Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Road Trip: San Francisco and Nearby

My husband and I are on vacation in California, starting in San Francisco for the Memorial Day weekend.
Our healthiest dining was at the renowned, creative and wonderful higher-end vegetarian restaurant, Green's. The menu is short but enticing, so that it was hard to choose from among so many interesting dishes.
Last night we overdid it at Kuleto's, a medium range Italian spot near our Union Square hotel.
I often have difficulty posting photos from my iPad, which is what I have to use on the road. If I can't add photos now, I will do a complete wrap up upon our return in a week.
Today we move on to Sacramento to visit family, then on to Monterey for the rest of the time.
From a prior trip!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Here Come the Berries!

I'm always so happy to see the first domestic blueberries of the season, which are coming in now. Hooray for the sweet little blue guys now coming in from Florida and Georgia -- not Chile and Argentina. (Thanks, South America, for getting us through the winter, but those sour berries that have traveled thousands of miles to get to our cereal bowls just don't measure up to the delicious fruit from such states as North Carolina, New Jersey and Michigan.)
In honor of the new crop, here's a pudding recipe from my friend, Mary Ann Barnes. Although she made it with blackberries, not blueberries, I'm making mine with the blue fellas!
Banana-Berry Pudding

RECIPE: Banana-Berry Pudding
(Serves 6 – 8)
2/3 cup natural sugar
¼ cup ground tapioca flour
3 eggs
2 cups (preferably whole) milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons butter (or butter substitute with plant sterols)
2 bananas, chopped
6 ounces blueberries (or blackberries, chopped)
1 pound strawberries, chopped (reserving 6 – 8 for decoration)

Rinse berries and set aside to dry.
Combine first 4 ingredients in a blender and pulse until smooth.  Pour into medium saucepan and cook on medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until mixture begins to thicken (about 15 – 20 minutes).  Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla, stirring until smooth.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes. 
Gently stir fruit in pudding mixture.  Spoon into serving dishes.  Decorate with reserved strawberries.  Chill until ready to serve, or for at least an hour.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

At Farmers' Markets NOW

Photos from a visit to historic Findlay Market, in downtown Cincinnati, on Saturday morning May 17. If you live anywhere in the middle of the country -- East, Midwest, or upper South -- these crops should be available in your own markets. And handcrafted, handmade foods and crafts shouldn't be hard to find, either.
Let the growing season begin!
Asparagus and other spring crops
Hothouse tomatoes
Pretty planters for the front porch
Local honey: super healthy!
Go crazy for your yard
Wash up when you're done

Monday, May 12, 2014

Hot weather? Time for fruit smoothies

If you have a hard time getting in the recommended number of fruit and veggie servings -- which ranges from a low of six to a high of 12 -- smoothies can be an easy, tasty solution. A blender full of berries, banana, pineapple, fruit juices, and other fruits is filling, refreshing, and nutrient-packed. If desired, add dairy such as yogurt or milk; soy or other non-dairy milk; sweeteners such as honey, Stevia or Splenda. And pureed vegetables, tomato juice, carrot juice, etc. can also be tucked into your recipe.
You'll want to have a sturdy blender, preferably with at least an 800-watt motor so it can handle frozen fruit, ice cubes, and so on -- and puree your ingredients properly.
It's best to add your liquid ingredients first, blend for a few seconds, stop the motor and add the solids.
Be sure to start with cold ingredients -- frozen berries or banana slices are ideal. Add a cup of crushed ice to make the recipe go further, and for a lighter taste, if desired.

Here are a couple of winning combos.

Strawberry Mango Spring Smoothie
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 banana, peeled, sliced, and frozen
  • 1 mango, skinned and chunked
  • 5 large strawberries, hulled
  • Combine ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.
Makes 3½ cups
Stone Fruit Smoothie
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 plum, pit removed, flesh roughly chopped
  • 1 peach, pit removed, flesh roughly chopped
  • 1 nectarine, pit removed, flesh roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

Combine ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.
Makes 2 cups

Monday, May 5, 2014

Encore: Murphin Ridge Inn

Riding with the Amish
Another wondrous, restful, delicious weekend in Adams County, OH -- 70 miles east of our home in Cincinnati. We've come to think of the inn, known far and wide for its restaurant, as our country home. MURPHIN RIDGE INN, that is.
 Here are a few photos. In addition to walking in the woods, lying on a hammock, hanging out on the porch of our cabin in a rocking chair and of course eating breakfast and dinner there, this time we had a brief ride in a horse-drawn buggy with an Amish woman who works at the inn, and a quick look at a small helicopter that buzzed in one night.
Pancakes with a view

Me at dinner
Killer Pork Chop!

With the little heli

Thursday, May 1, 2014

FoodieCincy -- A super discount for a great cause

Foodie Cincy is a full deck of cards, and each card is a $10-off coupon for a metro Cincinnati restaurant. They're all locally owned and operated places -- no restaurant chains-- and range from the more upscale, trendy OTR spots such as A Tavola and Lavomatic to more casual but still interesting choices such as Brown Dog Cafe and Main Bite (in Covington).
All the info you'll need came to me in this email from Gina Barrera of Foodie Cincy:

Calling all food lovers (AKA “Foodies”), a reason to get out of the house this spring! Foodie Cincy is in the Greater Cincinnati area just in time to shake off the cabin fever. Foodie is a handy and astonishingly hip deck of cards featuring 52 of Cincinnati’s favorite local/independent restaurants of all cuisine types, price points, and from various neighborhoods. Each card in the deck is dedicated to an individual restaurant offering $10 off with a $30 minimum purchase. Giving ravenous food fans 1 year to use all 52 - $10 gift certificates in the deck, the Foodie deck is valid until December 2014. That’s up to $520 in savings over the year! The best part is patrons who dine at participating “Foodie” establishments support local/independent restaurants from the Greater Cincinnati/Northern, KY areas. The list of participating restaurants can be found on www.FoodieUS.com and The Foodie Cincy Facebook page.

The decks are available for purchase at www.FoodieUS.com and at select participating restaurants, retailing for $20. Local nonprofits and other charitable groups may also be selling Foodie decks to support their cause. The list of where to find decks for sale around town is on the website and the Facebook page.

It’s important for Foodie Cincy to give back to a local, food-based charity. A portion of the proceeds from every Foodie Cincy deck sold will be donated to The Freestore Foodbank, a Cincinnati Tri-State area organization whose mission is to provide food and services, create stability and further self-reliance for people in crisis. Visit www.freestorefoodbank.org for more information.

Foodie US began in 2009 in St. Louis, MO where the Foodie STL deck launched. The company has since spread into eleven US markets including nearby Cleveland, Columbus, and Indianapolis. Every Foodie city has a chosen local charity to donate a portion of deck proceeds to. Visit www.FoodieUS.com for more info.

Eat Well. Eat Local