed off on me a bit.

I grew up in a large family, so perhaps it was the quantity of food that intimidated me.  My grandmother or brother would often help my mom, but more often than not, she would do it all herself.  I kick myself now for not helping her, but I also felt overwhelmed with her incredible talents.  Eventually from watching her, I started to experiment, and am proud to say that by the time I graduated high school, I was able to make hot dogs and ramen, and order pizza.

Both my parents were glad I chose a college where I lived in a dorm and had a meal plan. A lot of people complain about school caf food, but this stuff was actually good!  It still wasn’t mom’s, though, and I grew more appreciative of both her and her cooking each time I’d go home.

In college, I was now helping my mom in the kitchen.  I’m sure there is a technical word for it, maybe a prep cook or something?  “Cut this onion!”  “Can you brown this hamburger for me?”  “Hey, watch the oven for me.”  By this time, my repertoire included such favourites as Hamburger Helper, grilled cheese, and fries in the oven.

My mom died my sophomore year of college.  After eating a lot of fast food, pizza, and other people’s food after her death (and not having as many family members in the house anymore), I realized that I was sort of fucked.  I mean, it’s wild what you are thinking in the midst of tragedy–”What am I going to have for dinner?”  My house was one of those old school sort of homes–Mom did the cooking, Dad sat on his ass.  So on top of the gazillions of emotions I was feeling, I felt bad because my mom made him these huge elaborate meals; my dad is definitely a meat and potatoes sort of fellow.  In my mind, I mentally counted down the days til going back on campus when I could have something that didn’t come out of a box, bag, or other person’s fridge.  Three months until school.  I could handle that.

Being the baby, everyone had already moved out of the house, so this was all me.  I could do it.  My dad would hand me some money and tell me to buy food.  “No problem,” I thought to myself.  I bought a lot of coffee, cereal, and peanut butter–those are things that my dad likes and could eat if dinner sucks.  Canned spaghetti sauce and pasta… Toss in pots, voila.  Frozen meals… I can do that.  Just follow directions.  Sometimes I would take him on my shopping trips, and lead him up and down the aisles.  If something piqued his interest and if I thought I could pull it off, I’d buy it.  If I didn’t know how to do something, I’d ask a relative or use my friend Google.

Necessity truly is the mother of invention.

5 years after holding an egg and asking it “How do I make you hard-boiled?”, I consider cooking a hobby.  I fuck up a lot, but I make some really good food, too.  I still look for ideas on the internet, but more and more I’m becoming “Oh, hmmm, well these two things taste good, so I wonder what it will taste like if I combine them.”

And yes, it was in a moment of munching on chocolate covered bacon that I decided on creating this blog.

If you are looking for exact recipes, you probably won’t find them on here.  If you are looking for ideas, you just might find them.  I’m not going to lie, I’m a bit lazy, so you really think I’m going to whip out measuring spoons and measure out 1/2 tsp. of salt in my boiling water for pasta?  Hell no!  I mean, sometimes it’s necessary (for baking crap, apparently… I don’t know, I let my brother do that sort of shit), but can we think a little out of the box and just try?  I use recipes for guidelines.  I like garlic, so I’m not going to limit my creation to a dash of garlic, you recipe-nazis.

So if you haven’t realized this, the name Ambiguous Foodie was made up on the spot to describe my pseudo-fusion cooking, my hesitation between gourmet and fast food fan, and my attitude of “Recipes?  What we’re cooking, we don’t need recipes.”

Enjoy!!!