Thursday, March 25, 2010

It Ain't Pretty, But It's Tasty: Avo Toast

Sometimes, food looks as gorgeous as it tastes.

Sometimes, food doesn't look all that special, but once it's in your mouth, it's undeniably special. Case in point:
Trader Joe's Ciabatta loaf, split and toasted (at "4" on our Star Wars Darth Vader Toaster-- no joke). Ripe avocado, sliced rather un-carefully. (I roughed up the avo on the left a bit to see which texture I'd like better. I think I liked the feel of my teeth sinking through the slices more than the chunks.) A little sprinkle of kosher salt. That's it.

Maybe you're wondering why I didn't butter the ciabatta instead. Gasp! Has the Fiend acquired anti-dairy sentiments!?

Well, hell hasn't frozen over yet, so--no. 

There are a couple of reasons for swapping avocado for butter:

1. My mom (you know, my CSA) gave me avocados that I needed to use up before they became dry, hard shells of what they once were, or worse-- mushy, decomposed blobs of once-loveliness.

2. The texture of the ciabatta (crisp crust, chewy, lots of air pockets) was dying for something a little more substantial than butter, and since avocado has a super high fat content-- well, it just felt right. And I'd seen the combination on simply breakfast back when I used to prowl around there a lot, so it was worth a try.

It was oh, so good. Hot, toasty bread. Cool, smooth avocado. The tiny bit of kosher salt makes the tastebuds tingle and provides a contrast to the mildness of the avocado (gotta love those ionic bonds). 

Yeah, we can talk about how avocado is great for the skin or cholesterol levels, what with all its monounsaturated fat, but really, the point here was pleasure. It tasted damn good. And it felt good: the avo provided better protection for my mouth from the delicious, pointy parts of the ciabatta than butter could have. And, really, it's kinda pretty, too (and I love commas).

I don't care what kind of eater you are--herbivore, omnivore, locavore, vegan, macrobiotic(-ist?), raw foodist-- please, enjoy what you eat.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Eating Fat Doesn't Make You Fat

"...Eating too much makes you fat!" - Common sense from Michael Ruhlman in his TEDxCLE talk (below).

Ruhlman discusses the importance of cooking in this TED Talk organized independently in Cleveland. I liked that when he talked about it shaping division of labor between men/women, he added "for better or worse"-- mindfulness of possible problems with gender binaries is a plus.

"When you buy crappy food that's been cooked for you in a factory, you're asking for more of it. When you buy good food, food you need to cook, you're asking for more of it."

Voting with your dollars is not a new concept-- the old rule of supply and demand. More people want to buy hybrid cars? More companies start manufacturing hybrid cars. More people want to buy organic food? Wal*Mart, of all places, starts to sell organic groceries. (Though "organic" is a totally loaded term.) More people want to shop at farmers markets? More farmers markets are organized in our communities.

Prioritizing cooking is not easy. Being able to afford organic or locally-grown groceries is not easy. But in this time when we have to worry so much about health care, isn't eating well part and parcel for health? To ignore the link between health problems and the amount of fast food, sugary soft drinks, and salty snacks we consume is egregious negligence.

The old adage "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" comes to mind. Would I rather spend time and money now on real, good food, or would I rather spend it later on hypertension meds or insulin shots? When I think of it that way, the extra time and money doesn't feel quite so inconvenient.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010


My great appreciation for the whimsical is even greater when the whimsy is wrapped in something sweet and edible (even when it might be cheesy, strange, or in Engrish) like fortune cookies.

I used to crack the cookies open for the fortunes and leave the manila-folder-colored shards on the table, usually only taking a nibble or two. The problem, I didn't realize until later, was that the cookies were often stale.

A stale fortune cookie is even worse than a stale fortune. When they're fresh, though, fortune cookies can be a pleasure--light, crisp, gently sweet.

Truth be told, though, I'd rather have chilled orange slices. The problem with those is that rarely are enough served for each person at the table to get more than one or two slices.

I have a deep, deep love of citrus fruit. Mmmmmmm.

Okay, back to fortune cookies.

I've always had a fascination with the fortunes, with the ways they might resonate with my life, even when they are ridiculous. At some point, I decided to start keeping the fortunes in my wallet. Because they were good reminders, or because they made me laugh, or because I'm just a sentimental fool. Since I don't have Chinese (or insert-Asian-ethnicity here) take-out very often, the fortunes are a rare treat.

Except I've gotten two in the last week because my roommate came home with about a dozen fortune cookies which she'd scavenged from work.

This was a long way of saying: I collect fortunes from fortune cookies and I'm going to start sharing them here.

This is one of the first ones I ever kept:

It's one of my favorites. You can tell it hung out in the little driver license window in my wallet for a while.

Until next time. Make big plans.