0320 West Side Market

Shane’s mom suggested that we cook at home rather than going out – so we met her at Cleveland’s West Side Market to do our shopping and plan dinner. Somehow I slept terribly last night, and as a result, the market was a bit more overwhelming than it would’ve been otherwise. Like Philly’s Reading Terminal Market or the lovely North Market in Columbus, the West Side Market is a hectic maze of independent vendors selling cheese, produce, baked goods, fresh pasta, spices, and all manner of meats in preparation for various ethnic cuisines – plus places to grab a quick lunch or a cup of coffee.  We shared a very hot crêpe complète for lunch, which we hastily ate in a stairwell as we couldn’t find anywhere to sit.  Better than standing over a garbage can, I suppose.

What did we get for dinner? Fresh black pepper linguine, a loaf of bread, and a slab of butter made from the pasteurized cream used to make Parmigiano-Reggiano.  A bottle of Italian red wine (can’t remember the kind, but we liked it a great deal) picked up later in the day, and a homemade marinara.  A happy compromise, and a nice day (after I got a nap).

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0319 Late Night at Prosperity

While I no longer experience daily pangs of homesickness for Champaign, nights like tonight remind me of the things I do miss about living there.  In my four years in Champaign, I never lived further than a 15 minute walk from the downtown area – an easy stumble home from a handful of bars, restaurants, coffee shops, music venues, and a great movie theater.  In Alexandria, a fantastic restaurant and our favorite coffeeshop/bakery were just around the corner.  We have yet to find those favorite spots in Ann Arbor, and when we do, they’ll be at least a 20 minutes walk that manages to be up hill both ways.

So after a full day of work and a 2 1/2 hour drive to Cleveland, it was really nice to walk a few blocks to Prosperity with Steve and Kate.  We’d had dinner on the road, but by 10:30 were snackish again, so we split the pork empanadas – delicious pockets of meat and veg served with rice and pineapple salsa.  I’d like to go back when I’m more awake – by the end of the evening, 3/5 of us were literally falling asleep at the table – but that will have to wait until next time.  In the interim, I will continue to long for a third place (or a Galaxy Hut) in our neighborhood.

Things I Know About Detroit Circa 1948

My grandparents lived in Detroit after the war, and every time I talk to my grandma on the phone, she tells me stories about Detroit. More often than not, they’re the same stories I’ve already heard, but she’s 91 and has earned the right to repeat herself. It occurred to me this weekend that I should probably write some of this stuff down, if only so that I can remember it for future trips to Detroit:

  • There used to be a buttermilk bar in Eastern Market, where you could go have a glass of cold buttermilk, just like you might go to a soda fountain for an chocolate milkshake.
  • They lived on a street called Orchestra Place, which no longer seems to exist, and both worked at Harper Hospital.  One of their neighbors was Hawaiian.
  • I think Grandpa was doing his residency at Harper.  Occasionally they would get to go to the theater or the opera because in those days, they always had to have a doctor in the house.  They once sat behind the heir to one of the major auto companies.  Said heir had just married the heiress to a major tire company.  That was one of my grandparents’ brushes with famous people in Detroit.
  • Grandma was the head nurse on the ward where famous people were treated.  Said famous people would bring their own food and linens, and occasionally the nurses would catch a famous person in bed with a lover.
  • There was only one washing machine in their apartment building, and each household got it for one hour per week.  With two kids in cloth diapers, that one hour was precious.
  • Grandma would take the trolley downtown to do her grocery shopping.
  • Living in a big, diverse city was a big shock for two kids from Iowa, but no one bothered my Grandma when she walked to and from work in her white nurse’s uniform.
  • One time there was a knock at the door of their apartment, and it was a big African-American guy.  He had heard that my grandparents had gone to the University of Iowa and wanted to meet them, as he’d gone to school there as well.
  • There was a place where you could go pick out your chicken, and they’d do all of the cleaning and other stuff for you.

These are some things I know about post-war Detroit.  My grandparents lived there until around 1950, when they moved to Davenport, Iowa, where they still live.

0318 An Off Week for Cooking

I don’t really know why we haven’t been cooking much this week, apart from the fact that we were gone on Tuesday. Maybe it’s the nice weather and trying to exercise after work? Maybe I’m just not feeling inspired by the recipes we picked while feeling simultaneously overwhelmed by the weekend’s leftovers? I don’t really know.

