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Posts Tagged ‘hummus’

An interesting side effect of cutting back on my sugar intake and cooking most meals from scratch: I’ve started to really taste the sugar in manufactured foods. Store-bought spaghetti sauce tastes like it’s made of tomatoes and corn syrup. A brand of hummus that I used to buy frequently is now inedible; it’s bland, and what little garlic flavor I can sense is overwhelmed by a sugary chemical aftertaste.

Luckily, my husband’s Uncle Vinnie sent me his family pasta sauce recipe when we got married, and I’ve got a working and flexible hummus recipe that I can throw together pretty easily.

I was going to say that it’s a double-edged sword, when eating healthier and thriftier forces you to forgo shortcut products when you really could do with a few extra minutes out of the kitchen. My taste buds and common sense have convinced me, however, that things that taste this revolting aren’t useful shortcuts at all.

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From Jean Georges in Manhattan: Warm sweet potato cake with a cranberry compote and cranberry foam.

 

When the husband and I go on vacation, we tend to plan our itinerary around food. We’re not the only people who do this, but I get mixed reactions from a few folks, some of whom apparently expect to hear more about the shows we’ve seen in New York City (most recent count: 0) than our sake-tasting and evaluation of the freshly made tofu at EN Japanese Brasserie (evaluation: awesome).

Some people get it: After a recent photo documenting our pilgrimage to the Doughnut Plant, one Facebook friend noted, “You take the best doughnut vacations ever!” Indeed, we do.

So what’s with our vacation food obsession? Honestly, we eat like monks at home. We have old-fashioned oatmeal (or steel-cut oats, if there’s time) with walnuts and raisins for breakfast every day. I almost always have a fresh salad and quinoa or hummus for lunch, while the husband consistently has a ham-and-cheese sandwich. Dinner might be homemade lasagna or something easy, like a cheese sandwich pressed into submission on the Foreman Grill with a bowl of leftover Cowboy Stew. We rarely go out to eat. We’ve found that one of the consequences of cooking your own healthy, delicious food at home is that your average restaurant food doesn’t measure up anymore.

What does measure up, however, is your above-average restaurant food. And this is what turns our vacations into the pursuit of destination dining. So while I can’t be bothered with a 10-minute drive to Krispy Kreme for Hot Doughnuts Now (trust me when I tell you that growing up with a Krispy Kreme within easy driving distance makes their doughnuts way less of an attraction later), I am perfectly willing to make a 15-minute hike to the subway station, stand on a crowded car for five minutes, make a 10-minute hike to the Doughnut Plant and stand in a long line for a Valrhona chocolate doughnut. I deem the calories worthwhile.

And that’s how my photo albums end up filled with pictures of doughnuts, ice cream, cheeseburgers and steamed shrimp, while we forget to take pictures of ourselves. Sorry, Mom.

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I’ve been on a cookie odyssey for a couple of years in search of a proper substitute for Trader’s Joe’s Gingeroos, which I discovered while vacationing in Las Vegas. (And yes, I DO always visit grocery stores on vacation. You should too.)

I don’t think molasses was a big component of my childhood treats, because these cookies were richer, darker, more sultry than any I had ever tasted. Chunks of crystallized ginger closed the deal … these were my new go-to favorites, only it was not to be. Double tragedy: The nearest Trader Joe’s is two hours away in Nashville, and they don’t seem to stock Gingeroos.

Admittedly, by cookie odyssey, I mean that I found one nearly suitable recipe and tried it a couple of times before my oven joined the Great Appliance Rebellion of 2009, rendering all cookie-baking attempts futile at best, infuriating at worst.

Then, November. My search is renewed after installation of a new stove.

I had found this recipe last year, but never got to try it. Miracle of miracles, it appeared in a sponsored link atop my gmail last week. It was culinary fate.

Triple Ginger Cookies, from the recipe journal 101 Cookbooks, are a huge ordeal to make, but they’re worth every minute. They’re what I call “grown-up cookies.” Not everyone will like them – they give off a bit of heat – and they’re not the kind of cookie that you eat a half dozen of in one sitting with a big glass of milk. You relish one or two with a cup of coffee or other hot adult beverage that may or may not be spiked with Bailey’s.

Just to make things interesting, I also made my own crystallized ginger for the recipe. I remembered paying a premium for crystallized ginger last year (around $4 extra a pound at the Fresh Market), and this recipe uses A LOT. The clerk at my Asian grocery store said they hadn’t received a shipment of crystallized ginger in months, so my backup bulk supply option was off the table.

Crystallizing ginger was a pretty big ordeal, too, but it made the house smell DELICIOUS and it reinforced my assertion that I do too need that OXO mandoline that I’ve got my eye on.

I’m not going to claim they’re just like Gingeroos, but they’re close enough.

Next kitchen project: the perfect hummus recipe. Also maybe, just maybe, fixing that hole in the ceiling.

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