Fine Print

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Look at this picture. Do you see the fine print? I noticed this the other day when I was at Chipotle getting a salad before rehearsal. My immediate reaction was: what DOES it contain? Then I started to think of how many people come through the line and either don’t notice or don’t question that fine print. They just fill up their cups and suck it down, oblivious. If you’ve been a long time follower of this blog, you know I’m a huge proponent of plant based lifestyle – pure, natural, whole foods you get from fields and trees, not boxes and freezers and instant powders. It has worked so well for me and I’m convinced its the real way to live. But even if you don’t buy into this (which is totally fine), surely we can all agree that we need to educate ourselves and really be aware of what we’re putting in our bodies. If you see that the juice you’re about to drink doesn’t have any juice in it, you should be alarmed. Always question the fine print!

Granulated Vice

Granulated Vice

Speaking of coffee, my roommate has a new vice. I don’t think my new culinary profession is to blame, but it probably is entirely to blame. He’s had more than a few Blonde Cubans. It started fairly innocently with his tiny little coffee maker and its tiny little coffee pot. The entire time he’s gushing over how good it feels to be jolted up on coffee and how it’s helping him get through a span of long days and nights of recordings. And honestly, I can’t argue with him. As someone who never used to drink any real coffee, it’s almost alarming how much it effects my internal chemistry. It’s what I would imagine it feels like to snort cocaine – my heart rate rises, I start talking really fast (which, as my parents would tell you, is really saying something), I can practically feel the blood pumping through my veins, and I have the inexplicable desire to stand on a balcony ledge wearing terrible eye liner while listening to 70s rock (Forrest Gump). Once after one of my first lattes, I woke up in the middle of the night, 12 hours post latte, my heart racing, sweating, anxious… Panic attack? Nervous breakdown? Schizophrenic onset? No, just espresso. And then I think of all the people who frequent my shop and/or Starbucks multiple times per day. Those who “can’t function” without it and get headaches when they miss a dose. I never ever want to be one of those people, but now I totally understand how it can get there. Just like any drug, you get used to it. Addicted. You need that fix to keep you going.

My roommate’s innocent little habit quickly turned into 3-4 tiny little coffee pots a day. I kept giving him shit for it, but more just for the sport…. until I noticed my sugar jar. You see, my roommate doesn’t just simply drink black coffee, he drinks his coffee on ice with tons of half and half and spoonfuls of sugar. The jar you see pictured above is my sugar jar, which holds just under two pounds. When the roommate first started he was using the extra sugar in the bag that I couldn’t fit into the jar. After working his way through that, he moved to the jar. As you can see, the jar is now over half empty… and it has been less than a month since he started his vice. When I saw the jar, it really hit me just how much daily habits add up. This half-empty jar indicates over a pound of sugar and untold amounts of cream he wouldn’t have otherwise been ingesting were it not for the coffee. When seen from this perspective, it’s pretty harrowing to consider just how much seemingly small habits add up to enormous quantities and consequences. Not to mention all the havoc the effects of the caffeine and the high acidity are wreaking on his body.

What vices (food or otherwise) do you have in your life? I could name roughly 37 food-related ones, but I’m determined to keep coffee off that list. I’m reserving it only for those days when I *really* need the jolt – no more than once a week. I think I already have a headache…

Peaches and Cream

Ok, it’s not actually cream, it’s Greek yogurt sweetened with honey and a dash of vanilla extract. But that would be an awful title. I gotta be honest I’ve not always been the biggest peach fan. Maybe it’s the yankee in me (and by yankee I mean northerner, not the baseball team). But, when they are in season, super ripe, and sprinkled with a bit of maple sugar, they’re utterly divine.

I bought a bag of them at Trader Joe’s last week and forgot about them until just a few days ago. Nearing the overripe stage, I decided it would be best if I put them to use all at once. What better excuse to use butter. I took out my cast iron skillet, got it heating on the stove. I cored and sliced 4 medium peaches. Placed 1 tablespoon of butter in the pan and let it get melted and hot. I got the peaches in a pan in an even layer,  sprinkled 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar evenly over the top and let them ride. Once they were brown and syrupy on the bottom, I used my spatula to flip them over and do the same on the other side. Then it was into my bowl and topped with the aforementioned yogurt. A splendid breakfast.

Obviously my peaches were still pretty hot, hence why the yogurt got a bit soupy. Next time I’ll let them cool a bit. Still super yummy, though.

Crust Knots

I’m an unapologetic user of store bought refrigerated pie crust. Correction – I’m an unapologetic user of PILLSBURY refrigerated pie crusts. Unless it’s Thanksgiving when everything is extra special and over-the-top and you just have to make the crust lest you desecrate the fictional sacred tradition of our puritan ancestors, then yes I’ll make a pie crust… but let’s be serious, even then no one would really care or likely even notice (at least no one at my Thanksgiving table). If there is any downside to using a refrigerated pie crust, it would be that one winds up with a lot of excess crust. Though now that I think of it, you can hardly call this a downside. I mean who doesn’t want extra pie crust? And come on, the starving artist wastes nothing, particularly a chance to get creative with pie crust dough. And that’s just what I’ve done.

When making the blueberry pie I posted about earlier this week, I wound up not only with extra pie crust, but a ton of extra egg wash, which I feel like is also something of which one always has too much. So, while my pie was baking, I pulled out a baking sheet and got to work on the extra dough. I broke up the dough into 2-inch strips and sort of wrapped each strip around itself into a little knot-shaped bundle. I then dropped all of the knots into the bowl of leftover egg wash and tossed them gently. Then, they were  plunged into a bowl filled with cinnamon and sugar and tossed to coat (I use a 2 to 1/2 ratio granulated sugar to cinnamon). After giving the baking sheet a spray with non-stick spray I arranged the knots onto the sheet and threw them in the oven with the pie. Once they were browned and crisp, I removed them from the oven and brushed on a bit of melted butter. Yes. Instant tasty treat – no waste, no extra fuss, totally resourceful, and totally addictive. And the really good news is you can bake these at whatever temperature you’re already baking at, just keep an eye on them for doneness. Yummm!!!!

You know, this is inspiring me to explore other ways of using pie crust that isn’t crust for pie. I feel like the possibilities are endless…. any other ideas out there?