Tonight I prepped at SELMA, while Shane stayed home to exercise and chill out. As it turned out, he made dinner – a simple pasta with sauteed onions, garlic, and tuna – while I picked up fast food on the way home. I had planned to have dinner at SELMA, but the combined forces of wanting to get home early and also feeling woozy conspired against my desire to eat the souffle that Lisa and young Charles were working on when I left.

We’re going to visit friends and family in Cleveland for the weekend, so I think I’m going to give myself a pass on updating unless we eat something really excellent.

0317 Grilled Tilapia with Golden Rice

0317 Grilled Tilapia with Golden Rice

Dinner prep tonight made an awfully big mess for two relatively simple dishes.  Two tilapia fillets, grilled in the hot hot cast iron grill pan with just a little salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lime juice added at the table.  A savory rice dish from Moosewood that would’ve been boring on its own, but paired nicely with the buttery fish.  From those recipes, we had nearly every inch of counter space covered with following dishes: 3 pans, a bunch of food processor components, cutting board, zester, and at least one knife, plus our lunch dishes and a few things left from the night before.  This pile often feels insurmountable, and that is WITH a dishwasher.

I digress.

This dinner, while not especially quick, was especially easy.  I soaked the rice for ~10 minutes while sauteeing the onions and prepping the carrots.  We didn’t have any ground cardamom, so I substituted a bit of cumin and coriander for spice.  When everything went into the saucepan, I started heating the grill for the fish.  From start to finish, I think dinner took 45 minutes?  And then Shane was so hungry after his workout that he’d finished his entire dinner in the time it took me to take the photo.  On a related note, I’m not sure how I feel about this photo.  I’m trying to learn more about how our camera works, and tonight I tried something different.

Recipe:
Golden Rice from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites

0316 Snacks on the Road

So instead of making dinner tonight, we did this:

Go Cavs!

Shane got a pair of tickets to the Pistons – Cavs game for $25, so after work, we hopped in Richard Simmons, grabbed some ice cream, and headed to Detroit.  It was hard to tell which team had more fans in the house – the dudes behind us were chanting L-B-J and M-V-P, but somehow Shane was the one who got popcorn thrown at him?  It was a great game, but the Cavs pulled it off in the end.

On our way home, we stopped at a gas station for a soda and I perused the snack offerings while Shane hit the bathroom.  The trip to/from Detroit isn’t enough to justify really quality road snacks, but we did share a mint 3 Musketeers – delicious and not terribly bad for us.  Most road snacks, however, meet only one of those two characteristics – the delicious part.  I know, I know – you can pack fruits and veggies, drink lots of water, all of that good stuff – but nothing says ‘road trip’ quite like the radio turned up loud and your hand in a bag of something salty.  I haven’t given this much thought, not nearly as much thought as I gave the candy selection last night, but in a pinch and in no particular order, here are our top 10 road snacks:

  1. Chex Mix.  I could take up the rest of this list by ranking the flavors, but I won’t.
  2. Combos.  Always solid.
  3. Chicken McNuggets.  Our enjoyment of nuggets is balanced though not justified by the guilt about factory farming that we feel when not eating nuggets.
  4. Jerky in a variety of forms, some of which we should explore making on our own.
  5. Dried fruit, especially pineapple, regular apple, and apricots.  And other fruits that include an ‘ap’ sound, though I can’t think of any at the moment.
  6. Munchies – a beautiful mélange of Cheetos, Doritos, pretzels, and Sun Chips, each noteworthy snacks on their own.
  7. Gummy candies – Swedish fish, gummy peaches, etc.  Good because they take time to eat.
  8. Coffee and lots of it.
  9. Granola/protein bars.  A few years ago, I set out to conclusively decide which bar offered the best balance of calories, flavor, and protein.  I’m not sure if I decided anything other than that I don’t like eating protein bars all the time – but we do like Clif Bars in general, and the chocolate chip bar in particular.
  10. FRUIT AND NUT, which came into our lives thanks to our first trip to Bonnaroo with Mark and Mike.

I think I need a snack.